Tuesday, April 26, 2016

One Last Week of the Transfer!

My nametag on the namesti (town square)  then next to the church building 
(view from the Black Tower) 

Hello everyone. This week has been amazing. This upcoming week is my final week before transfers. I could stay here in C-Bud , but that is very unlikely, I will most likely be somewhere else in this beautiful country. No idea where! I don't have much time, so here's what happened.
  • We had an awesome lesson on Tuesday. We have an investigator and he has been on date for May 7th to be baptized. We taught with an awesome member, the same one we run with in the morning, and he had a great explanation of how we receive answers from the Spirit to our questions, and how we feel the Spirit. It was, quite literally, General Authority status. And it was exactly what our investigator needed to here to make him realize the spiritual experiences he has had, and to feel like he is ready for baptism! It was awesome, and really showed to me the benefit of teaching with members whenever possible.
Our party with Olina, the less-active we visit every week
  • We also had culture night this week, on Thursday. We went up the Black Tower, a giant clock tower next to a big church here, that's right around the corner from out building. We also got a tour of our beautiful city by one of the sisters' English students who is a C-Bud native, and knows a lot about the history of this oh-so-wonderful city. After that we got ice cream, always good, and then tried to buy last minute tickets for the orchestra. Unfortunately, they were all sold out, so they let us stand in the back for free instead. What a rough life. It was really good. And then we finished the night with some delicious svickova and kofola at our favorite Czech restaurant. It was a good night of culture for us.
 Beautiful C-Bud from the top of Black Tower

 Culture Night at the orchestra

  • This week I have really noticed a difference in my ability to understand Czech. It has been really cool to see. I still don't understand most of it (obviously), but I feel like I can focus more on the MEANING of what people are saying, and the Spirit, than on the WORDS they are using. That has been really great.  I am not so lost during conversations and lessons, so I can start to work on how to improve my teaching and on how to create a better environment for the Spirit. I am getting to the point where I don't have to just translate everything word for word inside of my head to try to understand it. Certain words are just the same for me in Czech and English. That has been especially great. 
  • As my Czech is getting better, I have been working on how to approach contacting. Contacting for me is really difficult, because I don't really like talking to random people anyways, and then when I start the conversation I sometimes struggle to teach any real doctrine and commit them to do something. I have been learning a lot from Sister Manners actually about that. She loves contacting and is really good at it too, so I have been asking her advice. It's been improving. I have also found that the hard work I did in high school and the constant stress I am used to has transitioned to me feeling pretty comfortable here on my mission.

  • Today I bought myself an early birthday present. It is a Prim watch. They are a Czech watch company that makes very nice, very expensive watches. But, even cooler, if you go look in antique stores, you can find cheaper, older ones that still work, and say Czechoslovakia on them. They are sort of legendary among missionaries, and I found one that I really like here in an antique shop.

My spiritual thought for the week is to always remember who you are! We often get so caught up in how the world evaluates our actions, our worth, and what we do, that we forget some important things. We are children of God! He loves us, and He wants us to be happy! Just that knowledge alone can fill us with hope and light. When we remember our worth is great in his sight (D&C 18:10) we can be confident that we have worth, and that we ought to be joyful, and be kind and loving to those around us. So REMEMBER. That's my challenge.
Thanks for all of the prayers and support!

Elder Pickett

lunch today from our favorite Indian Restaurant.

 Our favorite Czech restaurant.

Sestra DeMann and Starsi Pickett- training and serving in the same Districts since the MTC!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why I Decided to Serve a Mission!

The reasons why I decided to serve a mission are hard to completely describe. 
But here are a few of the main reasons why I am here in the Czech Republic.

1) I have a testimony of the life-changing power of the Book of Mormon and the Atonement, and I want to share that.
2) The Lord has given me so many blessings, and I know that responsibilities come with them, this is one of them.
3) I have the examples of friends, and my parents to lead me in this direction.
4) I want to be an example to my extended family members, friends, and others.
5) My patriarchal blessing.
6) I know this is where the Lord wants me to be.

There are many more experiences, and reasons why, but those 6 form the central core of my motivation to be here, to keep going when things become difficult, and to keep trying despite all obstacles in front of me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Week 8! How that's possible? I have no idea.

