Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wéi geet et dir? (Luxembourgish for "How are you"?)

Hey everybody!

So, I've gotta keep this really short today. It's been a crazy couple of days here, and yesterday just got a little out of our hands and we didn't have time for our emails. I wish I had more time to write because this week was really a week full of miracles here in Lorient. One evening, we went to give a blessing to one of our amis' sons, who recently found out that he has cancer in his throat. After that super spiritual experience, we had three more unplanned lessons consecutively before finishing the evening. It was an amazing evening.

The main reason I'm taking a few minutes to do this is just to let you guys know about the transfers. I'll be leaving Lorient, which, as usual, is sad and exciting at the same time. But, I'm super excited because I get to have the new experience, and very rare one in our mission, of serving in Luxembourg!

That's right, I'll be leaving France for a little bit, and going to a country where French is the 3rd language taught in their schools, after Luxembourgish and German. I'll let you guys do all the google searching and stuff. From what I've heard, it's going to be a big change from France. Part of what makes this so unique is that, first off, there is only one équipe (companionship) of missionaries in all of Luxembourg. Granted, the whole country is about the size of Rhode Island. But on top of that, the missionaries that usually serve there are those called to our mission Spanish speaking. When I got here, I pretty much had decided that I would never serve in Luxembourg, it's so unlikely. But, it looks like the Lord wants to further diversify my mission. So, on y va (let's go).

Have a good week!

Elder Bigler

Some Fun Google Facts About Adam's Transfer

The Train Ride

7 Hours and 9 Minutes by Train
Distance - 862 Km = 536 Miles

Luxembourg is a Tri-Lingual Country.
Luxembourgish, French and German are its official languages.

Population = 524,853 in 2012

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time Warp Effect, Couch Moving, Baptism, French Plateau

Hey hey hey!

Honestly, some weeks I just have trouble thinking of anything to write in these letters. And trouble remembering what I even did this last week. It gets harder and harder to tell the weeks apart as the mission goes on. It kind of has a weird time warp effect, being out here. I catch myself saying things like "I got a guitar last year for Christmas" when really that was almost two years ago. I realize that I've been here in Lorient for 4 months, and that has only felt like a few weeks. "Time" just has become a pretty relative term.

This week I had my exhcange with Elder Stucki, which was super fun. We pretty much just talked about American Fork the whole time. It really is cool to be able to talk about specific people from back home with somebody like that. During our talking, we found out that we had had a crush on the same girl at the same time once... Good times. :)

Thursday we were surprised to get a knock from one of our members asking her to help move a couch. We were free, so off we went. Turned out that she lived on the fourth floor of her building however, and that it wasn't just a couch, but a whole futon hide-a-bed situation. As Elder Lloyd and I started hauling it up the stairs, we quickly learned that the staircase turned too sharply to carry the couch normally and that the only other option was to carry it vertically up all the stairs. But hey, big strong AMERICAN missionaries have no problem with that. :)

Saturday was the baptism of the Vannes branch, which was awesome! Lots of people there, and we were even able to get David to come! He seemed to enjoy it, and it was a nice time for him to meet a few members. We even tried to play matchmaker a little bit with him and this 22 year old girl in our ward. ;)

We had a whole ton of other exciting stuff happen, but, as I said to Président Babin, it was all just kind of a blur this week. Maybe it's just the crazy heat we've been having this week, but I'm really struggling to think of anything else specific to share with you guys. This is most likely my last full week in Lorient, and, if I still have my guessing skills going for me, I'm pretty sure I'll be heading out a little more east in about 9 days. But, nothing's sure yet, so I'll just leave it at that. :)

