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