Monday, October 28, 2013

One Down, 15 To Go! (Transfers left in the mission that is.)

Photo by Adam taken across the Seine River of the Eiffel Tower 

Okay, time seriously flies as a missionary. 6 weeks already that I've been here. Just to refresh, that's a transfer, one of 16 total before I go home. That means time for a new planner, and often time for a new companion, but not yet for me, since I'm bleu (term for a new missionary) and all. We almost always have 12 weeks with our first companions to be trained. Anyway, time's blazing by. And it sounds like things are going pretty well for you guys too back at home! Band is rocking it up. And don't worry if the scores are kind of close. A lot of that is just that you're still in Utah. They're doing amazing. And best of luck at regionals this week!
Transfer Day #1. The missionaries are showing
the number of transfers they have had.

So, my week. I'm gonna try to go day by day to make it make more sense. You're getting the distilled version of my week, with all the boring stuff cut out, cause well, not EVERYTHING about being a missionary is exciting. But it's all worth it. :)

Elder Bigler and Elder Evans
"Proof that I went to the Eiffel Tower."

So, Monday after I left you (we were able to exchange a few emails while Adam was online), we headed off to the Tour Eiffel. Sorry if I made that seem like I had more important things to do, I was just out of time for emailing and that was what we had planned. We quickly hopped on a train and just walked around basically. It's vacances right now (like a little vacation for school and a lot of jobs) so the lines at the tower were way long, so we didn't have time to go up.

"The Eiffel Tower! It was much bigger than I expected it to be." - Adam

We hung out, took some pictures, and had some guys from Africa come up to us and make us sweet bracelets right on our hands. Of course, they asked for money afterwards, but we gave them some and now have treasured little bracelets made by our friends Mems and Bolba. That we can't wear as missionaries...against dress code and all. :)

Tuesday was a cool day! After our district meeting, we met with an old ami (the word for a contact or investigator) named Olivier. He's really cool, and has a really strong desire to follow Christ. He's also the lead singer for a metal band. Crazy huh?? He's got a few crazy piercings and stuff, but he's just so sweet. He's going to talk to his girlfriend and see if she's interested in talking to us. Then we met with Stevie and Ines that night, Stevie is the ami, Ines is a member, but they live together, not married (yet). They're really cool and he's totally ready to get baptized as soon as he receives a confirmation of the Book of Mormon. 

Wednesday was crazy. I've been exercising really well this last week, and feeling good in the mornings, but you could say it was kind of downhill from there... We met a sweet Muslim guy named Makhlouf in the park and taught him for a little while and he's interested about learning more about Christianity and our religion too.
Kebab Sandwiches for Lunch! Yum!!
That lunch is when we ate the two Kebab sandwiches. I don't have a ton of time, so just picture kind of a roast beef sandwich with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, sauce, and the meat is way saltier. And it comes with fries. They're big sandwiches and we dared ourselves to eat two. And we did. (Just cause we're missionaries doesn't mean we aren't still boys. :) )
Then we headed to Michel's place. Oh my. First off, on the way there, my shoe broke (don't worry mom, it's my older ones, and I'm getting it fixed this week at a little shoe repair shop). And now Michel's apartment. Background for this, when we contacted him on the street, he told us to not be afraid, but that he had written on his walls. So we kind of joked about it but he was VERY serious...that place was FREAKY. We were still able to invite the spirit, but he had obviously been living there for years, never throwing any papers away (yes, certifiable hoarder), never cleaned up, and had all SORTS of crazy things written on his walls. It was a surreal place. But we tried to teach anyway. It went well, but he's not interested in acting or praying to know the truth, so we'll see what happens with him. Then that night we met with the Famille Angulo from Argentina (ask Cody if he knows them by chance. I'll try to get first names). They don't speak much French, so it was an evening full of good food and obligatory laughter. But it was fun. 
Treasure Found Helping Members Move
Lord of the Rings DVD in French

Thursday we went and helped a member move. They had lived there for 45 years, so it was a tricky move, down two flights of stairs. We were tired that whole day. We also taught a less active member that night and I don't have time to explain much but it helped grow my testimony.

Friday was just a super buys day. We had a rendez-vous (word for appointment) in the morning, weekly planning from 1 to 4, a lesson with Yannick, then we had dinner with the Famille Lam-Yam again, they're really cool and strong in the faith. After that, we quickly headed to our Ward mission leader meeting and then to ward council. It was crazy, but I got complemented on how well I can pray in French, so the day ended well. :)

And the rest of the weekend was kind of normal, just teaching a few good lessons and all that. I got a couple more compliments from Frère Mourier too (on my French). All in all a crazy week, but lots of fun. I really miss you guys, and I wish I could talk more. Halloween is small in France, but they still do it, just by the way. Anyway, I love you all, tell David congrats from me, and I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Bigler

One Photo for Mom. They do Halloween at Disneyland Paris too.
Future Travel Destination?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Being in Paris is Awesome!

Hey everybody! It's been kind of a crazy week here in Nogent/Paris/Auxerre. And having three cities on that list is a lot of why it's been crazy.

So, the day after I emailed last week, I had my OFII visit, which pretty much just means that I had a physical to finish my visa so that I could be legal in France. That was quite a busy day. I saw Sœur Hafen of dear old AF high and we talked about the band a little. I also was able to navigate myself and another elder back to St. Merri (that church I sent you pictures of) without any problems, so at the very least, I've figured out how to use the metro here. :) 

The next day was an exchange out in Auxerre, just a beautiful little town west (I think) of Paris. They have a total of 9 members in their branch, and missionary work is difficult out there. But it was a good day. We made ourselves some good old American Mexican food. :) I also got myself a SWEET journal for when I fill up this one, and a French calendar with some sweet cars on it. :) I learned a lot from Elder Jones about how to teach the Restoration (or Rétablissement for those of you learning French), how to get better at French, and the importance of writing in a journal. 

After all that, it's been a relatively normal week. We met with Yannick, who's from Cameroon, and he made us some real African food. That was awesome. (By the way an appointment is called a rendez-vous, I think I mentioned that, and for whatever reason, we [the missionaries] call a dinner appointment a mangez-vous, which, in French, is funny. Manger is to eat, but mangez-vous means eat we don't tell people that.)

Beyond that, it's been a relatively normal week. I'm practicing typing on a French keyboard this week, so I'm sorry if I mixed up any A, Q, W, Z, M, or anything. It's tricky. Also, I saw another Bentley this week. And there are sweet motorcycles everywhere here, Tyler would like it. BMW ones are kind of common. 

I'm doing well except that I slept weird a couple nights ago and my neck still hurts. Glad to hear things are going pretty well for you guys. :) Keep up the school work! And enjoy marching band, it goes by quick! Well, I've gotta go to the Eiffel Tower now. :) (Being in Paris is awesome!)

Passer une très bonne semaine!
Elder Bigler

NOTE: Some quick answers to questions from Mom and Dad about daily Mission Life.

To answer a couple of your questions (I'll be doing the ones that you and dad did the same in my other message), I haven't had my haircut yet. It needs to happen soon though... We usually do our own cooking, but the members here are awesome and love us. Plus we have a big ward of 150 ish. (Auxerre, that I visited this week, only has 9 in their branch). So we get food. :) Church is pretty much the same as home, little kids being rowdy and people being people. The only real difference is that it's in French. And the sacrament bread tastes better. I do email from the church. Internet cafés are just expensive and creepy, so we avoid them if we can. The sisters usually go to an internet café to save time (which we should've done today since we're going to the Tour Eiffel). So we pretty much have the computer to ourselves. And we try to do it early if we're gonna go visit some place or something, but I've been trying to push it back a little just in case I happen to catch you guys up.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Ask the members, they can translate for you!" and P.S. - Good Cougar News from Home

So, this week has been wonderful! 

First off, our amis are doing awesome! Alberto, Victor, and Domingos are all committed to be baptized, but they're just waiting for their wives/girlfriends to get here from Cape Verde. They're amazing guys. We also had Stevie and Yannick at church this week. Victor wasn't there, so we had 4. It was crazy! We have a lot of people learning the Gospel right now. We also taught 9 lessons this week, which is a huge improvement for us. The work is moving forward! :)

Quickly, car highlights for the week. I saw a bright pink mini cooper. Like, one of the original ones. The color of pink that you like mom. It was great. :) It was driving, so I didn't get a picture of it... And then I also saw a Bentley this week, that was pretty sweet.

I tried pesto this week. It's good stuff. So is Ratatouille. You guys should try them. :)

Early on this week, I had a few rough days. I'm not very good at French, and I'm really not able to contribute much to the lessons at this point. I got really down on myself as I thought that I'm really doing nothing here and that my companion would be better off without me (none of which is true). It just made a couple days hard. But the other night we had committed ourselves for whatever reason to pray to know that we are children of God. As I prayed that night, I received a strong, comforting answer to my prayer. I felt that peace that it talks about in the scriptures. Now I'm doing great again! :)

I'm a little low on time, so I'll just copy from my journal for this next part.

"This was one of my favorite lessons so far! We were teaching this young couple that we just contacted at their house the other night. Andrea and Victor are their names. The trick though was that they pretty much only speak Portuguese. So a member named Frere Mourier joined us as our translator (even though we were already translating our thoughts into French from English. So three languages here). We had given them the Family Proclamation so we followed up on that and taught about families and how our message can help families. Marriage and the law of chastity came up (since they're living together and not married), which is really hard to talk about without the background of the Restoration or the Plan of Salvation, but I think we did the right thing in being bold and saying "you'll understand where we're coming from later, but yes, we will be encouraging you to get married." even through all of this, with three different languages in the room, the Spirit was present and they felt enough to invite us back. "Ask the members, they can translate for you!" is what Elder Evans said as we were leaving." 

Just a powerful experience watching the Spirit work like that, even despite all the barriers. I love you guys so much! The news about BYU is definitely gonna make things go great this week. :) Keep winning those trophies! Do your homework! It's good for you, I promise! I read the scriptures, they're even better! :) A la prochain!

Elder Bigler

P.S. Good Cougar News from Home

11 Oct 2013

Adam Jacob Bigler
American Fork, UT 84003

Dear Adam:

Congratulations! You have been admitted to Brigham Young University to begin Winter 2014. Through your preparation and personal achievements, you have distinguished yourself from a very strong group of applicants. We believe you will make a positive contribution to the BYU community. It is a great pleasure to welcome you to our campus to pursue your educational goals. To be eligible to continue to future semesters, you must register for and complete this semester or term.

To secure your admission, it is essential for you to read the Frequently Asked Questions located at the link below and follow the instructions in question no. 1. The FAQ will also provide you with important information regarding scholarships, housing, financial aid, etc.

We encourage you to maintain the standards outlined in the University Honor Code, and we look forward to having you on campus.

Warmest regards,

R. Kirk Strong
Director of Admission Services

Adam's parents report that a loud shout of joy was heard all the way from Paris, France!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Morning Family Chat and Weekly Letter

NOTE: Adam was typing his weekly letter in the afternoon in Paris instead of the morning. He happened to catch his Mom and Dad at school and work for a quick email chat. Mom and Dad were using the same email address from different sources and talking over each other :). This is a recap of that "conversation" followed by his weekly letter.

Beginning 7:29 AM Utah Time. 3:29 PM Paris Time

7:29 - Adam - Anybody on right now?

8:07 - Dad - Only now at work on my phone. You still there?
8:08 - Mom - On now...  but was making copies earlier.  Are you gone?
8:14 - Adam - Yep, I'm here! For about 45 more minutes.
8:28 - Mom - Cool!  How are ya today?
8:29 - Adam - Great! A little cold here in the church, but hot outside now that we have to wear our jackets all the time. You?
8:33 - Dad - Well, I'm here but don't want to interrupt your email work time. My early Monday meeting was canceled. Glad I got here early.  How you doing?
8:37 - Mom - A little tired from staying up late writing to my favorite missionary but good.  I forgot to tell you that dad sold the Honda.  It is still at the end of the street but I expect it will be towed away any day. Only got $250 for it.  I don't know how many euros that is??  
8:39 - Mom - Is this about your normal time to email? What else have you been doing today and what else is on you r schedule?
8:39 - Adam - Haha isn't that how it goes? We have a lot of appointments that get "cancelled" without notice, but it's life, as the french would say.
8:41 - Dad - We had our first dusting of snow last Wednesday and still cool on Saturday for band. Today looks like 70s and the same tomorrow. Nice fall temps.
8:44 - Dad - This is a split conversation now. :) I will just listen. 

1. Here I am at the Arc de Triomphe last week. :)

2. There are a lot of these little guys all over here. :) They're so small! I think MINI should make a mini MINI eventually, that's the size of the originals. :)

8:51 - Mom - Actually, I am going to have to go soon.  At school the show must always go on you know.  It's pretty amazing that we can talk to you so many miles away.  Do you guys use the internet in your missionary work yet?  I have heard that some missionaries have cel phones now.
8:52 - Mom - Did someone say something about snow?  I missed that email...

8:53 - Adam - 1. Here we are with Domingos, Victor, and Alberto after they came to conference! It was Victor's first time at the church. He's really opening up to us lately, having been kind of in the background for our previous lessons. The other two have decided for now that they want to wait until their girlfriends come here and they get married so that they can be baptized at the same time as them. And I apologize for looking so weird in this one...I didn't think it through with the both arms up thing....

2. Vandalism is everywhere in Paris (that's what happens when you have this many million people in such a little area I guess. I saw this one and just had to get a picture with it, since that's what us Bigler boys get called sometimes. It's one of my favorite pictures so far. :)

8:56 - Dad - I did earlier. Have a good week Adam!!  Love you!
8:57 - Mom - Love that picture by the Bigs artwork.  Can't wait to show that one to the brothers.
8:57 - Adam - Isn't it sweet??
8:58 - Mom - Yep.  It's sweet like you.  I am afraid I need to go.  Anything else before we say good bye??
9:01 - Adam - Nope. I have to go too. A la prochain!
9:02 - Mom - Don't know what that says, but maybe dad does. Will you be writing to us again this week?? Well, we'll hope to hear from you soon. Love you!!! :)

This is his regular weekly letter. Shortened a little by time spent chatting.

Not much time to write, so I'll go fast.

Things are going well here in France! Nothing super exciting to report this week, so I'll just jump into my list of things to write. :)

I had the opportunity to give my first priesthood blessing this week, to our district leader Elder Jones, who was feeling pretty sick. It was a powerful experience. I felt so strongly prompted as I spoke...I just don't really know how to describe it. The Spirit was so strong, at least for me, I hope it was for him as well.

I saw my second Ferrari the other day! A bright red California. Mmm! That was awesome.

But even more awesome was General Conference! I've never paid such close attention to it before, and I feel like I got so much out of it. President Uchtdorf's talk about "You can do it now" was just so great. I have a lot of notes and things to improve on from it.

Funny story of the week. We talked to a guy named Michel. He was kind of crazy. We talked for a while and to say goodbye he told us about how God had come to the Garden of Eden and said to Adam "Why are you naked?" He just laughed and walked off saying Shalom at that point...sorry, I'm out of time, otherwise I'd tell it funnier.

I tripped running up the escalator the other day. Got my first battle wounds of preaching the gospel on my ankle and hands. We were able to speak to a couple from England because we got on that train. Who knows what will happen...

How's Charlee doing by the way? I haven't heard about her in a while.

Wow, this is really disorganized. Trying to finish up quick so I can still say that I'm an obedient missionary...

French is coming along great! I'm speaking to people more, and just improving a lot.

Well, I love you all so much, sorry I didn't write a whole lot, I PROMISE I'll do better next week. Thanks for all the support! Be good!

Love, Elder Bigler

Friday, October 4, 2013

Surprise Snail Mail - We were robbed!

NOTE FROM DAD: This letter was mailed from France on October 1, 2013. I took just 3 days to get to Utah. Amazing!! During my mission to Rome, Italy years ago (long before email), my letters took an average of 2 weeks to get to my parents. Quite an improvement.

