Monday, September 30, 2013

Email Issues? Only Email is a Reply to Dad

NOTE: This email was the only one we received September 30. It was a reply to my email from Sunday night. At the end of his it mentions starting his "main email". We don't know what happened to that email - maybe wrong email address. This will have to do for now. Adam's response is first. Dad's letter follows.

So, first off, that was only a district meeting. Zone conference is this Friday (or Thursday night for you guys). And yeah, the transportation system isn't too bad. Supposedly the best in the world. We ride trains and buses almost every day. It's lots of fun, if you ask me. :)

It is a pretty nice area actually. We live kind of in the middle of a shopping center sort of thing, so we have lots of people to talk to. It's awesome. A pretty nice apartment, I hear. (By the way, you guys are getting a serious deal only paying $400 a month. We get 282 euros a month for food and transportation, which is about $370. Plus our apartment is. . .well, somewhere around double that. More like 2.4 times. I thought you'd like that being a banker and all) We are on the second floor, which is certainly nice when you have all your luggage and there's no elevator.

I'll try to send some pictures of the apartment when I can (and when we've cleaned up). Cooking is mostly just making some pasta with all sorts of different sauce on it (Ratatouille is good stuff), or throwing something in the oven. We buy baguettes a lot (I'm eating one right now actually) and use them for sandwiches and stuff. Money is pretty simple. We have a card, they give us 175 euros a month for food, then about 107 for our monthly passes. Everything else is payed for through the mission office. We can pretty much eat whatever, but if we run out of money, we have to use our own to eat. We do a lot of contacting and porting (door to door stuff) when we're not teaching lessons. I'll talk more about that as time goes by. French church is pretty much the same, and that's the point, except that it's in French, which makes it REALLY hard to stay awake. The people here are great! The Muslim people are definitely generally the nicest, and as a general rule, people who have moved to France are nicer than those who are from here. But not many are really mean, they're usually just honest and tell you if they aren't interested or don't have time to talk to you. And I'll cover places and things in a minute. :)

Conference will be good. We'll be able to see all of it except the sunday afternoon this weekend, two sessions live (the morning sessions at 6 pm) and the others slightly delayed. We'll be watching in English at the church. They also play it in French and Spanish at the church. 

Love the pictures! Holy cow the band looks SOOOO cool with that red out there on the green with the band. Oh man, it's so sweet. I couldn't find Tyler in there, but I found Kevin.... :)
Food's looking good for the dance there! And my companion is jealous of Tyler's date...

Anyway, I'm starting to get low on time, so I hope I can cover all of the stuff that happened this week in my main email....

Keep writing! I love it. :)

On Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 7:23 AM, <> wrote:

Hey Elder!

Just trying out my new fangled Wang Word Processor.  Oops! Sorry. That was a letter from my Dad many years ago. 

Things have improved quite a bit in the last few decades. Most of all this email thing - no two week delay between letters. In fact, probably only a few hours from when I wrote this until when you get it. Pretty slick.  There is also that Facebook thing. Instant satisfaction for parents to see their kids on missions. We saw photos from your Zone Conference and there were a few more of you.  Looking good and even a smile or two on your face. Keep sitting in the front row and photo bombing any chance you get. Mom likes to see you as often as possible.

Kind of a quick turn around to have the Zone Conference so soon after getting to Paris. Should help get a little more used to the transportation system. I used to love Zone Conferences. I spent a good portion of my mission in out lying areas and it was always good to get the spiritual boost from the other missionaries. And to see some other faces besides my companion's. I hope you enjoyed the meetings and training. Always good information to take out to the field.

After getting your email last week I did quickly Google Map stalk you. That is also a wonderful tool for missionary parents to have. Looks like a fairly nice and clean area. I don't know if you are on the second floor or not but the Google Map picture has what looks like a missionary cleaning the small window veranda. Possible anyway. I am sure you will give us some updates on daily life now you have settled in a bit - apartment, cooking, money, missionary activities, French Church, people, places and things. I look forward to hearing that when you get the chance. I love all that information because it takes me back to my mission.

Do you know what you get to do for General Conference next week? I hope you get to see a session or two. My mission we only got the Ensign a month or two later. They did announce that for the first time the Priesthood session will be televised at home over or through BYUtv. I think that is nice and convenient for many parts of the world. Here at home, still going to the Stake Center. For this time it will be the traditional post band competition delayed broadcast with the AF Band.  I like that.  I do hope you get to see some of it live - even in French would be cool.

Well, I want to keep this kind of brief so you don't have too much to read. Mom will be sending you a letter as well with more details. I have attached a few pictures. They are from Tyler's Homecoming Date and from the Mt. Nebo band competition last Saturday.  I'll try to include a few each week for just for a quick look at home. (I'm still working on getting the SD Card functional for you.)

Take care of yourself. Work hard and love the people you meet. I am so happy for you serving. I think of you often and try to imagine what you might be doing. It is a wonderful work you are involved in and will bring you and others happiness. 

I love you,

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bienvenue au France!

Well, as you guys pointed out, I DID make it to France! I have so much to talk about I'm not even sure where to start. It's just been a tornado of amazing experiences, French, feeling a little out of place, and more French. Everyone speaks French here, can you believe that?? Haha but seriously, it's just a little weird. Okay, way weird. I suddenly can't understand what's going on around me. You know how, in America, you can kind of catch glimpses of conversations as you walk past people and advertisements just stand out and all that? That doesn't happen to me here. I'm starting to understand what a baby must feel like, except that I'm used to being able to understand so it's worse. Now, I don't mean to say that I'm lost. Not at all. I understand French quite well, for the most part. It just takes some serious focus. Anyway, I'm gonna try to just give a map of my week so I can lay everything out that I want to say.

When I said goodbye to you all at the airport, I went and hopped on the plane. I sat in the back, one seat away from the window, but it's okay, the person next to me was a missionary too, so I still got some chances to look out. The people behind us spoke French, so we talked to them for a little. The flight was very long, especially since I was close to the stewardess ladies, who NEVER stop talking, so I really only slept for about an hour of the whole flight. The sun sets really fast when you're flying away from it, and then night only lasts like, 4 hours. It was weird.
They gave us two meals ("meals") which were decent enough. Oh, and guess what?? We went so far north for our flight that we saw the Northern Lights. Seriously!! It was so cool. Anyway, so we landed, I strapped on my pedometer (yep, counting every single step), and we headed off. Eventually, we got out of the airport, met our mission president, had a French pastry (pain au chocolat, which was SO good), then headed off to place a Book of Mormon on the train, which my temporary companion and I did quite nicely, in my opinion. Anyway, so that happened, and we headed off to Paris! We got off the train and started heading to the LDS church for the area there (Saint-Marie is the name of the building for whatever reason, it's kind of our headquarters. We don't really go to the mission home much). We passed the Notre Dame cathedral on the walk there like it was no big deal! The Assistants (the Elders helping the mission president, they're kind of the head honchos) were just like "oh, and that's Notre Dame, like with the Hunchback and stuff" and that was it. You know, just living in France, it's no big deal.

The Church in Paris
So, the Church. It's really cool. It's a structure that was built in 1624. That's only 132 years after Columbus found America, can you believe that?? The stone steps are all worn down and everything. It's so cool. By the way, SO thankful for the luggage I have. It was pretty much all cobblestone between the train station and the church. I'm amazed that only a couple people had their wheels break. And the cars are so small here! It's kind of funny. Anyway, I'm kind of rambling now, and I want to make sure I have time to finish this.

So that first day, we got to that church, hung out for a minute, had our little interviews with President Poznanski, ate some food (super American casserole, not french at all) and talked a little about some rules and stuff. Nothing too fancy. Then we headed off, half of us to the mission home (they only have 8 beds for us Elders) and the rest to a hotel. By this point we were all SUPER tired, with jet lag and everything (although, I actually never felt too sleepy here. I did pretty good for whatever reason, even though you said I looked sleepy in the pictures. I was, but it wasn't horrible and it only took me a day or two to get used to it), so we went to bed around 9. The next morning we were up at 6:30, got dressed, had some weird French cereal, and headed all the way back across Paris to the church again. (By the way, I apologize if there are typos. I'm typing this really fast and this computer is French so it says everything is spelled wrong, so I'm not even really checking.)

Once we got there, we took a quick walk to Notre Dame, came back and met our trainers. Elder David Evans is mine, he's from Midvale, by Salt Lake. He's been out since January, spent Christmas in the MTC. He's an awesome guy. Very strong spirit and so excited to be doing missionary work. He plays the piano, loves scouting stuff (turned in his Eagle papers even closer to his 18th birthday than me though, can you believe that? He actually got away with turning them in on his birthday), and just a really good guy. We were assigned to serve in the Nogent area (it's secteur in French, so we call them sectors over here), with our apartment in Nogent-sur-Marne (whatever that means, don't ask me). It's just us, and an √©quipe (companionship) of sisters about ten minutes away. We're on the Eastern portion of Paris, so I get to serve in Paris right off the bat! It's beautiful here. Pretty cozy, but that's normal for Paris. On the way to the apartment, we stopped and checked out the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, although it was kind of rainy out, so it wasn't the best view of it, but I'm here in Nogent (pronounced no-jant by the way, with a kind of zj sound on the g, it's tricky to explain) for at least 12 weeks, probably more like 18, so I'll be able to go up it and all that stuff. And I'll be in Paris for Christmas! 

I'm actually running out of time now, so I'll have to share some of the great experiences I've already had next week, or in my letter. I'm gonna try to write manual letters home most weeks too. I'm doing great! French food is awesome. I'm learning a lot and working hard. I love you guys. Ugh, I'm sorry I couldn't write more. I'll do better next week. Have fun and keep being good!

Elder Bigler

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Photos from Paris!! Facebook Can Be Used for Good!

These photos come from the Facebook page for the France Paris Mission Poznanski. We believe the Mission President's wife is the source of these pictures. They are wonderful to see and provide that quick measure of reassurance that Adam made it to Paris safe and sound.

Now let the fun begin.

At the Airport Waiting to Load the Van and Catch a Train to Paris

22 New Missionaries Arrive in Paris

Off to Catch the Train and to Place a Book of Mormon During the Ride

Relaxing at the Mission Home (we think)

Relaxing at the Mission Home

Mission Home - the Young Woman in Blue is the Daughter of the Mission President

Adam Introduced to His First Companion in France

Meet and Greet the New Companion

The 22 New Paris France Missionaries with President and Sister Poznanski at the Right

The New Missionaries at Consecration Hill Overlooking Paris. A time to Ponder, Pray and Pen Goals for their Missions

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today's the Big Day!

All of MTC District 46D for One Last Picture at the Temple.
Well, I don't have a whole lot of time or a whole lot to say. I just put a rather heart felt letter in the mail that pretty much summed everything up, so be watching for that. :) I included that memory card with it too because, very unfortunately, I couldn't see any of the pictures that you guys had loaded onto it on my camera. Probably the wrong format or something. I was super bummed about that. So, hopefully you guys can figure it out (test it on mom's camera to see if you can see them on there) and eventually get that to me.

I have a so much on my mind today, it's hard to think. It took me forever to fall asleep last night, I was just so excited. It's quite a big step I'm about to take, but I'm looking forward to it with all my heart (even though that doesn't really make sense). I already miss my friends I made here. 5 of our district left to Lyon at 4:30 this morning (and we all woke up to say goodbye), and I'll probably never see most of them again. They're awesome guys, and they're going to be great missionaries.

Group Photo with Adam's Tahitian Friends.
"Awesome Guys!"
Like I mentioned before, I had made some friends with some Elders from Tahiti who (currently) only speak French, but are learning English really quickly. They came and said goodbye to all of us last night and gave us necklaces from Tahiti and did the Haka (is that how you spell it?), but really it was just Head, shoulder, knees, and toes in French. It was really funny. They're big guys. I got some huge hugs from them. And then I gave that zucchini to a French Elder (we tried to convince him that it was an American tradition to give a vegetable to someone as a parting gift, but I don't think he really bought it) and got a nice picture out of it (I was gonna try to take it to France cause I could've got some really funny pictures for you guys, but I realized that that's probably illegal to take produce).

A Gift from the Home Garden.

I thought you'd like to know that I used that crazy luggage lady's packing method for my stuff and easily got almost all of my clothes into my carry-on! But somehow, I also easily filled up all three of my suitcases. I'm not sure how I got here with all of my stuff in just two of them, although I do have a lot more now. Lots of books, lots of scriptures, some treats that didn't get eaten. . .

I kind of mentioned this in my letter I wrote, but I've now weaned myself off of the English Book of Mormon and I only read le Livre de Mormon now. The Bible is still a little bit too hard in French (I can barely understand it in English half the time. . .), but maybe eventually. I've definitely come a long way. It's amazing how much the Lord will bless us in our diligence. 

I was so excited when I saw the pedometer! I had totally forgotten about it until then. I'm looking forward to walking and walking and walking and walking. :) Thanks for sending all the other stuff too. We had a wonderful feast, although the churros were kind of nasty by the time I opened my package.
The Final Treats-from-Home Feast

Well that's all for now! I'll talk to you guys later today and email next week! Wish me luck!

Elder Bigler

P.S. Also, I only gained a total of 1 pound here at the MTC. That, in and of itself, is a great accomplishment. :) 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Surprise Saturday Email - Monday P-day is Prepare to Fly Day

Okay, so it's not quite Monday yet, but today is kind of our imaginary P-day since we leave on Monday. I figured I'd write now just in case I don't quite have the time on Monday. 

It's been another busy week, as usual here in the MTC. I think I've about hit the burnout point for 12 hour study days. I'm ready to get out of this place... Haha no, it's actually been really great, but I sure am getting antsy to leave. On the other hand though, the closer it gets, the less ready I feel, because I realize how difficult it is going to be for a while (teaching, understanding, working, speaking). But I'm excited for that too. Just a lot of mixed emotions going on right now. 

I'm really gonna miss all my friends I've made in my district. Elder Wohlfahrt is from Germany and going to Lyon, so I'm probably never going to see him again, and he's an awesome guy. We're having a sleepover in the other guys' room tonight (yeah, kind of girly, but whatever). We've all become so close, it'll be kind of hard to say goodbye. We're probably gonna sing a bunch of cantiques (Hymns) tomorrow night and be all emotional in a manly way. I think that's kind of the usual thing you do when you're leaving the MTC. :)

We're all so excited to get out in the field, so it's a little hard to keep everybody focused, but we're doing alright. Today is our last day with our teachers. I'm kind of sad about that, cause I like our teachers, although I think most of the district kind of doesn't. I don't really understand why, but that's their problem I suppose. They've (our teachers) all really tried their best to help us out as much as possible. 

I hear you brothers are falling behind on your math homework. Pas bien. Get on that! Trust me, speaking from experience, it's better in pretty much every way to do it as soon as you can, even though it's hard. It'll help your homework grades, your quiz and test grades, and just your final grades. I know some of you *cough cough* don't really like math that much at all, but it's important. So get to work! Find some band friends and do it on the bus if you have to. Git 'er done!

I got a haircut the other day. It worked out alright, although apparently there are rules about how short you can get your hair cut and how short I wanted my hair cut on top was too short. So I have kind of a funky haircut (for me) right now, but it's not too bad. I sure wish the lady had told me the rules before I had her cut the sides super short...but, c'est la vie d'un missionaire, n'est pas? 

Also, from what I can tell, you guys seem to think I'm leaving on Tuesday and that's the day I'm gonna call, but from what I wrote, I'm pretty sure I said Monday... :) Our flight leaves at 5:30, so I'd say be ready for a call around 3:30, although it may be a little after that. I know that's a tricky time for mom and all of you, so I'll try for a little bit later ish if I can. Also, I'll try to call Tyler/Kevin (send me their numbers please!) while they're at band, so maybe tell them to have their phones on them. I'll probably just call one of them (again, if I can) and have them both run off the field for a second so I can say hi. Unless they feel like that would be bad. I don't know. I think Mr. Miller would understand... And I'll call you too dad, don't worry. :) I wonder if you could get a three way call going, or if that doesn't work for pay phones. Also, they told us to buy phone cards, which cost $5. Does that mean it has $5 on it? Should I buy more than one just in case? Or could I use my card if I ran out? I have no idea how these things work.

Anyway, I think that's about all I have to say for now. I'll write a little more on Monday, so don't worry. :) Keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Monday, September 9, 2013

T-minus 7 Days

Bonjour, je t'aime! Haha I've been making friends with some Tahitian Elders this week (only speaking French, isn't that cool???) and that's how we greet each other. :)

First things first, I forgot to write last week that our Canadian Elder pronounces "about" as "aboat". So, yeah, Canadians really do talk like that. :) I just had to get that out of the way so I was sure I'd remember it. :)

It's been a good week! Unfortunately, I got some food on a tie two days in a row (That's a big deal as a missionary), but hopefully it'll come out at the dry cleaner's. Other than that, just a regular week. My companion may have gotten a concussion playing soccer. We leave soon. It's really hard to gather all my thoughts into an email like this. 

I have a couple little stories from this week I thought you guys would like. First off, learning languages is really cool. For example, in French, almost all emotions are reflexive, meaning the way you say them shows that you do them to yourself. So, in French, other people don't make you angry, other people don't make you sad. Your emotions are all on you, so choose to be happy! :) 
Also, there are two verbs for "to feel" in French. Sentir (pronounced sawnteer) and ressentir. Sentir is kind of like saying you sense something, while ressentir is literally physically feeling something. And that's the verb you use for feeling the Spirit. It's a physical feeling, a real feeling. Just some cool stuff I found this week.

Yes Mom, I do need a haircut. I'm getting one on Wednesday, don't worry. :) I've got a lot of things to do before Monday. We leave in one week! Is that crazy?? It's a 10 hour flight straight from Salt Lake City to Paris, although we'll get there 18 hours later because of the time change (that means the flight home will only have a two hour difference!). I've been assigned to be the Travel Leader, for some crazy reason. I'll be in charge of making sure that 19 missionaries get to Paris without any problems, and I barely even know how to make my way around an airport! The Lord really likes to stretch us...but don't worry, I'll be able to figure it out. :) Our flight leaves around 5, and it looks like I'll be able to call and talk to you a little before then. Around 4 maybe, give or take some time. I know that's a pretty tricky time for you guys with band, meetings, and work, but hopefully I can get through to one of you at least...

We have a couple of French Elders in our building right now, and they're pretty funny, although maybe a little overly patriotic. Being not from around here, one Elder told one of them that we dip our Oreos in water in America, so he spent the next ten minutes at the drinking fountain watering his Oreos before eating them. It was really funny until I realized that in just a week, that will probably be me. I'm excited to be a foreigner though, in a weird way. It'll be a great learning and growing experience for me, as will the rest of this. 

French has come along pretty well, although not quite as much improvement this week as I had hoped. By Friday, possibly sooner, my companion and I will be speaking only in French. I'm trying to set some good goals to be able to get a lot done this week so I can be as ready as possible to immerse myself in French. 

I hope Tyler's dance situation worked out alright. It sounds much more stressful than any of mine... And thanks for the writing utensils and stuff (although, that box of colored pencils wasn't exactly new like the other stuff, I was a little confused). It'll be very useful. :)

Just a couple other administrative things, I'd kind of like if you guys would tell me my balance on my debit card occasionally. I'm trying to keep track of it, but I don't want to accidentally get off and have some sort of issue, so I thought that would be kind of nice. And also maybe you could tell the bank that I'm going to France next week (if you haven't already), just so they don't shut down my card...

Also, I know a secret, but I'm gonna tell you guys. :) At the General Relief Society broadcast in a few weeks, the choir will be all sister missionaries from the MTC. Isn't that sweet?? The sisters sure were excited about that.

I was reading Alma 31 today, and I can't remember exactly why, but I thought you might like verses 30-38 Mom. It was about missionary work and being strengthed I think. Just know that you don't need to worrry about me. :)

I was also wondering if you could send me a few things before I leave (so the sooner the better). I'd like at least one of my Rubik's cubes (the gray one, and maybe my 4x4), the pocket watch Tyler gave me (it should be in my desk drawer), my other watch (which should be on my dresser), some Tide to-go stain stick stuff, and then maybe a couple of my Ferraris. Preferably the California, an Enzo (maybe one of those tiny ones in the case, or one of the regular size ones), the FXX, maybe my Fiorano with the wheels similar to the California. And my Stingray. Tyler can help you figure all that out if you need help. :) Also, I'd really like the recipe for that sauce we put on the ribs. And my pants. :) Oh, and maybe another shirt or two (Batman, if it's not gross, and maybe my bluish whitish striped vneck), and maybe another one of my pairs of jeans. 

