Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Can Hear!

Plzen elders… Elder Pickett, Elder Brockbank, Elder Raines, Elder Anderson

Hello everyone, this week flew by really fast, it is hard to remember what exactly happened, but I will give it a go. Our day today has been madness.

  • Okay weather this week. It's been overcast pretty hardcore, but today is beautiful. We are just wearing long sleeve white shirts, and it is good times.
  • On Tuesday we went to MLC in Prague. We also went to the doctor where I got the ear wax suctioned out of my ear by a very interesting machine. It was pretty crazy, and my hearing in my left ear was fabulous for the rest of the day, because it had been trying to compensate and hear better, so once it was unblocked everything was a whole lot louder. But I am all normal now, and grateful for modern technology and two hearing ears.
  • Also on Tuesday we had an exchange with Elders Swink, Gaulin, and Mueller in a trio in Prague. I went with Elder Swink and we saw a lot of miracles and met a lot of really cool people Tuesday evening, and then went home with the others. The next morning we got ready and kept going on the exchange, which ended at around 5 that evening. It was a great exchange and we got some good interaction with the missionaries. They are awesome.
  • Contacting in Plzen is also going well. We are meeting cool people and working on setting up with them. This week we should have some more time after Wednesday for contacting and that will be good.
  • Elder Anderson is awesome! He actually reminds me a lot of Carson Farnworth, so we are having a “heckle” of a good time!  (Caroline’s "hip" word she is sharing with Brad)

  • Thursday we had District Meeting and met a few cool people contacting, and Friday we were the lone missionaries in Pilsen, because the other 4 went to Progression Training for new missionaries in Brno. The greenies are doing awesome, they are making some serious progress in Czech and slowly starting to understand a little bit (I remember those times quite well). Luckily we handled Game Night by ourselves and everything went okay without them here. Because of travel problems they got in really late, and we ended up driving the Sisters home at 10 PM with our mission President's approval, don't worry.
The rest of the Plzen district off to Brno for Progression Training
  • Saturday we went and did service, gathering up branches from a pine tree that had been cut down in a family's yard. That was quite a task, but some fun physical labor. We also met up with the Terry family for lunch. And we had sports night, the last one inside, because the weather is getting nicer and nicer.
Plzen elders with the Terry family & Elder Terry (who just completed his mission)

 McDonald’s with the Terrys

  • The Terry family brought me a nice package from my family, fully decorated! The full effect! It was great fun! I am quite excited about the Eastertivities, they are super fun! And also about the needed hygiene and eye care. And of course, the candy and cake are fabulous. Sister Andersen's birthday is the 8th of May, so we will probably have a joint cake/celebration. I am looking forward to it. And the bookmarks are great, I will be giving those out for sure as well.

  • Restaurant prices depend on if you buy lunch or dinner, because they have a "daily menu" option for lunch. But for lunch today I got Indian food with a big drink, and I paid between $4-5. And it was really good, and plenty filling. I would say most prices on the daily menu of an entree range from $4-6. Off the daily menu they range from $6-10.

Here’s our Plzen District going to eat at the brewery restaurant called Pivovar  
last week- bread bowl goulash

  • Overall it was a kind of slow/interesting week, but this week should be really good. We have training tomorrow, and an exchange right after, which we are looking forward to. We just finished making a presentation for our 15 minute spiritual thought tomorrow on testimony for training. It should be pretty good, we are excited. I have been studying and praying and trying to discern where the proper balance is in being bold without overbearing as a missionary. Those are some great insights from the most recent Face- to Face event so thank you very much Dad.
  • I have learned lots of cooking principles on my mission, not necessarily specific dishes . We do spaghetti a lot, rice with veggies and chicken. I have learned how to make fried rice, which is something new. Basically every day I eat cereal, because they have some really tasty cereal here. And eggs sometimes, mostly if my companion is making them and offers to throw on a couple for me.
My spiritual thought for this week is about humility. One of the things I have noticed is that it takes humility to admit when we do something wrong. We are tempted immediately to justify our actions or to excuse them. When we do this we only limit ourselves in our personal growth. Humility means having the courage to say "I was in the wrong, and I admit it. I will do better next time." This seems like such a simple thing, but our pride gets in the way so often. However, I have found in my life that the courage to admit to our wrongdoings leads to the power to change and be better. It allows the Savior and the power of His Atonement into our lives to change us for the better. So I challenge you all to be courageous, and to be humble. Thanks for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett 

Hello Mommy-o! I already wrote you a birthday note! I was thinking about typing it up to send it all to you today, but I think I might send it by snail mail, because hand-written letters are just more significant. Hopefully we will somehow find time to mail it off today. I will also do a birthday recording,  that is another excellent idea.

