Monday, August 26, 2013

The Days are Long but the Weeks are Short - August 26, 2013

I feel like I start all of these the same. There's really not a whole lot to say about what goes on in here, except that we work hard, speak a lot of French, eat a lot of food, and feel the spirit a ton. I could pretty much leave my letter at that and it would summarize my whole week. But I won't, cause I know mom would hate me for it. :)

Nothing super special happened this week. The thunderstorm the other night was cool, did you guys see that? A bunch of foreign people were standing around outside like they had never seen a thunderstorm before. . .which I suppose is possible for some of them. 

Weekly Walk to the Provo Temple
I've been running every gym period, and trying to do some pushups and situps every day and all that, and so far I've only gained like 2 pounds, which I think is pretty good, considering the food and everything. My companion and I finally taught a couple good lessons this week, in my opinion. I really felt the spirit as we taught, and I we were able to communicate pretty well. We got to teach some members this week, being themselves instead of pretend investigators, and that was great because I felt like we could really get into the lesson. I have the First Vision memorized, and it is such a powerful tool in testifying of the restoration and just the reality of the Book of Mormon. 

Just over three weeks until I get to go to France! I can't tell you how exciting that is. It's also really nerve wracking. I mean, I'm gonna get there and suddenly, if I don't know how to say something, I won't be able to just ask in English. People won't just suddenly speak English if I need them to, the signs won't turn into English signs when I can't read them. It's kind of scary. BUT, I still have a few weeks to learn, and at this rate, I'm gonna be quite good at the language by the time I get there. There are a whole bunch of native French speakers here (Francophones) and they're super helpful to talk to. 

Speaking of that, it continues to blow my mind how diverse this place is. Per capita, we are probably the most diverse group of 4,000 people ever (religion aside). There are people from all over the world, speaking so many different languages I can't even keep track of it. It's awesome.

Missionaries on the Move

I have a bunch of other things to write (I keep track of things I want to write), but I don't have my notebook with me, so they're all gonna be at the end of the letter this week. 

You guys should watch the "Dare to Stand Alone" Mormon message. It's really good, and it has dear old AF high in it! Also "Mountains to Climb" as well. I can't quite remember specifically what it was about it, but that made me write down with an arrow pointing to it "that's why I'm here". It really touched me. 

A couple random thoughts I had this week: First, "you know you're on a mission when..." jokes could be really funny. Like, you know you're on a mission (or in the MTC) when you have Called to Serve stuck in your head before 7:00 AM. That happens pretty much every day. I don't think I've gone more than two hours here without hearing that octave jump at the beginning of that song.

Second, I think living at Snow this last year, eating that nasty food all the time really prepared me for the MTC. I'm gaining much less weight that everyone else, controlling my eating, and just not feeling like the food is slowing me down. Now, granted, that's probably not the best thing, to be adapted to such unhealthy food, but so far it seems like a blessing. :)

Adam with his District Elder Qwang from Singapore

Third, I learned a little lesson about attitude yesterday from my companion. On Sundays, we can only have cereal for breakfast. He's a bit picky about his food, and he was commenting on how they need to have more options here, instead of just offering cereal for breakfast. Meanwhile, I was thinking how awesome it was that they offered like, 12 different types of cereal for breakfast, on top of having a few different types of muffins. I don't mean for this story to come out self-righteous, if that's how it sounds. It just helped me to realize how much better our lives can be just by having a good attitude and looking on the bright side. Life's great, why complain? :) I'm so excited to be out here serving and doing what I know is right. 

Also, I saw Richard Flores this week. He said the band is doing great, which it sounds like they are based off those letters. I forgot to tell him to say hi to you guys though. . .my bad. I will if I see him again though.

My letter this week has been super scattered. . .it's hard to gather my thoughts in such a short amount of time when all I've really been thinking about is how many words I need to learn or what to teach in my lessons or which white shirt to wear (hahaha). I guess I'll just end this week with my super simple French testimony (have fun translating).

Je sais que le Livre de Mormon est vrai et que Joseph Smith a été un prophète de Dieu. Je sais que Jésus-Christ a expié pour nos péchés et que nous pouvons vivre avec il encore. Je suis remercie pour l'occasion a servir un mission pour Dieu. J'ai reçu beaucoup des bénédictions, et je vais reçu plus. Mon Français n'est pas tres bon, mais je sais, avec tout de mon coeur que Jésus est le Christ et que cette évangile est son évangile. Je vous aime. Au nom de Jésus-Chirst, amen.

