Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Luxembourg!!

Hey again guys!

Christmas Day Skype with Adam

It feels like just the other day that I was back at home with you all for Christmas...or at least, it seemed like I was. :) It's crazy how you can just get transported all the way back home that quickly, and how I just feel like I'm sitting there in our living room talking to you all. An hour is never really enough, and I figure when I come home this next year that our first "real life skype" session will be a little bit longer than that. :)

Not a whole lot has really happened to tell you guys about since we talked on Thursday. After I hung up, I got to eat a delicious burrito made by the Gilstraps, and we talked with them for a little. Turns out their kids are doing basically exactly what I want to do, restoring one of the original Mini Coopers! I got to check it out before we left. They're such an awesome family, and they're just so kind.

Adam in the Snow
The day after Christmas, it was back to work for...only us. In Luxembourg, the day after is a holiday too and there was practically no one outside. To the point of almost creepy...but, we were out, talking to everybody we could until we went to the Ribeiro family's place in the evening. They were so nice, their daughter speaks 6 languages, and we had a pretty good time talking about Star Wars and college and stuff with them (they had been watching all the Star Wars movies that day).

Saturday and Sunday were full of pretty much the same thing, but this time with SNOW!!! It's been about 20 months since I had really seen snow, and let me tell you, I felt like a little kid all day. It was just so exciting and beautiful to see snow here in Luxembourg that I was like...giddy. And I got you guys lots of good pictures. :) I was telling you all how pretty it was before, well, it's even better with snow. :)

First Snow in 20 Months!
Ramiro was finally able to come to church again, although about half of our members were missing because of vacations and stuff. And thanks to all the snow, we were able to offer snow shoveling help to an elderly woman, who strongly said "oh no, this is my exercise for the day, no need" which gave us all a good little laugh, and then we were able to briefly share a little message with her. The snow just changes everything around here. 

Well, beyond that I don't have much else to say except that we got some really good exploring in today for Pday. Unfortunately, I'm typing on a german keyboard again, and it's pretty tricky, so I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves on that one. :)

Have a good week! 
Elder Bigler

P-Day Exploring Photos and SNOW!!

Luxembourg Snowy Scenery

Frozen Fountain - Elsa??

Sun Coming Up with Snow on the Ground

Houses Along the Alzette River

Adam's Badge Overlooking Luxembourg

Snow Capped Luxembourg

Adam with a Snowy Luxembourg in the Background

Adam Overlooking Luxembourg

The Fortress Walls of the Ancient Luxembourg Castle

One of the Ancient Castles of Luxembourg
A Happy Adam in a Snow Covered Luxembourg

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Post Christmas Skype Email

Christmas Day we were able to talk with Adam for 1:38:41 via Skype from Luxembourg!! 
Modern Technology is a Wonderful Thing!!
Shortly after, we received a brief email message.

Have a good Christmas, talk to you on Monday!

Adam's Christmas Skype from Luxembourg

Opening His Christmas Package from Home

Adam with Kevin, Brian, and Tyler
Our New Traditional Christmas Photo

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas is Coming!

Every week when I sit down to do my emails, I start it out pretty simply, writing my letter to my President, mostly just to get it out of the way, then move into my emails, going through those from my mission friends and the few other emails that I get. Then, I start to feel a little bit closer to home as I go through the pictures you guys send me and then finally, since I save the best for last, read the letters you write. Usually, by the time I get to this point, where I've read the letters and am starting to type my letter home, I feel pretty much at home. Although I'm sitting in a relatively sketchy internet café in Luxembourg, I feel no farther from home than I did down in little old Ephraim. It's really a nice experience that I look forward to every week.

It's so nice and warm and familiar to see all those pictures of back home with the tree up (and all the tons of ornaments on it) and the brothers just being...themselves. Basically, I'm just really excited to talk to you guys. :)

Mission Zone Conference Lunch at Paris
This week was a really good one, although we weren't able to teach as much as we had hoped. We had our Christmas conference in Paris, which was really good! I got to talk to Elder Gomez and Elder Lloyd, both who are doing well. Elder Lloyd is serving in Nogent, my hometown here in Europe, and Elder Gomez is learning lots of French with his Tahitian companion. Getting there was a little interesting mainly because we had to wake up at 3 to make it to Versailles on time, but it all worked out in the end.

