Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Elder Pickett is OK! (but won't be emailing today)

Zone Training (Elder Pickett is way in the back!)

Nothing like checking my phone in the early hours of the morning to see if Brad’s email has come through and squinting at the tiny screen and seeing the words… “Elder Pickett is OK!”  Moment of panic. But we appreciate Elder Merrill (from his District) emailing us and letting us know why we wouldn’t hear from Brad!

Hello Pickett family,
I know you might be thinking "Hey....this isn't my son!" but don't be alarmed. Elder Pickett was vomiting and suffering last night, and in order to regain his health before our training tomorrow in Prague, he decided to stay in all day to rest and recover. I believe you would approve. He asked that I email to tell you that he is alive some extent. :) He'll recover soon, I'm sure. 
I sure like Elder Pickett. Thanks for sending him out here!

Our anticipated Christmas Day Skype was the perfect way to start our Christmas Day and here’s a few highlights from the visit:

  • On Christmas Eve, our district celebrated at our Bishop’s house and had Halusky  and Christmas Day we had crepes for lunch. The Czechs celebrate on Christmas Eve so that is when we opened our presents.  I laughed when I opened the inside joke “bear” from Caroline and I had to explain it to Elder Croney!  (Caroline and Brad would sneaky hide the larger stuffed bear shown in the picture in each other’s rooms.  Caroline really wanted to sneak it in Brad’s suitcase when he was leaving for the MTC but there was NO extra room!  So she made him a mini version.)

  • I really like going on exchanges with other missionaries in our Zone.  It was especially good to go back to C-Bud (his first area) and see how the work is going.  It was great to exchange with Elder Smith, from my MTC District.  His Czech skills are amazing and he’s read the dictionary and so he knows a lot of random, academic Czech words.  The Czechs are amazed when he uses them! 
  • It’s been really cold recently.  The temperature isn’t too bad but the humidity is really high and it just makes it so cold.  We like to talk and contact people on the buses where it is not so cold.  I am getting more confident in these contacts, I like to ask people how they are doing and then I tell them what I am doing as a volunteer for my religious beliefs.  Christmas time has been a great time to talk about Christ.
  • The Czech Republic is said to have one of the highest percentages of atheists in Europe, but a lot of those Czechs really are agnostic, in that they believe in something, they just don’t necessarily want to call that a belief in God.  And the baby Jesus brings presents on Christmas Eve, not Santa, which is interesting in a country with a high reported number of atheists.
  • The Bishop of the Plzen ward is great, we really like working with him and he trusts the missionaries a lot.  He gives us assignments and we work together really well.  I am playing the piano after church for choir practice, which is mostly just the missionaries.
  • Elder Croney is a great companion. He is working hard to the end of his mission and he loves serving and doesn’t want to talk about leaving.  (His release date is in 2 weeks.)  We work so well together because our strengths and weaknesses match up. 
  • We live in these packed apartment buildings leftover from the Communist era that exist in a lot of Czech cities.  We call them the panelák jungle.    (Here is some info:  Paneláks resulted from two main factors: the postwar  housing shortage and the ideology of Czechoslovak leaders to foster a "collectivistic nature."  Between 1959 and 1995, planners from the Communist era built paneláks containing 1.17 million flats in what is now the Czech Republic. They house about 3.5 million people, or about one-third of the country's population.)

  • (from Elder Terry/ Brad’s former companion who also serves in Plzen): "This week we are going to a hotel owned by a member in a small village outside of Prague and will be there as the entire mission from Wednesday to Friday morning. We will have training, a talent show and will even watch a Czech fairy tale. We are super excited." 

Elder Pickett getting his Christmas present package at a Zone Training Meeting

  • From Sister Gunnell: "Zone Training today featured a great explanation of Czech Christmas traditions. They have some really fun traditions! Christmas is actually celebrated on December 24. Ježíšek 'Little Jesus' (the Czech version of Christkindl) brings presents during the Christmas Eve dinner and leaves them under the Christmas Tree.  Dad goes to see if baby Jesus has come and then he has the family all come in and find their gifts. President Pohořelický played Santa (baby Jesus) and made everyone wait until he found all the packages. They were locked in the kitchen! So much anticipation and fun!" 

We asked Brad to pronounce President Pohořelický’s name for us.  Our Skype connection had a slight delay and between that and the difficult pronunciation (we asked him to say it 4 times), we have decided to just continue to call him Pres P.

Brad got to see and interact with his new niece Sadie for the 1st time!  We have sent pictures, of course, but it was fun for him to talk to her and get her to smile.  His comment was, "Wow, she has really big eyes!"  

Pictures from Swan Lake ballet from last week’s Culture Night

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