Monday, January 27, 2014

Simple Conversations with God

I have a funny fact for the week.   Hermana Palomino, my companion from Peru, was super confused by the concept of littering.  After I tried explaining it, she got the idea that it was against the law to eat while walking somewhere.  That is really funny.  (It reminds me of all the other funny language mix ups in my life from living outside the USA.)  No worries, I clarified it so she is good to go with eating and walking. :)

We have a car but are limited on the number of miles we can drive each month.  This month, we are almost completely out of miles.  This means we are biking till the end of the month!  It is great news for me! I love biking.  My companion gets a bit overwhelmed with appointments super far away.  My response is, "Yeah they are far but we bike!"  I have been saved by millage.  Hermana Palomino is great and is a lot more content with biking now she has purchased a new bike seat.

Online proselyting has gotten a lot better recently. I have had some amazing experiences that I never dreamed I would have. Elder Cordero, he and I initially met at the MTC and then came to Arizona together, is now my district leader.  Anyway, he taught his mom on Skype. At district meeting last week, we practiced the lesson he was about to have with her. The Spirit was super strong.  I felt it guiding me in helping to prepare El Cordeo.  After district meeting, El Cordeo and his companion taught her on Skype.  In the past, she has rejected missionary’s efforts but that day she accepted the invitation to be baptized! :)  And… her son got to ask her. :)  That was a really cool experience for us as a district.

This last week we had interviews.  I love interviews!

My "key learning" for the week comes from an article in the February  Liahona.  What I loved was the “connection box” at the end of the article that relates communication to prayer and our relationship with Heavenly Father.  It read:

IMPROVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP  WITH HEAVENLY FATHER... Many people communicate with God at a superficial level. If you pray out of duty or use habitual phrases, you may find it difficult to connect with Heavenly Father and He will feel distant. Communicating with God is different from just talking to Him. President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught: “We do not have to cry unto him with many words. We do not have to weary him with long prayers. . . . Let the prayer come from the heart, let it not be in words that are worn into ruts in the beaten tracks of common use, without thought or feeling in the use of those words.” 

Do you share with your Heavenly Father your innermost beliefs, feelings, and desires? Have you shared with Him the secret ambitions that lie in your heart? Can you pour out your heart to Him? And do you practice listening for His responses? Sincere words spoken in humble prayer will allow you to develop a deeper connection with Heavenly Father. Listening for and implementing His counsel will enrich and strengthen the relationship. As you express gratitude for specific blessings, live the gospel, and become more like Jesus Christ, you will demonstrate your love for Heavenly Father.

I LOVED that.  I tried to really apply it that night in my prayer.  It was such a spiritual experience to think of my prayers that way.  I love the conversations I get to have with my Heavenly Father even more now than I did before as I try to better my relationship with him in how I communicate in my prayers. Prayer is a lot of work. It's not easy. But thank goodness it's simple!

Hope you all had a good week and keep on smiling!

Hermana Pickett

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bicycles and Covenants

Before I forget, next week is transfers.  I will not be writing again until Tuesday.  Now that that is out of the way, happy MLK day!  The word on the street is that today is a holiday. Honestly, I don't even know anymore.

The highlight this last week was going to the Gilbert Temple open house.  It was beautiful…and HUGE!  It was also a very special feeling to be inside a temple with a lot of families we are working with to get there to make their covenants with God. There was a spirit that really testified to me that this is where I want to be with them.  My lowlight was just being sooo tired.  I have had really weird dreams and have not slept well this week. On Saturday, I had the biggest headache all day.

I have come to love the 30 minutes on Sunday night right after “call ins”. It is my favorite moment of the week.  Right after I hang up the phone for accountability, I can just breathe.  Everything that happened during the week has been accounted for.  I get a day to do something not so intense, p-day.  I cannot say it is more relaxed.  They are very intense but not spiritually heavy with the weight of responsibility for other’s salvation.   Basically, I LOVE the 30 minutes after “call ins” on Sunday night.  It's as refreshing as completing the hardest math final!

This week we have interviews, trainer/trainee meeting and it's week six of the transfer!  Wohoo! Hermana Palomino has officially survived a transfer.  My spiritual thought this week came from a church video I watched title “ Parable of the Bicycle."  (Click on the link to view the video.)  I absolutely loved it. For me, judgment day and the atonement never really felt that real.  As I watched this video, it became real.  I really want to receive exaltation.  As much as I think I want it now, I believe I will long for it one thousand times more.  In that moment, like the girl in the video, I will see how short I am in deserving it. Then, as I have been promised, I will be so relieved and happy that the Atonement will not just help me at that moment but helped me to be able to get to that moment. How grateful I am for the Atonement and the strength I have as I can access it throw the covenants I have made. It's all going to be good. As long as I live the gospel, I have the promise that it will be the best! :)  The past couple of weeks have been super hard but I feel like we are progressing in our area!  Always leave it better than you left it!

