Monday, December 30, 2013

Post Christmas Email - All in All, an Awesome Week!

Hey everybody!

Well, another kind of short email this week, since I just saw you guys like, 5 days ago. :)

All the Boys Together for Christmas via Skype
Not a ton has happened since then, really. It was super hard going back to work on the 26th, let me tell you... Waking up at 6:30 was ROUGH. And all of us were just super trunky, having just talked to our families and everything. The general consensus was just that everything was there waiting for us at home and we all really wished we could be there. It was pretty hard to hang up and afterwards Elder Alexander and I just kind of looked at each other and were like "I miss my family..." It really helps me understand why they don't let us do that all the time. It's difficult to transition back. It was really like I was just sitting at home in the living room with you guys, just like normal. Things still seemed pretty much the same. Emotionally, just a really weird experience. Cause it made me sad and miss you guys so much, but at the same time it made me so thankful for you and realize more what I'm doing here and why I came. Anyway, in summary, it was really cool to talk you guys. :) Glad to see that everybody's doing well. :)

Also, Dad, I'm really sorry I ate your birthday present...I'll make it up to you, don't worry. :)

So, right after I said goodbye, I got some good dinner from the Kusselings, and then they drove us home to finish the night.

Like I said, waking up Thursday was pretty hard, but we had a really good member visit in the afternoon that helped. Between that and some stuff that came up with our apartment (mostly light bulbs) we didn't really have much of a chance to do anything else.

Friday was great! Much easier waking up, and we had a good weekly planning session with some good stuff planned for this next week. In the evening we went and visited the Noumbolibona's, who had invited a friend, Alain, over. We taught the Restoration and have another rendezvous set up for this week too! He seems really solid.

Saturday we got to go see Olivier and hear him play guitar a little bit. It was a really good rendezvous, and we kind of got him recommitted to do the lessons and see what sort of blessings they can bring in his life. That night we made a whole bunch of calls and set up a bunch of rendezvous for this week, which is super great. We also went to the really tall building again (thus the pictures of the Eiffel Tower again) and did some porting there.

Yesterday was kind of a regular missionary Sunday. Crazy day at church, with a pretty intense lesson with our amis, kind of arguing the logic of the Fall and stuff... Sacrament meeting was good though, and we got to talk to a bunch of members. We had a meeting set up for after church, but he didn't show up, so we headed home and organized our area book for a little before heading out to Alberto's place. Unfortunately, the train schedules and everything made it so we didn't have time, but on the way back we were able to come across a guy named Felix. He speaks really good English, and contacted us actually. He's young, likes religion, is super classy, and he seemed way cool, and I kind of feel like he was the reason that we were out there last night.

All in all, with Christmas and everything, an awesome week!

Thanks for everything that you guys do for me. I really appreciate it and feel your love in your emails.

Happy New Year!
Elder Bigler

Monday, December 23, 2013

Joyeux Noel!

Well, it's been a really good week! Really Christmas-y, and just lots of good stuff going on. Just for sake of time, and since I'm gonna be talking to you guys in just a couple days, I'm gonna keep this relatively short.

Catacombs of Paris - Creepy but Cool
Last week after I emailed, we went to the Catacombs. Most people don't get to do that until the end of their mission because it's closed on Mondays. With P-day on Tuesday, we were there! As you can see in the pictures, it's a pretty creepy place. Super super cool though. Just tons of tunnels of tons of bones. :)

Paris from High on a Hill

Beyond that, it was pretty much a normal week up until Thursday when we had our exchange. I was with Elder Sughroue again. He's a really good guy, and we had a really good exchange. Between what we did and what Elder Alexander and Elder Wells did, we had 6 different appointments scheduled for Friday! It was a super crazy day. Most of them were in this really tall building up on the hill (where I got some of those really cool landscape pictures from. You can get really good pictures of the Eiffel Tower from up there). A couple of them kind of stood us up, but it turned out to be a good day.

Between weekly planning and church, not a whole lot of time for "real" missionary work the last couple days. Even today got so messed up that we had to do our emails later.

Adam and his new companion Elder Alexander
Classic Black and White Paris Photo

Who wouldn't smile with that in the background?
We went to the Champs Elysses today, and checked out some of the crazy shops. I saw two more Ferraris, bringing the mission total up to 6! :) After that, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower for some Christmas-y shots with our Santa hats, which, as you can see, turned out pretty good. We also found the long bridge tunnel thing from Inception (make sure to show Tyler, he'll recognize it right away I bet). And the one of me doing a thumbs up is basically perfect Christmas card material. :) 

The Inception Tunnel
        Two Thumbs Up for Christmas in Paris

So, sorry the letter is kind of lame this week, but I figure I'll be able to talk a lot on Christmas. :) I love you guys and I'll talk to you in a couple days. :)

Elder Bigler

P.S. A Special Message from the Missionaries in Paris.  Just follow this link: Merry Christmas from Paris and a Special Christmas Song: Silent Night, Sung in French

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here!

It's been a crazy week! A lot can certainly change in such a short amount of time.

First things first, in order to Skype in 8 days, I'll have one hour. We're planning on going to the Kusseling's around 7 PM (11:00 your time) and then I'll get on a bit after that. Be thinking of some things you want to talk about while you have me face to face...

Now, to start digging into this week. As you're gonna see, it's amazing how different missionary work can become just by changing companions.

So, Monday kind of just finished up boringly, compared to the rest of the week at least.

