Monday, August 18, 2014

Chad Fell Down

Baleadas and Divisiones--fun times with Hna Ugarte! 

Judith and Jonathon Fernandez Alvarado--cutest family ever

On top of the world! 

Got caught in another rainstorm--called to serve, aún en las tormentas!

Hello all! I hope you are having a wonderful week! It was another fun one down here in Sta Barbara!

This week started out with a district meeting on the importance of short lessons, so we've been doing that a lot. Gospel sharing tip: ever felt self concious or awkward in a long conversation about the gospel? In our experience on the mission, spiritual potency lasts about 15-30 minutes max, and that is helped greatly if the conversation is shared, rather than dominated by one person. Hence, we try to teach brief but powerful lessons, taking short turns between the compañeras and asking lots of inspiried questions. Try that sometime, it works great! So this week, teaching short lessons, we got LOTS done! And the best part is that the members in this branch are really excited about participating in the work, so we were backed up by a lot of powerful testimonies. I love that. Always go teaching with the missionary. It's a blessings-blessings-blessings situation (think win-win-win, but in a gospel circumstance).

We have been teaching a woman lately named Walquidia, and her oldest son, Axel. She's pretty funny. She has been absolutely inactive for a long time, but since the day we found them she is down to business, 100%, family history active. It's awesome. The problem now is that her records have been lost, so she might have to be baptized again. She's game for that. So she and her son have baptismal dates on the 6th, if necessary. I like her. We've also been visiting a kid named Byron, who has a lot of friends in the church, and he came on Sunday (we were totally not expecting that). He had a legitimately good reason not to come, and he came anyway! That never happens! so we're pretty pleased with him. I'll keep you posted.

We've been working a lot with fam. Fernandez this week (last week I called them fam. Hernandez. That's my bad, we definitely heard them incorrectly). On Wednesday we had divisions with the Sister Leader Trainers, so Hermana Davila and Hermana Ugarte went to the first half of our lesson/baleada night with them and Hermana Porter and I (Porter/Pickett reunite AGAIN!) finished it up. The husband is having his mighty change of heart, little by little. On Friday we went to see how Judith was doing, because she had been feeling a little sick on Wednesday. When we got there, she was sick with a fever and head ache, and couldn't eat or drink anything without throwning up. To top it off, the poor thing had a two year old climbing all over her. (Shoutout to motherhood--moms are my heroes). We asked her and Marvin if they would like us to call someone so that she could receive a blessing, and they said yes. So our DL and his comp came, explained a little more about the priesthood and blessings, and blessed her to heal. When we visited the next morning, she was out of bed and energetic, telling us how she had already felt much better the night before. Her husband had said, very similar to the words of the closing prayer he had offered (for the first time!) that of course she would heal, because she had been anointed and blessed by brethren with authority from God. MIRACLE! When we invited them to be baptized on Sunday, he didn't bring up his previous worry about being rebaptized, and I am quite sure that that is because he has had first hand experience with where authority from God really lies. He's a little doubtful about the two of them being able to get married in the near future...but that's okay, we'll get there.

Speaking of miracles received through priesthood blessings, we visited a family of relatively new investigators this week, and they couldn't sit down for a lesson because their two year old daughter was very sick with a high fever. We were with a young man who is preparing for his mission, Johnny. We asked if he felt comfortable giving a blessing, and he said that he hadn't ever done that before but if he could read the words out of the mission handbook, it would be fine. When we went back, Oneda, the child's mother, told us her baby had fallen asleep and slept peacefully all through the night after we left, and now has no trace of her fever. The whole family, including Oneda's husband (who has never heard us talk about the gospel) recognized that it was the blessing that made the difference. I am so grateful for the portion of His power and authority that God has granted unto us, and that if we have the faith and obedience necessary, we can expect miracles in our lives.

Hermana Davila and I went on an adventure to a new pueblo called San Vincente this week, and we loved that quaint little town! (Yes, I am applying quaint to a town here. It's appropriate) We're hoping to have a lot of interested people there. We had sopa de mondongo again (always an adventure) and had more frustrations with the lights going out before we are ready to come in for the night. We are helping the presidencies of the Yong Men and Young Women's organizations to plan a "Mini CCM", and we think that's going to be really cool. It's not happening until September, but it's going to be really cool. We played ultimate frisbee today and I, like Chad, fell down (hence the subject line). I think I jammed my ankle...and that hurts a lot. But I'm sure I'll be able to walk without wanting to cry soon, so that's fine! What really gets me is that I'll probably have to take a break from running for two weeks or so. I really like running. So more doing silly things on P-day, like falling down.

I am so glad to be a missionary! I love it. It is the best work I can do. There is a fair share of hard moments, and weird moments, like the fact that I haven't had an appetite for anything but chocolate milk this week (Shoutout to Hermana Hickman) (Parents, I consummed more than chocolate milk. Worry not.) But I love it. I love knowing that I am doing what God wants me to be doing. There's no better feeling than that. I hope we can all share in that this week.