Mom, you asked about my French. Honestly, I haven't felt much improvement in the last few months. I've been really trying to work on my accent with Elder Lloyd, who is really gifted with accents (people often ask him where he's from in France and are shocked when he says he's from Texas), and I've feel like I've made some progress there. Comprehension is still sometimes difficult when it's really crowded or the person talks slurred, but I pretty much understand it all. But on the language itself, just little improvements here and there. On the other hand, only improving a little bit is fine, since I really feel pretty confident overall. I have no fear to communicate in French, or make phone calls in French (which are probably the hardest part). I can confidently explain whatever I need to just fine and without any help or any pauses that wouldn't be there in English. So, short answer, I'm kind of at a plateau, which most missionaries hit, but I'm pretty confident with where I'm at. :)

Anyway, sorry that's not the most exciting letter, I'll try to organize my thoughts a little more for next week. :) In the meantime though, have an awesome week! It sounds like you guys have a lot planned. Keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Random Photos

Elder Lloyd and Elder Bigler With Their
Malagash Friends Estelline and Victor
They Remind Adam of His Nana and Papa Craynor

Experimental Deep Fried Snickers

Inside of a Deep Fried Snickers

The Main Plaza in Lorient

Monday, September 15, 2014

Repentance is Just Another Word for Change

Hey everybody!

I don't have a ton of time this week, so I'm gonna have to keep this pretty short. Fortunately, in this case, it was a pretty quick, kind of uneventful week.

Things mainly started to pick up around Thursday when we had district meeting in Quimper. My new haircut was well approved. :) After the meeting and waiting for trains (the usual), we went on exchanges to Brest. Elder Lloyd was with Elder Stucki, and I was with Elder Moffitt. If that sounds familiar, it's cause he's the same Elder Moffitt that was in the MTC with me. That made for a pretty good exchange. It was a really cool experience mostly because I was able to see how much he had grown. Knowing him from the beginning of the mission, there was a pretty evident change in him. He's still the same guy, that's for sure, but at the same time, he's much different. It's kind of hard to explain, a really subtle, but really apparent change.

As missionaries, we talk a lot about change. Repentance is just another word for change, the Atonement allows us to change, we go to church to change, etc. We talk about how much we want to change, how to change, what we want to have changed when we go home, stuff like that. The Gospel, after all, is a Gospel of change. So, for me, it's always a powerful experience to see someone change. Whether that's through being taught by the missionaries or being a missionary, doesn't matter. My exchange with Elder Moffitt was a reminder of some goals I set at the beginning of my mission for how I wanted to change, and a reminder of how I haven't quite accomplished those goals yet.

Mount Timpanogos from Adam's Window
When I think of change and progression, I often picture the view of Mount Timpanogos I have outside my window at home. It's not a smooth, upward climb to the summit. Sometimes, it evens slopes back down and you end up having to hike even higher to make it back up. But, in the end, what's important, if we really want to make it to the top, is that we keep going. Ups and downs mean nothing as long as we end up higher than where we started. Elder Moffitt has definitely made it higher, and he inspired me this week to do better on my hike to the top. I've only got 10 months or so left out here, so I've gotta push. :)

For everyone else, well, we never really know how much longer we have left. So, why not start pushing today? Get on the uphill slope, and starting climbing to the summit, start climbing home to our Heavenly Father. I know that we will all be blessed as we push ourselves to climb higher.

Until next week,
Elder Bigler

Bonus Photos

The Train Station at Angers
Nearby City in the Missionary Zone

Adam's Favorite French Hymn
Not Found in the English Hymn Book
"Remember, My Child"

La Scorff River at Night
Separates Lanester on the Left and Lorient on the Right

Monday, September 8, 2014

Alma 26:27 - A Scripture Boost from Mom

Prologue to Adam's weekly letter. Once in a while we are lucky enough to be able to "talk" for awhile through emails on letter day (Mondays). What follows are a couple paragraphs from Cindy's letter to Adam followed by some email exchanges with him. This conversation leads directly into Adam's letter. The best part of this post is witnessing how the Lord watches out for his missionaries. Often the best source of encouragement comes from home. In this case, Cindy (Adam's Mom) was able to give Adam a spiritual boost directly from her studies of the Scriptures. Moms know their sons. Combine that with the guidance of the Holy Ghost and you get a powerful force of love!

Adam Hugs His Mom Goodbye at the MTC

Mom – Sunday Night 12:56 AM 9-8-14 (We really should do this earlier in the day.)
Saturday after going to the soccer game with Cooper and  the rest, we did some yard work.  Dad edged the whole lawn so it looks pretty nice.  We have had some rain lately that keeps the lawn growing and nice and green.  Saturdays go way too fast!  I had wanted to go to the temple so Dad thought that was a great idea.  Turns out there was a BYU game on that night so nobody at home was going to miss me or anything.  I got all dressed and ready to head out the door.  When I got in my wallet to grab my recommend it wasn't there.  I remembered that I had given it to dad when we went to Kalin's wedding and sadly hadn't used it since so I asked dad where it was.  He went upstairs and checked his suit pockets and said it wasn't there.  He said he remembered putting it someplace obvious.  We looked in all the places that we thought were obvious but couldn't find it.  Meanwhile, the last session came and went so I stayed home and put on my pajamas and read scriptures for awhile instead.  Today while we were waiting after church for dad to be set apart Kevin got in Dad's suit pocket for some reason and pulled out both of our recommends!  What's up with that?!?  Wouldn't you think that going to the temple was a good thing, and that Heavenly Father would want me to go, and when I said one of those little prayers to help me find where dad had put my recommend that He would have helped me find it?  We tried to find a lesson in the whole thing.  Dad said that sometimes you have to go to church to get answers to your prayers.  Whatever!  I'll try to get there again soon.  The good news is that while I was searching our drawers and closets I found a little wad of money that I had apparently forgotten about.  Yay me!

I have successfully read the scriptures now for 64 days in a row.  Haven't missed a day.  I am on Alma 27.  There are some good missionaryish scriptures in Alma that I am sure you have read.  Alma 17:2,3&4ish are good and I thought you might like chapter 26:26-28.  I thought they were good missionary verses too.  I also liked 17:10 just because. 

Adam – Monday Morning 8:38 9-8-14
As far as your whole temple story, I don't know if there really is a direct answer. Something I've learned as a missionary is that sometimes the Lord answers our prayers much differently than we would like. By not finding your recommend at that moment, you were able to take some good time to read your scriptures, and find some extra money! Sometimes, the blessings of the temple (or other things) can come from just showing the desire to go. Like they always say, it's the thought that counts. (Now, of course, that's not an excuse to get out of the ACTION part.) I would take a guess and say that the next time you go to the temple, you'll understand more why your prayer was answered how it was.
That Alma 26 reference actually answered exactly what I was looking for right now... :)
Mom – Monday Morning 9:03 AM 9-8-14
So if Alma 26 was just what you were looking for, maybe that's why I stayed home from the temple cause I read that night from Alma 17 - Alma 26.  If I hadn't had so much time to read that night I would have only made it through a verse or two.  So maybe it was all meant to be a blessing for our missionary whom we love very much!!

Adam – 9:32 AM
That's possible too! :) It definitely is a blessing for me. :)

Mom – 11:24 AM
Not sure if you are still there, but now I'm curious.  Why is reading Alma 26 a blessing for you?  Are you struggling with something?  Should I worry or pray harder??
Also, I would love to see a picture with your face in it!  ;) ;)

Adam – 11:27 AM
New haircut.....

Mom – 11:32 AM
Anyway, nice haircut!  Is that a faux hawk???
My Grandma Sommers/Finch would say it was "sharp"!
And ARE you ok?
(Running down to the school office for a few minutes before sacred lunch break is over.)

Adam – 11:44 AM
Haha kind of. Elder Lloyd said it would look cool on me, then my district leader said it was okay and also agreed that it would look cool, so we tried it last night. :) It feels pretty sharp, my hair is kind of prickly in the short parts!
And yeah, I'm fine, don't worry. Just in the kind of mid mission mid life crisis sort of thing. I'm explaining it in my letter, don't worry.

Adam's Letter.


I was gonna make some comment about how fast time flies, but I figure after 50 weeks or so, that you guys maybe get the idea that it's going fast. :)

As usual, we had a bunch of cool experiences here and there this week. Things started off with our journey all the way to Angers. Monday night we had to catch a train to Rennes. We missed our actual train, so had to catch another one about an hour later. As a result, we got to Rennes around 9, had to catch a bus around 9:30, and got to the Rennes apartment around 10. All along the way, we were able to talk to a whole bunch of people. A couple Americans, an older couple on the train, and a couple other random people on the bus. The next morning we talked to a bunch more people on the way from Rennes to Angers. After the big conference, we ended up sitting next to the sisters on the train ride home, and that's where things really started to happen! The power of 4 missionaries. :) Essentially, we ended up teaching the whole train car all together. And, later on in the week, one of those people ended up becoming a new ami for us!

Times like that are awesome as missionaries, times where you can just sit and talk openly with people. It's not always easy to come across them in the street, so we feel pretty blessed to have those times. Beyond that, we had a pretty good week. We weren't able to set anything up with Iona, but we're kind of leaving that to her for now. We want the desire to come to church to come from her and not from us. Saturday afternoon I felt prompted to call someone, but I didn't know who. So, I just pulled out the phone and started going through our long list of contacts. I came across Louis, a less active member, and felt like I should call him. We set up a rendezvous for that evening and it went really well! We also started teaching another less active family this week, Beatrice and her son, and they already fed us! Super delicious Guatemalan food. Anyway, there are tons of little stories I could tell from the week, as is always the case.

But this week I want to be "the honest missionary", I want to be real. That's something I'm working on.

I'm tired. Thirteen months of missionary life wears on a person. There are missionaries out there who can work at maximum capacity for all two years and still be as fresh as ever when their time comes to go home, and that's amazing. But I wouldn't put myself into that group. Mom, today you sent me the reference of Alma 26:27. In that verse it starts off by saying "Now when our hearts were depressed". That part really hit me. It's not that I'm "depressed", not at all, I promise. Just the way that's worded. Their hearts were depressed. To me, that sounds like they're tired. Tired of being rejected, tired of confronting the same types of people and the same difficulties over and over, and, if being a missionary back then was anything like it is now, tired of and as a result of trying their best to worry only about others. To me, those are the makings of a depressed heart. And that's a little how I feel lately. Now, don't think I'm sick of being a missionary or that I don't like it anymore, that's not at all what it is. I love this work and wouldn't rather be anywhere else or rather be doing anything else. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

After hearing and answering questions like "Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?", "Why do I need to be baptized again?", and "What are you doing in France?" almost every day for over a year, it gets kind of, well, old. That "blue fire" that we say new missionaries have is kind of down to the coals right now. In that verse it follows up and says "and we were about to turn back". I'm not really about to "turn back" per se, but I do have times where I think "ugh, here we go again..." when people start asking these questions. Times where I'd rather just be a regular member who blends into the crowd. Neither of which is really good for a missionary to have. So, it's been a weird week or two. I've just felt kind of...out of place, in a way.

But then comes good ol' Mom (with a little help from Alma). You can always count on your parents. The scripture goes on to say "behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." The first part is the most important to me. The Lord comforted them, as he'll comfort me.

On my mission, I've learned, and I'm learning how to rely on the Lord for strength and for comfort. I didn't really understand what people meant by "relying on the Lord" at the beginning of my mission, and I'm only really starting to figure it out. But today (thanks to all that scripture study Mom :) ) I felt a little bit closer. But, understanding and building a relationship with the Lord is something that takes a lifetime, and much more, so, I've gotta keep working. 

Sunrise in Lorient - The Power of a New Day
"An Opportunity and an Invitation to Change and Become More Like Our Savior". - Elder Adam Bigler

Well, I'm about out of time. Thanks for the letters today everybody! Keep doing good at school and soccer and scouts and drama and band and work and work/school and all that stuff. :)

Elder Bigler

Frenchism: Be thankful for English. Le Livre de Mormon is 653 pages long. Just a little bit longer than the BoM.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Inspired Pizza

Dear Family,

One of the common conversational topics among missionaries when we get a new companion is what jobs we've had in our life. When Elder Lloyd and I got put together, we found out that we had both worked at pizza places! He at Little Caesar's and I at Papa John's. So, we talk about pizza occasionally, but, we hadn't really had a chance to buy it before.

Sunrise over Lorient
This past Saturday, we ended up at a bus stop just next to the local Domino's. It had been a hard day. Iona had told us that she wasn't coming to church, and our rendez-vous for the evening had fallen through with that. And we were hungry. It was Samedi Fou (Crazy Saturday), which means that all of the pizzas, in any size, were all 8 euros! With how hungry we were and how good it smelled, it only took a moment for us to get pulled in. We took our pizza down to centreville, at the big plaza next to the Hôtel de Ville (town hall, kind of). There were a lot of people walking around, since the match was about to start, so we just kind of sat and enjoyed looking at how decked out everybody was for the game while we ate our pizza. As we finished up, and the game got going inside the stadium, a man behind us grabbed our attention and asked about where we were from. His name was Albano, and he was super cool with us. He was just in town for the evening, but he let us talk with him long enough to explain our purpose as missionaries and what we believe. Towards the end of our conversation (right before we left him with a prayer en fait) another young guy, Leo, showed up and asked what we're doing here, so we had Albano explain, which he did really well, telling him that we're here to help spread honor and respect. Let me tell you, it's really cool to hear someone say that, in their own words, about you. After we finished up that conversation and left them both with a prayer, we headed off, planning to go home for the evening, when we felt prompted to change our route a little bit to go past two women sitting on a bench together. And...we ended up teaching them as well! What started out as an impulse for some hungry guys turned into a truly inspired thing, that helped other people feel the love of God.

Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of time today, we're catching a train to Rennes tonight so we can be on time for our conference in Angers tomorrow. I'll just leave you with some other highlights. :)

Tuesday evening, after our conference, and at the end of what had been a seemingly perfect day, we were driven home by the Malagash family, and had them drop us off at the church, which ended up being a tour of the church for them! Even better, Frère Fontaine just happened to be there, and he helped us out a ton!

Thursday evening, we had planned a soirée familiale with the famille Moulis. What we had planned for 7, with just us and Iona being invited, somehow turned into us getting there at 6 with her grandparents in tow. Soeur Moulis however, was so so kind to us, and let us come inside and ended up even making extra food at the end for everybody. To me, that was a miracle. Not the food necessarily, but the way that someone could be so kind and patient with two young missionaries who are nowhere near perfect. It was so great for us.

And last night we happened to be visiting our Brazilian family when their younger daughter, who hadn't been home in 4 months (she has her own apartment) just happened to stop by! We ended up teaching her and inviting her to come to church on Sunday. :)

We really have so many opportunities to see little miracles out here. Actually, scratch that, a member told me once that there are no LITTLE miracles. And it's true.

This morning, we ran to the beach and this time, finally, I had my camera! So I was able to see (and record) another beautiful miracle, the start of a new day. It's one of those things I've learned to appreciate more out here. The power of a new day, how each one of them is an opportunity and an invitation to change and become more like our Savior.

Thanks so much for all the love you guys send, I really feel it in your letters. They made me smile a lot today, and I really felt at home while I read them. :)

Keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Bonus Photos

Adam in Front of One of Vincent Van Gogh's Houses

A Giant Slug - Escargot.

Sunrise on the Train Tracks

A 2 Euro Coin Commemorating 70th Anniversary of D-Day