Saturday, July 30, 2016

The End of July is Near

Lunch from the July 24th anniversary celebration

Tomorrow actually is the end of July. It is very near. Which brings up the good question, of how the heck does time go so fast? I really don't know. This week has been quite an adventure and rollercoaster, right from start to finish, so I will just get right into it. 
  • On Sunday we had a lesson with someone who we thought was going to be a new investigator, but it turns out he was already a member. He lives in India, but comes to Prague for vacation, and got baptized while he was here. We were very confused by that whole situation, but it worked out well. We also had a first and final lesson with someone. That was a little unfortunate. And a second lesson with a man outside of his front gate. We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he said that we can continue to come back and keep teaching, and that he wants to come to church, so that is good. We also had the crazy thing happen. We talked to a guy who came out while we were tracting, and he politely but firmly rejected us. So we kept going. Five minutes later we noticed him following us down the street, and when we stopped at another house he asked if we had a few minutes to come back and talk with him. So we taught him on his back porch, explaining about who we are and some of the things that we believe. We left him with a Book of Mormon, and while he politely declined our invitation to come back, we know that the Lord is working with him. He is someone who is spiritually hungry and will find the truth. I also had a drunk guy on a tram almost kiss my cheek and actually kiss my shoulder. That was an interesting experience. Wouldn't recommend that one.
  • Monday I don't really remember. It was good, I think. We had office meeting and did some work in the office, as well as getting out for a few hours to talk to people. 
Elder Terry by a wonderful sign that we found while tracting

  • Pres P speaks virtually only Czech to us. The occasional English if he thinks we aren't getting something, but mostly 100% Czech with us young missionaries. Interviews, phone conversations, trainings, you name it, it is in Czech. (responding to a question about changes with a new Mission President) . One of the first things that he changed over was announcing a mission wide policy of recycling. Which is incredibly Czech. Can't think of a whole lot of drastic changes. He is a lot less of a showman than President McConkie was (President McConkie has quite the dramatic flair) and has changed around the way we do some things here in the office just because of how he is different.  
  • Tuesday we had District Meeting with the Mission President and his wife present. They included some good insights about Czechs and how we should talk to them. We also had group finding as a singing display. Until it started raining, at which point we took a tram back to the office. From the tram stop to the office we sprinted the 100 or so meters, and we looked like we went swimming. Dripping from head to toe. Bohemian rain storms are pretty great. 
Elder Terry & Elder Pickett dripping wet from the rain! 

  • Wednesday we got out for almost the whole day! We spent from 2 pm to 8 pm proselyting. And all of our appointments fell through so it turned into a 6 hour contacting and tracting block. It was so fun. I haven't had one of those in a long time. We took a tram from one end all the way to the other. It was a long tram ride. It was a pretty excellent day and in the end we got a few lessons, a few return appointments, a met a lot of really cool people.
  • Thursday we also got out for most of the day. It was a good one too. It is really refreshing to not have office work and to be able to focus on the real mission part of our work here. We are trying really hard to meet with two of our investigators. We hope that they will finally have time and that we can help them to try out some things and progress on the gospel path.
  • Yesterday we had weekly planning. We also met a Russian man who wanted to come and personally thank us for the kindness that members have shown his family and tell us that he will help us if we ever need it, and that he wants to come to church here in Prague with his family. So that was cool. Then during lunch, due to a sudden downpour, we ended up sharing a table with two men who were drinking under an umbrella. We talked with them for a long time about who we were and why we are here. They were a little shocked by our ability to speak Czech, but they were also a little drunk, so that may have had something to do with it...Overall an interesting conversation.
  • We do a lot of restaurant eating at places near the office, because they are convenient and well-priced. We eat a lot of Czech food. A lot. Elder Terry and I are doing  great. We get along very well and have a good time.
  • Also, that Czech bakery that you all went to in Provo, Elder Terry and I met the owner here a few weeks ago in Prague. His name is Ross, he is really cool.  His family is Czech but he is not, but he knows how to cook authentic style from his family.  (he and 2 siblings opened the bakery in 2014) He took us to the most fancy, expensive restaurant I have ever been to in my whole life and paid for it all. The final bill was close to $250 for the three of us. It was crazy. 
The rest of the Pickett family in Provo, UT at a Czech bakery
  • Hope Lindsay has her baby soon! If the baby comes on July 31st (Harry’s birthday) she should definitely name the baby after someone from Harry Potter. Which reminds me, I have not heard any actual name ideas for this child. Nor thrown in any of my own. I have two Czech ones: Katka. Look at my Czech pronunciation guide to figure out how that sounds. And Šarka, which sounds like shark with an uh at the end. Good stuff.
Those are the highlights of my past week. My spiritual thought for this week is about praying for strength and help. I have truly come to receive a testimony on my mission of the power of prayer. There are sometimes that is hard for me to contact someone on a tram or the metro. It can be stressful, loud, and they might look very uninterested. But I have learned that one of the best ways to deal with that and to talk to them is to pray and ask for strength and the desire to share my testimony with them, and to see them through God's eyes. After that kind of prayer it becomes very easy and natural to begin to talking to people. So I invite you all to think of something that is difficult for you to do, and to pray and ask the Lord for help to overcome that fear tnad to do what you need to. I know that you will blessed as you do so. Thank you for all of the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett  

