Friday, January 23, 2015

A Voice Crying From the Dust

So, almost a year ago, I received my call to serve in the Honduras San Pedro Sula mission. I immediately started looking for things that other missionaries had suggested about serving there, but seeing as the mission was new, there was nothing. So I told myself, When I get home, I am going to write the most epic blog post ever about what to expect serving in this mission. It's time to make good. So, are you serving in Honduras? Are you serving in Central America? Are you serving somewhere very hot and humid, learning a new language, or just feeling a little unprepared for the mission experience regardless of location. That's okay! Maybe I can help.

Getting ready to go

The stress that you are feeling getting ready to leave is good practice for the inevitable stress you will feel on your mission :) But just as the in-mission stress can and will be reduced by your reliance upon the Lord, your pre-mission stress can be reduced by getting organized. Now that you have your call, your doctor's visits, shots, and dental work should be done. The important task is deciding what to take with you. Here are some tips: (the details are applicable to Central America)

1. Remember practicality. You will be showering in cold water, often from a bucket (don't worry, it's fun!) You will be handwashing your clothes in cold water and on a washboard. You could be anywhere from walking down a normal paved street to hiking up a mountain in the jungle in the rain. You will get wet, you will get dirty, you probably won't have a lot of time for hair or makeup, and you will constantly have a big bag full of important, heavy stuff with you through all of this. So prepare to be practical. Side ideas from this:

  • When you buy/pack your clothes, look at the washing instructions. If it can't do handwashing and line drying, don't bring it. If the fabric won't hold up to scrubbing, don't bring it. If it is something that you would be sad to see absolutely ruined, don't bring it. I brought this adorable black and white skirt with me (pictured at right) that I had had before the mission that I LOVED, and it died. It was so sad! So if seeing something destroyed would be hard for you, leave it at home and enjoy it later. 
  • When you are picking out your shoes, go with practical and comfortable. As I said, you could be (and at some point, probably will be) hiking through the jungle. If you are going to San Pedro, the mission president and his wife are AWESOME about letting sisters wear sandals, and a lot of my friends wore Keens or similar shoes. I opted away from shoes like that, even though I could totally see the draw, because having my toes exposed made me feel nervous and I didn't want strap tans on my feet (you will have toe tans. Get excited). I went with these two styles of Crocs. 
  • It definitely took me a lot of pride swallowing to purchase and wear said Crocs, but they were very comfortable and very dependable. I had two pairs of the blue flats (I had one pair in nude, and they went with everything, great) and I got through 16.5 months of my mission on just those shoes. The one drawback was that when it was wet, those shoes didn't feel too inclined to stay on my feet (quick fix--stick them in the sun, they shrink a little, and they stay on!) But the mary jane style definitely never gave me trouble with that. So yeah, consider Crocs, but find something that will work well for you. 
  • Bring an umbrella and maybe a backup umbrella. Mine broke after six months, and I never bought another one. The collapsible umbrellas that are really cheap here are expensive there. So if you can bring a backup, do it. 
  • Start figuring out how to feel pretty with a half hour to get ready. Learn to do cute things with your hair without products, irons, etc and how to minimize on makeup. Your concealer will go cakey and you will sweat it off, trust me. So the less product, the better. (Although I will give you permission to splurge on expensive shampoo and conditioner when you get there. You'll have to work it into your budget, but it's worth it) 
  • Bring a small but powerful flashlight. The power goes out a lot, and you don't want to walk around in the dark in Honduras. Trust me on that, too. 
  • When you are picking out a bag (in San Pedro, I think the sisters have an unspoken permission to use backpacks, but I didn't. See below for reasons why) check to make sure it works. Fill it up with something (about 10-15 lbs) and make sure it doesn't strain your back or cut into your shoulder. Walk around with it in a skirt and make sure it doesn't yank up the hem. (Backpacks will do that.I had to pull my comp's skirt down in the back on many an occasion). Be aware that the humidity will eat leather over time, so maybe avoid that, but also that you absolutely want something waterproof. Like put it under the shower for 10 minutes and everything inside is still dry, that kind of waterproof. That bag will be your best friend--choose wisely. 
2. Remember modesty. The more modest you are, the more comfortable you will feel. Especially in regard to the length of your skirt. Try everything on, walk, bend over, factor in your bag and the wind and make sure your skirt will never put you in an awkward situation (my skirts put me in awkward situations sometimes. You don't want it to happen to you.) Same with the neck on your shirt. Bend over in front of a mirror or your mom/sister/friend and make nobody has a view of anything you don't want seen. If you are white and serving in Central America (and probably if you are female, serving anywhere) there will always be men catcalling and whistling at you in the street. The more of your body they can see, the more insufferable they will be. Go for the more modest option. 

