Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's another email from Hermana Pickett!

This is how high the river has been lately. Fun, right?

Hello! It's been another super week here in Honduras! We've been keeping good and busy. Lots of contacting, lots of lessons, lots of investigators, and two baptisms! Pretty sweet, right?

So Yeimy and Isis both got baptized this week, and both of the baptisms were wonderful. They looked so precious and happy. At Yeimy's baptism we were short on speakers, because she didn't want very many people to come (she's kind of shy) so I got to give a mini talk. I can't remember most of what I said, so I'm pretty sure the Spirit was helping me out. But I know I communicated everything I wanted to, so I feel satisfied with that. They were both confirmed yesterday, and Yeimy's mom is now coming to church regularly and she really likes it, as does Yeimy's aunt, who is also one of our investigators. It's pretty cool that her brothers were baptized, one of her brothers baptized her, and now Yeimy is such an effective instrument in bringing so many to the gospel. She's a pretty incredible kid. And Isis is pretty quiet, but she is a sweetheart. Addy and Clay, she's 9 and she is gorgeous, and I think if you guys were here you'd have huge crushes on her. You'd better learn Spanish so you can send her letters :)

yeimy's baptism! The first is her and her brother, Marvin, who baptized her, and then her with her family (marvin, edwin, Alma) and us

We're pretty excited about Darlin (who I might have called Darleny last week) and Lorena, who are both really prepared for the gospel but need to start coming to church. Also, we-re really excited about Johanna, who is taking the lessons with her husband Miguel Angel and their sons. They also need to start coming to church, but Johanna's mom is Gladis, who was just baptized a little while ago, so Johanna is really ready and willing to listen. Our family out in the jungle, the Sabion family, is doing a really great job of doing their reading and praying, and Vilma (the mom) has brought the boys with her to church two weeks in a row and stayed the whole time, but her husband needs to come, too.
The real nailbiter this week is the family Urquia, because this is the week they're meant to be married and baptized. But Satan is working on them super hard, and they're starting to get cold feet. But we were talking to them about it, and Hermana Escalante asked me if I'd like to tell them about the blessings I have seen in my family from the gospel. And family, you guys prepared me pretty well to bear testimony about the difference the gospel makes in a family. I kept my urge to start crying under control and I told them about how far apart we all live from each other, but how we are united in spirit and firm in the faith that we have each other forever. And when I had told them for a minute or so about the blessings that I have seen in our family and I know are promised to us, I asked them if they wanted those blessings for their family, their worried looks had melted into smiles and they both said yes. There are still some obstacles for them to overcome, but we are praying with all energy of heart for them, so I'm expecting a miracle (you know, if I said that sentence in Spanish, it would also mean "I'm waiting on a miracle" and "I'm hoping for a miracle" and though sometimes I wish I could be a little more specific, generally I think that's pretty cool, because generally, all three of those things are happening at once. I think that's what Mormon meant by hope).
