Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekly email number 29

Calais, France

Another week went by already? Crazy. This one was particularly short feeling, although I only spent about half of it in Calais. (By the way, I never remembered to correct myself, but the emphasis is on the first syllable, not the second.)

Well, here we go again. I hope these emails aren't too boring. I kind of just do the same thing every week. If you have any ideas on what I can do to make them more interesting, let me know. :) 

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, we really didn't get much done. Elder Perez was feeling super tired and we ended up doing an exchange on Wednesday, so I went with Elder Bouquet, the other French elder in our apartment. He's a pretty goofy dude, so it was a fun day. Filled with a lot of awkward moments and all that, but still fun and pretty successful.

The Lille Zone with Calais and Dunkerque
Thursday Elder Perez had to go do his last exchange in Dunkerque, so I had to take the long bus ride over there with him in the morning, swap companions there, and then ride all the way back over with Elder Fish. All we really had time for was some contacting and a little bit of porting with our lesson with David in between. It was actually a really good lesson! I'm starting to feel like my confidence in French has been negatively affected having a native French companion. I think I've learned a little, but I mostly just feel bad at French most of the time when we teach together. But with Elder Fish, who's going home next week actually, just finishing up, I was able to teach back and forth really well, and really take the lead in the lesson. It was a good experience for me to really boost my confidence a bit, which I needed.

The next morning was our zone conference, so I had to get all 4 of us to Lille. We caught a 7:30 train (meaning we started waking up around 5:30) and headed off. It was a really cool conference. President talked a lot about making sure to have a strategy in everything that we do, specifically finding. It's something that'll be really helpful for us. We also had our interviews that happen every other transfer, and that was really good.

Zone Conference at Lille, France

I told Président and Sœur Poznanski about how I just kind of feel like things are routine for me now, how I've kind of lost the "blue fire" as we call it. It's not that I don't love being a missionary anymore or anything, it's just that the excitement of it all has kind of faded. Being in France has become normal. So, I've gotta work on getting back that excitement. My interviews were pretty simple though compared to the other guys, Elder Perez with his tiredness issue and the other guys just needing to work out their differences. But a boring interview is fine with me. :)

Lille, France
So, by the time we got back from that long crazy day, we pretty much just had time for weekly planning before bed. Then, Saturday, we had to go BACK to Lille for Stake Conference! We got a ride with members this time, to save money, and we pretty much crashed once we got in the car. I've always been really good at sleeping in cars. :) We had the adult session that night, which was fun. Elder Perez bore a testimony at it, which was great, and then he basically went nuts after it was all over, cause apparently every member here in France knows each other, so he had all sorts of people he knew there. I met the brother and sister of the Elder I gave the zucchini to and told them about how it was still at the MTC and showed them the picture I have of it. (See last week's post for photo of the famous Zucchini.)

Then came the real party. We spent the night in the Lille apartment, to save money again. The problem was though, that every other elder was doing the same thing. So we had not just 4 or 6 or 8 or even 10 elders there, but 14. To say the least, it was cozy. 

Elder Perez and Elder Bigler

Sunday morning we had the main Stake Conference, and that was pretty good too. Kind of the same thing with Elder Perez, just talking to everybody. :) To get our ride back, we pretty much had to wait to the end of the day. We did a little bit of contacting once we got home and tried to avoid the usual drunk people. Pretty short week overall.

I appreciate the updates and the card from Grandma, they really mean a lot. :) I love you guys and pray for you always. We talk a lot about families with people we see, and, as I always say to them, I'm so thankful for the one I have.

Until next week,
Elder Bigler

Other miscellaneous photos from the France Paris Mission Poznanski Facebook Page

Adam's "Big Smile"

Listening to Missionary Reports

Zone Conference Stretch.
Adam's companion, Elder Perez, is at left

Practicing Contacting and Teaching

Lille Zone Conference

Listening to the report of Elder Fish from
Thursday's Exchange

Monday, February 17, 2014

You've been Zuked!

Coucou la famille! (They say that in French, I'm not just being weird. It means "hey" basically)

The weeks just seem to be flying by lately. I swear I was just writing last week's letter to you guys. They say that the first year of your mission goes by slowly and the second year is super fast. If that's the case, and this is what "slow" feels like, next year is gonna be crazy.

As fast as it's going though, it's also kind of hit the point of being mundane. I wouldn't really say I'm discouraged, I mean we still see results of our work, and we're seeing a lot out here, I'd probably just say that I've kind of fallen into a groove. I've been doing this for six months now, and it all kind of starts to feel the same. Honestly, sometimes I really struggle to figure out what to write to you guys, because what I say is pretty much the same as the last week. Although, this week had it's own little exciting moments, I'll get to in a minute.

