Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Final Week (of this transfer and with Pres McConkie)

This was the last week that we have with President McConkie. He is a great man and a great mission President, and I am sad see him go, but we are also extremely excited to see everything our new President has to offer, and we know it is a lot. So, I will sum up some of the things that happened this last week, with regards to the change, missionary work, weather, and everything else.
  • For me, this week has been remarkably void of stress. Mostly in comparison to the stress last week of having two visa appointments. On Sunday we had dinner with our ward mission leader and his wife, in the restaurant owned by their family. They are really cool, and invited a non-member family that they are friends with to come as well. It was quite fun, and we got to talk about the work we do as missionaries, the things we did before our missions, and the things that we plan to do after as well. The Czech members here are pretty amazing, and they are all great examples to me.
  • On Tuesday the new office couple, the Scotts, came. The Holts don't leave until the 12thish of July, so they have some time to train them and to help them get ready for the responsibilities that they will need to fulfill. They seem pretty great, and are really excited to be here. We already like them a lot.
Office missionaries... the Holts! 

  • The language continues to progress very well.  I had a conversation on the phone in Czech to explain and set up and appointment for someone to come and set up an electronic signature for our computer.  That was an adventure!
  • On Wednesday we had the final training with the McConkies. It was a pretty emotional training, and really good. The Assistants trained on Companionship Study and how we can more effectively use that time. Then Sister McConkie trained about how we can help people to overcome their concerns, a section in Preach My Gospel. It was really good, and I learned a lot. Then President McConkie trained about testimony: what it is, how we get it, and how we can strengthen it. It was great. Then we heard testimonies from the departing missionaries. First from the two going home at the end of the transfer, and then from the entire McConkie family. That was pretty powerful. President McConkie shared his in the form of a "Jesus Thought." I don't know if I have explained what a "Jesus Thought" is before. It is something we do at the end of every training, and every District Meeting. Someone (at trainings President McConkie) takes a story from the New Testament about Jesus and shares it, applying it to us, and explaining what it teaches us about Jesus. They are always fabulous.
  • We had culture night Wednesday night and we went to a free outdoor Czech Philharmonic Orchestra performance. It was awesome. It was at the castle.
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Honestly, Thursday is mostly a blur, and I don't really remember what happened. 
  • Weather report to Caroline:  The weather is flippin' hot. To the point of insanity and melting. I am not dead yet. But stay-tuned, as I may be just a puddle next week. 
  •  I did have my last interview with President McConkie on Thursday. He basically told me that I am staying here in Prague in the office. Which I already knew. We spent about half of the interview talking about how I can help make the transition smoother.  I am worried with the transition that the paperwork for visa stuff  is going to be a bit crazy. Hopefully not too bad. But very excited about the fact that our new President can teach us some crazy good Czech, and we will probably be speaking a lot of Czech with him around.  And he obviously has a great understanding of the culture here already. And the fact that he is awesome.
  • This transfer ends next week. The transfer day is 4th of July! So while you are blowing things up, missionaries are going to be switching all over the country. The new president comes on Tuesday. It's going to be crazy. He is in charge as soon as his plane lands (he is in Provo, UT for the New Mission President seminary).  I have briefly met Pres Jan Pohorelicky and he is a lot different from President McConkie, but still really awesome in his own way.
  • Friday I had an exchange with Elder Trythall (missionary also from Roseville!). That was really enjoyable. I went with him to their area for the day, and because it was an exchange, we barely did anything in, or having to do with the office. We met some really interesting and really cool people, and taught a lot of lessons on the street. It was fun to get fully out of the office (almost) and just be able to focus on missionary work in Prague.  From Elder Trythall:  “We got work done and still had quite a few laughs and we enjoy a lot of the same things.  We spent our entire dinner talking about our favorite talks and stories from apostles.”
  • Today we played Squash with President and the other 4 Elders in Prague, then had a Czech delicacy called Tatarak consisting of raw meat/egg and pickle spread on toast with garlic. Sounds gross? It is actually...quite good. That was a surprise. (I looked it up and it's a mound of raw minced beef and a raw egg!!) Then we went with some members and the Sisters to a really interesting city outside of Prague.
Tatarak- raw meat, raw eggs 

My spiritual thought for the week comes about leaders. We have lots of leaders in the church, and they are called by the Lord. They are all imperfect people, but with the Lord's help, and our support, they can do amazing things. President McConkie has truly accomplished miracles here in this mission, and that has come as we have gotten behind him, and the Lord has directed it all. I testify that as we support our leaders, both local and not-so-local in their church callings, we will watch the Lord qualify them and us for His work, and accomplish miracles together. We are all on the Lord's team! Thanks for the support and prayers.