Hello everyone! It is week 8 of this transfer here in C-Bud (transfers are 9 weeks in the Czech Republic). Still haven't figured out how that is possible. This transfer has been absurdly fast, which I don't appreciate at all. But still, good things have been happening. Here's a few
  • This past Friday, we had Visa work in Prague. Which means that I got to see my whole MTC group together again. That was absurdly fun, and I have a few ridiculous pictures to document it. We also went to a burrito place and got really good burritos in Prague. I am going to make a note of that place for the future if I ever serve there...Also, during Visa work the lady got upset with me because she didn't find the stamp in my passport from when I came into the country. That was a bit of a stressful moment. But more so for Elder Belshe, who was in charge of the visa work for all 13 missionaries who were in Prague doing Visa work together. He coordinated the whole thing, and had to be able to answer any questions. He is a champ.
Our MTC District-  We are good. 
We're missing Elder Paxton, he had already left to return to his area.

  • I also had the chance to give my first Priesthood Blessing in Czech! It was a little bit terrifying, but also really cool. We have a member who lives nearby who was feeling really sick, so we went over and gave her a blessing, and Elder Dean volunteered me to do it, because I haven't yet had the opportunity. It was stressful, but I was able to say everything I felt like I needed to, so that was good.
  • We get people asking us who we are going to vote for. Then they want to talk politics with us (mostly about Donald Trump). 
  • Today we went on a fun hike into the woods near the border of Austria. The forest is in Dobra Voda. Which is a little suburbs that means "good water." The fountain is right outside of the center here.  Our area is really large, and literally our South border is the Czech-Austrian border, so don't worry, we were still in our area and everything.  The Sestras’ English student George was our fearless leader.

 Hiking in the forests of Dobra Voda

 Pretty forest.

Here is a rock that looks like a face from both directions.

  • We also had a really full Thursday, and almost ran out of time for lunch! I mean, as bad as it is to miss food, we are also thrilled to be really busy. It's a dangerous balance we maintain...
  • Learning the language is coming along well. I just want to keep going and keep working hard on it.  Also as a funny side note, I can no longer pronounce anything correctly in Spanish. Mr. Ruden was always complimenting my on that during Spanish, but now, anything that isn't in English gets pronounced in Czech. So the "n" wasn't what was giving me problems, it was the "c" (in reference to a Spanish name that Scott sent him).
  •  The three hardest things about serving? 1) I still don't understand a lot of what people are saying 2) We have almost no down-time whatsoever. I am fine with not lounging around all day, but we are go, go, go pretty much from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep. That is exhausting. and 3) Trying to figure out the best way to be a missionary.
  • We did service in a forest on Saturday! Also, we all got ticks! But don't worry, we got them out properly and safely. C-Bud is pretty.

 Our C-Bud District- Sestras Manners & DeMann, Starsi Pickett & Dean

Starsi Brad Pickett- Mormon Helping Hands!
  • In a talk I watched in the MTC, Elder Holland "demands" at least one convert on our missions, and it had better be us. I think it is so true. As you spend all day living and preaching the gospel, if you aren't being changed by it, you aren't going to have done anything significant when you return home.
The spiritual thought for this week comes from Elder Uchtdorf's talk from last conference, Saturday Morning Sessions. By last I mean October. He talks about that we don't have to achieve any special place before God will start working with us. He loves us and He wants us to improve, starting from right where we are. So my challenge is to start! Wherever you are at, start! If you have goal you have wanted to fulfill, start it! If you have one you gave up on, try it again! God is always there for us, and he is supporting us in every effort we make to improve as people, and as followers of His son, Jesus Christ.
Thanks for all of the prayers and support, you all rock!
-Elder Pickett

 We are the Southern Boys, because we are in South Bohemia. As south as you can get.


Giant Catholic Church. With the Mormons inside.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Our C-Bud District
(Starsi Dean & Pickett's nametags got swapped)

From a letter Elder Brad sent home:
"I am here in the Czech Republic having the time of my life and learning a ton along the way."

