Monday, May 29, 2017

1st 2 weeks in HK

 Elder Beazer and I made cookies for a YW activity. They were awesome.

 We tried to make brownies for English class...Didn't work too well.

Hello everyone, it has been a crazy start to the transfer, and it is weird for me to think that we are already starting week 3. I am going to give a big report with a lot of highlights. Lots of things have happened, hopefully I don't forget anything and leave it out.
  • HK is a similar sized city as C-Bud. Smaller than Pilsen for sure. There are no trams here, but there are buses, cars, and a billion or so bikes. Cyclists are everywhere, and there is quite literally a giant tower for bike parking near the train station. I'll have to get a picture at some point. There is a nice university, a beautiful center, and a river. Basically, I am still in the Czech Republic. HK has a kind of modernish feel to it, hard to describe exactly. It almost reminds me of San Francisco. We have a really strong ward here, with several families. And there is a lot of musical talent in the ward. We live outside of the center a little ways, and the other Elder live on the main square, right across from the church building. The sisters live in Pardubice, a city about 20 minutes away, and travel in for church, sports day, and some finding or lessons during the week. 
  • From Elder Beazer I have learned: 1) Fun new English slang 2) Some good new Bible bashing scriptures 3) How to do a better job of talking to everyone. He is really great, and we have a lot of fun. He has a funny vocabulary from the sporty kind of cool kid high school group.  He played rugby, football, and wrestled. Apparently people can be described as having "no chill."
  • We don't have a lot of people we are working with right now, so we are doing a lot of finding. We have been tracting and contacting a lot, and we are slowly seeing results. We really need families in the church here in the Czech Republic. It's our biggest challenge right now. It has been good, and we are hoping to find time to work with everyone this week. Our schedule is filling up pretty fast, which is usually a nice thing for missionaries.
 We had 2 killer chalk displays. First one by Elder Beazer and me. 

Second by Elder Beazer and Elder Paxton

  • Our area is not doing so hot right now, but we are going to change that. The other Elders here are doing awesome though, which is always good. Things in our zone are going pretty well. The city Olomouc is struggling, which is unfortunate, but we are going to see how things work out. Olomouc just changed into our zone at the beginning of this transfer, so we are still trying to really get a feel for what's happening there. Elder Beazer served there for 2 transfers before coming here, so he knows the members and a lot of the investigators, which is nice.
  • The heat has rolled into the country. We are all melting, and eating plenty of ice cream to stay cool. Should be hot all week I assume.
  • We got to visit the Bishop and his family this last week. They are great, and they have a son on a mission in England, so they are very curious about how the whole mission thing works. They asked lots of good questions about what was hard at the beginning of our missions, what is still hard, what we like, what has been fun, lots of good things. There are 9 Czech missionaries from the Stake here serving full time missions. We also played spoons, and I didn't come in last, so that was nice.
Bishop's family. He took the picture. 

  • We also went on an exchange in Liberec, which is a beautiful city up in the hills on the country. I also thought it was small, but I was quite mistaken with that. It is plenty big and really nice. We had a great exchange there, and I got to meet the recent convert that Sister Player (a friend from our ward in Roseville, CA) taught in Denmark, so fun small-world connections happened.

  • While in Liberec I got bitten by a bug. And my leg swelled up pretty bad. I got some medicine though, so I am normal now. No visit to the hospital this time, because the Bishop's wife is a nurse, and when I called asking for a recommendation on where to go, she showed up and helped me out. Insects and I don't get along super well. 
My legs after the bite.  Brad-0, Bugs- 2

  • Thanks for the thought Dad from  Elder Ronald A. Rasband, I really loved that talk during conference. "First promptings are pure inspiration from heaven. When they confirm or testify to us, we need to recognize them for what they are and never let them slip past. So often, it is the Spirit inspiring us to reach out to someone in need, family and friends in particular. Thus … the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, points us to opportunities to teach the gospel, to bear testimony of the Restoration and Jesus Christ, to offer support and concern, and to rescue one of God’s precious children."  I am working on that, the idea of not hesitating so much. I have realized I am naturally a pretty cautious person, but sometimes in missionary work you have to throw caution out the window a bit and just go for it. I have been working on that principle.
My spiritual thought for the week is about pressing forward. Elder Beazer and I have been talking about how the amount of rejection that we regularly face as missionaries would have been really hard for us before a mission, but it is manageable now. I have realized that I have learned a lot about persistence as a missionary. Things that we want in life rarely just come to us, and sometimes we may face a lot of rejection before we get to what we want. I know that these rejections help to teach us important things, and prepare us for the time when we will have success. So don't be disappointed when something doesn't work out the way you hoped your first try. Keep going, and keep learning. Thanks for the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hradec (the Castle) Králové (of the Queen)