Elder Bigler

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 2 - August 19, 2013

Time sure does fly by here! We've got a lot of work done this week, but it still feels like there's so much to do. I learn more and more each day about how I can strengthen my own testimony as I strengthen the testimonies of others.

The French is coming along nicely, I think. It's still pretty slow, and I'm sure my grammar is pretty bad, but I'm progressing. I should have the First Vision memorized by tomorrow, and I've made it a goal to learn 3-5 new words a day for my entire mission. And I officially started Le Livre de Mormon in French a couple days ago. It's a tough read, but I can already tell that I can do it at least twice as quickly as I could when I got here. Our "investigator" is now our teacher, and he's really great. His name is Frere (brother) Starita, and he's got a really strong testimony of missionary work and the right way to do it. He's definitely lovingly whipping us all into shape.

I thought Tyler and Kevin would appreciate that this place is a lot like Band Camp, except that you're mentally tired instead of physically. And it goes on for six weeks. :) It's so much fun. We get to hear so many amazing lessons from so many amazing people (Vai Sikahema was here last night), we get to go to the temple every week, we get to study the scriptures so much (and I've never seen a group of guys get as excited about reading the scriptures), and we just generally get to give all our time to the Lord and just get showered with blessings.

The food is still a little bit rough. My body seems used to it now, but it sure does get old. And we're all starting to feel fatter. I DO miss those Sunday dinners we have at home though. It just doesn't compare here.

I think I should tell you a little about my district. Here in the MTC, your "district" is just the people that you're in class with, and your "zone" is just a bunch of districts put together (and we go to church together as a zone). We have 8 in our district. Elder Hendershot and I, Elder Adamson and Elder Stephens, Elder Moffitt and Elder Kwang, and Elder Olsen and Elder Wohlfahrt. Elders Olsen, Kwang, and Wohlfahrt are from Canada, Singapore, and Germany respectively. They all awesome guys. It's interesting to learn more about each other and start to see all the different things that led us to coming on our missions. We all have different things that we're missing, and different things that we want to work on, but we're all in it for the long run. We're a good group of guys, if that's not too prideful for me to say. We've got a lot of work to do, but we'll be able to do it.

Adam's MTC District

San Francisco was lots of fun! We had to meet at 2:30 AM to get on the shuttle, which means we had to wake up around 2:00, after going to bed at 10:30. That was rough, but we had lots of time to sleep, as you'll find out in a minute. We rode the shuttle up I-15 to the airport. That was probably the most homesick I felt so far, driving almost close enough to our house to be able to see it, and then spending all day close enough to phones that I could've just called you if I had wanted. But it wasn't too bad. I was probably a 6 or 7 out of 10 for being homesick when we went past, but I'm usually around a 2 or a 3, so no need to worry about me. :) We got there, grabbed some McDonald's breakfast, then got on our tiny airplane to head to San Fran. It was so cool! It accelerates so fast and the view is just incredible (I had a window seat, right over the wing). I really enjoyed it. Once we got there, we got shuttled to the French Consulate to finish up our visa stuff, talked to the security guard there about his family and stuff and gave him a pass along card, then left. The coolest part of this trip was just getting some real experience as a missionary, out in public wearing our name tags. Once we got done with that, we were going to head to Chinatown (yes Tyler, THE Chinatown) because we had a Mandarin speaking Elder with us to get some real Chinese food, but there was one Elder who didn't want it, so we ended up going to Jimmy John's, which was still pretty good. Then we went to the airport and found out that our flight was delayed for two hours (time for some missionary work!). We saw a Ferrari there too. Total mission Ferrari count: 1. We also got $25 vouchers for being delayed, so we all just bought a bunch of food and stuff. About an hour (and a few conversations with non-members) later, we found out that our flight was delayed another two hours. Then another hour. It was quite the adventure. So, we all had lots of time to nap, write our talks (did I mention that we have to write a talk in French every week, and then they randomly choose two Elders (or sisters) from the congregation to give their talks?), read our scriptures, talk to more people, eat some food, and just chill. We had lots of fun, I think, while still being mature and respectful and keeping our composure. It still amazes me that a group of guys, at this age, are trustworthy enough to just be handed plane tickets to California and then show up again at the end of the day, and go to bed right on time, ready to wake up at 6:00 AM again the next day. It's impressive. Anyway, we eventually got on our flight and headed home. We had to take Frontrunner all the way down to Provo, but that was kind of fun for me too. Most of that was new for me. So, that was my Wednesday.

