Monday, June 30, 2014

Answers to Prayers and Prayers for Answers

Breaking News!!

Alexis, the young guy we were teaching in Calais before I left just got baptized! These pictures made me so, so happy, I just wanted to share them with you guys. :) They're now also teaching his other two sons, and his son's girlfriend. It's so beautiful!

Alexis and Elder Perry at His Baptism in Calais

Alexis and His Family at His Baptism

Regular Letter

As usual, a pretty crazy week in Lorient (and Brest and St. Brieuc and Hennebont). 

P-day finished up pretty simply with portin', honestly kind of a boring little session. Not many people were home, and it was just kind of a quiet night.

Tuesday on the other hand...

It all started off pretty normally with District Meeting. Elder Humphrey talked about diligence and the sœurs made peanut butter chicken for the meal, which was delicious. After that, I started my exchange with Elder Karl of Pittsburg. HILARIOUS guy. He's pretty young in the mission and started in Belgium, in the ward that's full of Americans, so his French is still pretty basic, and he knows it. But he doesn't care and he just tries his best. It makes for some really fun times. :) We taught a lesson to Thierry, our recent convert, which went pretty much like normal, with him really teaching us cause he's so awesome. After that, Elder Karl and I had a little time for some contacting before dinner, and then we headed out porting. I learned pretty quickly that Elder Karl is just kind of a magnet for English speakers. We had a lady tell us that we shouldn't be wearing ties, it was way too hot (all in English) and then another girl joined in and spoke really well. We happened to be getting on the same bus as her, so we talked to her all the way to Hennebont when she got off to go to work. We kept going a little farther. I was really trying to find a place that missionaries hadn't been to much, to change things up. We found our spot finally, and got off the bus with an hour and half of time before the second to last bus. After contacting a guy holding a scythe, getting rubbed up on by a cat, scaring a lady on accident, and walking up a really big, steep hill, we headed back to the bus stop and waited for the bus. And waited. And then waited for the next bus. And waited some more. never came. So, at about 9:15 at night, we were about a 2 and a half hour walk from home. 

So we started walking. We followed the bus path through all of Hennebont, bought ourselves some drinks from a random pizza place because we were super thirsty, followed the highway for a while, and just kept walking. About an hour into our walk, as it started to get dark, we were talking about trying to hitchhike, when all of a sudden a car pulls over and stops and the driver says (in English) "Hello, where are you going?" "Lorient, where are you going?" "Lanester, but it's okay, get in!" Looking back, probably not our smartest idea, but we got in.

Chi-chi Saves the Elders from a Long Walk
This man, named Chi-chi, isn't a member of our church or anything, just a super nice guy. He spoke English really well, and he knows a lot about who we are and respects us. He drove us all the way back to Lorient, saving us over an hour, and dropped us off near to our apartment (where I got that picture). It was totally a miracle that he showed up! The chances of someone pulling over like that, at night, in France, as Chi-chi said, are impossible. It would never happen. But it did! :)

Wednesday morning the Brest Elders headed back home while we had our cleaning check from the Fullmer couple, who are awesome. They said it was a lot cleaner than last time, which I'm sure you'd be proud of Mom. ;) Once we finally got out to Brest (it's about a 2 hour train ride, sometimes longer with correspondance) we ate quick and I headed out with Elder Ricks to the lesson with David, who actually just got baptized (in the ocean) yesterday! Really cool lesson with someone who was really ready for baptism. That pretty much finished up the day.

Thursday morning I went out contacting, with Elder Ricks again, to the United States! Yes, I actually stepped on U.S. soil last week. There's a monument in Brest that is owned by America, and is recognized as American ground.

Brest, like Lorient, was destroyed during WWII, and the monument is there to mark that the U.S. took it back from Germany. After that, we once again went to the chinese buffet. They really don't seem to like us there...we eat probably two or three times as much food as the average French person that goes in there. :) With full bellies, Elder Humphrey and I hurried to catch a bus to the gare for our train, but hurried a little too much and went in the wrong direction and missed our train as a result...There was another a little later, which went through the town of St. Brieuc, so we took that and got home at the end of the day.

Friday was a regular day, which includes weekly planning. We had nothing planned for that evening, so we went out porting. Again, we were trying to find somewhere new, so we just got on a bus and went, doing our best to follow the Spirit. We finally got off and started into the neighborhood, wandering a little, until we found a street we liked. As we started porting, there didn't really seem to be anybody home and we were thinking about changing streets or even areas. But at the top of the street we knocked on the door of Michelle. She answered and Elder Humphrey introduced himself and said "we're here to pray with you" to which she replied, with tears in her eyes, "I just got back home from losing my father." Neither of us knew what to say, and I'm pretty sure we kind of looked at each other like "uhh..." but we were prepared and the spirit was with us. I started to talk about eternal families and how much God loves us. I felt impressed to tell her that her father was happy and with her mother (whom she had also lost a few years back). We testified to her of the fact that she can find her family again and asked if we could leave her with a prayer. Elder Humphrey prayed and blessed her and her family to feel peace, and she was almost smiling through her tears at the end. She said, because of the funeral and everything, she was really busy at the moment, but if we ever came back, she'd welcome us. We walked away from her house so overcome with the Spirit, having truly answered her prayers.

Saturday came and went really quickly, with a lot of contacting in the rain, and a baptism for the Vannes Elders which took place at our chapel. Awesome little service, and a good chance to see a baptism and just be reminded how happy it makes people.

Sunday was a great day! At church, we were able to have some really good conversations with some members, a whole bunch of less-active members came, and I was able to bless the sacrament, which doesn't happen very often. After, we made a man-quiche for lunch and headed out porting. Really quickly, we ran into Didier. At first, he wasn't interested at all, so we asked "do you know anyone else who could be interested then?" and then somehow we went from that to him saying "you want to come in for 5 minutes?" We decided it was the Spirit. :) 5 minutes however, quickly turned into 2 ours of a philosophical, religious, political, and familial discussion. This man has almost, by himself, single-handedly, figured out how it all works. Almost everything he said was in line with what we believe. He explained the Spirit better than I feel like I really can, just using slightly different vocabulary. He believes in sending one's kids to foreign countries to learn and grow and help others. He doesn't drink and doesn't smoke. He's really such a wise person. Anyway, after our cool discussion with him, we left him a Book of Mormon and he invited us to come back whenever we want to talk. 
After all of that, all we really had time for was a quick dinner before bed.

So, there you go, that's yet another crazy week! And, I realized with Elder Humphrey this week, another 1% of my mission finished up. It goes fast! It sounds like you guys had a pretty good week back at home. I hope nobody got too sunburned. :) I'll let you know next week how things go for our 4th of July and with the new President, who we'll be meeting on Thursday.

Thanks so much for everything!
Elder Bigler

Frenchism: It's really rare to find a store that's not a bar open after 8 PM here, a big change from America...

Monday, June 23, 2014

1135 kilometers... (705 miles)

Whew...this last week has been a crazy one, possibly the craziest of my mission...give me just a minute to catch my breath here...

Okay, so here goes...I'm gonna try to summarize all of this as quick as I can.

Monday we finished up P-day and then went out to our lesson with our Malagash friends. We kept it kind of to spiritual thought level because the husband was going into surgery in two days and we didn't want to overwhelm them with too much. Cool little lesson where they invited us to come and eat with them sometime when the husband is doing better. :)

Then Tuesday came and we had exchanges with the Elders from Quimper (cam-pair). I was with Elder Faura, from Tahiti, who knows Elder Perry a little. It was kind of great to be back with a Tahitian for a day. It made me miss Elder Perry a little bit...we had a good exchange, got a few phone numbers, but nothing big. We ended the night with a crêpe fête (as usual) and...

(awkward gap because I'm going to the next day)

...Wednesday morning we headed off to Quimper to do the exchange with the other Elder (Elder Meissner from Austria/Germany for me). A really quick day with lots of hot contacting in a really beautiful city. One of the prettiest I've been to here in France. Now, this next part is what really threw a wrench in the usually smooth-running machine of missionary work for this week. La grêve. The SNCF (the train company here) was having a strike this week. And apparently a pretty big one. So, due to that, we had to head out from Quimper really early, grabbing a kebab on the way out of town. 

