Monday, March 30, 2015

"It Feels Like Warm Water is Running Into My Heart"

Hey guys!

So, it was a pretty crazy week this week, and one that is going to be a little hard to sum up, but I'll try to give you the highlights. :)

Enjoying the Beach
First off, I was thankfully able to get my BYU schedule more or less crammed together, which was a huge blessing, and honestly, kind of a miracle! I really had no idea what I was doing, but in the end it all worked out super smoothly. So, thanks so much for all the help from your end getting that worked out, especially Dad, I know you did a ton of stuff for it. It's still a little crazy to think that after all this time (it was just over three years ago now that I was denied for the first time) I'll finally be going there this fall. It's a little daunting, but it's still a while away, and a while after the mission even, so I'll worry about it later. 

Tuesday consisted of a lot of calling, since we're trying to contact every one of our old amis and potential amis to see who's still interested. It's kind of slow moving work, but it really helps us get things going. In the afternoon we had a rendezvous with one of the people we had called, the family Kapenda. It was a little tricky to teach much at all with the five little kids running around, but we got by and we have another rendezvous set up for this evening.

Wednesday was District Meeting, and I was in charge of giving the little training that we do, and I was super stressed out about it, mostly cause I was just worried if what I had prepared would take up enough time and be useful to the other missionaries, but in the end it worked out really well. I had the idea to share the story of Joffrey from the Elder Evans days, right out of my journal. That experience really brought the Spirit and really helped it all work out. Later that afternoon, we had an appointment with a woman named Ulika, who was having a hard time understanding why we don't pray to the Virgin Mary, and, honestly, we were having a hard time explaining it. It's tricky when things doctrinal points come down to someone's opinion of how it should be. Hopefully we'll be able to see her again and give a more thorough answer... then that evening we went to the YSA activity for the ward, where they always play ping-pong and make pancakes, which was fun and a good chance to get to know some of the members a little better.

Thursday was super complicated. We had a service project in the morning, about an hour away from where we live, and about 45 minutes there, we learn that it's cancelled. But we're still invited over for lunch, so, we go the 45 minutes back home, study the scriptures for an hour, and then head right back all the way there...but it was a good lunch with Frère Miranda, from Portugal. The tofu was a little interesting, but other than that, it was super good and SUPER filling. I think my stomach has stretched to at least twice its original size on the mission.

Friday was a really simple day overall, with DMP meeting in the evening, which took up a chunck of time, but it was good. Nothing major happened that day.

Saturday was exchanges with Elder Sumsion! That was a super busy day, so I'll just skip to the end to talk about the good stuff. We had a rendezvous, in english, with one of his equipe's amis, named Andy. They've been really working with him to get him to feel the spirit and to get an answer to his prayers, so we had planned on talking about that. But as the lesson started, we both felt like we should talk about the spirit instead. Unfortunately, neither of us had brought any english pamphlets or scriptures or anything (we got a little behind earlier in the day and weren't able to stop back in at the apartment to grab anything). So, Elder Sumsion pulled out his english Preach My Gospel, and we taught right out of that, from the Gift of the Holy Ghost section. It turned out to actually be a very powerful lesson, and we ended up talking about how God can answer prayers and sharing different experiences of how God had answered our prayers. After a particular story that I shared Andy said "It feels like warm water is running into my that what you're talking about?" Oh man, we were so excited! The Spirit was so strong you could almost touch it, and we testified to him about how important that feeling was and how it was something he could have with him always through baptism and confirmation. It was a beautiful, sacred experience that I got to live on our exchange. Afterwards, Andy and actually took us to a chinese buffet and ended up paying for us, to thank us for all that we do for him. He's such a solid guy.

Nothing super major happened Sunday. Just a lot of classic Bretagne rain, and lots and lots of running to buses (they don't come often at all on Sunday, so we couldn't really afford to miss them). I think I ended up doing more physical exercise yesterday than a normal day thanks to all of that. But it had to be done so that we could fit everything in. My French really feels like it's just picked right back up this last week in Rennes. It's like I can kind of feel it all coming back from what I lost in Luxembourg. It's nice to know that it wasn't lost for good. :)

And today we went to the fortress/castle at Saint Malo, which was tons of fun! I'll have to maybe tell all the sotries of today later, because they were pretty good, but I just don't have any more time! I hope you enjoy the pictures though! I got just a little wet taking some of them (my feet are still wet as I type...). Anyway, I hope you guys have a great week and I'll talk to you soon!

Elder Bigler

Photos of Saint Malo

The Long Dry Walk to Saint Malo
Batman Guarding the Fortress of Saint Malo
The Hard Way Into the Castle

Saint Malo Entrance
Scenic Shot of Adam at Saint Malo

Sometime When You Explore
You Get Your Feet Wet
Shout Out to Mom

Scanning the Horizon
Elder Kelley, Elder Sumsion, Elder Blais, and Adam
Not sure of the actual order of appearance.

The Beach Front Fortress Wall
The Only Way Back to Dry Land
Was a Wet Foot Bridge

And it was a wet walk back

Batman and His "Mussels"

Monday, March 23, 2015

New City - Rennes, France

Bonjour mes chers amis!

I don't have a ton of time this week (I don't know if I've ever written an email that didn't say that in it somewhere), but I'm gonna do my best to explain my move across the country (out of the country, actually) and everything that's come along with it.

Righteous Graffiti - "Mission for the Lord"
First off, my last couple days in Lëtzebuerg were great! I got to say goodbye to the young adults, go eat a nice big burger with some members and Sarah, our neighbor/amie. We had a lesson with Du Wei and Diana, so I said goodbye to them there. I got to stop in at the Olivers' place one last time, and then I finished it all off with one last visit with the Oates. I was so sad to have so many "lasts" in one day, but I'm so thankful for the opportunity I had to serve these people. It was an amazing ride, and one I'll never forget.

Tuesday night I was up pretty late packing (I didn't have any time before that), and we woke up at 5 to catch our TGV. Really short night, so it was nice to have a chance to sleep on the train. Once I got to Paris, I said goodbye to Elder Jenness (he's training this transfer, so he had to go to a meeting to get his blue), but then realized that I still had the phone, so I had to run up above ground to give it to him. I got to talk to Elder Stucki before he went home, and see a couple other mission friends. It's always fun to navigate Paris again, and realize how much I've grown, even if it's just in navigational skills. I talked to Elder Perry for a good half hour or so (we had a really big layover between trains), and it was awesome to see what kind of missionary he's becoming. He wasn't super fond of some of the rules at the beginning of his mission, but he's becoming a really good example for the missionaries he works with. He even helped me a little with some of the questions I've been having. He's one of my best friends, that Tahitian guy. :)

Anyway, once it was about time to catch our train, Elder Kelley and I headed over to the other side of Paris (the Montparnasse gare) and made it just in time. After a really short train ride to Rennes (short because I slept through it all), we get out and find out that a big strike of the bus system is going on! We catch one of the few running buses, which was the one that should have been going to our apartment, but it takes a different route and starts driving in the opposite direction! After a few minutes of that, it hits major traffic and essentially stops a few minutes later. The driver was attempting to take a route around the centreville so that we could avoid the strike, but apparently so was everyone else, so literally no one was moving. The police even couldn't get through, so they finally got out of their cars and started running to whatever was happening! It was a really warm welcome to Rennes. :)

Eventually, we came to the conclusion that it would be faster to walk, so we just got out and started dragging all of my luggage across the entire city of Rennes (we were now on the opposite side of where we lived). Special shout out to Kipp for getting me the good luggage, otherwise I don't know if we would have made it. Eventually we were able to make it home and I was able to drop off my stuff just long enough to head off to the young adults activity here in Rennes, which was a lot different than the one in Lux, mostly because it was in French, and fast French too! For a minute (or six months maybe) I forgot how fast the French really speak. It took me a little bit of work to focus in and really understand what they were saying, but then replying became the next challenge... But I feel like my French is back up to par, thanks to just the last couple days. I had a lot of practice since I got here, probably more than I would've had in two or three weeks in Lux. So, it's been good.

The next day, work started just like normal. The Zone Leaders kind of want me to take charge with Ward Council, since they're often gone and everything, so I got sent in there my second evening, before I even knew anything about the ward or anyone. I was acting as the representative of their équipe and ours, so I was pretty stressed, but in the end, my time in the business-y world of Lux helped out and I was able to present what I needed to without any problems. 

The day after, we had a really cool lesson with an ami named Alex. He's just started believing in God and is so sincere in everything that he talks about. We taught him the Restoration and invited him to pray at the end and during his prayer he said "I know I haven't talked to you much, it's only been two weeks that I believe in you, but I really feel you in my life right now. I hope that you can bless me to continue to feel this way and teach me that this is all true" It was one of the most sincere and heart-felt prayers I've heard in a long time. I'm really excited to keep helping him grow.

Spring in Rennes, France
Beyond that, it was just the usual weekend, church and everything. I should probably tell you about the other aspects of my life before I have to finish, so Mom doesn't have to ask me the same questions every week for two months. :) So, I'm in a four-man apartment now, like I told you, and Elder Kelley and I live with Elders Sumsion and Blais. Elder Kelley is from Arizona and is a super fun guy! He knows how to do missionary work really well, and he's working really hard to learn French. He's only been here 7 weeks so far, but you can hardly tell. Elder Sumsion is from Kaysville and Elder Blais is from Canada, so he's a francophone. That makes for lots of fun half-french, half-english conversations in our apartment. They're both super good missionaries, and they'll be awesome to live with. The apartment is super nice (for a missionary apartment) too! Located in a really nice area, but I doubt google maps can get you there through street view, so I'll probably have to send you some pictures. The ward is great, just like Elder Evans said! They're a little bit smaller than Luxembourg, but still a pretty good size. I'm doing my best to try to get to know them as fast as I can. I have big plans for my time here, and knowing them well is a key part of that. I'm really excited to be here, and loving life so far! It's scary to think that I have a real deadline in this ville, but I'm gonna do my best to leave a good mark before that day comes. 

I hope you guys make it a great week and I'll talk to you soon!
Elder Bigler

Monday, March 16, 2015

Leaving Luxembourg


So, as you can tell, I ran out of time to finish everything up. Transfers make life suddenly a ton busier. So, I should probably tell you about those, since I didn't cover that in my journal yet... (Adam sent us photos of his Journal for the past week. We did not include them because they would be too hard to read as photos in the Blog.)

Outside the Church in Luxembourg
First off, I am getting transferred. As hard as that is. Leaving this place is gonna be tough, and I'm already getting all sentimental as we walk around the city ("Oh, remember that one time, right here, when that drunk guy got beer on us as he shook our hands for being such good people? That was a good day...") and I really don't want to leave the members. They're such wonderful people, and they've treated us with so much love here. Having a ward that has a primary, and a youth program, that's been great. And one full of people that serve each other so much, I don't know if you could find another like it within this mission. They're not perfect, that's for sure, but they seem to be truly doing their best. 

The culture itself has been amazing as well. As I like to say it, the culture of Luxembourg IS culture. Having a big mix of cultures, pretty much EVERY culture, all in the same city, is something just magical to me. It's not like in America, where we're kind of a "melting pot". Nothing seems to really "melt" together, but just sit side by side, more like a salad or something, to take the analogy a little farther. I've tried to describe what it feels like here, and the two closest things I've come up with are Narnia and the Twilight Zone. It just, at least to me, to walk through all the different conversations in all the different languages. It's a feeling I'm really gonna miss, and one I really hope to feel again someday when I come back to visit. ;)

The Long Journey Across France - Again
Now, second, where I'm going. You guys remember Lorient, right? No, not back there, but kind of close actually. I'll be serving in the Rennes (pronounced renn) ward, back in Bretagne! So, that means yet ANOTHER big move across the country. It's a pretty big city, one of the biggest in France, if I remember right, and it has a metro and everything. There are a grand total of FOUR missionary équipes (companionships) in the ward there, so it'll be a little different than Luxembourg. I'll be in a 4 man apartment again (it's been a long time now) with the Zone Leaders. They, my companion and I, and the two équipes of soeurs make up our district, so we'll just be doing district meeting and zone conference in our own ville (makes for a lot less traveling than Luxembourg). If you remember, Rennes is where Elder Evans went to serve after he left Nogent. It's gonna be a really lively place, and a really French place, which is a great place to finish a mission. My French hasn't exactly improved in my time in Luxembourg, so I'm hoping to really dig in with the last 4 or so months that I have to really get good at French. 

