Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well, I only get one of those

 We were just like little girls, waiting for Christmas morning!

We had a tree for decorating!

Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone is passing an excellent holiday. Mine was certainly pretty sweet, but here's the kicker: I only get one Christmas in Honduras, and that was it. It's pretty crazy that I've already done enough mission that I already get to say "Next Christmas, I'll be home." Weird, right?

Christmas PJs! Thanks, Mrs. Claus!

This is how we sister missioanry!

So this week was pretty great and a little insane. Turns out Hondurans take Christmas very seriously. The best part is that they don't celebrate Christmas on the 25th, they celebrate on the 24th. So we wished everyone a merry Christmas on the wrong day, and when we explained to people that we didn't celebrate until the 25th in the States, the majority said "That's weird, you celebrate on the wrong day!" Yes, us and most of the other countries in the world... Anyway, it was great! We had to come in early on Tuesday night because, of course, a key element of any good Christmas Eve party is alcohol. But we didn't get to hang out for that part. (I did ask Sister Harmon if she wanted to teach the men in front of us at the grocery store what the Word of Wisdom had to say about their 500 lempira worth of beer. She didn't want to) So we went home early and make our Christmas feast (flour tortillas and tajadas de guineo), decorated a little Chirstmas tree her family sent and put out our presents, opened one gift each (Mrs. Claus found me in Honduras to give me Christmas PJs! It's a Christmas miracle!) and watched Rio. Quality film. We woke up like excited little girls to open up our Christmas presents (thanks, parents! It was magical!) and then a few teaching appointments later we went to video chat with our families. I am so thankful for the incredible technology that made that possible. Even though I did start crying twice, and then after we hung up I might have kept crying for five minutes. Whoops! I have discovered on my mission that I am the kind of person that doesn't realize quite how deeply they miss someone until they see them. But now I have fun stories for all the Latinos, because they think it's really funny when white people cry. We have an appointment to watch the video of Joseph Smith's life with some our investigators and I have already warned them that I'm going to be a wreck at the end. It will probably be pretty entertaining.

The other big part of Christmas here is the traditional food: tamales and sandwich. I'm definitely learning how to make those at some point, because Hondurans know how to eat yummy stuff at Christmas. Family, how do you feel about tamales for Christmas lunch next year?

After Christmas, we really cracked down on working harder, because people aren't really at home and ready to hear us during holidays. But we did find an epic new family this week. The mother, Julia, has a sister who is a recent convert and has recently moved in with their mom. She came to church with her sister last week and since then, she and her four children have all been interested in coming to church and listening to our message. One night we went for a lesson while she was making tortillas to sell, so we just cooked tortillas for a while. I asked if I could take over "en hacer la vuelta", or flipping the tortillas over, and I told them I can't form the tortilla but I can flip it over. Julia handed me the knife to turn the tortillas (I'm not quite hard core enough to just use my fingers yet) and Julia and her sister, Gladis, both watched until one of the tortillas was ready. I flipped it right over and started pressing on it so it could puff up (when it puffs up, it means it's cooked on the inside) and both of them exclaimed "Si, puede!" They were pretty surprised. We got to chat with Julia and get to know her better. She's definitely passed through a lot of hardships, but rather than making her bitter or cynical, she has allowed herself to become humble and she is truly ready to receive this gospel. I love her already.

And speaking of people I love already, we have also had several lessons this week with an investigator inherited from Hermanas Bahr and Gardner. Her name is Lucy. She is always so happy to listen to us and she has already told her anti-Mormon husband and neighbor that, no, we don't worship the Devil and she would like to keep hearing our message. In one of our lessons, we came in to start and before we even got going, she starts saying "Sisters, before we start, I'd just like to say how much I appreciate you, how glad I am that you came, how much respect I have for you..." and I'm thinking, Great. This is when she tells us she doesn't want anything to do with the Church. But after expressing sentiments such as those for a little while, she says: "But I just can't know if this church is true, because I can't pray. I don't know how." Oh, we solved that problem. And after teaching a lesson on prayer and having a demonstration prayer before asking her to pray (which she did beautifully!) she said, her face lit up with a smile, "Thank you for teaching me to pray, Sisters. I will pray about your message." The Spirit is so strong every time we visit her home. But as strong as I had thought I had felt the Spirit there, she totally topped it last night: She hadn't been able to come to church because of a high fever and a sore throat, and she accepted our offer to bing someone to give her a blessing. So when we came later that night with our two companions of the ward missionaries and another young man with the Melchezidek priesthood, she sat quietly and smiled and just accepted everything with absolute faith. We talked about how Christ healed the sick, how He gave that power to His apostles, and how He gives us that power today because He wants us to be happy. And then Cris, in what we think was his first blessing of health, laid his hands upon her head and gave her a blessing that she would rapidly recover to her health. We asked if she would give a closing prayer and she said "Thank you for this blessing I have receieved. I know I will heal." I felt like Ammon with King Lamoni's wife, when he says, "Woman, I have never seen such faith, no, not among all the Nephites." I am so excited to see what it is that Heavenly Father has in mind for this remarkable daughter.

We got to go to a Christmas party on Friday, and that was fun. We didn't get to stay for the dancing, but we did the musical program before hand, the food, and the five minute fireworks. Pretty sweet. Oh, Lucy came to that as a direct result of prayer. That was pretty cool, too.

And here's the kicker of the week. For church yesterday, we were feeling pretty confident before hand that at least 12 people would come and we would meet our goal. And then, during the first 10 minutes of the meet, that confidence had just about depleted. Of course, we were really happy about the 4 people who were there. Especially because one of them, a woman named Araceli, told us that she had wanted to come for the last 2 weeks but had slept too late, so we called to wake her up and she came, no problem. She also said, "There are baptisms on the 25th? I want to be baptized that day." This is when the hard part (getting married) kicks in, but the desire is the first step and now she's got it. So we were feeling kind of set with those four, and then there was a Christmas miracle. People just started showing up. People that I have not expected in church for weeks just started showing up. And when the last wave poured in after the doors were reopened at the end of the Sacrament being passed, we had 21 investigators in Sacrament meeting. 21 souls who came to be fed by the word of God. We didn't do that. The Lord did. But He let us share in the joy of His success.

That is my big light bulb moment of this week's letter: When we accomplish something in the Lord's kingdom, we aren't really the ones who accomplished it. Of course, we have to thrust in our sickle with our might. But the person who is really going to make the difference and the change necessary, the convincing power, is the Lord. So I can't ever say, even if I reach a point that my Spanish is perfect and every person in Honduras adores me and will follow my every whim and I have every word of the scriptures and Preach My Gospel memorized (this hypothetical situation is never happening, but regardless), I still cannot say that I converted someone, that I baptized them, that I got them to come to church. The Lord does that. But He allows us to share in His joy at the harvest. How merciful is the Lord that He augments our joy by allowing us to share in His joy and the joy of His children. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I, like Alma in Alma 26, am feeling so grateful that the Lord is allowing me to share in His success. It really is the most incredible experience to be here and to be serving and sharing the gospel without ceasing. And here's the cool part: It doesn't have to end! There are children of God who need service and need His gospel in every corner of the world! Even people who are already in a church, including this the true church of Jesus Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, need to be served and invited to come closer to Christ. The Lord is ready to allow all of us to help Him bring about His work and His glory. All we have to do is accept the call.

I am so grateful to be here. I know that this is Christ's true church and that, as such, it is the only thing that can bring us true and lasting happiness forever. I know that it was reestablished in this dispensation by the prophet Joseph Smith and that it stands today on a foundation of living prophets and scripture, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which both contain the word of God. I cannot imagine a better job that to have the opportunity to go forth and tell the world about this incredible message! I love the Lord and I am so glad that He is trusting me to labor in a part of His vineyard.

