Monday, May 26, 2014

En avant à Lorient! (Forward to Lorient!)

Lorient, France
Well, today's the big day! In one of the craziest transfer days of the mission, I'll be heading down South, and way out West to the city of Lorient! (Google Map Link Below) From what I can tell, it's a beautiful place, and one I'm super excited to go to! I'll be right on the coast again, still able to see the ocean. :) And if Lorient sounds familiar, it's possibly because that's the same place that Elder Perez went after Calais! That's right, I'm quite literally taking Elder Perez's place there. In another crazy change up, Elder Evans will be coming from the zone I'm going to, up here to Dunkerque, just next to Calais. So my mission father and mission son will be in the same district! Elder Perry will be staying here and serving with Elder Godfrey, who's from my group (as in, he came in at the same time as me), and is awesome. Elder Hall from good old AF will be in my zone.

My companion's name is Elder Humphrey, and, as usual, I'll tell you more about him next week once I've actually gotten to talk to him. :) He's our district leader, which means I'll be doing at least 4 exchanges next transfer. Like I said, I'm super excited! Calais, honestly, has been kind of tough for me, although I've had a ton of fun. I've learned a lot about dedication, hard work, trusting the Lord, and simply showing my faith through actions. As a result of all of my experiences here in Calais, I'm fired up, locked and loaded, and just ready to take Lorient by storm. I want to prove to the Lord that I'm worthy of His Spirit and my calling so that he can help me show these people that this is true. I've been a good missionary thusfar, but I'm ready to step it up a level. Of course, I'm already trying my best to that here, but the fresh new start in a new city is kind of the boost I need.

My favorite part of Calais, the city itself, is stuck somewhere bewteen the fries and the beach. :) The people are great, despite the hard life a lot of them have. And the members, they've easily been my favorite part of serving here. They're just awesome people, and their kids are a blast. :)

Well, I should maybe get started talking about the that what you guys like in these letters? I've been thinking about doing things a little differently lately, like maybe just sharing one cool story in more detail or something instead of just running through my week. Let me know if you have any input...

The Hôtel de Ville and Bell Tower in
Calais, France
Monday, after emails, we had a sweet P-day! We decided to go up the big bell tower in the hôtel de ville, you know the big thing you see when you type "Calais" into Google. :) It was a beautiful day and a beautiful view! We could see England just a little bit, and far off into the countryside of France as well. :) Unfortunately, I forgot my camera today, so you won't get to see what I got until next week... Right after, we caught the double decker bus number 5, with the top open, to go to the beach to play some street soccer! Well, we had kind of planned on basketball, but some other guys were using the court, so we just joined in. :) It was tons of fun, despite getting sunburned (again), and getting some nice big blisters on my feet. We went to the Bishop's house again that night, the Sigrists, and had a little family home evening with them.

District Meeting and a New Use for the Hymn Numbers
Showing How Many Transfers for Each Missionary
Tuesday was district meeting, which means district photos, since it was week 6. Elder Perry and I got assigned dessert, so we made colorful crêpes (which is apparently kind of offensive to les Français, I don't recommend it). We missed our train going back and had to wait a while for the next one, so we went to the mall, orignally to looks for some new shoes for Elder Perry, but ended up talking to a few Muslim guys about our message for a half hour. :) It was a really cool conversation. They weren't really interested, but they seemed very excited to tell all their friends about the stuff we believe (look, everybody's a missionary! :) ).

Wednesday and Thursday were pretty much uneventful. Kind of a tough couple days.

Friday though, we headed ALL the way to the bottom of our secteur to try to find a coordonnée that we got from the church. After an hour train ride, and an hour and a half walking through the countryside....we weren't able to find them. We think they weren't home. Thankfully, one of our members who lives down there was available to pick us up and take us to the gare. By the time we finally got back to Calais, it was time for Ward Council, which ended the night.

Saturday, again, kind of low profile.