Then the next morning was Zone Conference time! I don't know if you could tell from the pictures, but a certain group of Lorient missionaries wasn't there for the first half of it. Again, due to the grêve, we weren't able to go like we had planned. But, miraculously, we figured out a way to go! 

24 Hours of Le Mans Race Poster
That morning, we caught a train to Le Mans (like, the 24 hour Le Mans race, yep) and then another train to Angers (where the conference was) an hour later. LONG train rides, but we finally made it right at lunch time! Angers, by the way, is BEAUTIFUL! The prettiest city I've seen in France, possibly ever. So well maintained, and just beautifully done. I definitely want to go back there. 

Final Zone Conference with
President and Sister Poznanski

So anyway, we had our little conference, pretty much just said goodbye to the Poznanski's, and headed off, all the way back to Lorient. This time, taking a bus to Laval, then a train from there to Lorient. We finally made it home around 10.

Friday, finally, was going super smooth right up until the Brest Elders called us asking if we could come on Saturday to do a baptismal interview (the district leaders do baptismal interviews to help them be unbiased). So, we tried to figure out if we could go to that and still make it back to Lorient in time for our rendez-vous with Theo, our Tahitian friend. And, because of the grêve, that ended up taking up the rest of our day...

So, Saturday came, and it was crazy. I'm gonna do this one kind of hashtag style. Music Festival all day today. Started in Lorient.

He's Got a Ticket to Ride
Train to Quimper. Train to Brest. Watched a ballet performance in the gare there. Did baptismal interview. Went to chinese buffet with the other Elders. Watched a music performance for a few minutes while waiting for our bus. Took bus for 2 hours to Quimper. Hour and a half correspondence.

Music Festival in Quimper

Watched music fête stuff in Quimper. Bought a crêpe.

Wedding Crashers

Walked in on a wedding in the cathedral there. Caught train back to Lorient. Talked to some drunk bums, got hugged by one of them.

Photo with Theo

Found Theo, rode in his Alfa Romeo to the music fête in Lorient. Watched some people play Muse (Knights of Cydonia). Went to MacDo. Never wanted to eat again. Watched some more stuff and met Theo's friend. Talked about what we do. And...I'm getting annoyed with this one phrase thing. So, yeah, we met him, Gilles, talked, he liked us and bought us a drink (like, juice). We hung with him for a while and left him with a pamphlet before we had to go home. On the walk home, another drunk guy came up and put his sunglasses on me so I kind of like, danced to the music for a second with him and all the people there. I guess he thought it was pretty cool...? It was just another crazy little moment to end the night. :) All in all, the craziest, busiest day of my mission so far.

Then, Sunday was pretty much a totally normal day. :) We were finally able to go porting as a companionship for the first time in the entire week! Kind of a nice, relaxing end to the week.

So, there you go. :) Sorry, we had a little complication come up, so it took a little longer than usual to get it to you guys this week. Have a good week of band camp Tyler and Kevin! Just know that I'm probably sweating just as much as you this week. :)

Elder Bigler

Frenchism: At least in Lorient, the sun goes down around 10, and it gets officially dark by 11. And we go to bed at 10:30!

An Update from Adam on the City of Lorient and the surrounding area

So, the city is kind of cheap they rebuilt the entire place after the war, they needed to do it fast and cheap, so there are a ton of apartment buildings and all of that, plus a lot of bums. The bus system is pretty great, on the other hand, and the centreville, the heart of the town where all the shops are, is pretty cool. My comp (Elder Humphrey) is great! He's from Kaysville, like about 40 missionaries in our mission, and he's pretty into cars (but mostly motorcycles). He's super chill, and we find ourselves having the same opinions on a ton of things. We're really similar people. He's in his 9th transfer, so he's been out about 3 months longer than me. The apartment, despite what mom seems to think, is actually quite nice. Way old, and it's been a missionary apartment for a long time so there's some good cleaning that needs to happen that we've been doing, but it's roomy and well furnished. We had 4 crêpe pans when I got here, but we gave 2 to the sisters. We even have a little keyboard and some antlers! Lots of sports equipment, and a track and soccer field are right next to us. The area is interesting. Bretagne itself is like...almost it's own country. They have most things, like signs, written in French and Breton, their old language which no one really speaks anymore. There's a lot of celtic stuff around, and they wave their region's flag about as much as the French one. The area is super fun though, and it's a huge blessing to be by the ocean for the summer. :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Great to Be a Missionary!