The DeLanges (longtime family friends) were in Prague? That's super fun! President P is awesome, I am sure they loved him. As long as they understood his Czech humor. And we will be there tomorrow for training, so I will pick it up.

From Rebecca Terry/ Elder Terry’s Mom:  I finally met your son. And I have pictures. I told the elders  that I was given the task of taking many pictures of them. I felt like the paparazzi! It was kind of funny.
Here's a fun fact. When you use the toilet on trains here, your waste goes onto the tracks! So we've been saying that we are going to water the tracks when we pee. I'm pretty sure we don't allow waste dumping on our train lines.
One other thing we noticed right away. Most people here smoke. Yuck! And we don't see very many overweight people here either. It's certainly not the food, it must be all the walking they do. Driving around here would scare me to death! No thanks! You take your life into your hands by crossing streets.
Also, wash cloths are hard to find. And their toilet paper is very rough, and the vast majority of public toilets aren't free. We pay anywhere from 7- 20 crowns each time. They are free at restaurants, but that's pretty much it.

Elder Brockbank and Elder Raines- studying Czech

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Begins in Plzen

A super quick rundown of the week, no one answered their phones so we went contacting a lot. And I am excited to meet Elder Terry's parents and get my magic box (sent a box with some necessities and mostly fun stuff over with an elder’s parents going to the Czech Republic… free shipping)! It will be sweet. We will be there tomorrow!
  • My new companion Elder Anderson is from Idaho, and he is a total outdoor guy. He actually reminds me a lot of Carson, but he did some different sports and had access to dirt bikes, snowmobiles and guns growing up. I really like him. We have some different ways of teaching and talking to people, but nothing that stops us from working well together, and there are good things that we can learn from each other. The top 3 things I am learning from him are probably 1) Humility. 2) The importance of working out and stretching. 3) How to make fast, filling food. Morning workouts, we switch off between running and P90X every other day.
We made chicken legs in a crockpot, and steak fries in the oven. That was a tasty Sunday night dinner. Elder Anderson bought a crockpot, and then brought it with him.

  • Our investigator L. (the sassy Czech man) is slowly but surely getting there. We will get him there eventually.
  • In our Plzen District, Elder Brockbank is training for his first time. Sister Andersen has already trained and follow-up trained, so she knows what she's doing. So we have 2 greenies. They have the “deer in the headlights” look pretty good. The sister more than the Elder, she is a little more shy. He just goes for it, even though he can't roll his "r" yet. The greenies tried solo contacting for the first time during a singing display, and they did great. They don't understand much right now, but they are trying hard.
  • Sestra Heap, one of my MTC sisters, was set to train in CBud this transfer. (I can't believe our MTC sisters go home after  this transfer. I keep pretending that is all a big lie and they are staying.)  From Sestra Heap: “Plot twist! So it turns out I'm not training a new missionary straight from the MTC in the normal sense. My new companion is Sestra Chalupská, and she's Czech! She's a member from the city Ostrava, and she's on a "mini mission" which means she's set apart as a missionary and everything, but only for one month. So that means I get to try and help her have all the experiences of a normal mission all packed into the next 4 weeks! The fun part is that she doesn't really speak any English, so that means we only speak Czech together 24/7.  She speaks the language perfectly so she completely understands them in that sense, but she also understands their mindset. She's a convert of about 3 years, so she knows exactly what it's like to go from being athiest to finding faith. Serving with her just brings an entirely new aspect to evertything! It's awesome!” 
  • Tomorrow we will also go to Prague for MLC and have exchanges, so that should be fun. This week is looking better, as we will be able to meet with some people and work with them. All exciting things, and we are excited for the week ahead.