Well, I think that's about it for this week. Next week might be really short just so you know, I'll be a little bit rushed. But two weeks from now, I'm sure I'll have a TON to say. So keep watching the inbox. :) If you have any questions about any of this, get them to me as soon as you can and I'll try to write you back as soon as I can so we can work it out. 

Thanks for all the support and all the snacks (those Hi-chew things are so good, and the zucchini bread was too, considering that I didn't get it until Thursday night because they were closed all the time)! They're appreciated as you can tell from the pictures. :) 

Adam photobombing his own photo. All the Elders in his District enjoying the treats from home.

I'm working hard and learning a lot every day. I'm a little scared for what lies ahead as I travel over 5,000 miles away to France, but I'm super excited too. I have so much to look forward to, and so much to learn. I love you guys so much! Keep up the good work. Make sure you brothers do your homework and love each other. Hebrews 13:1 is a good one for that, I think. Thanks for all you guys do for me. I'm so thankful for all the support. Talk to you again soon!

Elder Bigler

Monday, September 2, 2013

Two More Weeks - September 2, 2013

The time sure flies here! Just over two weeks and I'll be flying over the Atlantic ocean on my way to Paris! I'm starting to get a little nervous and anxious. It's such a big deal, and I don't really know how well I know the language, and I just want to be able to teach with the Spirit so that people will listen to the message I have to share. It's a lot of pressure, but I feel like I'm working hard enough to receive the promised blessings.

I was assigned to be the district leader yesterday, for our notoriously rowdy district. It's quite a responsibility that I've been given, and I hope that I can do enough for these Elders, who are all my friends now. We only have a couple weeks and a couple of them can hardly speak any French yet. But if we can learn to focus as a district, I'm sure they'll be blessed and learn what they need to.

I'd like to hear from some other people too! Not that you guys aren't interesting, but I love hearing from people, so don't hesitate to tell people that I'm super lonely or whatever works. :)

We were fortunate enough to hear from Elder Anderson this last Tuesday. It sounds like you're pretty lucky to even hear from one apostle here in the MTC during your stay, and we've been lucky enough to hear from two! He gave a great message about missionary work and how we "sacrifice for the things we love and we love the things we sacrifice for." There's a lot to think about in that one sentence. What our desires are, what we sacrifice for, why I'm on a mission. It's a big question.

I've been trying to write in my journal every night, but some nights I'm just too tired. It's a busy life we have here. I'm still working on my reply to Dad's letter (both of them now), but I'll get it out as soon as I can. And I'll attach my picture answering your questions with this email.

I wish I had more to say, but I'd mostly just be repeating what I said last week. I'm better at French now, I feel like I've learned more about the Gospel, and I'm a little more awake in the mornings. Still only about a pound or two heavier than when I got here (my companion has gained 10 trying to eat healthy...) I'm just blessed I guess. :) (Elder Kwang, from Singapore, was in the military there and we do training and stuff for gym time instead of just playing volleyball or whatever. I think that helps. And I only drink water.) 

AFHS Friends in the MTC
Elders Jonathan Gau, Trenton Kirkham, me, and Bryce Dawson
All Going to Japan
Anyway, I'll let you know if I think of anything I need and all that, but I think I'm good for now. And sorry if there are any mistakes in here. My English feels like it's suffering a little lately. I've been trying to speak French as much as possible, and when I go back to English I start to say things weird. It's rough. But fun. I heard from Elder Carson Hatch this week, he seems to be doing well. And I've seen a few of my friends around, as you can see in my pictures. I talked to Elder Ethan West for a minute the other day. He leaves tomorrow I believe.

Keep working hard everybody! I know school is rough, especially during marching band season, but it all pays off in the end. Keep reading and being a genius Brian. Don't let yourself go blind from reading too much though... Keeping marching on Kevin (there's a song by OneRepublic called that, check it out), keep taking nice girls on dates Tyler (notice how there's an S on girls). Keep helping those kids start out right Mom. :) They love you almost as much as I do. (Oh, side note. This week on Wednesday we watched the new missionaries come and the parents cry for a few minutes. It was great. Such positive crying going on at that drop off place. :) ) And Dad keep being our wonderful father. :) I love you all so much, and I hope you don't miss me too much. 

A plus tard!

Elder Bigler