Saturday, August 27, 2016

Revenge of the Office Work

Hello everybody! As may be evidenced by my title, we had to spend a lot of time this week in the office, so that was unfortunate.  We have been able to avoid office work pretty well for the last few weeks. However, we still managed to get out a little bit, and to do some good missionary work. So I will send some updates on our fun and crazy week.

  • Today we went to a giant garden outside of Prague, in a little town called Horni Chvatliny, where we did some yard work. It is a little local amusement park type thing where they have little trains for the children. One of our English students does yard work there, so she invited us to come out and help. It was fun, and we got fed and got to ride in a little train made for young children. Which is always a nice bonus.

You can tell it was made for children, can't you?

  • This evening we have a presentation about different lands. So we will have presentations about Utah, California, Australia and Ecuador.  The first two from missionaries, the last two from members in the ward. It should be good, and we are hoping for a good turn-out.
  • We got to do some fun group finding yesterday and we had a small singing display of four missionaries. I met a gentleman who knows about us from “The Book of Mormon” musical. He actually is legitimately interested in what we believe and how we really feel about different things discussed in the play. So we may end up having a lesson with him sometime. He also speaks perfect English.
  • Overall we have had a pretty slow week. We got out for a few hours each day, but all of our investigators and others were busy and couldn't meet. That was disappointing, but we will try again this next week. We are hoping that more people will be available. We got trapped in the rain while tracting. I took a video, but it is too big to send.

Where we took shelter!

  •  We will have 12- 13 total missionaries that will arrive in early September, next transfer. 2-3 Czech Elders, 6 Czech Sisters, 2 Slovak elders and 2 sisters. Should be good fun. It has been an interesting two transfers in the office. That is for sure. I really like Elder Terry, and we have already talked about meeting up after our missions at BYU. 
  • Fun fact: the Freiburg Temple (In Germany, closest to Prague) is going to be rededicated on September 4th. And they will broadcast the re-dedication ceremony here. So we get to watch it in Czech. It will be really cool! 
  • (Responding to a challenge from Scott to continue to find joy in, have fun and embrace what he is doing. ) There is a lot of frustration on missions, but also a lot of opportunity for joy and having a great time. 
My spiritual thought for this week is about patience. Patience is important. Very rarely in life do things work out exactly how we would like when we would like. We come to learn that world does not bow to our every whim and wish. The great thing about this is that it gives us an opportunity to develop patience, and to learn to accept the Lord's timing in all things. His timing is actually what will be best for us in the long run, even when we think that we need something right now. As we develop patience, it is important to not be grudging in our patience and to truly accept the Lord's will and timing. So I invite you all to practice patience this next week.  At home, at school, at play, and at meetings. I know that as you do you will blessed to have the Lord with you and come to better enjoy life, whatever circumstances you may be in. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Where Has August Gone?

There is a metro stop called Jiřího z Poděbrad, so I artistically took this picture. 
Pretty cool isn't it?

I really need to start coming up with a title unrelated to how fast time is flying by, because I think you are all already aware of that fact. I am very much out of time today, so I will get straight to the weekly highlights:
  • This Wednesday and Thursday we had an exchange with our District leader. So I was with our District Leader Elder Geier, in our area, and Elder Trythall and Elder Terry went to their area. We started out our exchange with one of the most incredible contacting blocks of all time. I don't know what it is about exchanges, but it seems like you always get more people who want to talk to you on an exchange than normal. We met a lot of really cool people, and more than one (meaning 2, that phrase just sounds dramatic and fun) gave us their phone numbers so that we could get in contact and plan a specific time to meet up. Elder Geier is a really good teacher and also speaks Czech really well. We had a lot of fun, and found some good potentials.

Computer replacements. The guy in red is our computer specialist from Germany. 

  • We are also currently advertising for our event that we will be having in which members from around the world will be presenting about their home countries and cultures. That will be next Saturday and it should be really good. The only problem is that I would much rather talk to people about the gospel then advertise for an event, but it's okay.
  • We also had a delicious dinner with our Relief Society President and her daughter on Friday with two other elders. We had delicious hamburgers and french fried from a good place here in Prague, and then a home-made New Zealand dessert that is so extreme it is named after a volcano. Suffice it to say, I did not go home hungry. Quite the opposite actually.
The amazing New Zealand dessert.

  • Other than that we have been doing some office work, trying to get lessons set-up around the busyness of peoples' lives (Which is really hard!) and talking to a whole bunch of other people. It's a little bit alarming the people you meet and the things they say when you just talk to everyone that you see on the street. People have quite the variety of opinions.
  • From Elder Terry: “Today has been pretty good. We went into a park near our house and chilled for a little and also studied there before coming back here to the office to have lunch and some other things.”
Where is this forest? Why it's not a forest at all, but a park 10 minutes away from our apartment. It is a pretty incredible park. And it is rather enormous.