A picture I drew of the temple. I have discovered that I enjoying drawing things from pictures. Who knew? Not me. But I do now.
  • We trigger dogs ALL the time while we are tracting. We will get close to the gate and some giant dog will jump up out of nowhere and started barking like crazy. They freak me out sometimes.
  • I can't really hear out of my left ear, but we will be getting that earwax problem taken care of tomorrow. Which will be nice, because only hearing out of one ear for a week has been kind of disorienting. Interesting little experiment about what it would be like to be mostly deaf in one ear though. 
  • To Caroline: Nazdar! I could try to use those crazy slang words you are suggesting, but the Czechs mostly don't speak English, so that wouldn't work too well...And yes, there is a ton of slang in Czech. All over the place. There is basically a whole accent that's kind of like slang. It's the accent here in Bohemia, and I love it. But I don't use it, because I am not sure if I am allowed to or not since it’s pretty informal.

So my spiritual thought this week comes from a thought and scripture from my Dad on Grace. I really like the scripture 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, it was one of Elder Tingey's favorites.
9 And he [the Lord] said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

I know, like Paul, that when I have these weaknesses, that I am able to rely on God's grace and then be strengthened. It is a great concept and also relates perfectly to Ether 12:26-27.
26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
I have definitely found that by coming to the Lord I have seen where I am weak, but at the same time that as I am humble, the Lord magnifies me to be far more that I can by myself. Have a great week!  

-Elder Pickett

Our lunch today. We went to the brewery, and they have a huge restaurant 
in the complex that is really good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A New Beginning. That happens every 9 weeks.

 View of Plzen

Hello there everyone! This has been an interesting week. A little bit of good, a little bit of a bad, and a lot of exciting. So I will send some updates.

  • The biggest news of the week is probably transfer calls! Those happened on Saturday morning. I will be staying in Pilsen, and serving with Elder Anderson. He is from my MTC group and he is a stud.  We are going to have a great transfer, I am really excited. He is from Idaho, he just came from Prague, and he is a great missionary, and he's going to teach me a lot. The rest of our district will be Elder Brockbank, training a new missionary, and Sister Andersen, also training a new missionary.  We are going to have two greenies in our district.  It should be a great transfer, and we are all pretty excited.
 Elder Pickett & Elder Anderson 
(MTC matching ties Dec 2015 and from the train ride to Karlštejn July 2016)

  • Elder Tingey actually went with Elder Brockbank to Prague today, we drove together and met up with Elder Anderson. So we did a drop-off/pick-up at the same time. Departing missionaries usually head in on Wednesday, but they are trying some new things this transfer and sending them in earlier. Elder Brockbank will be getting training and will return Wednesday to Pilsen with his new missionary.
  • My MTC District Sister Heap and Sister DeMann are both training as well as Sister Andersen. I can't believe that they are almost done either. It is bad, because we say that Elders are old in the mission once their sisters go home. And that's next transfer. I don't ever want to be an "old" missionary.
  • On Thursday and Friday I got sick. Nothing too serious, just a cold that sucked all the energy out of me for two days. I passed out on a couch at the church building for most of Thursday, and also for some of Friday. But we were able to meet with a few people who we haven't seen in a while, so it was still good.
  • The weather is getting pretty great. Almost warm enough to ditch the jacket and sweater and just wear a long sleeve white shirt. The snow is done for now, but it usually makes a random appearance again in March. Or at least it did last year. But it is pretty good now, I am content.
  • Other than that we met a few really awesome people and set-up or got phone numbers from them, so we are excited to see where that goes.
Elder Pickett and Elder Tingey with their “sassy Czech” investigator L.

  • We also visited a ghost town with a cool castle last week. I say ghost town, because I have never seen so few people in a city before in my entire life. It was a little spooky actually.

