Monday, December 15, 2014

Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Mn'Ms

Hello all! Happy P-day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

That's A Nice, uh...Sweater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Hermana Pickett

Monday, November 24, 2014

"I Saw You On TV!"

So coming home Wednesday night, in my exhaustion, I forgot that a large amount of water had entered into the corridor and had a clumsy moment...

...and became slightly bruised and very wet. Super torpe!

Pickett Christmas preparation: the only snowfall in Honduras

Hello, all! So I was famous this week, but not for a very happy reason. So that's a bummer.

Moment of silence: the two sisters who were missing last week, Maria Jose and Sofia Alvarado, were found deceased and subsequently buried this week. The two young women were members of the Church, as is their mother. I am so grateful for the gift of this gospel and the blessings of eternal families. On Thursday morning (TV day) we went to the home of Teresa, the mother, to have a small service before the burial. Despite the horrendous display of the press (any desire I could have ever had to work in news reporting is completely gone), the most difficult scene of the day was the desconsolate state of Teresa. Never in my life have I witnessed such utter agony. At the same time, I have never been so astonished by an overwhelming exibition of hope as I was yesterday, when we returned with Teresa to the cemetary to dedicate her daughters' graves. From the weeping, inconsolable woman we saw on Thursday, we then saw  woman, clearly in pain, but already smiling at the mention of daughters' names, hopely looking forward to the day that she will be able to enter into the temple of the Lord, her daughters' names in hand, and bring about a work for the living and the dead, making possible that her famil will be eternal. You can't find that anywhere else in the world, just in the temple. That's pretty amazing.

So anyway, the funeral and events leading to and following it took up a large part of our week. I am happy to report, on a good news note, that Delmy and two of her triplets came to church yesterday. That was a pretty big deal for them, because various pairs of missionaries have been visiting Delmy for over a year and she's never come to church. But her's is another case wherein the promise of eternal families is absolutely necessary. I have pretty high hopes for her, for her triplets, and for her late husband and son. I already made this point, but I'll say it again: you don't find the blessings that keep families together forever anywhere else in the world. Only in the temple. In my reading of Jesus the Christ this week (I finished it again, but I think I'll read it once more before coming home. It's just too good), I found an interesting statement from Elder Talmage. It is presumptious indeed for man to assume power upon himself and then expect God to honor the ordinances he has performed with his pretended authority. If we want God to honor a promise, we should make it with Him, not with someone who will later have the audacity to make demands of the Divine. And how can we make promises with God here in the world? By making them through someone to whom God has entrusted a piece of that power. That's why the Restoration happened. For details, ask the missionaries. They can help :)

So this letter is going to be pretty short, because our time management skills were a little off today. But here's one more nugget of spiritual goodness. This morning I was reading a talk by President Monson in which he began telling stories about his experiences with following promptings. President Monson has good stories about following spiritual promptings--saving people from committing suicide, arriving just before someone passed away to give them a blessing, sending a slightly wayward boyscout back down the missionary/temple path. And I was thinking, maybe you just have to be an apostle or the prophet to have Monson level experiences with the Spirit. But President Monson corrected me on that! He said that the more we pay attention and following the promptings we receive, the more the Lord will trust us to fulfill His errands. So, want to be the answer to someone's prayer this week? Follow the simple whisperings of the Spirit, even in things that seem insignificant. Follow them right away. Then, when the Lord needs to send an angel from our side of the veil to bless one of His children, He will consider you and think, "Yes, I trust this son, or, I trust this daughter. I shall send him/her." Pretty cool prospect, right?

Well, longer letter next week, I promise! Have a splendid Thanksgiving, count your blessings, never postpone a prompting, and start listening to Christmas music!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Pickett

Monday, November 10, 2014

16 going on...Let's talk about something else

Fun times with the sister leader trainers! 

Soup of the day in San Vicente: Crab with potato and platano. Pretty yummy! (not quite lobster bisque...)

Our shower has a bad habit of not turning the water all the way off, so I had to plunge in fully clothed to take care of the problem later one. It was kind of like a rainstorm inside. 

Lunch with the district--grilled ham and cheese. Yum!

Hello all!

 I hope you are passing a lovely Monday. When my alarm rang at 6:30 this morning, I victorious raised my hands over my head (eyes still closed, head still on pillow) and said with a sigh of joy, "It's Monday!" I sincerely hope I can retain this kind of excitement for Mondays when I get home.

This week was fun! After our glorious time of relaxation on Monday and a great district meeting Tuesday morning (during which I taught a mini lesson on patience. I got to choose that theme. Parents, are you surprised that I have arrived at inspiring others to be patient? Because you better believe it shocked me), we got a phone call from the Sister Leader Trainers saying that they would be coming the next day. Usually they let us know a few weeks ahead of time, but they left it for a surprise this time. But it was a good surprise! We had a great lesson on Tuesday night with Bayron and Mari. She was talking a lot about coffee, because people here have a tough time with quitting coffee, and I mentioned how I came to give up my horrible habit of biting my nails. Someone with authority told me it was bad for my teeth, so every time I put my hand to my mouth, I starting thinking, No, I'm not going to damage myself anymore. Hermana Cumatz laughed a little and said she needed to start doing that, and thus was born the deal: Mari was going to go a week without drinking coffee, and Hna Cumatz a week without biting her nails. And as of last night, Mari hasn't had a drop. She doesn't even miss it that bad. She's a boss, that one. I guess it runs in the family.

Divisions were a blast. I was with Hermana Lopez, who is my "niece" as far as mission family terms go (her trainer/mother was Hermana McCuistion, who, like me, was trained/born of Hermana Escalante, making us sisters. Legit.) So she lovingly calls me Tía. It's pretty funny. I told her I wanted to work on talking to everyone, so we talked to everyone. And we invited everyone to be baptized. And one little mother, Juana, took us up on that invitation. Here is a woman who cooks all morning and sells all afternoon (mind you, one of her food items only costs about 25 cents) to support herself and two small children, and she came with both of those children and her niece to church this Sunday. Look forward to more news about Juana.

Best story of divisions: Hermana Lopez is working really hard on learning English, and when she wanted to tell me something without others hearing, she'd go for it in English. So at one random point, she says, in her thick and lovely Dominican accent "Sister, I saw your picture in the apartment, and you looked, like, fat (at which point I busted up laughing because of her vocal inflection) but now you don't. I mean, you looked good then, too, but now you look really, really better." So prepare yourselves for January, because evidently I look really, really better.

On Thursday we had some syncing up to do, because I needed to go with Hermana Cumatz to follow up on contacts she had made without me the previous day. We were in front of one house, trying to get the attention of the occupants, and there was a funny little man sitting next door, making commentary while eating dinner. Things like "Yes, you have the right house. Yell a little louder." and when the woman inside told us we had the wrong house, "Lies. They're lying. Lying is of the devil. They're all witches there." Good times. I'm going to miss old man commentary in Spanish someday.

We also recontacted some of Hermana Bahr and Hermana Davila's old investigators, starting with a man named Chilo. He is down with being baptized, but he needs our help to rescue his wife from the clutches of her very religious and very anti'mormon mother. Rescue missions are good. We visited a few other old investigators the following morning, but not from the Bahr/Davila days. This poor sister is really living in tough times, but is in an even worse situation because a prior missionary gave her money (that's really not allowed) and so now she doesn't want to listen to the message, she just wants more money. Problems. Luckily, we had packed our lunches that day, so we gave her our sandwiches. She looked a little disappointed, but now we know the kids had something to eat.

Yesterday was a special Sunday. It was funny, because I was completing 16 months (SCARY!) and Johnny, a young man from the branch, was giving his farewell to go on the mission. I thought back to sixteen months ago, when I had no idea what the mission had in store, and I was excited and nervous and terrified and calm all at the same time. Johnny had the same look on his face that I had on my face 16 months ago. But I know what the mission has in store now, and I am so psyched for him to be able to find out. He was such a great help to Bayron, so I know he'll be an even greater help to the people waiting for him in Quetzaltanango (Guatamalans have weird names for stuff).

Someone mentioned yesterday that Johnny was going to the people that he promised in the premortal existance to find. That sunk deeply into my soul, so to speak. I thought about Bairon, about fam. Huezo and fam. Hernandez, and the countless other people that I have met and the fifteen others I have seen baptized over the course of these 16 months (and those I am yet to meet and see baptized) and I thought about the moment that we learned that I would be born into the gospel while they would not. I hope that I, as my father taught once in a start of seminary fireside, looked into their eyes and said, "Don't worry. I will come and find you, and we will have the gospel together." There is a saying here that goes, Dios sabe que hace (God knows what He is doing), and that is true. All things have a purpose, and assignments from the Lord are never an accident or a whim.

I love so dearly being a missionary. I hope you can all find a way to participate in this glorious work this week, because it's the best there is. I know that God lives and loves us and that this is His true church.

Have a wonderful week!

Love, Hermana Pickett

PS One more funny story: during clean up after Johnny's going away party last night, our branch president and his wife were discussing my cooking ability, and President Lopez said. "Hermana Pickett, the man who marries you is not going to walk, he's going to roll." So I answered confidently, "Don't worry, President, I'll just tell him, Amor, te estás poniendo gordo (Babe, you're getting fat)". Nothing like 16 months in Honduras to make you blunt about people's weight.

PPS Happiest of birthdays to Katalyn, Kera, and Uncle Mike! Love you guys!

"I think the feather would weigh more"

Bairon and Mari with Johnny "Elder Vivas", our unofficial third companion. You don't need a name tag to be a missionary

Believe it or not, it gets chilly in Honduras!

Hello, all of you wonderful people!                                     November 3, 2014

It's a beautiful day, isn't it? I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Santa Barbara, we're suffering a terrible confusion: this piece of Central America suddenly thinks it is in the Pacific Northwest. We've got the two-fold Seattle action happening: cold (relatively) and wet. All the same, it's another beautiful day on the mission.

I've been having fun this week as Hermana Cumatz gets to know our less actives better. Like the sister who welcomed us in and said, "Do you like this kind of meat? I made it last night, I'll heat it up for you. Put your stuff down. Wash your hands." That's when we looked at each other and thought, Okay, Mom. But we love her. We're also having a good time helping Hermana Cumatz get to know our area better. But her favorite comment is, "I'd better learn quick, you'll be gone in two months." My sister Annie made a comment involving the idea of two months in her most recent email, and then said "But I'm sure you don't need any reminders of that!" Correct! Let's talk about something else!

On Tuesday, we went to visit fam. Tabora Sorto (after an awesome lesson with Bairon about tithing. We asked him what he already knew about it from his 7 previous visits to church meetings and he gave such a thorough summary, we were tempted to just say, "Well, Amen. We'll see you tomorrow") and they were in a tough moment. Mom's very sick and has been visiting the hospital every three days, Dad's stil not in a steady job. I think we got there right as the last straw was breaking the camel's back. But after speaking with Hno Tabora for a few minutes, we walked away, knowing that we couldn't just go on with our day as we had planned. We knew we needed to help, but we didn't know how. So, being missionaries, we huddled on the side of the street and said a prayer. About 10 minutes later, we came across someone who agreed to give Hno Tabora work (it's not permanent, but it's something) and over the course of the afternoon, the small amount of members in El Llano donated clothing and food to this family who has nothing, notwithstanding that a few people who gave could have claimed to be in practically the same state. After that act of service and a few priesthood blessings, that family still isn't out of deep water, but they're not drowing. And they have never showed any hint of the attitude they had for a moment, wherein they said, "Hermanas, we just don't have time for any sort of church right now." The message of the Lord is not a time waster. We always have time for Him who knows how to heal us.

We didn't dress up for Halloween, but we did pack a bagged lunch to eat in the park, like the little kids who have their breaks from school at that time. We went around from house to house, but we didn't ask for candy. We were giving spiritual sweets away :) But the best surprise of that day was our last visit of the night, wherein Bayron had his baptismal interview.

Bayron's family is not exactly jazzed about his baptism. He told us that his mom started crying, she was so upset when he told her. So when we arrived for the interview and his mom answered the door, I was sort of expecting the Latina version of the Spanish Inquisition. But, smiley as ever, she told us that Bayron is an adult and is perfectly capable of making his own choices. He passed his interview, no problem, and on Saturday, we had a baptism that I've been waiting for for a long time. I was thinking back on the day that we met Bayron: Hna Davila and I were walking down the street, feeling for spiritual vibes to direct us in which houses we could contact. I motioned for one, and she objected, because there were dogs. Being bitten twice by dogs has given me a strange lack of fear for them. So I shouted hello, and when this scruffy haired kid that was Bayron came out, the first thing I did was ask if the dogs were dangerous. When he assured us that they weren't, my companion came a little closer, and we started to share the gospel. And I looked at him and thought, okay, what will Bayron look like at his baptism. So when Bayron walked out in his white clothes on Saturday, I just about started crying. (I ended up crying eventually. Whoops)

In the perfect warm up for his mission, Johnny gave a talk on baptism and confirmation and then stood with his friend in the water and baptized him, as one having been commissioned of the Savior to do so. They gave a little time for Johnny, Hermana Cumatz, me, and then Bairon to share our testimonies. (This is when I started crying) I couldn't fully describe the happiness I felt, because it transended my own. Bairon said, "If you put me on one end of a balance right now, and a feather on the other, I think the feather would weigh more." He then proceeded to recount the above mentioned story of the first time he met us. He said, "The voice I heard was Hermana Pickett, and I made motions to Mari (his sister) to answer, but she didn't want to, so I had to. Now, I just give thanks to God that I answered and not her, because who knows if it would have turned out the same way."

Yesterday, after being blessed to receive the Holy Ghost and to be an instrument in bringing his family to the waters of baptism, Bayron was ordained to be a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. That's a pretty big change from the scruffy headed kid we met three months ago (even though he has yet to cut his hair. We're not speaking too literally right now).

I love this gospel. I love being a missionary. It's the hardest, most wonderful thing I've ever done. I know that this church is true. I know that God is my Father, and that Christ is my Savior. I see the evidence of those truths every single day. That's why every day is beautiful.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy November!

Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just Follow the Instructions

Bairon (scruffy looking kid next to me) and his dad (next to Hna Cumatz), leaving priesthood meeting together for the first time, and definitely not the last

Some time ago, as a little high school junior in Mrs. (Sister) Shaffer's class, we took a very simple assessment. She counseled us beforehand that, before beginning the test, we should read and follow very carefully all of the instructions. I read the first line of instructions, and then started answering the questions. Within a few moments, I noticed that some of my classmates were acting strangely. As more and more people joined in, I realized that I had not read and followed all of the instructions. With curiosity, I read the instructions that I had neglected. After skipping to the penultimate question and shouting my name loudly (as instructed) I followed the last line: write your name on the back of this sheet and turn in your test for a 100%.

Sometimes in life, we make things too hard by not following the instructions.

This thought struck me this week as I borrowed a mixing bowl and a hand mixer from Cindy Lopez, the branch president's wife (bless that woman, I can't even count the times I have borrowed baking supplies from her, and never once has she complained about lending them to me) and she and the first counselor in the branch said, "What will you make?"

"Banana bread!" I answered, excited.

"Hermana Pickett sure does love to cook," said the first counselor.

"She has such a gift for it," said Cindy in agreement. Looking to me, she asked, "What's your secret?"

"That's easy," I answered. "All I do is follow the instructions." Think about that. How many amazing things can we do just by following the instructions? Of course, we get better and quicker with practice, but when we do what we are directed to do, we can produce pretty good results really quickly.

Life totally works that way. God knows how to have success in this life. Not only can He see the end from the beginning, but as we read in the scriptures, He was once as we are. He completed successfully what we are now fighting to finish. He knows how to do this. And He gave us instructions! My shoulders are killing me from almost 16 months of carrying those instructions around every day (but joyfully!). And He hasn't stopped. The instructions keep coming. And when we are confused about something, we can received an answer, not by uplifted hand, but rather by uplifted prayer. We have all of the instructions to happiness. When we follow them, we get results. Of course, there are things we can't control sometimes. Today the oven didn't heat up properly. A few weeks ago my dough wouldn't defrost and hence did not rise. The power goes out, there isn't enough flour, we don't have a springform pan, etc. But when we do our best with the part we do have control over, we see the results that were promised to us.

Each week, we have a meeting with our branch president to talk about our investigators and the progression of our area. Some time ago, President Lopez told us that he wanted Bairon to see a certain film, How Rare a Possession. No one in the branch has it, and we couldn't find a version to download off of the internet, so we sort of let that counsel go. But this last Sunday, a copy of that film came into the branch's possession (thank you, Hno Quintanilla). President said, "Did you ever watch that with Bairon?" He gave us a slightly disapproving look when we responded that we hadn't and told us that we needed to take that opportunity. So we followed our instructions. And the message of that film made something click for Bairon.

After the video, we read 1 Nephi 3:7 with him and challenged him, according to the answers and revelation he had received in response to his prayers, if he would be baptized. And Bairon, that kid who has never given us a straight answer EVER in response to a baptimal challenge, set a date for this Saturday. Remember that feeling I described of lack of the Spirit last week, that was so strong it made me want to vomit? This was just as strong, but just the opposite. I was so full of the Spirit I thought I was going to explode. It was like EFY, but so much better. Bairon's father came with him to church yesterday, and we think his mother and sister are very likely to come this week.

I love so dearly being a missionary. It is the best thing I have ever done. Yesterday I was blessed to give a talk on conversion, and when I received that assignment, I thought, Great! I'm a missionary, I've got the best seat in the house to see how conversion works. That's true. I see miracles every day, and I see them as people follow the instructions.

Bairon wasn't our only good miracle this week, but he was one of the most spectacular. The wave of support that has rushed in to help Elder Vivas to get into the field is another. Waking up at 6:30 every morning and realizing I have another day in this wonderful work is another. I love the Lord so much and I feel so priviledged to be in His service.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Remember, read the manual, ask for clarification if anything doesn't quite make sense, and over all, follow the instructions! They work!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Didn't See That Coming

Distrito Santa Bárbara #bestdistrictever #hashtagjokes

This picture was an accident, but I feel like it describes my life very effectively as of late. Analyze that.

The bespectacled missionaries of the zone (except Elder Nathan and I are the only ones with legitamate glasses)

Cumatz and Pickett, round 2! 

Oct 16 was the anniversary of my first attempt at making bread in Honduras, so I made it again to celebrate. The top cooked great, but the bottom...well, I miss convection ovens.

We had a birthday party today for P'day--Happy Birthday, Elder Baird!
All my "sons"! I've got a new one to meet tomorrow! 

Hello! Today is the 20th of October, and based upon what I've learned in the last 15 months, once the 20th roles around, the month is pretty much over. Scary, right?

So I left you all on a serious cliff hanger ending last week, what with impending transfers and all. I tried to make guesses about what was going to happen, but it didn't work out. I had no idea. O sea, no tenia ninguna idea. Ni una. But we got to cambios meeting, hugged all the sisters, gave all the elders high fives, filed into the chapel, and here's the companion is Hermana Cumatz! AGAIN! That doesn't really happen. Basically, not ever. But it happened! So aircraft H. Pickett is being copiloted by a crazy little Chapina, and oh, it's going to be an exciting ride.

In other news on Cambios, Hna Davila returned to one of her former districts in La Fesitrahn, Hermana Harmon is training (I'm an ABUELITA!), and I have yet another "son" in the mission. I am now a mother of nine. If we carry on the mission family terminology, both of my parents are dead, the father of my two daughters has left me, and all of my two sons are born of different men. Someone should probably teach me the law of chasity. But, anyway...

We're keeping up with Bairon. When Hna Cumatz asked me what he was like as we headed to her first lesson with him, all I could think to say was "Me desaspera, ese hombre" (that man drives me crazy!). To the point that he had an interview with the branch president and afterward the branch president simply asked, Hermanas, will you baptize him already?, he's ready to be baptized. But he won't set a date. We mentioned last night that maybe he needed to exercise his faith enough to take a few steps without knowing everythying, and he said, "Oh no, hermanas. I could never do that." I was ready to shout, Oh ye of little faith, GET IN THE WATER! But we don't convert people that way in this church (story to follow), so I didn't say that. We're working on it. The best part is that we've got a third companion in future Elder Vivas, o sea, Johnny, who is soon setting out for his mission in Quetzaltanango, Guatemala. He just went to the temple. I'm jealous! And I'm also off topic, sorry. But yeah, Bairon. We're working on it.

We're also working with familia Tabora Sorto. They got to church before we did yesterday, and we were early! That's impressive! Everytime we visit them, I can't help but think of those who came to Alma because they had been denied entrance to the Zoramite synagog (see Alma 32, and ask for your own copy of the Book of Mormon to do so, if necessary). They a so truly humble. They have set a baptismal date for November 8th, but even as they set it, they were saying "But Hermanas, we won't be able to pay for our wedding." We just smiled and told them not to worry about it. (the branch president told us earlier in the day that, if they were really going to progress, the cost would get handled). So here's hoping for good news for them soon!

Here's the story for this week: There is a certain family, by the name of Lopez Funez, in the which the dad drinks, the mom is catholic (inactive), but both could be interested in finding real truth. So we've been visiting them, but we really struggle to find dad at home. Last week, he told us that his mom would be coming to visit the following Friday, and couldn't we come that day so that she could talk with us, also. Okay, sounds great. The day before our visit with them, the lesson with the neighbors fell through, and I suddenly felt like it would be better to visit fam. Lopez Funez early. They were both at home, but said "Oh, but you're supposed to come tomorrow!" They said they had a lot of questions, but absolutely wanted to wait until the following day. For us and for Kristy (our favorite RM), the way they said it set off a red flag. So we prepared to come the following day, but looked for someone who could come with us. Unfortunately, the only member we could contact who was not in Tegucigalpa for the branch temple trip didn't want to come that far at night. Hm. So we went alone.

We got there early. After chatting for a while (they were stalling, because family members had not arrived yet), in walked a man who was obviously an evangelical pastor (they just have a look about them), and his two "pastorcito" children. The daughter wore a floor length skirt and a headscarf. Big red flag. It seems that (this is what we patched together the next day) Daddy Lopez honestly desired to start up a friendly conversation about religion between the two religions paying him house calls. But our evangelical pastor in question had no interest in being friendly. We stayed all of a minute after the prayer, which was long enough to tell me that my praying without my head covered was an insult to every man present and an offense to God. I excused us and politely told him we weren't interested in contending. He informed us that he had come to contend. My companion reminded him who the father of contenion is (see 3 Nephi 11:29, machete points for Hna Cumatz), and we left. As we walked out, he was still calling us diabolical and saying things like "How disrespectful! Look how they are dressed!" In the morning, we took turns admitting that we had both had nightmares about evangelical pastors and felt like vomiting when we thought about the experience.

We had planned to stop by fam. Lopez Funez for five minutes to excuse ourselves for leaving and ask honestly if they would prefer that we stop coming. On the contrary, they told us that they had felt bad all night long and said "They shouldn't have treated you like that. We had questions about the Book of Mormon, can you explain these scriptures to us?" Didn't see that coming. But I should have. You know why? Because the truth is a more powerful force for good than a lie is a force for evil. Truth shines so valiently that it exposes all the darkness tries to conceal. Fam. Lopez learned that this week, and I relearned it.

I love being a missionary. I know that this gospel is true, and I know that I am serving as a representative of Jesus Christ, because I know by whom I was called--my Heavenly Father. I love this gospel, and I love my Savior, and even if I am chewed out by someone trying to propogate false doctrine every day for the rest of my mission, it is a small price to pay for the chance to walk in the footsteps of my Redeemer. I know that He lives, because I have received a testimony by the power of His Spirit, and I know that He keeps His promises, because I have seen them in my life and the lives of all those who keep the commandments.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the rest of October--there's not much left, after all!

Love, Hermana Pickett

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preparing for Take Off

Domesic missionaries, gaining investigator's trust with french toast

Here's the proof I'm Jeanne Pickett's daughter--drawing during general conference! 

So the only water that makes it to the second story is the rain...
But I had a creative moment, and we have a rainwater collection system! Crazy what you can do with a poncho, mop, broom, some hairties, and a few strips of old pillow case.

Hey, I completed another month in the mission! That means I've got 15! Is that NUTTY or what?

We had a lovely week, full of good times and surprises. The climax of both good times and surprises was a visit from the Sister Leader Trainers, Hermana Porter and Hermana Ugarte. Here's the surprise: owing to the fact that Hermana Porter and I have gone out on exchanges in the last two consecutive changes (very unusual), and we spent three straight days together when I was in bed with a sprained ankle, I was pretty sure I would be spending this exchange with Hermana Ugarte. But the Lord works in mysterious ways, and the two of them said one last prayer before telling us who would be going with whom, and with laughter in their voices said "Ok, Pickett's going with Porter." But that's okay! Hermana Porter and I always hoped that we would be companions in the field, but that hasn't proven possible. So we think the Lord is answering our prayer on a small scale, one day at a time.

We had a very funny day, in the which all of our lessons were clustered around two points, the two of which are at opposite ends of a stretch of highway. We started at one, and they all told us to come back a little later, so we went to the other end. While we were there, here's a surprise: Navidad, the mother in fam. Quintanilla Garcia, listened very attentively to our lesson on the restoration of the Gospel and then said to our baptismal challenge "Hermanas, I'll be honest. I can't get baptized again. I already got baptized in the church in Choloma." But then, before we could get too disappointed, "Your church, I mean." What? Turns out she's already a member. Surprise! But what a blessing she will be to her family. We did another lap back to our earlier lessons, and within that neighborhood we were doing loops as certain families were coming and others leaving. But it was a fun time, and we spent the afternoon with a woman who is just like my sister Annie, so that was wonderful, of course :) All four of us got caught in a very powerful rainstorm in the evening, but we came home to dry clothes and arroz con leche knowing that we had passed another day in the service of the Lord, so it's fine.

Hermana Porter and I have too much fun. But at the same time, it is such a strange mirrior for us to be together and to look back to 15 months ago when we were just starting out. We're both a lot different than we were then. As a sister leader trainer, Hermana Porter has the responsibility to conduct a companionship inventory at the end of our exchange, in the which she points out a few areas in which I could improve. We always mean to have that talk, but we usually get distracted or tired. This last attempt went like this.

Pickett: Ok, what can I do better? After all, I've only got three more months to become the perfect missionary, so I need all the tips you've got. What 'cha got?

Porter: I don't know. What do you think you need to work on?

Pickett: Porter! This is your job!

But we got around to constructive comments eventually. Sure do love that kid. I am grateful that it will be so easy to keep in touch with almost all of the people that I meet in the mission, but even more that a lot of my good friends will be relatively close by.

Another good surprise this week: President and Sister Dester came to church yesterday, and President conducted interviews. I've heard that other missionaries in other missions get really nervous about interviews, and I just don't get that. I love interviews. They're my favorite. President and I talked about the incredible potential that this area has, and the miracles that are ready to come to pass here. President listened to the 50 baptisms goal and told a story about a solitary companionship of missionaries that had 25 baptisms in just one month, so he believes in the goal. I believe in it, too.

But this was my favorite part: I asked President what I could do, now that I only have three months left (ugh, I hate saying that sentance. It's scary) and he, in a very President Uchtdorf move, started talking about airplanes. He told me that I am one. He said that right now, my engines are kicking into a new gear, and I am not going to walk or even run through the rest of my mission, I am going to fly (yes, Hermana Behan, that made me think of you). He said that, according to my faith and diligence, all of the obstacles are going to fall away and I am going to soar to heights so much greater than I had ever imagined. He said the Lord is ready to lift me up.

Do you get why I love interviews now?

So here goes the flightcraft H. Pickett, revving up the engines and spinning propellers. I'm ready to take off. Stay tuned for news on the flightplan--it's a figure it out as I go sort of thing.

Last thought: we were in a lesson with Bairon and his family last night, and we talked about progression. Not the way that missionaries talk about progression, but the way the Lord talks about progression. Acting on the Spirit and an idea from President Dester, we started describing a long hallway with various doors. The first is labeled, a knowledge of Jesus Christ. The second, a knowledge of His true church. The next, repentance. The next, baptism and confirmation, then entering the temple, then serving a mission, temple sealing, vicarious work, serving in the church, etc. We explained that as we travel along this hallway, which in the end will take us to the goal of becoming like God and being with Him always, we have to keep opening doors. If we never open the door, we can't progress. We beat against the wood, yelling at someone on the other side to let us through. But the only person blocking our progress is us. We have all of the power to turn the knob, go through, and joyfully continue to the next door. So we invited Bairon's famiy to come to church and get to know it better. But then we turned to Bairon and said, you are already at a different door than your family. We know you want to progress more before you are baptized, but you won't. You are already at the door. If you want to go forward, you've got to go through. Bairon's got a baptismal date for Nov 8, so his friend Johnny can baptize him before leaving on his mission.

The church is true. Jesus is the Christ. God lives and loves us. I love Him, and I love being in His service. Ask yourself what door you are at, and go through. Go forward. Go toward the Savior.

Have a wonderful week!
Love, Hermana Pickett
We figured out that the storage cabinents in the church are big enough for a person to squeeze into

Turns out our DL needed a little help squeezing in :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice

Let's just all take a minute to bask in how great General Conference was...

Now then, hello! This really has been one of my favorite weekends of the year. I spent the whole week telling EVERYONE "And you should come to church on Sunday, because we're going to listen to the prophet! That's right, a real, live prophet, and twelve apostles to boot! It's the best thing ever!" And then, to make it even better, for the first time in my mission, I am in an area with a satelite. Yes, that's right: I finally got to watch general conference in English.

3 big thoughts:

1. Elder Robbins was not kidding around. We can't go half way on obedience. Decide which way you face and don't settle to let the world turn you around.

2. It seems like the time is coming that we're going to have to have some pretty serious trust in the counsel of the prophet and the apostles. The good part is that, after three consecutive talks were directed toward President Monson, he then directed us toward the Savior. The prophet will not lead us astray, because he will always lead us to Christ. Start strengthening that testimony now, because it seems like we're all going to need it soon.

3. Questions get answered in General Conference (for example, Dad, have you considered using Elder Oaks' talk to resolve the issues in your seminary class?) Trust in the Lord and His ability to answer you through the voices of His servants.

What made conference even better was that eight of our investigators were able to accompany us there. Bairon was there to hear Elder Bednar say "I will address myself specifically to those who are not members of our church" and also said that the priesthood session was awesome. Fam. Tabora Sorto, oneof the families I mentioned last week, showed up Sunday morning, even though the wife had said she would never come in pants (she came, pants and all). We also had a family called Quintanilla Garcia, who has heard of the Church previously from their member (and temple married) cousins in the States, and came a couple of times a couple of years ago, but are showing a whole new interest. We haven't had the opportunity to visit with these families yet, but I am so excited to ask them what impressions they felt as they saw and heard for the first time a true prophet of God.

I am so grateful to be a part of this Church, and especially a part of the 88 thousand missionaries bringing this message to all the ends of the earth. Each time someone spoke of the missionaries, I smiled and thought, "Hey, I'm one of those." I am so glad to be serving my Father in His vineyard, and so amazed at the richness of blessings He never ceases to pour out upon me as I can put in my small obedience, as imperfect as it still is. I love Him and I love this work.

I hope that everyone has a great week! Enjoy the leaves changing colors and never hestitate to go back for seconds and thirds of the spiritual feast we enjoyed this past weekend!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, September 29, 2014

Prepared by the Angels

This week we made a "big cake" for one of our investigators--turns out Tang makes great flavoring for frosting!

Hello and happy conference week! Are you guys PSYCHED?? I sure am!

Remember how I wrote last week about the "blue vase" of Santa Barbara, 50 more baptisms? Let's follow up on that: following the counsel of my wise cousin Megan (shout out to Hermana Hickman in Argentina!) that when we have a goal, we can study it out in our minds and take our plans to the Lord in a companionship inventory. Well, I was looking at our very small investigator pool and thinking "I don't know how we're going to baptize 50 people if we're only teaching 10" So I spent a long conversation with the Lord on Sunday night asking that we might be able to find many new investigators. We talked about that same subject on Tuesday morning during our companionship study and our district meeting, especially about finding those who have been truly prepared. As we went out to teach Tuesday afternoon, we prayed to find those who had been prepared by the angels, as we had read in Alma, from both sides of the veil.

And what happened? We found 19 new investigators this week, including three new families. That is a miracle. That is an answer to a prayer. I love that our Heavenly Father answers prayer. So here's the Hermana Pickett lesson this week: Do you have a righteous desire? Good, your Heavenly Father shares your righteous desires. Think about it, study the scriptures, make a plan, and then pray with the absolute confidence that God is listening and that He will perfect your plan by combining it with His. And then you and He will make it happen. Don't take my word for it--go try it. It's pretty amazing.

Run down on some of these new people:

1. Familia Tabora Sorto. So humble and ready to learn, a father, mother, and four children (three above 8 years of age). They met the missionaries in a little out of nowhere village where they used to live, but the sisters there were taken out of the area only a few days after knowing this family. They say one was from Mexico, but our ony Mexican sister that I know of was never in Santa Barbara...heavenly messengers...maybe

2. Fam. Mejia Alemán, fam. Garcia Alemán, Belkys, and Lorena. This is a combined seven people, all in different houses, but all related to each other. This is why we ask for referrals. One said "I've tried to go to other churches, but I just don't feel the truth there." Another said "We've been praying to know which church is true, because we want to serve God in His true church." I'm so not making this up. As I was sitting in these lessons I was thinking "No, this isn't really happening. I'm having a Preach My Gospel influenced dream." But it really happened! And I loved it!

3. Fam. Tejada. She's a nurse, her children actually sat down and listened to us without being coerced, and she was willing to come to church two hours after finishing a night shift at the hospital. That's legit.

Now, this email will be a lot cooler next week when all of these people have come to general conference. But all good things come to those who wait, when they wait upon the Lord.

I love being a missionary. It's not easy, but it's wonderful. I love the Lord, I love the gospel, and I love this work. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week and that you are taking your oportunities to share the gospel in your corners of the vineyard!

And hey, my mom says that a few of you reading are not yet members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Have you spoken with someone about the incredible atoning sacrife of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Have you read the remarkable book He called the prophet Joseph Smith to translate? If you haven't, you're missing out. Give it shot--it's more than worth it.
Remember how I fell down a lot in that cave? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Blue Vase

My beautiful hijas! I'm so proud of them! 

Baptisms, I LOVE baptisms! Blessings all around!

I thought these were toys from a distance, but they turned out to be dessert! 

We celebrated the birthdays of one of our elders and a very soon to be elder this week...

Turns out birthday cakes are a lot more fun in Honduras than they are in the States

This is the moutain I climbed from the inside. It was pretty coool 

Add caption

Companionship adventures in cave exploring!
I can't even count the number of times I though "Oh man, my dad would hate this." :)

Our wonderful guides, the Trochez family. We made a fire (girl's camp skills!) and then they made a spit, on which they roasted pork, grilled corn, and reheated tortillas. Pretty impressive. 

Buenas tardes from Santa Barbara! Today has been nothing short of exasting, but exauted is what I live for! 

This week was great--how could being in the service of the one true God be anything less? We were so highly blessed to see the baptisms of Walquidia and Axel. As they entered the font, I was remembering the day that Hna Davila and I were contacting in the street and asked a well-to-do looking woman "Have you ever heard of the Mormon church?" and our shock to hear her reply that she was already a member. Add to that our joy to find that one of her children was of an accountable age and wanted to hear the gospel, our surprise to find that she remembered very little of the doctrine she had learned fifteen years earlier, and our excitement to find that both mother and son needed the ordinance of baptism and were ready to accept it. I love seeing the miracle of conversion unfold. It really is spectacular. 

Speaking of spectacular conversions, we have had some incredible lessons with Byron this week. When we called to set up an appointment on Friday, we were met with the news that Byron's grandfather had passed away. We were able to attend the viewing, where we were aquainted with Byron's grandmother. We briefly shared with her a message that we have repeated a lot this week--through this gospel, marriage does not have an expiration date. Not even death will keep us apart for long. We were able to share that same message in more detail with Byron, his parents, and his sisters the next evening. The plan of salvation is one of my favorite lessons to teach--people hear it and they just know it is true. The divine in each of us raises its head and whispers, I think I remember that. The family had a special mass in the name of their grandfather (Byron's family is super Catholic, PS), but Byron came to Sacrament meeting anyway. He said he felt like he needed to come. On Sunday night, we went over three key events of the Restoration: Joseph saw God the Father and His Son, the Book of Mormon was brought forth by the power of God, and the priesthood was restored. We then asked, one by one, if Byron believed those had actually happened. Here's how he responded. 1. At first, I had a lot of doubts about how the church was established, but seeing how it was given to someone so humble, I know it is true. 2. Of course it is true, hermanas! You only have to read it to know that it is the word of God. (And this one might be my favorite) 3. Well, hermanas, it's just like Nephi says (he's been reading 1 Nephi 13) it was necessary that we had a restoration of all things. So yeah, I believe that God gave that power to Joseph. And then we're like (but in an artiulate way) Byron! So get baptized already, man! But with the help of Kristy and the Holy Ghost, we found out that a lot of the problem is that he feels weird moving away from his family's catholosism. We can work on that. He's got a baptismal date for the 4th. I'll keep you posted. 

As part of a leadership training this week, we watched a film called A Quest for a Go Getter. In said film (which is wonderful), a young man cheerfully and unrelentlessly pursues his goal, obtaining a certain blue vase, even though it is a purposefully impossible task and he only has one of his arms. He doesn't take no for an answer, he doesn't quit, and he doesn't allow himself to be discouraged for long. And even though the task was pretty much impossible, he made whatever sacrifice necessary and in the end, he accomplished the impossible. Time after time, he said with a smile, It shall be done. Our branch president encouraged us to identify our "blue vase" and ask ourselves what we were willing to do to achieve it. I asked during the mission coordination meeting how many baptisms we are missing this year, and now I've got a blue vase: 50 baptisms, 3 months. It shall be done! 

My good friend Hermana Behan (shout out to Nicaragua!) recieved an epic promise from Elder Alonso when he visited her mission, and a part of the plan she was given to fulfill that promise was to have a vision and pray with faith to achieve it. I've got my eye on a goal, and I know that it is possible. There is nothing impossible for God. The last three months of this year are my last three months on this mission, and I will certainly have plenty to keep me busy! 

I love this work. I love my Savior, and I am so glad to serve Him. I love this gospel and I know that it is true. The Spirit reminds me of that every single day. 

Oh! I forgot to mention why I am so tired today. We woke up at 5 to hike up to some caves--turns out it's called La Cueva Montuca--and that hike took a long time. Being in a cave was one of the stranger experiences of my life. We walked on and on through the darkness, maybe a mile or a mile and a half, into endless black. Everything was damp and cold, the bats squealed and the water dripped endlessly, and it smelled strangly like orange sticks. Minus the orange sticks smell and the flashlights, I think outer darkness might be a lot like living a mile deep in a cave. I have never been so glad to see the sun as I was after the two hours we spent in the darkness. We all fell down a lot (this was not a smooth path in the dark, I basically climbed a mountain from the inside) and I realized when we got out that the sharp pain in my leg was owing to the large goose egg growing there. But I am now well fed and clean and I'll take some ibuprofen, so it's fine. 

Have a wonderful week, and I wish the happiest of birthdays to both of my grandfathers! I love you! 

Con mucho amor, 
Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

And Hermana Pickett prayed, Let there be light

Sep 8 (This one is out of order)
Hello family and everyone else interested enough to read this letter!

It's getting pretty late in the afternoon here in Honduras, so here's the fun story--sometimes (or rather, all of the time) in this lovely little town of Santa Barbara, the power goes out. And we can't use the internet if the power is out. So we went to write at 2 pm, our normal writing time, and the power went out just before we arrived. It stayed out until 4:30, and we go out to work at 6, so there is a fire under my tail today!

In regards to changes, we didn't have one. Davila and Pickett are passing another 6 weeks in Santa Barbara. We had a pretty normal week, if any week in the mission is normal. Axel and Walquidia are still progressing nicely (maybe a smidge too quickly) toward their baptism, which is planned for this Saturday. We found lots of promising new investigators, I didn't hurt myself any worse (major achievement, if you're me) and did our best to build the Kingdom.

Here's a funny moment from this week: One day, as we had not been able to find the people with whom we had appointments, we contacted a woman in the street and asked if we could come back in the coming days. We went back, found her house, and sat down to start a lesson. And then her dad came in. Little did we know, he was the founder and pastor of the Evangelical Christian church across the street. The next thirty minutes were really not very uplifting. It became increasingly clear that this man had no interest in hearing us. On the contrary, he continually tried to take possession of the lesson and convert us to "the truth". His favorite question was "But have you really accepted Christ as your Savior?" I figured out why people get baptized in Evangelical churches here. It's because, no matter what you say, the pastor is there to convince you that, no, you haven't accepted Christ as your Savior, and that you need to do so right now. When we finally found the oppportune moment to end the lesson (we had been trying to do so for twenty of the thirty minutes) we politely asked this man if he might offer the closing prayer. Enthusiastically, he almost shouted "Yes I will! Stand up! (we reluctantly stood) We're all sinners, but right now you're going to confess your sins and accept Christ! Father, say Father! You do believe in the Father in your church, right?" Yeah, we just left. We shook hands and smiled and left. We have now named that neighborhood el mar de apostasía, because the people there are spiritually drowning. We hear he is bragging that he beat the Mormons. When I heard that, I just thought about Moroni's promise that one day we will meet at the bar of God, and we will know who was right. I'll just leave that there. So, long story short, I didn't convert to Evangelicalism.

I'm sorry this letter is short and lame today, but I prayed fervently that the power would come back on so that 1. I could read my letters from all of you and 2. My parents wouldn't worry that I was dead (guys, I'm not dead), and now I've fulfilled that. So I got what I needed. While we were waiting for the power to come back on and accepting the reality that it wasn't going to happen any time soon, my companion offered the wisdom, Well, you can't always get what you want. In response now I can confidently offer (and I would sing this if I were telling you this story face to face) you can't alway get what you want, but you get what you need.

I love my Heavenly Father, and I am so profoundly grateful and awestruck that He has trusted me with this corner of His vineyard. I hope I can prove better for the task. I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Hermana Pickett

Fourteen Ain't Eighteen

This week, we had our first zone meeting of the change. Hence, I had my first opportunity to say to the zone, "Hi. I'm Hermana Pickett, and I have 14 months on the mission" and that's when I am met with a resounding wave of "BAGGGGGGGGGGGYYYYYYYY" (that's mission talk for, you already want to go home, you're practically on the plane!) But no, I'm not baggy. Because I was called for 18 months, not 14. And fourteen sure isn't 18. Do they seem close by? Ask yourself what the difference is between being 14 years old and being 18 years old. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. 14 ain't 18.

You know what I got to learn again this week? I am an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, a laborer in the Lord's vineyard, a missionary for the only true and living church of the Almighty God on the face of the earth. That's a big deal! I won't always be able to say that, but while I can, I love it. I love being a missonary. It isn't easy at all, but I love it. At our zone meeting, our ZLs shared a video, in the which President Eyring, then Elder Holland, then President Eyring again spoke about this great work in which we are serving. President Eyring was speaking in a priesthood session, and Elder Holland was speaking to new mission presidents. Elder Holland posed a question that struck me to the core. He said "Presidents, you will have missionaries who will say, "Why isn't this easier, President? Why don't they get it? Why don't they flock to the waters of baptism? Why do they reject us? Why is this so hard, President?'" And to us, sometimes it doesn't make sense why the work is so hard. To us, the blessings and happiness of the gospel are so blatant, and we don't understand why others don't want those blessings. But this work is Christ's work. And if the Savior of the world was driven to ask if there wasn't another way, if the burden might not be lifted, it is easy to see that Christ's work is hard. It wasn't easy for Him, and it won't be easy for us. But He never stopped. He never said, I deserve a break. He never slackened His pace or ceased to be perfectly obedient. So we keep going, and we don't quit. That is the work we have been called to--the work of salvation.

And speaking of such, Walquidia and Axel are definitely gettng baptized this Saturday! They had to go away this last weekend on a family emergency, but that's okay--they weren't ready last Saturday. They're ready now. The Lord knows how His plan is to unfold. We were also very excited on Sunday to see Bairon, a missionary aged young man who is honestly persuing the truth. He read from the title page to 1 Nephi 10 in one sitting. That was cool. He needs to grasp a little more profoundly his testimony of the restoration, but he really has been prepared for this message. Stay tuned for good news.

This is such an incredible message to be prepared for. Let's recap: Before the world was even formed, God created a perfect plan to give His children every single good thing and happiness ever. So He made an earth and sent us to it, and His only perfect child, Jesus Christ, came and lived a life without a single mistake--not even a single unclean thought--and even though He could have passed on to rest without suffering, because He had done nothing to merit suffering, He volunteered to bear the guilt and pain brought on by the mistakes and heartaches, not to mention illnesses and worries, for every person who ever lived and ever will live on this earth. Think about that! He paid for sins for people who haven't even been born yet! He bore the guilt for mistakes you and I haven't even made! And He did it because He loves His Father, and both of Them love all of us. So now, if we can complete the very small portion of work that has been left to our responsiblity (if we can trust God enough to believe in Him, change our lives for the better, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and stick it out, always trying our best) there is not a single blessing that will be kept back from us. That means living forever in a perfect body, with a perfect happiness, with our families and loved ones. That means peace now and joy forever. That's real.

I'm going to say that again: it's real. If you don't feel like it's real, say a prayer. Read the Book of Mormon. Test God. He told me. He'll tell you.

I know that God loves us, and that He loves us just as much as He loved His children in biblical times. That's why He's still calling prophets, like Joseph Smith in 1820 and Thomas S. Monson right now. I love Him, and I love to be one of His missionaries.

Yesterday, we spoke to a man who really doesn't like our religion, or religions in general, or governments, or the United States. After ranting about all of the above for a while, his anger became focused on me, an obvious citizen of a country he doesn't like. With hatred in his voice, he accused me of only coming to Honduras to find something I liked and take it away, because that's what Americans do. Without a moment of hesitation, I looked that man square in the eye and said "I am here because God sent me here to preach His gospel." And that's right. There's no other reason that I am here--just to be a servant of my Heavenly Father. And it's the best reason there is.

I love you all and I hope that you have a wonderful week. Take a second to remember what has been done for you, and ponder the question I was asked 13 months ago in the CCM: What are you going to give to Him who gave everything for you?

Hermana Pickett