Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hello All

Hey there everyone! I have absolutely no time, so I am going to make this short, semi-sweet and to the point.
  • This week was pretty crazy. We had to spend a lot more time in the office than I wanted to, because trainings were this week (and next week) and so we had to do orders to get ready for that. That honestly occupied most of our day, almost every day this week. Except for Tuesday.
  • Tuesday I had an exchange with Elder Andiarena. It was very fun to be out of the office and have so much time to just talk to people and teach. I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the fact that I will get to have more exchanges this transfer and do the same thing.
  • We had some good experiences with finding as a whole group this week. It is really fun to see "the power" as Elder Petersen calls it, that we bring to an area when all 10 of us start talking to people.  From Elder Brockbank: “We did a chalk display as a district by the Dejvicka metro stop (a busy roundabout in the city that is quite insane but has a lot of people walking around it.) We drew the Plan of Salvation on the ground with chalk and were talking to people about the purpose of life.”
  •  Today we went to a member's house and did service. We filled those little bins full of dirt. They were empty when we showed up. The rest of the district was there too.  Our district: Sister Heap, Sister Boza, and Sister Brown. Elder Geier, Elder Andiarena, and Elder Tingey. Elder Petersen and Elder Smith. And Elder Brockbank and I. Elder Brockbank is quiet in groups usually, but not a super quiet person when it is a small group. He is stinking hilarious and I enjoy serving with him.

  • That's mostly it actually. We didn't get to meet with a lot of our investigators, because they and we were both really busy. We are hoping to plan out our week a little better this week, so that we can meet with more people and have sit-down lessons.
  • And thanks for the awesome package! I had fun opening it last night. Lots of great candy, and some new Christmas music (we opened that up last night), Oakland temple card, a Czech Book of Mormon from my ward Primary, which was super awesome, and very gratefully received (I will look for someone super prepared for that one), glow in the dark zombies, and other fun things. The candy will be very much enjoyed. It is already being enjoyed, actually.
The picture is with Elder Collins and Elder Paxton, two Elders in Olomouc.  
They were down for visa work that day.  
(Jennifer Jones traveled to the Czech Republic with her returned missionary son (Elder) Derek Kuhlmann and she kindly delivered packages for missionaries to the mission office!)

My spiritual thought for the week is on the blessing that comes from knowing that God is our Heavenly Father. Our mission president has been talking a lot about this recently, and as I think about it, it makes sense why. Many people here do not believe in God. They are either fully atheist, or they believe that something exists, but don't know what exactly it is. I have found, especially in this past few weeks, that the knowledge that I have a Father in heaven, who loves me and wants the best for me, has given me great strength and hope. So I invite you all to take some time to ponder and then write down what it means to you that you have a Heavenly Father, who cares personally and individually for your well-being. Thanks for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Saturday, September 17, 2016

An Exchange and the Craziest Friday of All Time

This is a very inaccurate representation of our height difference (5'9" and 6'6"). 
We took this picture for our tracting letter.

Hello everyone. My new companion Elder Brockbank is great. He is incredibly easy to get along with, he loves everyone, and he is pretty hilarious. He is learning the ropes quickly. We are having to spend far too much time in the office, but we are working to stop that. This has been yet another insane week, but it has been really great as well. We had a pretty normal time through Monday and Tuesday, nothing too crazy until Wednesday. So I will go from there.