3. If you are going to need distinctly American things, stock up on them! For example, while there will be a place once in a blue moon to buy tampons, I never could build up the gall to buy tampons in the field. The local perception is that a girl cannot use a tampon and still be a virgin (a misconception I worked long and hard to cure my companions of), so it's not something a missionary can just buy. So calculate how many tampons you use per menstruation, multiply that by 18, and take them with you. You won't be sorry. Same with dental floss. USB memory drives, etc. 

Getting the feeling for the Field

Just so you can get a farther idea of how to get ready, here's what it's like where you're going. The hottest areas are San Pedro and Cortes, where in the summer months it will easily break 100 degrees and will be very, very humid. I would quite seriously suggest letting your bathroom fill up with steam and then jogging in place in there for a while to make sure your clothes will be comfortable in the humidity. The coldest areas, in Copan and Santa Barbara, it will cool down a little. In the winter, it will start to get semi-cold. The worst I ever felt was 53 degrees in Copan. So while most of your clothes need to be built for keeping cool, throw in some sweaters. It cools down a bit at night, so bring a blanket. There are a lot of mosquitos, and you don't really want them to bite you because they might be carrying Dengue fever. But you can get repellent for free once you are in the field, so just bring a little for the MTC and you'll be fine. Bring sunscreen; you will want it and it is too expensive to buy there. 

For the most part, you will probably be cooking your own food. Sometimes, there is a cook in the area, and sometimes the members will give you meals. Personally, I liked cooking my own food because cooks are expensive and ordinary Honduran portion sizes are huge. When you are going to eat in a restaurant or in a shop on the street, be wise. Yeah, pretty much everywhere might have the stray cockroach, but try to eat in the cleaner places and don't eat what Sister Dester says is off limits. But the local food is really yummy, so be adventurous about trying new things! 

The temple is a pretty rare blessing for people here, so take advantage of that while you can. From receiving your endowment to leaving for the MTC, go as many times as is possible. You need a solid testimony of temple blessings, and especially in your stressful time of preparation, you need the peace of the Lord's House. Also, you need a testimony of family history work. Fill out the My Family booklet or print your family tree (the fan layout is particularly impressive) to show to investigators and members when you teach about family history. It will be a huge help. And while you are looking into records to share, ask the man that baptized you for his priesthood line of authority. Time after time, that list of priesthood holders tracing back to Jesus Christ was one of my most powerful resources in testifying of the truth of the Restoration. 

One more important thing--start acclimating yourself to living with another sister and being with her all of the time. One of my companions told me on several occasions how much she didn't like being around other people for very long and how much she just wanted to be alone. Companionship unity (and actually enjoying ourselves) were not our strongest suit, as you might imagine. I understand that everyone is different and some people really to like a little alone time. I used to enjoy a lot of alone time. But you can't do that on a mission. Your companion will be with you every waking minute of every day, so learn to live with that (and like it, hopefully!) now. If you don't unite with your comp, you can't have the Spirit like you need it and you won't see the miracles that you want. So start seeking that Spirit now. Set yourself apart from the world--start weaning off of TV, internet, etc--and get ready to serve with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength. 

