Monday, March 28, 2016

EASTER! That's easier, because I don't have pretend to know what week we're on anymore.

My posing next to a statue at a museum we went to today.

This week was spectacular! Which is kind of theme of my mission, I'm not sure if you have noticed that yet. Easter is a such a wonderful holiday, and it is a huge thing here in the Czech Republic actually. It is so cool to be living in a country that has literally thousands of years’ worth of history and culture to see. So, without further ado here are some especially great things that happened this week.
  • We had a great Easter Party on Thursday. We had a lot of less-actives and investigators come. More than active members! It was really great. We had an Easter egg treasure hunt deal, and a piñata made by the Sisters, played musical chairs, and did the donut on the string game. And then at the end we all gathered together and the missionaries all bore testimony of the Savior, of His Atonement, His death, and His Resurrection. It was great!
Sestra Manners and the Easter piñata 

Our Easter Party!

  • We also went tracting this week, using the Easter video. We downloaded it onto a flashdrive, in Czech, and then went ringing doorbells and asking if we could share the video with people. And someone let us in! It was great. And for the strange reason that almost every Czech has a smart TV, we were able to plug the flashdrive into the TV and show it. They thought it was great, and they said they would be interested in having us back. Also, they gave us really delicious bread, with cashews and raisins. A random, freshly baked loaf and nice grandma just decided to give to us on the way out. So that was really cool. 
  • We had two visiting families in Sacrament Meeting. One of them was married couple who both served in Slovakia, and the other was a couple who are living in Austria right now. That was really odd to get a phone call at 10 on Saturday from a phone and pick it up and here an American accent start talking to me. But it was really cool to have two big families in Sacrament Meeting! Also, the missionaries sand acapella "I Know the My Redeemer Lives" in Czech. We decided to do it before Sacrament meeting. It was an adventure, but we did good. Luckily that song has pretty easy pronunciation.

The Czech hymn books! 

  • Also, this last week we have been meeting awesome families, who are super open and willing to talk. And then at the end of the conversation we ask to meet with them, only to find out that they don't live here. One of them was a Czech family that is living in Austria. That's just absurd. It's sort of close, and yet, so far (600 km to be exact)
  • We did indeed hear about the bombing in Brussels. I heard about it from my English student the day it happened, but we didn't find out until the next day that missionaries were involved. Originally we heard they had died, so we were very grateful for the text that was sent out from President McConkie that night that everything was okay with them. He also gave us some counsel and reassured us that we don't have much to worry about with that happening here.
  • I was blessed with an AWESOME trainer Elder Galbraith and a mission in which we have a culture of obedience and hard work. It really is a great blessing for me. I have been learning a lot from my new companion Elder Dean that I want to try to work on specifically 1) pray more 2) re-evaluate contacting often to look for ways to improve.
Had to pose next to the armor of God. For obvious reasons.

The rest of the armor of God. Sword of Truth.  
I had to improvise a bit for the shield of Faith.  Couldn't find a real shield anywhere.

  •     Gratitude is so important! I actually have a gratitude list and every evening I write 5 things from the day that I am especially grateful for. It is really fun to look over, and it adds up really fast. I started it near the end of last transfer, and I am already up to over 200 things.
My spiritual thought this week is, as seems fitting, about Easter. I am so grateful to be a missionary. To invite people to come unto Christ and to feel the love and peace that comes from a life centered in, and founded on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is not just to cleanse us from sin. It also gives us the power to overcome sorrow, weaknesses, and to love the life that God has given us. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He is my Savior and Redeemer. I love the words which the Angels spoke on Easter to the apostles: "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!" I am so grateful for the testimony I have of those words! He is risen!

-Elder Pickett

PS- Hello Mommy-o! HAPPY A-LITLLE-BIT-EARLY-BIRTHDAY! I am just about finished with your letter, just need to address it and send it. The letter for the whole family should be arriving close by your birthday date, this one will for sure be late, but hopefully not too late. I hope you enjoy it. In honor of you I had ice cream today, and tried to take loooots of pictures. And did a few voice recordings of my Czech to send home. I hope you enjoy everything! I will try to be extra loving and serving this week, and especially on Wednesday!

 Really, really, really good (and very cheap) soft serve ice cream with our District


Is this what you were looking for with an artsy picture?