Adam in San Francisco. Quick trip to get his Visa for France.

The rest of the week was pretty normal. We all got a little sick this week (our district), but I think almost all of us are better now. I've been running and playing soccer a lot, but I think I'm gonna stick to mostly running so I can gain less weight and cause playing against a team of European guys is impossible (Elder Wohlfahrt was almost a pro).

Also, thanks for all the packages! The popcorn and doughnuts were a bit crazy, but a bunch of the Elders on my floor appreciated my leftovers. :) I don't really need the food though; we get PLENTY of that here. So if it's a hassle, don't worry about it. :)

Tell the brothers to write me! I want to hear about marching band and how DCI ended and how many seasons of Digimon Brian has watched and all that. And I expect pictures of Tyler at dances and stuff. I have to make fun of him somehow. :) And I want to hear about Dad's car and if mine ever came and all that.

I miss you guys so much, but I know I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do. This is exactly where I need to be. The MTC is a bit like a prison, albeit a really spiritual one, but I'm still glad to be here. :) I can't wait to get out into the field, but I definitely have a lot to learn still. I love you all, and I can't wait to hear from you again. Don't have too much fun without me. :)

Elder Bigler

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Email from the MTC - August 12, 2013


Hey everyone! It's good to finally be able to write back to you! Thanks for the letters so far mom! And the cookies, and Tyler's specially made box. It's always exciting to get stuff. :)

I hope you guys got my other letter. They wanted everyone in the MTC (new missionaries, that is) to write back home to their parents within a day or so of getting here, just to help with the feelings and stuff.

It's hard to really know what to say know that I'm writing. So much goes on here every day, it's hard to summarize it all into one email. My usual day goes like this:

6:00-Arise and prepare
7:00-Language class with Soeur Coleman
10:00-Personal Study
11:45-So far it's been some sort of orientation or separate class or gym time until dinner
4:00-Dinner (4 is still super early, but I'm getting used to it)
4:45-Language class for 3 hours (which includes companionship study, teaching our investigator Luc, and just general language learning)
7:45-Language Study (just time to personally study the language how you want)
9:00-Daily planning
9:30-Back to the room for personal time
10:15-Quiet time
10:30-Lights out

It's a pretty constant flow of learning, being busy, eating, and the Spirit here. It's hard, for sure, but so much fun and so rewarding. After being here for only two days, me and my companion, Elder Hendershot, taught a lesson on prayer entirely in French! It was pretty impressive. We taught another lesson, on the First Vision, the very next day and both of us said that we noticed a difference. I've been praying almost completely in French since Friday also.

Language stuff aside, the Spirit is so present here. I don't even really know how to explain it. It's just a constant feeling of a closeness with God and Jesus Christ. Praying all the time, reading the scriptures, and being surrounded by thousands of other missionaries make it hard to NOT feel the Spirit. It's just amazing. I miss you guys so much, but I don't really think it's set in yet. I'm just happy to be here and working hard. Elder Hendershot is too, and he makes a great companion. He's our district leader, and I'm the senior companion, which is kind of good in that it helps avoid power struggles, I guess. We get along really well, although he's a bit distracted at times. He has a strong testimony and a strong desire to serve and I'm actually a little disappionted that I'm not going to get to be his companion out in the field (he's going to Lyon). The food is tasty, but rough on the bowels (you can edit that out if you want), but what can you do?

Last night, after the devotional, we attended a film (just a video of a general authority speaking), and the one we went to was the Character of Christ, by Elder Bednar. I don't know if you guys would be able to find it (he gave it here at the MTC, so it's probably pretty hard to find online), but if you can, you should definitely watch it. For one, seeing a general authority impersonate the cookie monster is pretty great, but the spirit with which he testifies is even greater. It makes you really appreciate how truly amazing Christ was and is, and how much he did and does for us.

I'm going to be heading to San Fransisco on Wednesday at 2:30 AM, if you wanted to be able to keep track of me. :) I'll be back by dinner that night.

Anyway, I have so many more things to say, but not enough time to say it in. I love you guys so much! I'll talk to you again soon.

Elder Bigler

Elder Bigler with his MTC Companion, Elder Hendershot