I love all of you and I hope that you have a happy New Year! Hra Harmon and I have to come home early on New Year's Eve, like we did for Christmas Eve, and we are already planning on counting down the seconds to 10:30 and celebrating the commencement of 2014 an hour and a half early. All in the name of obedience!

Que el Señor les bendiga a todos!

Con mucho amor,
Hra Pickett

 We had another trip to the beach this morning and had a fun time playing in the sand! (because the water is dirty and we aren't allowed to play in it anyway)

Friday, December 27, 2013

¡Feliz Navidad!

 Also, our lovely capilla here in Campana

A confession: I opened one of my presents early. But the paper was all torn up so I could already see it and I just couldn't wait! But thanks for my Christmas dress! It's really cute and I got compliments from everyone!

It's almost Christmas here in Honduras! Cool, right? And we had a pretty crazy right before Christmas week. But we like to keep things kind of crazy here in Campana. It's just what we do.

So last Monday, Hermana Gardner sent some pictures of her dog bite to our mission nurse. I would include them in this email, but a) they would be rated PG for disturbing images and b) I don't have them. Darn. But she sent them to the nurse and our nurse called us about two hours later to inform us that we would be coming to San Pedro so that Hermana Gardner could visit a doctor. Our nurse was thinking it was a small bite from a small dog. There was nothing small about that situation.

So anyway, on Tuesday, we went to San Pedro. Earlier that day, by an incredible miracle, I had received a sizable box from my parents (thanks, parents!) for Christmas when we attended our district meeting in Choloma. But here's the rub: we did not have time to go home from Choloma before heading in to San Pedro. So as you proceed in this story, dear reader, keep in mind that I am holding a medium sized box. All day. So we took the bus in to San Pedro and while the conductor dropped us off on the right side of town, he left us about a mile south of where we wanted to be. And that area of town is pure market. The streets are just covered with people in booths selling everything from food to fireworks, clothing to cooking gear. And while that was pretty cool, I started to get this bad feeling. So I mentioned to the other sisters that I thought it would be better if we found a taxi than walking around, trying to find the building we were looking for. And they nodded but just kept walking. And then, moved upon by the Spirit, I yelled up to Hra Gardner (she gets pretty ahead of the pack, that one) that we needed to stop where we were and find a taxi. So we did, and he got us right to the building, no big deal. But later on, upon describing that situation to our mission nurse, she responded with "You were WHERE? Hra Pickett, that is a really dangerous part of the city." So yes, I feel totally vindicated in using the phrase moved upon by the Spirit.

Our banana bread was totally delicious! With just a little bit of help, we ate both of these loaves in about a half hour! But we also had to say goodbye to Hra Gardner, which was heartbreaking. I miss her already!

The trio of Campana! It was an awesome two weeks!

And then for the rest of the day, we learned a long lesson in patience. The doctor with whom our nurse had put an appointment had already left for his Christmas vaction, so we took a cab and then waited about 2 hours for Hra Gardner to see another doctor. He looked at her bite for about 2 minutes before deciding that she was fine and writing her a perscription for some anti biotics as an after thought (personally, I don't agree. If I had a suture kit, I would have stitched that thing closed. I do have a sewing kit...). We then went to the pharmacy so Hra Gardner could get her medicine and a tetnus shot and then we started waiting for a bus. In the rain, and the premature darkness that is 6:00 in Honduras. And I'm still holding this box (Mom, I wrapped it up in my emergency poncho). So after about 20 minutes of standing on the side of the road, our nurse called the mission president's wife, Hermana Dester, to express her concern that we either wouldn't find a bus or that if we did, it wouldn't be safe at this time of night anyway. And here is the miracle: because I have the best mission president and wife in the whole world (!), they told us to wait at the nurse's appartment and they would come pick us up and drive us home. The 20 minute walk through the rain with the box was kind of tough, and our nurse was very concerned that I was just going to relapse into my fever, but it was worth it for the ride home with the Desters. They even brought us granola bars and string cheese and gave us the left over food from the activity they had attended in Copan so that we could eat it for dinner. I just love them!

After that, our week was pretty ordinary. We are having a string of rotten luck lately wherein no one is at home lately, so getting in lessons and finding new investigators has been pretty tough, but number do not define success. I just read in the Book of Mormon about the difference in areas between Ammon and Aaron, and the fact that Aaron was having a tough time was not due to any fault of Aaron, so it was a nice reminder to be a little kinder to myself and stop stressing.

It's pretty cool to see Christmas happening here. Everyone has lights and trees, even if it's just the one strand of lights or the tree is miniature, and people are going crazy making tamales. Because that's what they do for Christmas here, they make tamales. So people are butchering their pigs (one day we saw a pile of meat and behind it was the pig head and four little feet) and cooking their banana leaves. The actual tamale making happens on the 23rd (that's very important) and apparently the consumption is generally on the 24th. We have been singing Christmas hymns all week and we had a mission Christmas party. We watched It's a Wonderful Life, but we watched it in English with Spanish subtitles instead of the other way around. I was grateful for that. It was pretty sweet.

We did have one bad Christmas surprise, though. Another sister in the mission broke her leg and was only six weeks from going home, so she got sent home early. And trios are a pretty easy target for emergency transfers, so we lost Hermana Gardner. That was heartbreaking. She had to say goodbye to everyone and pack and we got up really early to make the banana bread we had been wanting to experiment with. Hermana Harmon and I both had to take ten minutes to collect ourselves after she left this morning. It was a pretty bad emotional shock, but I have complete confidence in the Harmon-Pickett companionship and I'm sure there will be a pile of awesome stories next week!

I love being a missionary. I love that, especially during this wonderful time of year, I get to spend the whole day telling people about Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us, and how wonderful is His love! I am so grateful for this time I have to serve and for all of the blessings that are continually showered upon me here. I love all of you and I hope you have the happiest Christmas! Just take some time to remember, really, why it was that Christ was born, and you won't be able to contain your joy!

¡Feliz Navidad!
Hermana Pickett

Monday, December 16, 2013

So, five months ago today... letter from December 9, 2013

Five months ago today I got on a plane to Mexico City. Five months! It definitely doesn't feel like I've been doing this for five months. If this were a normal year, I would have already passed another sememster at BYU and I'd be studying for my finals. I have to keep telling myself to have a perspective on the amount of time that is actually passing. But that's the only reason I bring it up, because this isn't an ordinary year. It's the most extraordinary year (and a half) ever!

So this week was a lesson in the miracle of something we call LPE. Those three magical letters stand for lecciones para encontrar and signify every time that, out of the blue, we just start talking to someone or serving someone or receive a reference. And this week we rocked LPE like a couple of bosses. The real goldmine of this experience was centered in a place here called Baracoa. We had two investigators there, but that's not really enough, because Baracoa is one of the furthest spots we stretch out to in our area. So as much as we'd just love to hang out there a lot, taking the risk of spending a great deal of time and 26 lempira each is a little chancey. But this week we went to Baracoa and, because our actual appointments had fallen through, we just contacted people in the street. And the first miraculous day went like this: we went to our appointment and a kid in the street (his name is Alan, and he's about 12) told us the people we were looking for weren't home, so we asked if we could come see his family instead. His mother wasn't there, but we set an appointment. Then, upon departing from Alan, a man who had heard us talking to him asked if he would come teach his family. He asked us to come (imagine a lot of stress on the words "asked us to come", because that's how I would say it if we were talking about this face to face). And THEN another person in the street overheard us talking and asked us to come teach him. ASKED US TO COME. (Imagine a lot of stress this time). And we walked away from that trifecta of awesome saying, "Okay, but really. What just happened?" And due to the simple magic of talking to everyone and inviting the whole family to our lessons, this week we found 22 new investigators. Twenty two! I had to type out the letters, that's much I wanted to stress that! I'm not trying to say that the number in and of itself matters but that is so many people who want to hear the gospel!! How awesome is that?! So those of you who are missionaries of the full time or member variety, talk to everyone! It's a miracle!

Also, this week, I have noticed how much I just adore the people here. Like really, I am just overcome with love for them. Every time we visit one of our investigators, I am just so happy to be there spending time with them. And when we visit our new converts, there is no limit to how happy it makes me that they are still solid in their testimonies and coming to church (Victor was ordained a priest yesterday! How cool is that?!) And every time we meet someone new, I can just see them in white at their baptism, and that image never goes away. I really think that that is how the Lord sees them, too--ready to make and keep sacred covenants, so that they can come back home to Him. We talked with Diana Buh about eternal marriage the other day and then with her and her husband about the Authority of the Priesthood last night, and my mind graduated from seeing them at their baptism to seeing them at the temple. So, with that image in mind, you may be able to imagine that I was a litte overcome with joy when they took each others' hands and said "Good news, Hermanas. We have decided that we are going to be baptized on the 28th." I was pretty close to crying, the Spirit was so strong in that moment. I had another minute like that when fam. Huezo showed up, plus a cousin and a friend, to the Christmas Devotional last night and each one told me how beautiful it was and how much they enjoyed it. (Devotionals from the first presidency are the best finding opportunities ever. Can we have more?) I am amazed daily by the humility and the gratitude and happiness that the people here live each day with, and I hope they can teach me how to do that before my work is finished.

I love these people and I love this gospel! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that He is trusting me with His children here and that He has made me worthy for this work. I hope that all of you are well and I'm worry this letter is so wimpy and short--longer letter next week!

¡Que todos pasen buena semana!

Hermana Pickett

Sick Days Stop Being Fun After High School

Intrigued, aren't you? I know. But that story doesn't start until Wednesday, and all things must begin at the beginning.

Entonces, after writing last week, there was a MINDBLOWING surprise. Hermana Gisseman and I were both absolutely sure that we wouldn't be getting transfered. Sin ningun duda. So when we went out to work on Monday night and Hermana Gisseman was feeling a little frustrated with herself at the end of the night (for those of you who have never been a new missionary, especially a new missionary speaking a new language, it's an incredibly oportunity to be frustrated with one's self) we were prompted to have a long talk about my job as her trainer and that I was indeed there to help her, and we talked about how we could improve our communication skills in order to improve our companionship and get her off to sailing smoothly as a missionary, and it was a very tender experience, and we hugged and told each other we loved each other and it was great. AND THEN about an hour later we received a text message (note: we had already received the text message with the names of people who were getting transferred that day) that said "Surprise! Hermana Gisseman also has changes" Que!? But Hermana Bahr made the suggestion that we had learned something from each other between 3pm (when the first text came) and 9pm (when the second text came) that was all we needed to learn from our time together as companions. We think it was the hug. And probably the conversation helped, too. So that was my mission movie quote moment that can only be explained by the wisdom of Nanny McPhee: "When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. But when you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's kind of sad, really, but there it is." It is kind of sad, Nanny McPhee. But I am glad, at least, that the lesson was evidently learned and that my first attempt at training a nuevacita did not end in her calling the president and asking to go home. Or dying. Those are the two worst case scenarios I was dreading.

  here is the bus ride to our last district meeting and the bus to cambios meeting

On Wednesday, then, we embarked for San Pedro Sula at 7ish and arrived without any problems. I think the other sisters were a little wary of my ability to tell the bus conductor where to let us off after my story of last time, but I learned from my bad experience and we successfully did not get lost. Transfer meetings get more and more fun as I gain more time in the mission, because there are just so many people to see that I haven't seen forever! Sister Porter and Sister Curtis were both there! It was so magical! And I just about died when Hermana Escalante showed us, and I sped walked right up to her and told her "Estoy veniendo para usted!" And there was hugging. That meeting was marked by lots of hugging. But Hermana Gisseman was transfered to Santa Rosa de Copan, which is actually really cool because that's where the Mayan ruins are and it's not very hot there, so the people who serve there all say it's paradise. I've started referring to it as the land Bountiful. But for my new companion I receieved the "hija" (trainee) of Hermana Gisseman's "madrastra" (not the person who started your training, but the one who finishes it). So the two of them sort of switched places. And this new hija is named Hermana Harmon and is she down right adorable. The next two months are going to be a blast. Especially because we had another mindblower and we received Hermana Gardner as our third companion and we are now a trio! Crazy, right? Just living la vida misional!

But, as to the sick days referenced in this week's title: we came home from cambios meeting, excited to see how this three missionaries/combination of two areas thing was going to work out, and took some time for Hermana Harmon to start unpacking. And I just started feeling weird. So I sat down and then laid down, hoping that the weird feeling would go away. But it didn't. And by the time that we had planned to go out, I was shaking uncontrollably from a fever. Awesome, right? I know. So, owing to the fact that I was shaking too hard to walk, the other sisters informed me it would probably be for the best if we just didn't go out that day. I didn't love the idea, but I thought "I obviously need a little time. So I'll stay down for an hour, and after that we'll go out." That is never a good strategy. I didn't wake up until 7:30. But I would not let my sickness deterr the work! So for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, various Young Women and younger members of the relief society came over and babysat me. I can't find a better word for that. And while the other sisters went out with an attitude to conquer the world, on Thursday night, Hermana Gardner got bit by that same dog that got me. But he got her really, really good. So that impeded the work, and me being sick impeded the work. Hermana Harmon is doing great, though! And I finally got out to work yesterday, but some YW came anyway because pobrecita Hermana Gardner was in too much pain to walk. Sounds like a really great week, right? I'm feeling like I'm living in the Isn't It Ironic? song again. But the consensus between me and Hermana Gardner that staying home from a day of missionary work is the worst ever. You sit/lay there, trying to sleep but failing, and thinking "This is so not what I should be doing right now." And that's frustrating.

But there was a very sweet miracle this morning. My mission president called me up and said "Hermana Pickett, I've had the prompting several times this last week to give you a call. How are you doing?" And he assured me that it is more than okay that we give ourselves time to heal when we are sick or dog-bitten, and that both he and the Lord were so happy with the work that we are doing. So I feel a lot better. Parents, if you are ever worried about me, don't worry. The Lord gave me a pretty great mission president.

I hope everyone's week and everyone's health is a little bit better than mine! Even with all of the fun times I spent with my fever and upset stomach, I am so grateful for all of the blessings that the Lord has given me, including my trials. The mission is a time to become the person God wants me to be, and He knows just what I need to go through to get there, so I have no doubt that the last four days of feeling pretty bad did me good in the end. And here's a life lesson: find out what pills you are taking for sure before taking them (because acetomenaphin and anti-diarretics are different things) and if you must take pepto-bismol, it's a lot easier to swallow if you keep it in the refrigerator.

I love the Lord and I love my mission! I can't imagine anything I'd rather be doing than serving these people right now. Next week I'll be sure to fill up my email with stories of wonderful Hondurans--I just didn't have the opportunity to interact with too many of them this week. But shout out to Carol, Ruth, Katerin, y Lilian, who all served a term (Ruth did three!) as my caretakers and never complained about it once. That's Honduran charity for you. I hope I'm as good as begrudgingly giving service as the people here are when I get home.

Love you all! Beware of stomach flu and dogs!
Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's already December!

Hello, hello!

