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

Monday, October 21, 2013

I got to Honduras two months ago today!

Loany's baptism! She's in white, the young man is Eduard (he baptized her), her nephews are in the foreground and the supermodel on the left is her friend/our investigator, Yumari

Hello from another sunny day in Puerto Cortes, Honduras! And what a wonderful, blessing packed week it has been! 
So first things first, Loany got baptized on Saturday! (that's how you spell that word, right? Because I really can't remember) She was all ready to go and she was so excited! As she was standing in the water, I was just remembering the first day we went to visit her. She was a reference from the other Campana sisters who had told them simply "I want to hear about your gospel". And less than a month later, she's been baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her life will never be the same again. How cool is that!!?? 

So, other awesome happenings of this week...Honduras played against Jamaica (which is Spanish sounds like Ham-AY-ka, so I was a little confused about who we were playing against, but I got it) on Tuesday as a part of the ongoing qualifiers for the World Cup. People get really, really excited about futbol here. Like firecrackers and guns going off, people screaming for 5 minutes every time a goal is scored, driving around for an hour and a half after the game screaming victory after they won. That kind of excited. So on Tuesday, we didn't have very many evening visits who were home or wanted to hear from us, because they were busy. Except one woman who left the game watching to listen to us teach about the Book of Mormon. I was pretty impressed. 

I had a serious adventure on Wednesday--I made bread! Like normal let it rise and then make sandwiches on it bread. Although, I can't ever make bread on a working day again, because I was way too concerned about that bread all day long. I worried about those two little loaves like a mother worries about her children. And I really should be worrying about other stuff during my working days as a missionary, so I think I'll just bake on P-day now. But it turned out semi-ok. It wasn't quite done in the middle, so I really didn't like it, but the other sisters in the house loved it and devoured both loaves in about 10 hours. 

Highlight for Thursday was that we had interviews with President Dester. That was really amazing! I only get four more of those on my mission and I'm sad it's not more, because it was an incredibly spiritual experience! And I feel way less stressed after that and I feel like I'm doing this work in the way the Lord wants me to do it. That's a good feeling. 

Friday we had a service project in a hospital. Life tip: never visit an Hondureño hospital. I felt almost claustrophobic the whole time we were there. You know how hospitals are well lit and white and sterile looking? Yeah, this one was really dark and dirty and smelled bad. It didn't feel like a place to heal, it just felt like a place to die. But I'm not really supposed to be writing anything negative about my mission...so let's focus on the fact that for service, we cleaned it. With straight bleach. So I feel a little better. Also, let's focus on the fact that I am perfectly healthy and I plan to remain so for the duration of my mission, so we're good. But also on Friday, we had a movie night and invited all of our investigators and like 20 of them showed up! I wish that that many would have come to church, but at least they came to an activity with the ward! But we watched the movie One Good Man, the church movie about the man called as a bishop, and I struggle with that movie because 1. We've watched it about 5 times and I have it memorized (which, I know, is a common occurrence for me, but I'm not enjoying it) 2. There's a scene where a kid comes home from his mission and it makes me day dream about when I can be in the SLC airport and see whoever comes to pick me up, and daydreaming about that is not conducive to greater focus and 3. The oldest daughter gets married, and that makes ALL of the sisters day dream about getting married. Again, not good for focus. But someday, I'll get back to BYU and I'll take a class with Tim Threfall (who plays the bishop) and I'll be like "The elders and sisters in Zona Choloma love you!" 

I think that's just about enough day by day recounting. We're working with a family lately, almost every day, the fam. Mancia Garcia (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned them before). They are so receptive and so great! Hra. Deñia has received her testimony and wants to be baptized, but she also wants to wait for her husband. But that's a little problematic, because Hro. Jose has a smoking problem, and he needs to quit before he can be baptized. Which is going to be a little hard. But the hard is what makes it great, so we're going to keep working with him and it will all be okay. But we know they are going to be baptized. They are so great. Last night we stopped by to ask why they didn't come to church and they fed us dinner. It was SO good! They make these things here called tajadas (fried platanos or fried bananos verdes) that are crazy delicious. I will be making those a lot when I get home from the mission. 

Speaking of making things, when I get home, I am coming with an array of Honureñan breakfasts. Specifically breakfasts. Get ready. 

Also exciting this week, we have been working with a part member family this week in which the father and oldest son are finally hearing the gospel. And they all came to church (except for the mom, who was sick). But here were all these potential priesthood holders (Dad and three sons) coming to church as a family. That was pretty magical. But we are also working with a girl who just makes my heart hurt. She is so beautiful and so kind and loving, but she's got this jerk-faced (there's a stronger word that more fully describes him that some other missionaries might feel comfortable using here, but I didn't like it before my mission and I still don't like it now, despite the serious appropriateness of the situation) boyfriend who treats her really badly, so she has little to no feeling of her self worth and her actions really reflect that, like when she wears hardly anything to feel desirable and she turns to eating disorders because she's scared her boyfriend doesn't think she's beautiful. So it's time for some serious woman empowerment so she can dump him and be happy. It could happen. I feel it. 

We had another zone activity that involved movie watching this morning, and we watched a film called Rise of the Guardians. Seriously good movie. And I'm not just saying that because watching a movie on the mission is the equivalent of eating dinner on Fast Sunday. It was really good. If you haven't seen it and are in a position to movie watch (Sorry, Megan), you should get it out of the Redbox and watch it. Or maybe it's on Netflix. I wouldn't know. What was really cool (beyond the actual movie itself) is that is was written by a playwright named David Lindsay-Abairre, who wrote a play called Rabbithole that I like a lot. But Rabbithole is horribly sad, so I was kind of worried that David was the sort of guy who just wrote really sad stuff. But this movie left all of us with a wonderful feeling of hope and even the Spirit of God, so it's nice to know that I don't need to worry about David wallowing in sadness. 

I love this Gospel, and I love sharing it everyday. I love the Lord and I am so glad that He is trusting me with His children here in Campana. I heard an interesting perspective this week that, because we were already aware we would be coming on our missions in the pre-earth existence, we had so many people who we had promised to find and bring them the gospel. And I'm finding them! And I get to be here to see the power of God wrought out upon their lives. That is an incredible blessing, and I am so grateful for it. Keep on praying--prayer power trumps any force the world may use to combat against us. Keep reading the scriptures! They are the words of eternal life! Stay strong in the Gospel. This is the path to salvation and happiness, and while it might not be easy, there is peace and safety here. Wickedness really isn't happiness. I see a testimony of that every day. The only lasting peace and happiness we can find is in following our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love Him and I am so happy to serve Him and all of our Father's children in Campana. 

¡Mucho amor a todos! Ustedes son mis favoritos. Muchísimas gracias por todos sus correos y apoyo y amor. Y sus oraciones también! Yo puedo sentir el poder de su amor aquí y yo sé que los ángeles del están conmigo para levantarme. ¡Les amo! ¡Nos vemos en 14.75 meses! 

Love, Hra Pickett

P.S. Bill, my companion was looking at the pictures in my calendar and said "This brother is handsome. He looks like Nicholas Cage, before Nicholas Cage got old." So way to look like a young Nicholas Cage :) 

so we had a family home evening night three weeks ago (whoops, I'm a bit behind) and we made baleadas, and I'm really bad at it still but they were still delicious! I had to use all of my self control to not devour the ones we took home for the other Hermanas!

  these are my "bread babies" from Wednesday. I wish they had tasted as wonderful as they looked!

So last week we were walking along a canal sort of thing and I lost my balance and fell in a really big puddle of mud, so my feet got really dirty

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Columbus day!

So thanks to the fact that Becca made me a really epic calendar to bring on my mission (Thanks, Becca!) I still know about random American holidays! Cool, right? 

Let's see, what did we do this week.... Well, we're seeing the adverse effects of making the process of getting married more difficult and more expensive. We've been to see a number of families this week who have testimonies and come to church but can't get baptized because they're not married, and for a whole collection of obnoxious reasons it's really difficult to get married. So that's lame. But we are confident that the Lord is all powerful and that the time and means will come that they will be able to fulfill all of the Lord's commandments! Let me tell you, when Nephi took the time to write about the first two attempts to retrieve the plates, he was inspired to do so! Sometimes we can't acomplish our righteous desires on the first attempt, but that doesn't mean God isn't with us! He always makes a way, so I know that Alma and fam. Sanchez and fam. Sabion (just to name a few) will someday be able to be married and baptized and sealed to their families. That's awesome, isn´t it?

This week we've been working  a lot with a young woman named Loany, who told the missionaries in the other half of our area that she wanted to hear about our church so they refered her to us. She has been ready and excited to hear every bit of the gospel, has been coming to church for the past three weeks, and is progressing joyfully toward her baptism this Saturday! We are so excited for her! We know that she was prepared to the Lord to hear and accept this true and living gospel. Also scheduled to be baptized this week was a woman named Darlin, but she will have to postpone her date because she didn´t come to church this week. We're kind of concerned that she accepted the date in the first place out of committment to us, not out of actual desire. That's kind of a bummer. But I know she's felt the Spirit and received a testimony, so I know that the time will come when she'll will be filled with the desire to be baptized.

However, speaking of prepared to hear the message, we have got this family that is straigh up golden! They were a reference from fam. Sanchez (waiting to get married) and they are so excited about the gospel! They didn´t come to conference but they came to church the week before conference and they came to church this week, which makes them just one attendance away from baptismal eligibility! It was funny the other night--we started our lesson by asking if they had any questions about their chapter in the BoM (we had left them Moroni 10, and the only other thing they had read was the title page and the introduction) and they very quickly and very adamently said yes, so we start to open to Moroni 10 and the wife, Deñia, says "Why did the Lord command Nephi to kill Laban?" And we were a little taken aback by that. So we asked if she had been reading in 1 Nephi 4, and she said she had read the whole chapter, and then they both told us that they had started at the beginning and read 1 Nephi 1-5 as a couple! We didn´t even almost ask them to do that! But they did it! And then the husband, Jose, asked us, if this book is like the bible, where bible is there a story like this? So we explained that the BoM isn´t exactly the same as the bible, but (thank you footnotes!) we could refer him to the story of David and Goliath. We read that together and they both felt a lot better. They've continued to read together and their baptismal date is set for Oct 26. And what's more, their friend, Diana, sat in on our lesson the other day and invited us to come teach her as well. We've only taught the first lesson, but her first question when we showed up to her house was "Why are there so many churches if the bible says there's only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism?" Talk about an opening line opportunity! So I'm sure we'll have some pretty miraculous stories about her soon. 

Um, on the whole, we're doing great! It's wonderful to just walk around and feel happy all the time, because we're sharing the good news of the gospel! We survived our fast on Friday (there is a reason that fast sunday is on a sunday. There is serious wisdom in the Lord that we are designed to fast and rest on the same day. But we have a standing lunch appointment on Sundays, so we fast on fridays instead). Going to church and partaking of the sacrament is getting more and more awesome by the week. For the first time in my life, I am seeing and appriciating the work that is preparing for baptism when we haven't been living in child level innocence before hand. And it started to strike me recently that if we take that much time and work to prepare for baptism, and if the sacrament can literally be a renewal of the baptismal covenant, shouldn't we put a little time and effort into preparing for and appreciating the sacrament as well? Also, 15 (15!) of our investigators came to Sacrament meeting yesterday, so that was a seriously abundant blessing. 

This morning we had breakfast with Sister Dester, our mission president's wife. She's very sweet and loves us all dearly, so we love her right back. Parents, I think you guys could totally rock out to being mission presidents. Just saying. They live in San Pedro, so we're hanging out in the city today. So far, due to the fact that the Wendy's here is the same as the one in Puerto Cortes, it's pretty much the same :) 

Well, life's great! I got mail this week at zone conference and it was like Christmas! Thanks so much for the packet of letters (Mom and everyone else involved in sending them) and the packet of letters and candy (Young family)! You guys are so great! It was a reallly cool confirmation of scripture, because a couple of weeks ago, when I was expecting above mail and it didn't come, I was wondering why I couldn't have that tender mercy to relieve how hard the mission was feeling in that moment. But the blessings come after the trial of faith, and I am so glad that the Lord gave me time to learn how to be happy and positive anyway, and then He added to the happiness that He had helped me to grow. 

I know that the Lord is with me. I can feel the Spirit so strongly so often, and I know that He is the real teacher here, not me and Hra. Escalante. I know that this truly is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His true church, His kingdom upon the earth. I know that every blessing I have ever received I have received because of this gospel, and I know that it will only bring more blessings. I am so glad that the Lord brought me to Honduras, that He is using me to bring about the immortality and eternal life of His children here, and that He is making me into the daughter He would have me to be. There are hard moments here and there, but they are becoming few and far between. You know those people who are just happy all the time? That's happening to me! And it's awesome! Even when hard stuff happens, like falling off a bridge into a big puddle of mud, you won't catch me complaining! 

Le amo a cada uno de ustedes, y yo espero que ustedes estèn felizes y saludables! Siempre estoy orando por ustedes, y yo sè que el Señor esta escuchando, y entonces yo sè que Èl va a guardarles para mì! La Iglesia es verdadera! Yo lo sè, yo lo vivo, y yo lo amo! 

Todo mi amor, 
Hermana Pickett

P.S. Kelly, I don`t think I ever wished you a happy birthday. Sorry, that's lame of me. Happy birthday, Kelly! Hope it's a good year! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

(Maybe not exactly 17) Miracles: Missionary edition

Hra Escalante on a lovely Honduran evening and how put together we look by the end of the day (not put together at all) 

Hello everyone!

So this week was especially wonderful because, as you know, we were blessed to hear the words of the prophet of God on the earth, along with the twelve apostles and other righteous men and women called by revelation to the Lord's service. How awesome is that? Like seriously, how awesome! After three months (you heard me, this Wednesday is 3 whole months!) of learning about and teaching a gospel that is lead by a true and living prophet of God, hearing the prophet speak was pretty much the best way I can imagine spending 8 hours. And we had a whole plethura of miracles this week! 

So, miracles 1 and 2: The Urquia family was married and baptized this week! As you may recall, about a month and a half ago (on my second day in the field) I was complaining about a family that couldn´t progress because the dad was convinced that he didn´t want to marry his wife. And then the miracle happened, and he received a witness that the church is true. And then another miracle happened, and his heart was softened and he grew a desire to be married. And then ANOTHER miracle happened and they raised the money to get married in two weeks. And the last two miracles went down: we all got beautiful, took a bus to Puerto at 7:20 on a friday morning, and they got married by the laws of Honduras. And then later that day, the beautiful family of four all entered the waters of baptism and were later confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Spirit was so strong in that room I thought I was going to burst. Especially when their daughter and son, Cinthia and Joslyn, were blessed in their confirmations that they would serve full time missions for the Lord. WOW! (And then another miracle happened, and their friend who is a member of the ward (friendshipping is awesome!) made a cake for their wedding and we got to have some. It tasted like a miracle) Life lesson from the fam. Urquia--We have to take our first steps with faith. But when we follow the Lord, right away He sends us blessings, and with time, He makes a way for us to complete all of our righteous desires. I am so excited for this time next year, when hopefully this beautiful family will have the means to travel to Tegucigalpa and be sealed in the temple. I am so grateful that I could be here for this outpouring of miracles in their lives. 

 okay so this is the whole family at the  baptism with Marvin, who baptized them, and some more family members. But Marvin closed his eyes in the first one and Maria Luisa closed her eyes in the second one. Can Dad cheat someone's eyes open please?

 Maria Luisa's "bridal" shot and the novios! (and yes, I was called upon to do the pretty making and I enjoyed it) 

 more fam. Urquia wedding! Happy day! 

Also, there was a swarm of miracles surrounding General conference. On Saturday morning some of the Relief Society came to the church early to watch the RS broadcast, because only a few sisters were able to attend on the actual night of the broadcast. We received two very cute gringa greenies to the ward this week, Hras. Gardner and Johnson, and the three of us didn´t feel very comfortable watching in Spanish. And by that I mean we couldn´t understand it at all. So we asked the bishop if we could watch on the family history computer in the secretary's office (also called the bunker, because it has a normal door and then a bank vault style door. Not kidding) and he said we could but we wouldn´t be able to hear it, because their aren´t speakers. But then I could say, Oh, I've got speakers! So we got to hear the actual voice of the prophet. And it was awesome. That whole meeting was so great. Men of the family, I know you've got priesthood session, but the RS broadcast was awesome. 

So we were feeling pretty good about our set up for conference watching in the bunker and starting the first Saturday session when the seminary teacher, Cynthia (who is a wonderful sister of the ward but is one of those people who really likes to be in control) came and told us a little unsympathetically that we needed to turn off the broadcast, because suddenly we were taking up all the bandwidth and it wasn´t working in the chapel. So we went to watch in the chapel. And we understood nothing. Now, as I've previously stated, I was pretty excited to watch conference. I'd been making a lot of promises about the power of the prophet's words to answer our prayers and give us the answers and comfort we're seeking, and I was pretty enthused to enjoy those blessings for myself. So when it appeared that I would only be looking at General Conference for eight hours and picking out words instead of understanding the profound messages of the talks, I was a little disheartened. So, doing what I have learned to do as a missionary, I said a prayer. I explained to the Father why I was so excited for the conference and begged that there could be a way for me to understand it, and to understand it as well as I would if it were English. And I did not experience a sudden burst of Spanish comprehension. But I did get an idea, and that little idea bugged be until I saw it out: feeling a little embarrased about causing a change on the projected screen, I brought up the video bar to check for subtitles. And they had them. And they were in English. So while the audio continued in Spanish, we the gringas could read along in English. And that was a miracle not only for me and Hra Gardner and Hra Johnson, but the following day for a deaf boy named Erick in the ward who reads English, and hence had come to conference expecting only to watch in silence but was delighted to find that he could enjoy the talks with everyone else. And even just reading along, General Conference was awesome.

Furthermore on the miracles, 10 of our investigators came to at least one session of conference and were blessed to hear the prophet's voice (or the voice of his translator). And at least three times in the conference, I felt like the speaker on the screen was looking right at me and saying "You've been praying for this, Hermana Pickett. Here is what the Lord would like you to know about it." That was pretty spectacular. Though I think my investigator who I was sitting next to was a little concerned at one point, because I was starting to cry. 

So favorites from conference: I loved Elder Bednar's talk about tithing, and his explaination that sometimes we are granted the ability and attitude to perservere through our physical trials instead of being healed. Amen to that, I've been experiencing that a lot personally. Also, I of course loved President Uchtdorf's loving invitation to all to come to the church or come back to church because there is room for everyone here. And I loved Elder Holland's talk. For someone who can be so powerful in his talks condemning wickedness, that man has never ceased to amaze me with his talks of gentleness and kindness. And I loved hearing from President Monson, though every time he mentioned Sister Monson I just wanted to jump through the screen and give him a hug. But I think that my favorite was Elder Richard G. Scott, in that wonderful talk about the fathers of the strippling warriors. First, Presidet Scott speaks spanish, so he translated his own talk. Like a boss. Seriously, that was legit. And then to hear that beautiful talk was wonderful. We always talk about the purity and faith of the strippling warriors and the wonderful influence of their mothers, but I have never considered the sacrifice of their fathers, and that even though they had repented, their sins were still causing them pain in that they could not defend their families because of previous guilt. But it gave new meaning to me that the scripture says "They cared more for the liberty of their fathers than for their own lives" and that those righteous sons would sacrifice all not only for the physical freedom of their fathers, but to keep their spirits safe from being dragged back to the captivity of their old sins. Pretty awesome. Also, I loved the positive and loving messages to the women of the church. If anyone is protecting womanhood these days, it is the prophets and apostles! The next time someone tries to suggest to me that the church limits women's rights, I'm just going to lovingly refer them to this October's conference talks. 

So, other fun things from this week: There's this fun thing that they only do in Honduras that I'm going to call the Honduras snap. It's a sound produced by joining the thumb and middle finger and flicking the wrist so that the index finger snaps the joint of the thumb and middle finger. And it's kind of really hard, because it should make a sound a lot louder than snapping your fingers normally. But I finally started doing it right this week, and the members who are teaching me have a lot of hope for my potential. The two new sisters in the ward are very sweet and they are having a lot of the same difficulties I had when I first got here, so I can give them my sage advice about always being tired and not understanding anyone and having five million bug bites. Last week we had permission to watch a movie that isn´t about the gospel (gasp!) so as a zone we watched a movie called Epic that was pretty good. Although I have a feeling that I might like the voices better in spanish that in english. And it was our turn to make dinner for the Campana sister missionaries this Saturday (we have dinner every Saturday night) so we made French toast with powdered sugar (it took a lot of faith to purchase that powdered sugar) and bananas. Oh gosh, that was so good. And rather inexpensive. 

the sisters of campana (Escalante, Bahr, Cifuentes, Johnson, Gardner, Pickett and the playa municipal!

Also, today as a zone we went to the beach, and it was pretty fun and I took a lot of pictures so those are coming! But apparently one hour on the beach was way too much for this gringa, because I already look like a lobster. One of the elders was talking about the laughable redness of my skin and said "It's not even sunny! How did this happen?" And I said "UV rays penetrate clouds. You can still get burnt on a cloudy day." And our ZL says "Well, apparently some people can, anyway." So yes, that is my special talent. Pretty great, right? But I promise I'm putting sunscreen on, at least on my face, and I'm trying not to get skin cancer. 

I love you all. The church is true. Please stay firm in the faith. If you're all strong in the church, I won't have to worry about you, because I'll be confident that the Lord is taking care of you. So stay strong! 

All my love, 
Hermana Pickett

vamos a la playa!

 we're super cute, but the beach was kind of super dirty...

but when you got past the trash on the beach, the ocean was pretty much like any other ocean. Mind you, I did not go anywhere barefoot. But you're probably in approval of that

here's a cute one of Sister Bahr and Sister Gardner 

my first sip of fresh coconut milk (the guy cut it open with a machete right in front of us) (but it's not my favorite thing)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I finished a transfer!

Hi! So I survived my first cambio! And it was great! 

I was paying attention today to the difference between today and when I first arrived to the mission 6 weeks ago. And let me tell you, my Spanish is not perfect but it is miraculously better. And I am happier and I have more energy and I feel more comfortable here. But I am still super animo to do this work! And that part hopefully will never change! 

We already found out about our cambios (changes) and as it turns out I'm staying in the same area with the same companion for the next six weeks, but that is so ok! That means I will get to finish my training with my first trainer (and they tell me it's super confusing to train with two different people because everyone's style is so different) and that we will be here to see one of our families get married and baptized this week! And we spent five hours getting that wedding officialized on Friday, so I would be a little put out if we weren't here to see it go through. 

Side note: everyone take a minute to be grateful that it is so easy to get married in the United States because in Honduras it is nothing short of a pain in the neck! We had to get everyone's credentials in to one office and pay off their unpaid taxes, and then turn in their records of marital status (you need an official document stating that you are single) to a different office, but the assistants brough us the record of someone else, so we had to wait for them to bring the right one, and then we had to go get their birth certificates printed from an office on the other side of the city (which is a requirement not listed in the official list of requirements distributed by the municipality) and on top of that the wedding costs $500. But maybe they should institute this system of marriage laws in Las Vegas. It might help. 

Anyway, we've been working hard and loving it! On Wednesday we had splits with the Sister Leader Trainers, and usually the junior companion goes to San Pedro with the senior SLT, because we go to their turf to learn. But (and I'm not supposed to know this but I do) Hermana Escalante requested that I could stay here because she wanted me to gain confidence in the area. So I was pretty stressed and pretty nervous about manuvering the buses and neighborhoods with a SLT monitoring my every move. But Hermana Agilar (the SLT) is really great and we had a great day of teaching! And she thinks I'm doing a really good job! She said from my teaching, if she didn't know I was new, she would assume that I'd been here at least a year! Parents, you get a special note of gratitude here, because you two made sure I came very well prepared with the information and the Spirit to serve. 

We didn't have any baptisms this week, but we are seeing definite progress in the majority of our investigators and we found twelve wonderful new people to teach this week! One of them came to church with us on Sunday and, against her wishes, her dog came with her--right into the chapel! People kept shooing him out, but he kept sneaking back in. Eventually he just layed down at her feet and everyone left him alone. We think she felt pretty uncomfortable but it was pretty funny. We just need to make sure he doesn't come next week. 

I'm growing a pretty strong testimony of the power of prayer. We don't just see answers to our prayers, we see miracles. Every day! That's amazing! And I feel like this isn't just some special privilage granted to a missionary--this is just the first time in my life that I have known with absolute certainty that I am living in a manner and having the proper amount of faith that I can have confidence that God will answer my prayers. And He does! So this isn't just something for the next 15 months--the Lord is teaching me how to pray for the rest of my life. (Annie, I'm beginning to understand that uncanny ability you have to make everything turn out how you want it to. Well prayed, sister. Well prayed) 

Also, I can bear an absolute testimony that the Gospel brings happiness into people's lives. And there is a huge difference between someone living the gospel and someone who isn't. It might be in gifts of happiness and peace, it might be gifts that are more temporal, but always the presence of the Spirit makes a profound difference in someone's life. I know that every good thing in my life comes from this Gospel, and that every bad thing comes from choosing to walk in a path that is not the Lord's. That pretty good motivation to be obedient, right? It is for me. 

I haven't gotten any mail yet (hint hint, to use Hermana Hickman's phrase) so I think I'll include my address one more time, just in case I messed it up last time:

Hermana Emily Pickett
Mision Honduras San Pedro Sula Oeste
12 Calle, Ave. Circunvalación
S.O. Edificio Yudé Canahuati
3er. Nivel Oficina #4
San Pedro Sula, Cortés, Honduras, C.A.

Hermana Emily Pickett
Mision Honduras San Pedro Sula Oeste
Apartado Postal 1956
San Pedro Sula, Cortés, Honduras C.A.

I love you guys and miss all of you a lot! Like really a lot! But I know that you guys are getting the blessings for my service because, as I said, the Lord is giving me a new understanding about the power of prayer and I am praying for you! Also, family, from the way that transfers have been worked for this Christmas and the last Christmas and the general rule to try and get missionaries home to their families for Christmas, I am 99.9% sure I will see all of you for family Christmas 2014! How sweet is that! 

Speaking of which, if you want to include me in the sibling gift exchange this year, I'm pretty sure I can participate. Just give me a three week heads up! I'd have to send something on the lighter side of gifts, but it would be Hondurañean and epic! 

The Church is true. Please stick to it! I love you! 
Hermana Pickett