-Elder Pickett
 This is one kind of tram here in Prague.

And this is the church building/mission home. 
The church stuff is floors 1 and 2, and the mission home is floor 3.

Our last Zone Conference with President McConkie (and his kids in the front)
3 of Brad's 4 companions are in his zone- Elder Chadwick (MTC comp), Elder Dean (from CBud), present companion Elder Terry

 We went to the infamous Bone Church!  
The Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with more than 40,00 human skeletons.

 A coat of arms (from the Schwarzenberg family) that you will probably not recognize, 
but it is on a lot of things in C-Bud and thereabouts.  

My fearless companion.

A reallllly big church- Cathedral of Saint Barbara in Kutna Hora

Kutna Hora is known for silver mines

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What is time? And how does one purchase more of it?

Elder Pickett, Elder Terry, Elder Beaser, Elder Trythall, Elder Petersen, Elder Needham- Elders from the Prague District

As is indicated by my title, this transfer has absolutely flown by. Especially this past week. I barely even know what's going on anymore. There are a few things that I am certain of. I shall list them below.  
  • The first, and foremost is that there is going to be a baptism today in Prague! A woman from Nigeria who lives here in Prague and is married to a member is getting baptized, as well as the daughter of the member from a previous marriage. I have met her a few times on exchanges, and they are really awesome, so we are all very excited about that.
  • Secondly is the madness that was visa work this past week. The first appointment on Thursday was a group coming to pick up their residence cards at the final visit. That included me. But I wasn't able to get mine, because my visa hasn't yet actually expired, and that is actually a requirement for obtaining the long term card. So I get to go back. Which I was going to have to do anyways, so it's not actually a big deal. The lady helping me felt really bad about it, but it was totally okay.
  • The one on Friday was really, really stressful leading up to it. It was the first step in the visa process for the 7 missionaries in their second transfer here. For that, they need about a billion different papers, all of which I am responsible for obtaining, filling out, or changing the information so that everything applies to them. I found many mistakes, many times, but I think that in the end I had it all correct. That is the hope. That Friday morning included such fun things as: a last minute trip to the notary to get a document notarized that I has messed up on the first time through, a call from one of the companionships who lives 3.5 hours away by train, telling me their train had an unforeseen delay, finishing checking over, and still finding, mistakes on the green form of doom (the application paper), and some rain. Just for fun. However, all went smoothly so that everyone who needed to be there was able to be there, at the right time, with all the proper documentation I was required to provide. I was glad to finish that off.
  • This week has been really difficult. Mostly because, with all of these forms, and with Elder Terry getting orders ready for next week's zone conferences, we have had very little time to go out and really contact, or to focus on the missionary aspect of our work here. It is a difficult balance here in the office sometimes of doing everything that we have to here, and also putting in the time to do what we have been called here to really do. We have still been able to find time to meet with two of the YSA recent converts here in Prague, both of whom are awesome. We talked about the importance of the scriptures and of preparing to receive revelation, and reading in the Book of Mormon. I love the power that comes from the Book of Mormon. It is great to know that when we need a spiritual boost, that we can always turn to the scriptures and find something for ourselves or for those we are striving to teach and help.
  • Also, on Monday we had the Young Artist Chamber Players, a group from Utah came and performed a concert for us on Monday evening. They are extremely talented and did a phenomenal job. My favorite song that they did was "We'll Bring the World His Truth." It was a very close up performance, and they did such a good job, and that song is one of my favorites. It was a great spiritual boost, and I was grateful to be there for it.
  • There is try in the gospel! So you can pick yourself up and try, try again! Keep at your scripture reading,  the blessings are there. I have another talk for you from a BYU speech: "Nourishing the Tree" -Kenneth A Solen. It's a good one.
  • For Caroline:  I think I might miss your birthday party this year...I will probably be unavailable next year too, unfortunately. But I am working on sending a little something to you. It is small, but still coming, along with a good personal note, detailing many important things (i.e. how you can take over the world).  As long as everything goes as planned and today doesn't explode like most of our days do, I'll send it off today. So it should get to you...who knows when. Because I don't understand global postal at all. 
My spiritual thought for this week is on "preparation." As I have learned this transfer, it is very important to prepare for a visa appointment. The missionaries have to be notified, the paperwork has to be completed, transportation has to be arranged beforehand, and an appointment has to be made. There is a lot of work, but as long as I do it properly, things flow pretty smoothly. The same can be applied to spiritual appointments. When we go to Sacrament meeting, when we kneel to pray, and when we open the scriptures, we need to be prepared. Prepared for the revelation that we are searching for, prepared for the experience and communication that we will have with the Lord. So my challenge to you all this week is to take the necessary steps and time to prepare. I know that blessings with follow. Thanks for all the support and prayers!
And Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there! They rock.