The people here really are amazing. I have never seen such a generalized attitude of generousity. Never has anyone hesitated to donate their free time to come teach with us, and never has anyone hestiated to share their substance and feed us dinner or lunch. Mom, I was remembering yesterday when you told me I probably wouldn't eat with the members very much, because their don't have enough to share. They may very well not have enough to share, but they share it anyway. The fam. Sabion usually ends up keeping us with them for at least an hour, because either before or after our lesson Vilma will appear with food. And last night, we went to visit with a member and she asked us if we had had dinner, and we told her we hadn't, and she insisted that we eat dinner with her and her family. She didn't even plan for us in that meal, so I know there wasn't enough food there to feed two extra people. But she fed us anyway, and made sure we didn't want more after our first serving. And you can't stop in someone's home without them bringing out a chair for you, without them asking if you need a drink, etc. They are so ready to give of themselves to make others comfortable. If anyone is truly ready for the law of consecration, the Saints of Campana are. They are an amazing example and I know they're teaching me things I will never forget.
I completed my first month in the field this last Saturday and transfers are only a week away. It's pretty crazy how fast the time is going here. And speaking of time passing, this Saturday at the morning session of General Conference makes one year since the age for sisters was lowered from 21 to 19, and one year from the moment I knew the Lord wanted me on a mission. I've come pretty far from sitting in my kitchen and watching GC on my laptop while I tied a beard for Phantom, and I've got a longer way to go before this mission is done with me. But I've got a feeling that end product is going to be pretty cool.
I love you guys a lot. Really a lot. And I get to bear my testimony about that love pretty much every day, so that's pretty sweet. I hope everything is going well for you, that you are all healthy and happy and things are working nicely toward your well being. I'm pretty confident your lives are at least generally ok, because I pray for all of you a lot, and the Lord has made pretty splendid promises about fulfilling the prayers of a missionary, and I've got confidence in that. But I haven't heard from some of you in a while (yeah, you know who you are) and it'd be cool to hear how it's going so I can thank the Lord for filling those aforementioned prayers. Just saying.
Elder Holland said in his conference address last April that if our testimonies ever started to fail, we could lean on his. Here's my missionary testimony, just in case anyone needs something to lean on. I know that the gospel is the true and everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that God is our Father, and that He has done all things and will continue to do all things for our good, because He loves us more than we can possibly understand. I know that this gospel has been provided to us, by means of true prophets and scriptures of God, so that we might know how it is we may return to our Heavenly Father again. And because we are God's family, I know that He wants us to be happy with our families, now and forever, and His gospel bless our families in whatever thing we need. I know that within this church resides the fulness of God's truth, and the authority of His priesthood and the eternal ordinances we need for our salvation. I am so grateful for this gospel in every aspect of my life, but especially in my family. I am confident that as we live worthily, we will receive every blessing that God has promised, including peace and happiness in our lives on this earth.
Again, I love you all. Please don't forget your daughter/sister/friend in Honduras and please help out the missionaries in your home ward. They need you. And parents, please wish your fathers a happy birthday on Thursday (Dad) and Friday (Mom). And speaking of birthdays, can somebody tell Maddi Raleigh happy belated birthday for me (it was on the 17th) and express to her how strange it is that we are 20? Anyway, that was random, moving on.
All my love, 
Hermana Pickett

 this is the tortilla process: you pinch around the edges until it is sufficiently large, and then place it in your palms and clap your hands together and it somehow becomes a perfect circle. It's a mystery I have yet to fully understand, but I've got 15.5 months to practice

There is apparently a church called Ebenezer around here somewhere, and every time I see the name I think of Eden and it makes me happy, so I though I'd share that. Also

Isis's baptism (yeah, that's the same family you saw two weeks ago. Her grandfather is Candido, who was just recently baptized)

Monday, September 16, 2013


Adventures! The first is a straight POURING of rain, so loud we had to give up on one of our lessons because none of us could hear each other, and the a really big semi drove by and sent a wave over the walkway and I got soaked. Literally. But I thought, Be fabulous anyway! So I was. And the second is from when we filled up the baptismal font for Gladis's baptism, and a dragonfly decided to die in the water when it was already full. We couldn't reach it, and we couldn't leave it there because it was huge and ugly, so I used my Mission:Impossible skills and shimmied out there to get it. It was pretty legit. 

Hi there!
So it's been another very fast and very great week here in Honduras! The sun is still shining, the mosquitos are still biting, and life is good! 
So I'm going to forego (I don't know if I spelled that correctly--the spell check is in Spanish, so there are red squigglies under just about everything) the attempts to take you all through my week day by day. We all know that would be boring and it probably has been in the past. So I'm just gonna go for the highlights. Sound good? Ok, here we go! 
So Candido, who got baptized last week, had an appointment with us and his daughter's family for an FHE last Monday, and we went to that appointment but there were all these people gathered around his house and people fixing the roof and we found out that his house had caught fire! A spark from an outlet lit a shirt that was hanging to dry, and there was no one around to stop the blaze, so it burnt pretty hard for kind of a long time. Eventually though people realized what was happening and all of his neighbors got together to put the flames out. There isn´t a fire department here, but there is an incredible community spirit, and so the fire was put out. When we got there, everyone was only talking about blessings--thank goodness no one was hurt, the main structure of the house is still standing and undamaged. No one was negative. It is sad because the things that were more expensive in the house, like the television and the camera, were destroyed and another one of his daughters-in-law who lives there lost most of her clothes and all of the clothes she had already received or purchased for the baby she is expecting next month. But already she had three full trash bags of clothes people had donated, and she wasn't even kind of complaining. And Candido is only ever happy, even in moments of trials. The people here are incredible examples to me. 
We also have a new family that we are teaching, Darlin, her daughter Lorena, and Lorena's little boy, Eduardo. We knocked on their door one night with a member who was pretty sure she knew the people who lived there and they invited us back. But this week we found out that Darlin has already taken the lessons (a very long time ago, when there were only elders here) and had a baptismal date set, but her (now ex) husband wouldn´t let her be baptized. But she already has an incredible testimony. She asked the elders and has asked us again if someone might do the work for her late son the next time the ward goes on a trip to the temple. Lorena is also very ready for the gospel, though she hasn´t heard it before, and we really think that both of them have been prepared to hear the gospel. And Eduardo is two, and I think he and Owen would be friends. 
More and more of our investigators are keeping their commitments and growing. The family that is working to be married and baptized, the fam. Urquía, has almost saved up enough for their wedding already, so I know the Lord is blessing them in their efforts. We went to teach our dear family out in the jungle, fam. Sabion, and the little river that is usually up to our calves was up to our thighs! So the skirts got pretty wet, especially Saturday, when I got tangled up in the cable that has been installed for a guide rope and fell. That was equally gross and painful. No, wait, it was grosser.  Yeah, definitely the gross factor was greater. 
The members here are really great at coming with us to lessons and taking us to meet their friends. They just need a week or two to think up who they're going to take us to meet, but when they have a person, we're off! We met (or surpassed!) all of our goals this week, and while numbers aren't the most important indication of the work a missionary is doing, it is really nice to meet the goals we have set. 
And here's the best part! On of our goals this week was a baptism and a confirmation, and that totally happened! I met this wonderful sister, Gladis, on my first day here, and the understanding was that she would be baptized that first Saturday. But she got a little nervous and kept pushing back the date, but last week she told us that she was ready and knew she needed to be baptized, and she came to church all by herself (and she's a 70ish year old woman, so that was kind of a big deal) which fulfilled the requirement for 3 times attendance to church, so on Thursday we went over the baptismal interview, on Friday our DL came to conduct that interview, on Saturday she was baptized, and yesterday she was confirmed a member and blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. And it was awesome! I can't think of a better moment than watching one of the Lord's children choosing to be follow Him, and demonstrating that committment with their baptism. If I have a baptism every Saturday for the next 70ish weeks, that's fine with me. (Also, if there are only 70ish of these letters left, y'all better start cherishing them, because that's not a lot ) (I would have put a little smiley face there, but this is a weird Spanish keyboard disguised as an English keyboard, so the buttons are in different places). 

Also along the lines of awesome, twelve of our investigators came to church yesterday! Twelve! It was like Christmas came early! The mother of the fam. Sabion even hiked out of the jungle with her two little boys and without her husband (really big deal) to come! And Yeimy was talking to us last night and said the only thing keeping her from wanting to be baptized is that she'd have to go up infront of everyone to be confirmed, so we told her we'd ask the brother giving her the blessing to stand infront of her and block the ward's view. She said that would be perfect and she'd get baptized this week if he would do that. She's pretty cute. 
In all honesty, it's a little hard sometimes. It's a little hard to be a Gringa instead of a proper person, and to have people lean to your companion and ask Now, does she speak Spanish? and then to prove them semi-right a few minutes later by being unable to conjure up the word you are searching for. And then there's the cultural and language divide between me and my companion, which causes uncomfortable situations sometimes, like when she does something that in Mexico is apparently just fine but in the US is the pinacle of condescencion and rudeness. And as I have previously mentioned, there are seriously so many mosquitos. So it's a little hard. But luckily, I was raised on movie quotes, so everytime I'm having a hard moment, I think two things: first, Tom Hanks saying It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. and shortly afterward, Edna Mode saying Oh. Well, he'll just look fabulous anyway. And then I move on. 
I miss you guys a lot. There's nothing like a mission to teach you how precious people are, and how much people matter (Mimi, I'm going to suggest it even surpasses Meredith Grey's near death experience). As much as I am focused and excited to fulfill this mission, I am so excited to be home with all of you again. The gospel is all about how we can be happy with the people we love, and so I am so grateful that while I am separated from you guys for a little while, we can be together forever after. I love you all more than I can say in English or in Spanish, and I'm praying for you a lot, and missionary prayers are pretty epic (that's what they tell me) so y'all should get ready for the rainstorm of blessings that is coming. (And Bill, I now agree with you. Y'all is an incredibly useful word. We have a y'all in Spanish and it's great). 
I know that this Gospel is true. We had a set of brothers listening to the first lesson yesterday and telling us how impossible it is for the first vision to have happened, for any prophets to exist on the earth, how our religion is totally incorrect, and we were just bearing simple testimony (because that's really all you can do at times like those) and one of them interrupted me after I said the phrase the truth of God, and he said And what is God's truth? And I could say, Brother, that's very simple. God is our father, and He loves us, so He has given us a way to come back to Him. We follow this plan through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and perservering to the end of our lives in righteousness. And if we do that, we are going to live with God, with His son, Jesus Christ, and with our families in perfect happiness forever (he sat back and nodded at that point, like Oh, the white girl knows something, at least) (Also, we did manage to set up a return visit with them). I know that this Gospel is true, that it was and is taught by propehts of God, and that the whole point is so we can be happy with our familes, Heavenly and earthly, forever. Isn't that great? I can't imagine anything better. 
Love you guys, and I´ll try to do epic stuff this week so I can tell you about it next Monday
Hermana Pickett

Ok, so here is Hra Escalante with a kind of Latin candy--it's kind of like a laffytaffy on a stick, cover in chile (pepper). I had one, and now I never need another one ever again, but she loves them. Also, on the nights that we're about to collapse from starvation, we buy chocolate milk. It is my friend.  

Candido's baptism! The first is his family and then we jumped in. And Candido is the one in white. And don't worry, they were happy. Hondurans just don't smile in pictures. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two months today!

September 9, 2013
So it was exactly two months ago today that we drove to the airport uncomfortably early and I got on a plane headed for the Mexico City MTC. That went pretty quick, huh?

So we got home from the weekly P-day excursion and took our siesta (yes, we might do that every day. But they give us an hour for lunch and we only need 20 minutes to eat, so it's really just a wise use of the assigned schedule) and then we went to two Noches de Hogar (that's how we say Family Home Evening in Spanish). We don't have families so we just go to FHE with other families. Clever, right? The first was with a family in which the two sons are recent converts, the daughter is figuring out her baptismal date, and the mom listens very sincerely to our lessons but attends classes on Sundays and hence cannot come to church. But the daughter, Yeimi (Jamie) is such a sweetheart. We love her so much. And she asked her dad for permission to be baptized and he said she could, so we hope she'll set her date before transfer date on Oct. 2. And her brother Marvin has the Aaronic priesthood so he can baptize her! How awesome is that? And the mom, Alma, really reminds me of Annie for some reason...still not sure why. But Ann, I found the Honduranean version of you. It's pretty cool. Our other NH was with a member family and one of our investigators, Gladis, attended and Gladis finally set her date and it's this Saturday! Yay!

So our ZLs told us that we could be doing better (although I have since been informed that comment was directed more heavily toward the elders in the zone than the sisters) and gave us a challenge to teach 35 lessons per companionship this week, but Hermana Escalante and I are overachievers, so we came home from that and got to work. We only teach 20-30 minute lessons which means we can teach about 7 or 8 lessons and visit with at least one recent convert or less active member each day, so our schedules are pretty full. And the members of the ward are kind enough to come teaching with us, so that's always fun. We're usually with the ward mission leader, Hermano Dino, or Hermana Osiris (returned missionary, served in Ecuador) or Hermana Ruth (wants to be a missionary, but everyone teases her that she's going to marry Hro. Dino). The people here are very loving and really funny, so it's awesome spending time with them for visits. We still get to teach families that we reach by hiking up a mountain or wading through a jungle river, so that's always fun.

I love our investigators. I really do. We had a serious miracle this week in that the father of the Urquia family received a revelation that he needs to get married and baptized! Seriously, it's a miracle! Parents, if you remember Sister Brown, I felt like Sister Brown on Tuesday when he told us that. We walked home and I was ready to shout "It's a miracle!" Now we just need another miraculous revelation for our investigator Juventina, who is super ready to be baptized if she receives a revelation that the church is true. I get the feeling I'm going to be praying for and seeing a lot of miracles in the coming months.

So if you remember Candido from last week's letter, he got baptized yesterday! It was great! The best part, aside from seeing how happy he was, was hearing his daughter, Alma, include in her prayer how grateful she was that her father had been baptized. I can only imagine how hard it would be to be a member without knowing your parents could enjoy the same blessings God had promised you and how joyous it would be to see your parents make covenants with God that meant you could be with them forever (Parents, thanks for being active in the church and epic examples. Love you guys).

So it was a pretty crazy week. We taught 49 lessons, 55 if you add in lessons with recent converts, so we've been keeping pretty busy. I've been having some isolated moments of being pretty frustrated with my lack of Spanish ability (usually closely following the moments in which the other sisters are laughing at my inability to speak or my companion is treating me kind of like a child because my language skills are like unto a child's) but I'm overcoming that. (I'm rising above, Mimi!) The days pass really quickly here, so it feels like no time at all since I wrote last. I'm sure the next 16 months are going to feel like no time at all in retrospect, but only if I do all I can to fill them up with good things!

I know this gospel is true. I know God lives and loves His children. When I'm epic-level frustrated and the thought crosses my mind that it would be so much easier to be home, I just remember how strongly I believe that God lives and loves His children, and I remember that I am here to share that love. When I remember that, God lifts me back up again and holds onto me until I can walk again. I love this gospel, I love my Heavenly Father, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so glad I have this time to be a missionary for Him, even if it is the hardest work I have ever done in my life.

I'm gonna ask all of you a favor: help the missionaries in your wards. Preach My Gospel is designed in such a way that the members, not the missionaries, have the majority of the responsibility in the finding effort, so give your missionaries references! And then let them teach people in your home! There is such a great opportunity for your friends and neighbors to see you while the missionaries teach and think "Ok, this is different, but here are people I know and care about who are telling me it has made their lives better." And that helps so much! Also, if you attend ward mission council meetings, be helpful! Our members, bless them, really don't do very much in response to our meetings. Help your missionaries! They need you!

Okay, stepping down from that soapbox. Sorry, it was a little necessary. I love you guys a lot and I miss you in a similarly large manner! But I'm already half way done with this transfer, so three more weeks in Campana and then I'll only have 11 transfers to go! No time at all!

Mucho amor! Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I'm not dead yet!

my glorious mama, Hermana Escalante
Hi all!
So we're coming up on two weeks in the field and next week will be two months on the mission! Crazy, right?
So last week after writing we went to lunch at Pizza Hut (we have to take a bus to Puerto Cortez to write and it's kinda touristy (not white tourists, just tourists) because apparently there's a beach around here somewhere, but it's got some bigger chain restaurants, of which Pizza Hut is the favorite) and grocery shopping and home, and I kind of got into this hard couple of hours because I was really struggling to speak any Spanish at all and two of the sisters with us would laugh when I tried to speak Spanish, so that was kind of rough. And then when we were at the store I couldn't find any of the stuff I wanted because it's all in Spanish and I couldn't explain what I was looking for to my companion and I just wanted something familiar, something from home, and there wasn't anything. Until I purchased a Hershey's bar. That helped a little. We came home and I did my laundry (pilas are super good for taking out your frustration) and then we went back out to work, and that helped. That always helped. If I've learned anything so far, it's that when you're feeling down, you go out and help someone and fill yourself and others with the gospel, and you just can't feel bad anymore. There isn't room. (Bill and Rochelle, whenever I think that all I can think is "When I feel sad, I stop being sad and start being aweome instead. True story" and by being awesome, of course, I mean being a missionary) So it turned out to be a pretty good day.
Speaking of laundry, let's talk about this. I do not have a laundry machine, nor do I have access to one. I'm pretty sure most of the people in my area have only ever seen a laundry machine on television. (because everyone has a TV...not kidding, everyone) I have a pila. It's a large stone structure, one side of which is a deep basin and a tap and the other side comes up to about my hips and is ridged like a washboard and slants down slightly to a drain. That's my washing machine. you've got a plastic container for dumping water on your clothes (because dirty/soapy things do not go in that large water basin) and a cylindrical bar of soap, which fits in your hand and rolls over your clothing. And then you scrub them, so I'm gonna have muscly arms when I get home, and you rinse and rinse and rinse. It is a deluge of rinsing. Because if you don't deluge, you end up with uncomfortably stiff clothes. I learned that the hard way. And after the deluge, you wring (ring) whatever it is out as much as you can and hang it up to dry. For this reason, only one person can do laundry per day and it takes a long time. Like when I washed my sheets this morning. Long time.
Lots of good lessons and new investigators this week. We've got two women we're currently teaching (one with her family, one alone) who are 19 and "married" (not legally) and the first has two small children. And I know the culture is different, but sometimes when we're with them and we say something about "In your life" and they're thinking about their lives, they just look like scared kids. But it's incredible to be in those moments and feel the overwhelming love that God has for His children, and the prompting to take care of them. I love both of those investigators. The family is the Family Sabion and they're really receptive--they do all of the reading. No one does all of the reading, so the fact that they do the reading is akin to a miracle. The other woman is named Lesli, and we haven't met her husband yet, but we love her. In both of our lessons she's been crying and saying "I don't know why I'm crying, I don't know why I feel like this." And then we tell her it's the Spirit and she smiles and nods. It's so great.
Also, fun story: we went to teach the fam. Sabion and Bilma (the 19 year old woman with two small children) was shelling snails, and missionaries are always ready to help, so I learned how to do that. It was gross and dirty but sort of really fun. And I now am a pro at smail anatomy, so there you go.
Tuesday was our district meeting and on Thursday we met with half of the mission for a rather long day of teaching (but still good) from our area 70, Elder Duncan. It was all really good stuff, but the AC was on full blast in the chapel and that AC is really not kidding around, so after three hours he noticed that the sisters were all turning blue and asked the elders to lend us their suit coats. That was good, but those three hours were a little tough. But he gave us really great counsel about having vision to our goals and being more efficient to achieve our vision.
We have an investigator with a baptism this coming Sunday, and we're so excited! His name is Candido and his daughter and her family are members, so she's pretty glad that her father is being baptized. The plan is he'll get baptized by his son in law and at the same meeting as his granddaughter, so that'll be pretty sweet. Hardly any of our investigators actually want to keep their committments, so it's great that Candido is so determined to follow Christ.
I am feeling so blessed to be here. The work is wonderful. We get fed by members a lot, and the food here is really good, so that's a major blessing. Everyone is willing to listen to us, so we're never short on lessons. The hard part is just getting people do follow up. We're teaching a family now that is driving us crazy because the father knows that he needs to be baptized, but he doesn't want to pay 1000 limpira (about $50) to get married, and everyone else in the family will get baptized when he gets baptized, but he's just stalling. I need a Alma the Younger miracle for this one. Hopefully there will be some heart changing one way or the other.
I am thankful every day for my "mama" Hermana Escalante. She's pushing me pretty hard, but I'm learning really fast. My teaching and my Spanish are already leaps and bounds better, so I'm glad I've got her. I am also really grateful for the other sisters in our house, Hermana Rodas and Hermana Bahr. We've got a great community happening. I like it.
It's weird that classes at BYU started and I'm not there, but that's okay. This is better. I love and miss you guys a lot, and I hope everybody's lives are going great. I'm praying for all of you, so I know the Lord will take care of you for me.
I am so grateful for this gospel. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His amazing love for us and His incredible sacrifice. I know that He wants us to be happy, and that He has given us His gospel for our happiness. I am so grateful that He trusts me enough to be one of His missionaries.
Mucho amor! --Hermana Pickett

more snails (no, I did not put that in my mouth)
the cute little lizard who evidently spent the night in my bag (this one is real)
another picture of my lovely area, Campana