Monday, November 28, 2016

Plzen in Photos!

I don't have a lot of time, and I have a lot of photos, so I will tell most of my week in pictures. Hope that is ok.

Sister Andersen is a fabulous cook

  • We had a fabulous Thanksgiving, mostly thanks to Sister Andersen, who made fried chicken, and 2 pies. She didn't want to pose for a picture, but she eventually did. She is a fabulous cook. Elder Croney and I made the Jello (thanks for the packets Mom), Elder Merrill made funeral potatoes, Elder Terry made mashed potatoes, and Sister Miller made rolls. It was a good Thanksgiving!

Then we struggled to get groups pictures, to varying degrees of hilarity. 
In the end we got some good ones.

Plzen District Back row: Elder Pickett, Elder Merrill, Sister Miller 
Front row: Elder Terry, Elder Croney, Sister Andersen 

  • I also had an exchange this week with Elder Merrill from our district. It was great fun. I didn't get pictures from it, and nothing too crazy happened, but we enjoyed it a whole lot.
  • awesome being with Elder Croney who is incredibly enthusiastic about missionary work and it is good being out of the office. Being a Zone Leader is getting to think about big picture things (I like big pictures), going on exchanges, and trying to live up to the expectations, which is hard, but inspiring and encouraging as well. We go to C-bud on Wednesday. (Brad's first area where he served from end of December- early May)
Here is our tree lighting on the main square of Plzen. 
It was awesome. And the square was PACKED.

We spent some of p-day today checking out the Christmas markets. They are awesome. . I saw some nativities on the Christmas market today, I will keep looking to find the best options!

Yummy, giant croissants with filling. We plan to eat our way through the market.

  • Other than that, we also got to do a lot of good missionary work. We had lessons with both of our really strong investigators, and they went really well. We also had a less active member come to church, and a new convert who we have been struggling to stay in contact with because his phone isn't working. It was a nice surprise when he walked in, we were really happy.
  • We have a very small primary here, and two young men. Plzen is a pretty small ward, but it is pretty tight-knit, and the Bishop here is really awesome. He is super diligent, and does a great job keeping everyone together and everything going smoothly. 
  • Sounds like a whole lot of fun was had for the Pickett/ Roper/ Allison families for Thanksgiving. We are going to be putting  up our Christmas tree soon. We have picked out a spot and are working on it. Also, I am afraid that I might not get the Christmas package before training on the 22nd, because the office has them all stored, and they aren't giving them out, and it is probably buried in a pile with a bunch of others. But it will be good. (there is some mint flavor hot chocolate in the package that he is looking forward to!)
  • The Light the World campaign is awesome. We are looking forward to that a whole lot. 

My spiritual thought comes from #LighttheWorld: “It's the Christmas season,” said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We have lights — all kinds of lights on our houses, on our trees, on our dining tables. So if we link those wonderful traditions with the source of truth, even Christ as the source of light, it just made great sense to all of us that that would be the theme that we would employ this year.”

“The whole purpose of this initiative is to celebrate and share the Light of Christ," Bednar explained. "What we hope people will do is not simply think about the Savior during this Christmas season, or even just learn more about Him. What we hope is that they will come to know Him by doing what He did.”

Shareable online content is now available at, including a video that invites the public to perform acts of service following Christ’s example during the Christmas season. The service effort will kick off Thursday, with a Worldwide Day of Service. 
From Elder Pickett: Watch the short video, share the light and do acts of service every day!

Thanks for the love and support!  Love, Elder Pickett

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fall in Plzeň

MLC training- Elder Pickett & Elder Croney

Hello everyone! Hope that you are all having a great week. It has rained here a bit this week. It was really cold yesterday, but a little warmer the rest of the weekend. So winter seems to be waiting for a bit. Maybe. Last week we had the first snow. I have a lot to type and little time to do so, so I will just get right to it.

