Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This Week (very thoughtful title!)

Plzen Elders eating some delicious food thanks to Sestra Andersen!  
(photo credit- Sestra Sadler) 
Hello everyone! This week was very strange. It feels both very short and very long. We had P-day last Tuesday, which messed up my time measurement, and then we went to Prague for MLC on Thursday. So it's been interesting. I will list some updates.
  • Sooooo....About pictures. This week I didn't do a great job. And then I forgot my card reader today. So next week, pinky promise.
  • Tuesday to Wednesday evening we had an exchange with Elder Raines and Elder Brockbank. I brought Elder Raines into our area, so that he could experience the glory of the Lochotin apartment, and Elder Anderson's P90X morning workouts. We had a good time, and he did a great job solo-contacting during our freezing cold singing display. We got some snow flurries on Wednesday. Nothing stuck, but it was pretty dang cold. We also had a great district meeting that day about urgency. We have a challenge from President right now to increase out urgency in missionary work and Elder Brockbank, with the help of other members of the district, did a great job explaining how we can do that. Sister Andersen and Elder Brockbank are doing great as trainers. They rock.
  • We also got to go to MLC (Mission Leadership Council) on Thursday, which was a great meeting. We talked a lot about finding, urgency, being effective with time, and some other things. It is going to be a good training at the beginning of May, we are really excited.

Roseville Stake Missionaries… Elder Pickett and Elder Trythall meet up at MLC 
(photo credit- Elder Trythall)

  • On Saturday we had two lessons basically at the same time, so we went on splits with the Bory elders to cover them both. It was a great time for teaching. Both of the lessons went really well, and we felt really good about them. We also got to have sports night with the Sister's investigator who has a baptismal date, and got to play some frisbee. Unfortunately our frisbee broke, but it still flies pretty well.
  • Yesterday we got to have another great lesson, and then we went home for food and to let Elder Anderson relax, because he is a little sick today. He slept in and we had a pretty down low P-day, hopefully he will be totally healed by tomorrow.
  • We'll see with our sassy Czech man L. He's an interesting one. As far as other people, we have a really cool guy J. who is an American student.  (He asked us a bit about politics. We told him we don't really know what's going on, and he said that was a blessing for us. Haha.)   He is looking for a church where he can feel that he belongs. He is really awesome, and has a fabulous understanding of faith. I really hope that he feels the Spirit tell him that this is the Church for him. We also have some others we need to set up with again. Mi., B., Ma., another Mi. And a few others.
  • I will for sure get a nice suit before I leave, because clothing prices here are unbeatable, and European suits are way better looking that American ones. Sorry, but that's just the truth. I haven't had to replace anything. I have inherited a few more belts from other missionaries, and I got those new shoes. I mainly just wear them for trainings and Sunday, but I am kind of slowly breaking them into missionary work. I will probably get a nicer, more fancy looking pair before I leave. My other shoes are starting to wear out, but not in a way that makes me think that they won't "endure to the end," so I should be fine there. I will also probably get some dress pants and maybe even shirts. I am slowly turning my wardrobe European as the need and proper sales arise.
  • Missions do great things for everyone. I would recommend  10/10 for all to go!
My spiritual thought this week is about the power of listening. Throughout this week I have had several reminders about how it is just as important to listen as it is to teach. We have to really listen to people in order to understand their perspectives, their needs, and the ways that the gospel can help them. I have recognized several times with listening has made a big difference in a conversation or contact, and it has helped me to know what to say and how to help someone, which is actually a promise in Preach My Gospel. So I challenge you all to listen up this week and learn some new things about people. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Easter… Vesele Velikonoce

 Our Easter Marketplace stand

Hello everyone! Things are going great here in Pilsen. This week was absolutely crazy, and absolutely amazing. We saw a lot of miracles, and are super excited for everything we have planned for this week.   I will get some updates and highlights.

  • So through our awesome Bishop here in Pilsen we got a booth on the square with the Easter markets. We were there from Friday two weeks ago to yesterday afternoon. It was a great experience, and we met some really cool people. We made some new friends with the sellers around us, and met some new people. We got a few new investigators. We set-up the stand at 9 every morning, and took it down at 6 each evening. We had the Prince of Peace video playing, as well as “Because of Him” and a few others in Czech. And we had the Book of Mormon in a bunch of different languages. And then we had a whiteboard with the question "Why do you celebrate Easter?" on it. It was good. Since we have the car, we had to be there every morning and evening. Which resulted in some fun scheduling adventures. Not to mention that we had to rotate amongst our companionships so that someone would be there at the stand all the time. It was really interesting, but Elder Anderson and I agreed that it helped us to take advantage of every second that we had to do other finding and other stuff when we weren't there. So it was a pretty hectic week, but lots of fun. We got to talk a lot about Christ as the Prince of Peace this week, which was an awesome topic. We had a lot of success with that.
 Elder Pickett, Elder Anderson, Sestra Andersen (Sestra Sadler photo credit)

Elder Raines & Elder Brockbank

  • One of the highlights from the Easter market was the woman who was selling cheese behind us, who gave us some free cheese, and now is friends with all the missionaries in Pilsen. I actually contacted her last transfer, but we got to know her a lot more and had some really good gospel conversations with her this past week.
Some of the stands around us, including the cheese.

