Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Weather and Miracles

The Plzen District

Hi everyone! This week has been pretty great, helped along by the fabulous weather and the miracles that we have seen. We just needed some opposition the last couple weeks to be more appreciative of what we have.  It's been a bit of a crazy week, but a good one all the same. I will give some updates:

  • Last Monday after emailing we went and toured the brewery here in Pilsen, the Pilsner Urquell beer factory. It is world famous and so they have tours in lots of languages. We didn't look up beforehand, but happened to get there just as an English tour was started with people from all over the world as part of it. Our tour guide was Czech and she freaked out a little bit when she learned that we were Americans who spoke Czech. (She asked us to teach her to speak English the way we speak Czech. She also speaks Polish and a few other languages.) They also give you a free taste of beer on the tour, which we didn't take, and everyone thought we were a little insane, but it was all good. Then she asked people in our tour if they knew any bar songs which they sang.  Then she came over to us and asked us to sing. We told her we didn't know any bar songs but she asked us to sing any song while everyone was beer tasting. So we sang a Czech Christmas carol about Christ being born. It was a very interesting setting. Who knew there was so much interesting chemistry involved with beer making? Not me, but now I do.  

 Pictures of the beer factory! These are the famous gates into the brewery. 
And giant barrels of beer.

Apparently they use these things to make beer. Who knew?

 Here is me climbing through the opening of a beer barrel lid. They take "volunteers" from the audience. (Meaning that she points at you and tells you to try it)

  • We got to have a first lesson with a young mom that we set up with through email. She is really cool and open to hearing new ideas and new things. We also had to run between the place we were at and the building to make it to English on time. We made it with about 1 minute to spare.
  • We also ran into our investigator L. almost every day this week. We visited him on Sunday, and then helped him translate some things on Tuesday into English for his new work, then saw him through a window on Wednesday, then Thursday ran into him in the center while we were having a singing display. It was pretty crazy. We joked that it is a sign for him from God and he needs to start believing. He is quite a character and thought it was pretty funny that we kept meeting up. When we saw him on Thursday he told that on Friday he was just going to stay at home all day and not go anywhere so he didn't see us.
  • Other than that we had a lot of success calling to set up with people and meeting new people this week. Our week already looks really full, which is something very exciting as a missionary, and we are excited to see all that is in store for us.
  • The Patriarch here in the Czech Republic is one of the most Christ-like men I have ever met in my entire life. We say (fairly seriously) that if the Lord didn't need him here as a Patriarch, he would have been translated already.
  • ·         I dream in Czech pretty frequently. I have had several dreams about you guys being here or me being home and I couldn't stop speaking Czech and none of you knew what I was saying. And if President P is ever in my dream he only ever speaks Czech, because that's basically all I ever hear from him.
  • ·         I understand Czech better than I speak it. I have a fairly large passive vocabulary (meaning I understand the word when I hear it, but I can't pick it out of my brain to use it in conversation) and I am good with context clues (because at the beginning of your mission that is all you have to go on), and between those two things I feel very confident with understanding. I have also found that I am good at translating from Czech to English at conversation speed which is really tough for a lot of missionaries, but it works in my brain.  
  • ·         I have seen in my mission that the “gift of tongues” allows me to speak and understand past a language barrier to speak to the heart of people and understand their ideas without understanding their words.  There have been specific instances when I have felt like I was speaking in Czech and the words that were naturally coming out of my mouth in an understandable and confident manner were not my own but from the Spirit, but that has been more rare.
  • ·         Elder Trythall and I have both joked about how funny it is that we had to come all the way across the world to realize that we could be such good friends. Kind of funny how circumstances played into that really. (Elder Nick Trythall is also from Roseville, he went to a different high school & different ward.)
  • ·         Sometimes you meet people on the street as a missionary who just want to argue. The best option I have found is to just bear testimony and challenge them to learn it for themselves. You have to give people sass sometimes, it keeps them on their toes. And Czechs are super sassy, so they speak that language.
  •  I will probably be staying here next transfer. I could leave, but that would be very unlikely.  (Elder Tingey completes his mission in 2 weeks.)
Sisters made a lunch in honor of Elder Tingey’s 2 year mark in the mission 
(Czech missionaries serve for 25 months due to transfers)

My spiritual thought is about following inspiration. Elder Tingey and I are preparing to give a training at zone conference this week. It will be a 40 minute training that we lead, and we started preparing it on a certain topic that we decided on a few weeks ago. When we brought our ideas together and started really talking about it, both of us felt that the topic we had was not at all what our missionaries needed. So we decided to completely change it and go a totally different way. We called President and asked him if it was okay, and then prepared our training. So we are doing a pep talk about the phrase "Called to Serve," focusing on the fact that we are called to be here by God through His prophet, and then the fact that we are here to serve and love the Czech people. And we are really excited to give what we planned and feel that it will really help. So in preparing for lessons, talks, discussions, study, or whatever you are preparing for, remember to listen to the Spirit if he prompts you to follow another path than what you originally thought. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

2 Elders from the trio… Elder Pickett & Elder Brockbank

Monday, February 20, 2017

It Was a Weird Week


Here's our district at Sister Juraskova's for lunch.