The Only Bicycle Adam Gets to Sit on During His Mission
Let me just start off by saying that it's great to be a missionary. :) I want everyone back home to be sure that I'm happy out here and love what I'm doing. There's nothing quite as rewarding as simply bringing a smile to someone's face as you talk about eternal families, the blessings that faith has brought them, the wonderful yet often doubted fact that God still speaks to us, or simply joking about your American accent.

I wanted to include my testimony of missionary work in my letter this week. So far, my mission has taught me dedication, hard work, a little about how to speak French, a lot about how to speak by the Spirit, and how to have joy. Happiness, to me, doesn't come from other people, from things, or from money. It's really something that comes from within, from one's relationship with God.

Without getting too rambly here, what I'm really trying to say is, when I go out on the street and talk to people for hours and teach them and laugh with them, I feel happy. And when I go out on the street and try to talk to people and get rejected for hours, I feel happy. Not because I like having people wag their finger in my face, but because I know that I am fulfilling my duty and responsibility to the Lord.

So now for my normal stuff. :) The rest of P-day last week involved one of those "I'm gonna take a 15 minute nap" and waking up three hours later sort of situations. I definitely have not lost my ability to nap. :) But it was okay, we woke up and still had plenty of time to go get our groceries and all that before 6.

Tuesday was district meeting, where we were in charge of the dessert, so I whipped out like 20 crêpes for our district, which all got eaten. :) Afterwards, we were on exchanges with the zone leaders. I was with Elder Turley, from Tremonton, who is a pretty sweet dude. (He plays the saxophone too, so it's kind of a given.) We had a pretty chill day. One of our goals for the exchange was to do 2 acts of service, one of which got fulfilled when we helped a very old lady who we contacted. She was sort of just hanging out next to the buildings we were walking by, clutching a pink alarm clock in her hand. When we contacted her, she would have none of whatever we were trying to tell her, but she trusted us enough to hold out this little alarm clock and tell us to fix it. :) So, we turned the battery for her and it started ticking! 1 act of service down. Later on, we helped a member at the chapel set up chairs for an activity that evening. Simple, simple acts of service, but service none the less. :)

Wednesday evening we were able to go see our Malagasy friends again. We were planning on inviting them to church and re-explaining the Book of Mormon. But, as the mom asked us about baptism, the entire lesson turned into an explanation and invitation to baptism. It got a little bit heated as we got the usual point of "I've already been baptized once, I don't need to be baptized again" but, through the Spirit, we were able to guide the lesson and testify simply and from our hearts. It was a powerful moment for me because, not only was I explaining things that I had never really tried to explain in French before but I was doing it in clear and bold terms. In the end, they didn't quite accept the baptismal date, but the mom said at the end that she knows it's true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. So, we'll see how things go in our lesson with them tonight. :)

Thursday was a classic finding day, and nothing too exciting happened. Friday, about the same, with some weekly planning thrown in there, which we did outside on one of our three balconies.

Saturday was really warm, not quite hot yet, and we had our DMP meeting. In the evening there was a big concert going on at the stadium right by our apartment, The Biggest Rock Group in the World they called it. 1215 musicians making up a giant, and really loud rock band. We walked over to the stadium to check it out (that's pretty much where the whole city was anyway) and that's where that little video came from. It was super cool, from what we could tell, and something that they do every 2 years, so I'll have to come back so I can see it for real. :)

Sunday was pretty relaxed. As I sat myself down for the Sacrament Meeting, I decided to sit by this elderly couple in the back corner. The woman (or do we say wife? It's the same word for the two in French and I've been mixing them up lately) looked kind of familiar. Turned out they were from the ward of Angers (an-jay). I said "Oh, we have a conference there this Thursday!" "Oh, so you'll see my daughter!" "I will..." "Yes, Veronique! Or, Sœur Poznanski." It was Sœur Poznanski's parents! I got to talk to them for a few minutes, you can really see where she learned to be so genuinely nice with people, her parents are great.