Third, my companion is named Elder Kelley. I don't really know much about him yet except that it's his second transfer in the field (so he's been out about 6 weeks). That makes the difference between us easily the biggest of any of my companions so far. But I look forward to getting to know him, as well as the new area and members.

So, I'll be leaving Luxembourg Wednesday morning, catching a TGV at 6:40, and I'll be heading back into familiar territory, La France! Let me know if you have any questions or anything. It's gonna be another great adventure, and, as sad as I am to leave Luxembourg, one I'm really looking forward to.

Elder Bigler

Photos - Adam was short on letter time this week due to a trip to the 800 Year-Old Vianden Castle in Northeastern Luxembourg for his last P-Day there.  Here are a number of those photos from his visit and final days in Luxembourg.

A Nutella Covered Belgian Waffle (I think)

The Metz District Elders Showing Their Transfer Numbers

Would you believe it? Another Bentley

The Crest of the Vianden Castle

Elder Bigler and the Scenic View of the Castle

Elder Jenness and Elder Bigler

Storming the Castle

It's Really Not That Big

Castle Selfie

Is this the home of the Beast?

Beautiful View of the Castle

More Serious Castle Selfie

Spending time in the Stocks

Room with a View

The Stocks Can't Hold Batman

Long Hallway with lots of Views

Beautiful Interior Architecture

What? No Bidet?

Batman Protecting the French Gotham City

He is Always Watching from the Shadows

Adam likes artistic photos.  This is a great shot.


Approaching Vianden Castle

What a great place to live - by the river and
in the shadow of the castle.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Little Miracles

Moien everybody!

On the Outskirts of Luxembourg City
It's just been an incredibly beautiful week here in Luxembourg, with the sun shining a lot (well, at least for Europe) and the people starting to defrost a little bit. The psychological effects of the cold have been really tough to get past as a missionary. Not so much on myself, but the effect that they have on others. When it's cold, the number of people that are outside plummets, and on top of that, those that ARE outside, don't want to be outside. Trying to stop someone on the street, even for a five minute conversation, becomes quite a feat. But, just like the flowers are starting to bud and blossom, the people are showing up again. They're smiling a little more, and walking just a little bit slower. The sun really has a power to penetrate through that sometimes icy shell and warm them up enough to let us in.

Unfortunately, that makes people start to get a little bit busier as well, and can lead to such things as, for example, 6 of your 10 rendez-vous falling through at the last minute. Or people staying out a little later, sleeping in a little too much, and missing church. So, we've had our ups and downs this past week. On Thursday when we taught our ami Maggy, I realized that I hadn't had more than a 30 second conversation in French in almost 4 days, and I'm sure she could tell. I hadn't felt myself struggle to find my words in French in a while. But it was a really good lesson because her husband, who's a member, sat in with us for the first time in a while. 

Kind of a side note here, but I want to share this little experience. Towards the end of the lesson, as usual, we asked if there was anything we could do for them. Brother Wies turned to Maggy and asked, in Luxembourgish, if she would like a blessing, because she was a little sick. After they talked for a few seconds, he turned back to us and said, in French again, no, they were okay. He never explained to us that he had asked her to receive a blessing, but somehow I understood this sweet question he asked to his wife. Later on in the week, we crossed a couple Italian members, and a similar thing happened as they gave us their numbers and double checked with each other, in Italian, if they had given us the right area code. Then it happened again on Sunday with couple of members that speak Spanish in our ward (I still don't usually understand Spanish). Little miracles, you could call them, like this, seem to keep happening more and more as Elder Jenness and I work harder and harder to be effective and obedient in our work. The work doesn't get any easier, sometimes it actually gets harder, but we're able to see the little, tender mercies of the Lord and know that he watches over us in our work.