New Hradec Králové District after transfers- Elder Pickett & Elder Beazer, 
Elder Paxton & Elder Gubler, Sestra Brown & Sestra Cyrier
No time for my main weekly email, sorry, but next week will be awesome, promise.  (blog update from our Mother’s Day Skype and responses to family emails this week)

 Hradec Králové

  • ·         Things are going great with Elder Beazer.  I served around him in Prague my first transfer there. He is a really cool guy and we get along really well. He is also a really hard worker, so we are getting stuff done.  He was Elder Trythall's follow-up trainer.
  • ·         The HK ward is awesome. That's the only way to describe it. They are fabulous. And the Bishop is great too. We feel like he could be a temple president in the future. He has that kind of disposition.
  • ·         Our teaching pool is pretty small right now, we are doing a lot of finding. But we have a recent convert who just got baptized last month who we are working with.
  • ·         Our zone covers the cities of Jicin, Liberec, Hradec Kralove, and Olomouc. It is a pretty big zone compared to the Prague Zone in terms of land size and also number of districts.
  • ·         You should never move to or travel to Europe if you don't like cities, that’s what exists here, other than nature and tiny little villages. No in-between option.
  • ·         As I packed after being in Pilsen for 6 mons, I left behind some American pants that I don't wear because they are too wide to be allowed in Europe. But other than that I think I fit everything. I have letters from the beginning of my mission, because I don't really want to throw any of them away (thank you!). That keeps filling up more and more with every area I leave from. 
Mother’s Day Skyping Q&A:     

                                                   Skype!  Czech Republic, California, Utah

  • Answering Alan’s question “What do you eat for breakfast?”  I have discovered this great cereal called Muesli.  I eat it every day.  There are 2 different kinds that I like, the first has white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate included.  The second kind is chocolate Muesli with chocolate pillows filled with chocolate.  (We laughed and said that sound more like dessert than breakfast! I googled “Czech Muesli chocolate cereal” and this is the closest I could find.)

  • ·         Answering Mom’s question “Do you know anything about the apartment you are moving into in HK?  Is it nice?”  Well nothing will be as bad as the Lochotín apartment I am in right now!  When Elder Brockbank became a trio with us, I made the executive decision that he would move in with us.  I knew his apartment was way nicer but Elder Tingey was completing his mission in 3 weeks and he would have to pack, unpack and repack.  And I would also have to pack!  Another considerations is that we have a car and we have parking at our apartment.  Elder Brockbank’s Pilsen apartment is on the namaste with no close or free parking.  When we went to get Elder Brockbank packed and moved, Elder Tingey could not BELIEVE that we were not moving in there!  He had never seen it before!
  • ·         Brad mentioned his concern about fitting everything into his suitcases after 6 mons of being in Pilsen.  So we talked about clothing that he should leave behind at the end of his mission in the missionary apartment to pass on to another Elder.  And we also talked about some clothing items that started white and aren’t so white anymore!  We told him to just throw away his “white” shirts at the end of his mission, they will be too gray to pass along.  And we all encouraged him to get some hip European clothing before he comes home.
  • ·         Brad would be talking about certain cities and names and would be pronouncing them beautifully in Czech, nothing close to our “American” way of saying them!  We would continually ask him to repeat the pronunciation, we would TRY to duplicate it and then we would all laugh because we sound horrible.  The Czech speakers roll their “R’s” and then add a little something extra.  We do NOT have any of that!  
Love, Elder Pickett

Goodbye MTC Sestras who completed their missions- Sister Humphries, Sister Andersen, Sister DeMann, Sister Heap, Sister Polořelická & Pres Pohořelický , Elder Bednar (Slovakia)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Last Week in Plzeň

                 The birthday boy! (wearing the Happy Birthday banner I made and sent!)