  • On Wednesday we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I will briefly explain the mission pyramid organization to give you a picture of how this all works. At the top is President. He has two Assistants (Elders here in Prague) who help him look over the needs of the whole mission and plan how to work with that. After that the mission is split into 4 zones: Prague, H.K., Brno, and all of Slovakia. Over each zone is a set of Elders who are Zone Leaders. And within each zone is 3-5 districts, depending on the size. And there is 1 missionary who is assigned to be over each district. That is me in Prague. The District Leader goes on exchanges (24 hour companion switches) with each Elder in his district. The Zone Leaders go on exchanges with each district leader in their zone. And the Assistants go on exchanges with the zone leaders, as well as whoever else President asks. The Zone leaders are part of a district in the zone as well, which gets a little confusing, but not too bad. This week I had an exchange with Elder Belshe here in Prague, and Elder Brockbank went to Plzen with Elder Croney. It was so much fun. I have so far been following Elder Belshe all around the country, I was "born in the same city" (mission lingo for Brad's first area) as him with Elder Galbraith, and then came to Prague right as he left to do his job in the office with Elder Terry, and we finally got to work together on an exchange. During this exchange we also had a great district meeting and set goals as a district about what we want to accomplish this transfer together. It should be really good, and I am really excited. Elder Belshe is an awesome missionary, who has had my exact same position, so it was great to get some advice from him about how I should do things here.
Here is our "exchange selfie" Elders Belshe & Pickett

  • Thursday was Missionary Leadership Council, which is all of the Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders (kind of like sister zone leaders), the Assistants, President and his wife. We got invited to lunch after, which was really tasty, and were able to get out of the office that evening to finally go do some proselyting. It was a crazy day, but we got a lot done.
  • Friday morning I had visa work, and I had to drive President's car. That was terrifying, but went well. Then the Foreign Police were especially speedy with getting our group through, which was awesome. After that we went out to lunch for Indian food, then had a lesson with a member. And I received a text message from President asking us to go pick up some translating devices for the ward from an address in Prague. So we got to go on a fun drive with some not-so-fun traffic included on the way back. This adventure described by Elder Brockbank:  “We drove through the madness known as the streets of Prague and then got to this weird building. We rang the intercom and they let us in. Then we met this guy and he gave us translating headsets for the ward and we signed our lives away (we had no idea what we were doing) and then drove back.” 

the madness known as the streets of Prague 

  •  After that we weekly planned very quickly, and then had Game Night. And during that we had to help some of the sisters with their car problems, which we couldn't resolve. It was a crazy Friday. Luckily while I was gone at visa work Elder Brockbank was able to go out with some other missionaries and actually talk to people, and we actually got two new investigators.  We don't have many investigators. We have one that we are consistently working with a few more good possibilities that we are hoping to keep on with. We are working with two recent converts who are somewhat less active.
 We also made it to the end of Prague looking for a couple of less active members. 
Twas an interesting sight.

  • We still play the piano in Primary (Sunday meeting for the 3-11 year old children), and last week I translated there too. We have some kids who know Czech, some who don't, and some who don't know any English, so they need translation sometimes. Translating is really fun, but also tough. 
  • President P is a big hands-on mission president, who likes to teach with us, practice role-plays, and whatnot. And, like all of my favorite high-quality members here, he is a big take-the-initiative problem-solver. 
  • Last week we went to the Toronto project in a little town. They did a project for a school called "Life without barriers" for people with disabilities. We spent the whole time emptying out an attic in a pretty run-down building that clearly used to be a hospital. They are clearing it out and I think refurbishing for new purposes with the school. It was good times. You can probably find a lot of other pictures on the website. A guy was there taking pictures of us the whole time.  (In response to a question about the sweet looking pants…) And President P has Czech pants! That's what those were. They are work style pants. They are so great.

My spiritual thought for the week comes from goal setting. Goal setting has always been something I am not great with. But on my mission I have gained a strong testimony and setting goals and working towards them, with the direction and guidance of the Lord. After we set goals in District Meeting on Wednesday it was great to see how focused we were, and how we knew exactly what needed to do. Goals give us better direction and purpose so that we know what we are working toward. So I challenge you all to set a goal. But not just to set it, but to actually commit to it. Because that makes a difference. And as you set goals with faith and trust in the Lord, He can help you to improve in ways you never realized were possible. Thank you for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Prague is pretty.

Also, last Sunday our power was not working, so we had to come to the office to make our spaghetti to eat. It was a fun adventure.

Someone drew Elder Brockbank and me, and the Assistants got jealous and drew themselves.