-Elder Pickett

Mom note:  There is a great backstory about Brad’s visa office work.  He received his first visa paperwork in the mail last summer while he was at BYU.  It involved getting more passport pictures, filling out very carefully and legibly all the sections with personal information and getting it notarized.  There was a lot of discussion back and forth about following directions perfectly since it is a legal document.  He finally got it all done and left the completely forms in a box at Aunt Jean’s in Provo.  So he had to redo it and under the watchful detail oriented eyes of Mom this time.  Clearly… he was preparing for his visa assignment.  

From a member of the Prague Ward who took the Elders to Vysehrad Castle:
Good day Elders, greetings and photos from Saturday's outing to the ancient Vysehrad
We are under the statue of St. Wenceslas , which 
stood on Wenceslas Square in the early 19th century . 

Elders Petersen and Needham illustrate " Sarka and Ctirad " at the famous statues 

and finally the walls of Vysehrad, from which jumped Šemík with Horymír . View of the castle .

Gothic Towers of Vyserhrad

Monday, June 13, 2016

When Extra Pictures Arrive and Make Our Day!

 Pday fun with Prague missionaries:  Elder Beazer, Elder Terry, Elder Pickett, Elder Trythall (who is also from our Roseville Stake!)

 First ever Prague Ward BBQ
Elder Pickett enjoying the food!

A former missionary from the Czech mission came for a visit to Prague and posted this picture:  "Starší Terry and Pickett. I met Starší Terry at TRC as a brand new missionary at the MTC. It is neat to see how he has grown since then in his Czech speaking! These Elders are doing great as well." 

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Prague is pretty cool.  And a view of the city that is nowhere near as good as real life.

Elders Pickett & Terry

Hello everybody, I hope you have had just the most marvelous week this last week. Mine's been pretty swell. And...interesting. On Monday morning we had office meeting, with President and Sister McConkie, the Holts, the Morgans, and Assistants, and us. It is a good time. This week, Elder Petersen shared a spiritual thought about how the Stripling Warriors did not fear fighting, even though they had no experience with it, because they chose to rely on God. So, he concluded, we can do things we never have before. That kind of became a theme for me this week... 
·  Number 1. I installed a computer for Sister Holt. For those of you who do not know, I am not exactly an IT wizard. If someone had a question about technology, they would certainly not be bringing it to me first. So on Monday we got an email from an IT helper in Frankfurt, who was going to help me do all of the changing over. So I got a call from him and we chatted about what I needed to do to get ready for that. That involved going to the Best Buy of the Czech Republic (hidden in a random, somewhat sketchy looking warehouse that turned out to be a miracle of modern technology inside) to buy a special fancy cable and a flash drive, downloading some giant files, exhausting all of my computer knowledge and then asking him for help, and then asking someone else for help on something else. It was quite a day.
·  Then we had exchanges, and I got to go with Elder Beazer to his area in Pankrac, still in Prague. We there had a good time, and a chalk display during which I contacted a pretty cool Dutch scientist, who I thought was Czech. So we were both speaking in Czech until partway into the conversation when I was struggling to formulate a sentence correctly, and he asked "Where are you from?" and I answered "Califonia." To which he replied "Then why the heck are we speaking in Czech! I know it's good for us both to practice, but let's just speak English!" That was a fun contact. Overall it was a good exchange in which a lot didn't go according to plan, but still went rather decently.

Our super awesome chalk display. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. And then we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between us and God. 
(exchanges with Elder Beazer)

·  Then I actually installed the computer most of the way on Wednesday, as well as tried something new and delicious at a restaurant. Elder Terry and I also got to pick up the McConkie kids from school. That was great fun. They are super cool.
·  Then we finished installing the computer on Thursday, except for one very important program, which we still can't get downloaded properly. I got to call Salt Lake about that on Friday.
·  Then on Friday, we had Visa Work again, in which many good things happened. Mainly 1) We didn't get lost on the way there like last time 2) It was my MTC group, so I got to see them again 3) Almost everyone got the same date and same time to come back, so I don't have to call and try to see how everyone can fit together. 4) Nobody got kicked out of the country.

We took a picture. The sisters couldn't come, but this is the rest of our district. Left to right: me, Elder Terry, Elder Beazer (our District Leader), Elder Trythall, the Assistants Elder Petersen and Elder Needham.
Look a little familiar? This is in a really famous graveyard here in Prague. 
The site of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution really.

·  CBud (Brad’s last area) is having a baptism next week.  I won’t be going to it since it is a family I have never met. And there is a baptism here in Prague, so I will definitely be at that one. 
·  Overall, it was a crazy week, and we didn't have as much time to find as I would have liked, but we are still working hard, doing our best, and trusting in the Lord. And that is really all that we can do.

My spiritual thought for the week isn't so much of a thought as a habit. This past week, I have been reading the New Testament, in the book of Matthew. It has been incredible for me to study the Lord's life, and everything that Jesus Christ did, and to try to apply some of those principles into my teaching and life. It has been incredible how much my desire to read and to study more out of the scriptures has grown this past week as well. So, my suggestion is that if you ever feel like it is hard to do spiritual things, or make the time to read the scriptures, or find the desire to read the scriptures, study the life of Jesus Christ, and watch how it changes your life. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett  

P-Day Fun:

 We went to a pretty great mirror maze last weekend.

Elders Terry, Pickett, Trythall 

                                                          Elders Beazer, Terry, Pickett, Trythall 

The caverns we went in on our tour today. And the door we exited from.

 The most famous Czech composer of all time 
is buried here.

 With a nice view of the city on the way back.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

So June is Here Now I Guess

The Candy Store, a place of magic and marvels, has Barq's Red Creme Soda. The real deal. 

How we lost the month of May to the sands of time I will never know, but I guess it is already June. It is incredible to think that I have been in Prague for a month. You would think that means I know what I am doing here with Visa Work. You would think wrong if that is the case. This transfer is flying by, and it is just going to get more and more busy as we approach the end and President McConkie leaves and we transition into a new Mission President. And, as if that weren't enough, we are going to get a new Office Couple too. That just adds to the insanity. Speaking of insanity, this week happened, highlighted by:
  • The weather is Bohemian, meaning madness. What is the Bohemian Spring/early Summer weather like? Every day is essentially the same: hot and humid, with a chance of sudden and violent downpours of rain for an interval of anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Then simply repeat the cycle. It has been crazy.
  • An invitation by President to go on an hour road trip outside of Prague to give a blessing to a man, whose daughter attended BYU and got baptized. He is not a member, but she is, and she asked if missionaries could come to give him a blessing in the hospital. He spoke excellent English, and was really grateful that we came out.
  • Running into random members from Utah while we were out tracting one night, in a random suburb of Prague, probably 30 minutes away from anything remotely touristy.
  • The organization of our new Prague Bishopric on Sunday. That was quite exciting for all of us. Our Prague ward is great. We officially got a Bishop and 1st counselor, who used to be a ward missionary and is just amazing. I love the metro in Prague! It is awesome. And the YSA here are incredible. As well as basically just every member. And the sheer amount of people.
  • Lots of really good food, from some really good restaurants
  • District contacting, which consisted of singing, and creating a beautiful chalk display that disappeared from a sudden downpour right after we left the area.
  • Visiting the notary with President McConkie to get 16 documents notarized (and in this country, notarizing is a big deal. President McConkie explained that notaries have to go through law school, and act as a "neutral lawyer" when notarizing documents)
  • And other general mayhem that just goes along with missionary life, especially here in the office. Office pictures:
 My desk in the office!

 The Office. Not to be confused with the hit TV show. Picture above is where Elder Terry, Elder Holt, and I sit. Picture to the left is the entrance and where Sister Holt sits.  Then the supply room and a random hallway with bathrooms. 

President's office 
  • The McConkie's stuff is mostly all gone already. (Mission President McConkie and his family will be returning to the US.  This is his last transfer as the Mission President before the new Mission President starts.) On its way back on a slow boat. They are kind of in the process of moving out so that the new MP can have space when he comes. He does speak English. He is a good guy.
  • Prague is having a music festival, where random people go around as street performers to celebrate the ending of WWII. That's been coolio. Also, I haven't seen Czech pants anywhere in this city! I don't know how that is even possible. But I will keep searching for a purple pair to send to Caroline for her birthday.
  • Responding to a blog post from Mom from about Americans living in the Czech called “Surviving the Foreign Police.”   That is real advice. If you don't know Czech you are toast. A lot of the people know English, but when you call the Foreign Police phone line it literally translates for the first two or three phrases then says "This conversations will continue in the Czech language." And the Operators only do Czech.
My spiritual thought today is about patience. We have been struggling this last month to find investigators, to meet with the ones we already have, and to do the things we want to for our area. Some days, things we can't control get in our way and prevent us from contacting, or trying to visit someone, or something like that. But I have gained a testimony that when we rely on the Lord, we will still see miracles. It is His timing, and His plan, not ours.  I have personally seen that there are some times when we just blunder around and do everything wrong, and God makes it okay. So I invite you all to keep going. When we do our best, and leave the rest to the Lord, He will magnify our efforts to more that we can imagine. And we will grow more than we ever thought possible. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett