Monday, January 20, 2014

Je vais à Calais!

See what I did there with the title? :) So, yep, the time has come for me to leave Paris. Elder Alexander will be staying with his new companion Elder Angel and I'll be going up to the North of the North, Calais, in the Lille zone. My companion will be Elder Perez, the district leader, who actually also served in Nogent at one point. I'll be able to see England from my secteur, and go contacting on the beach. Which would be really nice if this was Florida or something, BUT, it's northern France... It's gonna be cold. Since my comp is the DL, I'll be doing a whole bunch of exchanges, one of which will be with Elder Tidwell, the one that you guys know somehow or something... Anyway, there's that.

Eiffel Tower Lit Up for the New Year
So, now I feel sad. I'll be leaving Paris on Wednesday, and probably not serving here again, just statistically. It's been a super amazing 4 and a half months. This place is incredible. The people are so French (I really don't know how to describe them other than that), the city is dirty, everything is busy, but it's so beautiful and really amazing. The Eiffel Tower is my favorite. I've made a bunch of friends, both in the ward and with other missionaries. And, I'm about two weeks from my 6 month mark, if that even sounds possible. It all goes so fast!

Notre Dame de Paris

So, like I told you mom, I got some sweet deals on clothes last week. Advice to America: Fix the economy people! 100 dollars becomes 75 here, and it makes it hard for us missionaries. Just sayin'. But despite all that, I now have some comfy new French shoes, and a sweet French suit to go with them. I look good. It was a really long, tiring day of shopping, but it all worked out in the end.

So, just being honest here, nothing super exciting really happened this week. I'm gonna keep my usual weekly summary pretty short because of that and cause I really want to have time to see the Eiffel Tower and all that one more time before I head off.

The Apartment View in Nogent
District meeting Tuesday we got to go contacting around the Paris-même area a bit, and that was cool. We got a phone number in 10 minutes, which is pretty good. :) Between our DMP meeting Wednesday and an emergency coat return for Elder Alexander (basically his coat was like, not warm at all, so we took it back as soon as we could), we didn't have a ton of time for much else. Thursday and Friday were pretty plain, except for our little RDV with Domingos, who is planning on getting married in just a few weeks and will be baptized shortly after. That's super exciting! He's such a great guy.

Saturday we got to watch the Restoration video with Yannick, and then visit the Lam-Yam family in the evening, who just got back from the States. This diet thing we're doing must be working cause one of the very first things Sister Lam-Yam said to me was "Elder Bigler, you've lost some weight since the last time I saw you," which is true, I think I'm down about 2 or 3 kilos. My pants are getting a little bit baggy (well, baggier, these American suit pants are like parachutes...) and my belt is about to the last little clicky notch. I might have to cut it shorter soon. 

Adam with Elder Alexander, the Sisters
and the Most Recent Convert to the Church
The highlight of the week though, easily, was yesterday. Sunday's are often the best day, I'm noticing. So, first off, we had a baptism! The Sister's did that is. I put the picture in dropbox, so you had better check it out. :) Their amie is from California, and speaks no French. She's been living here with her  boyfriend and sweet little daughter for 15 months. She came to church with her friend who is a member two weeks ago. And within the last two weeks, a lot of it even before the sisters asked, she gave up coffee, gained a testimony, moved out, and decided to get baptized. That's as fast as Elder Alexander was, and I thought his was a one in a million story. So, yesterday Elder Alexander put her under the water and we're that much closer to another eternal family!!! :) The service was all done in English (singing an English hymn after 6 months of French ones felt super weird) and she (Erica) made all the refreshments herself. It was really beautiful. It's times like that where you get to really feel the power and influence of what we're doing here, to see how truly happy the gospel has made this daughter of God. I love it. :)

Now, here's your story Kevin. So, we found this address in our apartment of somebody who was interested forever ago. And last night we decided to go see if we could find them again. We got on the metro, and rode that for quite a while and then got a bus for 12 stops. When we finally got off, we stopped for a second to figure out exactly where we were and find this guy's house. But, just like a minute later, this lady comes up to us and says "Can I help you?" which, in missionary translation usually means "What are you guys doing here, we don't want you here, go home" because people who come up to us like that usually aren't the nicest. But, turns out this lady was super nice! She actually wanted to help us. So I told her the address, and she had her daughter type it into her iPhone, but she couldn't find it. (The funny thing about this whole story is that I had the map in my pocket and we could've found where we were going in about 3 minutes, it was so close.) Then she told us "You know, you boys shouldn't be here, it's extremely dangerous." We had both kind of joked "wow, this place is super ghetto" when we got off the bus, but little did we know how right we were. Then she said "here, the police station is right here, let me take you over there." She was so nice, we had to say yes. So we walked down the street a little bit to the police station and proceeded to be introduced to the police. Just not one of them, but FOUR officers. Apparently, they had nothing better to do and a couple American guys with the name of Jesus on their chests were pretty entertaining... We talked for a little and they couldn't really find it, but they offered us a ride to wherever we were going to keep us safe...

Now, unfortunately, that's about as cool as the story gets. We turned down the ride in the French police car because we didn't really want to involved them, and it was kind of late by this time anyway. So we said merci and thank you and headed on our way. We ended up giving our card to the nice lady and feeling really thankful for the people that the Lord puts in our path. It's possible that without that woman, we could've walked into a super dangerous neighborhood and been robbed or worse. We're so blessed and protected. So there's your story for the week Kevin. :)

Batman Guarding the Arc de Triomphe
Well, I hope you guys enjoy your day off from school. :) I'm gonna go get some good pictures with Batman, and head off to the arctic on wednesday. :) Just kidding, it won't be that bad. I'll talk to you then. :)

Adam with Batman that Tyler
Sent for Christmas
Elder Bigler

An "Online" Conversation with Adam and His Mom

Mom (A portion of her letter to Adam):

Speaking of money, dad was worried about you last week because you said you were going on a shopping spree and he was worried if you had enough money in your account.  Do you know how much money is in there?  Do you need more?  Did you find the new clothes and shoes you were hoping for?  50% off is pretty savvy!