I promise that the Lord has not called you to fail. He has called you to succeed gloriously. He also has not called you to suffer, so there is no need to worry that your mission will be too hard. Absolutely, it will be the most difficult, scariest, most stressful thing you've ever done. It will also be the most wonderful, the most beautiful, and the most worthwhile. You won't regret a single second. I know that God lives and that we are sisters in His service, for 18 months and for all of time and eternity. God be with you, my incredible sisters in the work. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

That's All She Wrote

I found Martinelli's! WIN!

Lisseth and Christopher--adorable, happy family!

¡Viva la obra misional!

Rag curls! Old habits never die!

We had a salon day with our "fairy godmother", Hna Yolanda. I haven't had my hair this pretty in 18 months!

Well, this is weird. It's last letter time.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how my mission would be as a musical. (It would be really, really awesome. I'm going to start working on it when I get home.) But I went on a mental summary of the last eighteen months: the excitement, the heat, the mosquitos, the ants, the trainer, the trainees, the buses, the gipers, the baptisms, the's been wonderful.

Eighteen months ago, I could not have imagined where I am now. We were expressing to someone how fast the two years of their mission are going to go by. I said, "Yeah, two years are quick, two years ago, I was...waiting to put my papers in. Weird." And it is weird. Because the girl who submitted her papers to serve a mission two years ago has faded away. The girl who left the Mexico MTC 18 months ago has faded away. I'm still me, but I'm not her. I think back on who I was, and what I wanted, and it still seems like a good idea. But the Lord has used these past months to teach me something so much better.

I know that this church is true. I know that Christ lives and is at the helm of His gospel. I know that He has left the instructions for us to follow, and that we are blessed when we do what He asks of us. I have seen those blessings in my life and in the lives of others. I saw the blessings of baptism in the lives of Cándido, Gladis, Yeimy, Isis, Giovani, Maria Louisa, Cinthia, Josly, Loany, Denia, Leiser, Angi, Victor, Marco Tulio, Maria, Jamie, Marquito, Odalis, Walquidia, Axel, Bairon, and Lisseth. I saw the blessings of true conversion, aside from those, in the lives of countess others, especially Julio Cesar, Sonia, Alysson, Marlin, Estefany, Anita, and Josue. I am seeing them now in Antonio's life, in Nelson's life, in Karen's life, and in mine.

I am so grateful that our Heavenly Father loves us and cares about us. It has been an incomprable blessing of my missionary service to feel that love flowing through me to lift someone else. Those have been the moments that have left me in tears, more than any others. The exposure to that magnitude of love has time and again proven overwhelming, but in the sweetest and most wonderful way imaginable.

I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior, who is His Son, Jesus Christ. I love putting on a name tag that says The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints every morning. I love when little kids who don't know my name call me Misionera. I love that I can be someone that people look to as a light.

The best part is, it doesn't have to end. I can't clip my badge to my shirt, but I can engrave it upon my heart. I can't keep serving with power and authority as a missionary, but I can administer with love and kindness as a child of God. I can lift up my voice and my example as a testimony of righteousness and truth. I can love others as God loves them. I can stand for what is right and war a good warfare.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that these last 18 months have not been a waste. I have been exactly where God needed me to be, and for that I shall always consider myself highly privilaged. I think back on my mission, and I realize that it really did pass away as if it had been a dream--a beautiful dream, the kind that you linger on and makes you unwilling to wake up. Maybe it's true that the life I had 18 months ago is lost. But what I have found is so infintely greater.

Jesus is the Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true church. His is the only path that will take us to the eternal happiness we already fought for. The blessings of forgiveness and families never end. All that we could ever desire and more is waiting for us. All we need to do is fall into the open arms of our Savior and, as Elder Gavarret expressed, tell Him, "Yes, Lord, I will follow Thee!" I know these things to be true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hermana Pickett
Rodriguez the red nosed reindeeer!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pudding, pudding, pudding, pudding, pudding, pudding...12/29/14

P-noche! But we still went to bed early.
Lisseth's baptism! I love baptisms! 
So, I can still do chocolate chip cookies, but I forgot two cups of oatmeal in the oatmeal cookies...whoops

¡Felíz Navidad! Funny that Christmas already happened and I still date things 2013 by accident sometimes. Guess my dimensia is just kicking in early. Or, as my companion and I determined this week, I really am Dory from Finding Nemo. Hermana Dory, that is.