  • Pilsen (the English/German way to spell it) is much smaller than Prague, and still a little bigger than C-Bud. They have a ward here, but it is pretty small. Not at all the size of Prague. We have a pretty small building and probably between 30-45 members who come regularly. But the ward works together really well and is very fun to interact with. They are really working on retention, and we have a lot of good families and recent converts that we are working with. It has been fun to meet people. They also just had a YSA return from a mission. She was in the Korea Seoul mission which has added some other fun enthusiasm.
  • We have a good teaching pool right now. We are currently working with 2 YSAs who are from other countries, one from England, and one from Belarus (again with the spell-check problem). They are both great. They have excellent questions, and really want to understand how things work, which allows for a lot of great interaction and the Spirit to be present. They are progressing really well, and we hope that they will just keep going along. We are also working with a few new people, and some good potentials. Still working a lot on finding, but also seeing a lot of success and miracles in that.
  • We are working a lot in our mission right now to figure out how to give good baptismal commitments. Also, how to explain very well who God really is, and what his relationship is to us.
  • Elder Croney and I have also managed to have some of the craziest experiences of my entire mission in the last two weeks. We were invited to a lesson by a guy who wanted to take us to a tea house (I don't actually know if those exist in the US). So we went. And as we got there the name of it was "Teahouse near Hell." Which actually the name of that part of the city is "Hell" which is why they named it that, but that threw me off a little. And then as we walked it we were enveloped in a cloud of marijuana smoke. Turns out it is a teahouse mainly were university students go. Suffice it to say that we didn't stay for a lesson there, but rescheduled for a later date and different location. We also met a lot of interesting people these past two weeks, and some of the coolest people ever. We met a guy who ended up going with us to dinner, where he told us that he spent 9 months in South America, and traveled with a medicine man, acting as a translator from English to Spanish. He now lives in Austria. So he speaks Czech, Spanish, English, and German. Then he paid for our meal at the end. Not an everyday experience.
Food we make

  • Also, we are actually only emailing today, and Thursday will be our real P-Day. We will have Thanksgiving together as a District, where I will be sure to take lots of pictures. We are looking forward to that. (Mom heard from another missionary they will be having fried chicken instead of turkey?  Stay tuned for next week’s info!)
  • This past week we also had a training by a member of the Seventy, Elder Sabin. He did an awesome job. We learned a lot and talked about a lot of good things. I really appreciated how candid he was, and also how much he encouraged us, and taught us through the scriptures and through his own life experiences. It was awesome. He was very candid, and has an incredible knowledge of the scriptures. He was quoting them all over the place. He talked about that when we really understand that God is there and listening but we just don't see Him, that changes our prayers. It is very true. He also came to MLC the next day, where we talked about a lot of good principles about how we can help the mission moving forward. It was really helpful, and he had some really good direction.
  • We are going to start an exchange tonight with Elder Merrill and Elder Terry here in Plzen, and then next week we will go to C-bud and stay over with them. Pretty excited for that one since I will go back to my first area. And then the week after we are going to Prague to have an exchange with the Elders. We might bring one missionary back to our area. Because we have a car, it is a little bit faster than train. I have done exchanges every transfer. This transfer we haven't done any exchanges yet, but we start today.
  • I think with Czech I have gotten to the point where I have a very large "passive vocabulary." Meaning that there a lot of words that I can hear and totally understand, but I want to expand my speaking vocabulary so that I have more words that I can use to teach. Elder Croney and I try to speak almost all day long in Czech. We started out with that well, we need to get back to it a little more.
  • We do live about 13 minutes away from the church. In an area with a bajillion apartment buildings. Elder Croney is very commited to working all the way to the end, just like Elder Galbraith. (this is the second companion that Brad has had on his last transfer of the mission)
My spiritual thought is from Elder Sabin's training. One of the things that he told us, which I thought was interesting, was that it is normal to be tired on a mission. That is not a bad thing. It is interesting for us to remember that life wasn't meant to be perfect, that is ok to be tired, and that we will make it through, with the Lord's help. Try to remember that. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

 Christmas markets are going up on the main square!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Plzen is AWESOME

Elder Croney and I with a member here. Who is actually Russian, 
but speaks almost flawless English.

I have almost no time for emailing today, because our P-day kind of exploded.  Lots of getting ready for things. We actually have a lesson in 15 minutes, and then FHE after so we will have to run.  That's why we ran out of time. And our P-Day has been a little crazy. But really good, we did everything we had to. Mostly. (Some information if from a bonus back and forth email with Mom last Monday on transfer day!)
  •  Plzen is AWESOME. I love being in a bit of a smaller city again, it reminds me a lot of C-bud in some ways. Also, here in the Czech Republic they have some big apartment buildings for mass housing (from communism days, we are all pretty sure) and we live in one of those. They are always in groups. It is very interesting. We live in Lochotin, an area here.  The church address is Zikmunda Wintra 7 (it is fun to Google Earth where Brad is serving)On transfer day, I arrived at noon in Plzen.  We taught a lesson to a really cool YSA investigator from England. It was a great lesson. And we ate lunch, bought a bus/tram pass for me, and had FHE . Then we bought food and had call-ins with the Assistants. A good first day in Plzen.  
  • I have heard about the election. Had a lot of people ask us about it on the streets actually. Pretty crazy wild. It's been weird to watch it develop at such a distance. We had a reporter come and ask for Elder Croney's opinion on it. He was allowed to comment, because the reporter took the time to ask the Bishop here, who called and talked to President about it. Elder Croney just said the church is neutral and we will try to support our president. We will see how that all goes.