In case my title didn't give it away, LDS General Conference was pretty good this past weekend. We watched it with our branch on Saturday and Sunday, but did it in English. We downloaded the English version onto our phones, each put one ear-bud of a headphone in, and then started it at the same time to line up with the Czech broadcast we were watching. So that way we could be in the room with members, but still actually learn things and being spiritually uplifted. And it was awesome! That was, most certainly, the highlight of my week, but some other things happened too...
  • Last night we ran into the same Satanist I met last transfer with Elder Galbraith. He told us that appreciates and admires us and the work that we do here in the Czech Republic. That was a very odd moment, and I was quite unsure how to respond. Directly after that, we ran into the American gentleman Dennis, who lives around the corner from us, is from North Carolina, and speaks no Czech. He's been here for I believe 10 years. I don't know how he is still alive honestly. I would go insane living in country and not knowing the native language spoken for that long.
  • We also made a triple batch of Halusky for our branch lunch on Sunday. It was quite an adventure, but a successful one. One of the members then brought Svickova, the sauce and meat. So we ate them together. It was a very original combination, of my two favorite Czech/Slovak foods, but it was actually really good. And then another member made pancakes, which were a lot like crepes, and we ate them with chocolate sauce. Also very good. Overall, we had a very good Sunday experience. 
  • Lunch prep is our real meal. It is good. Spaghetti is really easy, we eat that. And some other similar foods. I do indeed miss chili and tacos and fried rice. But I will survive.

Photographic proof of cooking!  

  • After General Conference, we tried to hunt down some less active church members, we have a list with their addresses. That was fun too. We found out that two of them no longer live at their old addresses, and one does, but we couldn't find the address! But we got to have a loud conversation with an elderly gentleman who was hard of hearing out of a second story window, got invited to come back and visit an older lady, and talked to some interesting people on the bus. It was some good finding time, overall. 

 The Czech Republic in spring!
This is a flower called "Golden Rain" and it is everywhere here! I love it.
  •  This week I really tried to work on following the Spirit, even when it was a little inconvenient or uncomfortable. I will keep on trying Dad. Thanks for the challenge and the prayers!
  • We also went on another bike ride today. And as I pulled out my camera to take a picture, it told me to charge the battery, and then it died. That was a bit unfortunate. So, sadly, I don't have any pictures of our extremely painful, and extremely memorable bike ride today up and down the hills of Southern Bohemia. We got bikes from Pavel, our bike friend. Our ride was to the middle of nowhere. And too far.  (Picture from Sestra Manners!)
Bike ride in hills of Southern Bohemia

·         This week has been an adventure. The language is coming along really well. I am picking up things a lot faster now. Every day I continue to see improvement.  I feel like I have always had a good understanding of what people are trying to say, even if they don't say it correctly in the English language. And I am feeling the same with Czech. I find that I can pick out the meaning of some Czech phrases and sentences and statements.  I actually had a cool experience with the gift of tongues this week. I try to pray personally in Czech, even by myself at night in my head. But when I want to have an especially heartfelt prayer, I like to do that in English. It is more comfortable for me. Well I had such a night this past week where I was struggling a little and I felt the need for an especially humble, heartfelt prayer. So I started it in English. But about 2 sentences in, the Czech words I was using in English started coming to my head more easily than the English ones. So I felt like that was Heavenly Father telling me "Just try it in Czech. You can do it." So I did. And I had a long, really heartfelt prayer  all in Czech. It was a cool spiritual experience

My spiritual thought for the week doesn't come from conference, it literally IS conference. Go and study it people! The talks and counsel which we were given were inspired and are sure ways to help us to draw closer to the Savior, to better honor our baptismal covenants as members, and to be better human beings in general (this challenge is meant for everyone who read my emails, no matter what religion). 
My challenge to you is to choose at least 1 talk this week, and study it! Mark it up, write on it, cross reference it, but study it and learn from it. I am doing Elder Bednar's talk, but you can choose whichever one you want! 

Thanks for all of the support and love, you are all awesome!
-Elder Pickett

 Random, artsy photo
 We work hard and enjoy pday fun!  Our District.

Hluboka last week 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Greetings from Overseas!

That was a random restaurant with a giant catfish on it. I figured I should take a picture. My nametag is covering the real name of the restaurant, so I can pretend it is mine.