Bonjour Ma Famille!                                                                                                             9/30/13

Sorry that I couldn't write much in my email this week, or that I didn't really even write an actual “weekly update” sort of deal. I promise I have so much to tell you about, it’s just crazy reading through emails and trying to comprehend it while I write back to you guys and a couple friends and to my president (in French). It’s a very busy life as a missionary. To start this off, I thought I’d go over some lingo we have in our mission that I might occasionally use without thinking about it. First off, investigators are called “amis” (you know, French for friends). I’m a blue (or bleu). For some reason, new guys aren't called greenies or anything in France. It’s blue. Interesting. We to porting (Porte in French is door). We go to the gare, not the train station. We have a rendez-vous, not an appointment. All sorts of quasi French stuff like that. Franglais. Anyway, if I say anything weird like that, let me know and I will try to explain. Some things are already starting to be weird. Like last night we taught a family that speaks English from our ward. The family Lam-yam. The father has liver cancer and the mother is from Tennessee, and they have such strong faith. At the end of our lesson, I prayed in English for the first time in almost two months. Boy did that feel weird and according to Elder Evans, it sounded weird too. Praying in French is just easier now.

Anyway, now that I've rambled on for a page, I’ll get to the good stuff. First off, France is great! Beautiful sights to see here. Just the other day we went contacting up north a bit and all of a sudden just came across a HUGE castle, right in the middle of the city! It was nuts! There’s just so much to see here. The bread is amazing, for sure, and the pastries are way good. The people are pretty funny. Sassy, occasionally rude, but mostly nice. My first night here we talked to a man named Phillipe. We can’t teach him cause his wife kind of hates religion, but he loves the missionaries and what we do. But anyway, talking to him was surreal. It was a stereotypical French scene, only lacking an accordion in the background. He speaks English well, and likes speaking to us in English so we did that and he had a nice French accent going on (Zat is good), he was leaning on his front fence while smoking a cigarette, with a scarf on, surrounded by the grape vines of his front yard. Just a perfect French scene.

So, stories. I’ve already got some good ones. Funniest thing so gar: Getting robbed. Now don’t freak out Mom, it’s no big deal as you’ll see in about 30 seconds of reading. At the end of a young boy’s baptism in the ward, the family gave us a ton of leftover cake. Like half a strawberry sheet cake. On our walk home (about a 10 minute walk) a lady we passed jokingly said ”oh, looks good!” and we were all “do you want a piece?” and she said no so we said have a nice day and kept walking.  About a minute later, we came across another lady. This is France for ya: She walked up to us, said “merci beaucoup” which is like thank you very much. Elder Evans said (in French) “Would you like a piece?” to which she replied “oui” and proceeded to grab the entire tray and walk off with our cake! Without turning around, she walked all the way down the street, at a normal pace. We watched her turn the corner, still in shock, and just busted up laughing, half out of confusion. Like . . . What?! Did that just happen?? But it did. Apparently in France if someone is holding something on the street you can just thank them for it and walk away and it’s yours . . . ? Hahaha it was so weird! (Sorry if you’re reading this out loud and you had to say hahaha . . . I realize that’s awkward.) So, needless to say, we had to buy ourselves another treat later to replace it. French ice cream is pretty good.

We’ve also committed three of our investigators (Alberto, Victor, and Domingos, From Cape Verde) to live the law of tithing which was the only thing keeping Alberto from being baptized! He does, however, want to wait until his girlfriend moves here so they can be married and baptized together. Just really amazing guys though. They all have so much faith. For whatever reason, Alberto thought that the law of chastity meant he couldn't be married, and he still committed to live it so he could be baptized. (We've since explained that we want him to get married. Don’t worry.)

French is hard, let me just say. I’m learning, but not as fast as I want. I understand, usually, but speaking is still slow. But it’s improving, that’s all that matters. J  I’m hoping to be decent by Christmas when I Skype you guys. Anyway, I think that’s all I have time for now, so let me know if you guys have any questions. I love you all so much and thanks for all the support!

Elder Adam Bigler