Hello everyone! This last week was pretty crazy, but a good one. 
  • We had P-day on Tuesday, which was twice in a row, and makes the week feel really short. We also had an exchange with Elder Brockbank and Raines. I was with Elder Raines in their area, we started after English class on Tuesday. It was weird to say a tentative goodbye to everyone after English, since we didn't know if I was leaving or not. We also had our final lesson with J., which was awesome and spiritual, as always. He was bummed that one of us is leaving and was sad to say goodbye to me (since Brad has been in Plzen for 6 mons, he is most likely to be transferred) , but I got his contact information so that we can stay in touch. He's going out of town for a week or two, but he wants to meet again after he gets back.
  • Thursday we had our last district meeting of the transfer. Those are always a little bit interesting. But good interesting. It's just sometimes weird to look back and reflect on an entire 9 weeks together. But it was good, and we did some good district finding with an awesome chalk display about the Plan of Salvation.

Plzen District Elder Raines, Elder Brockbank, Elder Anderson, Elder Pickett 
front row Jitka, Sestra Sadler, Sestra Anderson and Gabi 

  • The rest of the week we did some finding, and tried to set up with people. It was good, we got to see some people and I got to say goodbye, since we were pretty sure I was the one leaving.  J. is still wanting to meet. And I also left O. there, but I didn't actually get to say bye to her, which was unfortunate. And we have some others. Actually we were working with L., and investigator the sisters were meeting with who has a baptismal date.
  • Finally on Saturday, while we were eating lunch at a member's we got our transfer calls. I am now in Hradec Králové (you can refer to it as H.K. for convenience) a city a little east of Prague. Still in Bohemia, but it is my first time outside of the Prague zone my whole mission. I don't even know what to do with myself. I am with Elder Beazer here, and I am really looking forward to this transfer. The city is beautiful and the ward is awesome.
  • Sunday was like a giant, never ending train of goodbyes, with skyping home and packing thrown in for variety and relief. It was fun to chat with my family again, they are awesome. Packing was a bit of a nightmare, but miraculously I got everything stuffed into my suitcases that I needed to.
                                                       with a Plzen ward member

  • Today was quite a travel day. I took 3 different trains and it took 3 different tickets to make it. I made the first two legs of the trip (Pilsen-Prague and Prague-Pardubice) with Elder Brockbank and then the last 30 minutes from Pardubice into H.K. I made alone. The Pardubice train station doesn't have an elevator, or escalators, so I got to drag around 3 suitcases, and was luckily aided by a nice college age student who enabled me to catch the train a minute or two before it left. Without his help I would have had no chance. Combine that with running into sister missionaries in Prague who let us borrow a phone to let some people know about travel plans changing and it has been quite an eventful and miraculous day.
  • 3 train tickets later I am in H.K. And my district has 6 missionaries. Elder Paxton and Gubler. And then in a different city, called Pardubice, are Sisters Brown and Cyrier.
The library window in HK

  • Got to love current events from home. They are always full of such cheery news about how people are trying to follow the Savior's teachings and work to greater peace and harmony in the world...Not.
  • Happy Mother’s Day again, even though we chatted about it on Skype yesterday. There was  an upbeat, uplifting mother's day song? That is an exciting breakthrough in the church music industry. That's a sign that things are going in a good direction.  
  • Thanks Dad for the spiritual thought, it is an excellent one. We gave a training last month about the talk "Stand Up Inside and Be All In" from conference. That was an awesome talk, which I am working on applying better this transfer. It is a nice, new start to push myself a little bit more. I miss the temple quite a bit here. One day missionaries will get to visit it, but that will be in a little while still.
My spiritual thought is about new beginnings. I like these kinds of thoughts, and it is something that I think goes well at the beginning of every transfer. In the cycle of the seasons and life, we often have new beginnings: the start of a new school year, the start of a new job, the start of a new transfer (if you're a missionary), the start of a new diet and exercise program (sometimes these have to be frequently restarted), and even the start of a new calling. But there are some changes that are almost like the start of a whole new life: the birth of a child, baptism, marriage, these kind of big starts. One of the things that I love about the gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that it allows us to have a new beginning whenever we need it. There is always the option to start anew with a firmer commitment to the gospel, to a goal, to scripture study, to daily prayers. The church video "Because of Him" says that there is "no such thing as the end" because of Him. This week I invite you all to look at a way that you want to begin again, and use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make the first step and new beginning. I know from personal experience that it can be truly life changing. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett
We celebrated with the birthday stuff you sent! That's the cake with frosting, 
the sisters baked it because our oven was sketchy.

 Sestra Andersen had a birthday too! 