  • Thanks for the Olympics updates. Lots of cool stories of athletes with a few sad ones. Life's tough all around, isn't it.
  • To Caroline:  Hahaha, your emails are pretty much the highlight of my emailing every week. You have a pretty excellent way of throwing humor into everyday life and whatnot (hmmm… I wonder how she learned that?!?!). Also, your super late birthday package is on its way. Hope you are not too upset with how late it is. Read the letter before using the other thing, because there are suggested instructions inside.
For my spiritual thought today I would like to echo something shared that is a quote by C.S. Lewis. I probably am not quoting it perfectly, but it says: "Humility is not thinking less of oneself, it is merely thinking of oneself less." I think that quote is brilliant. When we are humble and charitable we do not think that we are worthless or have no needs, we merely recognize that others around us have needs and can benefit from our service. So my commitment to you all is to look around you and find someone who needs any sort of service, be it large or small, and give that service. I will help you to realize the blessings that you have, and all of our blessings are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for all of the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Elder Terry being his cool self. He wears sunglasses at night. 

Elder Pickett and Elder Anderson (they trained in the MTC together) on the train going to Karlštejn for the anniversary celebration in July. 

Elder Pickett is an unintentional photo bomber! Any small glimpse is golden... 
(this came from Elder Anderson's blog)

Army of Helaman… the missionaries walk up to Priest’s Hill inKarlštejn  .

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Week of Change and Insanity in the Office

That is quite the email title isn't it? This week we got new computers installed, along with new monitors. Four of them. We spent a vast majority of Tuesday and Wednesday in the office helping a church employee from Frankfurt, who actually served in this mission about 10 years ago set up all of the new computers. What I learned was that I don't really know much how to work computers. That is why we call in people who know what they are doing for this kind of stuff. It was fun and new, and not at all something that I expected to do on my mission. Moving past that, we still managed to have some lessons and to talk with people on the street, doing our regular thing. So I will give some highlights of the missionary work of our week:

  • Tuesday morning we knew that this guy was coming in from Germany between 11 and 12. So we decided that we were just going to get out first thing in the morning and contact. Let me just tell you, if you ever want to see a full tram or metro, come to Prague and get on the metro going through the center of town at around 8:30 am. It was basically wall to wall people. A little harder to talk to lots of them, but we still managed. Then we walked around for a couple or hours talking to everyone who came across our path. It was a really fun morning to just get right to work and keep going through obstacles and opposition. Just a good morning being a missionary.
  • On Wednesday night we had a singing display. It was very interesting. It was actually quite cold out, and I ran into a whole lot of tourists, as well as some Czechs. And got into a contact with a man who knew the Bible very well, and basically just talked to me about it for 45 minutes straight. It was a little hard to get anything in, but I was at least able to bear testimony and to invite him to learn more. He told me that he would be interested to come to church, so we will see what happens with that.
  • On Thursday we did group finding drawing a chalk display about the Book of Mormon. It was a good one too, and we saw lots of success and interest from people. We met a really cool YSA who sat down on a bench with us and talked for 15 minutes or so. It was a good block of time. We also had a lesson with one of investigators, and the second counselor in the Bishopric came. He is about 30, and a convert of 5 years. Suffice it to say that he is basically my personal hero. He is super cool. We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon, and about how it relates to the Bible and where the connections are between them. It was a really fun lesson, and he is really interested to see what he can get from the Book of Mormon. He is a cool investigator, and we are hoping that we can continue to work with him.
  • We had a couple of disappointments this week with first lessons that got cancelled at the last minute, but we are still in contact with the people, so we are hoping that we can keep working with them and that they will still have interest. It is a good sign that they let us know beforehand and didn't just not show-up and not answer the phone at all.
  • There have apparently been two Czech medals. One gold in Judo and another something in something else. Didn't understand the name of the sport in Czech when the member said it today (canoe slalom). Good stuff about the Olympics, thanks for the updates. 
I am sure that more than that happened this week, but I cannot really remember it much, so I will just move on to the spiritual thought. This week I have been thinking about how important our desires are. I was reading several talks and scriptures that talk about how we will be rewarded according to the desires of our hearts. I believe that this is because the Lord loves us, and wants to give us those things that we desire, even if we are aiming lower than our actual potential. The problem that we have is that sometimes our desires are selfish and that we don't always want to put in the effort to be perfect. Sometimes we just want to be perfect. So how can we change that and overcome these desires? The great thing about the gospel is that we know that we can change. I believe the best way for us to change is to look at our true potential as children of God. When we keep that in mind it becomes much easier to align our wills with God's, and to put in the effort to continue pressing forward. There are also other good things that can remind us of our potential, including our family name, our talents, our abilities, and our goals. So my challenge to you all this week is to remember. To remember the things that are available to you if you will choose to follow God and apply the gospel and Atonement in your lives. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

     Brad’s new niece Sadie Marie Roper born July 31st (yes… Harry Potter’s birthday!!)