Other than that, I got a little quote from church that I kind of liked. It was our DMP, Frère Plante qui l'a dit. "Les hommes, nous nous croyons forts, et c'est là où nous sommes faibles." Ça veut dire, "As men, we think ourselves strong, and it's there that we are weak." It was a nice little concise statement that I liked because well, it's true. :)

Anyway, there's my week in a pretty big nutshell. :)

I hope you guys have another good week this week, enjoying sleeping in before marching band kicks in. It looks like you had a pretty good Father's day Dad. :) I really appreciate all that you've done for me in my life. I realize it more and more as I grow up. Thanks for everything!

And thanks for everything the rest of you guys do. :) It means a lot to read your letters every week and to hear about what's going on at home. Keep having fun!

Elder Bigler

The idea of "air-conditioning" doesn't seem to have quite made it to France, or Europe for that matter. We just get to be hot all summer. :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Elder Bigler!


It sounds like you guys had a pretty good first week of no official school, even though mom had to kind of go back for some stuff. It was a pretty good week here as well, one of those that just kind of flies by and you suddenly hit Monday again. I don't have a ton of time, so I'll try to summarize it all as quick as I can.

P-day finished up and we went out porting. I learned that the French language has a lot more offensive words than English, as a grumpy guy walked us off his property. It was something that could have been a bad experience, but Elder Humphrey and I were able to just laugh it off and keep going to the next door.

Tuesday was pretty much occupied by our District Meeting, which took place way out in Rennes. Lots of fun, and always fun to get to talk with other missionaries, although by the time we got home we only had time for a little dinner before the end of the night.

Lorient, France
My birthday came and went kind of like most other days. I mean, I'm still a missionary, even on my birthday. :) We did take a little break though and checked out a little motorcycle dealership that we found, with some super sweet bikes. Pretty cool stuff. And to finish the night and celebrate at least a little bit, we had a crêpe party, with a LOT of crêpes and a bunch of Mormon Messages.

Thursday was a pretty normal day, finishing up with a mangez-vous with a sweet member family. The husband is one of the best examples of being a member missionary that I have ever seen. He just does it so well and all the time. Super sweet guy.

Friday night we had our Malagash couple again. We had also taught them Wednesday evening, which was a pretty crazy lesson. They didn't seem to really understand anything that we were teaching them, mostly due to the language barrier. We were thinking that we'd have to drop them. But when we got there on Friday night, the wife pretty much recited back to us what we've been teaching, the Restoration and all that, and we were just amazed. We had found a Malagasy Book of Mormon that we gave to them, along with a French one, and they were super excited about that. And then, without us even specifically asking her, the wife prayed at the end of our lesson! It was a super cool experience.

Saturday we rode the bus a lot, found a lot of not very interested people, some mean people, some nice people, and maybe got a little sunburned. Then, there was a session of Stake Conference being broadcast to us that evening which didn't work...So, yeah. :)

And Sunday was normal with church and all that, although we had a couple other Elders over here for the conference. Afterwards though, we pretty much stayed inside. I've been having super crazy allergies since I got here, and kind of a nasty cough at the same time, and we felt it would just be best to take a break for a little. We ended up pulling a bunch of garbage and old clothes and wallpaper and ties and who knows what out of the closets and just generally getting rid of a lot of stuff. Missionary apartments are crazy places.

And that pretty much sums up the week. :) It was a good week to have a birthday! It hasn't really clicked in my head yet that I'm 20 now, but maybe someday. :)

Thanks for the emails everybody! I appreciate all of them. :)

Elder Bigler

French-ism:  For Tyler: Bacon doesn't really exist much here in France ("Bacon" usually means like, Canadian bacon). But, we have Lardons, which are pretty much little bacon chunks, that go well with pretty much anything. :)

Bonus Photos from Calais and Other Places

Microwaved Peeps Covered with Nutella

Statue in Calais of the Men Who Liberated Calais

A Brief History of Calais

A Very Large Flower in Calais

Yummy Quiche
Phoning a Friend?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Transfer Week - Calais to Lorient

Hey again!