Follow up from last week's mystery picture... from Elder Terry:  “The picture with the plaque is because the one at Karlstejn is not permanent; it is kept here in President’s office and then every year we bring it up with us to the hill for the activities/meetings that we have. President asked me to take it back to Prague on Saturday so I was its guardian.”  Good to know they weren’t stealing it… ha ha ha…

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Elder Pickett & Elder Terry

This is a very fitting title for this week. I will briefly summarize our various adventures and then focus on the big one for most of the email.
·  We found a lot of people who told us we could talk more with them this week! That is always fun. We have quite a few potential investigators who seem like they will pan out well. We are really excited to see what happens with them.
·  We also had an excellent lesson with a less active member about enduring to the end, and what that means and how we can do that. We based it off of the scriptures 2 Nephi 31: 19-20, taking all of the phrases described a breaking them down individually. It was really great and he has a very solid understanding of the gospel. He also told us that he plans to go to the open house for the Freiberg Temple in Germany, which is currently finishing its renovations
·  We were also told that we can tykat our mission president this week. Like many languages, Czech has a respectful and familiar address for "you." I am not sure how it works in other languages, but with Czech you use the more formal for people that you have just met (except children) as well as for anyone older than you, unless they specifically ask you not to. Within families everyone uses informal "you" and we as missionaries tykat (use informal) generally to YSAs, children, and some members who prefer it, or who become close to us to the point that they want us to tykat them. Since President Pohorelicky came into the mission, we have been vykating him, and he has been vykating us. But he officially decided this past week that we are going to tykat. It has been really strange and hard to get used to, because vykating is such a natural thing to do for leaders in the church, but it is kind of fun to be like a big family with him.
·  We had to do a lot of work in the office this past week to get ready for our big event on Friday, so we didn't get to go out nearly as much as we would have like. Details on that big event to follow.
·  We had dinner with the Bernards, a couple from Georgia who are living in Prague for a few years for work.  Sister Bernard is sending a picture from dinner. 
Elders Needham, Petersen, Grier, Pickett, Terry, Trythall Prague District Elders

·  This Friday we had a celebration as missionaries of the day when Czechoslovakia was dedicated for missionary work, on July 24th, 1929. John Widstoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve along with a few missionaries, the mission president, and a few members made a hike up past a magnificent castle about an hour outside of Prague. In a small, rather secluded grove past the castle they dedicated the country with music, testimonies, and a dedicatory prayer offered by Elder Widstoe. So on Friday, every missionary in the Czech Republic came to the main train station of Prague to take a train out to the castle. It was a quite a sight to see. We had a few people take our pictures, and a lot looking at us wondering who the giant group of young adults in white shirts, ties, or skirts was. It was great. Then we all walked together from the train station up through the little town and up to the castle. That was quite a procession. We saw a few members on the path up and they commented that it looked like the Army of Helaman was marching past.
Then we stopped together at the base of the final assent and walked up singing a few hymns in Czech. It was great. At the top, gathered around a stone marker to commemorate the spot, we had a few musical numbers, heard excellent testimonies, and received a short training form President and Sister Pohorelicti.

Then Elder Needham gave a dedicatory type prayer. We all remained at the top for as long as we wanted and then walked down together in smaller groups. It was a wonderful experience that helped me to remember just how blessed I am to be a missionary, and especially a missionary in this mission. The name of the castle is Karlštejn, hence the title of my email. We also went back this morning to be with member there, who had their own event to commemorate the same thing. We got to hear the Stake Patriarch and our Mission President and one of the counselors in the stake presidency answer some questions and then had lunch all together.

It was fun to see a few members I know from C-Bud, and to meet some new ones. We then went up the the same spot together and had a short program there. It was great. Also, the name of the place where they went to dedicate the country is called (in English) Priest's Hill. We all find that rather fitting. We talked about how Priest's Hill is a natural temple (Elder Widstoe said that). It is a great blessing to be able to go to the temple so I encourage everyone to attend regularly!  (Brad doesn't have an LDS Temple in his mission, the closest is in Freiberg, Germany so he is encouraging those of us who have regular and close access to a temple to GO!)

Karlštejn Castle

Finally, my spiritual thought for the week. My spiritual thought is actually a challenge to do what Elder Terry and I did with our less active member on Tuesday. One of the great thing about the idea of "Enduring to the End" is that it is not at all about doom and gloom, like it may first sound. For me, the true meaning of enduring to the end is gradually becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. So I invite you all to study the phrases that are used in 2 Nephi 31: 19-20 

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastnessin Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

and choose a principle to personally work on. If you want to, feel free to read the whole chapter and then study that part at the end. I know that as you do, the Spirit can help you individually to find something that you can work on and a way that you can draw closer to God. Thank you for all of your prayers and support.

-Elder Pickett

Sestra Hale's family came from Arizona to pick her up and got pictures in the office.

Our District returning to Prague on the train- APs Elders Needham & Petersen 
 Elders Tryhall & Grier

Elder Terry’s Mom received this picture today… we don’t have any explanation.  It must be a “replica plaque”… ha ha….

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Prague is Cool


To answer the unasked question, that title is because I cannot think of anything better. Apologies. This week has been terrific. I will include some highlights, as well as some general information that my mom asked for, so I figure it would be good for people to know. This week:
  • The old office couple, the Holts, left on Tuesday. That was sad. They are awesome, and we get to spend a lot of time around them here in the office, so we love them a lot. The Scotts are now fully in control and doing very well. We love them a lot too. And because they stay in one place for a full year and a half, the members get really attached to them. We had farewell talks from them in church, and a little dessert afterwards. People were very sad to see them go. We also had roughly 40 visiting BYU study abroad students at church. That was a bit of insanity.
  • This week I got to drive! Twice. I got my license a few weeks ago, but hadn't driven yet. But on Monday and on Friday we had visa work, and I needed to drive with both of them. Don't worry, nobody died, no crashes occurred, no tickets were received, and I only got lost/took wrong turns 3 times! All-in-all, very successful trips. I also got my residence card for the Czech Republic on Friday, along with the rest of my MTC group. It was great fun.
  • We also met a couple of really cool people this week, who seem to have interest in coming to church. One of them set up an official time with us to have a tour beforehand and then stay for the rest, so we are really excited about that. I will keep you posted on how that is turning out. The other was really intrigued by our story of Joseph Smith, and curious to learn more from coming to church. So we might see him in the next couple weeks as well.
  • This last week we also had dinner with a member on Wednesday. Our Relief Society president is a sister from Australia. She is pretty awesome, and has a son on a mission in the Philippines right now. She made an awesome Australian dessert called Pavlova. It is magical.

  •  We made a goal last two weeks ago to start emphasizing more working with the members and trying to serve them, and it has been good to see the response that we have received as we have tried to fulfill that. We also were able to do service this morning for the first counselor in our Bishopric, who is super awesome. He is a returned missionary, he served his mission in Arizona, and he and his wife just had their first baby 6 or 7ish months ago. That was also a great opportunity, and then they fed us lunch.
  • (Caroline asked Brad if he knows about Pokémon Go)-- I have seen some people playing that game. One dude played it on the tram that we were on. I feel like that's totally cheating, because he is not even walking.
  • Also, on Thursday we had an interview from a British college student who runs a radio station for his college. He came and interviewed our mission president, Elder Terry, me, and the sister here in charge of PR for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It was kind of weird, but also kind of fun, and I don't think we said anything wrong. When we go tracting, we sometimes go a few days beforehand to drop off a letter introducing us, so that people can know who we are when we show up. He got that letter (we call it a seeding letter) and from that decided to call us and ask if he could interview us. So that was an unexpected result from that.
  • Pictures last week were  from  a trip to a nearby town where we saw the bone church and a giant cathedral called St. Barbara's cathedral. There was a little random platform we took pictures on. We went, along with the Sisters, Adela & Lihn (Prague ward members) and Oldřich (a recent convert baptized by the Office elders in March or April, who moved to Brno now). It was a party.
  • The weather has been very nice the past few days. Rainy and cold, then rainyish and coldish, then clear and breezy and beautiful today.
  •  (Returned missionaries from the Czech/ Slovak mission sang their mission song at Pres McConkie’s homecoming talk last week.  We were able to see a video!) The mission song is my favorite thing of all time. There is probably nothing in the world that brings chills to me as fast as that song does.
  • To Caroline:  I had a weird dream last night that you were here in this mission at the same time as me, and you were a zone leader  and your companion was an Elder, which obviously is against the rules. It was very confusing, and I was trying to figure out how it was going to work!
  • Now for a few general things about the role that the missionaries play in the ward here. We don't teach classes, but we rotate going to the Czech Sunday School, YM/YW, Gospel Principles, and the English Sunday School. Also, they have need in Primary of a piano player, so I go there sometimes and play primary songs for them. It is good fun. The role of translating rotates amongst the missionaries here in Prague. Last week it was the Pankrac Elders, the week before us, this week the Assistants. We also have during church a "missionary minute," before the other talks in church, during which a missionary will get up and tell about an experience that they had recently, or a while ago, and how it has helped them or what they learned from it. That is good too.
That is about it, except for my spiritual thought. This past week I have been studying commitment, and what it means to be commitment. Our commitment to something can increase and decrease, and is a personal thing, but is most measurable, or visible by our actions. Our everyday actions determine, and show to those around us, how committed we are to our standards, our principles, and the things that we say. Commitment to the gospel leads us to act according to that commitment, and acting according to that will lead us to change. It may be very gradual, almost imperceptible change, but we will be changing. And we can one day look back and see just how far we have come. So my invitation for all of you this week is to deepen your commitment to the gospel and to do something to show that commitment. I know that you will see the Hand of the Lord in your lives. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Monday, July 11, 2016

The First Week: Again

Me pretending to be a rooster head outside of a museum. 

Brad’s quick email on Saturday:  This week has been madness, culminating in P-Day. I will write my main email on Monday, because we ran out of time due to some fun adventures with the Assistants.

 I decided to try drawing my temple recommend photo. 

Monday email:  Hello everyone! This week has been a lot of the same, just different. Which doesn't make much sense to read, nor to live. Transfers were on Saturday, and I am staying here in Prague in the office with Elder Terry for another transfer. I am totally okay with that. This transfer had very little movement compared to the last ones that I have seen and been here for. President McConkie usually moved close to 50% of the mission each transfer, but this one we had much, much less. It is hard to say if that will be the new style for President Pohořelický, or if he has chosen to do that because he is new here and wants some continuity during this transition period. My mission president is awesome. And really funny actually. He is so Czech. I love him. We had a pretty crazy, busy week, which limited our time to get out and teach this week, but I still have some good updates: 

               Elder Pickett & Elder Terry
  • On Tuesday we had new missionaries come in! That was really fun. There are only two this transfer, which made things fun with juggling how to guarantee that both of them had a companion. We normally use a hotel around the corner, but they can't stay there by themselves, obviously. So we distributed them, and their trainers, to missionaries and senior missionaries here in Prague. Then Wednesday morning, I take them to the notary to sign some stuff officially. Except that we had one of the trainers with us, and the new missionaries are not supposed to see their trainers before the official trainer meeting. So we did a companion train up the stairs into the mission home, so that I could peek in and see people, and no one could see Elder Tingey (trainer for the new Elder). Then we went over to the notary, only to discover that it was closed because Wednesday was a holiday. That was a bit of a letdown. But the trainer meeting was super fun to be a part of. It is great to see how much we are going to be speaking Czech, and it is always fun to see how enthusiastic and excited new missionaries are. They are both going to Ostrava.
  • This next transfer, 8 missionaries leave and 13 come. That should be intense.  I get my residence card this Friday. 
  • We had some other interesting things happen, but not so interesting that they earn a place on my weekly email. However, during our district meeting this past Friday, we talked about how we wanted to work more closely with the members, and we are going to be pushing for more opportunities to visit them, serve them, and eat with them. So this Sunday we came to church ready to talk with them and to ask them if we can help them. We ended up with two dinner appointments and 2 or 3 opportunities for service. It was great to see how prepared the members already were, all it took was us reaching out a little bit.
A lion statue I saw while tracting. 
  • Contacting is always an adventure. I pray for desire every night. And sometimes throughout the day personally. On the tram, on the metro, and on the street. It is sometimes a constant battle to overcome the tendency and the ease of being lazy and instead to put in the effort to live life on a higher plane. But it is a battle that is won one moment at a time, and one decision at a time. It is how we become better and ultimately, more like Christ.  
  • On Saturday we had quite the adventure with the assistants, looking for a cottage to which we had been invited for a barbeque. When we (finally) got there, we met a great Czech couple, whose son lives in Idaho, attending BYU-I, and who was baptized while he was going to school. His parents are not members, but they love the missionaries, and like to invite them over for food and fun. That is the reason that we got home so late and I am emailing this today. We didn't find the place in time, and we didn't want to leave early, because they had gone to such effort to make us feel welcome and to provide us with food. Pictures of that are on Elder Peterson's camera, so they will follow next week, once he emails and sends them along. It was a great experience. It was hot, but the day was really superb. 
  Our fun path through the Czech countryside.

Me on a hill after our barbeque with a really cool view. was our 4th of July meal. Coca-cola with a block of deep-fried cheese. 
Seems pretty American.

My spiritual thought this week comes from a very interesting contacting experience on Thursday, during which I learned a little about diligence and opposition. First, note that this is not my average contacting experience here in the Czech Republic. This was especially extreme. So don't worry that I deal with this kind of thing every day. On Thursday we were metro contacting, and I met 3 people in a row. The first one laughed at me, because I believe in God and I was having trouble understanding his Czech. The second refused to acknowledge my existence/presence, and the final one threatened to punch me in the face. Now, these three reactions all in a row have a tendency to dampen the enthusiasm for talking with people. But right after this, we exited that metro train and went back the other direction. And I saw a man, who I felt like I should talk to. I decided that I was going to, even after this opposition that I had faced moments before. I ended up talking with him for the whole metro trip back about faith, missionaries, and our church. In the end he did not have enough interest to meet up and talk, but he was respectful and interested in what I had to say. My spiritual thought from this is to encourage you all to not lose optimism, or give up, in the face of opposition. The Lord has great things in store for us, and as long as we are willing to do what He wants and endure those things in front of us, marvelous blessings await us. So keep going and know that the Lord has a plan for you. Thanks for all of the prayers and support! 

-Elder Pickett

Prague Elders Pickett, Trythall, Beaser, Terry 

The whole reason we went into the museum. Giant paintings called the Slav Epic. 
They are quite epic.

Adela, a YSA here who sent us pictures (fotky is photos in Czech)- no details on the outing

Sestry trio- Sestra Cade, Fredrickson, Hale and Elders Terry & Pickett

Elder Pickett and Sestra Hale (who is now a returned missionary) 
who both like making goofy picture faces!

Elders, Sisters and some YSA (Young Single Adult) 
members on the outing to Kutna Hora

Elder Pickett is a photo bomber!

The struggle is real to get 6 people in a good jumping picture!!



Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Week of Change

The McConkies with Elders Terry & Pickett

This week has been incredible. We had a lot of ups and some downs thrown in as well. The McConkies went home, the Pohořeličtí came (they are Czech, so their name is different when there are two of them), transfer calls will be happening today, and the Scotts are taking over for the Holts here in the office. Madness. Here are some highlights of this last week:
  • On Monday we had around 46 people come to FHE. That was quite a number. They came because the McConkies were in charge of the spiritual thought, and were leaving the next day. President McConkie gave an excellent talk about holding fast to the rod and staying on the path we are on back to God. He also translated for himself, going back and forth from English to Czech and Czech to English. That was pretty stellar.
  • On Tuesday we were able to meet with our investigators again that we have been unsuccessfully trying to meet with for the past month. They are really awesome, an almost married couple from the Ukraine (they will be married once they can find the proper documentation for the requirements). We met on a bench outside of the palace where the Stake was created, because they work nearby and we met them right after work. We talked a lot about fasting and why it is important, and invited them to have a fast with us. They want to do it, not this week, so that they can find the path that God wants for them. They are really sincere in their desire to do what is right, and are pretty awesome. The biggest downside to the lesson was the rain. In Prague the weather almost every day is hot in the 90s with a loooot of humidity. With a chance of torrential downpour. Virtually every day. So we had 3 umbrellas for the 4 of us, and huddled under them on a bench for a while. Then the rain really started coming down, so we ran for cover under a large tree. In the end we ended up all huddled together under 3 umbrellas in the pouring rain. It almost made us late getting home, but we made it.
Our District on the bus

  • Also on Tuesday, Prezident Pohořelický and Sestra Pohořelická came. That was pretty crazy. They only speak Czech with us. So that is really awesome. That was also the day that we said goodbye to the McConkies for the final time. It was a day with a lot of strong emotions. We love the McConkies dearly, and we are also super excited to have the Pohořeličtí here with us.
  • On Wednesday we had a training/Meet the President meeting with our zone. Our mission president is awesome.  The training was completely in Czech. The zone leaders translated for the senior couples, and everything except for the reading out of the white handbook and the mission vision was in Czech. That was really cool. It was fun to see that we could understand well enough to get the spiritual instruction from the Lord and from our President that we needed to. After that we had lunch and short interviews with President Pohořelický. Also in Czech. We are going to be speaking a lot of Czech around him, that is for sure. 
  • We also had the opportunity to go tracting this week, and to contact. We are still working and looking for people, and it is coming along well here. One of our recent converts is, unfortunately for us, moving to Brno this week, so we are sad to see him go, but excited for the opportunities that await him out there.
Famous Charles Bridge photo credit Elder Terry

  • I love teaching about the temple because I like explain that I had the opportunity to be an ordinance worker there before my mission and talk about how amazing that was and how much we can feel the Spirit in the temple. 
  • I am sure that you and Elder Terry's mom got along well (Elder Terry is from Vallejo, CA so after months of emailing and sharing pictures, I met his mom for lunch this week ). He says that he and his Mom have a similar sense of humor, so you will have gotten a little taste of Elder Terry's sense of humor. We are having a good time here, that is for sure. We will find out today if we will be or won't be...  I just got a transfer call. I am staying here with Elder Terry.

My spiritual thought for the week is about sacrifice. Sometimes we have to find the time to do spiritual things. And sometimes we have to let the unimportant things fall out of our life to do that. That can be hard, because it is not easy to change. But I know that the Lord wants us to be better than we are, and that He is always with us as we work towards that goal. A quote from General Conference (I cannot remember from who) is "You can have what you want, or you can have something better." I would say that is profoundly applicable. Thanks for all your support and prayers!
-Elder Pickett  

That was a surprise to see Bishop Womeldorf and Camden & Ellie walk in the front door to the mission office. President McConkie actually want over to the church building and Elder Trythall was there, so he sent him over to the office so that he could join in the pictures.  He said "Someone over there is talking about 'Nick.' Do you know a 'Nick?'" (friends from Roseville on their European trip stopped in to see our Roseville missionaries and send pictures home to their families!)
Photo credit to Bishop Womeldorf - Elders Trythall, Beaser, Pickett & Terry 

 Basketball with missionaries, members and the McConkie boys