Tuesday was Elder Evans' and my last day together, so we had some really good rendezvous set up, and it was just a fun, busy, spiritual day.

Then came Wednesday. Transfer day, which, in the Paris area, when you aren't the one being transferred, means a lot of running around from gare to gare, carrying luggage for other missionaries, talking to other missionaries, making a few new friends, and eventually heading back home with your new companion, feeling pretty apprehensive, nervous, excited, and pretty much just a whole slew of emotions. It's particularly hard when changing companions the first time. You have to realize really quick that what your trainer has been teaching you for the last 12 weeks isn't necessarily the WAY to do missionary work. It's kind of a good opportunity to break out of your shell and start figuring out how you want to do missionary work. Elder Evans is a great, hard working missionary, and so is Elder Alexander, but they do things very differently. If you were to read my first 2 journal entries with him, you'd think I kind of hated the guy. I was pretty harsh. And honestly, it was a pretty rough first day or two. But, that was mostly just because the change hit me really hard. But as I got to know him, and continue to, I really like him. He's just an awesome guy. We're gonna do a lot of good things here together. I went from seriously fearing the future of this ward that I've come to love, to feeling quite honored to be serving with this companion, all in just a couple days. So, yes Mom, I do have hard days sometimes. :) And some of those were this week. But a huge part of being a missionary is being able to adapt to different situations, to learn from people and their experiences.

Wow, I kind of went on a huge tangent there. All of that thought process came through this entire week. Back to the letter.

Thursday was interesting, kind of just a regular day. Had a lesson with Yannick, who has kind of stopped progressing for now, and then our lesson in the evening with Philippe and José got cancelled.

Friday was pretty interesting too. That's normally the day where we do weekly planning, but thanks to a fuse blowing and a quick look around some new places in the apartment with Elder Lerdahl and Elder Whatcott (the Aulnay Elders who live with us), we found that there was mold all over the place. So, we went to town on our apartment. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  So far, we've used a snake and two bottles of Drano ( if that's how it's spelled) in the shower, and it still doesn't quite drain properly... That's what you get living in an apartment that used to belong to Sister missionaries. Elder Lerdahl feels like another two bottles ought to do the trick. Haha anyway, we cleaned a bunch, rearranged some furniture and at the end of the day it just felt...good. We hadn't done our weekly planning, but...there's truth in the scriptures that talk about having a clean home and having the Spirit there. The Spirit was definitely stronger after that whole day of cleaning. Cool experience.

Saturday was pretty much occupied by our DMP (ward mission leader) meeting, at the end of which I gave Soeur Bradley a blessing, then weekly planning up until our Ward Christmas party that evening. THAT was super weird. Like...I don't even know how to describe it. The little nativity thing the primary did was cute, but other than that it was kind of a poorly planned, awkward little event with good food. I'm finding that to often be a trend with things like that here in France... :)

Sunday was cool! Good day at church. Learned from Alberto that he officially has plans to go to Cape Verde and get married and baptized there!! That was just so exciting! The only sad thing is that he'll be gone until after I'm gone, so I won't get to congratulate him and stuff. But it's so exciting for him! He's gonna get baptized and receive the Holy Ghost and be married and just...oh man. So great. After that, we went to the Angulo's for lunch (they pretty much only speak Spanish, so it's always interesting), and right after headed with Frère Coudret to give a blessing to a member who speaks Spanish. Lots of Spanish that day. I had never talked to him before, and he's just a really cool, really spiritual guy. He told us about his mission and journals and his family and just all sorts of really cool stuff. We're definitely going teaching with him. Then after that we ended up at the church, and we watched a couple Mormon Messages to end the night. Those things are so well done, and just so inspirational. I want like a DVD of them. So cool. Basically, I just got all pumped up to be a missionary.

The 4 Paris Zones Special Christmas Zone Conference
Then yesterday, Monday, we had our big Christmas Zone conference, that I'm sure you'll be seeing pictures of soon, if Soeur Poznanski doesn't make you guys wait til Christmas (I know at least one thing she did will be saved, but not about the rest). It was a really cool little training, and it really got me thinking about all that I've overcome and been able to smooth out of me both before and while a missionary.
Discovering the gem inside us
It's truly such a blessing to see my life and my character change and improve as I try to do the same for others. I'm really realizing the importance of family, the power in the principles of the gospel, and the necessity (to me it's a necessity) of being a good person. I love being a missionary. So much hard work, but it's 100% worth it. I've really been focusing a lot on the example of Christ lately. As I get close to finishing the Book of Mormon, I'm planning on studying it looking for examples of Christlike attributes the next time through, and I've been thinking a lot about how I demonstrate (or don't demonstrate) those in my thoughts, words, and actions. It's a lifelong process, but something I'm so thankful to be able to work on.

A Christmas Feast for the Missionaries

Well, now that I've gotten distracted a few times I should probably close up for this week. Next week I get to talk to you guys! That'll be sweet. Just know that I love you and I appreciate everything that you do. Work hard, have fun, and be good!

Elder Bigler

Monday, December 9, 2013

"We were able to invite the Spirit through music" - Start of Transfer 3

Well, this is probably going to be a rather short email this week, especially compared to the last couple. It was a great week, and I'm gonna try to sum it up really quick.

After emailing last week, we headed into Paris to eat some super American burritos at Chipotle, which was pretty sweet. After kind of accidentally interrupting a member couple's honeymoon (just talked to them a little bit longer than they probably wanted us to...) we went and got ourselves our Father/Son ties (cause Elder Evans is my "father" in the mission). 

Tuesday was kind of normal, with a sweet visit to the famille Mourier. Really solid family. Frère Mourier offered me his saxophone to use for the ward Christmas party, so we'll see if my new companion can accompany me or something, maybe I'll get to do something there...

Wednesday was pretty much regular, aside from getting a high five from one of the classiest dressed Muslim guys we've ever seen, Zoubir. He was super sweet!

Thursday was just contacting and porting, nothing special.

Friday was also pretty normal, aside from the couple lessons we had, one at the church with some new amis who probably aren't really that interested, from what we can tell, but we'll do our best, and then Yannick. We had planned to talk about Faith and Repentance, plus the Ten Commandments, but ended up talking about chastity too, which was interesting. He has a girlfriend, and is pretty serious with her, so he's currently reflecting on that. He's working hard to receive his answer in time for the date we've set, but we're concerned that this could keep him from it. We gave him a blessing at the end to help him with it.

Saturday is what I want to focus on. So, we were out contacting, and contacted a couple of women, one of them said she'd be coming back in a few minutes and to wait. So we contacted around and then came back and so did she. she ended up inviting us to her apartment, just a couple minutes away. Her name's Amelie, she has three daughters. She's a convert to the Catholic church, but seems quite open. The cool thing though was that she has a piano. And Elder Evans had his hymn book. So, we sang and played a couple hymns, including Joseph Smith's First Prayer. It was so powerful. We sang the parts a little, and she even sang along a bit. We were able to invite the Spirit through music and our talents and teach through the Hymns. We gave her a Book of Mormon and set up a return rendez-vous. It was just such a powerful experience. Music is really one of the ways the Spirit speaks to me personally, and it was such a cool experience to share my testimony through that.

Sunday was also awesome, with a bunch of amis at church, but I just don't quite have enough time to talk about it. We were able to teach a whole lesson on the metro though, and give a Book of Mormon to him, Adriano. It was really cool.

Also, Elder Evans is transferring. I'll be staying here in Nogent, with my new companion Elder Alexander. I'll tell you about him after I've met him this week. :) Elder Evans is headed to Rennes as District Leader.

Well, gotta go, sorry! If there's anything else you'd like answered, let me know! And I'll do my best to get pictures sent next week. I love you all! Enjoy every day, and keep working hard! And get well soon, those of you who are still sick!

Elder Bigler

Photo from last week's conference with Elders Ridd and Osguthorpe. Adam is to the far right, waiting in line to shake their hands.

Q and A Session with Mom Online

Do you print off the letters we email to you or the ones you write to us?  Just got wondering if we should be doing that for you or if you already do it or what.  
-- I actually haven't been printing off anything would be cool if you wanted to copy and paste all of the stuff into a big word document or something, that way we could have it all somewhere. I'm mostly just trying to not get too weighed down with papers...

Also, do you guys ever exercise or does all your walking take care of that?
-- We're supposed to exercise 30 minutes every morning. It's sometimes a struggle between that and a little bit more sleep, but I feel like getting a new companion will help with that, having a fresh start. We do walk quite a bit though.

Do you ever get letters/emails from anyone else besides me and dad?
-- Not really. Rain and Jacob the last couple weeks, and Tyler a bit. I haven't heard from Carson in a while.

Also been wondering how you do your laundry??
-- We have machines in all of the apartments. Our dryer broke this week, so we had to do some air drying, but we got a new one now.

And what's the weather like there right now?  Do you have snow?  Will you need boots?
-- It's pretty much like October would be in Utah. A lot of leaves still on the trees, occasionally a cold rain, and it's occasionally cold. Chilly in general though. Today is beautiful, I hardly need more than my shirt and tie. Pretty much nobody needs boots, usually.

Sometime tell us more about President Poznanski.
-- And I will. We really just don't see him very often. I'll let you know though! :)

Q and A Session responding to Mom's Letter

Just answering the questions from in your letter. :)

Did you get to watch the Christmas Devotional?
-- Yes, I'll be watching the devotional this Saturday night at our ward Christmas party.

Have you been staying healthy??
-- Yeah, no sicknesses or anything. A little bit runny nose most of the time thanks to the humid cold, but it's not too bad.

Did you find out who your new companion will be?  I hope you don't miss Elder Evans too much.  It seems like you have been really good together. 
-- I did find out about my new companion, I'll get to that in a minute. :) (See main letter above.)

Did you happen to get a package from our ward yet?  I am curious how long it will actually take.  I know you said about a week.  I just wanted to know for sure.
-- I haven't gotten a package yet. I meant to tell you last week, for packages it really helps to write the address of the mission home as the return address. That way, if it doesn't make it to me, it'll at least go there and they'll give it to me. Also, on that note, I think that you should take my address off of the blog, if it's still on there. Just reword what I said or whatever you need to and make the mission home address my address. It's easier that way, and safer, cause people can look me up really easily like that and figure out where I live. Just kind of a safety thing we're working on in the mission. So, just mission address on the blog. If people want my actual address, go ahead and give it to them, but just don't make it public enough that someone here in France who doesn't mean well could find it. (See 'Contact Elder Bigler' Tab Above.)

Any idea what time of day we will be Skyping on Christmas?  Just trying to figure out if we will be home or at Grandma's or what.
-- No idea really what time of day we'll be skyping on Christmas yet. I'm assuming the morning ish. Close to noon maybe? I'll let you know as I plan it out.

Is there any food that you can't get there that you really miss?  Maybe we could send you something.
-- No food in particular really. I'm doing okay on that. Maybe some recipes in case I ever have time to make something fancy...

Have you ever talked to Jacob yet? 
-- I have talked to Jacob, he seems okay to me, although we've mostly talked about Spanish and French.

Brother Kandell told me that maybe you don't tell us about the hard days.  Hopefully you really are doing as good as you sound.  It seems like you are having some great experiences and that your testimony is strong and that you are enjoying sharing it with others.
-- And if I don't tell you about the hard days, it's just cause they don't really matter. But I think I have so far. It's really just that, for me, the great moments blow away the hard ones. You really don't remember the hard moments as you focus on working and teaching and serving. Every day is a great day when you're serving the Lord. It definitely gets hard, but it passes quick. The great moments are the ones you really remember.

Make sure you get yourself up that tower one of these days cause who knows how long you will get to stay in Paris??  It must be pretty amazing to think that you are going to be in Paris for Christmas!!  
-- And, as I found out today, I'll get to stay here for 6 more weeks. It's most likely that this will be my last six weeks here for a while, then I'll get shipped off to a new place. And it really is amazing to be spending Christmas here! I'll miss you guys a bunch, but they take Christmas pretty seriously here in France, so don't worry about me. :) While you're eating homemade pizzas, I'll probably be eating some escargot (it's a Christmas thing...) :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving in Paris

Bonjour à tous!

Thanks so much for the weekly updates as usual! They were pretty great this week. Poor, poor Cooper... :) Cracked me up. (This is Adam's Blog but we don't think he'd mind sharing these photos of our dog.)

Cooper Before
Cooper After
So, this is week 12 here in France. That means the end of my second transfer (of 16), the end of my "training" (so in other words, after this week I'm supposed to know what I'm doing...), and probably my last week with Elder Evans, who I've become quite good friends with. After this week, I'm going to have to be a "trainer" of sorts and explain to my new companion everything about this area. The ward members, our amis, how we get around (still a bit confused with buses, but I'm basically a master with the metro), and all that good stuff. So, wish me luck as I prepare for that this week. Next week I'll be able to tell you who my new companion is (though I won't meet him til Wednesday). 

Also, Elder Evans and I are speaking strictly French this week, aside from our one hour of companion study, and even that we're trying French as much as possible. So, hopefully my French improves quite a bit this week. I've been praying only in French since I got here, and we pray a lot as missionaries. Last night, I tried to pray in English and I seriously couldn't do it! That was a little weird for me. So I may be trying to pray in English more often just so I don't completely forget how to do it...

So, let's see if I can type out this weekly summary pretty quick here...

Monday-Musée de l'armée. Really cool stuff we got to see for P-day! The Army Museum and Napoleon's tomb. Way sweet stuff. Elder Evans, since he plans on becoming a History professor, was nerding out pretty hardcore. :) It was really cool stuff. There was so much armor there. Brian would've loved it, with all the cool knights and stuff. Samurai armor too. Made me think of the Cavaliers (the Drum Corps, not the basketball team). Got some cool pictures of cannons and stuff, and the WWII exhibit was way cool. Napoleon's Tomb, if you ask me, was a LITTLE bit offensive, in that it's inside a church, and they place basically as much value on his tomb as on the whole big thing with Christ. Slightly blasphemous, but the French people really love Napoleon... Really cool though. I got a coin from there too! There's apparently money you can get from all the cool exhibits. They're 2 euro pieces, and they're pretty cool. I'll try to send some pictures soon, but we're still at the internet café this week. Just trying to cram in a lot of stuff before Elder Evans leaves.

We ended the night with a visit to the Family Lethuair, who are just awesome. I think I've talked about them before. They've got 4 kids, who are all really sweet. We had a great evening with them talking about faith. Their son is currently trying to gain his own testimony, so we talked a lot about how that can come about through prayer and study and all that, and it was really spiritual. His dad texted us later that night saying "Lanvin (his son) told me that he enormously felt the spirit tonight." It's really cool to get a message like that, to hear that we made a positive influence on someone. It's not all about baptizing. It's about converting, changing hearts, helping people to become better. That's what we do as missionaries. I hope that people know that that's why I'm out here. I'm not just trying to make people be Mormons. Not at all. I'm here because I know that, first off, this message is true, and second, that is has blessed my life in ways I can't even describe, and I want others to have these same blessings. 

Anyway, sorry for the random testimony thrown in there, but I really wanted to say that. 

So, Tuesday-kind of a regular day. We had salmon for dinner at the Lam-Yam's. Still not fond of fish at all, but it was so well made it was almost good. :) Haha no, it was good, isn't my favorite. But I got to have a fancy dinner on Dad's birthday too! :) Kind of a regular day other than that though.

Wednesday-We went and visited Monsieur Moretti, our Italian, Buddhist, Catholic friend again, and he kind of told us that he wasn't really interested in our message. Kind of sad, but he was so nice about it. And he offered to help us with French occasionally, an offer we gladly accepted. We think it could soften his heart (while helping us) and someday open him to the Gospel. That evening we visited Alberto, Victor, and Domingos. Just awesome as usual. Victor was doing great, much better than recently. They're just such awesome, awesome guys. And we got invited over for dinner on Saturday! I was really doing well with French that evening, and I was able to teach really clearly and effectively.