Czech only lemonade. I was trying to do "Dad's excited opening presents face." 
It only kind of worked...

Museum PDay visit today with lots of pictures:

 Big map of C-Bud and a skeleton

Crazy Easter Eggs! They drill little holes in them and blow all of the egg out! And then paint them, or cut more holes to decorate them. And then, somehow, keep them intact.

 Sestras posing. Also, a cool lion I found.

Monday, March 21, 2016


This week was delightful. We had lots of fun times, a few mishaps, and some good adventures. It was, all-in-all, a typical week in the life of a Czech/Slovak missionary. Probably any missionary really, but I can only speak for myself. So, here are some weekly updates.

 Our C-Bud District- Sestra DeMann, Sestra Manners, Starsi Dean, Starsi Pickett
pday fun!

Cesky Krumlov
  • This week we had exchanges for a day with the Zone Leaders from Plzen. They both came in by train early, stayed for District Meeting, and then Elder Breyman and I went up to Plzen for the day afterwards. Then Thursday morning, Elder Dean and Elder Cook came to Plzen, Elder Cook stayed, and Elder Dean and I took the train back. It was a really fun exchange. I bought a 24 hour tram pass in Plzen, and we ended up spending most of the day on the trams, which are kind of like the cable cars of San Francisco, only all indoor, actually convenient, and from this century (most of them). This results in solo contacting, basically the whole time, because we separate and go to each end of the tram and just start contacting people until we get to our stop or meet in the middle. I did a lot of asking people to repeat themselves, but had a good time, and a few good conversations. Including with a gentleman who literally only talked about American Politics (I barely even know anything that's happening right now with that, nor do I know ANY words for that in Czech). He already knew who I was, and it wasn't until part way into the conversation that I realized he was ranting a lot about "George Bush." It was great fun.
  • We also went out of C-Bud about 20 minutes by bus in order to pick up GREEN LDS HYMN BOOKS IN CZECH! Which I promptly forgot to take a picture of. Unfortunately. But they are awesome, and contain 203 hymns! (Church materials are constantly being translated into other languages so it's so fantastic when something that we enjoy is available to Saints in other countries.)
  • Today was the first real conversation I felt like I have ever been a part of in Czech that wasn't about the gospel (it was while we were getting out hair cut). That was kind of interesting. Still have no idea what people are saying a lot of the time, but it's getting there, slowly but surely.
  • Also this week in C-Bud, there was a super cool Easter Market on the main square. We got a bit of food there during a lunch hour on day. But I don't have any pictures of it, because we aren't supposed to use our cameras while proselyting.  And for some utterly bizarre reason, the Easter Market lasted from last Thursday until yesterday. So it's already gone! That was a major bummer. Because there were some cool little Easter trinkets and lots of tasty food I haven't tried yet. But hopefully I can find it during Christmas time.
Spiritual thought for the week is about the weather. Sometimes, the weather is unpredictable. Sometimes it is warm. Sometimes it is cold. Sometimes it snows a lot. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it is terrible outside. But, every single day, the sun will rise (even if we can't see it). And there will be some light. It can be the same with life. Sometimes, it is tough, sometimes it is easy, sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad. But there are always positive things we can focus on, sometimes we just have to let go of those things we can't control. So be positive people! And let go of things you can't control. Trust that the Lord is at your side and He will help because. Because He will. I've seen it myself.
-Elder Pickett

 Cesky Krumlov- companions Starsi Dean & Starsi Pickett

The gardens were open this week in Cesky Krumlov!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 3. Right? (no pictures of food and Elder Brad's 1st selfies ever)

Here is my face! In case you forgot what it looks like. That's our balcony view.