This week, we were blessed with many, many opportunities to serve our branch in their Christmas celebrations. Here's how Christmas works in Honduras: on the 23rd, the world basically shuts down, because everyone is making tamales. Everyone. We would mention the word "martes" (Tuesday) and instantly the reply came, "I can't, I'm busy." At those moments, I would smile knowingly and say, "Tamales, right?" My companion thought I was joking. Tamales are no joking matter. Long story short, Dec 23=National Tamale Day (which I will definitely be celebrating in 2015)

Also on Tuesday, we had a Secret Santa. I made Elder Comin a shirt with a big, red maple leaf that says "No Soy Gringo" (he's Canadian). and Hermana Luna gave me a pair of socks...for my first born child. Well played, Luna.

On the 24th, people scramble around in the morning to buy the last gifts/firecrackers/chickens, before settling down to eat around 5 or 6. We had a birthday in the branch, and we had the idea to make cinnamon rolls. Due to a series of unfortunate events, those cinnamon rolls took a long time (the first of many cooking engagements that took a long time this week). But the elders helped out, and we heard Hermana Girón (Hear-OWN) really liked them. By the time we finished cinnamon rolling, we headed down to the other branch territory for Christmas Eve dinner with the 10 minssionaries of Santa Rosa, as prepared by the other elders' investigator. Wonderfully yummy. We were there until night fall. Here's the highlight of Honduran Christmas: the sun goes down and the country becomes what could convincingly pass for a war zone. We had planned to stay the night with the sisters in the lower branch, and walking back to their apartment amid the constant barrage of firecrackers was one of the more terrifying moments of my life. But they just adore the sisters in the lower branch, so we were gifted three more dinners, liveral amounts of cake, and two different flavors of soda. And then we did Zumba to rid ourselves of all those excess calories. And then we ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast. That balances, right?

Back to Honduran Christmas rundown, we were at the war-zone firecracker stage. That's pretty constant but not too intense. Think the popping sounds from the last 10 seconds a bag of popcorn spends in the microwave. But then, at midnight, the air exploads. Now think the finale at a fireworks show (not the pretty light and colors, just the banging and the booming), but imagine it lasting for a half hour. That's how they welcome in La Navidad here. And then, due to their lack of sleep the night before, everyone sleeps until 2pm on Christmas day. We had the toughest time finding a taxi back to our apartment. It was a ghost town. But get back we did, so it's fine. And our Christmas cooking adventures then continued with 3 batches of Mama May cookies.

Brief explaination: the 26th was the ward Christmas party, and between the food and the program, that party took up bbasically our entire week. When we weren't cooking, we were dancing ballet with the Young Women or rehearsing a 1 act play with the Relief Society (Lisseth played lead!). But mostly, we cooked. Cookies from Thursday night to Friday morning, veggies from Friday morning until the afternoon, a few last minute rehearsals and BOOM Christmas festivity time.

Mama May cookies--now it's Christmas

150 Mama mays. I'm a Pickett.

Our freezer made snow, so I made a snowman! His name is Olaf, he likes warm hugs...

Mother, I will see your Relief Society president and raise you a Being one of the 4 people preparing dinner for 120+. But it was fun. And those cookies totally made Christmas.

Blessings this week: The Lord gave me energy/patience/enthusiasm/language skills/comforting words/the ability to cut potatoes instead of my fingers WAY beyond my own ability. I talked to my wonderful, wonderful family. My Daddy sang to me. Casey and Katalyn sang to me. People are giving us lots of food (which is great, because making those cookies cleaned out my wallet). I'm a missionary for the only true and living church on the face of the Earth. I feel my Savior's love. The list doesn't end.

I love to be a missionary. I love the Lord and His service. I know what He gave me for Christmas this year. Every day with my nametag on is a wonderful present, and an opportunity to give Him  something in return. I know that God lives, that His Son was born, lived, died and lives again. I know this is His church.

I love you all and I hope you have a happy week! I'll write again next year!

Hermana Pickett
Navidad with Marley and Rodriguez!
I found knitting needles to make my comp an infinity scarf. She liked it! 

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas! 12/22/14

Last year, right around this week (next week, to be precise), I wrote home about Christmas in Honduras, "Well, I only get one of those." Merry Christmas, Hermanita Pickett--I'm in Honduras for Christmas again. Hurray! I love Christmas as a missionary! 

This Christmas is especially cool because of #HeistheGift. You've all seen that, right? Did you see the largest live nativity video? One of the members here showed us that video. It was epic. If you haven't seen it yet, look it up. And then somebody tell me who the blond guy singing with David Archuleta is, because I'm 70% sure it's Ryan Gosling. 

Anyway, we had a wonderful week! Lisseth, the sweetheart who had put her baptismal date for this week, got baptized on Saturday. She's quite a jokester, so when we went to talk about the baptismal interview, she would put on a somber face after every question, shake her head, and say, "Actually, no, hermanas. I can't do that. You'd better cancel the baptism." But then she'd start laughing. And There were no jokes at all in the interview itself, as we've heard from our District Leader, so it's cool.

Less cool: Lisseth's family didn't really want her to get baptized. So the half hour before the baptism, already in the church and everything, her dad and her sister were both making no secret out of their disapproval for her decision and were kind of trying to  guilt trip her out of it. But Lisseth is a boss. Without a hint of her bromista attitude of the day before, she squared her shoulders, smiled, and said, "That's fine. If my dad doesn't want to baptize me, someone else can. I am getting baptized today because I desire it and I know it is right." Boom. So Lisseth, in the face of her family's lack of support and the freezing water in the baptismal font, entered into a covenant with her Heavenly Father. And she won't ever regret it. 

Last night we had a pretty sweet experience. There is a man in the branch, Hector, who is reactivating right now. He is married and has three children, but none of his family members are members of the church. Hermana Luna went the other day in divisions and met his kids, but not his wife. The other day, we were knocking at their door and a woman who claimed to be their family came out of her house next door and said very brusquely that no one was home and that we should leave. So we were pretty sure that the wife wasn't going to be very interested. But last night we went again, and when we walked in, the first thing I noticed were a picture of the Tegucigalpa temple on one wall and a picture of the Guatemala City temple on another wall. The wife was already smiling and kind when the conversation started, and she warmed up even more when we asked if her husband had explained what these white buildings were and why they are important. She said she knew they are houses of God, but not much else. So we explained about eternal families. That got her attention. So we know have a lovely little family to visit and several souls to help along in their progression toward the Savior. I love being a missionary. 

I love being a missionary! I was telling my comp that I had the weirdest dream that we got bored of introducing ourselves as missionaries and started introducing ourselves as four leaf clover hunters, but when I woke up I thought, "That's ridiculous! I will never ever get bored of introducing myself as a missionary." And that's so true. There are hardly ever moments that I tell someone my name without mentioning the Savior's name with the following breath. I love that! I am so grateful for the time that the Lord has given me to literally bear His name. I love putting my placa on every morning. I love representing my Savior. It's the best thing in the world. 

I hope everyone has the merriest Christmas! I love you all! 

Con amor, 
Hermana Pickett

Monday, December 15, 2014

Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Mn'Ms

Hello all! Happy P-day!