Thursday was our Thanksgiving P-day! Nothing super exciting happened really, but I'll give you a quick run down. It was at our church, so Elder Evans and I headed over early to open it up and all that. We had district meeting first, at 10, then it was a free day until 6 that night, with food in between. Turkeys are pretty hard to come by here, so we went to the local marché (market) which takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and bought 6 rotisserie chickens (which really threw the guy selling them for a loop). Between the 18 missionaries, we pretty much finished them off, and they were quite good! I caught up in my journal (I've written a whole page for practically every single day since the middle of October. It's gonna be a really great little treasure after my mission if I keep it up) and just kind of hung out and talked with the other missionaries for the rest of the day. Oh yeah, our meal was pretty American, except for the obligatory baguettes and fancy French cheese on the table. :) It was kind of funny. Like a lot of our interactions with each other as missionaries, it was a bit "franglais" (French plus English, pronounced fronglay). We had a really cool rendez-vous with a couple new portuguese speaking amis who live with one of our members. It was a bit weird because the member hardly speaks any French, so our amis were the ones translating for him! Backwards from what we're used to. One of them was kind of going to town on a bottle of wine for the whole lesson, so we're defintely going to be talking about the word of wisdom soon...

Friday we went and visited Makhlouf, who has decided to go back to Islam, so we kind of said goodbye to him, but on the way out he offered to take us to lunch! He took us to get some kebab sandwiches and there was American football on the TV! It was kind of a weird little experience. That night we went to a rendez-vous with another portuguese family who just moved into the ward! They don't really speak much French yet, so Frère Mourier did pretty much the whole lesson...It was really cool though. They're only part member, so we now have two more (4 total for the week) new portuguese amis to teach! 

Saturday we got to help someone move a little bit, and had a long English conversation with our half American member Frère Mathias while we waited for that to start. That was kind of cool. He works for BMW too! Apparently like 4 members of our ward do. Then we had a quick lesson with Yannick that evening right before heading to Alberto and Domingos for dinner! They served us a really good meatloaf sort of thing and you could really tell that they went all out for us. We learned that Alberto really likes nature shows, Domingos is doing great keeping the word of wisdom (even avoiding coffee shops to avoid temptation) and Alberto played the guitar for us a little bit! Just a great spirit there that night.

Sunday was kind of normal. We set our date with Yannick for his baptism! We feel pretty good about it. It's super exciting! He's kind of negative when it comes to saying how he feels and stuff (always saying "it was okay..." and stuff when we ask how his day was) but last night we finally got him to say that he felt something with us, which was a big step! 

Anyway, sorry it got kind of cut short at the end, but it really was a good week! I'll let you know how the French goes and all that. Keep Cooper warm! And I'd really love to have some music soon, so keep Tyler on that for me! :) I hope Kevin and Brian are doing well too. Still haven't sent Dad's present yet, I'm working on it...but happy birthday anyway! 

I'm thankful for you all and all the support I have from home. I can't express how much I appreciate it. I love you!

Elder Bigler

Adam and his companion finally got settled into their new apartment after the switch with the Sisters

My new address is 

Elder Adam Bigler
33 rue Maximilien Robespierre
94120 Fontenay sous Bois

We're in sort of a complex, so you probably can't see us as well as before. I'll get you pictures of it all when I can. It's not as quaint as before, but it's a lot more useful for us to get on the metro and stuff from here. It's been a big help.  Click Here to See It: Google Map Street View

And yes, if you ever don't have my address or anything and really need to send something, the mission home address works. You send it there, the APs give it to the Zone Leaders, who give it to the District Leaders, who bring it to district meeting which we have every week. So, I may get things a couple days later if they're sent to it, but I still get them pretty quick. Packages only take about a week to get here, unless there's a strike going on...but usually just about a week. We're pretty well connected with the US as far as mail goes. There's hardly ever a problem like that. And I really would like to have it (his portable speaker)...I wish I had just brought it originally, but I didn't think much about it. Stuff doesn't often get lost, especially big packages. Damaged, possibly, but as long as you wrap it up good I'd feel pretty confident about it.

Thanks so much!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I really think that I finally fell in love with's really starting to feel like home here.

Hey everybody! From what I can tell, it sounds like it was a pretty good week back in American Fork! We had a pretty good week here ourselves, although it was pretty slow too. A lot of our amis were super busy this week, so we didn't teach that many real lessons. We still worked hard though, as usual. :)

After I emailed you guys last week, we went to the Louvre! HOLY COW. That place blew my mind. I said "wow" like a hundred times in there. It's so huge and so amazing. Art and all that aside, just the building itself is incredible. Part of it is built on the foundation of an old castle, and you can go underneath and walk around in what used to be the moat. We went right into the dungeon of the castle as well, which was pretty intense. But then the art! Just amazing. It goes on and on and on and on. I'm not really much of an art person, but I still could appreciate it. I saw the La Jaconte (the Mona Lisa). As everyone says, not really that impressive, but it was actually a little bigger than I thought it would be based off of people's descriptions. Compared to the MASSIVE picture of Christ turning water into wine on the opposite wall however, it was pretty dinky. Then we headed to the antiquities wing. WOW. Just crazy. They had like, everything. Literally about 30 Egyptian sarcophagi all lined up in one room. A bunch of weapons, a few sphinx, and all sorts of artifacts and statues and stuff. Unbelievable really. We were there for about 3 and a half hours, going through everything way fast, and we only saw maybe a fourth of the stuff. Just really really cool. Unfortunately, we're at the sketchy internet café again this week, and we can't send pictures from here, so I'll have to get them to you next week, I hope, with a few others.

That evening we went porting (door to door stuff, if I haven't explained that before) and were able to find a nice woman named Andrea. She's an artist and she has a little studio sort of thing set up in her apartment. She introduced herself as Buddhist (which is odd for a white French woman) but if you ask me she's more Catholic, based on the discussion we had with her. She was really nice and open to talking with us, but not very interested in acting and wouldn't set up another rendez-vous. Good evening though, and a good chance for me to practice my French a little more. She was really patient and good at letting me figure out what I wanted to say.

I also want to add, this was a cool day for me. After we left the Louvre, we had to walk back our gare (train station) because there was apparently an armed bank robber hiding out in the metro. We were told to avoid the metros for a while. So we walked back to the center of Paris from the Louvre, right along the Seine. Oh man, it was just a beautiful evening. I really think that I finally fell in love with Paris that night. The cool air, the obscure little shops, the river, the Eiffel Tower in the distance, having just come from the Louvre. Like I wrote in my journal, it's really starting to feel like home here. I'm becoming comfortable and more, just really loving the area and the people. It was a cool little experience for me.

Tuesday we had district meeting as usual and then an exchange out in Auxerre again. I was with Elder Tryon this time. He reminds me a lot of Kalin (you know, our cousin), except Texan. It was fun being with him for a while. That night we were also able to watch the film 17 Miracles (it's approved, don't worry). Really cool movie, you guys should definitely check it out. All of it is based off of real things that happened to the pioneers.

Wednesday morning we did our studies quick (well, as quick as you can do 2 and a half hours of studies) and Elder Evans and I headed back to Nogent. We had a rendez-vous with Lipasa, a guy we met on the street, but he turned out to not be there. So we headed home, got some dinner, and then headed out into what was a quite cold night. No real success, but a lot of rain. Not too bad though.

Thursday was kind of regular, til the evening. We had a 4 hour block of contacting during the day, which is a very long time. People were pretty nice though, and it was a nice day. That evening, however, we had planned to give a blessing to one of our members. She's an American, here working as a nanny. She had been having some struggles lately, so we gave her a blessing with Frère Kusseling and then he invited her to dinner with us. It was a sweet evening, as usual with the Kusseling family. Sœur Kusseling served duck for dinner (yeah, duck. Pretty good, but not THAT great. Really fancy though. I talked to one of there relatives a lot, who served his mission in England and spoke really good English. Turns out that he served with the famous Richard Flores (AF Band Alumnus) for a transfer! Seriously a small world. After dinner we shared a quick thought about the importance of inviting people to church and then headed home for the evening.

Friday ended up being pretty boring us. We have our 3 hour weekly planning session on Fridays, se we use up a lot of our time there. None of our amis were available, so still no lessons with any of them.

Saturday now...Oh boy. Yesterday (Friday) we got the call saying that it was time to move. So, that night and Saturday morning we frantically packed up all our things and cleaned up our apartment as much as we could for the Sœurs. Somehow, I got my stuff more organized than when I left the MTC and actually ended up with some extra space! So, we gathered all of our things and headed to Val-de-Fontenay, where they lived, and dropped off all our stuff, then took the Sœurs over to our apartment with theirs. I am starting to be more and more thankful for that crazy luggage lady. I pack my clothes how she taught us every time. It's just awesome. And I'm super thankful for this luggage. It's just perfect. I'm never worried about it breaking or anything, where others' are already pretty beat up. It's just so great not worrying about that. Moving is stressful enough without worrying if your clothes are going to spill all over the street.

Anyway, we got our stuff into the apartment and had to go directly to our DMP meeting (ward mission leader meeting) where we talked about our Dimanche Missionnaire that was planned for tomorrow (as in Sunday). I didn't mention it, but on top of all of this crazy moving business, I was also assigned to give a talk. Which meant I had to write a talk. And as everyone knows, missionaries have a ton of free time.......Um, no. It was quite a time crunch to get it done. I could send pictures of it to you so you can read it, but it's all in French, so I don't know how much that'll do...maybe I'll translate it sometime for you if you really want it.

Anyway, I'm kind of skipping ahead to Sunday. Saturday still. We finally got a hold of Yannick, and taught a really good lesson with him, clarifying (like I said we would do last week) why were there and what he expects from us. We were bold but loving and he's now currently praying to know a baptismal date, as are we. We'll be discussing it this week.

Finally, Sunday came. I didn't really get a whole lot out of church, being stressed about my talk and being a little sick and all of that. It was rough for me. But I got up and gave my talk alright, and I think it was okay. Nothing too special. I gave it with one of our members standing right next to me at the pulpit, then he gave his with me standing there to signify togetherness I suppose. It was our DMP's idea. It was a little weird, but it was kind of nice. After church we got a little more settled into our apartment (it's just us right now, the other two Elders will be coming tomorrow probably) and then headed back out for some more porting. Not a too eventful night. Nobody was too mean. Met Pascal, who was Catholic and really nice. We talked a little with him, despite him saying that he was about to eat, so it was really cool.