  • It has been freezing cold this past week, but looks like it will warm up a little this week, which is good news for us. Yesterday evening we went tracting, and there was a bit of snow on the ground.

Our car shows us the temperature. And a little snowflake pops up to let you know when it's cold. Because the -1.5 C isn't enough for that sometimes.

The first snow! 
  • But Elder Croney is awesome. We are having a lot of fun together, working hard, playing hard, and eating plenty. He is really a fabulous example and companion, I really like him. He was my zone leader, so I have done call-ins with him every other week for the past transfer. This is his last transfer.
  • We have a few good progressing investigators, and are finding more as well. No baptismal dates yet, but we are close. Hopefully this week.
  • This week we have a special zone conference with a member of the area presidency, President Sabin. And then a missionary leadership conference the next day, which he will also be at. Both of those will be in Prague, so it will be a lot of traveling on Wednesday and Thursday. Our zone is Prague, C-Bud, and Plzen. Just three cities.  And there are 4 elders and 2 sisters here in Plzen: Elder Terry & Elder Merrill, Sister Andersen & Sister Miller, Elder Croney & me.

  • Scott shared with Brad that "the focus with the young men we are serving with is that all the YM will be mission bound and temple worthy at all times. That will be the measuring stick for us."  From Elder Pickett:  That is an excellent measuring stick. If that can be your focus and your standard at all times, you will turn out just fine in high school. Because that kind of drives most of the other good life choices, like diligent work and studies and all that good stuff. I think that everyone who goes on a mission finds some big changes in life. I already have, and I am only halfway through.

Spiritual thought for the week comes from my Dad’s email to me.  “Diligence is defined as consistent, valiant effort, especially in serving the Lord and obeying His word. Diligence takes preparation, hard work, faith, self-discipline and determination. However, as we are diligent in our work, the Lord will bless us beyond belief through experiences we will have by being an instrument in His hands.”  Thanks Dad for the thought about diligence. My companion is a great example of that actually, which I really appreciate. We are being very conscientious of how we are using out time, and try to be the most effective we can with it.  I challenge you all to be diligent in your efforts this week.

Love you lots!  Elder Pickett

Some pictures from my last days in the Mission Office and with my Prague District
President and Sister Pohorelicka
I am excited to be leaving the office but I will miss being around President P, that is true. He said bye to me on transfer day, and then said that we will still see each other soon which pretty awesome, so it is not really good-bye. . And he is awesome. Super friendly and very personable.

 Prague Pday fun- Elders Pickett & Brockbank, Sestra Brown, Boza, Heap

 Prague Stake Conference with Elder Brockbank

 Caroline spotted Elder Brad way in the background above the sister in the red.  Missionary family searching pictures!

Here are the Halloween zombies (from a care package from home), 
Elder Brockbank and I soaked & grew them while I was in Prague

Elder and Sister Scott (who sends and answers all the mission emails!) who serve in the Mission Office

Elder Hymas, the new Visa Elder taking my place and my office area
Elder Hymas has already called me a few times when I left for Plzen. Probably 5 or 6. 
I had Elder Belshe on speed dial when I took over from him.

Goodbye Elder Petersen 
I have also exchanged coats. I got a nicer one that doesn't look warmer, but actually is. It blocks the wind a whole lot better. It came from Elder Petersen, who is headed home on Thursday. . It is shorter and not as bulky, but I think it is going to be warmer. Which is good, because I am going to need warm this winter.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The End (of this Transfer)

Hello everyone! This is my last email home for this transfer, which has flown by at an alarming rate. We had a pretty crazy week in the office, which left little time for proselyting, but this next transfer I will be leaving the office, which I am ready for! Here are some updates from the week:

  • I had an exchange with Elder Petersen, one of the Assistants this week. He goes home next week, it was a good exchange. We ran close to 5 miles for exercise and I was ready to die by the end. I haven't run in a while.
  • We had a good final district meeting, and we were able to practice for our concert as well. We have been practicing for that this whole week, as well as advertising for it. More on that later.
Here is a selfie of us at the Peterson's house. They are an American family and they made us delicious chili and we had Fritos with it. It was delicious.