We also had another birthday celebration (Elder Pickett & Sestra Andersen had birthdays in 
the same week) at the Church and some BYU students attended our party!

Czech Stake Conference with Jitka and Gabi, young single adults from Plzen. Lots of different missionaries who have served in Plzen.  Sestra Sadler & Sestra Andersen

 Gabi, Jitka, Elder Pickett, Elder Anderson, Elder Belshe, Elder Brockbank, Elder Chadwick

Gabi, Elder Pickett, Elder Belshe

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A little bit hectic...

The title of this email sums up our week pretty well really, but I will share some extra details just for fun.
  • Monday we had a visitor from Prague. An investigator who Elder Anderson taught while he was there, who is actually Russian and speaks German as well as Russian and Czech. He met missionaries in Russia on a visit and so he came to Prague to the church building basically to refer himself. The story is a little bit hard to follow, but there you have it. We walked around and looked at some of the sights, including the Synagogue here, which was really cool.

  • Tuesday we did some preparation for our training on Wednesday and probably some other things, but nothing that really stuck in my brain. It was going to be a smaller training and we were basically in charge of organizing everything and asking everyone to do things. It was a little stressful, but also really cool to organize.
  • We drove to training, and only had a slight delay by a 3 car pile-up on the highway. We still made it with plenty of time to spare, which was good. The training went really well, we were very pleased. The man in the Mormon Message "The Hope of God's Light" was there. His son served in this mission, and they were back visiting and he asked if he could share some more about his story. He actually works in drug addiction recovery for a living and shared some really amazing details and insights about his life journey to find faith and his experiences. It was awesome. We also had some great trainings by us, Assistants, Sister Training Leaders and the Mission President and wife. It was all good stuff. 
 Elder Pickett, Elder Hanis, Elder ___ , Sestra Sadler, Sestra Andersen, Sestra Cade
 Sister Pohořelicka
 At training with our MTC sisters who are both going home next week. 
How is that possible?

  • After the training, this week all blended together, but we got a few lessons in and some good stuff before Sunday, which was stake conference. We got up at 5 am to make our train and traveled with the whole district, members, and investigators to Prague. It was an awesome conference, and it was great to see member and missionaries from all over the Czech Republic. I really enjoyed that as my birthday present. The sisters also made some cobbler, which was delicious.
On the train ride to Prague

  • From Elder Rains (missionary in the Plzen District too):  This week was the Anniversary of the American liberation of Pilsen and the weekend here was dedicated to America. All of the streets were covered in American flags, there was a parade and a lot of events to remember the liberation. There were groups of people dressed up like American soldiers driving around in fake tanks. (photo:  Elder Raines)

  • President Pohořelický has transitioned well. He is really trying to make member missionary work happen. Which is awesome, because we need that to bring the people into the church that the church really needs. Most people here who are educated and working are pretty jaded when it comes to organized religion. They just don't trust churches. It is totally different from President McConkie. President McConkie he was the general, and we were the soldiers in his army. President P is our dad and we are his kids. Although he is slowly working towards a bit of a "firmer" style, for lack of a better term. We see him at trainings, MLC, and if we are ever in Prague for another reason we usually see him. So 2 or 3 times a month usually.
  • Yup, I am indeed 20 now. Out of the teen years forever (what a relief that I survived). Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám actually means "everything the best to your birthday" if you translate it, but that's how they say it here.  We haven't gotten to gather for that cake (from the “Party in a Box” we sent) and party yet, but I will take pictures as soon as we do. We did some little celebrating, but things have been crazy here. Stake conference was exactly what I wanted for my birthday. It was stellar.
A birthday cake from a sister in our ward.
  • We will be skyping at Bishop's house, and we set-up a time with him today that we will go over to skype at 5. They are quite the angelic family, super awesome and supportive. he is a great Bishop for this ward. So it will 8 your time, as long as I still remember how to count (no promises on that one). 

  • Forgot to mention that we ate fruit dumplings again on Friday. I made it ten this time, and Sister Andersen ate the last one and a half for me that I couldn't finish...

For my spiritual thought this week comes from training, specifically from the story we heard from Todd Sylvester. He talked about how the greatest gift that we have been given, just under the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is our agency. That it is agency that allows us to be such a powerful force for change in our own and others’ lives. I have seen this to be true on my mission. As frustrating as it can be to watch other makes choices I don't want them to, it is always important to realize that our ability to choose is what makes everything in this life possible. So my challenge to you all is to choose wisely, and to choose to be a force for good in the world. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett


with L., our sassy Czech man
Elder Anderson!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What Happened this Week?