Then our week kind of just ended. It's amazing how fast they fly by. I only have Elder Evans for 2 more weeks. And I'll be officially trained, so I'm supposed to know what I'm doing...Haha but I feel like I'm pretty ready for it.

Slow week statistically, but good overall. 

I'm gonna miss having thanksgiving with you guys, and being there for Dad's birthday, but it's okay. There's no place I'd rather be at this time in my life. I'm learning so much and having lots of fun along the way. I love you all! Have a great Thanksgiving and happy birthday Dad! Your present should be on it's way soon. Still getting there...

Until next week!
Elder Bigler

Responses to Mom's Email Questions

We actually will be having Thanksgiving! It's like a second P-day, minus email. We'll be at the Nogent chapel all day basically, just us missionaries, hanging out eating some food. Probably chickens instead of a turkey though.

Christmas is spent with members, for sure. Maximum of 4 hours with each family, and a lot of rules kind of go out the window from what I hear (like getting back on time) We don't really have a Christmas tree, but we'll see what happens... And that (if Santa were to send presents, will you get them?) depends on where he sends it. I can get packages at my apartment or the mission home (new apartment address coming next week). 

I still would like some recipes. Maybe for the rib sauce. And I REALLY would like to get my jambox sent to me, with the CD's that Tyler is going to be making for me. (preferably before christmas so I can listen to christmas music. The CD's are what I really want. and the sooner the better. Ask him about them. I sent him list of a ton of music that i'd like. Christmas music is the priority for now. I can listen to it on our DVD player if I need to, but I'd really like, eventually to have my jambox and my own CD player so I can have it be a little more personal (and sound better). I can buy a CD player though. But that's really what I want for Christmas. That, and maybe a BYU sweater (We think he means sweatshirt. He has never worn a sweater in his life). And then those family pictures! Even some paper ones would be nice, but you could send a ton with that memory card...

Hahaha I laughed about that red plate thing (Our family's "You Are Special Today" Red Plate Tradition given to Tyler for doing his homework after school without being asked. Something about going to a movie with a girl served as motivator). You guys are funny. :) Good to hear that Tyler is doing well though. :) That's pretty sweet with Ben, how's he doing? I haven't heard anything from him. I'd like to email him too from time to time. (Ben Busath is a friend and fellow missionary from our ward. He got a special visit in the mission field of Indiana from his current and previous Bishops who were in town for the BYU/Notre Dame football game.)

I hadn't heard about the lights (the Christmas lights were turned on last Saturday in Paris all around the Eiffel Tower), but we'll be in Paris about when it gets dark tonight (5 ish), so maybe we'll see them! (Mom wants to know if he is able to go to Disneyland Paris) And Disneyland is prohibited actually... I might try to go the downtown Disney part of it sometime (we just can't actually go into the park) and maybe find some cool presents.......

And no, it's not too cold yet. But I'd take the cold over the heat anyday, so I like it for now. It gets hot in the summer...

Also, you said call home (Mom asking about our Christmas call)?  We're a modern mission, we Skype home! For 1 hour. So, better start practicing how to use Skype! :)

Well, my time's up for today, gotta go. We're going to Les Invalides, the war museum. It should be pretty cool. Have a great day and week! Let everyone know I miss them and pray for them all the time. I love you!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Normal But Great!

Hey everybody!

American Fork Marching Band at Grand Nationals
Well, first off, it's rough to hear about the band. I know how it goes. From what I've heard though, it sounds like you guys did your very best. That's really all that matters. You had a practically perfect year, especially with a really tough regionals group, and you should be proud of the work you put in. Judges make it tough. It's not always the best groups that really win. I'm currently working on a way to see the show, so hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to check it out. Maybe even semi-finals eventually. But don't feel too bad about it. Woodlands, Carmel, Avon, Marcus, L.D. Bell, Ayala, Harrison, are all AMAZING band programs. You shouldn't feel bad at all. From what I can tell, this year was one of AF's best ever. Keep your heads high.

I'm glad to hear that you guys are working with the missionaries a little bit. Just so you know the differences out here, we schedule our own meetings with members. We become friends with them, get to know them, and tell them that we'd like to come over sometime to share a message and do our best to bring the Spirit into their homes. Then we go and teach them a real lesson. You could call it practice teaching, because it's with the members and we know that their salvation isn't on the line if we teach something a little bit incorrectly, so it's a bit less pressure, but we do it on our own, really trying to help them and edify them. I'm a little sad to hear that this missionary got distracted so easily. I hope that doesn't normally happen, cause there are a lot more distracting things than barking dogs. It's hard to keep the people you're teaching focused if you can't stay focused yourself. And actually, I think about Kevin every time I bear my testimony or teach about Joseph Smith. A boy as young as that was able to sincerely follow his heart and simply ask God for knowledge that he lacked, and God answered. I know that He does still today, and I'm so thankful to be hear to testify of that to others. Also, don't feel too bad about that missionary. It sounds kind of like he was trying to be funny, but it was rather unsensitive (just so you know, our problem here in France is trying to not get bise'd - kissed). But, it's not really all his fault. In the MTC, they really drill hugging people of the opposite gender out of you. Another thing I love about our mission is that we hug. Well, only our gender, but when we're greeting other Elders, it's gotta be with a hug. It's really good for morale and all that and just for helping us be closer as a mission. So don't worry, plenty of hugs here. But you do have a point about how we need to be careful. It's tricky, and some missionaries really just aren't good at not offending people, to put it bluntly. And it's extra sad that it kind of drove the Spirit away, since that's the opposite of our goal as missionaries. Anyway, the point of this big long paragraph is just that, don't worry, I get hugs, I think about you guys a lot, and we honestly care about and love our members here.

