Monday, April 28, 2014

Three Exotic Birds, Two Transfers, and a "Peace Offering" Papaya

Pickett and Cumatz--Twelve weeks of wonderful!

Hello! If's been another great and HOT week out here in Copán. Like the kind of week that makes a person remember that they live in Central America. But I'm not going to complain too much, because we still live in the most temperate part of the mission, so everyone else has it so much worse than I do.

Anyhow, we passed another lovely week. A lot of our appointments fell through, but not quite so many as usual. And most of the times that we were going to teach with members, they didn't end up coming with us. But one did, and that's a lot more than usual! So that's great. We're really trying to help our investigators capture the vision of progressing in the gospel, because most of them are in the mindset of "I'll just receive blessings from talking to the missionaries and nothing else." That's a good first step, but...well, first steps should coincide with first lessons, not first months. But we continue on! We met a new investigator this week named Maria Concepción, who has just about the saddest life story I've ever heard: her husband was murdered, her children were taken away from her after she was ruled an unfit mother (whe's epileptic), and she is living in depression because of the uncertainty that is living with epilepsy. She came to church on Sunday, but she had a seizure in Sunday School. I think if there is anyone that needs the gospel promise of "to bind up the broken hearted", she definitely qualifies. I am glad that we have the chance to share the blessings of the gospel with her.

We also found a new family to teach this week. The downside is that they live in Santa Rita, which is about 15 minutes by bus from Copán. BUT they have a car! A car! So it shouldn't be too big of a problem. While we were having our initial contact lesson, I couldn't stop thinking how much they remind me of fam. Huezo...that would be cool, to have another family like that. I'll keep you posted.

So here's the fun story of the week: Hra Cumatz and I, having finished our day on Friday, were compelled to search out several tamales that we had purchased the day before and had been left with our neighbor in our absense that afternoon. We have come to know that said neighbor left them with the woman who sold them (another neighbor) later in the afternoon because she was headed out with her friends. But we were unaware. So, unaware, we went looking for them. We were greeted by her husband (Husband) and his friend (Friend), who were very kind in helping us but also very drunk. Like brown liquor and shot glasses drunk, with another drink in hand. Red flag. Anyway, after acertaining that the tamales were not there, we shrugged it off and went to plan. But while we were planning, Friend came to ask us how it is that we have fun if we can't drink (he started listing, no alcohol, no sugar, no coffee, and we're thinking, Whoa, whoa, whoa. No sugar?) And while we might have said, Why would we want to drink when we can see what that alcohol is doing to you? You just walked up to two little sister missionaries, in their house, with a glass of something in your hand. But we took the opportunity to be representatives of Jesus Christ, and we very briefly explained the Word of Wisdom. Which launched him into what he would call expressing curiosity about our church, and what I would call 45 minutes of attempting to destroy faith. Not exaggerating. He let us have it about how there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon and what a sinner Joseph Smith was and how much anyone and everyone else in the world would say that we are sinners also. I just kept thinking about the cunning lawyers in 3 Nephi who were saying "It is not reasonable". Well, it was one of those life moments in which we have to say, "Do I really believe this?" And yeah, I do. So we calmly listened to him belittle and degrade our religion, bore simple testimony, gave him a pamphlet about the Restoration, and invited him to church. Afterwards, feeling a little heavy in spirit for having been raked across the coals without reason, I was enlightened by the words of Elder Holland's talk, in the which he said " Dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world."  That man showed up to church on Sunday, not to stay for the meeting, but to apologize for his rudeness under the influence of alcohol (yet again, we resisted the urge to point out our obvious reasons for not drinking) and gave us a papaya as a peace offering. His words, not mine. I don't like papaya, but Her Cumatz said it was good.

This day we had to have an especially special P-day, because we found out that Hra Cumatz definitely has a transfer this time. Surprisingly, Elder Pace has one also. That's pretty weird, because this means that, for the first time in almost eight months, someone other than Elder Pace is going to be my district leader. Strange. So we went to Copán's other big tourist attraction, the bird park. Let me tell you, that's the coolest $3 I ever spent. We walked through the rainforest for about 45 minutes and saw really, really epic birds. I felt like I was living in the movie Rio. It was a really fun day and a good way to end these twelve wonderful weeks with Hra Cumatz.

I love this mission and the chance I have to serve it. I love the Lord and His gospel, and the chance I have to stand boldly with those who through the ages have boldly said, as Mormon, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ." I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and that your studies of Preach My Gospel are going great (I finished chapter 4 this week, and I really do feel more able to receive and understand inspiration from the Spirit. Worked).

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Pickett

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Hottest Week of the Year

Heat shaped rocks! I've been collecting them, but we decided that this one was too big to take home

this is how pinapples grow! HOW COOL IS THAT! This person's yard was just covered in growing pinapples! 

What nine months of mission does to a pair of crocs

Hello from Copán! The sun is shining, the heat is turned waaaaay up (for Copán, anyway) and the power has only gone out once today!

For my entire 9.25 months here in Honduras, everyone has told me "Oh yeah, it's hot today. But just wait for La Semana Santa (the Holy Week). That's when it's hot." And after some amount of time I figured out that said Holy Week is the week before and including Easter Sunday, and I kept thinking, Well that's not until April, so it's fine. Yeah, it's April. And it's getting a little warm. Dad wrote that it was 68 and sunny at Annie's house this last week. I could go for 68 and sunny. Even though I would probably die of cold and wear two sweaters and my rain coat. What I really don't want to think about is coming home in January, when there will probably be snow...but that is why we focus on the now!

So what is happening in the now...Well, I have listened to all of the sessions of conference three times through now. And it keeps being awesome! I love--no, that deserves all caps-- I LOVE Elder Holland's talk, Elder Ballard's talk, Elder Uchtdorf's talk, Elder Bednar's talk...I think I just loved them all. But I have found it so much easier to be focused on the work and positively hopeful about the progression of this area as I immerse myself in the words of the prophets. So, life tip from Sister Pickett: If you're feeling down, pick a random session of conference and crank up the volume. It's a fail free pick me up :) Also, I am very excited to hear about what all of you are studying in Preach My Gospel. It's pretty much the best book ever, not counting the scriptures, so yeah. Read it, live it, love it!

The work carries right along in its usual way out here in Copán. We didn't have very many opportunities to see our investigators that we were really excited about last week, because they were kind of hiding from us. Lame. But we prevail! On Wednesday we had the kind of day where everything, point blank everything, falls through. So at 5 pm when we arrived at the Church to watch the General Women's session (because we missed it the first time) and no one was there...well, we both sat/lied down on the floor of the Church and thought, really? But about 15 minutes later, one of our members showed up, and then some of our investigators came (YAY!) and more and more women and girls filtered in until there were 14 whole people there. That's pretty impressive, because if we say that with two missionaries we had 16 people, and that our church attendance this week was 27 people, that's a pretty big percentage. And apart from the fact that seeing the adorable elderly couple in the second video presentation of that broadcast (Ladies, you know what I'm talking about) made Hra Cumatz and I a little baggy (trunky), it was wonderful!

Oh, I totally forgot! We had interviews with President Dester this week. We all went into La Entrada (which is 2.5 hours in a bus for us) for our district meetings and President and Sister Dester and the APs came to visit us. I love so much the opportunities that I have to talk with President Dester. He reassured me that the success in our area especially is not measured in statistics and that he is overjoyed with the work that we are doing. Sister Dester brought us apples and donughts to munch on. She's so sweet--as she passed out these beatiful, frosting covered, fried dough bits of heaven, she was apologizing that she couldn't bring more. We reassured her that donughts were pretty much Christmas. Second Sister Pickett life tip: Donughts are really good almost frozen. I can't explain it, it's just delicious.

And speaking of the wonderfulness that is the President/Sister Dester combination, today they came out to Copán with our mission nurse to find a good clinic out here, just in case, and they took us to lunch. And not just any lunch, like Super Pollo Express. They invited us to lunch at the restaurant of the nicest hotel in town. And except for when we used to eat at the country club in PA and Kelsey's wedding reception at the Joseph Smith building, that restaurant is the nicest place I have ever eaten at in my life. So parents, please know that not only was I well fed today, I also had a refresher course in how to use table manners.

Well, that's just about all of my news this week. I fell down yesterday and cut my leg up a little, but it was worth the pain just to hear Hra Cumatz rattle off on me about how I should be more careful walking, how I was going to break my ankle some day, about how I needed to stop and clean it out better (I used my water bottle), etc. Every other sentence was punctuated with "Que barbaridad!" She's got a sweet heart, that Chapina. I also found out that a person can be allergic to mosquitos and I am, which is why my bites swell up so bad. But Sister Dester gave me some stronger repellant and our mission nurse, Sister Bayles, told me that I should be able to use an anti-hystemine or anything to treat allergies and that should help. And, due to some very overly enthusiastic exercise, I made myself a heat pack and finally figured out a feasible way to make an ice pack. I put that ice on my achilles tendon and this morning I could see my ankles. I have not seen my ankles in a long time. That made me pretty happy.

Oh, and just for giggles, we heard the mission legend of the ghost who used to live in the building where we have church. Elder Polendo saw him. It went down. But apparently there haven't been any problems since the building was dedicated, so it's fine.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Enjoy the words of the prophets--they are the mouthpiece of the Lord! I know that Christ is our Savior, that God is our Heavenly Father, and that this church is Theirs and it is true!