(Mom & Dad went to a restaurant in downtown that had a menu with Czech specialty choices.  We sent pictures of our meal!)  Your meal was pretty Czech, I have bratwurst and wiesswurst sausages at a few outdoor barbecues, Dad's was classic Czech. I literally could have ordered it for lunch today if I had wanted to. Gulash with knedliky. And raw onions on top. Also, in the picture you sent of the restaurant, the background actually looks Czech, because the posters and what-not are from a classic Czech beer company and that logo is everywhere in restaurants here. Even the chalkboard with food options is pretty classic.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Let the Madness Rebegin

Elder Brockbank & Elder Pickett

I am aware that this title does not make much sense, but I stand by it anyways. So, transfers happened, and I am still in the office in Prague. My new companion is Elder Brockbank a 6'6'' Elder from Pleasant Grove, Utah and he is great. I am quite the midget compared to him. I have also been given the responsibility as District Leader here over the missionaries in Prague. We have two trios here, which makes 10 young missionaries and 4 senior couples. Quite a large group.

  • On Monday we played companion tag running around the city and helping everyone with transfer so that everyone had companions. This involved Elder Bourn (not my companion) and me running over to a bus stop for our morning exercise, waiting there with another Elder, coming back and showering and getting ready, and then rushing off again to meet up with some other people. Quite the hectic day, but it ended well. Eventually Elder Brockbank and I were able to get out and contact a little bit, during which we met several really cool people, and got contact information for several.
  • Tuesday, the new missionaries arrived, and so we worked with that for quite some time. We were able to get out and contact for some time as well, and we taught English. That is always an adventure. Someone steered the direction of the conversation toward politics and after that the class kind of spiraled out of control. Fun times. We also had an awesome singing display in the morning, before the new missionaries came in.  It included the departing missionaries who were all in Prague. We went to a busy area and had about 15-20 missionaries, singing with two guitars. We had people stopping and missionaries talking to them all over the place. It was awesome.
  • Wednesday, we went to the new missionary meeting to see all of the greenies (brand new missionaries) get assigned to their new areas and their companions. That is a nostalgic moment to watch, and also really fun. We then had some adventures at the notary with the new missionaries, which included twice leaving them alone with the notary and running back with Elder Brockbank to the office to print something out. Luckily there are 7 new missionaries, so they weren't too afraid.
  • Thursday was the first district meeting of the transfer, which I am now in charge of. I didn't totally crash and burn, so that is a relief. We have so many missionaries here, it is crazy. We also had a chalk display about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We stopped quite a few people because we can talk to every single human who walks past, which is good. It was fun.
  • Friday was insanity. We had some office stuff, a lesson with a new contact Elder Brockbank met on Thursday, and I also had a training for new district leaders. That was fun. Missionaries from around the country called in and we had a big conference call. It was really good.
  • Today we had a service project from the Wallace Toronto Foundation.  We worked with an organization in Nova Paka called “Life Without Barriers”  Život bez bariér  that serves the elderly and disabled.  A bunch of missionaries and members (145 people) were there. It was quite fun, and worth getting up at 5:15 to get out there on time. We moved a lot of wooden beams and doors and other random things out of an attic so that it can actually be useful. It was really fun. We walked around some tourist-y areas of Prague, beautiful architecture.
 145 missionaries and members  giving service in Nova Paka

 About half of the missionaries serving in the Czech Republic  
and President and Sister Pohořelický  

The Elders!

  • As far as our office duties, I continue to be over visas, production of flyers and baptismal programs and whatnot, and Elder Brockbank is taking over Elder Terry’s duties over orders, cars, and phones.  I am getting a little stir crazy here in the office, but being District Leader will shake things up a little bit more. Adds a little more crazy to my life, so that should be fun. Perseverance is definitely part of missionary work. Sometimes the responsibilities just seem overwhelming, but as I rely on the Lord, I learn what I need to.
  •  The Czech language is coming along well. I feel confident in understanding, and pretty good in speaking as well. I need to increase my vocabulary more, but I am pretty confident with what I need.