  • The end of the transfer tends to get pretty crazy in the office, so we had to be here a lot, but it has been good as well. We have to prepare things for the new missionaries coming in, and since it is near Christmas time, we have gone to the Post Office probably 3 or 4 times in the past two weeks. Lots of packages coming in.
  • So with advertising for our concert, we went to three different metro stops and sang and passed out flyers. We passed out several hundred, and got a lot of really good reactions (except for from some disgruntled teenage employees at a pizza place, who turned up their music louder. We stayed there and sang a little louder too). Unfortunately we did not have anyone from our metro singing that actually came to our concert, but those people at least know that Mormons can sing and enjoy it. From Elder Brockbank:  “As we were singing, people would even stop and pull out their phones and record us. What was very interesting though, was that it wasn't when we were singing "One Love" by Bob Marley or "Lean on Me" but it was when we sang our acapella version of "Nearer My God to Thee" in Czech that had the most people recording us. The Spirit just whipped those phones right out of their pockets! Music has power. We honestly don't know what happened to the videos that people took of us at the metro stations. Maybe they are now flying around the internet. We sometimes don't know what comes from our actions, but we can trust God knows and that it will all turn out good!”
  • On Friday we had our concert. We had a decent turnout of ward members, and a few investigators. It was really fun and we played lots of variety. Our theme was peace, love, and gratitude, and we wanted a mix of lots of songs with upbeat as well as more reverent. I will just list the songs we sang/played (don't worry, we got everything approved by the Mission President): And acapella, jazzed-up version of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,”  “Nearer My God to Thee,”  also acapella. Then a guitar duet by Elder Smith and a member here, who played the song “Hallelujah” but changed the lyrics so that it is about Christ. The Sisters sang the song “Beautiful Savior.”  We all sang “Lean On Me.”  Then we had a piano solo by Elder Tingey, an arrangement by him of “Where Can I Turn for Peace” and “He is Risen.” Then we sang a changed-up, jazzed-up version of “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today” as Elders. We got some good laughs out of it, which was the goal. Then we sang “One Love” by Bob Marley, and finished with the song “Prayer of the Children.”  We had really good reactions from everyone who came, and I think that they enjoyed the experience. We hope to see some good results from it.
And here is a selfie of our district after our concert.

  • Forgot to mention that we went to a fabulous production of Phantom of the Opera on Thursday for culture night. 
Here is an awkward picture with Elder Brockbank from the concert (excellent photobomb by Elder Geier). Heap, Elder Pickett, Elder Brockbank (below) at dinner before Phantom, 
notice the big mug of Kofola!

  •  That is so weird to me that Elder Farnworth (one of Brad's best friends from home) is home now. I can't believe it has already been two years. I am glad to hear that he is doing well and has a good solid plan in front of him. Weird that people are going in and out of missions a lot. Hard to believe all this stuff has been going on since I left.  
  • Elder Hymas is coming to the office from Brno to serve with Elder Brockbank.  I  am going to Plzeň, I will be serving with Elder Croney as Zone Leader. I am really looking forward to it. This means that I have officially stalked Elder Belshe since the beginning of my mission. We will see where he ends up... 
·         (Elder Belshe served in CBud with Elder Galbraith and then was transferred to Prague.  Brad took his place in CBud with Elder Galbraith, then served with Elder Dean.  Then Brad was next transferred to Prague and took Elder Belshe’s place again with Elder Terry, then Elder Brockbank.  We joked then that we needed to closely watch where Elder Belshe went so we could see where Brad would go next.  Elder Belshe was transferred to Plzen at that time.  Yes… now Brad is being transferred to Plzen to take Elder Belshe’s place!!  We can’t wait to hear where Elder Belshe is being transferred to this Monday!!)

That was our week. To finish I would like to share a spiritual thought about the importance of maintaining focus. In doing so I want to talk a little about Peter, when he briefly walked on the water to the Savior. As he went toward the Savior he successfully walked on water, which is quite miraculous. "But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink" It was as Peter stopped focusing on the Lord that he began to sink. And when he realized this "he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." I think that this story has many applications in our lives and in our faith. I think we often make the mistake Peter does, we begin to do something because the Lord has asked it of us, and then we lose focus on him, and begin to be overwhelmed. But the Lord is there, and as soon as we focus on Him again and ask for His help, He will "immediately" reach out to us. I challenge you all to keep Christ as the focus of your service and activities. Thank you for your prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett