Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Steps Toward a Forever Family

Best news first: familia Huezo got baptized! This last Saturday, after
a feast of stressing out that will be discussed later, we were blessed
to see five members of this beautiful family make a sacred covenant to
follow the example and mandate of Jesus Christ by entering the waters
of baptism, and yesterday they sealed that covenant by being confirmed
members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. But a lot of week happened
before that.

This week we have been refining the missionary skill of finding
appointments to fill up the gap when someone isn't where they said
they would be when they said they would be there. It's a good time.
And it's lucky that we love doing that, because we do it a lot! But
the Lord has always called His servants to "preach by the way", so we
are just following in the footsteps of those who have come before us.

We had a really remarkable day on Thursday. Our mission, San Pedro
Sula Oeste (west) combined with the mission San Pedro Sula Este (east)
and we as a force of about 300 missionaries had the privilage to hear
from Elder Ochoa, of the 2nd Quorum of the 70, and Elder Soares, of
the presidency of the Quorum of the 70, and also from their wives. And
it was awesome! Between the messages of diligence and miracles that
were shared along with the talk "How to Become a Concecrated
Missionary" by Tad R. Callister (we were given that talk to read to
prepare for this conference--I now read it every morning, because it
is that awesome), Hra. Harmon and I now have a recommitment to
participating in this work with all of our heart, might, mind, and
strength. Someday, when I have the notes from that conference with me,
I will gladly expound the epicness of that conference, because it was
pretty sweet. And, as an added bonus, Elder Soares is from Brazil, so
his Spanish is peppered with Portuguese. That was fun.

Two more side notes about that conference: I was called to sing in the
choir (we were selected--we're kind of a big deal) and we performed
"Behold, a Royal Army". Our director is an AP from the Este mission
and we as a group had a collectively good time. And I got to stand
next to Hra. Escalante to sing, so that was magical. I just love that
Mexican. Other note, I was asked to give the closing prayer. Before
this experience, when our investigators felt scared to pray, I was
never really sure why someone could actually feel fear to say a
prayer. I get it now! It was one of the most intimidating moments of
my life, especially because the opening prayer was offered by that
same AP from the Este mission and his Spanish is way better than mine!
But I closed my eyes and tried my best to just talk to my Father, even
if I couldn't express myself quite so eloquently as I wanted to, and
it went alright. Lesson learned: have compassion for those who are
scared to pray. It can be terrifying.

On Friday we had a visit from the Sister Leader Trainers, Hra Bayles
and Hra Morales. Hra Morales became my compa for a day and my hija
went with Hra Bayles. But it was pretty lucky that we could cover
double ground, because Hra Morales and I went to the baptismal
interviews of fam. Huezo. I guess we should have expected that if our
lessons with fam. Huezo usually ran longer than we expected them to,
their interviews would run long as well. But the hour that we planned
to spend there passed and, a fin de cuentas, it was two and a half
hours in total between arriving and departing. That's a long time! But
I got to get to know Hra Morales better and that was cool, because
she's pretty cool. We also had an inventory at the end of the day and
I am really grateful that I could receive some advice and counsel from
that wonderful sister.

But here's the kicker: fam. Huezo surprised us with the news that they
couldn't get baptized at 5, which is our normal baptismal hour.
Rather, they needed to have their baptism at 10 in the morning! That
was only 14 hours away! And then, of course, all of our baptismal
clothing grew mold last week and was useless and no one wanted to
answer their phones, and it was raining, but two minute panic attack
aside we found people to baptize them and two witnesses and five
Baptismal Records and a big stack of white clothing, so it all went
well in the end. Marco Jr. told us yesterday that after being
confirmed, standing before the ward and being welcomed in was a
feeling that he had never felt before. But he said it was "bien
maziso", which is catratchan for super, super epic. I am so grateful
that the Lord has called me on this mission, and that I was able to be
there to help this family find the tools to bind themselves together
and to the Lord forever.

I love this gospel. I testify of its truthfulness. I know that God is
our loving Heavenly Father, and that He has done all, including give
His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can come back to Him.
All that is missing is for us to decide to do it. Let's decide!

