Monday, August 25, 2014

Quick Letter Week


Well, after about ten minutes of sitting here trying to decide what to write this week, I figured I'd just try to do what my English teachers always counseled and just start writing and kind of typing out my thoughts until something good comes out. This week was another kind of slow week, and we spent a bunch of time at the church because Elder Lloyd is starting some college application stuff, and that takes a bunch of time. It gets in the way of working a little, but it's just one of those things we have to put up with sometimes. I've had a lot of opportunities to play the piano at the church though, and that's always a really relaxing thing. I'm actually starting to get some hymns down now!

Anyway, let me get down to business here. I thought I'd share the story of David from this week. So, rewind back two weeks to the end of the Celtic Festival. The last night as we were walking home, a little sad that the big exciting festival was ending, we decided to stop and talk to this young guy playing his guitar kind of on his own. After a couple minutes, Elder Lloyd was playing and singing a little, and a few minutes later we explained who were were and what we do and left him a card without expecting too much from it. Then, 8 days later, we got a call from someone asking if we could come and play guitar again in Lorient! One of those things that really just doesn't happen too often. So, without even really knowing who we were meeting, we headed down into the centreville of Lorient (like, the middle of the town where all the shops are) and found him there, and, to our surprise, it was our friend from the last night of the festival! We ended up chilling with him for a while and eventually bringing up the Gospel (it's kind of our thing ;) ), and he was actually super open! He's a 25 year old guy, who currently doesn't have anything to do with his life (it's vacances), who has a car, and who really seems to be searching for something. We met with him a couple days later and invited him to come to the church for our next rendez-vous, since we have a piano there, so we can kind of play on that too. We feel like he has some real potential!

I'm sorry that it's so short this week, but I probably should get going. Thanks for all the love from home and the letters! Keep up the good work at school!

Elder Bigler

Frenchism: I might have mentioned this before, but most French people actually kind of hate Paris. For the most part, they're really relaxed people, and the business of Paris doesn't go very well with that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Being Taught When You Least Expect It

Hey fam!

Coming to you as usual, live from the France Paris mission, but a really big handful of kilometers away in Lorient, next to the Atlantic Ocean. Believe it or not, it's already been 2 transfers since I got here. And, as we learned recently, Elder Lloyd and I will be doing another one here together. We're getting 31 new missionaries this week, and probably about that many again the next transfer, so our mission just might burst at the edges! Other than the influx of missionaries, the transfer announcements were pretty relaxed this time, so nothing else super big to announce there.

Today is the start of my 9th transfer, out of 16, meaning I've made it over the hill! It's said among missionaries that once you've made it to this point, your mission just starts to blaze by. I'll keep you posted on that one. :)

So, as far as the week goes, it was honestly kind of...boring. I think a lot of that just comes from Lorient retransforming into well...Lorient. It's been a pretty tranquil week here. Last week, when we woke up to the fireworks from our balcony at 1:00 am, we could still see people walking around and talking. Now...well, after 8:00, you're lucky to find more than 5 people walking around. It all just has a different vibe now. It's like the awkward emotional transition after watching a really exciting movie. It just feels...weird.

But, despite that, we were able to have a couple pretty good lessons with this young girl we're teaching named Iona. She's the grand-daughter of one of our members, and has been taught by missionaries a whole bunch of times. She's wanted to learn guitar for a while however, and Elder Lloyd happens to be really good at that. :) So, we've kind of started teaching her guitar and restarted teaching her the Gospel. She really likes it all, but, like most teenagers, has trouble getting up on time to come to church. We had really tried to stress the importance of it this week, but...she still didn't make it. Honestly, this is the most like a parent I've ever felt. Trying to get a teenager to something, when the other option is sleep...not the easiest task. We even got to the point of sending her a text Saturday evening reminding her to go to bed early so she could get enough sleep to make it to church. It's frustrating, and a little heart-breaking to have someone you care about, and really want the best for, not do what you know is good for them. And that's a lesson that I'm sure you guys, Mom and Dad, have learned over and over again with us kids. :) It's interesting to me that, and this is something I've seen many, many times on this mission so far, it took me leaving my family and travelling 5 000 miles away from them, to really learn how much they did for me. The patience they had, the love they always showed, and the way that they always knew what was best for me, even when I thought they were wrong. But, as some of you are learning right now, even when we do what we want, when we don't follow their counsel, they'll always be there to back us up, to help us out of the hole that we dug ourselves into or to simply come down into it and tell us it'll be okay. That's what parenthood means. And that's what I'm slowly realizing you guys did for me, and that's something I'll always be thankful for, and that I'll never be able to pay back.

It's taking a while, but I'm learning a lot out here. It's weird how the Lord works, teaching you at the times where you least expect to be taught. But it's great. :)

Well, I'd better get going! I've got a busy 6 weeks in Lorient ahead of me. :)

Elder Bigler

Frenchism: As you would've guessed, the French are really into their wine. Some supermarkets have more than 5 full length aisles alone dedicated to it.


Rennes Zone Conference from Early August
First with President and Sister Babin

Rennes Zone Conference Lunch

Missionary Shoes - Their Story in Photos

What is Growing in There?

I Don't Think You Should Be Able to
See Through the Sole of the Shoe

Yep . . . That Could Be a Problem

The New French Replacements Save the Day

Other Photos

A New Movie Coming on the SyFy Channel
Catacombes Under Paris
Adam Has Visited Both

FC Lorient of the Ligue 1 in Action
Top League in France

Monday, August 11, 2014

Festival, Festival!

This week, Lorient was all about the festival. THE festival. The biggest festival in all of France, and one of the very biggest in Europe. According to the little headline thing outside our apartment, there were over 750 000 people that came to the 10 day long festival this year, almost breaking a record! To explain a little bit, this was a Celtic Festival. The people of Bretagne (Les Bretons) are technically Celtic people. The Bretagne itself is kind of like the part of France that pretends that it's not a part of France. They wave their Bretagne flag everywhere, and if you ask them, they'll always tell you that they're Breton before they'll ever admit to being French. As part of this Celtic heritage, they hold a festival every year at the beginning of August to kind of bring together Celtic people from all around the world, and then just a whole bunch of other people who like being with Celtic people. We had people from places like Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Australia, all Celtic somehow. Then people from Spain, Netherlands, Holland, Denmark, and the good old USA! I hadn't spoken this much English to people besides missionaries on my mission until this last week. Anyway, this massive festival took the usually sleepy, sea-side town of Lorient and turned it into the heart of New York this week, at least as far as population goes. France isn't really big into parking lots so the sidewalks were pretty full (remember what I said about parking on the sidewalk as long as you were still kind of on the road? Well, that rule was out the window this week. People even parked two cars deep on the sidewalks). As part of this craziness, yes, there were a lot of drunk people (it WAS a Celtic festival after all, beer was kind of a staple of the whole thing). One of them even woke us up around 4 am when he was wandering down the street yelling "Festival, festival!" over and over.

The fireworks, as cool as they were, always happened sometime between midnight and 1:30 am, so we usually got woke up to watch those for a few minutes before going back to sleep. So, there were some negative side affects. One of the hardest ones was the fact the, despite the many spiritual experiences we had with people at the festival, almost all of those people have now gone back to other countries and all we can do is hope and pray for them to someday be able to meet the missionaries again. 

But now on to the good stuff! For the sake of time, I'm gonna just cover the couple days that resulted in those pictures you guys saw on Facebook. The rest of the week was just kind of...average in comparison.

So, Monday and Tuesday. After I finished emailing you guys, we had a quick little lesson/dinner with our Malagash amis, who had invited us over. They're so nice and so loving. We ate A LOT. After that, the last bus had passed, and they knew it, so they offered to drive us back into Lorient, about a 20 minute drive, 40 round trip. Just another super nice thing of them to do. After they dropped us off, we started walking around and talking to people, as missionaries do. Since it was the festival, we quickly stumbled across this kind of rag-tag group of guys playing some pretty sweet acoustic funk music, if I had to describe it. All the rest was Elder Lloyd.
Elder Lloyd Jamming with Nanko.
Lorient Music Festival
As we started watching them, he and the guitarist seemed to really be connected quick (the Spirit, I'd like to say). Before I even really realised what was happening, Elder Lloyd stepped into the circle and started freestyle rapping (he's pretty good at it) as the group of guys just kept jamming behind him, but a little softer so the crowd could hear the missionary. I don't really know what he rapped about, except for the part where he turned back and looked at me and said something about President Monson. He used French and English both together a little, and the crowd loved it enough that the guys let him do it a couple more times in the same song! Then, after that, we talked to them for a minute and Elder Lloyd asked if he could play the guitar for a song. The guitarist, who's name was Nanko, gladly let him jam something while he took pictures of the whole thing. After another song or two, we talked for a couple minutes to them about what we do and then left them our card.