That is some great news about Sadie. I am glad to hear that is she is doing well after her NICU stay and is healthy and all that. I will cross my fingers (or hold my thumbs as the Czechs say) that she can get off of oxygen soon. Glad to hear that everything in her heart is closing up naturally and healthily.

Mom, I am glad that you will have an opportunity to study from the New Testament as you prepare to substitute in seminary. It is a great book of scripture. I am a huge fan of it. Especially the 4 gospels. To answer your question for insight, my top 10 things that were meaningful to me from seminary over the years.
1) A habit of scripture reading
2) A spiritual start to my day every day before high school
3) Learning what the heck is even in the Old Testament
4) Familiarizing myself with the parables, miracles, and stories of Christ's ministry
5) Learning how to get up early even when I don't want to (helpful for college and a mission)
6) The chance to get to know members from other wards who I previously didn't know (Daniel Goold, Brandon Pulley, etc.)
7) The dedication and gospel insights that I learned from my teachers, as well as their personal testimonies
8) Increased knowledge of the Doctrine and Covenants, and the ability to say that I read it all the way through
9) Scripture Mastery scriptures that we use as missionaries all the time, and that teach the key doctrines of the gospel quickly and simply
10) Overall an increased testimony and knowledge about the gospel, which led to an increased personal desire to know and act for myself

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Halfway Through Already?

Our favorite restaurant for lunch on P-Day. Really good food.

As you may or may not have noticed, the subject of my emails mostly focuses on how fast time moves. This week was so fast that I am struggling to remember anything that happened before Thursday. But I will try.
·  On Monday we met with a new investigator who we met while tracting. He is probably the most in shape 79 year old man that I have ever seen, and he has a very good understanding of the gospel, even without a solid foundational background of any church. He is pretty cool, and he invited us to come back, we just need to find a time that works for him. We also had office meeting, which is the only time that we hear President speak English. Because with us missionaries it is all Czech. We also had FHE, which included a tasty salad and vegetables, made by the Morgans.
·  Tuesday we did several things. We had lunch at a members. He is from Guatemala, and he made us really good, authentic South American, Mexican, and Spanish foods. He is a very good cook and it was very enjoyable. He is also a great member and a great example of missionary work. He invited people to eat with us, but unfortunately, they could not. We also taught English. And we found out that English really doesn't make sense, especially when you try to explain it to Czechs in Czech, using a Czech textbook for learning English. Let's just say that quite a few things get rather mixed up.
·  Wednesday we had a great District Meeting, and we talked about good teachers that we have had, and how we can better listen. It was a good discussion, and we also had really good food after. Thursday we met some cool people, and traveled around the city doing different things, and talking to people as we went. Then at 5 we started our exchange. I was with Elder Trythall. It was a good evening. We taught the law of chastity (both of us for the first time). It went well. We also had a first lesson with a gentleman, and then went home.
Missionary work is tiring. This is Elder Petersen asleep on the floor.

·  Friday morning it was pouring like crazy, but cleared up just in time for us to go outside and contact. We also had a spectacular singing display, as we had two missionaries come in from Liberec who are both great singers, and then three of us Elders from Prague singing at the same time. We had 4 part harmony on a few songs. It was really fun. We also had 2 people not show up for lessons, which is not great, and then played ping-pong and chess for game night. We ended our day with a lesson with a recent convert. It was overall a quick and pretty great week.
·  Responding to a question of “What have you learned from your companion Elder Terry?”   How to be organized and think things out and the importance of being compassionate. 

 We are trying to thaw out our freezer a bit...That is a space heater and a fan to waft the                                                   hot air over.

My spiritual thought for the week is on obedience. Sometimes for us, it seems like obedience is a sacrifice. But that is only because we often forget the bigger picture. The commandments and counsel from God are eternal and are there for our benefit and improvement. When we choose to follow them, we are acknowledging that we do not know everything and that we are listening from advice to someone who does. That is usually  pretty good way to go. When we choose to disobey commandments, we forget the important facts that 1) They are from God, who knows us, and everything perfectly 2) They bring blessings. Always and 3) They help us to keep the Spirit, which leads to even greater knowledge, testimony, and a richness in life. So my challenge for you all is to find something that you can improve on with regards to obedience, and try to do so. I will participate as well. Thank you for all of the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Here is Prague. It is rather pretty.

Here is the Charles Bridge.  I asked Brad why I don't have a picture of him on this famous bridge? We don't go there. It is packed full of 1000000000 tourists all the time.