We got to move 2 couches vertically up a couple of flights of stairs for Paul this last week as well. We tried to do the third, but it was too big for the stairwell. All worth it in the end though, getting paid in American Root Beer. :)

Thursday night was one of the highlights of the week, and of the whole Christmas season so far. We had organized an activity with the youth of our ward to go caroling in the centreville where there is a big marché and tons of people! We gave them each a pass-along card to hand out and started singing right in the middle of it all. They were a little hesitant at first, but in the end, most of them gave out their cards and we all agreed that it was a really spiritual experience to share our testimonies like that.

This week, of course, should be a pretty great one!

I'm gonna keep it a little shorter this week, since I'm gonna be seeing you guys in a few days anyway. Have a good Christmas eve and everything and make me a BBQ pizza! See you on Thursday!

Elder Bigler

P.S. Also saw a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta this week, my favorite one, and then a Lamborghini later on that same day. :)

The Ferrari and Adam

The Lamborghini and No Adam

Bonus Photos

Another Photo of the Mission Conference Luncheon
Adam is on the far right

One Huge Christmas Bow on a Building in Luxembourg

The Exterior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
in Luxembourg

The Interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
in Luxembourg

Beautiful Stained Glass Windows of
The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg

Monday, December 15, 2014

Change of Companions

Hey Family!

Christmas is coming fast, and it's really starting to show around here! Our chapel's got the Christmas tree set up, we had the ward Christmas party this week, and it's getting colder and colder. 

It was a pretty crazy week around here, with Elder Gomez saying his goodbyes and Elder Jenness starting to get to know everyone. We had a really good time Tuesday evening with all the young adults and Ramiro at institute, which just barely started up here. Despite the language barriers, Ramiro was excited and into it enough to participate and even play the guitar for everybody at the end. It was a really fun evening, and a nice way for Elder Gomez to spend his last night.

I really miss him, with the change in companions. He was a really fun guy and we had lots of fun together. It's pretty much always hard to change companions, and this is no exception. Elder Gomez and I got along really well by the end, and really understood each other, and it's hard to go from that to a new person who doesn't know the area or you. You have to start all over with that relationship. But at the same time, it's a great experience! Elder Jenness is a lot different from Elder Gomez, but he's exactly the kind of companion I need right now. As my mission wears on and my clothes wear out, having a companion that's only been out about 7 months and who has such a strong desire to be exactly obedient really is a good boost. I can feel the difference in energy levels between us, where he is just ready to go do work and I'm a little bit more laid back. At the same time, there are a few difficulties that arise with a younger companion like having different ways of working and different perspectives on how to treat people. I'm someone who really avoids any thing that could come across as offensive or cause an argument, but Elder Jenness is really a pretty direct, straightforward guy. So, it's gonna be a good 8 week transfer. A lot of hard work, which is exactly what I need, and a lot of opportunities to grow, which is also exactly what I need.

I've gotta keep things relatively short today, so I'll just have to end with letting you know that I went to the Gilstrap family's place yesterday, so you should be expecting a picture or something from Justin Nadauld. I'm really loving Luxembourg more and more every day, and I'm already fearing the day that I'm gonna have to leave... Keep your eyes out on the mail in the next week or so, there should be something coming your way, as well as something a couple days after Christmas. :)

I love you guys so much, keep feeling that Christmas spirit and sharing it too!
Elder Bigler

P.S. Sorry no pictures this week, I promise I'll have some next time!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8 - Eng Sprooch geet ni duer... (One Language is Never Enough)

Hey guys!

After a long, crazy, crazy week, it's that time again: transfer week. Elder Gomez is off to Chartres, by Paris, and I'll be getting a new companion, Elder Jenness. I think I may have met him once before, but other than that, I don't know much about him. We're pretty sure that he doesn't speak any Spanish though, which leaves a lot of...concerns for us here in Luxembourg. Almost have of the ward are Spanish speakers, and Ramiro, who has a baptismal date fixed, pretty much only speaks Spanish. It's gonna be a stressful change, with a lot of prayer and more hard work on the Spanish. But we'll be alright here. After 10 weeks, I feel like I mostly know my way around the area, and we should be able to survive way out here. 