Now, to get started on my weekly summary. :) Long letter this week!

Lundi - started off the week pretty well! We were able to meet a guy whose information we received the other night. His name is Patrice, his wife is Fifi, and his 4-year-old daughter's name is Meggie. He comes from a Muslim background, but he's been checking out other religions for a long time, and he feels like he hasn't really found the truth yet. He's kind of complicated to teach because of this, since Muslims believe that Christ was just a prophet (well, some of them, others believe that he was the Son of God but that he wasn't actually crucified), while Christians believe he was the Son of God. But he's open and ready to learn. He also speaks English very well, so the lessons are a breeze. He's an awesome guy. He got a Livre de Mormon from the Elders in Lyon (where he was contacted) and in less than a week had read all the way to Omni (over 150 pages)! They're just a solid family that we're really excited to teach. 

Mardi - Kind of a regular day. The highlight was that on the bus one time, Elder Evans and I got a little separated, and I talked to this woman about what we believe (all in French) and was able to give her a Livre de Mormon, and she accepted to read it! It was extra cool just because I did it without any of Elder Evans' help. I'm getting close to being able to hold my own in French now.

Mercredi - We were able to teach our Haitian Preacher ami, Frère Regis, along with his brother in law Paulimus (yes, pronounced poly-moose). We talked about Joseph Smith and how he was able to recieve an answer despite his young age and inexperience. They're really cool guys, but unfortunately they're not too interested in acting to know right now, so we aren't able to visit them very often.

Jeudi - We taught our Cameroonian ami Yannick. We're still trying to get through the Plan of Salvation with him. We're currently stuck on The Fall. He's into all this really deep doctrinal stuff. He asks really good questions. For example, if you were Adam, what would you have done? Would you have eaten the fruit and allowed all sin, pain, and evil to come into the world? It's pretty deep stuff. Elder Evans and I have already come to our own conclusion, but it's still pretty interesting to think about. Anyway, really cool guy. He'll be baptized someday, he just needs to understand that he doesn't have to understand everything to know that our message is true. We're working on it.

Vendredi - Kind of just a regular day for us. We taught a lesson about the Restoration to Jimmy. He seems genuinely interested and we feel like he's really going to progress. The tricky part is that his girlfriend is a recent convert and she ALWAYS comes to the lessons. It's good to have her there, but we're worried that he's going to try to convert just for her. So, it's a tender situation, but we're really excited for him. Personally, I feel really...invested with Jimmy. We've been talking a lot about trying to have true charity for our amis, and just everybody. I feel like I have that for Jimmy. I really want what's best for him, and I know that the Gospel will help him to have that.

Samedi - Crazy day! We did essentially no real missionary work, but I learned a lot. We had a surprise conference in Versailles (other side of Paris) with Elders Osguthorpe (General President of Sunday School) and Ridd (2nd counselor in the General Young Men's Presidency). Really cool guys. They talked a lot about being axiously engaged in a good cause, being dedicated and devoted to what we're doing, doing GOOD work, not just working, and just about having the desire and determination to continue. It was a lot of missionary pump-up type stuff. At the end, Elder Evans and I got to just hang out and talk with Elder Osguthorpe for a while about wht it's like to speak in General Conference and all that. It was a really cool experience. Apparently, Elder Holland says to everyone after their talk "That was the best talk on (subject) ever given in the church!" and he truly means it sincerely. It sounds like just so much building up that goes on with the Apostles.
After that little conference, we headed to the other side of Paris, Torcy, for our Stake Conference adult session. It was centered on missionary work of all things! It was awesome. President Poznanski spoke, and he mentioned how he wanted toys for Christmas but woke up on Christmas morning to an illustrated bible. And read in my other email what he said afterwards... (for Brian's sake "And that's when I knew that Santa Claus didn't exist!")  Anyway, that day ended well, with us boarding two other Elders, Utahia and Wootton. Elder Utahia is from Tahiti. It was cool having a French speaker in our apartment. It gave me lots of good practice and helped me really build my confidence with French. I'm learning quite quickly.

Dimanche - Kind of a regular Sunday, just busy busy busy. Stake Conference in the morning. No tabernacles here, so we had it in a movie theater! I got a picture with superman while I was there (I'll send it next week). It felt really weird to be in a movie theater, but it was a nice meeting with (too comfy) comfy seats. No cup holders here in France though... After that, we had a nice evening with a member family, the Allanic's, and talked a lot about missionary work. They're really just wonderful members. 

Overall, a great, but normal week. As missionaries, "normal" IS great! :) Lots of fun and lots of hard work. I love you guys so much! Dad, I'm working on your present, it might be a little late. We're just way busy right now. Tyler and Kevin, keep those heads high! You did amazing this year. Keep working hard even though marching band is over. Brian, keep studying all that Knowledge bowl stuff! Someday I hope to be as smart as you. :) And keep reading your scriptures everybody! There really is power in reading the scriptures. I can't tell you how many times I've found answers in there. And you'll realize how cool they are too! I had no idea how cool the stories in the Book of Mormon are until now. Anyway, it's about time to go. I wish you all a good week! Have fun and be good!

Elder Adam Bigler