I love you all!
Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

21: Old Enough to Drink (not interested) and Go On a Mission (already there!)

Even with the poncho, we were soaked on Thursday night! My skirt was so full of water, it was falling off!

That apartment up on the second floor is where we live! 

We visit this big field every morning to run laps. Hurray for fitness! (And for losing two inches off of my hips, because that happened.)

Birthday stash! SO DELICIOUS! (And that blue striped dress is the cutest ever!)

¡Buenas tardes! It is another lovely afternoon here in in Santa Barbara, about 88 degrees and sunny (there is a new weather feature on my Missionary homepage, so I am now very well informed about the climate here). And today is my first Pday as a 21 year old! We borrowed the oven in the church to make a cake (Parents sent the cake mix and we actually found real Duncan Hines frosting in a random pulperia). President Dester wished me a happy birthday first thing on Tuesday, I was sung to by two large groups of elders (because the only other sister for two zones is my companion) and I had a new, pretty dress to wear. Add in the bag of peanutbutter M&Ms and it was the perfect cumpleaños.

We didn't do very many exciting things with our Pday after the pizza explosion last week, but last Tuesday was our multi-zone conference. We went to a place called Merendon, which is the zone just outside of San Pedro (and one of the most dangerous zones in the mission--they can't send sisters there! FUN!) and were enlightened and inspiried by the wise words of President and Sister Dester, the APs (of which we have four, two assistants in the office and two "training assistants", who are constantly traveling to assist in training) and the Zone leaders of zona Cofradía (my zone) and zona Merendon. Here's a Its a Small World moment: my two previous district leaders, Elder Pace and Elder Rodriguez, are now companions, serving as the zone leaders in Merendon. As I greeted the two, there was a look between them like "You know her!?" It was kind of funny. Sister Dester reminded us of the Church standard of emergency preparedness, and we have all been assigned to prepare an emergency backpack. That brought back so many fond childhood memories of Jansport backpacks in the storage room, amid piles of canned dried apples and powdered milk. I guess only Mormon kids have childhood memories of food storage, right?

On Wednesday, we were blessed to have as our companion hermana Cindy Lopez, who is our branch president's wife. She never had the chance to serve a mission but she is a spectacular missionary! We were amazed, moment after moment, by the power of her testimony and teaching, and were inspired by her example of fulfilling our duty to preach the gospel. We were also incredibly blessed to meet a beautiful new family, though on Wednesday we only met two of the members. More to follow below.

We spent more time in on of the outlying neighborhoods of our area, a place called La Ceibita, also accompanied by members. The members actually are willing to go out teaching with us here! It's a miracle! Hermana Davila and I had the opportunity to learn how to form a semita, which is a delicious and pretty roll commonly enjoyed here in Honduras. We also had a great visit with a woman named Suyapa, who seems very prepared to progress and is only missing the opportunity and drive to come to church. That night, we had the first of what will be many in the branch practice of Fellowshipping Nights, which (for right now) are gatherings of about 15 people in the home of an investigator or less active member, wherein the lesson is taught by members and the purpose is to increase faith. We visited a woman who has not come to church after having a bad experience with other members, but she gave us a reference to visit her family member after the lesson (she's never given us a reference before) and her son, who is only slighly more active than she is, did come to church. Baby steps. There fell a torential downpour that night, so we huddled under the emergency poncho (another 100 points to Mom) and spent the evening in the dark. It's going to be such a shocker for me when I live in a place where the lights going out isn't a daily occurance.

Now then, I mentioned an awesome new family. They are composed of Marvin and Judith Hernandez (which is officially my favorite last name) and their small son, Johnathon. They had been being taught previously by the elders, but Marvin did not share his wife's interest in the gospel and requested that the missionaries stop coming. Upon arriving, we, the elders, and Judith alike were pretty worried that Marvin wouldn't be interested in having Mormon missionaries in his home again. But his sweet wife has been praying that he would listen to us, and he is listening. Last night was our second lesson with the pair and Judith offered a beautiful prayer, asking to know if the gospel was true so that their family could recieve the blessings of eternity. I am sure I will have miracles to share about this family very soon.

This really is a wonderful area. We are working our way up to achieving our wildest dreams slowly, and I have yet to see one of our investigators come to church, but we met a woman last week named Walquidia, who has been inactive for 14 years, but who came to church with her children and stayed for all three meetings, like it was the most natural thing in the world. We are finding more people every day who are happy and interested to hear the gospel, and who look at us like "Do you have what I have been waiting for?" And then we testify that yes, we do have what they are searching for. I know that this is the true and living church of Jesus Christ, and that it stirrs the souls of our investigators because it is the only way to receive the blessings that every child of God yearns for. I love Him, I love the gospel, and I love my opportunity to share it.

