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

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