I've passed another enjoyable and slightly freezing week here in Santa Rosa. Life is pretty great, and I still love being a missionary! I guess I didn't mention this as forcefully as I should have last week, but we as missionaries right now are working with the Church's Christmas initiative, #HeistheGift, o sea, Èl es la Dàdiva. It's pretty funny, because the most common word to express "gift" in Spanish would be regalo, and then obsequio, and then presente, and then way down in the land of obscurity is the word dàdiva. But it's the derivative word from the verb dar, to give, so it literally is gift. But people never use it. So the first question is always, "What's dàdiva?" After that, we usually get to have really good conversations about Christ. But yes, we have these cunning little cards with a picture of Mary and the Christ Child on them, and we hand them out to everyone. I love it. It's such a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

We started this week off in a fun fashion: one of the other sisters in my district (I love having other sisters in the district. There weren't even other sisters in the zone in Santa Barbara, and I hadn't even realized how much I missed being social with sisters. It's fun) anyway,other sister in the district had a birthday, so we all pitched in for cake to share at district meeting. My mom sent me a cute box of candles that accidentally were overlooked for my birthday, so they finally had their time to shine (literally). It was pretty great. We also ate at a member's house that night and arrived as she was making her tortillas for baleadas, so I asked it could help. I have Hermana Yamileth's seal of approval on my baleadas making. Sweet.

This week we have been working with a cute 17 year old named Lisseth (pronounced Lee-SET). Her mom wants to start a bread shop out of their house, so we went on Tuesday to make cinnamon rolls (Mama, they are making your cinnamon rolls in Honduras. You've gone international). Lisseth is a single mom at quite a young age (think Fantine, just in the slightly happier world where her family didn't kick her out, so the desperate measures didn't happen), and I think she is drawn to the church because she feels valuable there. She should. She's a daughter of God. Anyway, she's come to church two weeks in a row and is excited to learn more about the gospel and bread baking, so we're excited for her.

We had an excellent experience with another young woman, Honey (actually spelled Jany, but I can't help but spelled it like it sounds). We went to teach with a recent convert named Ligia. During the lesson, I became aware that Ligia hadn't really been taling, and I felt like she needed to talk. I leaned over to ask if she would feel comfortable teaching about Joseph Smith, and we eventually settled on her sharing her testimony. It started out sounding like her best attempt to say what she thought we wanted to hear. But somewhere in there, the Spirit took over. And the whole lesson changed. The power of this woman's testimony illuminated the room, and Honey looked at her with so much desire to be able to say the same. I feel confident that both of them are going to keep progressing.

Also this week, we are diving into our first rounds of Christmas time activities in the branch. We're working with the Young Women and the Branch Missionaries to establish weekly activities, and planning a service project with the Relief Society. The YW activity was great, even though the only YW who came was Lisset. Rain; it's a bummer. But we learned how to make Swedish Pancakes (there were strawberries that I couldn't eat because they aren't allowed to white missionaries. They smelled sooooooooooo good.) and generally enjoyed ourselves. We also started choir practice. Someday, when I don't need to devote all of my time and attention to being a missionary, I could totally direct a choir. But right now, when we've only got three weeks and I can't hold practices longer than 1 hour and no one will come to's cool, I'm sure it will turn out just great. We're fine.

I've been listening to a lot of conference talks/mormon messages lately, and I heard something very inspirational from President Eyring. He said that each day, before writing in his journal, he asks himself "Did I see the hand of the Lord in my life today?" and after pondering, he writes about the miracles he witnessed. I realized that if I have that perspective, and if I know each morning that come the night time I will be examining my day for miracles, I will be much more likely to notice them during the day. Important. Of course, today I will be taping in my wrapper of Peanut Butter Mn'Ms and writing about how I bought Skippy peanut butter for 57lmp (a little less than 3 dollars) because those are miracles in this country. But it's helping me have my eyes a little more open.

I love being a missionary. I love the Lord. I love that it's Christmas time, and I love this rainy, windswept, wanna-be-San-Francisco little town. I'm on the Lord's errand in Honduras. That's a miracle.

I love you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Minus 2 Days, Plus 1...I Guess It Works Out

Hna Gardner and Hna Johnson reminded me that I am short when compared to normal sized gringas

In the words of Elder Christofferson, ¡Muy buenas tardes!

So we had a rollercoaster week, but not in an up and down sort of way. Just an off to San Pedro and back again sort of way. And that rollercoaster takes a loooooooooooooong time. Want to ride it with me? Here we go!

