Monday, October 27, 2014

Even a Little Gesture Brings Good in Someone's Life


Graffiti Under the Main Bus Stop in Luxembourg
Adam Looking Very Sharp

Sounds like you guys had a pretty good week back home, and an even better one planned for the next. It's crazy to think that another marching band season is starting to finish up. I still feel like I just left and that you're still in last year's season somewhere.

Well, I should probably just get into it since we had a lot of crazy adventures this week.

Things really started to pick up around Wednesday when we headed into Belgium to find a referral. Long story short, we missed the last bus and ended up having to walk for a couple hours to make it back home. As we were waiting for a train, we had enough time to explore and we found the really big cathedral there (it wasn't too hard to find), and an American tank. In one of the pictures, since it's it's close to Halloween, I think we found a ghost..... :) Anyway, eventually, our train came, and we got home, nice and tired. (More Photos Below.)

Playing Chubby Bunny for Family Night

Thursday was our exchanges with Metz, they both came here and we went to Subway for lunch (my first time in over 14 months). Elder Pratt and I ended up going to the Oates family for an early dinner and had the wonderful opportunity to drink American Dr. Pepper with them. :) They're really an awesome family, so kind to us and really into doing missionary work. Later on, we went to our usual YSA soirée familiale (Family Night) thing. The "activity" that they had planned was to play that "chubby bunny" game. In the end, I ended up competing with Elder Faura, the Tahitian and, well...Tahitian's don't like losing. We got to 15 marshmallows before he finally beat me. It was super fun though, and we were able to really connect with some of the guys there.

Friday, we had a lesson with Ramiro, and we taught him with Paula, who will be leaving on her mission tomorrow. It went super well and it resulted in our awesome Sunday...

Saturday we had an awesome "Home-teaching Blitz" activity that really got the ward psyched about missionary work, or at least the 17 members of the quorum that were there, which was most of them. Ugh, I'm running out of time here, so I can't really tell you much more about it. But it was a really effective idea.

Sunday was one of those days where it all came together. Ramiro, who is meeting also with the Jehovah's Witnesses and an Evangelical church, came, with his girlfriend Rosa, and ended up staying for all three hours for the first time due to this miracle: One of our biggest challenges as missionaries is to integrate people with the ward members, that is, to help them have friends. This time, the Lord prepared it all for us. Turns out, one of our members has known Rosa for a long time already! And one of the non-members who was there as well! Can you say blessings?? Then, even after the three hours ended, Rosa and Ramiro stayed for another two hours for Paula's farewell meeting and meal, which was SUPER spiritual. They loved it and Ramiro said at the end that he loves our church and loves coming to it. So many blessings for us.

Serious Bathroom Construction

All in all, a really good week. Our bathroom has been under construction all week, so we've been showering at the Oliver's, and that's been kind of weird, but hopefully tomorrow we should be good to use our own again.

And to finish, just a little follow up story from Lorient.

Remember the inspired pizza thing? (See Post from September 1, 2014.) When we bought pizza, Elder Lloyd and I, and everything just kind of worked out? Well, turns out it REALLY worked out. As a part of that whole evening, one of the people we had talked to came back a few minutes later with a friend of his who was a Jehovah's Witness, kind of challenging us to battle it out or something, which wasn't very nice. But, we're missionaries, so we responded in the most Christlike way we could, just talking to him and respecting his believes while listening to what he wanted to tell us. Turns out, Elder Lloyd met him again in the street a couple weeks after I left, and he and his new companion taught him. And then taught him again. And again. And a few more times until his baptism just yesterday. We never know what our actions will bring about. There's a new Mormon message* out about that, if you guys haven't seen it yet, Mom, I think you'd like it. Finding out that something we do, even just a little gesture like that, brings about good in someone else's life, that's what this is all about. That's why I'm here, and that's why I keep working. Two years is a long time, but when you're changing other people's lives, it goes by pretty fast.

Have a good one, and keep smiling!
Elder Bigler


*Link to Mormon Message - "You Never Know" - Small Gestures Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Others

Lots of Photos This Week from Luxembourg

Adam Bomb

Honoring Two US Airmen Who Perished In Luxembourg

WWII Era Tank at a War Memorial
And a Halloween Ghost Above

Beautiful Cathedral In Luxembourg

Interior of the Cathedral

Almost But Not Quite Angel Moroni

Chubby Bunny Looks Painful

The Chubby Bunny Winner - Elder Faura

Monday, October 20, 2014

Loving Luxembourg!


It's seriously crazy how fast these weeks go by. I'm starting to get scared that my mission is gonna end one of these days. It's still far, but I can feel that "deadline" looming somewhere in the background.