Ahoj všichni! I hope everyone has been having a stellar week. I certainly know I have. This week has been in equal measure miraculous, difficult, exhausting, busy, and strange. Lots happened and lots didn't. It's been, in other words, a reasonably typical week in the life of a missionary.
  • To start off, we were in Prague twice this week. Travel and eating cuts down on our available money funds, so we have to budget carefully (only 1 thing of Kofola this week...). We went up on Tuesday for Visa work for Elder Dean. He has a residency card! Which means he is done with visa work forever. Lucky him. I am just about to start my residency this transfer (now I understand why we sent visa renewal info to the mission office back in August!!). We don't know when. So, while he was meeting with the foreign police, I went out contacting in Prague, with 3 other missionaries, all in their 3rd transfer (which is just one transfer ahead of Brad). It was a great time. At one point we were on opposite sides of the street talking to people, 2 on each side. And Elder Hymas, who I was with, and I started talking to a woman, who had met missionaries many times before, and thinks we are polite and nice, and so was willing to talk. And across the street, the two elders contacted a man who started yelling at them as he walked away, and then saw us, and yelled at us on the way past. At which point, the woman who we were talking with said something back to him along of the line of "Are you for real? Calm down!" Well, he did not like that, and so he started yelling at her, and then they just started going at it in Czech. And Elder Hymas and I are just standing there (we can't understand anything they are saying because they are talking really loud and fast) while these people have a shouting match on the street. And eventually he walked away. And she told us not to contact people like that. She said we should only contact nice people who are smiling. It was great.

Me on the train. 
  • Our second Prague trip was for the Prague District Conference on Sunday. The District President lives here in C-Bud (he is the one that we run with), but our district includes Plzen, Prague, C-Bud, Pardubice, and several other cities I won't even bother trying to spell. It was really great. And I could understand a decent-ish amount. Always a good thing. My favorite talks were probably from Sister McConkie, and the Area Authority. Because they were in English. The only downside was that we had to get up at 4 am in order to be there on time. But luckily, I inherited the genetic ability from my dad to sleep well in many different situations, on a moving train for example.
  • Other than that, our week included some other good highlights. On Sunday night after we got home we went bus contacting. And I was having a conversation with a girl when all of a sudden I realized that we had reached the end of the line, and we had to get off. I don't actually know that neighborhood, so we were grateful that she pointed us in the direction of another bus stop after the contact ended. Also she told us we were "interesting boys." We'll take that as a compliment I guess.
  • The language is coming, slowly but surely. I am actually able to have real conversations with people now, which is very exciting for me. In my first transfer, Elder Galbraith was great at teaching me about thorough language study. He was an awesome trainer. He would always encourage me to speak, and would let me go for it when we were around people, but when we were the only ones speaking, he would always correct me. Which was really helpful. It helped me to be confident in what I was saying. I am very careful with casing because I want to speak confidently enough that my grammar makes it natural for people to talk to me.
  • On Saturday, we tried to broadcast the priesthood and adult sessions of conference. We had two less-actives show up for the Priesthood session! Unfortunately, turns out, owing to the fact that Elder Dean and I don't always understand Czech, that we were mistaken in thinking the priesthood session was going to be broadcasted. That was a bit of a bummer. But the Adult session was good at least!
  • Also, on Sunday, we had the craziest experience probably thus far on my mission. We contacted a woman, who initially did not seem very interested. During the contact she became very emotional and started crying, talking about how much she was struggling, and how her life hadn't turned out at all like she had wanted it too. She told us we were angels, and kept reaching out to touch us to make sure that we were real. At the end of the conversation we prayed with her and for her, and she gave us her phone number. It was a great example to me of how the Lord is always preparing people, and he will lead us to them.
  • Dealing with angry people on the street doesn't even really phase me that much anymore. I am learning to have joy in the journey! In every part of it. The good times, the bad times, and everything in between. It has been a great experience so far, and I am confident it is only going to get better!
My spiritual thought relates to that contact. The Lord is always mindful of our circumstances. He knows when we are pushed to the edge, and he always has a way prepared for us to be delivered. He loves us, and always will help us. My invitation to you is to try to mindful of the circumstances of others. Try to recognize the ways that they are different, but don't be afraid of that. Also, try to look for ways throughout the week that you can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in helping people around you. Thanks for the prayers and support!
-Elder Pickett

  our map of CBud.

Stay tuned... while I ask Sestra DeMann's mom for tennis pictures this week. From Pday.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 2 of Transfer 2. The Week of Destiny.

Pictures this week came from the cameras of Elder Pickett, 
Elder Dean and Sestra DeMann!  No caption to this picture...?