Elder Pickett & Elder Anderson

Elder Anderson, Elder Brockbank, Elder Pickett

As you might be able to tell from the title of my email, this past week flew by. We say on a mission that days are long and weeks are short. And it is so true. 
  • Last week Elder Anderson got sick. We had a "sick day" P-day, and hoped he would be better Tuesday. He was. Mostly. We got to do some finding together with our district about English, where re ran into someone we already met and set up with, but haven't yet been able to meet with. We didn't recognize him right at first, but then recognized him, and set-up a lesson for today. So that was nice. We also visited a member and read with him in the Book of Mormon, and then taught English. After that I went with Elder Brockbank, my District Leader, home to start our exchange, it was good.
  • On Wednesday Elder Brockbank and I had some good studies, good contacting, good lunch, and horrible weather. It rained all day long. But It was still a great day. Unfortunately I was feeling a little sick as well, so Elder Anderson and I reschudeled our visit to the Bishop's family for this week, because we don't want their family to get sick as well.
  • We did that split last Saturday just because we had too many lessons. And we prayed about it and decided how we wanted to do it. And that split was totally inspired. We also do exchanges regularly, and we decide who goes with who based on inspiration, logic, and the situation people are in.
  • I have so much experience here dealing with intellectuals that it's not even funny. I've actually gotten to the point that I can talk with them better than religious people about faith, because a vast majority of the people we meet here are intellectual atheists.
  • Thursday we had a great District Meeting and some good finding. We met some cool people and had some great conversations. We also studied, and got stuff ready for training, which is happening tomorrow.
Pilsen is pretty 

  • Friday we had a good day of finding, eating, and going to a fireside by a former temple president and his wife from Alaska, who were here for some genealogy research. They have ancestry from this area. And then we had a pretty big game night, with lots of people.

 Plzen ward and missionaries (photo from Sestra Sadler)

  • Saturday was pretty crazy. We had service in the morning doing garden work, and then a lesson didn't show up, and then we did have a lesson with a mom and her daughter. It was actually really good, and they seem really interested to learn more. We gave them a Book of Mormon, and hope to meet again soon. Then we had Sports Day, which was fun and tiring. 
  • Sunday morning Elder Anderson and I woke up very, very sore. We are not sure if it was from our activities on Saturday, or if we had a sleep fight in the middle of the night, but it was kind of funny. After church, which was excellent, we almost finished preparing training, and then had a lesson with O., a student here who Elder Croney and I met with a few times, but who never met with Elder Tingey and I because she was back in Belarus during last transfer.  But she is back and we are meeting with her again! Which is great. She is really interested in what we have to say, and has had some cool experiences that helped her to come to know that God exists.
  • Our other investigators are doing good. J. couldn't meet last week, but we have a lesson on Thursday. And we will probably visit L. this week again.
  • It gets nice and toasty here, and is really humid, so you get nice and sweaty. And let me just tell you, trams and buses in the summer do not smell too pleasant...Hahaha.  And allergies are still a problem for me here, which is super lame. And the white blossoms also live here. 
  • Czech Stake Conference (this weekend) and skyping (Mother’s Day) will both be great. I am excited for both! Looking forward to the birthday fun and whatnot. (Brad’s 20th birthday is this Sunday, May 7th)

  • Sounds like it was a good visit with the (Elder) Andrew Terry and his family. Weird to think that he really is home. He was my companion for 4 months.  Thanks for sharing the story about the 3 mm of hair style.  We referred to it as "The Great Shave" while I was with him. And he actually really liked it. He said that he was going to do it again when he got home, and he did.
My spiritual thought for the week is about goal setting. This is a skill that I knew existed before my mission, but I didn't actually know anything about it. But on my mission I have come to recognize how personal goals can help us immensely in becoming who we need to be, and the best that we can be. I have gained a strong testimony that when we try to set goals with God and follow His teachings and ways to acheive them, that we will become more than we thought possible. So try to set a personal goal, something small, about physical fitness, spiritual development, or any other good and uplifting category you can find. And work on this week, and then check in with yourself and the end of the week to see how you did. It will be great. Thanks for the support and prayers! 

-Elder Pickett

We also toured the Great Synagogue in Pilsen and it was really interesting. 
It is the 2nd largest in Europe.

 (photo by Jiri Bikel)