So best news first! This week we were incredibly blessed to see the baptisms of Angie and Victor! Apparently the water was freezing, but they were both happy and glowing with the Spirit. Victor stood up to bear his testimony yesterday for Fast Sunday (the last one of 2013--pretty crazy, right?) and said "I would just like to give my simple testimony that I know I have just been confirmed a member of the true church of Jesus Christ." That was pretty cool. I have this fun habit when we first meet people of imagining them in white at their baptisms, so it is a beyond fantastic moment to actually see what I had imagined. But so much more than people being baptized, it is a miracle to watch people being changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and choosing to follow Him. I know that this week, two more precious children of our Heavenly Father entered in by the gate to the path to eternal life. And I am so grateful that I could be even the smallest part of the circumstances prepared to help them along the way.

And now the funny story for the week (because it involves pretty much the whole week and a bit of the previous one). So two Wednesdays ago, we were approaching the front door of an investigator and as I stepped around their sleeping dog, she jerked awake and snapped at me. And with the snapping, one of her teeth scratched me. But there really isn't a word in English or Spanish that can say "scratched me with her teeth" and communicate very well what happened (the closest I can think of is grazed, but that still necesitates mentioning teeth), so I had to call the nurse and use the word bite. She was a little worried, but she told me that if the dog lived a week, I would be fine. So last Thursday, when we saw that said dog was still alive, I was feeling pretty great about not having rabis. But then, we went to visit this kid named Danilo (he's the one who came to church and had Breny ask if we could visit his family) and Danilo's rather violent dog was not chained up. Why he was not chained up, I will never know. But I took one step inside the yard to verify for Hra Gisseman if he was chained up, and the rather violent dog came running. Most of the bite was deterred by my skirt, which now has three little holes and one big one, but he got me a little bit. Whoops. So I was properly bitten by a dog this week.

 here's my dog bite! Mostly, it just looks like a bruise, so that's anticlimatic. 

But the fun doesn't end there! So after determining that we could not teach that lesson with Danilo (Hra Gisseman blatantly refused to come within twenty yards of that house) I was taken to Hra Breny, who is a nurse and a kind soul. So she washed my wound out pretty well and put some gauze on it and fed us some hot chocolate for the shock and sent us on our way. But I called up the nurse again to tell her I had been bitten again (she was the first of maybe five people to say "Are you kidding me?" I don't see how that would be a funny joke) and she wasn't satisfied with saying "Okay, well just watch it and if it's alive in seven days you're fine." So on Saturday, we took the bus to San Pedro Sula and, after getting lost and spending about 20 minutes hunting for the stake center and asking for directions in Spanish, we met up with the nurse and I got a tetnus shot! But I'm counting that as a blessing because my last tetnus shot hit five years on Nov 10 or something like that, so I needed one anyway. And then, just to wrap up the list that Hra Gisseman and I were making of things we weren't sure we could write home about, the crazy bus drivers of Honduras finally went one step too far and the front end of our bus drove into the side of another bus attempting to merge. Nobody got hurt and the busses weren't even that damaged. It was just a funny sort of day. I kind of felt like I was living in that "Isn't it ironic?" song when everything goes wrong at once.

So, yeah, those are the highlight events of the week. We are continuing work with fam. Buh because even though they are really ready to be baptized, they need to come to church so that we can be confident that they are ready to come every week after being baptized. We are pretty excited about fam. Huezo, although we have a bad habit of being there for more than an hour answering questions. It's not that the questions are bad. It's just that we need more time in the day! We also have a new investigator named Carol who is really progressing rapidly. She can totally already feel the Spirit testifying of the message and I really have high hopes for her.

We took a day trip today to a place called Omoa and saw a fort that was built there in the 1700s. It was pretty fun to keep saying "We're just on a roof. On a castle. In Honduras." We definitely had a party taking pictures. We went to the beach for lunch and ate at a restaurant that is right on the water. Normally people get seafood when they eat right next to the ocean, but our bus ride to San Pedro and some other circumstances this week had put me a little low on funds, so I opted for the cheaper carne asada plate. But it was still wonderfully delicious so we're good. It smelled just like it smells in Edmonds, though, so that was a moment of me feeling a little baggy (that is the name here for the emotion of "Oh, I miss home!") But it only lasted a second.

 here is the picturesque beach at Omoa!

This is how we sister missionary!

I love being a missionary. I am so glad that I am here and that the Lord is trusting me with this work. Claro que sí, I love and miss all of you, but I am so happy to be here. I know that the Lord is blessing me in this service and that He will continue to do so for the next 13.25 months and beyond!

I know that this church is true. I know that it is the same church that Jesus Christ established personally upon the earth and that it contains the same gospel that He preached. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and He has given us His Son so that we can come back to Him, and He gave us this gospel so we can know how to follow Him. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that today, this line of prophetic authority continues in Thomas S. Monson. I know it, I live it, I love it!

I hope you are all doing well and not being bitten by dogs or mosquitos or hormigas. But if you are, welcome to the party! Viva la misión!

Love, Hra Pickett

So we missionaries are pretty good at funny pictures when the opportunity presents itself! Hra. Gardner and I got "locked in" to one of the armouries

 Our ZLs, Elders Williams and Bailey, opened the scriptures and laid down the doctrine when we visited the fort's chapel

I had to document how nuts Hra Garner was about being precariously close to the edge of the roof. Hra Bahr was pretty scared a couple of times!

Turns out Hra Gisseman is a pretty handy photographer! Fun pictures in a castle!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

¡Feliz acción de gracias!

Hra Escalante and I waiting for the bus to take us to cambios meeting. I miss that Mexican mamá of mine!


So this is one of those times that an American holiday (which is one the bigger deal side of American holidays) is coming up and, because I'm in central America, it's like that holiday doesn't actually exist. Fun, right?

There isn't too terribly much to report, as our week was a bit shorter than usual. On Friday we had a multi-zone conference (which was awesome) for most of the day and then we didn't go out to work this last weekend, as it was election weekend and there wasn't really a point. (Mind you, we didn't make that decision in our individual companionships. Those were our instructions. But don't worry about it). Anyway, all is well! Hra. Gisseman and I are doing the work and loving it! I really am enjoying living with three other sisters and there is a very good vibe in the Campana house right now, so that's cool.

So here's Hra Gisseman! That first one is Hra Escalante and I with our new companions (hers is Hra Tolliver and they are Sister Leader Trainers!) and the second is Hra Gisseman and I at our P'day fútbol activity

This is pretty disappointing but I really can't remember very much to write about this week. Victor and Angie are both sailing smoothly and confidently toward their baptisms and beyond. It really is wonderful to see the confidence that comes from faith and repentance. Fam. Buh is doing great and they were our only two investigators to come to church on Sunday, so we were PSYCHED to see them! (Sunday was the day of the elections, so church attendance was pretty sparce). And we are finding new people every day, which is crazy. One of the sisters at church came up to us with this little boy and said, He is my neighbor and he would like you to come teach his family. (To which we responded, OK!) We also have a new investigator who we thought was just hitting on us° but it turns out he's willing to hear the Gospel. And Senia, a woman who we met on Hra Gisseman's first day, is blowing our minds she is SO prepared! I love doing the work here. There are miracles every day--I've got the best job ever!

(°So, brief explaination of Honduran men (Hra. Behan, this is going to sound familiar). The kind of wolf whistling, cat calling, lip smacking behavior that would be kind of objectifying in the States is totally fair game here, so whenever we walk past males over the age of 15ish, we expect that sort of behavior. Also, in the case of gringas, it is a common occurance to hear a small, slightly nonsensical slew of English. So when our new investigator called out "Where are you coming from?" we just kept walking, because that's what we do. And when he continued to yell "Hello! Hello!" we still continued to walk. But there was a little prompting that said "Hey Emily, humor this one." So I said hello, but I spoke in Spanish. Which started the conversation which explained the fact that he learned English in the States, so he was actually asking us seriously where we were coming from. And that conversation is going to be continued tomorrow when we go teach him and his family. Boo-yah)

I also learned this week that I will have incredibly impressive grades when I return to BYU, because I can't just spend free time anymore. Our three days in the house were fun because we were all together but whenever we weren't actively doing something I was dying! How did I used to pass entire Saturdays like that every week?! So yeah, parents, prepare for a very active daughter when I get home, because doing nothing will no longer be my forté.