Hermana Pickett

Monday, January 13, 2014

One Year of Service!

Wow!  I honestly didn't think I would make it to this week.  I have been on my mission for 1 year and I'm alive!

Well, it’s super late to get this out today, but on the bright side, it's always bright here in Phoenix.

So, Elder Holland did not come. We got a text the day before that he would not be coming. :(  We still went to a tri-mission conference.  It was nuts.  After the conference, we went to the Phoenix Temple and took a mission picture. I had never been with our whole mission, ever.  It was crazy.  Also, we found out who the new mission president and wife will be.... President and Sister Griffin. You might already know that.  The church announced the new mission presidents on Saturday.   I go home a week and half after President and Sister Taylor.  That's going to be super weird.  It is sad to not have my exit interview with the mission president I know.  Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it.

 I have a cool miracle from Saturday. On Friday, we started an exchange with another companionship.  The two that made up the other half of the exchanges ended up with both phones.  Hence, I and my exchange companion were without a phone starting Friday night.   We, the phoneless companionship were supposed to pick up sisters to carpool to the tri-mission conference in Tempe on Saturday morning.  We left the apartment a little late.  When we arrived at the apartment of the Sisters we were to give the ride to, I realize I had no idea where their apartment was.   Their apartment complex was huge.  Luckily I had been there once before to drop them off.  I tried a door that met the requirements I had in my brain.  No one answered. The severity of the problem hits me.  Without a phone, there was literally no way for me to find out where they lived.   I also knew that I could not go to another missionary apartment and ask because everyone had already left for the tri-mission conference.   I thought, "Wow, this is a really bad situation".  So I prayed.  To be honest, I was scared.  I was scared to ask for a miracle I knew I needed but unsure that I would get it. I prayed and then got back in the car. I drove around and noticed another apartment that met the remembered criteria.  It was the right one!  A miracle!  God does answer prayers.  It was a really cool experience. Faith is a real thing.  It was nice to know that I have at least enough faith to pray for miracles like that.

We are working with and teaching some members from Haiti.  They learned about the church and were baptized while living in Mexico on their journey to the US. The wife speaks some Spanish.  She translates into Creole for her husband and French for her kids. The problem is they don't go to church and when they do, they can't understand anything.  We are working on that. In the meantime, Hermana Palomino speaks some French.  Also, I'm learning.  I mostly just make a fool out of myself.  It it's all good. I have the basics down and most importantly, "I love ice cream."

Hermana Holmes is gone.  Saying good-bye was really hard.  On the other side, I was in paradise for exchanges!  The area I exchanged into is on bikes.  Their ward boundary is 2 square miles.  Of the 500 members, 150 are active!  It didn't even feel like the same mission! We have an area that is at least 22 square miles with 6 active members in our area.  It's a different world.

This week we will hopefully be going to the Gilbert Temple open house.  Yeah!

Also... Jeremy Debry and his family live here now!  What?!  My friends ate dinner at their house last week.  They took a picture to show me!  So cool!  Didn't know he came back to Arizona.

Love ya,
Hermana Pickett

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christi Was Baptized!

So I got to watch Christi get baptized!  It was amazing!!!   I got to go back to West Maricopa and see my district.:)  I cried a lot.

Hermana Holmes goes home tomorrow morning. :(   It's really weird to be around a missionary who is dealing with the going home process.

This week we are going to Tempe to listen to Elder HH Holland. I'm pretty sure all of the missions in Arizona are going.  Unfortunately Hermana Duffin is going at an earlier time.  I won't see her.:(  Also this week, we taught a young lady from one of Shae’s EFY groups that is not a member.  That was an amazing experience.   There were multiple sketchy situations this week.  Don’t worry, it was all good.  Apparently the Phoenix mission is relatively safe.  That is why we get so many sisters.  I can't even imagine what other missions are like.  Yikes!

On Friday, Hermanas Baumgartner and Stanley came down from Prescott Valley to stay the night before going to a sealing ordinance at the temple on Saturday.  The ordinance was for recent converts they were working with. Hermana Holmes also went.  It was a crazy experience.  I felt more annoyed then than I have felt in a super long time.  So... I need to repent this weekend. :)   

My favorite quote for this week is:

“You cannot afford to do any of those things which do not square with the precepts, the teachings, the principles which the God of Heaven has set down because of His love for you and His desire that your lives be rich and full and purposeful.

I'm going to try and help Hermana Holmes pack so I have got to go.

Love you all,

Hermana Pickett