Monday, January 2, 2017

It’s a New Year

Czech/ Slovak Missionwide Conference gathering- if you look really close, edge of the 3rd window back on the right side of the picture, you can see Elder Brad’s profile

Hello everyone, it's been a little while since I have been able to send one of these properly! These past two weeks have been really abnormal for us, and really awesome at the same time. We are really grateful for all the great experiences we had, and also excited to get back into the normal flow of things.   I will give some quick updates.

  • First things first, it is really hard to set up meetings with people around Christmas time. A lot of the people we are working with right now are young adults, so they all go back home because they just study here. Either that or people have Christmas preparations, or just a lot going on. So we got to visit some members, went caroling, and spent a good amount of time on trams and buses (because when it is cold and not too busy outside that is the best place to find people)
  • Christmas here is a really big deal. We were asked by our mission president and wife to not go tracting (knocking on doors and talking to people in their homes) between the 24th and 26th because that is kind of considered almost sacred time as a family together, and people don't want any unexpected visitors. This year I also got to learn about a bunch of Christmas traditions here, and they are great. And I got to here Czech Christmas Carols, which might be the greatest part of Christmas. They have some really fun melodies, and Czechs love them all. They were forbidden to listen to them during Communism, because they are all religious in focus and origin, and after Communism fell they because incredibly popular, and everyone knows them.
  • Christmas Eve was spent with a wonderful Grandma in our ward who takes it as her responsibility to be our substitute grandmother here. She is great. After we had lunch at her house at 12, we went to the church building as a district and played some games, had a good group study, and chatted. Then we made halusky for 6.
  • It was fun to skype home and talk to my family. The weirdest part was probably walking out of the room in our Bishop's house (who was kind enough to invited us over so we could skype) and hearing Czech again. I forgot that I was still in a totally foreign country. Christmas day we had church, and the missionaries sang "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" in Czech during Sacrament meeting. After that we made crepes and opened our Secret Santa presents from each other. Then we ate the crepes. Then went to Bishops, he fed us lunch, we skyped, then we played a few games and had a spiritual thought, then went home. Sounds like you guys have had a great Christmas together, which is super great to hear!
  • We had a 3 day mission conference at a hotel in the Czech countryside outside of Prague. It was  filled with great spiritual things, great fun things, and plenty of good food.  I didn't get called up for Fear Factor where other missionaries got to eat some interesting Czech delicacies.  I watched the talent show, which was fabulous. There were some good songs including Elder Merrill from my district, a few really good piano numbers, a few funny skits and whatnot. It was really fun to meet some of the missionaries in Slovakia, who for the most part I have never interacted with before, and to see everyone. On the last day we had testimonies from the departing missionaries and it was a great spiritual experience. This is the first group that's left that I felt like I really know most of them well, and we are sad to see them leave. Elder Croney gave a great testimony, he has been a great companion for me.
Hotel outside of Prague for the Missionwide Conference

President P talking to missionaries
 (we will have to wait until next week for pictures from Brad thanks to pictures from others!)

Views of Prague in the Winter

  • Czech people celebrate the New Year with a few tons worth of fireworks and alcohol. So we ended missionary work at 4pm and had to be home by 6 pm. The fireworks and everything were really loud. At least that's what everyone tells me. I slept right through it, with an opened window and everything by my bed.
  • I got a normal picture with Elder Croney with the coolest background of all time. (picture taking at Mom’s request!)  Don't have pictures of our apartment, but I can do that next week. Also, next week I will be sending the Christmas package. I will send a large multitude of pictures next week! 
  •  I am still not sure if I got a bug, or just ate something that my body really badly rejected. Hard to say.  But all day. I just slept, went to the store real quick, threw-up a few times, and slept some more. And got a blessing. Even though I didn’t get to email last week, I did get to read your emails to me. Sister Scott printed them out for me and brought them to the mission conference, thanks.
  • I have been thinking a lot about the Lord's timing. It is funny, I think the Lord just waits until the right time. And that doesn't matter if it is in 1 hour, 3 days, or 7 years. We are the ones trying to control time and makes things happen when we want them to. I also really liked your thought  Dad from last week about being fearless. That is one of my goals for the New Year actually.

Other than that we have a new year ahead of us, filled with a lot of possibilities and great opportunities. I wanted to share an idea from Elder Holland's talk "Remember Lot's Wife: Faith is for the Future." It is a talk which was given at BYU and it talks about new beginnings, and focuses on the fact that faith always motivates us to look forward towards what can be, instead of focusing so much on what might have been. I would encourage you to read it, but would like to highlight the main idea that we should take the lessons we have learned from the past, and then leave everything else there. Thanks to Jesus Christ we don't have to keep living in our mistakes, we can leave them behind and move on forward. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

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