Sunday, we had church (bien sûr) (of course) and then headed to Boulogne with the Requillart's to eat at their place. We gave Soeur Boutoille a blessing before we left, and then went to visit a less active member, to whom we gave another blessing. I was asked to give both of them, one in French and the other in English (the member was from England), and it was a really cool little experience for me, doing them both back to back like that. I don't know how to explain it really, but the Spirit is there, guiding the same but differently in the two languages. Anyway, that's pretty much how we finished up our day and week, and my third and last transfer here in Calais. 

My time in Calais has been awesome, but like I said, I'm ready for the new adventure waiting for me in Lorient. The mission is a crazy, beautiful, difficult, and completely worth-while experience, and one that sometimes goes too fast. I'm thankful for every day that I have to be here though, and I'm so thankful for all the many prayers that you guys send my way and all of the support you give. I love you all so much!

Elder Bigler

P.S. I've decided to, for now, add a little "french-ism" sort of thing at the end of my emails. Just a little thing that France does that America doesn't. So for this week:

In France, all eggs are brown. And we don't keep them in the fridge. :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

MAKE it a Good Week

Hey guys!

It's crazy to me that yet another week has passed. They are really starting to all just blur together. In a good way though. :)

To give you a quick summary of my week, Tuesday had district meeting and ended with me going to Saint Omer for my exchange with Elder Wilford. As you know, they've got a car out there, and that makes things really nice. We had a lesson with a super awesome lady and finished up the evening with some porting and then a Mormon Message marathon once we got back. :) Wednesday we finished up the exchange quick and headed back to Calais to swap companions. We had a (pretty long) DMP meeting in the morning and then headed off for a pretty normal day. Thursday we had a rendez-vous set up, but we ended up getting fruged (stood up). Friday kind of took off and I honestly don't really remember what happened...

Elder Bigler and Elder Bailey
Just Over the Border of Belgique (Belgium)
Saturday, on the other hand, is worthy of its own paragraph. :) We had a big Stake activity planned for all the high priests, so we got to go to Lille for the second time this week. That makes for a lot of time on trains, but it's okay. From the Calais ward however, we had a total of...1 member show up. Granted, we don't have many high priests, and a lot of them are super busy. But it was good to at least be represented. :) We didn't really know what we were getting into beforehand, but it turned out to be a lot like the activity we did with the jeunes adultes (young adults, we call them JA's) last week, where we split up from our companions (not something we do very often here in France) and went with one of the high priests to go visit a less active member of either the Lille or Villeneuve d'Ascq ward. The member I was with was from the Saint Omer branch. Oddly enough, the member who was with Elder Bailey, our district leader, was assigned to visit the daughter of the family we were visiting, so all 4 of us just piled into the same car. We were able to find the family we were looking for, and they gladly let us in. It was mainly the mother that talked to us. She has a medical condition (that I didn't really understand cause I don't have much medical vocabulary in French) that forces her to stay at home, and that's the reason why she doesn't come. We were able to talk for a little and leave her with a little message about hope, and, I think, brighten her day. As we left, Elder Bailey pointed out, since he had just served in Belgium, that the other side of the street was, in fact, Belgium, due to the red post box. Donc, bien sûr, we went over there for a quick picture before heading back to the chapel. :) As soon as we got back, since we're kind of the exiled sectors in the zone, we had to run off (literally) to catch our train home.

The View Out Adam's Apartment Window
Sunday was a pretty normal day. Translating the priesthood lesson into English, teaching the Principles of the Gospel lesson cause our DMP had to work again, trying to get some class participation, even pulling out Kinder chocolate, eventually just ending the lesson a few minutes early...brioche bread for the sacrament, choir practice after church for a choir that at least one of us missionaries won't be in, quick lunch of leftovers from members, and then...TO THE BEACH! It was a beautiful, almost hot day, finally, here in Calais, and pretty much the ENTIRE city was at the beach. Hardly exaggerating there. It was just crazy. But, surprisingly, shockingly really, we weren't able to get any new amis out of all the people there. That's okay though. It was so nice out there, we stayed out pretty much until the end of the day, and just took our dinner then. Calais has, finally, become really a beautiful, nice place to be. A massive change compared to when I got here... :)

Well, it's practically my last P-day here in Calais, and we've got some good stuff planned, so I'm gonna say goodbye for now. Have a good week everybody. No, MAKE it a good week. That's what Elder Perry and I are doing. It works. :)