Tuesday was our Devocional Navideña, so at 5am we boarded the bus and at 9 we rolled into the church at Benque. Long time. But I finally found a pair of knitting needles, so I kept myself very well entertained. We were spiritually uplifted by our mission president, his wife, and our mission leaders. Favorite thought (and it was epic level powerful): Sister Dester spoke about the story of Peter walking on water, which called my attention because my good friend Hna Behan (shout out, Nica!) talks about that same account often. But Hermana Dester interpreted it in a way I hadn't heard before. She said that we, like Peter, were those of a particularly strong faith, the only ones who had seen the Savior do something amazing and had the confidence and courage to desire to join him. We had made it out of the boat. We were already walking on water. But somewhere in there, we started to think that the few steps we had taken were all that we could do, and suddenly found ourselves apparently alone and sinking. Christ's rebuke, O ye of little faith, wherefore did ye doubt? is not a comment on our lack of faith in the gospel; that faith is evident. It is a lack of faith in His support and in our own ability to continue. He asks why we doubted that He was always right there beisde us, ready to help. Here's the direct quote: "Christ promised that through faith, exact obedience, and hard work, you could do anything. Do you believe Him? And if you do, then what is stopping you from doing more?" Loved that.

We continued our week chock full of enthusiasm from our words of wisdom from the Desters, which was made only better by the pumpkin spice bread we found, baked, and devoured for district meeting. Life lesson from operating the oven in the Dolores building: Sometimes you are doing the right things, but in the wrong places, and thus not yeilding the desired results. Consult the professionals, make the necessary changes, and realize that life is easier than we make it sometimes. We spent quality time and a good lesson with Lisseth and her family. Her mom wanted to learn how to make bread, so I greased up my bread pans, we kneaded for a long time, and we indeed made bread. I heard it turned out pretty good (missionaries have tight schedules and we didn't get to sample it). We were overjoyed by the opportunity on Thursday to have divisions with the Sister Leader Trainers and thus make up the time we lost on Tuesday. I went teaching with Hermana Ugarte, who had to follow my example in spontaneous sweater purchasing, and we had a lovely time despite the bitter cold. But, surprise, I got a call at 6pm asking me to be in San Pedro the following day at 1pm to renew my residency. Because the one I had was going to expire about 25 days before I left Honduras. Article of Faith 12. So we took another long trip to San Pedro (and we saw missionaries from the San Pedro Sula East mission. Weird.) and lost another day. But that's okay! We love the work!

We're working with our organizations here, especially with the ideas of Enrichment night, Home Teachers, Mutual, etc, to help support the branch. On Saturday morning, we joined the Relief Society president and exactly one other sister to make and deliver sandwiches and juice to the elderly. (Mom, remember when you were Relief Society president?) So, there's a need for a little more enthusiasm there, but we passed out sandwiches and sang Christmas carols in the retirement home here, so that was nice.

Favorite story of the week: we went last night to visit Lisseth, who we had previously challenged to be baptized on the 20th. She hadn't responded too enthusiastically. But lst night, she was listening to a member's testimony about baptism and the gospel and, out of the clear blue, she said, "I know, baptism is wonderful, isn't it? I'm going to be baptized on the 20th!" I sort of thought that my spanish had failed me for a moment, and it took Hna Luna a second to process what she had said also, but we both got it eventually and we then got really excited! I was talking to her a little later on about temples and I mentioned that when she goes, she won't go alone, but rather she'll be able to take her son with her. I don't know what the deal is with that baby's dad, I just know that he's not around, he hasn't been around, and he won't be around. But Lisseth loves that little boy. And when I said she and Christopher would go together, her already lit up face went up to a whole new level of brilliancy and she was shining as she said, "Really!?" It was a great moment.

This morning we went to help a couple in the ward move and started painting the new house. Service is great. And it's a wonderful way to feel Christmasy. Go out and serve someone, it's a wonderful time. I also received my flight plans today, so I guess that means I'm really going to have to go home. That's a complicated kind of emotion. I'm going to try to explain it when I understand it better. That's the moment in Spanish that I would use the subjunctive tense, to place a spoken asterisk that says *if the moment exists in which I understand it better. Spanish. It's a useful little language.