Classic Door Knocking Photo
I know I haven't really talked about Elder Jenness that much, so I'll take a minute to help you guys get to know him. He's from Indiana, I think I mentioned, and he comes from a family of 10 siblings. He's kind of grown up on a farm, so he's a lot tougher than I am when it comes to stuff like that... He played the saxophone as well, and did marching band, but he also did football. He's really been talking about trying to become a pilot, but he loves cars too (that's probably one of our number one conversation subjects). He's been a great guy to work with. He reminded me, at the beginning, a lot of Jacob Whitchurch, which helped us to get along really well. It was like I already knew him! As is normal with a new companion, we had a few run-ins the first couple weeks, trying to work out the different ways that we do missionary work. He's got a very straight-forward, by-the-book approach, and I prefer a little more evenly paced, thoughtful approach. One of the hardest and best things as a missionary is finding your own specific way that you can apply what is taught in Preach My Gospel to use your specific talents, strengths, and gifts to their fullest potential. But we all have different ones, and sometimes it takes some balancing to figure that out. He's really helped me so much to get closer to my potential as a missionary. I've struggled a lot on my mission to be independent and do my best when those around me aren't really trying, but Elder Jenness has helped to better see how to do that and the importance of it. He's a really strong personality, but I'm so thankful for that. He's really helped me to get myself set up for the last quarter of my mission, to really dig in and live up to my potential. He's been exactly the companion I needed right now.

Like you guys were mentioning, transfers are going to be next Wednesday. We find out this Saturday where we're going, and for me, that most likely means where I'm going to finish my mission. I really wish I could stay here for the rest of it. I'm having so much fun, while at the same time I feel like I'm doing more to help others and strengthen the ward than I have anywhere else. It's going to be really hard to leave, but I'm gonna have to leave eventually... So, next Monday I'll be able to tell you where I'll be headed off to (if we're not too busy with the Vianden Castle), and the fun begins all over again. Luxembourg continues to blow my mind every day.

Elders Bigler and Jenness with
Stake President Rodriguez and Family
The other day, when we were at the Stake President's house, President Rodriguez, we were all speaking French to each other, when they're babysitter came over and started speaking Spanish to the parents. Then, as she sat down and started to talk to the kids, all of a sudden the entire conversation switched into German, even the kids, and no one even seemed to really notice (except Elder Jenness and me). Things like that are completely normal here, and just add to the overall magic of this beautiful country. I could talk about it forever (as they say in our mission, the Elders that serve in Luxembourg rant and rave about it for the rest of their missions). 

I'm really just looking forward to hearing where I get to spend the rest of my mission. It's always nerve-wracking to find out, but I know it's gonna be a great 4 and half months. So far, and I think I'd be safe in saying that it's gonna stay this way, going on a mission has been the best decision I ever could have made. Like you said mom, we're still boys, still learning to be adults. We still have fun, we still goof around and laugh at the same things boys laugh at, but there's something different that I occasionally notice within myself, something that the mission gave to me. I don't feel like I've miraculously become a mature man, but I sure have learned things that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else, at a rate that I couldn't have achieved anywhere else. 

I appreciate all the work you guys are doing back home for me, especially helping me to get this whole college thing worked out. I pray for you guys every day, and talk about you at every opportunity I get. Keep workin' hard and havin' fun!

Elder Bigler


Quiet Back Street of Luxembourg

Adam in a Thoughtful Pose

A Luxembourgish Whopper

Luxembourgish Dunkin' Donuts

Brother and Sister Turner
Providers of Whopper and Donuts

Elder Rogers and Elder Stark
"Another Ferrari...I'm up to 25 sightings in luxembourg now, in 5 months, compared to 8 in the 14 previous months of my mission"

Adam's Favorite Bentley

"Big Circly Thing"
Really Old and Cool