My spiritual thought for the week is about the power of the scriptures. This past week I have been studying a lot preparing for lessons and for district meeting. It was great to see the help that I can get for literally every situation and need from the scriptures. If we use the scriptures in our daily lives we will find that there are answers waiting there for our questions. It is such a great blessing to have the words of the prophets at our fingertips, and I invite you all to use the scriptures more fully this week as you try to find answers to your questions. Thank you for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Elder Pickett sent home some voice recordings to his Dad to play for the Young Men from our ward.  He talked about the blessings of missionary work and he bore his testimony at the end in English and in Czech.  The voice recordings took some time today so luckily Elder Brockbank’s family shared some pictures to include in the blog because Brad ran out of time!!

Here are a few highlights from his recording:
“This (almost) year that I have been out on my mission has been the most interesting, the hardest, the most fun and the most spiritual.  I have also learned the most that I have ever learned in my life.  I have also felt the most frustrated, laughed harder, been the happiest and been the closest to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ than any other time in my life.”

“I have learned a lot about myself and I see the potential that I have and I am beginning to understand what the Lord has in mind for my life.”

“In my mission, someone is always assigned a Jesus Thought to end every meeting.  We chose something that the Savior said or did from the New Testament and then we discuss how we can apply that to our own life.  From preparing and listening to other Jesus Thoughts, I have really come to know Jesus Christ.”

Awesome architecture in old town Prague

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Training,Office Work, Transfer Calls and Temple Rededications

Well that title pretty much sums up everything that I would need to put in this email, but I will include some other fun details as well. First off, I did receive my transfer call today. I will be staying in Prague in the office, and I will be the district leader here. Elder Brockbank will be my companion. He is a missionary in his third transfer, and he will be replacing Elder Terry. Elder Terry is going to Plzeň. It should be a really run and interesting transfer and I am looking forward to all of the changes and new experiences that will be available. Other than that I will put in some weekly updates.
  • This last Saturday we did a cultural presentation. We had some members, missionaries, and investigators come. We had presentations on California, Utah, Ecuador, and Australia. It was fun, and I learned a lot of random facts about Australia and Ecuador (I already knew most of the stuff about Utah and California)
  • We had our "Culture Night" on Wednesday, when we went into Prague castle and toured the giant cathedral and a few other areas. Pictures to follow. It was quite fun, and had some fabulous views. In case anyone was considering visiting Prague, I would highly recommend it. From Elder Terry: "We got an extended tour of the castle. It was really cool. We got to go to a lot of places that you can't on a normal or free tour. We learned a lot about the castle and got to see a cool exhibition about armor and medieval weapons."
the giant St. Vitus Cathedral 

                                             Elders Pickett, Peterson, Terry, and Trythall

  • We also had zone training on Thursday, and we heard some great messages from President and his wife, and from the Assistants. It was a great, we learned a lot.  It was all in Czech.
  • We also were able to get out during the week and look for people. We had a great first lesson with a referral from a member, and we really hope that we can keep working with her. Her schedule is a little tricky but we are patient.
  • Missions are great. They are truly life-changing, especially if you allow them to be.   It is very interesting that the Lord sometimes gives assignments to change us, not for us to change the situations around us. I really enjoy that fact and knowing  that blessings from the Lord come with that.
My spiritual thought for this week is about trying again. In life, we often try something, only to find that it doesn't work. This can be true of so many different subjects. Dieting, exercising, spiritual growth, problem solving, the list is endless. But the great thing is that we can always try again. Sometimes, we make big mistakes in life. Sometimes we do something that makes us lose an opportunity forever, or we may think we lose it. The great thing about these kind of mistakes is that we have the Atonement, and we can, in fact, start again. So my invitation to you all is to leave things that are in the past truly in the past and use the Atonement and to start again. It is a great blessing that we have and a great tool to overcome difficulties. Thank you for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett 

Fun things in Prague. The Lenin wall and good sights.