 Fun giant painted Easter Eggs

Hello everyone! Hope you are all having a fabulous time this week! I know I have. This week was...quite a unique one. Let me explain a general schedule, and then share some specifics. We had training in Prague on Thursday, and after that ended, we started exchanges with the Assistants to the President. They are experienced missionaries, who have been in the country for a while, and assigned to help President McConkie with trainings, and directing the work here. They are also the highest authority of missionaries to go to with questions about rules. Basically, they are pretty awesome. We stayed with them until Friday afternoon, when we traveled back. Doesn't sound too crazy right? Well let me explain a little bit more...
  • First off, the strange things started Tuesday night, when we got a call from the Assistants, asking us to do an exchange. So we had a few days of notice, but not many. Things continued when my companion, Elder Dean was having some health issues that necessitated a visit to the Doctor in Prague. Nothing too serious, just something we wanted to take care of. So we got a call from a Doctor in Germany at about 10:35 that night to talk about the situation.
  • Wednesday was normal, minus the time we took to try to help a member with some technology issues. He called the company the first time, and after realizing he didn't know what he was doing, handed the phone to my companion. Luckily the lady spoke English. Because oddly enough, Elder Dean doesn't know the Czech vocabulary to ask about resetting a password and logging into an account. Not an essential missionary conversation. And then we ended up calling the company back after waiting for far too long, and the member straight off gave the phone to Elder Dean. Well this time, the person on the other end knew no English. That was an adventure. In the end, we all left without resolving the issue.
  • Thursday we traveled to Prague, via the 6:03 train. We got up at 4:30. It was so much fun. I just love waking up that early. I will leave it up to you to judge how sarcastic that statement was. (Hint, more than a little) Training was, as always, excellent. President McConkie gave an excellent training about "Finding" and Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel (Which is on Finding). It was excellent, and just what we were needing down here in our area, because we have been struggling a bit with finding new investigators. President McConkie is a little bit awesome. We also received from training from other missionaries about contacting and commitments. All really good things to know about.
  • Our exchange was great. I was with Elder Brown, who is an Assistant who has been in the country for 3 months...Because he has been in Slovakia for more than a year. He speaks only Slovak, but also understands Czech now. The moral of the story is that Slovak is very similar to Czech, but still a completely different language. The first few conversations I was completely lost. I could understand the native Czech speakers more than him. That's not something that I had anticipated. We also had a singing display, with about 12 missionaries. The sisters were on exchanges at the same time, and everyone came. It was a party. And there are SO many people in Prague. It makes C-Bud seem tiny.
  • On Saturday, we were running to visit a less-active member, when Elder Dean got bitten by a dog we went past. We tried to talk to the girl walking the dog because we wanted to make sure the dog wasn't sick or anything, but when we stopped to look at his ripped shirt, she ran for it and totally disappeared. The funny thing is, I ran right past the dog and it didn't react at all. But then Elder Dean, right behind me, got bitten. I guess I got lucky that time. To make a long story short, which involved a lot of waiting, we ended up in the ER of the hospital here in C-Bud at about 10:15. I captured our adventures on camera for the most part, so you can all see that as well. It was great fun, and that journal entry will forever be remembered and be reflected upon with great entertainment.
In the ER with a prescription...
  • The language is coming along well! Lots of improvement comes from lots of speaking.
  • Our investigators are pretty cool. The 32 year-old scientific researcher is my favorite. He is awesome. He also chose his own baptismal date, for my birthday. That would be incredible.
  • We will watch LDS General Conference next weekend when we get the Czech translation.  We actually watched the Sunday Morning session with one of our investigators, who is from England and doesn't speak Czech. He is an English teacher and has lived here for 18 years.
  • Sestra DeMann also has some really cool photos from this P-Day you will probably want. Keep your eyes peeled for a good jumping one. We took a bus back to Hluboka. It was a party.

The inside of Hluboka, through a window because it was closed.
P-Day tourists!  
Sestras are matching today!

My spiritual thought for the week is actually on journal writing. Interestingly, the reason that we have the Book of Mormon and the scriptures is because the prophets kept records! And a lot of them even say that they are doing it for their descendants too! So, the moral of the story, and the challenge to all of you, is to write in a journal! Write down goals, things you are learning, and interesting things that happened to you throughout the day. You can go back and look at the progress you have made, the experiences you have had, and the life you have lived and loved. You can also share you experiences with your family and children, and who knows, maybe one day they will become scripture! (I wouldn't count on that one, but it can be a fun keepsake at the very least) 

Thanks for all of the love and support!
-Elder Pickett

 There was a goat statue. So I figured, why not?