This week really went by quickly. It was a rainy one, which is common at this time of the year in Luxembourg. Among the many things we did this week were a visit to a less-active of 20 years member, paid our phone bill (we were over by 55 euros, which is pretty normal, since we have to make international calls all the time), visited a part-member family who spoke English, Spanish, and French with us. We visited one of our recent converts, Guy, and he and the member we took with us, Jean-Paul, became best friends by the end of the rendez-vous. We went to Metz on exchanges (I was with Elder Faura, who I did an exchange with back in Lorient), and played Samedi Sports with them. I finally got one of the official un-official France Paris Mission pins, which I didn't think would ever happen. We met Maggy, the non-member wife of our previous bishop. Ramiro came to church without even a reminder, and Brother Oliver, who's a chiropractor, fixed my back up a little. All in all, kind of average.

Luxembourg Train Station
So, I thought I'd take a few minutes to tell you guys a little more about Lux, since you seem to have some questions. :) It's not a branch here, and actually the ward is the biggest I have served in so far, about 135 people. And, it seems at least, I haven't counted or anything, that about half of them are anglophones. Of the other half, about half of them speak English. Services are always done in French (the francophones are more permanent than the anglophones) but there's always at least and English translation going on during sacrament, and sometimes priesthood meeting is done back and forth in English and French. When you go shopping, everything has German labels, sometimes with French underneath, sometimes not. Almost every person we talk to here can speak English and French (and Luxembourgeois and German and often Spanish). They're education system is really focused on languages, seeing as you need a lot to live here. Most 8 year old kids are fluent in French, German, Luxembourgeois, and English. They always ask how many languages you can speak, and saying "two" here is not at all an impressive number to them. Brother Gilstrap, Brother Nadauld's friend, is actually in the bishopric, and is super cool. We haven't had a chance to get over to there house yet, so I don't know much about him, but he's really nice and friendly. He introduced himself to me on the first Sunday and we figured out how we kind of knew each other and everything. He also said that Brother Nadauld told him that the ward is lucky to have me there. We'll see if I can live up to that. 

Architecture of Luxembourg
The city itself is interesting. It's big, but small, feeling bigger than it really is. But because of the big feel, it's a lot different than my other villes. Finding a good boulangerie (bakery), or kebab shop, means picking from 20 or so, and all of them are at least a bus ride away. We live in a little bit more of a neighborhood that before. The buses within the city are great because they come often and they go late enough for us to catch a ride home. In Calais and Lorient, we usually had to be back close to home by 8 because that's when the buses stopped. It's really pretty here, but it feels like they're still building it because of how much construction there is. France, they're kind of done with construction. They pretty flatlined in most places. But here, things are really growing. There's a lot of modern buildings right next to old style French ones, and it gives it a kind of time-travel-y feel. It's a lot cleaner than France, and you see a LOT more guys in suits walking around. from what people say, it's a lot like a richer version of Germany, and not much like France. Out of all the places I've been so far, it would easily be my choice as a place to live. You have so much of the world within just a few hours of your country here.

I feel so blessed to be in such a magical place. Keep up the good work back at home!

Elder Bigler

Bonus Photos

New Member Named Guy Has a Raiders Helmet

Nuclear Power Plant in France
Traveling from Metz to Luxembourg

Monday, October 13, 2014

Words of Comfort from Luxembourg

Sounds...interesting back home. Life never really gets much easier, that's for sure. That's something we talked about in church yesterday, the importance of making sure that our kids know that we still have trials and difficulties and weaknesses even as adults, that life doesn't suddenly resolve itself when you get older. Something I hadn't really thought about before.

I've seen and experienced and heard a lot of things on my mission. I have seen more misbehaving, wayward children than I would have imagined, of all ages. People who have come back from heroine and cocaine addictions, missionaries who have come back from dark, low places to serve honorably, faithfully, and powerfully as representatives of Jesus Christ. I seen people whose parents have not only wanted to run away, but have, and never came back. Whether the vice be technology, drugs, girls, faithlessness, crime, poverty, or anything of the sort, everyone has something. The perspective that my mission has given and is giving me is that there are no big or small problems, just problems. But they can all be overcome through things like faith, prayers, love, understanding, and forgiveness, essentially the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his Atonement make all the difference.

I don't want to get preachy, but just love them. I know you do, and I know they don't make it easy, but that's really what will make the difference. Tyler doesn't really respond to my emails as much, and when he does, it's short. I wish I could be there for him. Kevin is better but still does feel some heat from others about quitting band.

I'm out of time, so I'll just have to leave it at that. Keep doing all you can for them. I pray for you all every day, and I hope that those prayers reach you. Keep the faith and keep reading and praying and going to church, please, if nothing else, do that. I love you so much, and I'll talk to you next week. Hopefully it's a better one!