I love the Lord, I love this work, and I love all of you. Have a splendid week!

Oh, I totally forgot: We  have this one investigator named Johanna,
and we were so ready to start suggesting she leave her husband,
because she wants to get married and baptized but he just wants to
drink, and they came to church together yesterday! He has been
promising her for months that he would come to church and he finally
came! It's a MIRACLE! If anyone was praying for them, thanks. It

Les quiero a todos!

Hra Pickett

P.S. Someone tell Robs happy birthday for me!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

American holidays. What a strange thing to ponder. Anyway, for you kiddos who are enjoying a day off of school, have a good day! Days off are sweet! We don't really have them...but that's okay!

We had another splendid and quick week! We've been visiting a lot of not so active members and teaching a LOT of lessons (I topped my record for most lessons taught in a week) and keeping generally busy. There was only one very rainy day this week but the chill kept up even when it was dry, and pobrecita Hra Harmon caught a pretty good cold on Wednesday. We've been quoting that part of Pride and Prejudice a lot lately when Mrs. Bennett says "People do not die of colds." But we are in a third world country....No, es broma. She's not going to die. We're good.

We've been going on a lot of visits this week with Jeimy, who was one of my first baptisms here. That was really cool. She's such a sweet addition to our little company and she is always ready to share her testimony in our lessons. She taught with us on Thursday night and it was so cold we were walking down the street in one big huddle, and when we had to stop and take out our planners, she would say "Ay, Hermanas, abrazenme! Tengo frio!" Very good kid, that one.

We were also practicing our talk-to-everyone skills this week, and that was fun. As much as we've heard that newly returned missionaries are really socially awkward when they get home, I can't really imagine that. It seems like we'll just start talking to everyone, all the time.

We had a pretty been heart breaker this week: we visited fam. Buh (well, just Diana) for what looks like the last time in a while. Pretty much out of nowhere she decided she doesn't want to listen to us anymore. It was really hard to think about all of the times that I have imagined her and her husband at their baptism and in the temple and hearing her say, I don't want it. The worst was at the end of our conversation, when she cited the common phrase here that when Christ comes again, He won't come for a church, but for His followers, so "We'll be together again one day forever." And while it is true that Christ won't come for people labeled with a certain sect, the eternity that I am hoping to attain is one that necessitates saving ordinances, such as baptism by one holding the authority of God to perform the ordinance. How do you explain someone that what they are picturing as heaven would be almost hellish, because we would have the knowledge that we could have attained more? I sincerely hope that they will some day change their minds and soften their hearts enough to even try the gospel (they haven't been reading the Book of Mormon. That is really the root of the problem) and we continue to pray for them, so I know the Lord will bring about His work in His own time.

But on a happier note, it's just a short walk down the street from fam. Buh to fam. Huezo, and they're doing fine! By some insane miracle Marco and Marquito are already home, so we got to see the entire family together in church yesterday. I just love seeing that family in church. They are working towards getting baptized on this Saturday, the 25th of January. Turns out Marco hasn't quite quit smoking yet...and we had no idea...but he's going to stop smoking as of last night. We set a rule with him that he has to ask permission from someone before he smokes a cigarette, and of course everyone in his family is going to say, "No, hombre!" We also told him that if no one is around, he can either ask himself or pray to ask permission. So if he actually does that, I think it will go pretty well. He's a determined guy, that Marco Huezo. I'm really not very worried about him. We were talking about eternal families with them and the bishop yesterday, and then when we were talking about him giving up his smoking habit, he said "No, I'll stop. I want to be baptized and I want to enter the temple with my family." And everybody else wants to go, too. Hra. Harmon and I told them when it's time for them to go next year, we want to come, too. I hope that's possible....we shall see!

The Lord is certainly not being stingy on blessing our work. Before my eyes I am seeing people change, and change for good. I am seeing the gospel bless families and bring happiness--in short, I am seeing every single on of the blessings that we promise daily come to pass. It's not always a fast thing. Usually it's not. One of our investigators, Carol, who Hra. Gisseman and I visited for the first time about two months ago, really came to a realization that the Atonement was for her this week, and finally found the desire and the courage to come to church with us. Vilma Sabillon told us this week when we talked about her baptismal date that she knew she had to be baptized, because for months she has known that she must come to church. She says "Everyone tells me it would be easier to just stay home, but I tell them no. I have to go to church. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't go." We asked the ward this week if they would be willing to help us pay the fee for the Sabillon wedding, and without grudging they kicked in half of the price. And Julia, whose mother hates us so much she lied and said Julia had moved away (it was absolutely hilarious how much detail she put into that particular mentira. Green house, 2nd entrance of the Gran villa, next to a woman named Suyapa--she didn't go halfway on that), but Julia told her mom she doesn't care what bad stuff she says about the church. She's going to come, and her kids are going to come, because they like how they feel when they are there, and they like reading the Book of Mormon. The Lord is hastening this work, and He is moving it along. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this miracle. Last night with fam. Huezo, after Marco described how at the beginning they felt no desire to be baptized and now they are all anticipating with excitement their baptismal date, the bishop said (in reference to the previous comments that had been made about missionaries) "That's why sharing this gospel is so important. Without these sisters here, it would have been almost impossible for you to get baptized, right?" And I was just thinking about D&C 18, when the Lord promises that if our joy will be great for brining even one soul unto Him, how much greater will be our joy if we bring many?

I am so grateful for this opportunity to be in the Lord's service full-time. I love this gospel and I testify that it is true. God really is our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ really is His Son, and He really did give everything for us, so that we can choose happiness. Joseph Smith really was a prophet called of God, and the Book of Mormon really was written by prophets who might have walked this same earth that I tred now. In Alma 32, Alma asks, "And now, is this not real?" It is real. And I am so glad that I have this time, not only here in Honduras, but every day that the Lord grants me to tell everyone how true it is.

I love you all and I hope that all is well. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Hermana Pickett

P.S. Tomorrow makes 5 months in Campana. Crazy, right?!

Monday, January 13, 2014

71°F is the new FREEZING!

Well we've had another fun filled week here in Campana! That's the mission for you--it's the funnest, hardest thing I've ever done! People here ask us a lot what we've been doing lately, (technichally, it's more like, What are you doing that's new?) and we say, "Well, we're walking, a lot, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!" And they nod and say, Correct. Yes, yes it is correct.

We're keeping up with our usual families pretty faithfully. Alma and Junior, who are the parents of Jeimy (who was my first baptism that I had actually been present for the whole process) are really interested in being baptized...but they're not getting married until he gets back from his eight months to a year. So that's unfortunate. Fam. Huezo is getting good and excited for baptism! The only problem is that Marco, Sr. left on Thursday for his job in Colon, so we just need to pray him back very quickly! We got serious with fam. Sabillon about getting their wedding together, so we'll see how that goes. Mostly, all is well and we are enjoying a whole heap of blessings from the Lord in His work.

However, the weather as of late is not complying very nicely with our happy, sunny vibe. On Tuesday, the rain was coming down in (what felt like) icy sheets and the wind was trying to pull our umbrellas out of our hands all day. If you've seen Frozen, it was pretty much like when Anna is wandering across the fjiord whispering "Cristoff? Cristoff?", only we were pitifully saying "Podemos compartir un mensaje con ustedes? Bien cortito? Por favor?" On our last bus ride home, Hra. Harmon pulled out the first 20 lempira and started to dig for the remaining six, and the conductor stops her and says, Don't worry, this is fine. So we might have looked a little rough. Every single one of our appointments started with "We didn't think you would come!" because, when it is raining, no one leaves the house. There is no good reason to go out. Be it a lesson with the missionaries, going to church, picking up the million lempira that are laying in the street, nothing. And a lot of people didn't want to open the door long enough to let us in, so that was kind of sad. But we sang There Is Sunshine in my Soul Today and The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow about 20 times each, so we are fabulous anyway! But we really thought we were ready to die, we were so cold, and it was somewhere around 71. Parents, you're probably going to need to bring a parka and several warm blankets when you pick me up from the airport someday when I'm finished, because actually cold is going to be unmanageable!

