Monday, September 25, 2017

A Week of Firsts

Elder Schmutz' first time tracting and this is where we tracted.

Hello everyone, this has been a good week, full of firsts for my new companion! Elder Schmutz just flew in on Tuesday to the Czech Republic, and almost has a week of in the field experience under his belt. He is awesome, and is doing really well. It gives me fun memories to when I was new, reminds me of my first transfer, which is weird to relive again . I will list some of the highlights from this last week:
  • On Tuesday Elder Raines and I took a train into Prague to meet up with all of the trainers for the trainer meeting. All 17 of us trainers, for 16 new missionaries, met together to talk about how important training is, and the do's and dont's of training. We talked about how the beginning experiences of a mission can form the expectations for what the rest of their mission will be like, so it's important to make those good expectations. And we also ate Halušky. Always a good thing.
  • The next morning we all met and ate breakfast together, and then President talked about some stuff that was going on in the mission and gave a little opening. After that he put up a big map of the Czech Republic on the board, and told people where they were going. We did all of that, and then went off to our areas. We took a train and got home at 3pm or so, and did a bit of contacting! It was fun to remember my first night contacting and having absolutely no clue what was happening.
  • We also had some new firsts for Elder Schmutz this week, such as: tracting, drinking kofola, eating halušky, having district meeting, taking a bus to church, church in czech, and many more. Pictures!
 First Kofola- Elder Schmutz (this is THE soda that the missionaries all drink… 
and mostly love)

First Halušky- a missionary FAVORITE!

  • We had lots of good conversations with people this week, but didn't really have too many people who wanted to talk more. Next week will be better.
  • We also went on a trip to a castle today, but we ended up at a Chateau instead. It was still nice though.
Zamek Buchlovice (chateau and garden) We visited today. And some trees there. 

  • Elder Schmutz is from Omaha Nebraska.  I am enjoying my time with him. He is a good one, and really wants to be a good missionary. Our district is really, really young. In UH Elder Raines is training Elder Jarvis and Sisters Hayden & Dance are companions.
  • (Caroline remembered that Brad’s trainer Elder Galbraith was a good cook and that helped a lot 1st transfer.  So she wanted to know if he is keeping that tradition going.)  I am not a cooking master, but I may have mastered spaghetti by this point. I like spaghetti. Also I can make Halušky from the box, which is good.
Today's spiritual thought is about the scriptures. We finished the Book of Mormon this last week, and we have now started on the Bible. We are reading 13 pages a day in order to finish the Bible in 2 transfers. It is always great for me to recognize how much we receive from studying the scriptures. I know that as we read them we will receive greater strength and feel the Spirit more abundantly in our lives. Thanks for all the support and prayers!

-Elder Pickett

Adventures in mailing a package from the Czech Republic.  Apparently it arrive in Roseville end of July (while we were gone and mail was on hold… but then it didn’t get delivered and no notice from the PO).  Final notice arrived in Saturday’s mail.  Apparently, the box broke or opened or something and probably half the contents spilled out.  The postal workers put some items back (who knows what happened to the rest) and then added 3 books just for kicks?  The loose items went to the Dead Letter Office in San Francisco.  As far as we can tell… many letters addressed to Brad were bundled up and sent back to the MTC because all the others were addressed to the Czech Republic Mission Home.  The Head of the MTC Mail Room is related to some great friends, recognized Brad’s name, and sent the letters to our address?! Also when I went to pick it up today, they told me it already got sent back to the Czech Republic. They eventually found (another ridiculous story).

The Dead Letter Office is also mailing letters back to sender or sending them back to the Czech Republic.  If you get one that you sent to Brad, please mail it to the Pickett household.  He intended to keep it.  

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

The contents of “the box!”  USPS loses some items so then just randomly includes 3 books  instead?!  They even included the original box.  Many items lost.  Sad.

From Elder Pickett:  Yeah, I was going to write and ask about the letter thing. I am just glad that the post office has the box at all. I did multiple layers of tape around it, but maybe it wasn't heavy duty enough tape, I just used what we had available...There should be all my planners except my last 3 transfers, a little Czech song book, and a small Catholic prayer book in Czech from a grandma. And letters. That should be it. I am getting some of the letters sent back again, which is an adventure. Hopefully most of them are still with the box.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's the Final Transfer

From Elder Raines:  “Ahoj Social Workers'' - group of 10 year old kids that for some reason thought we were social workers. (picture: Elder Raines)

This was the last week of the transfer. It was filled with fun. Here are some highlights:
  • We met with a less-active, who has a really cool story. He is right now having some health problems, but he is getting back to health slowly, and really wants to come back to the church. He has been a member for a long time, and has decided that now is his time to work on coming back. We had a great lesson with him, after trying to set-up for almost a month.
                                  This is Elder Robinson tracting and looking majestic.

