Saturday, May 14, 2016

Prague Cranks it up a Notch

Thank you for the picture (from Brad's new companion Elder Terry)!

Not sure if this is a phrase most people use, or if I just stole it from my dad. Regardless, it is the title of my email. This past week has been great, and more than a little bit crazy. Tomorrow we are officially changing the organization of the Church here in the Czech Republic, and we will be having a Stake. Also, President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency will be here to do that. Things are rather busy, and we are all just a little bit excited about it. Our week has been utter madness. I think the last three days have felt like forever, and the first three felt like no time at all. Here are a few highlights of this last week.
Where the special conference is being held

Elder Terry (Brad's new compananion on the right) ... where is Elder Pickett?
Only sighting from Sunday's round of pictures is the back of his head at the left of the picture

And then FB has this great picture!  Elder Pickett and Elder Andersen (MTC District friends) along with Sestras from his MTC district too!
  • First off, people speak English here in Prague. And that throws me off a whole lot. I am really not used to hearing Americans behind me on the street, unless they are another missionary. I met some people this last week who do not know any Czech, which makes me feel slightly accomplished, because I can at least hold something that resembles a conversation with people that I meet. So that was fun.
  • We met a couple who was asking for directions, and as we were trying to explain/understand how in the world they ended up on the opposite side of the city from their intended destination, they noticed our nametags. Now, sometimes people get upset that we are missionaries. Other times they are curious. Other times they think we are doing a great thing. But this was a first. They read the nametags, and as they got to the words "Jesus Christ" they literally hurried away in fear. That was a new one. We also met a woman who spoke quickly and used words we didn't understand, basically completely rejected us, and then asked us why we weren't more pushy. It was an odd conversation.
  • On Sunday, I got to Skype home for Mother's Day! That was awesome. I got to see and talk to my family in person. It was great fun! It was weird to see the family room again. And weird to see that it hasn't changed.  And we also got to have dinner with a senior couple here in Prague. That was delicious.
Mother's Day Skype- California, Utah, Prague!
  • I did enjoy my birthday package! It is fabulous! The candy, flashdrive, letters, stickers, ninja erasers (that was fun and random) and whatnot were just what I was hoping for. I may or may not have already eaten all of the Sour Patch Kids. I tried to pace myself...It kind of worked.  (Brad requested fruity candy for his birthday package!)
  • On Saturday, my birthday we had sports night. And the only place that we could find to play soccer was outside of a "legalize marijuana" rally. It was an odd environment. That led to me getting jumped on/hugged by a drunk shirtless man. I think I can, with complete honesty, say that is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me on my birthday. People sang to me multiple times for my birthday. Including at FHE on Monday. That was fun. Also, all Czechs know the happy birthday song in English. That's a bit random.   
  • Also, the amount of people who live here in Prague and are members is crazy. I basically went into shock on Sunday when I saw the ward.  Over 100 members attend compared to 15 or so in our CBud branch. We have members in our Prague ward that don’t speak Czech, so the missionaries translate the Czech church meetings into English.  I turn that over to my companion, Elder Terry. Even more church members will be here this weekend for the conference. It is going to be quite an event. We will have 6 other missionaries staying in our apartment. 
  • In the Book of Mormon, I love Alma chapter 5. I think the idea of a change of heart is the principle of true conversion, versus just a testimony. As we recognize the principles of the gospel, we recognize that God's way is better, and that an important part of learning of Him and growing closer to Him is through repentance, and through changing. I also really love the verses, maybe starting with 45 where it talks about how Alma the Younger gained his testimony. I think it is so interesting that he doesn't identify the experience of seeing an angel as his testimony, but prayer, fasting, and study. Those are all things that anyone of us can do on our own. We don't have to wait for an angel to tell us we are doing things wrong before we can understand the better way.
  • We see Elder Trythall (another missionary from our Roseville Stake) and Elder Beazer, his companion, all the time. At various events at the church, when they are teaching lessons, during district meeting and district contacting, and sometimes randomly around the city (not often though, Prague is HUGE). 
Much more happened, but I don't have time for it all.
Spiritual thought: We often think that before we act on something, we have to receive a clear path from God to follow. Elder Bednar, and my own experience teach that often, we just have to go for it. We have to follow the direction we have received (however much it is) and we have to trust that God will illuminate, and provide the rest of the way. It can often be terrifying, but we receive great blessings as we do it, and we will see the amazing growth that comes from it. So act! Follow what you know, and watch as your trust in God leads to miracles. Have a great week!

-Elder Pickett 

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