Monday, January 26, 2015

Real Intent

Hey everybody!

Good week this week, and a pretty tough one to sum up...we had two exchanges, I was with Elder Lattin on Tuesday and Elder Mosley on Friday, which made for lots of fun. They're both really sweet guys, and awesome missionaries, and Elder Mosley came into the mission at the same time as me, so it was cool to see how much he's grown. Unfortunately, however, he got kind of sick from the clams and shrimp we ate at a Chinese member's house that night...

Things are going really well here in Luxembourg lately! The work's really been picking up, and I really know the members well. I feel like I'm having the most fun of my mission, while doing the most good. It's just a wonderful feeling!

You guys asked what I would say to an investigator who had diligently read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it and felt nothing. There are a lot different things that could be keeping someone from receiving an answer, I guess. We can say that the answer doesn't always come as quickly or in the way that we want. God accomplishes his works in His time, and that time is not always our own. I've seen people receive an answer, or at least, to me it seemed that they had received it, but they just hadn't or wouldn't realize it. Personally, I like to focus on making sure that the person understands what is meant by "real intent". That phrase is really the key for me. One of the General Authorities that came and visited us talked a lot about that. "Real intent" doesn't just mean that we really want to receive an answer, or that we pray really hard or really long. It means that we are ready to act in accordance with the answer that we receive. On my mission, the number one thing that has stopped people from receiving an answer that they were praying to have was simply that they weren't ready to put their life in accordance with the answer they were trying to receive. Obviously, someone is much better off if they don't have any drug or alcohol or law of chastity problems that they need to give up, but maybe there are some other little things, things that we all have, that keep one close to, but not 100% on the path towards our Father. Another part of real intent is consistency. I think doing really well by reading scriptures often and trying to obey the commandments and doing the little things we are asked to do also can help. All of these things, combined with sincere, fervent, consistent prayer, show to the Lord our sincerity and desire to have the great blessing that is a confirmation of our testimony. 

Honestly, it's a pretty hard question to answer, and one that really depends on the person. It takes a lot of prayer, relfection, study, and effort to get a testimony. It's a pretty big question to ask, and something that stops a lot of people from ever reaching a testimony because they give up. But the feelings of discouragement and wanting to give up don't come from our Father. It takes diligence and hope to receive it. For some, it comes quickly, for others, it takes time. But the important thing is that the person doesn't give up. I found out a few weeks back that the guy Yannick that we used to teach in Nogent is still coming to church and still seeing the missionaries occasionally because he wants to find that answer. I had some of the most powerful spiritual confirmations of the Book of Mormon there with him in his apartment, but he never seemed to feel what I was feeling. But, despite that, he's still looking, and I know he'll find his answer one of these days.

I hope that helped a little answer your question and I hope you all enjoy a good last week of January!

Elder Bigler

Monday, January 19, 2015

One Simple Contact in the Rain

Hey guys!

I only have literally a couple minutes today, I got caught up emailing Carson (Hatch), who I guess has been home from his mission for a few weeks! It's cool to talk to an old friend in French. :)

Courtesy Luxembourg Tourist Office
This week things picked up even more! After our exchange in Metz, we went contacting out in the rain for a couple hours and there found a young man from Cameroon named Rigal. he seemed interested, but with the rain and everything we just got his number and went our separate ways. We called him the next day and set up a rendezvous for Saturday. We weren't sure if he would come or not, since that's often how it goes for first rendezvous, but he did! we caught a bus from there to the church and gave him a tour there and taught him the restoration. When we pulled out the pamphlets to start he said "Why didn't you give this to me before? I could have read it and been more prepared!" That was a really special moment for us that really showed us his desire to learn. After what was probably one of the most inspired and smooth lessons on the restoration either of us had ever taught, we invited him to church and he came yesterday! We'll be seeing him again this wednesday and hoping that he can keep learning and coming to church. It was truly a miracle for us to see all of our weeks and weeks of work come into fruition like that, through one simple contact in the rain that introduced us to Rigal. 

Overall, things are going really well here in Luxembourg. I'm kind of feeling like i'm gonna get transferred soon here, and I'm gonna be really sad to leave. It's been such a fun ride here. But I'm always excited and looking forward to what the future has to hold for me!

Elder Bigler camera's dead, so no picture's this week...SO sorry. I have one of me with a Lamborghini I think you guys will like. ;) Until next week!

And a Quick Email Exchange Between Adam and His Mom

Adam:Just to quickly answer your questions (cause I ALWAYS forget):

If you could meet with them, the White's I believe, I would really like to have 

Yeah, I got my package from Grandma! It was super nice of her, and I've already eaten everything. :) And I really like the fuzzy socks she sent me for wearing around the apartment. :)

Yeah, let me know about that Kalin thing, that's crazy!

The sales ARE happening, just on a German schedule here, but it's basically the same. I could use a little bit of money, just cause there are a couple little things I want, but what I'm really hoping is to just get a little bit of birthday money to use on my very last soldes right before I come home. Also, I don't remember the pin code for my card, so, could you get that to me somehow?

And really, I think I'm gonna be leaving here next transfer. The transfer day would be the 4th of February. I really hope I go to Belgium next, but I don't know if I'll be that lucky. Wherever I go, it'll probably be my last ville. 

And I'm mostly warm. This week I've been a little cold cause I left my coat with Sister Jalloh who is shortening my sleeves for me (those darn Bigler genes...). But I should be getting that back this week!

Mom: Dude!  You didn't finish your sentence!  If we see the White's you would really like to have......
What?!?  You would really like to have what?  Don't leave us hanging like that!  :)

Adam: I actually don't really know! Most things I want are here... A box of pop-tarts? I don't really need much... sister oates kind of thought that you had something really important to give to me, she felt really bad about not being able to get back to you in time. but really, I'm mostly okay...

Mom: Ok, now there is a brother discussion going on about what flavor of pop tarts you would like the best.  A little help here??

Adam: The double chocolate fudge ones I think? or cinnamon or cookie dough. something like that. Not cherry.

Mom: Nobody likes cherry.  Thanks.  have a great week!

And since there were no new photos from Adam, here's a couple we know he will enjoy.

The Brothers with a Ferrari
Utah Auto Show

Even Better was the BMW i8.
Adam would be jealous.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Missionary Work Q & A

Hey everyone!

For my letter this week, based on popular request (well, mostly just Dad), I thought I'd provide a little more detail on my day to day life this week, even some of the boring parts. So I'm gonna make this a kind of Q and A thing...

Do the members help much with finding new people or go with you to appointments?

Here, more than anywhere else I've been on my mission, the members really do all that they can to invite their friends to learn about the Gospel and to eventually meet with us. Granted, that mostly has to do with the American and British members. The other, more European ones, they're kind of on the same level as the French. The Oliver family, for example, almost literally invites all of their friends to meet with us or gives us their address so we can go visit them. They're amazing! As far as going to appointments, that one's a little bit harder. A lot of them are really busy, working in Luxembourg and all, and a lot of them just have really dynamic schedules that make it hard to organize. But we do pretty well here, compared to France.

What do you do when you have nothing scheduled to do?

Well, to be honest, that's about half the time here, if not more. The hard thing here in transportation. We're only really able to fit in one appointment in the entire 3 hour evening block. So, having just a few things to do during the week takes up most of our time. And, as Preach My Gospel says, we fill all of our empty time with contacting and porting. Our usual contacting approach in the streets is "Hi, my name is Elder Bigler and I'm from the United States. I'm here to share a message about Jesus Christ because I know that He lives and I know how important he is in each of our lives." Or something along those lines, we change it up to not be all scripty. The big sign thing is what the Jehovah's Witnesses do here, and it seems to work well for them, but we're kind of trying to avoid looking like them, so we don't do it at all.
Here in Luxembourg, we don't do as much door knocking as we do contacting, just because people are almost always eating (they eat around 7 or 8, which is when we're out) and because they semi-often call the police...contacting is a little better for us here, but pretty much anyone who's outside these days, with the cold and everything, is either on their way to work, home, or the get food. It makes it a little bit harder, but we keep talking to everyone who crosses our path. 

Most of our days, after studies, start with an hour and a half of contacting, then lunch for an hour, then a few more hours of contacting until dinner at 5, unless we have a lesson in that time period, which isn't very often. Lately, we've been spending a half hour to an hour making calls of old investigators from our area book, and that's been going well. And, usually, here in Luxembourg, after dinner we have some sort of rendezvous to go to, or, we skip the dinner hour and have dinner with someone at 6 or 7. In between all of that, we spend a lot of time on buses and trains, going from place to place. We probably ride 8 to 10 different buses on an average day, and take the train a couple times a week. 

Really, a lot of the time we spend isn't really that exciting to recount in my letters so I usually skip over it. :) But, we are always working. 

Vianden Castle Luxembourg
On Adam's To See List
Well, this has actually turned into kind of a lame letter, but I thought it would be good give a little more detail about things. The Elder's Mom on facebook is probably Elder Libby's mom, he's the blond one in my district (I think I sent a photo of us from last transfer). And I'm definitely gonna check out the castle in Vianden before I leave! It's one of the things I pretty much have to do.

I've really got to get going now, unfortunately. The days always go so fast! I love you guys and I think of you always. Don't worry about all the stuff that went down in Paris, we're totally fine here in Luxembourg. Have a good week and keep up the good work!

Elder Bigler

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bonne Année! (Happy New Year!)

Hey Guys!

At the Ward New Year's Party
It sounds like it was a pretty quick week for all of us! With the new year coming in, and all the festivities and food associated with it, it moves pretty fast. This last week was a pretty good one for us here in Luxembourg. We finally got to see Steven again, and he's doing great, we had a little New Year's Eve party at church, with movies and dancing and everything, New Year's Day we mostly spent at the Rodriguez' place, where got to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 (in French) and eat lots of delicious food. The next day we had a cleaning check for our apartment, and weekly planning. Saturday the senior couple came back with a few supplies for us, and Sunday we had lunch with the Elenes family. Aside from that, we spent all the rest of our time out talking to people in the street and knocking on their doors (or, mostly just pushing their sonnerie buttons). It's been a couple rough weeks here in Luxembourg, as far as teaching goes. I feel like Elder Jenness and I are both working hard to be the best, most obedient missionaries that we can be, but between the cold, the holidays, and the language barriers, we've been struggling to find many people who will take a few minutes to listen to our message. It's interesting, kind of frustrating sometimes how that happens. It seems like when we're really trying our hardest, working consistently and diligently to fulfill our potential, that's often when the real trials come. To me, that's because, when we're the closest to achieving and receiving the blessings that our Father in heaven has for us, that's when the Adversary tries HIS hardest to stop us from making it to that point. Breaking through that barrier, breaking free of that hold is what makes all the difference. I've been reading Jesus the Christ a lot lately, and in there, you can really see, time and time again, how Christ is able to do that. To put off the natural man, to resist temptation, to confound those who oppose him. It makes you really see why it's after Him that we try to model ourselves. That's one of my biggest goals for this year, to better understand my Savoir so that I can better follow his example.

Luxembourg in Snow
(Courtesy Luxembourg Tourist Office Facebook Page)
Aside from that, with the New Year, I've set a bunch of goals. We have this thing in the mission (and probably most missions) called "six months to sexy", which is pretty self-explanatory. Lots more exercising and a few less kebabs... I'm flossing every day, and I'm trying to read my scriptures a little every night before bed, to build that habit. They say that it's the last quarter of your mission that will really set the habits that will affect you through the rest of your life, so I'm trying to do my best to set myself up for success.

I'm glad that you guys got my package! I was SO excited to be able to finally send you guys something. I wanted to keep it a surprise, and it sounds like it worked. :) The flag I sent, unfortunately, was too tall to fit in the box, so I had to cut it down a little... I hope it's still kind of useful. And I wanted to add a couple little P.S. to the package:

Tyler: I got that happy buddha here in Lux at a Christmas market! So, not only is it good luck to rub his belly, but it's from Luxembourg too! I was just a few cents short of being able to buy a bigger one, so I hope you don't lose him! Remember to smile as much as he does. :)

Kevin: That Arc de Triomphe is really special. It was given to me at the beginning of my mission by the Poznanski's, who are some of my favorite people in the world. They wanted us all to have to remind us of what Napoleon said, that we "will only return home under arches of victory". (It sounds cooler in French.) It represents the idea of finishing a full two year mission and doing it with honor.

Brian: Sorry that there wasn't a little extra present in there for you. I was trying to make it all fair for everyone, I just got you a present for your birthday. I hope you still had fun with you Kinder surprise eggs!

Anyway, I hope that got some smiles going, I had lots of fun trying to gather it all together. Sorry I forgot a letter for the bird, I always forget that we have one... I've only got a few weeks left here in Luxembourg, normally, so I'm trying to take advantage of what time I have left. Thanks for all the pictures and emails, they really help me look forward to P-day. Keep going on the school work and all that. Keep praying and reading those scriptures. :) Have a good week! 

Elder Bigler

Hot Car Photo of the Week (Does everyone drive one of these in Luxembourg?)

Lotus in Luxembourg