It sounds like you guys had a pretty lively week back at home! Glad to hear that the school year's all wrapped up and you guys are ready for a good summer. :) I'm super excited for it, aside from the heat that's already starting to come in...

So, here I am in Lorient! After over 6 hours on trains, and a couple hours of waiting in between, I finally made it here Wednesday evening. It was a pretty eventful transfer day:
The morning started off pretty calmly, as you can see from some of the photos that I got with Elder Perry. After a really late Tuesday night of packing and both of us deciding to make one last batch of brownies as I packed, we didn't get much sleep. We had a train to catch around 7:30 that morning. So, to be sure we caught it, we had to set the alarm at 4:30 to go turn on our stove to heat up our water, then wake up at 5 to start showering and all that. We wanted to be really sure we wouldn't miss the train. Turned out that we still had enough time after all that to take some final pictures and buy some baguettes for the ride. (Final Calais and Transfer Photos Below)

Elder Perry on Transfer Day Helping
with Adam's Lugga

Elder Perry gave me a "couronne" as we were leaving, one of those seashell necklace things. It's super beautiful, and probably my favorite souvenir so far. Random tangent there, I really loved serving with him. Like you guys got to see on Skype, he's just hilarious, and we had so much fun together. I miss him already. :,) 

So, as we got going, our TGV stopped in Lille and a couple going on vacation to Jerusalem got on sitting across from us. So, Elder Perry and I had one last chance to share the Gospel together. :) Once we finally got to Paris, Elder Perry and I had to quickly say goodbye as his new companion came and I had to run (literally) to catch my train on the other side of Paris. Didn't actually end up catching it, but I got about 5,000 weird looks running through the metro with two other missionaries and my suitcases. :) I'm kind of going into a lot of detail here so you can see how crazy and fun and exciting transfer days can be. Once I got to the Montparnasse gare, I was able to see Elder Evans and Elder Perez at the same time! Elder Evans was super excited to see me, and the same for me. He hasn't changed, still the same guy I loved serving with. :) We got to talk for a few minutes before he had to leave. Then I got to talk to Elder Perez, where I had one of the most natural and smooth French conversations I've probably ever had. It just flowed so nicely, I was amazed. He's still super goofy and awesome. :) After all that craziness, I had a 2 hour train ride by myself (it happens sometimes) to Rennes, where I waited around a while before Elder Humphrey showed up. Super sweet guy, I'll get to that more later. And then, finally, after all of that, we caught a train back to Lorient with the Quimper elders. By that point, it was pretty much the end of the day. Whew!

As you can guess, Thursday, we hit the pavement. Elder Humphrey and I are both kind of at the same "ready to take the mission to the next level" sort of stage, and we've got some really good goals for this transfer.

As we taught our amis from Madagascar on Friday night (I think you call that Malagash or something like that), I really felt the spirit working through me. Yeah, of course, we try to be like that all the time as missionaries, and hopefully we are to some extent or another. But that night, I really felt it. I good feel the knowledge that I had gained being used to answer the questions they had, and in ways that I had never thought of before. I was able to listen patiently and truly feel love for these people.

Random Tahitian Guy?

Beyond that, kind of a regular end to the week. The branch is super great, and actually bigger in number of active members than the "ward" in Calais, so that's cool. :)

And I'll have to explain my picture with the random Tahitian guy a little later. :)

Thanks for everything and for the birthday wishes! It should be a pretty good one. :)

Elder Bigler

We don't refrigerate our milk either, at least until it's opened.

Calais Apartment, Transfer Day in Calais, and other Photos

Adam at the Top of the Hotel de Ville

Last Photo of the Beach in Calais

Missionary Apartment in Calais, France

Entry Way

Kitchen-Laundry Combo

Bath Area - Silver Pot is the Hot Water Source

Personal Space - Elders Apparently Don't Know
How to Put Toilet Paper on the Holder


Study Area - Adam's Bags Packed for the Transfer