  • P. doesn't really want to keep meeting regularly right now, he wants to wait for a while until he sees the results from training. We are going to work on having contact with him regularly.
  • We also went and did service in the forest again. And we went mushroom hunting. Which is a great Czech tradition. We found a lot of very large mushrooms, and actually fried some of them up. I have pictures, which I will send next week.
  • I had an exchange with Elder Raines. It was great, we did a table display on the namesti, which was very successful. 
                 Wallace Toronto Foundation service- Mission President Jan Pohořelický 

  • We also got transfer calls. I am staying here and training, and so is Elder Raines in UH. And Sister Dance came from Ostrava to serve with Sister Hayden. Elder Robinson went to Frydek Mistek to follow up train. Elder Gauldin went to Olomouc to train and follow up train in a trio. Which is nuts.
  • I don't know the name of my new missionary trainee. We find out Wednesday morning. Elder Raines and I are companions in UH until we go to Prague tomorrow for a trainer meeting.  We are both training new missionaries. Then we stay overnight. I saw the picture of the MTC District (Mom sent it on with names), and I am very curious...
  • I got to chat with President McConkie when he was here for the Wallace Toronto Foundation Service. He is awesome. 
                                           Former Mission President James McConkie

Wallace Toronto Foundation Service
  • I appreciate the thoughts about the temple Mom & Dad. I loved going there weekly, and I have missed attending the temple while I have been here. I plan to go very frequently, it is always a great place to be.
Spiritual thought for the week is about time. As I am starting my final transfer I have been thinking about time a lot. I have recognized that the less and less time I have left, the more and more precious it becomes for me. So I wanted to quickly talk about the importance of trying to seize the moment and use it to the fullest. That is my goal for this transfer. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett
Elder Robinson and Elder Pickett at church on Sunday

From Karen Dean (Elder Dean’s Mom): “When I walked in to church, I saw him instantly. I told him who I was and said,"You know I'm going to have to take a picture of you." He knew it. He was my translator for Sacrament meeting & for Sunday school. He is doing really well. He looks so happy.”

Me with Elder Merrill, who is going home. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

This Last (couple of) Week(s)

Our District trip to Kroměřiž last week. A super pretty city, Moravian town. Ice cream.

Elder Gaudlin and Elder Raines in Kroměřiž (photo: Elder Raines)

Hello everyone.  I have not been sending home my regular weekly news for the last couple of weeks, but this week I will try to make it up to you, and remember what the heck we did.  Time moves fast out here in Zlín.

3 weeks ago:
  • The main thing I remember from this week was our exchange with the Zone Leaders in Brno. It was a great exchange. I was with Elder Lovell, who is in the group below me, and an awesome missionary. We taught a really fun lesson together, did a bit of finding, and visited a member family for dinner. It was a great exchange. Also I kind of fell in love with the city of Brno. It is a big city, and a total college town. There are students everywhere. It has a really fun atmosphere, it is a pretty city, and I was just a big fan of the whole thing. So if you are considering a semester abroad and you are looking at the Czech Republic, keep Brno in mind.
  • We also found P. this week. I know I did describe that last week, but it was a highlight that needed to be mentioned again. We ended up having a great discussion and set up a meeting with him. It was an awesome finish to the evening.
Shave ice that we found in Zlín.

  • I am very positive that other things happened this week, but for the life of me I can't remember what. This is probably why you are supposed to just report on one week at a time and keep up with things. Whoops.
2 weeks ago:
  • We had a training in Bratislava. So for the first time in my mission, I went to Slovakia. We had to wake up at 3:30 in order to make all of the train connections, but we got there when we needed to. We also had 4 elders together, and not one of us had ever been there. We had a little map I took a picture of from an email, and from that we found our way through the streets of Bratislava towards the building. Also, in Slovakia we lose cell service, so we were pretty much on our own. We took several wrong turns, and after some fun detours we finally saw some missionaries walk down the street we were looking for and found the building. We had a training there with President Johnson, the Area President. It was awesome.
And us in Bratislava trying to find the church building.

  • Again, I can't really remember what else happened...
Last week (all caught up):
  • This last week we had some good finding, and a big project in Brno. On Saturday was the Wallace Toronto Foundation project, and lots of members and missionaries were there. It was great.

Look close in the middle of both photos to find Elder Pickett!

Sestras Ludlow & Hayden in Brno (photo: Elder Raines)
From the Wallace Toronto Foundation: IQ Roma Services is an intermediary that supports the Roma people on growth and social agendas, protects rights and dignity within society.  The service project will include painting classrooms and the building, artistic work, decorating the entrance, window cleaning, cleaning the café & recording studio, outdoor working with chopping, cleaning and landscaping.

  • We came in on Friday to Brno to have interviews with President and also got to do some finding as a big group at a singing display. This also included me running with Elder Chadwick to buy him a tram ticket. And I am being very literal with that running. It was a good time.
  • We also got to do service for a member whose apartment burnt down last transfer. We are scraping all of the damaged wall paper off of the walls. It is a big job, and we will be returning probably every week for a while to keep helping her.
  • We also got have another lesson with P., which was awesome. We got to talk about a lot of good stuff and he is going to start praying for himself, to see what happens. We expect lots of good things with him. He is good, but wants to go nice and slowly. Which is a little tough for us, but we will work with it.
  • Things are going well with the language training and the district is doing pretty well too. We are all a little sad for transfers, because we really like our district, but it is always good to get a new, fresh start. Elder Robinson is probably leaving, and I am almost certain I am staying here.

My spiritual thought for this week is about perfection. I have come to the conclusion on my mission that being perfect is really, really difficult. Actually, alone it is impossible for us. This is sometimes very frustrating for us, because we feel like we need to be perfect before the Lord will bless us. But I have found that that isn't at all true. The Lord will bless us as we try. He doesn't expect that we are going to wake up one morning and suddenly know and understand it all. He wants us to work and to get better, step by step. And as we are patient with that, we see blessings, and we will see progresss. And the Lord will help us, every step of the way. So keep that in mind this upcoming week. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

-Elder Pickett

Monday, September 4, 2017

It Got a Bit Cold and Rainy in Zlín

 District traveling- Elders Gauldin, Raines, Pickett & Sestras Ludlow, Hayden, Elder Robinson

Sorry this is short, I have to go to make our train for our vylet today! We won't make it over to the place we can email pictures. (Mom has a couple from last week to share)
  • Last week I forgot to explain all about P. (luckily we had Elder Robinson's report!) We went contacting last Sunday, all day long, and nobody really wanted to talk with us. And we were walking along the river here in Zlín, and Elder Robinson wanted to sit and read the Book of Mormon for a minute, to get through some pages we needed to read. So we did. And after we read a little, we turned towards home, because it was getting close to dinner. And a biker came riding past us, and said something to us, but we didn't understand it. Then he got off his bike a little ways ahead of us and stopped and waited for us. We started talking to him and it turns out we talked with him on Friday, and he didn't have time to talk, and he asked us who we were and what we are doing here. So we talked with him for about 25-30 minutes about prayer and faith, and he told us that he has recently been thinking more about religion, because he has had 2 pretty big surgeries due to injuries. We talked for a while and got his phone number. We are going to meet with him this Wednesday. And as we were discussing a place to meet, we found out that his office is next door to ours, which is pretty crazy.

Repeat picture… but he’s still Starsi Pickett!
  • This week was semí-warm, and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were cold and semi-rainy. Which was a pretty nice change.
  • Church is awesome. The ward here is great. They are super nice and we have good relationships with just about everyone. Our ward mission leader is cool, he is planning a grill party for next week after church. Kind of a back-to-school mini-barbeque.
  • We heard a little about the flooding in Houston. One of the Sisters from here is from that area, but she said that her house is not underwater, which is lucky. That is a crazy amount of damage. Nature does some pretty powerful stuff. Thanks for the pictures from Elder Galbraith’s dad.
  • As far as girls, 2 Elders I know in my mission have girlfriends at home. Looks like one is actually going to make it as long as she can hold out for 2 more transfers. One of my former companions had a serious girlfriend at home, she broke things off and she got married 2 weeks ago. Some Elders get pretty broken up about girlfriends changing their minds. And some Elders write-off their girlfriends.  Another companion did that at the beginning of his mission, 3rd transfer.
 Burning some photos of a “former” girlfriend

  • Crazy fun missionary stuff. I am pretty sure that the Schwiegers served in the same mission as Jitka Svobodová from Plzeň.  Almost positive actually. She knows them.  I  saw Elder Andiarena, who was in the Prague District with me last summer, last week when I was on an exchange in Brno. He came back to visit, and he is still doing good. What the what. Daniel gets home this week? I didn't even realize that. That is craziness...  Glad you get to hear Sestra Cade's homecoming talk.
  • How do you say hello in Czech? Depends on how formal you want to be. If you want to be formal you say dobrý den. If you want to be semi-casual you say ahoj. If you are not sure if you should be formal or casual you say zdravím. And if you are just being casual you say čau, ahoj, or nazdar. My personal favorite is nazdar.

My spiritual thought is similar to a thought my Dad sent me, I love the old conference talks. You find some good pulpit pounding talks in there. There is a really good one I read the other day from April 1979, it is called "Following Christ to Victory" by Hartman Rector Jr.   I would recommend this one! Have a great week!

Love you lots, Elder Pickett