I also had to save Hra. Harmon from another drunk man on the rainy day, and he got a very abrupt explaination of the Word of Wisdom from me. Patience with drunkards is harder when you're cold and wet. I'll work on that.

Most of our life plans this week have been interrupted due to unfortunate circumstances. On Wednesday we were sent in to a very sketch looking Honduran public health clinic so that Hra Harmon could get a tetnus shot. But the vaccinations center there is at least in part funded by the Church (there was a sign with the same words as our nametags!), so that was cool. Thanks, Church, for paying for Hra. Harmon's shot. Hra. Harmon also got shot up on Wednesday with a new rabis vaccination--she's the first missionary ever to receive it! How cool is that?! The best part is that she needs three more (she's had two already) and its not exceedingly convenient for us to get to the mission nurse for her to receive her vaccinations, so our nurse is currently asking President Dester for permission to teach me how to administer the shot and putting me in charge. Awesome, right? It's just administered through the deltoid muscle, so it's not like I have to stick her in a vein or anything. Easy, peasy. Hra. Escalante joked multiple times that I was going to be the next mission nurse, and even though that's probably not true, I might come home knowing my way around a syringe.

We also had to go for my appointed time at the National immigration office, so in five months or so I will have a card declaring me a citizen of the country of Honduras. They don't do visas here, they just make you a citizen. That's pretty sweet. I'll be a real catracha!

I love being a missionary, even though it turns out it's a little difficult from time to time. Diana Buh told us out of nowhere the other night that she doesn't want to read the Book of Mormon and has no interest in being baptized in our church. We got out of that appointment and I cried on the way to the next one. I think I scared Hra Harmon a little bit, but it took me back to a scripture about Alma and the sons of Ammon: they loved the people they taught so much that they could not bear the thought that even one of them should be lost. Sometimes as a missionary, we get exposed to the love that God has for His children, and I am never prepared for that. It is such a big feeling, I just don't have room for it. The Lord really has put His trust in us, as missionaries and members alike, to care for His beloved children and bring them home again. And each person's agency, which has all of the power to bring us and them happiness, has all of the power to bring sadness as well. Such is life--the best things are the worst when used badly. I sincerely hope that Diana can have a mighty change of heart, and I hope that she won't miss out on feeling the love that God has for her. Because I've felt it, and it's a lot.

I am grateful for every day that I have here, even when it is "freezing". I am grateful for this gospel and for the love that I can feel from my Heavenly Father every day. I love this work, I love my Savior, and I am so glad I have another 11 months to labor in the Lord's vineyard.

Enjoy being properly cold! ¡Les quiero a todos!

Hra Pickett

So when it rains really hard, our water stops working. But we still need water for washing dishes, flushing toilets, etc. So for my water runs to the pila I put my towel around my head and clipped it under my chin. Hra. Harmon saw me and said, Thanks for the water, Mary! But I didn't feel like Mary, I felt like ET.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's 2014!

Living that Honduras life!

Happy New Year! It's a little tough, feeling like it's actually the first week of January when it's hot and humid outside, but I'm doing my best to take that one for reality. 2014 is going to be a pretty crazy year for me. It's the year I finish my mission, which means that it's the year that I do a whole bunch of epic things in the service of the Lord. Stay tuned for more. It's going to be awesome.

This week was pretty great! On New Year's Eve, like unto Christmas Eve, we had to come home early. But we were gifted some tamales by more than one sister we visited (tamales are GOOD!), so we had something to feast on. Also, due to a lack of movie theaters in rural Honduras, movies come to DVD a lot faster here (let's call that the reason) so we watched the new Disney movie, Frozen. Oh my goodness! Such an incredible film. Hermana Harmon and I were hooked. And then the twist came around and we were yelling for at least three minutes "NO! No puede ser! Digame que no es asi!" We were a little torn up about it. But all ended happily (we should know, we rewatched the ending about three times) and we have already begun integrated quotes from that movie into our daily lives. And I have all of the songs stuck in my head, so I wander around and sing them. Sometimes in Spanish. (Just imagine it--La puerta es el am-oooooooooooooooooooor!) So that's great.

Hra. Harmon and I are keeping pretty busy, but that's the way we like it. We are still visiting fam. Huezo faithfully, and every single one of them (including a sister who doesn't even sit in on our lessons) came to church this week! The dangerous part is that it was fast and testimony meeting, and there had been a temple trip on this last Friday, so everyone who bore their testimony talked about sealing and work for the dead. The bishop came in to the Basic Dotrines class and introduced himself to all of the investigators and explained that he was available to answer any questions, and then asked if anyone had questions, and Marco Huezo launched into what does sealing mean and is it necessary for salvation, etc. And after 10 minutes of that, the bishop said "Hermano, the missionaries will be able to answer those questions for you when they come to visit." And we were both thinking, Bishop! We do this EVERY DAY! It is your turn! But apparently when we go to visit tonight, we will have the great blessing of answering questions for an hour. Seriously though, it is a blessing. We are so happy that the fam. Huezo is doing so much work to investigate the church and as of right now, they are all progressing nicely to be baptized on the 18th.

We are discovering this week that here in Honduras it is much more common to have family than to have neighbors. About five times this week, we had to say, Wait, you're cousins/sisters-in-law/brothers? Are you kidding? The best one was a girl who sat in on one of our lessons and said, I'm his cousin, and then a few minutes later we referenced one of our other investigators and she said, That's my mom. And then we asked why she didn't live with her mother, and she says, "You know Marco who lives in La Gran Villa (very close to our house)? I live in that same house. Marco is my brother in law." And I'm thinking, the gosple has now come at you from three different directions. I think it's time you were an investigator. But it's kind of magical that families live so close here. No need to take a car or a plane, you can just walk over to your sister's or your parent's or your uncle's house and hang out. It's pretty cool. And it also gives people great motivation to come to church, ie You are Johanna's cousin? She's coming to church this week--when you come, you can sit with her!

It's also pretty amazing how many people are ready and willing to listen to the message of the gospel. We talked to a pair of sisters the other day at a pulperia (like a corner store sort of thing) and they invited us to come back and meet their family, and they are super pilas! We are seeing mighty changes of heart and miracles in people's lives--being a missionary is pretty amazing!

Aside from being amazing, being a missionary is also pretty fun. Hra Harmon and I are generally having a pretty good time. On the way out of a lesson yesterday, she got distracted by a couple of kids and ended up almost walking into a rather old, rather drunk man. She corrected herself by sticking her hand out in the defensive "I am a missionary, I only do handshakes" stance, but after firmly grasping her hand for longer than is acceptable (and I'm looking at his glazed over expression and I'm ready to start saying "Drunk, Hermana! He's REALLY drunk!") he says, "Feliz año nuevo!" (but imagine that in your best inebriated, toothless Spanish man voice) and starts pulling her in for the hug. That's when I took my companion firmly by the shoulders, told the man, Escuse us, and yanked her away from him. He really did have a good grip on her. But we got away and took off down the street laughing. It just got funnier and funnier the more we thought about it. It was lucky though that I got my brownie points for saving her in the afternoon, because in the evening Hra. Harmon officially joined the dog bite club! He didn't get her very good--it just looks like a little scrape, it didn't even bleed. But I guess I need to work on my judgement skills, because as this dog started barking I thought "He's just defending his territory, which is over there. We are walking on a horizontal plane parallel to his territory, so he won't pursue." Yes, that was the word in my head. But he did pursue. Whoops. We've decided that the dogs of Campana are posessed by deamons because it's way Satan can think of to deter us from the work. Guess he's getting pretty desperate :)

I am so grateful for this time that I have to serve as a missionary. The Lord is teaching me so much about who He wants me to be, and it is such a miracle that day after day He keeps giving me the opportunity to change. Even more, it is a miracle that day after day He is trusting me with His precious children here in Campana. I love the Lord, I love His gospel, and I love to be one of His missionaries! 2014, here I come!

Les quiero mucho!
Hermana Pickett

P.S. Muy feliz cumpleaños to Uncle Craig, Uncle Ron, and Jake! Hope it's a happy day!

So these wonderful people "built a bridge" through the river we wade through, so we can do it mostly without wading now! It's a miracle! We had to take pictures!