(Instead of the typical Ahoj greeting, Mom added Rád slyšel od vás.)  Yea, that Czech was kind of close, just missing some important things (you're a woman, and not a man like the sentence says, there's a word missing, and we know each other and are family, so it would be the informal form of you.) But other than that, basically perfect. So here are the highlights, it was a weird week.  

  • Way to go with the senior couples video, that's exactly what we need! Thanks for the help. We are going to be in need of them soon, and so we are marketing ourselves a bit. There is some kind of database with missions for seniors, but for some reason we are not on there, which is lame, because our mission is stinking awesome. If you could share this on Facebook, and help us market our awesome mission that would be stellar! Thanks!  
  • This is a link for why senior couples should come to our mission.
  • Unfortunately P. dropped us this week. It was a really surprising and not too fun lesson. He said he was done investigating the church.
  • Finding is not going well for us right now. We are just not having success with it. We are trying to find new ways of finding, and get outside the box a little. The biggest excuses are that they don't have any time, or that they aren't interested. Probably more of the first one honestly. All the time. We try to talk with people whenever it is at all possible.  
From Elder Brockbank: "Here is a picture of us contacting people. We drew the 
plan of salvation on the ground and then tried to talk to people about it." 
  • We had Mission Leadership Council (MLC) on Tuesday with lots of good discussions about the mission and what we need as missionaries. We also taught L. on Sunday, that was good.
  • We had a transfer this week with Elder Brockbank joining us in a trio and Elder Terry being called back to Prague to work in the office. Our trio is good! We drove Elder Terry to Prague on Wednesday and moved Elder Brockbank in with us.

Here are some random photos of my companions.

  • An investigator from Prague came and visited and we spent some time with him on Saturday. He really likes Elder Tingey, so he came to Plzen to visit him.

 Elder Tingey with the investigator, and Elder Brockbank and me on a tram

Spiritual thought… Pondering is something I have learned a lot about on my mission. It can be so easy to get caught up in the constant "to-do list" of life that we forget why we even do the things that we do. Pondering helps us reevaluate and prepare and seek the Lord's guidance. It is great. Thanks for the uplifting emails and thoughts each week, they are awesome!
Elder Pickett

I bought new brown shoes last week. From a nice Czech store, but I got them for around $40. They had a good sale. 

   We make yummy food. This is fried rice.  From Elder Tingey: “I know how to cook now mom!”    

Elder Brockbank likes animals.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Plzen District- Another Fast Week!

Our District on a cool graffiti wall (photo credit Elder Tingey)
Here are some really fast highlights of the week.  And I forgot my memory card reader, so pictures next week, sorry! Have an awesome week! (I got a couple pictures this last week from other missionaries in the Plzen district… so we can deal with no pictures today!)

  • We had a fabulous lesson with Petr. He told us that he doesn't know if these things are true. He believes that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are there and answer prayers, but he doesn't believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet yet, or that the Book of Mormon is true. He was really worried to tell us, because he thought that we would be upset, but we were really glad that he told us, because it shows he is actually thinking about stuff and that he has questions, and a desire to really find the truth, not just what sounds good. So it was a really good, and really important lesson. And Jitka, one of the YSA here taught with us, and she did a great job and really helped out. Teaching with members is such a good idea.
  • We sent out a scavenger hunt to our Zone on Tuesday. A list of different people to look for, and a simple way to keep score. It was crazy the amount of miracles that we heard about from it. We wanted to have a day with some fun in it, and make people excited to go find people, and it totally worked. That was a really fun to see how something simple like that was able to spice things up for us nicely.
coolest chairs EVER at the science museum (photo credit Sestra Valentine)

  • We also got to help someone walk to the hospital on Tuesday. He was standing in front of a long crosswalk without a stoplight and stopped Elder Tingey to ask if he would help him cross. Then we asked where he was headed and offered to help him walk to the hospital as well. He fell while at work, and messed up his ankle pretty badly. He was really grateful for the helpful and offered to give us beer money, which we declined. He was a really cool guy and we hope to run into him again sometime.
  • In the Plzen ward, we keep busy.  Elder Tingey actually plays for choir now, because he is a musical genius. We pass the Sacrament and give talks fairly often. And help home teach. We don't have any big ward activities. FHE every week is generally for YSA, although anyone can come. We also have English class, and then have Game Night on Friday, and Sports Night every other Saturday. We are working with several less actives, including 2 families. They are both really great and we really like them. Our bishopric is all awesome. All of them have families in the church and are great examples. Petr Kyncl is our bishop and his counselors are Brother Štorkan and Brother Holub. There are also a ton of Grandmas in this ward, and they are all great. And then we have other good teachers, and a few YSA, but not a ton.
Elder Pickett & Elder Tingey (repeat picture)