I love being here. I love this work and I love the Lord. He continues to amaze me with His love and patience for me and all of His children, and I am so beyond grateful for this opportunity to serve. This acción de gracias is going to be a pretty astonishing one for me, because while I won't be feasting on food, I have SO MANY blessings to feast upon! I love you all and I hope that everything is going great!

Les amo muchísimo! Hra Pickett

 And Hra Bahr put up a Honduran flag in our front room and we took lots of pictures!
Hra Gardner and I took a fun picture with the flag

Hra Gardner and I took a fun picture with the flag and here is our celebretory feast of the end of our días encárceladas! Pizza Hut delivers!

We found this set of stairs that go on forever, and we didn't climb them but we did take a picture! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

I´m a ''MOM''!

Hello from Honduras! Pretty crazy week! Why, you ask? Well, in the training booklet for missionaries there is a little sentence that says "The goal of your training is that you can become the kind of missionary in twelve weeks who, if called upon, could train another missionary". AND IT´S HAPPENING! And it´s insane! 

So last monday after writing we found out that Hra. Escalante was being transfered and then a few hours later that I was going to be a trainer. And the Elder telling says " Are you excited, Hermana?!" And I´m like "...Yes?" He didn´t think that was a very convincing response. But let´s break this down. I was TERRIFIED! I kid you not, I was scared to pieces. I didn´t feel qualified for that at all. I still don´t understand Spanish perfectly (we´re at a solid 80% ish), I have a lot of stuff that I need to work on in my teaching, and all of the people here clearly love Hra Escalante a lot more than they like me. To their credit, it might be because I don´t know what they´re saying 20%ish of the time. So I was really freaking out. But then we went and had a lesson with Maria Lusia de Urquia, who was just called to be a teacher in the Sunday School. And she was really scared, because she was feeling inadequate, as a recent convert, to teach people who had been members of the church for a lot longer than she had. But we were bearing our testimonies and I said, "Hra, the Lord calls us in our weakness, and He will give us everything we need to fulfill our callings." And then I thought (or, more likely, the Spirit gently rebuked) if I can make that promise to someone else, I have to believe it for myself. So I started trying my best not to freak out, to trust in God, and to prepare to be a good mamá (that´s what we call trainers here). 

So on Tuesday we taught super short lessons so Hra Escalante could spend a few minutes with as many people as possible (we did get stuck at a house for an hour and a half helping a sister make dinner. Hra. Escalante was kind of upset to use so much time there but I am now a boss at making tajadas. Get excited). And then on Wednesday we took the bus at 6 am to get to San Pedro Sula for my training meeting at 8:30 (well, a little earlier than that so we could get breakfast). But our training meeting was really, really good. President Dester talked about the kind of missionaries we need to be in order to be trainers and how the Lord has confidence in all of us to fulfill this calling. After that we went to la reunión de cambios and I got to hang out with my friend Hra Curtis from the MTC (who isn´t training but had a transfer). Before the cambios are announced we listened to the testimonies of all the missionaries leaving, and there were 14 so it took forever! They were really good testimonies, but I just couldn´t handle the suspense! Por fin President Dester announced the cambios, and I´m watching the sisters up on the stand and counting down until I had to say to Hra Escalante "Wait, are there any more Latinas up there?" And she said no, and we´re both like "I´m training a gringa? Whose idea was this??" But we know whose idea it was, so it´s all okay. And I am training a gringa! Her name is Hra. Gisseman, she´s 19 and from Georgia and she´s great! I love her already! I feel a little more comfortable with the idea of being a trainer every day and I think we´re going to be fine. Better than fine! We´ll be great! 

So the last couple of days have been work as usual. There isn´t really the concept of easing into the water on a mission. Hra Gisseman is kind of psyching herself out about Spanish and the work and having things to say, but there is a certain amount of expected shock upon entering the mission field, so I think after the next week or so she´ll be feeling a lot better. We were supposed to have two baptisms this week, but one, Heydi, is moving to Santa Barbara and won´t be anywhere near a church, so she doesn´t want to get baptized with the full knowledge that she won´t be able to fulfill her baptismal covenant (they take their promises very seriously here, which is cool) so that´s sad but I´m proud of her for making the tough decision. Our other baptism, Angi, is waiting until next week. I can't say why--she´d be mad at me if I did. But it´s kind of funny and it´s no question of worthiness, so she´s good to go on her baptism this week. 

It´s pretty weird to live in a whole house of gringas in Honduras, but we´re all getting along just fine and life is good. I love our ward, and our district and zone are great. Today we went and played soccer for P-day, and while I am seriously uncoordinated (Becca, we need to work on that) it was really fun. 

I love this work. I love the Lord and I am so grateful that He has given me this time to serve His children! We´ve been talking a lot this week about the power of positivity and gratitude, and that is such a powerful principle. Seriously. I feel so much happier here, and I know it is because we really take time to notice our blessings. And in the moments that I am annoyed or frustrated, I take a second to ask myself if I am feeling grateful, and the answer is always no. But I count my blessings and then I can´t keep from feeling happy! We were hanging out with fam. Urquia last night and Hra Maria Luisa said to me, Hra Pickett, siempre anda con alegría. (Which literally means you are always walking with joy, but the feeling is more like you always have an attitude of joy). And I realized that that´s exactly the kind of person I want to be for all of my life--the one who is always joyful. And really, that´s who we should be as followers of Jesus Christ--full of joy! And then people will see that, they´ll notice it just like Maria Luisa did, and they´ll think "What has she got? I want it. I want that happiness." And then we have missionary experiences and we help other people walk with joy also! The Lord is changing my life and my perspective and my heart mightily, and I am so glad that I have this time for Him to do that. 

I love and miss all of you. It´s crazy how fast the time passes here, so I know it will feel like no time at all before I can share my mission adventures in person! 

Les quiero mas que nada! 
Hermana Pickett

the computer is being really dumb, so I´ll send pictures next week. Sorry

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

addition to family email

And I made cinnamon rolls today! And they were delicious! Can you forward that piece of news to the family? Because I'm gonna send pictures soon!
So Hra Gardner helped me make the dough and then helped the elders make the frosting, and here she's being my emotion support while I rolled out my dough with an empty pill bottle (what's that saying about necessity and invention and genius?). The other missionaries all reported that the cinnamon rolls were delicious! Victory!

Happy Veteran's Day!

Tortillas de harina! I'm gonna be a pro!

The love and fun in the Campana House!

More sister silliness! Hra Gardner tried on Hra Bahr's glasses and said "This is my natural reaction" and Hra Escalante put on her headband as a "corona" (crown)

Again, points to Becca for my knowledge of American holidays. But also as a title for this week, I finished four months in the mission! That was pretty quick, right? It feels pretty quick here, anyway.

So this week was magical, of course. All of our weeks are magical. The rain has continued (YAY!). Someone asked me if I can handle this kind of weather and I said, "I'm from Seattle. This is how I live my life." And when it's not raining, usually it's quite a bit cooler. I've been using my raincoat and some scarves and one day (get ready for this) I even wore my sweater. Wow.