Anyway, in other news, this week was crazy, like I said. 

Monday evening we spent with the Jallohs, teaching Steven and setting up a baptismal date for him. He such a funny kid, and he's pretty smart too!

Arch de Triomphe
Adam and the View of Paris from the Top of the
Arch de Triomphe

We spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday going to Lorient and back. Well, Tuesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon. Because of the hours that the prefecture (the place to pick up my Titre de Séjour) in Lorient was open, we decided that we'd spend two nights in Paris. To give a brief rundown of the trip itinerary, we left Tuesday around 3 and got into Paris around 6. Before heading to the Cergy apartment for the night (where Elder Perry is) we stopped off at the Champs Elysées for a minute and saw the Christmas marché and went up the Arc de Triomphe really fast (which is tiring with all those stairs). Always some nice sights there, and it really got us feeling the excitement of Christmas.

The next morning, to catch our 7 AM train to Lorient, we had to wake up at 4:30. We made it without any problems though, and got to Lorient around 11 where I picked up my visa without any problems. Before leaving there, I was able to meet up with Elder Lloyd for a minute and have a kebab and visit Frère Plante and briefly see Frère Habrant. It was kind of nice. :) Then we headed out from there around 3 again and got into Paris right near the Eiffel Tower, with not much else to do (and there really isn't that much you can do missionary work wise in the heart of Paris like that) so we went to the Eiffel Tower.

Adam at the Eiffel Tower
We had enough time, and since I'd never have the chance to do it at night again, we went up to the top! Unfortunately, it was kind of foggy, but I was still able to get some pretty good pictures. (See More Photos Below.) After all that was over, we headed to Nogent, where we were staying for the night. And that was so cool! Going back to my old ville, back in that old apartment, talking with those guys about all the members and stuff, it was pretty great. :) You're really able to see how much of an influence you have when you go back. 

Thursday morning, we took yet another train back to Metz, because we were going to try to do Elder Gomez' legality there, but they were all booked for the day. So, after a little more waiting, we were finally able to catch that last train ride home to Luxembourg and crash at the apartment. We were both pretty dead, especially Elder Gomez, having been a little sick for most of the trip. 

Friday we had district meeting, weekly planning, and we went to the Jalloh's again, and got to play an intense game of Rummikub with Steven. He almost beat us, thanks to his Mom. :)

Saturday was kind of a weird day, finding out about transfers and all that stuff. After a little bit of stressing and stuff, we spent a lot of the time packing.

And Sunday was pretty good overall, although I don't remember much because I was translating for the second two hours, and, at least for me, when I'm doing that, it mostly goes in one ear and well...back out from my mouth. :) It's fun, but it kind of wears me out. As we were leaving, we told the oldest Gilstrap boy that we thought his tie was cool, because it has the Luxembourg lion on it. Later, as we were waiting at the bus stop, they pulled up next to us and he stuck his hand out the window holding his tie and said "Here, Elder Gomez, this is for you because you're leaving!" It was just the nicest little gesture, we both just kind of stood there for a minute in shock that he could just be so nice like that. He'll be leaving on his mission in a few months here, and that alone tells me that he'll be a great missionary.

Anyway, overall, it was a pretty good week. Not the most spiritual of my mission, and one of the more tiring, but lots of fun. Going back to those two cities really helped me get back to my mission roots and rethink about a lot of the things I want to accomplish before I leave. I realize more and more each day how fast time is going, and I really want to have accomplished more before I go back to the states. With Christmas coming up, and new year's, it's a great time to really think about all of this and set some good goals for the future.

Well, I'd better get going before I write a letter bigger than Mom's. ;)

Schéinen Dag nach! (Have a Nice Day!)

Elder Bigler

More Photos from Adam's Week of Travels for Legal Status Updates

Champs Elysées in Paris

View of Paris from the Top of the Eiffel Tower

The View of the Eiffel Tower from
the Top of the Arch de Triomphe

Under the Arch de Triomphe

Stade de Mairie de Paris

Night View from the Top of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower at Night

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Week in Luxembourg

Happy December!

What a crazy last week of November we had here in Luxembourg! Life gets pretty busy (and fun, for sure) as the only set of missionaries in the entire country. 

I'm gonna kind of skip over Monday and Tuesday because the rest of the week has all the good stuff in it. :)

The Cathedral in Metz, France
Wednesday we had district meeting and exchanges. We did our own little "thanksgiving" as a district, which ended up being breakfast burritos. Our Zone Leaders were there, from Paris, Elder Lam and Elder Cardon. Elder Lam is from my group and he's one of the Mandarin speaking Elders in our mission. And we have a member who's dad only speaks Mandarin, and he wants his dad to be taught by the missionaries, so we set up a quick lesson there that I got to sit in on as Elder Lam's "companion" although I really didn't do anything. Really cool experience, despite the language barriers. Exchanges in Metz went well. I was with Elder Lattin, but he was a little sick, so we weren't able to do a whole lot, just some contacting. The cathedral in Metz is one of the biggest in France, so it wasn't too hard to get a picture of it. :)

Thursday we headed back into Lux for a pretty crazy evening. We had been invited to the Youth activity, which was a Thanksgiving dinner, with a game, provided by the Gilstrap boys. Super awesome Thanksgiving, with all sorts of multicultural dishes, from Tahiti, Portugal, Africa, Spain, France, Germany, America, and Argentina, as far as I can remember. So much good food. Immediately after that, we headed to the other side of the church for our Young Single Adults activity, with all the usual different countries represented, and all the languages that go along with them. Sooo much fun, but so tiring. Good day overall. 

Adam on top of the Luxembourg Fortress

The next day turned out to just be a really good day. Elder Pratt and I stumbled into a really pretty area to take pictures, the top of the Luxembourgish fortress, so we got some good shots there. 

International Expo of Luxembourg

Saturday was another good but busy day. We got invited to the Stake Single Adults activity, which was a visit to the international expo of Luxembourg! over 60 countries were represented there, and of course, we made a beeline for America! I had forgotten my money, unfortunately, but they have all sorts of American stuff there! Cap'n Crunch, Ranch, Brownies, Hot Dogs, Beef Jerky, BBQ sauce, chips, Pop-Tarts, pretty much all the classic stuff. We were just going crazy looking at it all and reminiscing. :) It was a really cool event, seeing all of those countries together like that. That evening we were invited to the Elenes home for our second Thanksgiving, all american style this time, except that they weren't able to find a turkey in time, so we had goose instead. They're such a nice family, and we walked out feeling pretty full. :)

Sunday was super crazy! Kind of like a big "final exam" for my french skills, we found out right before we taught the young men and young women that we'd have to do everything in French and English. So, I did all the French and Elder Gomez did all the English. It was a lot of translating to do, especially when some of the kids made really long comments. but we were able to share the "He is the Gift" message with them all and get them committed to sharing it with their friends for this Christmas season. Immediately after, the same scenario happened again. We were told, right as we were starting our lesson with the Relief Society and Priesthood that it would have to be in both languages. Round two went a little better than round one as far as the lesson itself goes, but probably a little worse concerning the French... :) But that's alright, the point got across, and we were able to successfully get everyone excited and ready to share the message. Afterwards, we headed to the Oliver's for yet another Thanksgiving dinner, and this one was the biggest of all...I don't think I've ever seen so much food in my life. And when they pulled out the six or so different pies at the end, I thought I was going to die. But, they were SO good that I made it through 5 pieces or so before having to call it quits. 

That is one big burger!
And today, to quickly explain those burger pictures, we went to the most highly recommended café in Luxembourg to celebrate the year mark of Elder Gomez. It was easily the best burger I've eaten here in Europe.

So, overall, a heavy, fattening week, but a really good one. :) I've really gotta run, so I'll just say goodbye here. Looks like you guys all had a pretty good thanksgiving yourselves back in the states! I love you all, and until next week!

Elder Bigler

Other Photos - More pictures of Adam at the Luxembourg Fortress

Elder Gomez and his One Year Mark
Celebratory Huge Hamburger