I love being a missionary! This Saturday I completed my thirteenth month in the mission, but it still feels like I started yesterday. We taught yesterday with a young woman who recently returned from her mission in Guatemala, and I love seeing her light up as she participates in the work. I know that being a missionary is something that I will never really finish, even if I have to take my plaque off eventually. I may not always be able to wear my Savior's name on a badge, but I will certainly be able to have it written upon my heart forever. I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and that we can all take the opportunity to share this wonderful gospel with someone!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, August 4, 2014

Catracho Italiano

Hello! Here's a shocker--I'm sitting directly under the fan and I've been sitting here for a long time, so I am FREEZING! If you were wondering, yes, it is very possible to be very cold in Honduras.

I am loving Santa Barbara. This is such an awesome area to work in! There is plenty to do, there are plenty of members willing to work with us, our branch president is beyond legit, and the power stopped going out every night. Who could ask for anything more?

Something that we've been doing a lot lately is making pizza. Turns out people here really, really like pizza. Like, a lot. And there isn't a chain pizza restaurant here, so there are a lot of people who figure they might as well just make people at home. Problem: said people don't know how to make pizza. What does the big question become? "Hey, White girl! Can you make pizza?" Fortunately, yes I can. And I have been doing so. Last Monday, at the end of P-day, we went next door to our neighbors (the really nice ones who made us sopa de mondongo) and we made pizza. The really exciting part was the sauce, because I've never had to make pizza sauce from scratch before. The husband of this couple was very funny, continually offering to help or taste test or do whatever was necessary and his wife said "Amor, don't you think she can handle it?" and he said, "But, I'm a professional--soy italiano!" The pizza turned out quite well (especially the sauce, surprisingly), although the crust was a little thin. We solved that problem today, when at the suggestion of one of the elders in our district we made pizza with a less active sister in the ward. There was enough dough for four very thick crusts, but we were too hot and tired to finish. We've got another pie's worth in the freezer.

The other big to do of this week was our monthly branch activity, the branch talent show. If you think Mormon talent shows are a big deal in the states, you should see them in Central America. For the most part, it was a really cool and really enjoyable experience. We as the missionaries had planned to perform as a district, and we ended up singing Hark All Ye Nations, but we accompanied it with the cup game, kind of like in Pitch Perfect. Fun fact--any song written in 4/4 time will work with the cup game. So after much practicing, that turned out pretty legit. Hermana Davila and I couldn't really decide on something to do as a companionship, but we had made a lot of jokes about singing Let It Go in a mix of English and Spanish, so that ended up happening. It was so cute--all of the little girls in primary were singing along! I think I definitely have a solid option for the family Christmas talent show this year (my submission will be via Skype...about 12 hours late...whoops). The Elders put on a skit about "whipping the district into shape". It was very funny, but all of the jokes were missionary inside jokes, so other than the Justin Beiber parody, nobody got very excited about it except Hna Davila and I. Poor elders. There was also a lot of really cool cultural dancing--let me say, I hope that when I'm a slightly age advanced woman in Relief Society like some of the ladies here, I can still shake it like they can. There were also some slightly uncomfortable parts of the show, like the couple that lipsynced a song about I Will Wait for You in the Mission (apparently it made our elders miss their girlfriends really badly) and the girl that belly danced entirely too well and the young women dancing slightly provocatively to a Shakira song...oh, well! Fun anyway! That event took up pretty much our entire day on Friday, and we talked and planned for it all week, so I don't really know what to do now that it's over. I feel like Inigo Montoya after he finally got his revenge. I guess there's always the piracy option...

I really am glad that I am serving here. We keep finding random inactive members, like we're on an eternal salvation Easter egg hunt. We have a couple of semi-promising investigators, but I know that there is no end to the miracles that I will see in this area. I feel so blessed for the opportunity to work in this area. I love it already. The elders in El Centro had a baptism on Saturday, and they asked me to speak on the Holy Ghost. It was a really great opportunity to remember why we get baptized, and furthermore, why there are so many missionaries teaching about baptism. We were reading the scriptures about the conversions among the Lamanites by Ammon and his brethren yesterday and we realized that we can be that kind of missionary--that kind of incredible influence in someone's life. I hope that some day, someone could write about the people that I taught that they "never did fall away". I love the Lord and I love this chance I have to serve Him. I know that this church is true. I have felt the happiness that it has brought to me and I am always seeing the blessings it brings to others. Know it, live it, love it!

Have a wonderful week! And go ahead and fondly remember the day that you completed 21 years of life because I'm doing that TOMORROW! I'm finally old enough to be a sister missionary!

Hermana Pickett

PS Happy birthdays to Annie, Addy, Becca, and Sam! I LOVE you guys!