  • Exchanges are good although we didn't actually have any last week. Finding has not been great for us these past couple of weeks, we need to make more time for it in our day and find some new ways of finding. We are working on organizing a day in our zone to encourage new and different ways to find, and we are hoping to see success and some new, good ideas from that. We are able to get referrals from time to time. This week on Sunday we are going over to Bishop's house and his family is going to invite someone to come as well. That should be good. 
  • There are probably close to a million Petrs and even more Jans in the Czech Republic. They have a lot of repeating names. We had interactions with 4 different Petrs in two days last week, it was pretty nuts. We're joking that this transfer has been the transfer of Petrs.
Christ is in all things, even the trash cans testify of Him (photo credit Elder Tingey)

  • I think that is one of the challenges of being an older-in-the-mission missionary is that you start to think you know what you are doing and you've got things covered. That is really not a good idea or a good attitude when you are trying to be an instrument in the Lord's hand. But it really is critical to focus on the things that He thinks are most important and using our time the way He wants us to use it. Which can be tough.
For a spiritual thought I want to talk about looking where we are going. Sometimes in life we are so focused on the path right in front of our feet, that we forget to look at where we are even going to end up. We are trying so hard to just take the next step that we forget to realize what our goal even is. When we agonize about the next step and stress about it, a good way to get over it is to look up, to recognize all that the Lord has provided for us, and to see where we want to go. That makes the next step exciting, and gives us the courage and confidence to keep going. And whenever we look up, we will see that the Savior is beckoning us on. So keep going and keep your head up. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

One of our favorite places to eat is an Australian meat pie place. 
Great food, and a great price! Also, the owner is really cool.

An art memorial for General George S. Patton, who freed the city of Plzen 
(photo credit Elder Brockbank)

selfie at the science museum with a HUGE fan! (photo credit Sestra Valentine)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Fast Week!

Today at the request of Elder Brockbank we went to an exhibit of recycled plastic. 
This is me pretending to be deep and cultured enough to appreciate art, 
and also a cool multicolored, plastic peacock.

Hello everyone! We had a bit of a crazy week, but a good one as well. We had two exchanges and some good lessons and some interesting lessons.
  • We left Monday evening to go to Prague and start an exchange with the office Elders, Elder Hymas and Elder Swink . Due to the crazy schedule we ended up helping the elders getting things ready and loading a car for Zone Training and the next day going to get packages from the mail. After 2 failed attempts I almost had a meltdown and we went to a Mexican Restaurant to eat burritos and wait for the workers to change and try again. Then we met a very nice older lady and she solved all of our problems. It was kind of like a flashback for Elder Tingey and me to our office days, but it was good.  I think it helped that we had office experience.
  • We already had C-Bud Elders here with us 2 weeks ago. I was with the new missionary, and that was super fun. He doesn't understand too well what people are saying but he just goes for it anyways.  Elder Smith (from my MTC District) is his trainer this transfer. And they are killing it in C-Bud. That city is on fire right now.
  • We had a lesson with P., our investigator who has a baptismal date next month, and he is doing great! He found work and a place to live here, and he decided he is not going to move to Liberec like he planned to. He wasn't able to come to church this week since he was being an extra in a film. But next week he should be there again. He has really found just what he is looking for in the Gospel, and it is truly great to see. We are teaching some other people as well, but he is our main guy and making the most progress. We are still working with L., and have some other good people as well.
  • We also had an exchange with the other Elders here in Plzen. I went with Elder Terry, and we visited an investigator and less active in a neighboring city. It was a nice, scenic train ride there.
The Plzen District- Elders Pickett & Tingey, Elders Brockbank & Terry, 
Sestras Valentine & Andersen
  • Working with Elder Tingey is good. We get each other a lot, and have the same thought process with many different things. Elder Tingey has taught me to keep up with calling our investigators and people we are working with. Also keeping a clean apartment. Also how to set good goals at the end of a mission.
 Our apartment

  • Other than that our week was pretty normal. We had a good amount of lessons, and a good amount of time talking to people. We are hoping that our investigators will keep making progress and feeling the Spirit.
  • The weather was amazing yesterday and today, but is supposed to freeze again tomorrow. I am pretty down with winter at this point, but oh well. It's decently cold, but my body is much more used to it this year than last. And we have a shoebox full of hot hands here in our apartment. So we are good to go on those.
  • Current events are pretty nuts. People still ask us what we think of Trump when they find out we are from the US. That's always fun. (Brad has been gone since Oct 2015 so other than our email information, he is completely out of the political loop.)
For my spiritual thought I wanted to talk about the Book of Mormon. We talk about how important it is in our testimonies of Joseph Smith all the time, but sometimes I think that we forget that it is also foundational in our understanding and testimony of Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior and Redeemer. I want to testify that as we study and read the Book of Mormon, and as we apply the doctrines taught in it, we will truly find ourselves coming closer to the Savior, and finding more joy in life. So keep reading the Book of Mormon! Thanks for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

This is a cool Czech bridge. I see a lot, but I felt like taking a picture of this one.

This is the third largest  Jewish synagogue in the world and a theater that is next to it.
Photo credit to Elder Brockbank


Elder Brockbank & Elder Tingey being blinded by science!  
We went to a science place called Techmania last week on pday and took pictures with our faces pushing out pixels. I am the top one at an odd angle.