I hope you are doing well.  When is the next transfer?  Do you know if you will be going to a new area?  I think you really like Paris and will miss it when you get transferred, but dad can't wait for you to get out in some quaint little town somewhere too.  Also, when does the new mission president start?  Are things going ok with the other elders?  There are 4 of you in the same apartment right??  If so, it should feel pretty normal to you.  How is the weather there now?  Here it is cold and often smoggy.  We still have some snow on the ground from around Christmas time.  The mountain is really pretty around 5:30 when the sun starts setting and the white snow turns pink.  I have been making a point to stop and watch it each night.  It sometimes gives me a little boost of hope when I need it.  

Take care of yourself Adam.  Remember to use your eyes and your ears before you open your mouth and you will find some pretty interesting ways to do missionary work.
Have a great week,

Adam:Whew, lots of questions this week. :) Yeah, I was okay on money. I withdrew it all basically, to save on foreign charge fees. I didn't use it all, I'm trying to be reasonable with my money...I got a really sweet deal on shoes. Best shoe store in Paris, according to the French missionaries, and I got super sweet shoes for 40€ (the exchange rate is about 1.33 dollars per euro. It's steep, which was the real problem). I also got a suit for 85€, super awesome, slim fit, super french. I just have to get it hemmed up and I'll show you guys how classy I look now. :) Also a tie for only 3€! That was an awesome deal, 90% off. :) But that's all I bought. I'm probably gonna need some more stuff though now that transfers are happening. I'm going to a really cold place...I'll probably see snow on wednesday. New president starts in July. Haha things are going okay with the other guys. I had never thought about how that was kind of just like home... :) (Four Missionaries = Four Brothers) Weather: It's cold, wet, pretty much just "French". The sun sets around 5:30?? It's DARK by then here. I guess we're really far north though.

MomWow!  90% off a French suit!  Where did you learn to be so savvy? So you're moving on Wednesday?  Where are you going?  Will you have a new companion?  If you are already writing about that you don't have to write it again, I'll read it in a bit.

Adam :Okay, only 50% off the suit, but 90% off the tie. :) And yeah, I'm writing about it right now. :)

MomOh sorry - read that wrong.  50% is still pretty great. I wanted to tell you that Kalin had one of those picture frames with a place for a bigger picture in the middle and then a bunch of places for little pictures all around it - like you could put a school picture from every year from first grade through high school and then a grad picture in the center - anyway, he had his picture in the middle and then a picture of each companion in the smaller spaces.  It was kinda of fun.  What I'm really trying to say is that you should be sure you take a picture of all your companions at some point.  Also, I think you should take a picture of each place you live.  You know how here there is a "welcome to ______" sign as you go into a new city??  You could look for stuff like that.  Just an idea...   Any luck with Yannick?

AdamGood ideas, I'll see what I can do in the next couple days...  Yannick is still kind of Yannick...He knows it all, he understands it all, he comes to church, he reads, he prays, he does everything he needs to do to receive an answer, and he hasn't gotten one yet, or so he thinks. I've had my testimony reconfirmed with him so many times, and yet he still feels like he hasn't even felt the Spirit with us. I hope Elder Alexander can figure out what to do, because I really don't know...I'll keep praying for him. I feel like someday he'll be baptized.

MomHow do you say Calais?  How far away is it from Paris?  Do you have gloves?

AdamCu-lay, but more French-y than that. And the emphasis is on the second syllable. And no gloves yet....

MomRight now in AF it is 10 degrees (early morning chat).  Our high this week will be 40.  What is it in Paris?  Do you know what it will be in Calias?  Brian and I are taking bets - do you say the Cu like cub or like coop?

AdamI might, but we'll see. And actually, here in France, the seasons make a lot more sense and it gets really cold in February and starts to die down again in March so we'll see. It's about the same temperature here in Paris, but I have no idea what Calais will be like except as cold as France gets... And it's said more like Cuh, is what I meant. Like, somewhere between duh and ahh

Mom: Dad is up now.  He says "howdy".  He has heard of Calais.  He said it is the main ferry port between France and England.  I just googled it and saw a picture.  It looked like San Diego without the palm trees...

Adam: It's probably pretty cool then! :)  It's about time for me to go, I wrote a pretty big letter this week, I think, I hope it doesn't have too many spelling errors...

Mom: Got the letter.  Have a wonderful day in Paris.  Take lots of pictures with your camera and with your own eyes.  We love you Adam!!!!!

AdamOne more thing. Just talked to my companion on the phone. Really cool. I'm gonna miss Elder Alexander a ton, but he's like best friends with Elder Dussere, who trained Elder Alexander, and they are best friends now. And now Elder Alexander and I are really good friends, so Elder Perez and I are probably going to get along great, and we'll all be a big group of friends when this is all over. Oh, and the other big thing...he's a Francophone. As in native French speaker. Oh boy, my French is gonna improve pretty quick...

And a few closing photos:
New Year's Day in Paris

Adam and His New Christmas "Sweater"

Adam and Mike Sullivan

McDonald's in Paris - Lovin' It!

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