Last Monday I had another bread attempt. It went a lot better. Turns out eliminating the 5 hours in the refrigerator really helped. And I rolled out one of the loaves and put cinnamon and sugar in the middle, so we had cinnamon sugar bread. I need to experiment with that more, but it turned out pretty delicious. We demolished it in about 5 minutes. Especially because the grocery store was having a blowout sale on Nutella (one of the normal sized jars for 45 Lempira! That's hardly more than $2!) And EVERYTHING tastes good with Nutella on it. I think that jar of nutella might have been a bad idea, but I just won't buy another one, so we're good. We had another Noche de Hogar that involved making baleadas, and my tortillas are starting to be circular more often than not, so I feel pretty accomplished about that.

We were blessed to see two of our investigators be baptized this week! Denia from the fam. Mancia Garcia and Leyser, Heydi's younger brother, were both baptized on Friday. Leyser had really started reading his BoM on Tuesday and just like that he said, Hras, I want to be baptized. And then he stopped drinking coffee and started being nicer to his older sister and by the time he had his interview on Friday morning, that kid was crazy ready to be baptized. Talk about a mighty (and fast) change of heart. And Denia realized pretty early in the week that her husband would be working during her baptism, but she was determined to be baptized anyway. We went to visit her on Thursday night and we sang Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide (still my favorite, though the following hymn, Abide with me, is a close second) and talked about how the Lord doesn't abandon us in the night times of our lives. And she said that she knew she needed to be baptized, and had prayed that her husband would be able to come, so she was just going to keep moving forward. So then on Friday, when we were leaving for the baptism and he still wasn't home, she was kind of down (we were all kind of down. Friday was grey and miserable all day long--I had to sing The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow more than once). But we got to the church and who was waiting at the gate? Denia's husband! It was a miracle of the Lord and true love! The baptisms themselves were kind of tough, because the kid who was baptizing hadn't had very much of a warning, so the words took a few tries, and Denia's first time in the water was no good. But the real trouble was with Leyser, because no one told him (or so he says) that he had to put his head under the water. So that took about seven tries. And I wish I was exaggerating. But he went in eventually, and both of them were confirmed yesterday (Leyser was blessed to serve a full time mission) so it all turned out well.

Diana and Jose Buh came to the baptism too! Their son is David and their little girl is Cesia

 Heydi and Leyser. They aren't really good enough friends to hug in pictures yet, but we're working on that!

CUTE picture of Denia and Jose--Jose loves having his picture taken! 

We found a goldmine of investigators this week: Last week we contacted a girl in the street (we kind of got in her way when she was trying to cross a bridge and shared the message of the Restored Gospel...we do that) and she invited us to come back and meet her family. There are SIX people in that family. Six! And all of them wanted to listen to us! Unfortunately, only two could come to church. But they are super ready to hear this Gospel. They have lots of questions, but they ask because they really want to know, not because they want to prove us wrong. And they were really receptive about the First Vision (although the mom, Maria, asked in the middle if we wanted baleadas, so we had to ask her to focus) and they were really excited for us to bring them a copy of the BoM. So we're pretty excited about them. But the dad, Marco Tulio, has some sort of problem with his left eye, so we're never really sure who he's looking at. It's led to some kind of funny awkward moments.

Also on the topic of great investigators, Angi and Heydi are planning to be baptized this Saturday. Angi is helping us to start teaching her mom, Maria, and we think being involved in the conversion process will be really good for Angi as she starts out her membership in the church. We've been spending a lot of quality time with fam. Buh, and we got a little scared for a minute, because they really were not pleased with the baptism on Friday. It was the first baptism they've ever seen, and the fact that there was so much of a struggle for the baptisms to get done and that the members present were kind of giggling at the sheer number of times that Leyser almost was baptized didn't sit very well with them. But we had a talk about how the Church is perfect but the members aren't and apparently the ward mission council (most of which are teenaged ward missionaries, and they're the ones who come to baptisms) got a stern talking to about reverence and setting an example yesterday. So hopefully that doesn't happen again. That's a kind of tough thing about the mission: you can work really hard with your investigators and do everything possible for them, but eventually you have to entrust them to the members...and you never know what's going to happen next. But we're all in this together, and it's fine! And Diana blew our minds yesterday, because we were started to talk about Word of Wisdom and we said, "So can you guess what sort of things God would tell us about how to care for our bodies?" And she pretty much hit on every point of the WoW. Talk about pilas!

We had splits with the Sister Leader Trainers on Wednesday and Sister Lopez told me she thinks I'll be a sister leader trainer (which is kind of like a female ZL but different) very soon. Terrifying! I asked her to take things one step at a time.

 Exchanges! I love Hra Lopez! (Mom, the first one is really just for you so you can see the skirt I bought. Pretty cute for an Honduran thrift store, huh? I think it's very Maddi Raleigh)

Mary, this one is for you and Jordan: we were teaching one of our investigators about the Word of Wisdom and he had a very casual attitude about throwing away his cigarettes, making a plan to avoid buying them, etc. He said he could just stop and that having them around wouldn't be hard for him. So I told him Coach Gelwix's story about Don't Play With Snakes. So now Coach Gelwix's wisdom has been imparted in Spanish/ in Central America. I thought you two might like to know.

I really love it here. We don't know what our cambios are yet, but Hra. Escalante thinks she's going to leave and I'll get a little Latina to train. I think that would be really scary but I'm ready to accept whatever job the Lord wants to give me! I love this gospel, I love this work, I love these people, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so blessed to be a fellow laborer in the vineyard (I read Jacob 5 in like 20 minutes the other day and it all made sense. I can liken it now!) and to have this time to be molded by the Lord. I miss you all but I'm so glad to be here and I know it's only going to be all the sweeter when we see each other again!

So much love!
Hra. Pickett

And I haven't had much use for my hat, because I'm not allowed to wear it proselyting, but it's pretty good for washing clothes in the rain.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emily's weekly update, no catchy title this week

So this week, I had another one of those moments like "Wait a second. I'm in Honduras, in Central America, as a missionary. I'm really on a mission. And I'm gonna be here for kind of a long time. Whoa." Those moments are always special.

Anyway, pretty great week! I feel like the vast majority of our planned lessons fell through, but we just found other people to teach and kept on keeping on. The fam. Mancia Garcia family had their baptimal date set for this last Saturday (there's a really handy word in Spanish, anteayer, for moments like that--it means the day before yesterday), so we visited them a lot. We have this sort of machine gun, rapid fire teaching habit for people coming up on their baptisms--they see us everyday. Sometimes they see us more than once everyday. It's great. We also went for a lot of lessons with Angi and Heydi (Maria Lusia's nieces--see last week's letter if confused on family connections here). Their baptisms are programmed for this Friday. But Angi didn't  come to church this week. And Heydi's feeling kind of timid on the whole "Have you received an answer to your prayers about the gospel?" topic, so...we'll see what happens there. But things happen in the Lord's own time, so it's fine! And we seriously love the family Buh (Diana and Jose--they gave us hot chocolate, remember?) They are golden. They didn't come to church yesterday because he didn't get home from work until really early Sunday morning and she can't drive their car, so that's pretty sad. But again, the Lord's own time! It's happening!

Also, for the record, not everyone couldn't come to church. We had a lot of people at church. And we're really stoked about that. Sorry for the moment of negativity.

So, let's talk about fam. Mancia Garcia. Like I said, their baptismal date was set for anteayer. And they both really have received strong testimonies about the Gospel. And we went through the baptismal interview questions with them and they have a crazy unshakeable knowledge of the principles and doctrines therein. But Jose smoked, so he wasn't ready to be baptized. And Denia passed her interview with flying colors, but she wanted to wait for her husband, so they didn't get baptized on Saturday. So we're really sad. Not that they didn't get baptized, because we know that that's going to happen (at this point, Denia says she's getting baptized this week, no matter what, because she knows it's what she has to do). But we're sad for Jose. He really wants to change. He really wants to stop. But he can't just shake his addiction, it's got too good a grip. But we are so proud of him, because he knows that he could stop for a week and be baptized and start smoking again, but he won't do it. He says if he's going to make a promise to be obedient, he's going to be baptized when he's confident that he can live up to his promise. Pretty pilas.

