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