So, the week (after I wrote to you) started off with Tuesday, my last day technically stuck in the apartment. But...I would've had to miss another district meeting if that was the case. So, I went to district meeting. :) It was pretty good, really nice to see other missionaries after a few weeks of just us Calais elders. Elder Perez taught about how to be happy, and it was really good for our district. The other Calais équipe has been having difficulties getting along, and one of the sister missionaries had to go home for medical reasons, so her companion is kind of left alone for the rest of the transfer (or put into a trio I think). He's really a good district leader.

The Now Famous MTC Zucchini in Its Original Form
At the meeting I also learned something CRAZY. So, remember that zucchini you guys sent me while I was at the MTC? IT'S STILL THERE. Yeah. Apparently, the French elder I gave it to (who is actually from the Lille ward, crazy right? ) was a Zone Leader at the time. (Lille is the Zone "Capital City" where Adam is serving.) And when they changed Zone Leaders (that happens every 3 weeks or so there), he passed it down to the next ones. And they've been doing that since. According to an elder in our zone who just got here, it's getting kind of wrinkly and squishy, but it's still mostly firm on the outside. Hahaha isn't that crazy? It's like we have a legacy at the MTC. :) One that hopefully doesn't last too much longer, but still. :) I just thought you guys would get a kick out of that. You have officially zuked the entire French speaking part of the MTC for the last six months. Well done. :) So anyway, I was on an exchange for the rest of Tuesday, but stuck in the apartment.

Wednesday, Elder Perez wasn't feeling well so we didn't really get much done except for a quick run to the beach in the morning before he got kind of sick. It was cool, I think, except at 6:45 AM, it's still just a little dark, so I mostly just saw black. :) But it was cool.

Thursday we had our rendez-vous with our super awesome ami Isabelle. She's probably going to have read the entire Book of Mormon before her baptism. We practically finished up teaching her the commandments this week, sauf (except) "Follow the prophet". Basically, she's just super, super prepared, all we're doing is explaining what we believe and then leaving her to pray about it. She's super close to the Spirit, and she always knows the answer right away. Also, it looks like I may be doing the confirmation, which is a little bit scary for me, mostly cause it's in French...

Friday was pretty busy with our DMP meeting and Ward Council. Ward Council was cool, since it was the first one I've been to on my mission (sick for the last one, and Nogent wasn't too into inviting the missionaries to theirs...). Cool, but also kind of frustrating. As I'm sure happens a lot, they would bring up problems or difficulties, people would throw out how they felt about the difficulties, and then, where you think they would discuss how to fix or solve the difficulties, they would just kind of move on... Something we can work on for the ward, I suppose. They're a super awesome ward though, and the bishop is GREAT.

Saturday, we had a mangez-vous with the Requillart's in Boulognes, the first city proselyted in France. SUPER good food, almost just like home. :) By the time we got back from all that, it was kind of late in the after noon and we took my suit to a member to have her hem it for me. She measured me all out and I left it with her and (maybe mistakenly cause I really want to wear it) told her I didn't need it anytime soon.

Sunday was kind of just a usual Sunday, not much special to report. I got put in charge of translating church for our American member, and I think I got about...30% of it for him, if I round up. :) The night ended kind of quietly, we had to take our dinner late.

Kind of quick week, without a whole lot to report. Plus, I'm basically out of time. P-day goes super fast! I love you all and I hope you have a good week. Tyler, happy birthday! Make it the best year yet. :)

A la prochaine! :)

Elder Bigler

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pour le Seigneur! All of those rumors about not baptizing in France...false!

Bonjour à tous!

Just like the real outside
So, remember last week how I said I was feeling better...? I went to the doctor right after finishing up emails (Soeur Wright, our medical person in the mission wanted me to go there just to be sure), and he told me that apparently I had the beginnings of a lung infection. Now, this could be just me, but I kind of feel like the medical system here is a little paranoid, cause I felt like I was at the end stages of a cold, not the beginning of pneumonia or something. But whatever, he's a doctor I suppose. So we went to the pharmacy on the way home from there and got me my stack of meds. It was kind of a lot of stuff. Then when we called Soeur Wright back to tell her how things went, she gave me the bad news. I would have to stay inside the apartment for the next EIGHT DAYS. Can you believe that??? I pretty much felt perfectly fine except for the occasional cough, and I get told I have to stay inside for a week, taking all sorts of weird French medicine.

Not fun.

Celebrating the 6 Month Mark with Dinner Out
But, I put up with it. I have to admit though, I wasn't completely obedient to this particular bit of council... This Friday was my 6 month mark, and it's a tradition in the mission for your comp to buy you a fancy meal on that day, so of course I had to leave to go do that! :) I realized though that it was probably pretty good that I stayed inside this week though, cause I was coughing quite a bit on the walk there. It's super windy here, pretty much all the time, and that doesn't do good things to my throat right now. So, in the end, I guess it was probably good for me to stay in for the week. I was able to study a TON of French, a lot of scriptures, watch a bunch of good movies (all church ones, don't worry), and get caught up on some much needed sleep. So, it was okay week. And, somehow, we were still able to pull a baptism out of it!