Love, Elder Bigler

First Photos of Luxembourg

Foggy Day in Luxembourg

Careful Crossing the Street
Quiet Afternoon in Luxembourg

Meeting Up with Elder Gomez in Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral

Look Who Came to Luxembourg
LDS Violinist - Lindsay Stirling

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fresh Prince of Belair


Well, I made it! 12 hours of traveling later, of which 8 were on trains, I made it safely out of France and into Luxembourg. After a super hectic Monday and Tuesday of getting ready for the move, I hopped on a train Wednesday morning around 7. That one took me to Rennes, where I had to get off to pass off my comp to the Zone Leaders (to avoid him being alone) and then catch another train from Rennes to Paris (alone. Double standard...?). As Elder Lloyd and I separated, we did the "Hoorah for Israel!" thing from the Other Side of Heaven, which was pretty awesome. :)

Once I got into Paris, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Elder Evans for what was probably the last time, since this is his last transfer. We had a good talk for a few minutes before he headed out to St. Brieuc. Eventually, I made my way through the crazy Montparnasse gare to the metro and got over to Chatelet, the main metro station. There, I said hey to Elder Beck, who also told me that you guys and his parents had met up, and then I met Elder Gomez. We had a train to catch on the other side of Paris that was coming fast, so we took off right away. After we got there (Gare de l'Est), it was all pretty much smooth sailing. We took a train to Nancy, got off there, got some fries, and then caught the last train from Nancy to Luxembourg. Not sure how far we traveled in total, but it was a lot. (Distance traveled was 862 km or 535 miles).

Getting into Luxembourg was an experience. Compared to sleepy Lorient and Calais, coming out of that gare into what felt like a rich version of Paris was breathtaking. There's a reason that all the missionaries I talked to on the way looked at me like "That's not even fair" when I told them where I was going.

Adam with a Classic Rolls Royce in Luxembourg
The first thing I noticed was the cars. The "average" car here, is about an Audi. My first day, I saw many, many Porsches, and Jaguars, 4 Maseratis, 4 Aston Martins, 4 Bentleys, a Lotus, and a Lamborghini. On my whole entire mission, up to now, I had seen 8 Ferraris, but in roughly 4 days here I have seen 3. That's just to give you an image of what it's like.

Walking around, you hear English, French, German, Spanish, Luxembourgish, Portuguese, and Chinese. It's hard to even tell what language to listen for sometimes. But, pretty much everyone speaks English and French, so I have no problems. But I'm now learning Spanish to teach our amis better, since Spanish is Elder Gomez's native language. Climate wise, just a little colder and less humid than Lorient, for now, but we usually have snow here in the winter, so that should be nice. The ward here is about 130 people, probably my biggest so far. Everybody, mostly, speaks English, but we usually do services in French, with translations in at least two languages running. We have a lot of RMs and youth, something that I hadn't seen at all up to this point. Because of conference, I have only met a few of them so far, and those that I did meet were American, Canadian, British, and a couple French. It feels surreal to sit in an American's home, watching conference, while being in Europe. And that's probably the word that really fits how life feels here. You can feel the magic of Paris, but much smaller and much richer. 

Sorry if there are any typos, I'm on a Swiss French keyboard, and it's really hard. For Dad, Elder Gomez is from Dallas Texas and yes, he is a Cowboys fan. :) He's in his 7th transfer right now, and I'm in my 10th (in case you guys lost count). He's super nice and loves the members, and knows them really well. To describe his personality, I'd say "relaxed". :) Both physically and when it comes to the work. Which is good in some ways especially since this city has really pumped me full of energy and I just want to go go go. He's got a kind heart, and he really wants the best for this ward. He's a big change from Elder Lloyd, who was a little too energetic for me. I was getting really worn out and I think it was a good decision putting me with Elder Gomez. 

As far as the situation with only having two missionaries goes, there was just a problem with the apartment of the Elders, and they ended up losing an Elders équipe and the soeurs équipe, and just moving one to the soeurs' appartment. So, yeah, we're the only two missionaries in this entire country. And technically, we have part of Belgium and part of France in our sector too, and we have special permission to go a little bit into Germany under certain circumstances. It's a small apartment, but quite nice, in the part of Luxembourg called Belair (no joke). We have a couch and a dishwasher (currently broken however), two things thqt are extremely rare in the mission. It's gonna take some cleaning up to get it to Elder Bigler standards though...

Overall, I'm super excited to be here! It's super clean, super nice, and has lots of potential. I'm already sure that I'll be sad to leave. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Be good and keep working hard!
Elder Bigler

Photos from the Missionary Apartment in Lorient - Apparently Transfer Time Affects "Elder Bigler" Clean Standards During Packing.

The Lounge - The Flag on the Wall is Signed by
Each Missionary Who Served in Lorient

Kitchen/Laundry Room

Pink Seems to Be the TP Color of Choice

Cozy Bathroom

Companion Study Area

Book of Mormon Inspirational Art Wall

No King Beds for Missionaries

The Living Room Complete with Fridge