 We got multiple giant things of cheese from our cheese seller friend.

  • Easter was swell! One Czech tradition is for men to weave sticks together and hit women with them to give them health for the whole year...Little different. We did not participate in this tradition, although we did have to kind of protect the sisters from an investigator who brought a 2 and a half meter tall whip to FHE yesterday. That is absurdly large. I took a picture. They also have colored eggs and special food, but no easter bunny, and no real easter egg hunts. We had church, and then were at the stand on the namesti, and then visited a member here whose husband is sick in the hospital. It was good fun. It was weird to be in the Czech Republic for Easter a second time. Made me realize that I have been gone for a pretty long time.
Yeah. It was a little over the top.

  • Other than the stand, we met lots of really cool people on the street this past week. We started teaching a few new people and we are hoping to see some real growth and progress this week. It was great to see how we contacted all about Christ last week and Easter, and people really responded well to that.
  • We also had an exchange with the CBud Elders and I was with Elder Shirley. He is going home next transfer, and I haven't ever gotten to serve around him, so it was fun to be with him for a day and get to teach with him. He is a stellar missionary, and I learned a lot from him.
  • Honestly the stand was a lot of our week, and we saw a lot of blessings and a lot of interesting things happened. We were also able to visit L. again yesterday. He is doing well. Still just as sassy. He showed us his garden, which is very nice and quite ornamental.
  • My Czech is coming along great. I understand 90-100% of what people say. My biggest problem now is that I have a good sized passive vocabulary, meaning I recognize the word and how to say it in English when I hear it, but I can't pull it out of brain in conversation. And I still talk like an American. I will probably be working on that problem forever.
  • I also took a lot more pictures this week, because I realized that I have been seriously slacking. Which is a problem. Elder Anderson and I are having so much fun together, I feel like sometimes it shouldn't even be allowed. But it is. And our greenies are doing very well. Not a single clue where I will go next transfer. I am pretty stumped by this one. I imagine that I will leave (since Brad will have served 6 mons in Plzen), but I have no idea where I will go. We will skype May 14th, which is the last day of the transfer, so I will already know what is happening, and be able to tell you over skype. That should be fun. Our MTC sisters go home at the end of this transfer, which is terrible to think about.  

 Sports Night. We played frisbee.

  • My birthday next month is also on stake conference, so we will get to see all of the missionaries in the country and a bunch of members. Should be a great present!
  • Glad you guys are having so much fun these past months with Sadie, she seems like a pretty happy baby. It will be weird not to meet her until after she turns 1. I am glad the birthday letter finally came through! They put a fancy sticker on to make it faster, don't know what the deal was with that one. I am not coming home tomorrow, sorry to burst your bubble (in response to a dream from Mom). But will have many long talks when I do get home, don't worry.
  • I really feel that I have come to know the scriptures on my mission in a way I never could have imagined before my mission. I have just learned so much and gained such a great appreciation for the truths that are there. My mission has certainly taught me about how to really love others, it is a one of a kind experience.
It snowed this morning. And then hailed. And rained. Crazy weather.

For my spiritual thought this week I wanted to talk about the Easter Initiative the Church did. It was called Prince of Peace, a title of Christ recorded in the Old Testament. It was a great experience this week to be able to testify of how Christ brings us peace in life, and to be able to reflect on how He has brought me, personally peace. I am grateful for His Resurrection, which allows us to overcome death, as well as for His Atonement, which allows us to overcome sin, pain, and sorrows in this life. As I have focused my study upon His life this past week I have come to recognize new ways to apply His teachings and example. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that I have to be here in the Czech Republic and share my knowledge and testimony of the Savior with people here. It is a privilege and a blessing. Thank you for all of the support and prayers!
-Elder Pickett

Sister Andersen the magical cook made Goulash and cake for us to eat together at lunch today.

 When Elder Anderson and I had no time for a real dinner and 
just swung by McDonald's on the way home.

Monday, April 10, 2017

This week. What happened?

When a missionary picture looks a group of musicians… name the BAND and make an album cover!  (Thanks Rebecca Terry for the photo, Michelle Szczesny for the band name, and Heidi Van Woerkom for the album cover!)