On the homefront, we the Sisters of Campana are doing great. Poor Hra. Bahr felt really sick this week, but I think it's sick season in Honduras. Angi's daughter and Gladis Ardon and one of Hra. Escalante's convert's sons (that's a mouthful) are sick also, so maybe it's just that time of year. Hra. Bahr and Hra. Gardner cleaned our pila, and that was nothing short of a miracle. Because a pila should look kind of like a pool or a bathtub on the inside, but ours looked more like a garden pond. Or a swamp. Whichever of those makes you think ew more vehemently, it looked like that. Hra. Escalante is doing great, and continues to be a blessing and a friend. We're coming up on cambios soon and we've been pondering about who is going to be transferred. She's been here in Campana for six months, so she thinks it's gonna be her. But if I stay here it is highly likely that I'll be a trainer (scream of terror!) and I really don't feel prepared for that blessing yet. If the Lord gives me someone to train, I'm sure He will also bless me with the necessary faculties (and the gift of tongues) to fulfill that calling. All the same, I'm a little scared. Guess I need more faith!

Our investigators are all really great and really loving. We had a family night with Denia and her son (Jose was working) and with Fam. Buh and it was ridiculously fun. We played this game called I've Got Mail that involves chair switching and being the one left without a chair, and we decided that after your second time in the middle, you have to have a castiga (punishment). So Denia had to sing the Honduras national anthem and Hra Escalante acted like a frog and Jose (Diana's husband, that Jose) acted like a chicken and Diana spoke like the commentator in a soccer match (GOAL!!! GOAL TO HONDURAS, SEÑORES!) and I had to sing Brittney Spears. For the record, try to sing Hit Me Baby One More Time without dancing sometime. It's really difficult.

Quick note about Diana's Jose. We watched the Restoration film with them at the beginning of the week because he just started the lessons, so Diana really has a head start and we needed to catch him up. And after the movie, he's got this smile on his face that people usually have when they're thinking "Yeah. Ok, sure. That totally happened" (sarcastically). But we started asking him questions and we realized, little by little, that he wasn't thinking that at all. I felt like saying "Wait, are you smiling because you're happy? Because you can feel the Spirit!? Oh my gosh, you're actually feeling this right now?!!" So yeah, that family is awesome. Diana told us she always knew she needed to be baptized and she's always felt like church is good, but she has never felt the urge to be baptized or believed so vehemently in the word of God like she does now. So yeah, that family is awesome.

I found a spot to put my hammock, and we all made it through our fast without achieving unconsciousness. I can see the blessings of the Lord so strongly in the people here and in my own life. I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be, and I know I'm doing what He wants me to be doing. And knowing that it great! I love being a missionary, I love this work, and I love these people.

And oh! Here's a funny story. When we teach about the Word of Wisdom, we include a kind of vague closing statement (it's kind of like that vague 10th ammendment to the Bill of Rights) that the WoW discourages us from anything that harms our bodies. And Hra. Escalante usually says "So if I know that eating spicy food is going to make my stomach hurt, even though it doesn't say Don't eat spicy food in the WoW, I shouldn't eat it. Taking care of your body like that is part of the WoW." So ion Saturday we had dinner with the sisters and the two sisters in charge bought Coke for drinking and I had a glass of that, and I was up almost the entire night from a combination of caffine and serious stomach pain. I will now abstain from Coke and other caffinated soda on the grounds of keeping the Word of Wisdom. (Unless, Mom, we are driving at night and our lives depend upon me staying awake. That would be a reasonable moment for Coke.)

I love you all! I hope you are all doing great! Can't wait to hear from you next week!

Love, Hermana Pickett

P.S. Katalyn! Have the happiest of birthdays this week! I'm sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you but know that you are receiving good wishes from Honduras! Love you!

honduras friendly

Hi. You asked me to expound on this particular term. I can do that.

The first part of Honduras friendly is that you say hello to everyone. So when you're passing someone on the street, you can't avoid eye contact and walk past them. You look at them and you acknowledge their presence by saying something (usually we say ¡Buenos! which could be short for buenos dias, buenas tardes, or buenas noches. It's general like that.) So you could say hello or goodbye or good afternoon or whatever, but you say something and you smile. Or you're an introvert. (Yes, they have that word in Spanish)

Next, when you see someone that you know and neither of you is in a terrible hurry, you can't just say hello. You say hello with some form of physical contact. So we shake hands with the men and we kiss cheeks with women. Usually, with cheek kissing (which is actually more like pressing the left sides of faces together and making a kissing noise) there is a possibility for a hug or a hand clasping or something, whatever feels necessary. The verb for this is saludar. And if you don't saludar a person, you hate them. Like, really. The time that someone I knew intentionally didn't saludar me, I apologized to her later that day if I had done anything to offend her. And she told me there had been a misunderstanding, but that now I was forgiven. You don't not saludar people unless you want them to know you are really, really angry with them. (Also, this isn't a matter of convenience. If you have to wade through people and saludar them over a couple of children, you do it. It's serious) 

But the most important part of Honduras friendly is that you are genuinely and seriously interested in other people's lives. You ask them lots of questions, you listen intently, and you remember the things that they told you. Someone says that they aren't feeling well? You make a point of asking them how they are doing every time you see them until they tell you they are feeling better. Someone mentions their birthday? We write it down so that we can congratulate them on their birthday. And if you have to ask questions to work on your memory, like Where do you work again? Remind me your name? Could you repeat that for me? That's not rude. Because maybe you're admitting that you forgot, but you are showing a genuine interest in knowing about their lives. And that's what's important. 

Also, there is Honduras hospitality, which I can't really do because we can't invite people into our home. But if someone comes to see you, you find them a chair and invite them to sit down. If they look like they are dying of heat, you offer them something to drink. If you're already drinking something, you now have the option to just give them something to drink without offering. And depending on how much you like someone, if you're eating dinner, you just feed them, too. Actually, pretty much any time you're eating, you verify if your guests have eaten or not, and if they haven't you probably feed them. (We usually feel really bad when people feed us unexpectedly, because they hadn't really bought food to feed us with. But you can only protest until the act is done, and once the food is in your hands, you eat it and you're grateful. Because not accepting things is rude) 

Do you remember when you told me that I probably wouldn't eat with the members a lot, because they don't have a lot of extra? Well they definitely don't have extra, but they share it anyway. That continues to amaze me. The people here are a spectacular example of selflessness and I really have a lot to learn from them. So, yeah, I don't know how you can translate all of this to incorporate it in the States, but Honduras friendly is pretty much having no restraint to show people that they matter and you care about them. Frankly, I think you and Dad are pretty good at that already. Love you, longer letter in a minute


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hi parents!

I don't usually put these on the blog but I thought there was some good stuff in here that she might want to remember late.  ( input from mom)

Hi parents, I usually send each of you an email but there was a fight with the computer and I'm kind of short on time. Sorry, bad daughter moment. Anyway, I just wanted to remind you guys that I love you and miss you a lot! But it's less than two months before we can all chill in a Google Hangout (I checked and we can use any program we like, so we can have a whole family party!)

Mom, please do not beat yourself up too much making your yard look beautiful or baking bread for mary's wedding. I know you want to make everything perfect, but seriously, I'm praying that your stress level can stay in check, so help the Lord out on this one :) I love you so much and I will report back on the success of the cinnamon rolls.