Elder Bigler

More Photos from the Week

Hotel de Ville, Calais, France

Night View from Adam's Apartment

"Beautiful Brownies"

Monday, May 12, 2014

My First Name is Elder

Adam on Skype for Mother's Day
Hey everybody! It feels like forever since we last talked! A whole 17 hours ago... :)

Adam and the Family on Mother's Day Skype

It's always kind of crazy to talk to you guys on Skype. I mean, I've only done it twice now, but it's just a weird experience. One minute I'm in France as a missionary, the next I'm in my living room at home just talking with my family like normal, and then the next minute I'm back in France. It's always really positive though and helps me kind of refocus on why I'm here. It's great to see that you guys are pretty much just the same old awesome family that I left behind. :) 

Celebrating Elder Perry's Birthday at a
Chinese Restaurant
As far as the week goes, it was a really good one! Tuesday was Elder Perry's birthday and district meeting in Lille, so between all of the travel time and going to dinner and then missing the last bus, our day went pretty quickly. We went to the chinese buffet here in Calais to celebrate! I ate a ton of sushi and sweet and sour chicken while Elder Perry tried a little bit of everything, even getting me to try one of the fried frog legs that they had there... They're actually pretty good, like I said, if you can get past the fact that you're eating a frog. :)

Wednesday didn't really have much to report, kind of just a normal, windy Calais day. 

Thursday on the other hand was something else. First off, it was SUPER windy. Which is normal for Calais, but boy is it intense. And it was raining all day. We had planned to do an exchange, with Elder Bailey coming here to Calais with me and Elder Perry going to Saint Omer. And, as exchanges often do, it just turned into a day of miracles. It's been quite a while since we've found any new amis here in Calais, definitely longer than we would like. But on Thursday alone, we found 4 new amis!!! Which includes 2 young families! Seven hours in the rain and wind later, the Lord blessed us with what we needed so desperately. And more importantly, he will hopefully now be able to bless the people that we've found through us. 

Friday we had a passback to one of the people we found the day before. It was in a tattoo shop. I realized that I had never even been into one of those before, and wlking in there, I was kind of glad for that fact. Kind of creepy little place. As we started teaching Joffray, his two coworkers came in and joined us too. So, standing there just in the little entry way of the tattoo shop, we taught a lesson, or rather, mostly testified of our message. Despite the seemingly hostile environment, us two guys in our white shirts and them in their tattoos, we were able to invite the Spirit. Through our testimonies, we started to see a change in the faces of the two others we were teaching, Gwen and Thomas. They were intently focused on what we were saying, and slowly stopped cracking jokes. By the end of the lesson, you could see on their faces not only that they were interested, but that they had felt something. Gwen kept looking intently right at us and nodding every time one of us would testify of something. We left them with a Book of Mormon and some Restoration pamphlets, which they gladly committed to read. Part of the miracle of the whole experience for us was also that nobody came in at all while we taught, except for two girls who seemed kind of lost and walked back out. Thomas even said that it was super "lucky" that no one came and that they're usually pretty busy during that time. We have a different word for "lucky." :)

After that, the rest of the week went by pretty quickly. We had a big huge activity with the young adults of the stake where we went around Calais trying to find the inactive young adults and to invite them to church. After that, we had a barbeque, which really got Elder Perry going. (Fire+a Tahitian)

Adam Celebrating Elder Perry's Birthday
with the Requillart Family
Sunday, was kind of complicated. Just church, second sacrament meeting with the young adults, lunch with the Requillarts, watched a little fireside thing with the young adults, then figured out how to make Skype work for you guys. :) And you know the rest of the story. :)

Well, I think that's about it for this week. Let me know if you guys have any questions or anything that you thought of after I said goodbye. :)

Have fun this week!
Elder Bigler

Additional Photos From Adam this Week

Sunday Dinner with Bishop Requillart
and His Family

The Fort in Calais - Missed the Last Bus
and Passed it on the Long Walk Home

The Huge Cathedral in Calais
Charles de Gaulle Was Married Here

The Plaque that Tells of Charles de Gaulle's Wedding

Tyler, Brian, and Kevin with Adam and
Elder Perry Doing the Photobomb

Brian Telling a Story to Adam and Elder Perry

Monday, May 5, 2014

Do you have the keys?