Hello everyone! As is somewhat normal at this point in my mission, this past week flew by, and is kind of mixing with all the previous ones in my brain. But I will try to separate things out well enough to give some updates from this actual week. We'll see how it goes.
  • Last Monday we drove into Prague to have an exchange with the Assistants. It was great fun. I was with Elder Hanis, who is one of the hardest working missionaries I have ever gotten to serve around. We had a great day, and met lots of fabulous people. I love doing missionary work in Prague, and it was fun to travel all over the place on trams talking to people. We also got to have a lesson with a recent convert family that got baptized while I was serving in Prague, and their friend, who also just got baptized a week or two ago. That was a great time.
  • We also had a great chalk display this week in Plzen using the new Easter campaign, Prince of Peace. Sister Sadler is quite an artist, and chalked out the phrase in Czech in some fancy lettering, and then we all stopped people to talk about it. I got a picture because it is dang impressive. We met a lot of really cool people during that and set up with several of them and will be meeting with them next week. It should be a good week and we are looking forward to some new people to work with.

I only have two pictures for the week...Sorry. I promise I will do better next week!

  • We also got, through our fabulous Bishop, a stand on the square. There are Easter markets up, and we have one to use. We are working on trying to improve it, and attract new and more people every day. We have other missionaries from other cities coming in to help up, because we have to have at least one companionship there, and it is open from 9-6 every day. It is a great opportunity, and we are hoping to really use it to meet some cool people.  From Sestra Sadler:  "We're showing the new Easter video there along with a couple of others centered on Christ. We have it all the way through Easter and we will be there pretty much all day, so we take shifts with the elders as we smell the amazing food all around and look at the donkeys, ponz, sheep, and goats that have a petting type of a stand right in front of ours! That means families are looking our way! Exciting stuff!"

Easter/Velikonočně market (Sestra Sadler photo)

  • We watched all the sessions of LDS General Conference on Saturday and Sunday. I really loved Elder Holland's talk, Elder Sabin's (who visited our mission), Elder Christofferson's, and Elder Rasband's. Some others too, but those ones really stood out to me.
  • Our sassy Czech man L. is not answering his phone, which is lame. But we are working on him and some other people who we met, hopefully we can get someone to start progressing. The work is going well. We are finding people, but having trouble getting them to stick around as investigators and progress towards baptism. The ward is helpful and supportive as well. That is our biggest challenge right now, getting people to actually show up at lessons.
  • We usually don't have too much to do during Sunday meetings; sometimes a talk, or helping with the Sacrament, or teaching Gospel Principles, but we haven't had that for a while, because we are having trouble finding people and bringing them to church.

My spiritual thought is from conference, which we got to watch on Saturday and Sunday. I really liked everything, but I wanted to talk a little bit about Elder Rasband's talk on the Holy Ghost. He shared the importance of reacting to a first impression and not second or third guessing what we feel. He said that we can become spiritual "first responders" when we do this. It reminded me of a quote by Elder Maxwell, where he talks about how we often hesitate so much in becoming more obedient, or in yielding our hearts to God. It struck me that we have a tendency to sit back and hesitate sometimes, to make sure that what we are doing is a good idea or a safe option. While it is good to exercise our own judgement and make wise decisions, we also must recognize the importance of listening and immediately responding to a prompting from the Lord, because when it comes from Him, we can always trust it to be for our good. So my challenge this week is to listen and respond to the first prompting from the Lord. I will be working on it as well. Thanks for the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett     

Caroline is awesome. She is going to do some great things in life, that is for sure. And it sounds like having Sadie and Lindsay visit is just awesome. Fun for the whole family! (except Alan, bummer for him)

I just saw today that Elder Anderson's family was a DeLange family. That's fun! And Rob and Shelley DeLanges brought me some sour patch jelly beans, and starburst jelly beans. Make sure to thank them for me please!

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Mission First (which we hope will never happen again)

 Our District at an Indian Restaurant. They had some interesting decoration.

Hello everyone! This week was fantastic. We saw a lot of great things, had some great experiences, and saw some opposition as well.
  • Last Tuesday we had zone conference in Prague, with our zone and the HK zone. It was fabulous and superb! Lots of great trainings and thoughts. Elder Anderson and I shared a spiritual thought about testimonies, and about how we should bear them. The Sister Training Leaders talked about how to invite people to church well and prepare investigators for their first experience at church. The HK zone leaders shared a fabulous spiritual thought about how anti-Mormon material in the end has no effect and is forgotten. They shared a story about an early member of the church who fell away and then became a vocal critic against the church and eventually left Christianity altogether. We see the problem that people find negative information about us on the internet very frequently here. There isn't a ton of positive content about the church in Czech on the internet, so people find the negative stuff right off the bat. It can be tough to see how many people read it and lose interest in our message. But the spiritual thought was all about how in the end we already know that the truth is always the truth, and that those searching for it with a sincere heart will always find it. The Assistants trained about being spiritually self-reliant, and how to help our investigators do so as well. And President trained about urgency, and how we need to be an urgent mission. It was great. President is awesome. We all love him.
  • From Elder Anderson:  “Elder Pickett and I were able to give a fifteen minute spiritual thought about what it means to have a sincere testimony, how to get one, and then what to do with it once you have it. We studied and looked for examples in the talk called “Testimony” by Elder Oaks and we were able to find a lot of great stuff that helped us. We really expounded about how a testimony of the gospel is a personal witness.” 
  • After the conference we brought home Elder Wutzke and Elder Newman from Prague with us for an exchange. They are doing really well. Elder Wutzke is a new missionary and he was with Elder Anderson. Elder Newman and I had a great time meeting new people, and he served here last year, so he was happy to be back. It was really fun, and we had fabulous weather, which makes it even better.
Elder Wutzke (also a greenie) and Elder Newman from Prague