Dad, I'm sorry that Annie tricked you into a TRX class. I already sent her a note asking nicely that she not break you. I am so grateful that you sent me those pictures. I'm planning on printing them out tomorrow so that I can have them to look at when ever. Also, thank you for your priesthood line of authority (lines). I think that will be really helpful.

Pretty good week. Hra. Escalante helped me realize that there is United States friendly and there is Honduras friendly, and if you settle for US friendly, the Latinos think that you are selfish and rude. So I had a lesson in humility this week, a lesson in how to apologize for something unspecific, a lesson in how to listen, and a lesson in how to friend. I think I'm gonna be a lot better of a daughter/friend/roommate/person when I get home. Who knows, I might even start going on dates. Shocker.

I bought my hammock today, which is going to be a shared hammock for the six months following my mission. You should probably 1. start getting pretty psyched and 2. consider places inside the WA and Eden homes wherein I can string up a hammock. That's important.

I love you guys! I love our family! Dad, I really want some bridals of Mary real soon! I hope all is well and I know the Lord will take care of you for me! Oh, and Mother, Christmas music and maybe some clothing replacements might be good for Christmas. I'm already down two skirts and two tops, though I did buy a replacement skirt today (pictures next week). Solid colors are good!

SO much love! --Em

PS Mom, I got a letter from you that I wasn't even expecting this week. That was as good as Christmas. Thank you so much, it made my week! 

Hot chocolate

Hi all!

So it's been another quick and action-packed week here in Honduras! No baptisms this week, unfortunately. But we have a lot of people who are accepting the invitation to come unto Christ and that is the important part!

We've been working a lot this week with the fam Mancia Garcia. Hro Jose is still struggling with tobacco (Nooooo!!!) but we are holding on to the hope that little by little he will be strong enough to decide that the Gospel is more important than his cigarettes. And he's got Denia and Jose Jr. to help him out, so I'm sure it will all turn out just fine. The Lord has already wrought a great change in this family and the other day he told us "So Denia and I were talking last night, and she said, I really want to be baptized, so I said, Ok, we'll get baptized. What do we need to do before we can be baptized?" That is a pretty sweet conversation to be a part of as a missionary. That moment is kind of like, "Um, ok, great! Just stop smoking and keep coming to church and you're set!" So if anyone wants to put in a prayer for Jose that he can kick those cigarettes to the curb, we'd appreciate it.

We've been putting a lot of emphasis on the member here, that they can help us out with missionary work. We have these things called VAP for Visitas de Amor y Poder (that's visits of love and power), which signify any lesson taught specifically to a member, and we had 10 of those this week, which is more than I've had in all of my 11 weeks in Campana. But it's seriously true that the members can be such a powerful influence in the teaching process and that EVERY member is a missionary! The senior companions of Campana, sisters Bahr, Cifuentes, y Escalante gave talks in sacrament meeting and they all spoke about how members can be more involved in missionary work, and Hra Bahr shared this really epic quote from George Albert Smith: He said that our entrance to the kingdom of God is dependent upon our sharing the Gospel (that is a paraphrase, btw). Wow! It really is not enough just to live the gospel. If we want to receive the blessings of exaltation, we have to share the Gospel! I really hope that helps motivate the members here to work a little more strongly and excitedly to help us out in the mission effort! I am so glad when I receive letters from home and I hear about all of you being missionaries. I know the Lord is glad about that, too!

So we've got about 30 investigators that we're working with right now frequently, and aside from the fam. Mancia Garcia, we've got about three who are realistically coming up on their baptisms. The cool part is that they are all references from the fam Urquia, whose baptism was just three weeks ago. Talk about member missionaries! The first is Heydi, a young woman who is 16 years old and kind of quiet but really ready to accept the Gospel and full of faith! We are also teaching her cousin, Angi, who is probably in her late 20s and has two very sweet little girls. She definitely is not quiet, but she has a lot of good things to say about the Gospel and the scriptures, so it's fine! She's moving pretty quickly toward being baptized, but the wrench in the gears is that her husband currently lives in the States, and he doesn't really have any plans of coming back, so she could be baptized without being married to him (sorry, by husband I meant...the father of her children? Or boyfriend? We call them husbands here, despite the fact that they aren't married, and I can't think of just one word that effectively translates the idea). But we're worried that if he does come back, she'd be chill with just living with him, despite the fact that that would be breaking the law of chastity. Tough spot. And the third is a kid named Ever, who is Maria Luisa de Urquia's son. He says he hasn't received an answer to his prayers yet, but we can tell that he already thinks he's going to be baptized. I think he's got a word of wisdom problem we need to work through, but after that we're fine! He's a really good kid and I'm so glad he wants to follow his family's example and be baptized!

Now, I know what you're all thinking. This is great, but what does it have to do with Hot Chocolate? (or flying an airplane) Good question. Let's set the context for that. So it appears that the "winter" has begun, and the winter here just means that it cools down maybe 10 degrees, maybe 15, and every afternoon through the night it rains and rains and rains. So the first day of this was Friday, when we spent the day with one of the members of the ward, Osiris, teaching in a part of our area called Las Palmas. There was a stake activity that night (we couldn't go--sad) and Osiris was going to leave straight from teaching with us to the activity, so she already had gotten all pretty, and part of that was straightening her hair. So when it started to rain and I was the only one of the three of us with an umbrella, the missionary code of selflessness lent that umbrella to Osiris. And my companion and I got very, very wet. As in standing in a torrential, break-up scene in a movie worthy rainstorm. I've taken showers with less water pressure than that rainstorm. So after about four hours of that, we sent Osiris to the activity and came back to our neighborhood to teach two lessons before dinner. And as we were walking to the second one (with Ever, actually), we were talking about what we needed to bounce back from the rain. And I was saying, "I just want hot chocolate right now. That's really all." And then a minute later, due to the wet and my own exhaustion/slight infirmity, I fell down in the mud and got dirty and scratched up. And it was one of those moments that you just want to sit down and cry, you know? But we are women and missionaries, so I handled it and was fabulous anyway (Mom, do you remember that I planned on using that quote a lot?) and we taught our lesson. But in the following two afternoons of rain, I just kept thinking, I really want hot chocolate.

So, now that the stage is set, here's the story. Sunday afternoon, didn't have my umbrella, starting to get pretty wet and cold. We went to visit one of our investigators, Diana, who came to church for the first time and her husband, who has never showed any interest in listening to us, came with her. So we're sitting with Diana talking about the plan of salvation, and we're feeling pretty great because she's glowing with growing testimony ("In all my life I've never learnt about this before, but of course it's true! Why haven't I heard this before?) and her husband, who has been in the other room taking care of their baby girl, comes in. And what does he have for us? Hot chocolate. Hot chocolate! And it was SO DELICIOUS! I was seriously ready to cry, it was so good. And more than being good, it tasted like home. I have been looking for something that tasted like home for four months! It was such a tender moment to see how, with such love, the Lord notices us and cares for us. And sometimes, something that is so inconsequential, like a mug of hot chocolate, can be a really big deal. So if anybody is worried about me, stop worrying. The Lord is taking care of me, because He knows me perfectly and He loves me perfectly. And I can see that love not only in my life, but in the lives of all of our investigators.

I love this gospel. I love this work. I love my Heavenly Father and I stand all amazed at the love that He has for me. I know that I am where He wants me to be and doing what He wants me to be doing. I know that I am not quite who He wants me to be yet, but every day I am learning and changing and I already am becoming different. And I'm so grateful that I have such a remarkable chance to change! This really is the best job in the world, and I am so grateful to be here.

I love all of you. I am confident that you are all fine because I am confident that the Lord is taking care of you for me. So much love!

Hra. Pickett