Bonjour la famille!

I don't have a ton of time this week, the day kind of got away from us, but I'll try to type really fast. :)

Sounds to me like everything back home is going pretty well! It's surprising that it's already almost the end of the school year! It goes so fast. It's hard for me to really realize that you guys hadn't even started school yet when I left, and now you're finishing up. Time seriously goes so fast.

Speaking of time going fast, this week flew by! We started out a bit slowly, with Elder Perry still not feeling well (he couldn't quite hold down his dinner Monday night, and it wasn't just my cooking...), so we were kind of stuck for a good half of the week. We had Zone Conference and interviews on Wednesday, which we weren't totally sure if we'd make it to, but Elder Perry pushed himself out the door so that Président wouldn't have to drive the 4 hours all the way back up to Lille again. 

Zone Conference and the interviews went really well. Président even showed us a clip from Indiana Jones of all things! It was a really inspired conference and it gave me a lot to think about, work on, and apply to the work. My interview with Président Poznanski, I realized after, was my last with him. He encouraged me to keep doing all that I can and to push myself to improve all the time.

Train to Boulogne to Teach
By Friday Elder Perry was finally feeling up to braving the Calais wind enough to head back out. We headed down to Boulogne for the afternoon, where we were finally able to have a real lesson with Louis. He knows a lot about our church, more than a lot of members, but he still hasn't been baptized. At the end of the lesson, we explained how we pray in French (he had only ever done it in Russian before) and he was able to give the closing prayer. A little hesitantly, but he did it and did it well. :) Afterwards, he invited us to stay for a little bit and we played Uno with him, his wife, and his son, who's 6. Funniest little kid! He makes me think of all those kids mom teaches. :) But, I do need to add, hearing a 6-year-old kid speak Russian is pretty bizarre... :)

Between all of that and the train ride back, we moved quickly into Saturday, which got exciting, but not in the way we had hoped...

Contacting at the Beach

We started off the day contacting at the beach (which would be where all of those pictures came from). It was a beautiful day, and the last weekend of vacances, the school break. That evening we came in for dinner and got a call from a member inviting us to eat with them after church on Sunday. Being, well, Elder Perry and Elder Bigler, we jumped on that. :) And, Elder Perry and I have been trying to always take something with us when we visit the members to kind of show how much we appreciate the offer. We were gonna just make some brownies, but we were out of cocoa. Simple enough problem to solve, we have a Carrefour (the equivalent of Walmart) across the street practically, we were just gonna go grab some quick and come right back.

About 24 hours later, we finally made it back.

As we stepped out onto the street, we suddenly looked at each other and realized that neither of us had the keys. We were locked out of our apartment, and it was already 8:00.

Well, since I'm really running out of time, I'll have to make the long story short and just say that we were able to arrange for our District Leader to come pick us up from Saint-Omer, about a 45 minute drive. Thankfully, they have a car down there. He (and his companion of course) got here around 11, and we finally laid down on their floor to go to sleep around midnight. We ended up going to their branch that morning, catching a train after church to Lille to get the spare key that the mission has, and then catching another one all the way back to Calais, and finally getting into our apartment. A pretty crazy series of events that thankfully led to no harm, except that we had to cancel the lunch that started the whole process. By the time we made it back home last night, we were super dead, and we pretty much just ended up crashing.

I was going to relate the whole story to the Gospel, but I really gotta get going, so I'll let you guys see if you can figure out how that would've worked. :)

I love you guys so much! Mom, happy birthday on Thursday, and I'll get to wish it to you a little better on Sunday. :) Can't wait to talk to you guys!

Elder Bigler

More Photos of the Beach and Making Treats Twice . . . just not Brownies.

Photo Bomb!

French Pastries by the Master Chef

Sweet Rolls!!


The Companions at the Beach
Elder Perry and Elder Bigler

Contacting at the Beach??
Slow Day