  • As far as opposition goes, this week we had probably 4 lessons with investigators that fell through, which was really unfortunate to see. We try hard to set things up and meet new people, and then they can't show up for whatever reason, and sometimes we never find out why. But we are still working hard, finding new people, and keep trying to set up with people we are already working with.
  • We have also been doing a lot of service for a family that we help teach, a lot of tree removal and hole digging. They are doing a bit of a yard remodeling. We helped moved a bunch of branches and we were wearing short sleeves. Not the best idea, but we both recovered just fine.

  • As far as the mission first, we had a lesson set up for Saturday afternoon with someone that Elder Anderson met on the street with Elder Wutzke on Tuesday. He didn't answer when we called to confirm, and then when the time of the lesson came and we called again, his brother answered and told Elder Anderson that our investigator had died in a car accident that morning. At first Elder Anderson didn't believe him and kept asking questions, but when the brother invited us to his funeral we decided that it probably actually happened.We weren't being insensitive, it's just that we got lots of excuses about why people don't want to meet with us. So that was a pretty sad first that I hope to never repeat. But the brother actually told us that we could meet and talk some time, so that was an interesting twist.
  • We are looking forward to watching General Conference next week, and I hope I get to watch it in English. It all depends on where we are at, but Bishop Kyncl is pretty high level, and I think we will get it in English. Which will be nice, because watching it in Czech is just not the same.  We We do recognize the voices, but they are all Czech members. There are several that have absolutely perfect English, and so they translate to Czech for the members. They do a voice over during the talks so that it keeps it at roughly the same pace. They do a great job, but they speak pretty fast to keep up and can be really tough for us missionaries to understand (conference language is usually above the stuff we hear and speak on the street every day). I am amazed that Pres Monson is still going. It is pretty incredible to realize all of the wonderful things that he has done for the church during his lifetime. He certainly is a great example of service. I am pretty excited for what we are going to hear this weekend.
General Conference lettering from Lindsay Pickett Roper

  • Our Plzen District greenies are still alive and kicking. They are doing well. They are working really hard and making a lot of progress in the language. They are still a little frustrated with themselves sometimes, but they are going to be great.  Elder Brockbank is good and supportive as a trainer. Some of the most important experiences for brand new missionaries are to let them try some things out for themselves, and fail a few times, that is okay. Let them do as much as then can alone, and then step in and help. And teach them to love their calling. Also, teach them correct Czech. I think those are all pretty important.
 Elder Raines (Plzen greenie) by the tallest Kostel (church) at the Center of Plzen
 Elder Raines takes great pictures of the city (photo credit!)

  • I really like being a Zone Leader. I especially like exchanges, because I feel like they give me a chance to really influence and help missionaries, especially just by talking to them in interviews. I also really enjoy giving trainings, because I like sharing cool insights we find in the scriptures, and I feel like I can really recognize the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in preparing and giving them, which is a great experience. Elder Anderson and I are working hard and have a really good relationship. We both respect each other and feel comfortable sharing our opinions without being competitive, and we're doing good.
  • Responding to his Dad:  I am currently working on overcoming fear. Even after more than a year in the mission field, I still find it hard to talk to everyone that I can and should talk to. So I am working on overcoming my fear of that right now, and charity and love are the key. It's actually most of the Christlike attributes from Preach My Gospel wrapped up into 1, which makes sense.
  • Happy Late Birthday Mom! Your birthday letter is on your way, I sent it off today, and they put a "priority" sticker "so that it won't just hang around for forever" the lady told me.
My spiritual thought this week comes from something we are doing as a mission. We are all studying about the life of Jesus Christ every day during personal study leading up to Easter. It has been great to study in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon about His role and all that He did and does for us. Doing so has helped me to strengthen my testimony of the Savior, and helped me to gain a new appreciation for his example and life. So I challenge you all to dedicate some time to study the life of the Savior now around Easter, and think about His role in your life. Thanks for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

We did some arts and crafts at FHE last week, this is Starsi Frog.