Con mucho amor,
Hra Pickett

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just about ready to pop!

I don't really have pictures from this week, except the one I took to send to my investigators. I don't know if it's blog material, but here's proof that I'm not bruised up or anything 

Guess what happens in two day? I'm going to finish NINE MONTHS on my mission! Nine! Not only is that the required length of time to gestate human life, it's half of my mission! This is CRAZY!

Okay, so appart from that insanity, and the urge to entitle this week's email "One baby down, one more to go!" (fought that urge) this week was especially magnificent because, of course, we and the whole world had the opportunity to hear the voice of God through the mouths of His prophets and apostles. What blessing is better than that? Keep in mind, we do live in a third world country, and third world internet can be pretty sketchy. So we had some technical difficulties. And then there's the fact that, still being in a third world country, the power can arbitrarily cut out. And you can't really watch conference without power. But there was a lot of prayer power and some great leaps of faith and seven of our investigators actually came, so it was great! For some strange reason, my spanish brain works a lot better listening to people in person that listening to the translators during conference, so even the few talks that I did get to see didn't register that well. But I have successfully downloaded the audio from conference onto my MP3 player (yeah, that makes me feel pretty Mormon, I love it) so I can enjoy conference in English! Hurray! And I am pretty excited for Elder Ballard's talk, because I have heard about it from various people now and evidently it is awesome. So I'm psyched!

We had somewhat of a slow week. We have a string of bad luck with our appointments falling through, as always. And the members don't really want to come teaching with us. And people go into their houses, close the door, and crank up their music (Curse you, Prince Royce!) when they see us coming. So that's not exactly the ideal mission life situation. But no one has thrown mashed potatoes or spit on my this week, or any week in the last nine months, so we're good. Oh, bless that sister's heart: "Sometimes, it's hard to be a missionary." That's the gospel truth. But, I will once again invoke Tom Hanks and say that it's supposed to be hard--the hard is what makes it great. So we're good!

We've got a couple of people we're feeling pretty excited about lately. There's Santos and her family, which consists mostly of five straight up adorable kids, who showed up without their parents (Santos' husband was sick, so she had to stay at home with him) to the Sunday morning session of conference. We've also got Byron, who read half of Alma 18 and promptly decided that he would like to read the entire Book of Mormon. That's fine with us! Most precious to my heart this week is a woman named Glenis, who due to a long stream of  hearbreak that cumulated with the death of her sister, has lost not only her faith but her feeling as well. She told us, trying to ignore the tears slipping down her face, that she just felt empty--that she didn't even think she loved her son, that she worries that people make up their faith just so they have something to live for, and that she's sure that if God does exist, He wants nothing to do with her. I think one of the most incredible responsibilties we have as missionaries is the opportuinity we have to tell people that God loves them. It is the message that restores hope to the broken soul, that raises the head drooped for years in doubt, and that allows the light to break through the profound and seemingly inpenatrable darkness of loneliness. As we testified to her that God lives, she asked in a small voice, Do you think He sees something good in me? The Spirit opened my mouth and the words poured out, without hesitation, "I know He does." We are going back to see her tonight, and she and her sister-in-law are already excited to come with us to watch the General Women's session of conference on Wednesday (we're watching it late). Her sister-in-law is pretty cute. I realized someone was standing over my shoulder, and I looked up to see this woman's face, inches from mine, peering at the pages of the Book of Mormon. With wonder, she asked "Where are you reading from?" We're taking two copies of the Book of Mormon with us tonight.

Also, as a random note, this weekend we took a little time to ponder the wonderful, wonderful words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (because we are missionaries and that is what we do with our free time when there is an internet present). As a result, I would like to invite everyone to revisit Elder Holland's addresses from the April sessions of conference in 2013 and 2009, and also Elder Holland's first address in a session of General Conference, which he gave in a Priesthood session in 1983. That last one is entitled Within the Clasp of Your Arms. So powerful are the words of Elder Holland that, not only did I mostly cry while I listened, but Sister Cumatz mostly cried several hours later as I made a feeble attempt to translate it. I love listening to the words inspired of the Lord. I feel so much more apt to serve after this weekend of conference, like I plugged myself into the power socket of the Conference Center and recharged for the next six months.

Whoa. After the next General Conference I'll only have three more months of my mission.

Well, with that scary thought, I want to reshare my testimony of the truthfullness of this gospel. I know that it is true. I know that God is our Father, and that He loves us. I have felt pieces of that love, not only for myself but for others of His children, and it is a love far too big, too complex, and too profound for us to understand. But that does not detract from the power with which He sheds that light upon us. I love Him, and I am so honored and happy that He has trusted me to testify of that love to His children here in Copán Ruinas.

Have a magnificent week!

Hra Pickett