Probably not what this week actually will be, but I like to pretend. Also, it has kind of a snappy title. Almost like those "hooks" we learned to start essays with, and then were told not to use anymore later. This week has been, as always, spectacular. That is the great thing about being a missionary. Even when it's hard, it's awesome! So here as the weekly updates:
  • Elder Galbraith and his parents came back into C-Bud to do some sight-seeing/people meeting. They also took the missionaries out to dinner on Thursday, and came to Friday game night. We had a fun adventure of going back and forth from English to Czech all throughout the evening. Also, it was super fun to not be the one who was the most lost anymore when someone was speaking Czech! That was cool.
 From Elder Galbraith’s parents: “Thought you would enjoy a picture of your missionary.  We're having dinner together and having a great time. Everyone is happy and healthy.”

  • Also, I think for the very first time in my mission, I had a several contacts this week alone, in which I was actually successful at having a conversation, completely in Czech! I consider that a great milestone for me in terms of the language. Although I still miss details of what is going on, I no longer feel paralyzed with my inability to understand. I have faith that I can understand enough to carry on the conversation and keep it pointed towards the gospel. It was really cool to be talking to a woman in the park here, and realize after our conversation ended, that I had just had a full conversation, and she had understood what I was saying, I had understood what she was saying, and we had really talked! It was a great experience for me, and one that I am extremely grateful to see.
  • Also, a cool miracle for the week. On our way walking home from a lesson, we were flagged down by an older gentleman on a bike, who I didn't recognize. Initially I thought he was a former investigator, but through our conversation we learned he is actually a less active member. So, since it was Saturday, we obviously invited him to church the next day, and he came! So that was great. We don't usually have people flag us down and start conversations. We were a little okay with it. In fact, we could probably survive if it happened more.
  • Staying in the same city but having a new companion means some repeat sightseeing visits on pday.  But that is great because there is so much to see.  Our district went to Třeboň.

Elder Dean- new companion

 The Schwarzenberg Family Vault.
District photo!  
 Everyone is taking pictures of the meal.

Also, we found, the COOLEST little restaurant in Třeboň. We asked a local for a recommendation, and boy did he deliver. It was literally like a restaurant out of Disneyland. Very cheap too. All in all, a successful P-Day.

  • We had some unfortunate Halusky on Sunday (carrying on Elder Galbraith’s tradition). We kind of ran out of time, and it was undercooked. So it rather turned out to be undercooked potato noodles with flour. You know what though? Still not totally terrible.
  •  And don't worry about me starving. Some missionaries are rather...unwise in how they spend money.  Luckily, I hate spending money whenever I don't need to, and I learned excellent budgeting from Elder Galbraith. He never let his desire for chocolate get him to spend too much money. It is a pattern I plan to follow my whole mission. I did run out of money my first month, because of travel, and the need for a bus pass (I bought it for 3 months), but luckily I had a very nice mission “father” (that’s the term for your mission trainer), so he didn't let me starve. Basically, I am good on food. Promise.
·         I am getting some letters, at random times. Also, thanks for the care package through the Galbraiths! That was awesome. For birthday gifts...candy. Especially fruit candy. They've got chocolate covered quite thoroughly here in Europe, but they can't do Skittles right. Or Starburst. Maybe can I put in a special request for Starburst jelly-beans. Other than that, I don't really need anything, nor do I have much room to take big things with me.

Spiritual thought: Today I want to talk about honesty. I have been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon about how the Nephites became increasingly more wicked due to the secret combinations of the Gadianton Robbers. If you need some sort of clarification on how the Lord views secret combinations, go read that section of the Book of Mormon. Honesty is critical for us. And with honesty, I wanted to address one thing in particular. I don't just mean speaking the truth. I mean doing and saying things with true intentions behind them. My challenge to you all this week is that you will make sure that your words truly reflect your heart (always being polite of course). I know that as we do this, we will feel the Spirit of the Lord more abundantly in our lives, and can feel more confident asking others, and the Lord, for help.
Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Svickova with Kofola from our favorite Czech Restuarant. 
In my opinion, the best meal on earth.

To answer a couple of Mom's questions:

  • Elder Dean will run. We haven't this past week. It really depends on president Chrdle's schedule. We will probably run a few times this week at some point. Usually 3ish mornings a week.
  • We actually have a washer in our bathroom! It's a little one, but works perfectly for us. And dryers don't really exist in this country,  so we hang things behind one of our doors.