Plzen District

  • I have found on my mission that pride is the biggest way for someone to stop themselves from enjoying blessings. Which is a shame, but it happens all the time. For very pointless reasons.
  • Finally, we successfully moved Elder Tingey and Elder Brockbank out of our apartment and got everything ready for next transfer, which was pretty miraculous.
  • We were talking about our proselyting card from the Church, which authorizes us to represent the Church officially and teach people the gospel. It is from the prophet. And there is a really cool phrase at the end where after saying all of the normal "he is allowed to do this" stuff it says "we invite everyone to heed his message" referring to the missionary. It is bold and cool that we have a card that authorizes us to teach, and at the same time invites people to listen up.
  • I have also come to enjoy fasting more on my mission. It is really hard sometimes, but fasting with a personal and personally important purpose is the key. I have had some coold experiences that have helped to strengthen my testimony about it. 
  • Responding to his sister Lindsay-- Ah the joys of parenthood. I find being a missionary and trying to help teach people about the gospel makes me feel the same way sometimes. I worry if I am teaching them the right things, in the right way, and if they are understanding it right, or if they are going to be lost because I say something stupid. It is an adventure, and often I feel like I don't really do it right, but luckily we aren't alone in our work.
My spiritual thought for the week is on remembering. As I look back on my last transfer there is a lot to remember. A lot of good things, a lot of opposition, a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. It is important to take a minute to remember. To remember what we have done, and what we have learned. I wanted to share one of the biggest things that I have learned this last transfer. I have learned that we have a great capability to do good in the world. We can do a lot, and we can try our best to make things work. And sometimes, they don't work out the way we hope or want. I also learned that it is ok when that happens. The most important thing is to keep going forward and keep learning. There is a phrase in the Teaching of the President of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley which says (this is paraphrasing, because I only know it Czech for sure) "Cynics don't bring anything, skeptics don't create anything, and doubters don't achieve anything." I have learned to not be these things, and to do all that I can, and then leave the rest up to God. 
Thanks for the prayers and support, and have a great week!

-Elder Pickett
Goodbyes- Elder Tingey going home this week

Monday, March 6, 2017


You may have noticed that I actually put a title on this weekly email. I decided that I should probably do that, and this one fits very well. This has been a week of being filled to full capacity, both spiritually and physically. Let me explain.

  • On Monday after emailing we wandered around the city, enjoying the sunshine (that was new) and some of the great sites that Pilsen has to offer. It was a fun day, and we saw lots of fun things from new angles.
The weather was insanely nice so we went to the park and played on it until 
kids came and kicked us off.
 We went up the tower of the cathedral on the town square, and it has a great view. It is one of the highest towers in Europe. I can't remember the exact statistic.

  • On Wednesday we visited Sister Komancovas, a woman in our ward who likes to feed the missionaries. Every other transfer she invites the whole district over for lunch. You come in, you sit down. And she starts with a very large pot of soup. Yummy soup, with lots of noodles and plenty of broth. It is almost enough to make you full, but not quite. Then she gives you fruit knedliky (picture included). They are very hard to describe in terms of American food, but they are filled with cooked apples. And there is frosting on top. And then lots of powdered sugar. And them some melted butter. It is a lot of sugar (although Elder Brockbank didn't notice how sweet it was). The first four were delicious. 5 and 6 were not really tasty anymore, 7 was a little unpleasant, 8 was painful, 9 was awful, and I couldn't finish the tenth one. It was not due to a lack of space in my stomach, but instead my body literally rejecting the amount of sugar that I was eating. She made enough for 14 for all of us (her granddaughter helps her), which I was not able to eat. After we left we sort of went into food comas on the way back to the building, and didn't really eat too much dinner (a little soup provided by another very nice older lady in the ward).
 Look at those smiles.  Our Plzen district BEFORE the eating…
 These are the fruit knedliky
Here is Elder Tingey after (we all felt like this)
  • The next day we got up early to go to training in Prague. It was a fabulous training, and pretty long. It went from 10-5, with a break for lunch and some stretching. I conducted the meeting, which was weird. Elder Hymas trained on technology use in our mission (and actually made it spiritual, which was very impressive), the Sister Training Leaders trained on the importance of commitments and follow-up and Elder Tingey and I trained on being Called to Serve here. We split it into two parts: that we are called and authorized to be here, and then that we are here for the purpose of service. It was a good training. We were originally planning something completely different, but we both felt prompted that the other subject wasn't at all what our zone needed, so we changed it. It was definitely the right choice. Then we ate. Then the Assistants trained on being effective as missionaries, both with our time and with ourselves personally. And the Adlers were there, he is the Area 70 for the Czech Republic. And Sister Adler talked about your spiritual thought this week. Using that talk a little bit, and a really good analogy of someone falling into a pit and someone putting down a ladder and coming down to reach out their hand to help us up. We are the person who fell, Jesus is the other person, the ladder is the Atonement. Then she asked what the pit was and we said "sin." Then we opened up to Alma 7:11-13. And she said let's see what the pit actually is. And she talked about the cleansing and redeeming power of the Atonement, and then the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement. It was great. It was an excellent day of learning, feeling the Spirit and being filled with spiritual things. And at the end we heard departing missionary testimonies from Elder Tingey, Elder Terry, and Elder Page, all of which were fabulous. 
 Elders Tingey & Pickett during training
Prague Zone missionaries from Prague, Plzen and CBud  