I love being a missionary. Truth is simple and that is a simple truth: I love being a misisonary. It's not easy, it's not comfortable, and sometimes it's not fun, but I love it. The 90% that can be difficult is abosultely worth the 10% (or much, much more) that I can say, as did Sister Brown, It's a miracle.

I love you all and I hope you have the happiest of weeks!

Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

That's A Nice, uh...Sweater

Saying goodbye to fam. Lopez Urquia
Last shots of El Llano with the triplets and an incredible view
Thanksgiving with Hermana Luna--we are thankful for our companionship!

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls...sort of. For a first attempt and cooking on a hotplate in Honduras, it turned out pretty good.
Cold enough to wear pants under my skirt when we go out to work--I'm pretty cold!
We are so getting ready to celebrate Christmas!

Hermana Luna, the compa who will kill me :)  (mission phraseology for "last companion")

Ok, I am going to take back right now any previous statement that I have experienced the sensation of cold in the last 17ish months, except for the times that I've been in a meeting where President Dester has control of the AC. I have never been cold.

That said, right now I am cold! And this week, I have been FREEZING! I had a big surprise last Monday when I found out that I had a transfer, and so I am now in Santa Rosa de Copán (I came back to Copán!) with Hermana Luna. And it is cold! In Santa Barbara, a normal day was in the mid 80s and into the high 70s at night, and the nights felt a little bristk. Here we are in the 60s and the 50s. The 50s! One of my first days, it got down to 53! That is SO COLD! So yeah, I bought four sweaters and I wear my pants under my skirt and when I am in the house, I have two socks on each foot. I don't handle being cold very well. This is why I am grateful that I did not serve in Russia. On the other hand, as Hermana Marley says (one of the sisters with me in the MTC and thus going home with my who is also in this area) this is just good practice for being home. True that.

Santa Rosa is pretty much how I imagine San Francisco, but in a Honduras sort of way. In the center of the city, you can find just about anything. Down to Betty Crocker instant pie crust mix and Kirkland brand canned chicken, it's all here. The streets are cobble stone, but not in the dangerous, prone-to-trip way that the streets in Copan Ruinas were. But as soon as you get out of the center, there are hills. And not just one big hill to get up to the next level. I'm talking one big hill to get to the stairs, and then stairs that look like they go on forever, and then another big hill to get where you are going. Total San Francisco (but I guess I should visit San Francisco when I get home to prove this theory, because I haven't ever been there). We have a pretty tiny branch, even tinier lately because everyone is staying safely hidden in there homes from the cold and the rain. But I like it here, just the same. My companion is from Bolivia and is very different from just about any other comp I've had, but I like her. I'm sure we shall have many adventures.

Leaving Santa Barbara was a little bittersweet. Walquidia and her kids were tearing up a little. Bayron extended his arms for a hug and I had to tell him that missionaries don't do hugs. Cumatz said she was going to call President Dester and ask him to leave me there for six more weeks. But I was able to keep calm through it all, because I had been praying that the Lord's will could be carried out, so I knew that whatever happened came from Him. So it worked out. I got a little nervous on the bus out here when I had to pull my blanket out of my bag to keep warm, but it's okay, I think I'll survive.

I love this work. It's just my favorite. I think that these six weeks are going to be the best of them all, because I don't have any reason not to throw myself into the work with reckless abandon. That sounds fun. I love this remarkable chance that the Lord to share His gospel, especially in this beautiful season that the hearts of the children of men are more fully turned to their Savior as we celebrate Him. Have you all looked up He is the Gift? Look it up. It's awesome. So even if my teeth will be chattering and my skin turning a little blue, I am glad that I have time to proclaim glad tidings of good joy to everyone in Santa Rosa.

I hope everyone has a good week and that you can all stay relatively warm! I love you all!

Love, Hermana Pickett