Elder Perez, David, and Elder Bigler
That's right, our ami David was baptized on Friday night and confirmed yesterday in sacrament meeting! Elder Perez did the baptism. Our bishop was David's first choice, but he wasn't available. We usually try to have members do that, cause missionaries leave all too fast, and we don't want new converts doing the same because the missionaries left. It was a nice little service, and David was really able to feel the Spirit. He's been being taught for a long time, and been so close to being baptized for a while. It was a really cool experience to help him make the last couple steps towards baptism, but honestly, I feel like I really didn't do much. I guess that's how it works though. The Lord prepares people, and we just kind of show up and do our job. :)

Side note, all of those rumors about not baptizing in France...false. Just to put those to rest, we're currently setting records in our mission. Breaking records in one of the oldest mission fields in the world. As Président Poznanski said to us my first day here "This is a baptizing mission." That's all. 

So, other than the baptism, it was a pretty dull week. I'm allowed to go back to work on Wednesday finally. I'm so crammed full of energy now, I just can't wait to get out. 

I'll be uploading a few pictures and a video of the "baptism dance" as Elder Bouquet calls it. It's apparently his little tradition, but we all did it anyway. Sorry if we look crazy... 

Well, that's all for this week. I'm gonna try a new thing where I print out your letters (Mom and Dad) and reply to any questions or anything you have in them through letters. So I haven't read them yet for this week. I'll do last week's too.

Have tons of fun this week!

Elder Bigler

P.S. Only 18 months left!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Return to Paris - Mission Conference with Elder Kearon of the Seventy


Glad to hear that everything is going well back at home with the boys. As I tell people here in France all the time, it can get pretty crazy with all of them running around. It's good when they're being good. :)

Mom, I hope things go better for you this week. It drives me crazy when people are less mature than they should be.

Anyway, it was a pretty good week. We had a conference with Elder Kearon of the Seventy in Paris on Wednesday. So, for us Nordic France missionaries, that means leaving here Tuesday night on an hour and a half long train to Lille, staying there for the night, waking up at 6 the next morning to catch our train at 7 for an hour to the North part of Paris, catching another train there for an hour, then another short train to finally get to Versailles (the part of Paris when the temple is gonna be built) to make it on time for our conference. Then we do it all again backwards to finally get back to our secteur Thursday morning around 11. Super crazy and tiring trip, to say the least.

Half of the Paris France Mission at a Conference with Elder Kearon of the Seventy

So, Elder Kearon is super sweet! One of my favorite of the 70 for sure. He's a british guy, and he's just super spiritual. Very...thoughtful, I would say, reflective. He thinks a lot about what he says, what we say, and how he feels and we should feel. Really cool stuff. The main thing I got out of the conference was that if I want to really come out of this mission experience a better person, I need to proactively try for that. And that's what I'm doing.

Adam with Elder Evans on the Left
I also got the chance to talk to Elder Evans again, since he was there, and he seems good. He complemented my French progress, which was pretty cool. I also got to hang out with Elder Alexander a bit too. I miss that guy, and he kind of sounds like he misses me. The whole apartment misses me apparently. :) I had some fun times there.

Adam with Elder Alexander

But anyway, that's all just missionary social life, it's weird. After the conference, probably due to all the transport and lack of sleep and stuff, I ended up getting a pretty nasty cold. So...I can pretty much summarize the rest of the week by saying that I spent it in the apartment. We watched some movies and read a bunch and slept a bunch too. Basically, it was just kind of not fun. But I'm feeling a lot better now, and I was able to actually get out of bed this morning and exercise a little bit. So, don't worry mom, I'm okay. :)

Meet and Greet Time at the Conference
That's pretty much it for this week. It was pretty crowded. I drank an entire liter of grapefruit juice on a dare from the Zone Leaders...don't worry, it was pretty easy, I like that stuff. I'm gonna be working a lot on my French these next few weeks as I speak only French outside of the apartment with Elder Perez. That'll help a ton. Hm...anything else? I hope Tyler keeps enjoying his job and remembers that I'm super jealous. I could go for some Café Rio so bad... Kevin, keep rocking the sax. People think it's sweet. ;) And Brian, well, if you run out of books in the world to read, you can just read this letter. :) Thanks so much for all you do for me guys, I really appreciate it. And thanks Dad for keeping everybody under control, or at least doing your best to, it's a pretty hard job you've been assigned. :) Keep loving Mom. :)

Until next week ma chère famille!
Elder Bigler