We moved on and quickly found the manager guy of the boulangerie (Bakery) just under our apartment! All sorts of crazy stuff happening in one night here. We ended up talking to him and his two friends for about 15 minutes and quasi-teaching (I don't know if that's a real word) the Restoration to them all. Now we get a handshake and a "salut" (the French equivalent of sup) when we walk into the boulangerie. :) Still working on him... But after all that, it was time to head in and call it a night.

Adam and Elder Lloyd with Some New Friends
at the Lorient Music Festival
The Power and Spirit of Music at Work
Tuesday however, we wouldn't have imagined. After a relatively normal Tuesday of district meeting, a lesson with our recent convert Thierry, a quick member visit, and a stop in at SoirĂ©e Familiale, we got a text on our phone. From an unknown number, meaning somebody who we gave a card to was texting us, which pretty much never happens, in all honesty. It was Nanko! He said they'd be jamming again and invited us to come jam with them. Of course, we gladly accepted. What happened next was just...a miracle, I suppose. I'm really running out of time, so I'll have to explain it briefly. Basically, we started playing with them (they had brought some little percussion things for me since they couldn't find a saxophone) and just talking to people in the crowd in between songs. At one point it all ended up raining and us and some of the girls that were watching ended up under the same pavilion thing. While we waited for the rain to die out we all started talking, and since Elder Lloyd and I are missionaries, we started talking about religion and Christ and faith and suddenly it was a really serious, deep conversation. In the end, after jamming a little more in between, we all sat down together and Elder Lloyd and I ended up teaching and sharing testimonies with all 10 of these people from all over the world. It's hard to explain, but we were able to share a spiritual moment together, started from our common point of the music we were playing, where, in my opinion, everyone there was able to feel something. It was an amazing opportunity to really see what they mean by the "power and authority" of our calling as missionaries. After that whole crazy night, there are now a few more seeds planted in England, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. One of those times (and I feel like we have a lot here in French) where we'll never really know what sort of an impact we made. 

Ugh, I really wish I could explain all that in more detail, but I guess it'll just have to be one for when I get home. One of the more powerful experiences I've had on my mission, that's for sure.

Well, I'd better get going. I hope everybody has a good week at band camp and stays on their dot! There are a lot of lessons to be learned about life from marching band, as nerdy as that is. :) Keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Frenchism will have to start again next week...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Almost Halfway - Starting to Look and Feel Like a Missionary

The weeks are still flying by! If I'm counting right, this is about the 52 weekly email I'm sending you guys. 362 days down. :)

It's been tons of fun so far, let me say that much. I've learned and grown so much, but, as I imagine is often the case for missionaries at this point, I want to grow and learn so much more than I have thus far. It's exciting to think that in about a year I'll be coming down that escalator in the Salt Lake airport and looking down to see my family for the first time in two years. But, it's really sad to think that in about a year I'll be riding that good old dirty Paris metro for the last time to the Charles de Gaulle airport, about to leave behind the Eiffel Tower, the stinky cheeses, the baguettes, and most of all, the people. All things that, already, have become a part of me. I don't know if it's just because I've been out for a year now, or just because of constant effort to love these often stubborn people, but I really am not looking forward to leaving them. Missions are crazy.

Celtic Festival in Lorient

There's the big Celtic Festival going on here in Lorient, and this place is CRAZY! So much music and SO many people. I can't even believe it. This week was fun, and a good missionary week, but I don't really have that much time at all, so I can't talk much about it. Just know that first off, I'm still alive, nothing dangerous has happened and no life threatening diseases have come my way. I'm doing the same old missionary stuff, just a little bit better each day I do it.

I'm up to about 1,700 pictures on my camera, so I might need to buy myself a new memory card soon... I've gone through 3 pairs of shoes already, but I just bought 2 new pairs for a good deal (60% off), so I should be good for at least 8 months. I hope. My socks are looking old, I don't even know how many ties I have anymore, and I've probably walked around 2,500,000 steps in the service of the Lord. My wardrobe is starting to look a lot more like what I imagine a missionary wardrobe looking like, worn out from service and hard work, and I love that, in a weird way. Basically, what I'm trying to get across in this really unorganised way is that I feel like this last year has made a big difference in my life, and one that's only now really becoming visible, like the wearing of my clothes. And who knows what the next one has to bring for me!

Well, before I get TOO cheesy, I'd better be off. I love you all and hope you have a good week! Don't celebrate too hard on Thursday just cause I've been gone for a year. ;) Keep working hard and having fun Tyler and Kevin! Remember, every drop of sweat equals one more tenth of a point! Or...something like that... :) Brian well...keep reading and singing! :)

Elder Bigler