  • President trained during Zone Conference on the importance of companions and loving each other in our companionships. He said our companionships don't end once the transfer comes or once the mission ends, but we always need to watch out for and support each other.   Our trio is going quite well. It is an interesting balance, and sometimes hard, but I think it is actually pushing me to be more vocal and share my opinions on things more.  It is fun to work with Elder Brockbank again, he is a good missionary. Even if he is totally different from me in almost every way. But I like him. Elder Tingey is stressing out a little bit, but he will finish this last week off well. He hasn't really come to terms with the fact that he is leaving next week, and he's freaking out about it but I also think that he is pretty excited at the same time.
  • The rest of the week was more normal with missionary work, and we enjoyed that as well. We met some cool new people and got some new phone numbers, so we are looking forward to meeting with them this week. We also fasted, during which we were not physically full, but we were spiritually full. Overall it was a great week.
  • From Elder Brockbank:  “We took a trolleybus to meet with L., one of our investigators. He is very Czech (like VERY Czech). He says he believes in something but will never allow himself to admit that he believes in God. He is also quite sassy with us and likes to joke around. We are pretty bold and shoot it right back at him (with the Spirit of course). We made a little bit of progress with him though. He also loves us so he fed us lunch. It was homemade bramborak which is this fried potato pancake that is ginourmous with chicken in the middle. He gave us each a giant plate.”
Also L. gave us some really good, and apparently really healthy honey. 
It is not your average honey, and it is quite tasty.  
  • Pilsen is what people call our city in English. Plzeň is Czech, but I don't like typing it without the little arrow thingy, and I don't like changing the language on the keyboard back to Czech to add it on. So I use Pilsen when I am feeling a little lazy basically.
  • I have found that I really like full days on my mission. They help me feel like I am getting good things done and doing good stuff. So keep your days busy! (But not crazy busy, because they are also very exhausting)
  •  We have an exchange with the Assistants tomorrow, which I am really looking forward to. I really hope that I will be with Elder Belshe, because I love doing missionary work with him. He is awesome, and I would love to serve with him, but looking at our paths and future possibilities, I don't know that I will get to. Which is a shame, but we will see how things turn out. There are 3 new areas opening in our mission this coming transfer but they are not in our zone, so it won't change much for us. It's always fun to see who President will choose to open a new area though. That's always interesting. 
  • Thanks Dad, I have that Elder Bednar  talk “In the Strength of the Lord” with me and I periodically read it. I like the reminder that individual willpower, personal determination and motivation, and effective planning and goal setting are necessary but ultimately insufficient to triumphantly complete this mortal journey.  I have worked a lot on my mission at setting personal goals and accomplishing them, which I feel like has helped me become more self-motivated and helped me improve, but I have certainly recognized the fact that even with all of that I can't do it alone. I cannot alone qualify for the blessings that I need as a missionary. I have to have Christ's help through His Atonement.
  • Caroline, I love learning about the immune system! It is so cool!!! I don't think I could type out a good crash course, sorry. I need to be able to express stuff with my hands, and probably use a white board as well. But it's awesome!
My spiritual thought about the week is about feasting, and why it is important. Not so much on the physical side, because that can just be unhealthy, but spiritually. Sometimes when we are doing "spiritual things" like reading the scriptures, praying, or sitting in church, we are not really focused on what we are doing, and we are doing things out of habit rather than true desire. At such times we are only nibbling spiritually. But when we truly, sincerely seek for answers, for ways to improve, and strive to feel the Spirit, we are feasting. And I testify that feasting is much more fulfilling than only nibbling. So feast this week! Thank you for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett