Monday, July 7, 2014

Last Post!

Alfredo accepted a date to be baptized.  Last week he was freaking out and wanting to go back to Estrella.  It ends up that he was joking!  Honestly, he is solid, ready for baptism.  We are all on the same page now that I know he is just a jokester.  August 9th is the date.  I want to come back for that, hopefully with Hermana Dayton.  We found him on the street in Agua Fria as companions.  She continued to teach him after I left Estrella.  When he moved to Solano, I taught him and helped him set a baptismal date. Talk about tender mercies.  I love him.

Martin, I don't know what to say about him. When he walked into Gospel Principles yesterday, I started crying because "after this I won't be able to turn around and get that good feeling to see my investigators walk into class".  Also, it was fast and testimony meeting.  That was yesterday and it was rough.  Alfredo fasted with us!  He had been struggling with the concept of fasting, but he did it!  Last night, we texted him asking how the fast went.  He said he has recuperated. :) 

I got to meet President and Sister Griffin.  They are really cool.  They are very very different than President and Sister Taylor.

For the 4th, we had to be in our house by 6 pm.  We had our BBQ (In and Out) with Sister Davis.  Also, I made my Oreo shake that came from great grandpa.  We gave Annie, the Davis dog, a bath and cleaned out Sam’s horrid smelling cage.  Then, we organized and went through stuff in our room.  It was fun.

On Thursday we were supposed to have a coordination meeting.  There was a sandstorm.  We just stood outside, the missionaries and a ward mission leader, in the sand storm!  It was so fun!  I was still cleaning dirt from my ears the next day.

Solano had another missionary come home last week.  He was at church yesterday.  It was weird.  Even weirder was the fact that he looked like David Archuleta and laughed like me.  When I'm telling a funny story, I tend not to be able to make it through without stopping to laugh.  My companion freaked out because she said this newly returned mission does this exactly like me.   

The sad news of the week is that I have a bright green banded watch that I love, but it smells really bad so I use this other watch.  My second watch is all fancy looking but it has been dying for a long time.  I wanted this second watch to make it till the end of my mission.  To accommodate it, I would frequently throughout the day readjust the time.  My accommodation is just not working.  So, let it be known that today, the last p-day of my mission, I am buying a new watch.  In a week when I have a phone, I will probably never use it again.

Today, we have our zone activity. It ends up that I and Sister Welch planned and assigned everything.  It reminds me of the story of the camel that asked its owner if it could just put its nose inside the tent while the storm was there.  In the end, little by little, the camel was all inside the tent and the owner out in the storm.  That is what happened with this.   It started with, "Sisters, what do you think we should do for our June zone activity?"  

I started the Book of Mormon over again.  I was reading Lehi’s dream and trying to understand the differences between the second group and the third group of people approaching the tree. It said they both caught hold of the rod of iron. One pressed forward clinging to it and the other pressed their way forward continually holding fast.  I have been thinking about that difference a lot.  I don't know exactly what Nephi meant by that, but I see that the second group implies clinging to the word of God. The third group implies more of a secure anchor in the word of God to the point where they didn't lose their vision of the tree, or Jesus Christ.  When they made it to the tree, they recognized Him and kneel down. The scriptures have the power to anchor us and help us keep our vision set on Christ as we press our way forward.   Rather than just cling to every detail in the scriptures, the atonement as explained in the Book of Mormon is the way we can become someone more like our Savior.  It is a process that comes from continually holding fast as we press our way forward.  I hope that makes sense.  I liked it.

I know the Book of Mormon testifies of my Savior. I know it because I feel something different as I read the book. I have come to understand and feel the power of His Atonement in my life.  I feel it most as I read it and apply it to my current desires and struggles.  I testify that the power of the atonement is real. It not only cleanses us but it gives us power to act and love others beyond our own.  I am so grateful that I have made a covenant to always share that.  It is a covenant that does not go away when I take my name tag off.

Well... Talk to you soon!  Love ya!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Last Exchange, Ever!

I just finished my last exchange ever.  Hermana Hansen came here!  I'm done with exchanges!  Yeah!! This week we get to meet the new mission president, President Griffin, and have a short interview with him.  For the Fourth of July, we are having a fast food barbeque at the Davis home where we live.  Sister Davis is going to buy “In and Out”.  I am so excited.

Yesterday, I spoke in sacrament meeting. I also accompanied Hermana Welch as she sang.  I found out on Thursday night I was speaking.  I got to pick my own topic.  So, I talked about keeping covenants, how it takes faith and how missionary work is part of our covenant.  It was a mega intense talk, but it was fun.

At our zone meeting on Friday, it was my turn to give my departing testimony.  I never thought that would happen but it did.

I had three meetings with President and Sister Taylor last week.  It was hard to watch them have to say goodbye to each missionaries one at a time.  When it was my turn, it was hard. :(   The new mission president, President Griffin, will have officially taken over the mission by the time I finish typing this email and you are reading it.  I love the Taylor's.

Today, we are going to Denny's with our ward mission leader and maybe the Elders in our ward.  I asked for IHOP or Denny's just because I want breakfast for dinner.  It's my favorite.  The ward mission leader wanted to do something before I left.  That is super nice of him.

I want to write about how I feel about the next two weeks.  I am super happy that at the end of it, I will not have to deal with the heat.  I'm happy to move on with my life and continue progressing and do what God has asked me to do.  I am also sad to have to give up his special relationship I get to have with my Savior as I serve Him with everything I have.  That is something I know I will miss.  The thought of having to remove my name tag hurts.  But, I know that I will be where I am needed.  Shoot!  Imagine if we were never got released as missionaries.  Nothing would work!  So, if the missionaries in Chicago need help the week I am there, I’m available! But please don't go crazy. 

I love being able to watch my friends be baptized.  Something changes.   I love to watch them figure things out and come closer to God after their baptism than they ever would have dreamed before. I love to watch husbands or wives who choose to come to church alone and bring their children. I love to watch the ward leaders sacrifice so much to their fellow ward members, not because they receive anything in return but just because they believe they are serving God.  It's beautiful.  There is a feeling even better than knowing you have been forgiven.  It is when you help someone else feel that exact feeling.  That is the beauty of the Atonement.  Christ allows us to feel this.

Thank you for all of your support and love.  Love you!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good News

Last week was filled with exchanges. This week is filled with meetings!   This week is going to be good because, I get to see President and Sister Taylor one last time! Today we sent our last email to President Taylor.  That was sad.
Do you know what gumption means?  You should look it up.  It’s kind of cool.  Got gumption?

Yesterday was ward conference.  The choir asked my companion and me to sing with them.  For so many different reasons, it was possibly one of the best choir experiences of my life.  Oh how I love Solano.

Good news:  Martin has accepted a baptism date…for August 29th!  Why?  Because he is really not sure of anything and it is also the anniversary of his baptism into the Pentecostal Church.   I love him.  He is the best.
We had another crazy experience yesterday.  We were standing at the door through the first hour of church (Gospel Principles) waiting for Martin who woke up late and Alfredo who never came.  When I looked up, a different Martin walked in!  This Martin is the one I was teaching in Estrella.  He had disappeared.   That day he decided to take his friends invitation to come to church again.  I was in shock.  I felt so happy to see him at church.  We talked about his family and life.  It had been almost a full year since I had seen him.  So, we had two Martins at church.  Both were and are possibly the hardest people I have ever taught on my mission.

Alfredo, after the Father’s Day party just doesn't want to come to the Solano Ward.  He understands it’s not the people it’s the gospel.  Still, he is having a really hard time adjusting to the Solano after being part of the Estrella Ward, poor guy.   It’s rough.  But, Hermano Alarcon came with us to teach him the other night.  Wow, that was an experience.  That hermano was awesome!

My theme for this week is, “I don’t know what else to do so I’m just going to pray for these people.”

The reality of going home is starting to creep up.  There are moments, people, things that I have to leave that just break my heart.   I am so grateful that I feel this way.   I know I have loved.
Well, it’s going to be a crazy week.  But hopefully after this week the next two will be normal and slow.

Love ya,
Hermana Pickett

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

First, I need to apologize. I totally forgot last Monday that Father's Day was yesterday.  So, happy Father's Day to Dad, Tim, and Christian!

Daisy and Ruben were baptized!  Daisy sang her own special musical number. Daisy, Ruben and the rest of her family were so happy!  I love that family!  The day of their baptism was also the same day we went to the temple.  We had to get up really early to go to the temple so it was a long day.  Both I and my companion were emotionally exhausted and grumpy.  (Repentance is real!)   

Our special zone conference was sad.  President and Sister Taylor had to say good bye to all of the missionaries.  It was amazing to be able to hug both of them!  The only other time that has happened was in the temple for Christmas. I love President and Sister Taylor.  I'm super excited that they live in Provo.

In following President Taylor request that we finish our exchanges before July, we had and will have a crazy couple of weeks.  I think I will try and attach a picture of our calendar we made for this transfer. It's filled up until July.  We don't have a single day that does not involve an exchange or a meeting except for Sundays.  Crazy!

This last week I went to Estrella. I was sad to miss the Solano Ward Father's Day party in my ward.  Estrella, however, was awesome!  I got to see almost all of the members.  When I left, they gave me a whole flan for myself.  The flan is coming to good use today.   Hermana Welch and I planned today's district activity!  We are so excited!  It is a Mexican fiesta. The only thing that is really Mexican is the food theme.  We are playing the whipped cream game, whipped cream covered face with Cheetos darts.  We will also do the Oreo game where a companion has to feed the other from behind their tied arms blindfolded. We are so excited.  Guess what we are serving for refreshments?  My flan!  Yeah!  It's going to be good.

Martin went to the Father's Day party at the Solano Ward that I missed.  Apparently, the music was so loud you couldn't hear even if you were yelling.  So basically the Elders and my companion told me he looked miserable. The poor guy is probably so confused.  Anyway, Martin took it like a champ. He came to the baptism on Saturday and church yesterday even though he told us he had other things he had to do. He is the coolest!

Oh, the common theme this week has been the Spirit.  I've studied and taught a lot of people about how important the Spirit is and how he is so completely intertwined with enduring to the end.  How powerful it is to realize that the worst consequence of sin is that the Spirit cannot be with you.  Life without the companionship of the Spirit is just... not the same.  I have seen the difference in members who live their life focused on their desire to have the companionship of the Spirit, their “upward relationship”.  By trial and error they learn to fix the feelings that come from sin by repenting.  On the other hand, there are members who focus more on the being seen as a good member in others eyes, their "sideways relationships".   Throughout life, we all fit into both categories.  In the first, we use the atonement to endure and hence receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost consistently.  In the latter, we do not and end up feeling bitter, confused, and full of regret.   So, if we all live our life searching to feel and follow the Spirit, we will be happier because our “upward relationship” is stronger and is our foundation.

Other than that, it's hot.  I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Hot!

Daisy’s baptism is this Saturday!  She passed her interview yesterday!  I love that family.  The other day we asked Ruben, Daisy’s brother, to say the closing prayer before we left.  Ruben is 8.  It all got quiet as we waited for him to start.  When he did, he made random sounds...and kept going.  We did not laugh but looked at each other as he sat there continuing to make the sounds with his head bowed. His mom said, "In Spanish or English Ruben!"  He stopped and straight faced said, "What?  I'm saying it in Chinese!"   It was soooo funny.

Another time this week, we had to take a bathroom break at McDonald’s.  It was after 8 in the evening.  While Herman Welch was in the restroom, I started talking to a girl that was working there. Her name was Patience.  It was cool!  She was telling me about crazy stuff that happened to her at work.  We were just chatting.  It was good to talk, but then we left.  All I had going through my head was how THAT was missionary work. If I could tell the world one thing it would be to just talk with people.  Had I not been a missionary, I would have loved to get her number and invite her to come hang out with me and my friends.  Maybe even see movie?  Then, I would just be her friend.  Being her friend would lead to sharing the gospel.  Imagine a month later, "Hey, we are going to church tomorrow instead of a movie.  Do you want to come?"  There is power in not wearing a tag.  I wish everyone could see that and just talk with everyone.  That would be awesome!

This week I have studied a lot about the condescension of Jesus Christ and the atonement.  It has been powerful.  Here is the link to the article I thought was so good: ensign/2011/12/the-condescension-of-jesus-christ .  The article focuses on the fact that we will never be good enough to be where we want to be or who we want to be, or even who God knows we can be except for the ransom paid by Christ.  Jesus Christ was and is.  He was righteous enough and obedient enough.  Because of His goodness and His righteousness, I can have hope!  I love it.

Ali, the daughter in the family me and my companion live with, left this morning for EFY. Yesterday during our dinner, I watched her pack with her mom.  I had all sorts of good memories and feelings watching it.  I loved EFY.  I'm secretly hoping that she will come back this weekend and share the music with us. :)  Okay... so it's not a secret.

I want to go to Mexico soooo bad!!  I need to get a passport.  Viva Mexico!

This week we have our special zone conference to say good bye to president and sister Taylor.  We will be seeing them at MlC, Spanish training and I will see them on the 26th.  Love them!

Well, that's all I can really think of.  It's still hot.  I'm still wearing a skirt.  The church is still true.  Love ya!

Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Last Transfer!

I'm staying!!!  I will finish my mission in Solano with Hermana Welch!!!  I'm so excited that I don't have to leave for my last transfer.   It feels so good to know that I will be here till the end.  Hermana Welch is excited because it means she gets all the clothes I leave behind.  She is soooo excited about that.  Our district is awesome!  I loooove the Elders we work with in our ward.  They lighten the mood when things get rough.

Also... President Taylor called us this morning.  He has asked us to be Sister Training Leaders as well.  The miracle in this is... I get to go to transfers tomorrow!  I'm so excited to watch the slides and listen to the "Come Take Your Place" song one last time.   It's a big deal to me.  I love transfer meetings.  I've only missed two my whole mission.  This also means... exchanges again!

At zone meeting we were asked as a companionship to do a presentation on a self-worth graph we were taught in Specialized Sisters Training. We presented it and after talked through every member of our zone sharing with them a spiritual gift we had seen. It was a good experience. Missionaries can be really hard on themselves.  We have also been sharing spiritual gifts with members, investigators, and others.  It has led to some powerful experiences.  Last week, Sister Welch and I had run into a brick wall on how to help our area.  We pulled the car over and said a prayer.  Then, we changed our plans depending on the names that came to our mind. We first visited the house of a member of the ward mission presidency and sang a hymn.  We shared with him and his family their spiritual gifts.  It was a great experience.

We have been working with Karla’s family.  She, Andrew, Daisy, and Ruben are the best!  I love being in their home.  Karla has been Catholic, Jehovah Witness, and basically everything else.  Now, she has such a strong testimony. They had not been to church in a while but are so happy to be coming back. Daisy is almost nine and Ruben just turned eight, they will both be baptized next Saturday.  They are counting down the days.  Last night, we taught Daisy and Ruben about the Ten Commandments. Their mom wasn't home so we did it outside.  Ruben did come up with a zero commandment:  Don't punch people.  Then, we started practicing using our mouths as a water show.   I stink at it but have been working on it my whole mission.  It was a ton of fun but we ended with two soaking wet kids and I and Sister Welch running away to stay dry.  I love that family.

Well, what else can I say?  Oh Martin, I know he can do it. He understands his salvation is at stake. I swear I come out of every study or meeting with something for him. He’s still going to church.

Do you remember when I said that Hermana Dayton was teaching someone we both contacted in Agua Fria?  Well, he moved to our area.  Now I am teaching him and he wants to be baptized.  What!  Crazy! His name is Alfredo.  My mind was blown when I met him again.

This was my last transfer.  It's weird.  It's going to be really hard to leave this place behind, really, really hard.  I'm super sad I have to watch my mission president leave as well as all of the office staff!  I love them.  On the other hand, it is going to be nuts!  I can go to the temple finally!!!  When Hermana Welch and I became companions, her three months started right as mine ended.  Now that another three months have passed, we can go!  So, we are making a trip to the temple.   I am so excited!  Also, we will have a special good bye zone conference for President and Sister Taylor.  Then, there will be interviews with the new mission president, President and Sister Griffin.  There will also be a special Spanish training thing in there somewhere.  The whole transfer is going to be sooo good.

Well I love you all. I hope you have a great week!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Love Music

It's Hermana Welch's birthday on Thursday!   So, today we bought some treats.  It's getting hotter.... But since we aren't biking anymore it's been easier on us.

Martin.... I love him!!!  Yesterday we went to see him and his aunt who had been in the hospital all week.  We ended up just listening to him tell us about his life.  I understand him so much more now. He is super cool. He has diligence like no one else I've met. It's crazy. We had some good lessons with him this week. Teaching him on Facebook has completely changed the experience. Now when we see him in person, he is so much more open to telling us what he really feels and thinks.  That is helpful.  He owns coming to church.  He shows up just beaming.  It's really funny because he will not sit with us.  He will either sit by himself or we force the Elders on him.  He's awesome.

Speaking of church yesterday, it was horrible.   Relief Society turned into an argument where my companion and I left crying.  Yeah, it was bad.  Our ward mission leader spoke to all the women after Relief Society but before sacrament meeting.  The experience made me grateful for those who stand up against false doctrine and adhere to the church handbook.   It was not a good experience for the Elder’s investigator who had been sitting with us. It was their first time at church.

This last week, my companion and I were invited to a special musical training. It was so cool. The sister in charge of the musical production for the Phoenix Cultural Celebration (PCC) taught a workshop.  She instructed us on how to conduct music in meetings.  We also sang our mission song for her.  Now, she wants to get all of the missionaries involved in the PCC. Too bad I won't be here. :(  Another speaker at the training was William Joseph.  He played for us and talked about how music is appropriate when it helps us "receive the Holy Ghost".  It was sooo cool.  You should YouTube him.  He is so good.  He played Battle Hymn of the Republic.  His mix of God Be with You Till We Meet Again and He Is Risen are so good.  I love music.

We had exchanges this week.  Hermana Jenson came here.  We go home together.  She wants to come back in August and asked if I would come with her.  I was like... Yeah!!   The Alarcon’s made it to the temple.  Allison was there!  I swear it is never planned but I almost always see her!  It was probably the last time so that is sad.  The temple experience was not the best this time.

This week we had a blessing needed and no consecrated oil.  By the time we got some, we decided to keep the left overs and we are getting our own containers.  It will save a lot of time in the future. I love the priesthood!  That's all I can think of for this week.


Hermana Pickett

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Bridge Builder

I’m going to try and make this email super informative and super-fast.  We are going bowling as a zone but I have so much to do this morning.  I hope you all are doing great!

Nothing happened this week.  Literally!  Almost every single lesson fell through either because of the investigator or the member.  Everyone was out of town or just fell off the planet for church on Sunday.  Even the Alarcon’s temple trip fell through.  Thank goodness it was rescheduled for this Saturday.  This is week six of them being baptized. We want to get them to the temple in the first 6 weeks.  It’s been a pretty weird week, especially after the week we had just had!  On the bright side, I have learned again that God is in control!  No matter how much or how little I do, He is just in control. :)  It is kind of a good feeling.  I just have to give it my all and do my best.

Well, I could honestly end my email there and say that wraps up last week.  Instead, I will take up some more room to summarize some of what I have learned while serving my mission.  
  • God is a glorified man.  It is so hard to pray to "something" unseen.  When I understand that I am praying to a man that has gone through life and understands me perfectly, it becomes a lot more natural to talk with Him.
  • Mighty prayer is a Spirit guided prayer.  My best prayers are not made when they are long, wordy or even the deepest most powerful spiritual experiences.  Rather, my most powerful prayers are sincere, guided, communication involving all members of the Godhead.
  • I have a sticky note pad where I take notes during my evening prayer.  Sometimes I write down things I need to remember or do.  Sometimes I will jotting down things I need to write about in my journal.  A lot of times, however, I am noting subtle answers that come and that I will forget about when I wake up in the morning.  Making these notes has changed my prayers significantly.  Once these pieces of inspiration are noted on paper, I can move on to other concerns in my prayer.
  • Have gratitude, for blessings and also for trials!   I love expressing gratitude for Him.  I can assume that we all want validation every now and then.  It strengthens my testimony of God and my relationship with Him as I validate it in prayer.
 These are some things that have helped me to understand prayer better and use it more effectively as a way to communicate with a LOVING Heavenly Father.

I also found this poem this week and I love it.  Please read it and think of Jesus Christ as "The Master Bridge Builder."

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

I hope you love this poem as much as I did.  What bridges has He built for you?  Because of Christ, what bridges are you building for others?

I hope you all have a great week!  Love you!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, May 12, 2014

Standards of Excellence

The big news for the week is that as a companionship, we got Standards of Excellence!!!!  So exciting!  Let me explain.  Every mission has a set standard of key indicators for a week that are designated "Standards of Excellence".  They are set very high to motivate missionaries to work hard. Missionaries very rarely meet them.  I have never heard of a Spanish area meeting them.  The standards for my mission are:
  • 2 baptized and confirmed (these last for four weeks after the baptism)
  • 5 investigators at church
  • 5 new investigators
  • 10 members present for discussions
  • 4 investigators on date
  • 20 total lessons
We had:
  •  4 baptized and confirmed (the Alarcons from exactly four weeks ago)
  • 7 investigators at church
  • 5 new investigators
  • 11 members present or discussions
  • 6 investigators on date
I’m exhausted.  It was sooo fun! It was amazing to see the hand of God in everything.  When Hermana Welch arrived last transfer, I told her that I felt impressed to set the “Standards of Excellence” as a goal.  I was super hesitant to do so because, well, I feel like the curse of the mission.  I keep working but it is not until I leave an area that everything picks up.  Not this time!!! I was so excited all week and super happy to watch the miracles just happen.

Having 7 people at church was nuts!  It helps me appreciate more when members really do take investigators under their wing and become their friend. Otherwise, you get missionaries like us yesterday.  Missionaries who look like they are going crazy running around with their heads cut off!  On Saturday we took Martin, our investigator to a baptism. It was in English.  He didn’t understand a thing.  Still, it was good because we sat in the car with him, the bishop and the bishop’s wife for 20 minutes helping him understand his main two questions.  Martin asks everyone we bring the same questions.  He seems sincere in his question like he really wants to know.

The Ramirez family is awesome too! Mom and dad, they are the ones who want to go to Chicago soon.  I said I would see them there! She bought us a flower for Mother’s Day on Saturday.  She, her sister Perla, and her family all have a baptism date for the same day in June.  It is so cool because by just looking at them, you would not think they would be interested in the church!  It is amazing to watch them change as they feel the Spirit and grasp the gospel! It’s beautiful!  I am loving it.

Today we learned how to make quesadillas el Salvadorenos.  The woman who taught us told us her life story while they were baking.  I am not joking.  It was her life story.  But, it felt so familiar.   It was like I was with my own grandparents.  I loved it and the quesadillas tasted so good!

We are going to the temple this Saturday with the Alarcons!  Brother Alarcon will be baptized for his father and his wife will be baptized for his mother :)  I’m super excited.

Well, I got to get going. We still haven’t been grocery shopping.  Love you,

 Hermana Pickett

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'm Addicted

Happy Mother's Day on Sunday to Mom, Tara and Natalie!

To summarize last week.... Martin!  For someone who doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon, he sure is happy to see us and come to church!  He is right at home at church. That's so awesome!  My area is really picking up.  We have a lot of miracles happening.   For instance, we went to teach a less active for which we had received a referral.  When we met with her, we discovered she wasn't baptized and wants to be!  It's great to be a part of it.  It's also very tiring but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's nice to not feel cursed. 

We taught Relief Society yesterday.  Our Relief Society President had call on Saturday night.  She asked us to call them all to repentance. We said, "Gladly!"  Actually, it went really well.  I've been more attentive to the spiritual gifts of the members recently as we have focused on loving them even more and making sure they know they are loved. It's been powerful to focus on the gifts and talents of those we so easily get frustrated with or even people we barely know.

We got a new ward mission leader yesterday.  It was one of those “thatmomentwhentheyreleasethem” shockers.  Your heart is racing because you know you are going to be working a lot with this person.  Then, it is over!  You know.  Come to find out, our new mission leader just got back from his mission a month ago.  He is younger than I am! Crazy!

Tomorrow we have zone conference.  We are singing the EFY medley for our zone's musical number. It's sounding good.  This week, I have been focusing my studies on the roles of mothers and fathers as well as the priesthood. It's been really refreshing to read the apostles’ addresses on the subject of marriage and family.  I feel I better understand what principles they must be based off of to truly be Christ centered.

Also, Elder Bednar has asked every missionary to become pros at family history.  So, we were all given the "My Family Books" and asked to complete them and our work online.  My invitation is for you to go in and fix it up by adding pictures and memories.  It is super cool!  I'm addicted.  The website is and it should take you to the new one.   Honestly, the more memories the cooler.  It's so fun to see the pictures that are up!

That's pretty much it.  Love you all!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's the Team That Will Never Lose

Martin is doing awesome! He is still stuck on the Book of Mormon but I have never seen anyone so sincerely fixed on getting an answer. He came to church yesterday!  He has do much faith it's ridiculous. He just keep coming back, even when experience number one was horrible.

Speaking of church, yesterday it was nuts!  Gospel Principles was a civil war of correct and false doctrine. Sacrament meeting went 20 minutes over.  My favorite was the Hermano that quoted president Uchtdorf's by saying "el Elder Daiter" and President Monson as "Presidente Thomas".  I spent most of it helping Angelica stay semi calm.  The best... Hermano Alarcon got the priesthood!!!  Also, we got him on family search this week.  He loves it!  They have their temple interview in Wednesday.  Hopefully next week we can go to the temple with them.

Last night we stopped by to visit Ruben.  I haven't seen Ruben in like a month and a half. He just picked a date to be baptized.  We have a lot of plans to support him including seeing him every day.  He needs to stop smoking and drinking.  Wow.

I have had a lot of opportunities this week to talk to youth from EFY on Facebook. It's so neat to see some of them prepare for missions and help others who are struggling. A lot of them are married, weird.
One of the girls from Indiana is leaving on her mission in a couple of weeks.  She goes out with the sister missionaries in her ward a lot. As she was talking with them, she found out that the sister missionary was a girl in my EFY group from Nauvoo!  That was awesome!

I learned this week a lot about the power of God. He has power to do all.  He loves to help us achieve the goals and dreams that we choose with our agency. Gods will is for us to be happy.   Why so many times do we leave that so vague?   I don't know.  If you leave it blank, it will stay blank.  God doesn't fill in dreams and desires. He helps them become reality. I love it. It's the team that will never loose :)

I hope you all have a great week.

Hermana Pickett

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pressing Forward

Wohoo!!   Hermana Welch and I are staying in Solano!  No one was transferred.  As we waited for the transfer text this morning, we went to downtown Glendale and walked around in the antique stores. We also had really good food at a super nice pizza place there.  Hermana Welch’s mom had sent me a gift certificate for me birthday.  We used only part of it so we decided to go there again next transfer!  The restaurant is closed on Mondays and it is not located in our area.  Luckily it is in our zone which means we can visit on a p-day.

Last Wednesday, the daughter of the Alarcons stopped breathing.  This is the family that was baptized a week ago last Saturday.  The girl was taken by a life flights to Phoenix Children's Hospital.   She is home now but that family is going through some trials. They are amazing and have so much faith. I learn from them every day and I love them so much!

This week we had been speaking to a man outside his home. Once we got back in the car Hermana Welch grabbed something off my face as she said, "Don't freak out, you just have a bug on your face." I'm driving at this point and I forced her to tell me what kind of bug.  It was one of those small cockroaches. Yep, I screamed. It was disgusting.

This week showed me how a person’s desire for truth and acts of faith (despite some not so good experiences) can keep them pressing forward.  We have been teaching Martin. He is 26.  What is cool about Martin is that he knows the Bible so well and he isn't closed off or defensive about it! We taught him the lesson on the restoration with another returned missionary on Sunday.  I won't go into details, but it was not done well. Luckily, he let us come back.  Hermana Welch and I retaught it. This time the Spirit was there.  He said he would read the Book of Mormon even though he was not convinced about prophets or the Book of Mormon.   He also agreed to go to stake conference on Sunday.  Although the Spirit in the conference was wonderful, the Spanish translation was horrible.  Still, Martin is letting us come back! It is a miracle.  Everything just fell apart but he is still open!  I am so grateful for that. :)

Let me explain why the Spanish translation at stake conference was so bad.  With all of my focus, I could not follow what was being said.   The translators were laughing inappropriately.  It tore me up that those who required a Spanish translation had such a horrible experience while those who understood English felt the Spirit so strong.  I feel a responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen again. Not sure how to go about that.  It's not important that the translators are reprimanded.  It is important that is not happen again!  It was sad.

We had an awesome district meeting! Our district leader and his companion made a huge maze with chairs and tables in the gym.  The objectives was to have one missionary direct his companion through it.  The person directing was playing the role of the Spirit.  The other player symbolized us as we walk through the maze of life.  My role was to make as much noise as possible.  I had a lot of fun.:)  By the way, I finished the four gospels so I started the Book of Mormon again. This time I am reading it focusing on specific things I got out of conference. I'm super excited.  I'm loving it.  

Oh, it is getting warm here.  We are biking a lot. We end up looking like a mess but it’s fun.

Hope all is well... Love you all!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ordinances and Fresas con Crema

I'm going to try and make this fast because we are going bowling!!!  Wohoo!  Best zone activity idea ever! Hermana Welch and I have plans to go dressed up! Wohoo! We are going all out.  We are prepared for awkwardness because our zone thinks we are weird, oh well.

This week! Where do I start!  Yes! The Alarcons were baptized and confirmed! They are members and they have the Holy Ghost! I love that family.  Saturday, the day they were baptized, was absolutely nuts. We got up early to have time to finish our studies before having to go to the church to fill the font. Filling the font was its own adventure.  When we finally finished setting up for the baptism, we got on Facebook for like 20 minutes.  Our baptism started late by 20 minutes.  It was hectic because there were two other baptisms after ours.  I had so many people telling me to hurry to do this or that.  I was stressed.   In the end, it was okay because everyone received the ordinances they needed and everyone got Fresas con crema.  (Strawberries and cream)  Life is not all that bad.

We went straight from the baptism to pick up other Hermanas and then to the Mesa temple grounds to help with the pageant, Spanish night.  We received permission to stop at Bahama Bucks and get shaved ice.  This was nice because we had not eaten since the morning.  Then, we went to the park by the temple and just talked to people for three hours before the Pageant started.  I got to see Allison! It's was so fun to see her randomly.   She told me that the Mesa mission just has 2 Spanish zones and she is driving a truck.  (I want to drive a truck!)  The craziest part was after watching the pageant we were walking back to our car and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hi Sister Pickett" it was my friend Josh from EFY. Yeah, I flipped out.  We didn't get back till after 11 that Saturday night.  So, I'm still recovering but it was a good day.

Oh, I should mention that transfers are next week so I won't be writing till Tuesday.

Love you,

Hermana Pickett

Monday, April 7, 2014

His Promises

My hand got much worse on Monday evening.  On Tuesday, I went back to the doctor.  He said my arm was looking better..... I think he's nuts!  He told me to keep taking the antibiotics and come back in a week.  When his office staff scheduled the appointment, they did it in two weeks.  So, the whole place is nuts!

At home, we dealt with bed bug clean up. The whole 9 yards of drying every item of clothing, placing them in black bags and putting the bags in our car parked in the sun so that everything would get even hotter.  We then lived out of those bags in the garage till Friday night. My coping was to wear an outfit twice.  After we moved back in, it felt so good!  Unfortunately, I still have nightmares about cockroaches, ants, bedbugs, and spiders sleeping on me.  I learned to curl my hair this week with a method that works well!  In the past, my efforts to curl never really worked.  I can thank my cosmetologist companion. :)

It's weird to hear about and see what my college friends are doing. They are all finishing up their student teaching.  It's weird to think that is what I would be doing had I not come on my mission.  I would never go back and do it differently. My mission is way too precious to me.

Speaking of which.... the Alarcons!  They are all ready to be baptized on Saturday! I am just.... filled!  I am really excited for them. Every lesson, every interaction is a spiritual experience for me. Every member that meets them is just so excited because they are so prepared!  I think it is helping many of the members realize the work is real!

I loved conference!!  I learned something really cool about obedience. I'm going to write this but I'm not sure it will sound any different than what you hear every day.  Please ask me about it when I'm home and maybe the fluctuation in my voice can clarify what I actually learned.  The whole point of us coming to earth and participating in Heavenly Father’s plan was to return and receive all of His promises. Every trial of our faith is just that, a trial of our faith, our faith in Him and His promises.  So, trials are here to test our commitment in keeping the commandments of God and our covenants with Him. If we are obedient, we express faith in Him and will receive His promises.  If we are disobedient, we choose to rebel against the faith we have and separate ourselves from His blessings and His plan.  A great example is Lucifer who rebelled against Gods plan.

I am not sure if that helps or if it even makes sense but it changed the way I think and interact with everyone.  Everything is meant to see if we will keep the faith and stay committed to the commandments.

Les quiero mucho!  Hermana pickett

P.S. We made the carrot cake this week.  We made it without a grater. Oh yeah! We grated our carrots with a knife. That's real.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Is Not Meant to Scare Anyone!

Just thought I would update y'all. My doctors appointment went well. He's concerned about it and my reaction to the bites so he's monitoring me closely for the next bit. He gave me a super strong antibiotics along with counsel to "take it easy" tonight and tomorrow which will allow my body to deal with the bites. He wants to see the bites again tomorrow.  If they are still growing then, he said he'll need to put me in the hospital for IVs. That's the update. :) I'm all marked up with sharpies!
Love you all!
Hermana Pickett