Monday, May 25, 2015

Good Week of Work and Zone Conference

Happy Memorial Day!

Here in France, today is Pentecost, which, for the French, pretty much just means yet another (this makes four) day out of the month that you don't have to work. They really like to take breaks here. :)

This week started off really well for us! After we finished our emails, Elder Kelley and I went to pass by some amis in the area we were in, and that worked out really well for us (meaning, they were actually home), and we were able to teach both of them. We had planned to do just that, and that planning really paid off, and we were able to start off the week feeling really good!

From then on, we really did our best throughout the week to plan effectively and thoroughly, so that we would be ready for appointments to fall through or even for different questions that our amis could potentially ask us. We've really been trying to refocus ourselves on what our investigators need, trying to take a step back and think about what's really holding them back. As we've done that, and set specific goals to help them get past these concerns, we've really started to see people grow.

Wednesday afternoon I had what was my second to last interview with Président Babin and his wife, leaving only the one that will take place in the mission home the night before I catch that plane. For us, "interviews" are really just a chance to talk to Président and to get to ask any questions that we may have, and to simply have that one on one time with our president that we really don't get very often with 250 missionaries. Usually, I come out of there feeling really uplifted and ready to work even more, feeling like I can do it and that I'm accomplishing something.

Rennes Zone Conference
Adam 3rd Row
The next day, Zone Conference was focused a lot more on the practical, tactical side of things, teaching skills and how to properly present a scripture and stuff like that, instead of our potential as missionaries, the power we are given, or the love that the Lord has for us.

The week went on after Zone Conference and we went right to work applying what they taught us, and really trying to effectively and thoroughly plan for our lessons. With Ward Council that night, we ended up at the church again, and happened to see that two more missionaries and our President and his wife were still there...turned out that their interview with Soeur Babin went on too long and they missed the last train of the evening home, so Président kindly gave all four of us a ride home and they (the other Elders) stayed the night with us and the APs, who were doing an exchange with the ZLs in our apartment. 

Yesterday at church we had a family from Australia visiting, and I got asked to translate for them, which is always a tiring the very end, during sacrament meeting, the high-councilor that was speaking gave one of the hardest to translate talks that I've ever heard! He kept starting a sentence and then changing subjects and then coming back, but from a different angle...basically, I just tried to give the general message to the family at that point. But they appreciated my efforts and thanked me at the end. :) 

Well, at this point I'm kind of just rambling about whatever comes into my mind...we made some super good pulled pork this last week, and that made some really good burritos. Um...I really don't know what else to say. My thoughts are pretty disorganized today, and I'm pretty tired. We played soccer this afternoon and it wore us all out I think. But it was tons of fun and hopefully it helps to get rid of the nice collar tan line that we're all getting. 

Anyway, I'm about out of time, so I'll say goodbye. I hope you guys have a great day driving around the state! I know that I used to always look forward to Memorial day for that big drive, even though I didn't always know where Snowville was... :) Tyler, have fun graduating from high school! You only get to do it once. Take tons of pictures, with everybody, lots of selfies if you have to! Make it a great week!

Elder Bigler

One more from Zone Conference

Monday, May 18, 2015

Learning to Pace Myself

Hey guys!

The Lake Outside the Missionary Apartment
This week, assuming I spend the rest of my mission here in Rennes, marks the halfway mark of my time here. It's a pretty crazy thought for me to think about how fast that's gone so far and how potentially fast the rest of the time could go. I really don't want this to come to an end. It's such a special, blessing-filled experience, and one that I'll never really get to experience again. 

That being said, that doesn't mean that, after 21 and a half months of doing this, I'm still as full of energy and fire as when I started. I'd say that one of the hardest parts of being a missionary is simply finding how to pace yourself correctly so that you can make it through the 24 months. A lot like running that half-marathon almost two years ago, I've had to really focus on applying the right amount of energy. Of course, we want to give all that we have to the Lord, every day, but a missionary needs to know how to pace himself. Elder Holland says it really well in a quote I've been thinking a lot about lately: "To raise our families and serve faithfully in the Church [specifically, as missionaries, I add], all without running faster than we have strength, require wisdom, judgment, divine help—and inevitably some sacrifice."

Two weeks ago, my pace was a little off. I was pushing myself too hard and trying to do too much all at once, and, as a result, nothing was really coming to fruition because I just had too much on my plate. I would wake up to the alarm after what felt like only a few minutes of sleep and jump out of bed only to feel my feet still sore and achy from the day before, and I'd find myself getting frustrated with myself because I felt like I was working my hardest and it wasn't doing anything. I came to the realization that I was maybe trying a little too hard. So, this last week, I tried to correct myself and balance back out for the few months that lie ahead.

Unfortunately, as the week went on, we still weren't seeing any results. After a couple days of this, I realized that, although I felt much better physically, I was still spiritually low. I didn't feel like I was accomplishing my purpose, and this time, because I wasn't doing enough. I had grown complacent in just a few short days and I let myself slip into a state of "slothfulness" as the scriptures sometimes call it. 

As I've studied Preach My Gospel over the course of my mission, one of the interesting things that has stuck out to me is that is never says that you need to work hard as a missionary, something which really surprised me at first. But, as I "age" and mature as a missionary, I really am coming to understand why the manual teaches to work  effectively, and how our that is really the secret to pacing oneself throughout the mission.

This past Saturday, I had an exchange with Elder Blais, who, by my definition, is the image of effective missionary work. This exchange was really full of miracles, and it's something that I'll have to talk about more another time. But the primary miracle that came from it is the pace that Elder Blais was able to help me set. He really helped to show me how I can give all of my heart, might, mind, and strength without burning out or running on empty before the time the Lord has given me runs out. I'm looking forward to this week, and the rest of my mission thanks to the example of wisdom, judgement, and sacrifice that Elder Blais helped me to see.

Of course, as we go through life and apply this same principle to our families, there are going to be ups and downs, and we should expect that. And that's where the divine help that Elder Holland spoke of comes into play. It's really in the moments where we wonder if it's possible that we need our Heavenly Father the most, when we should pray the most. But, after we pray, it's up to us to do our part as well to overcome our trials. Président Babin told us recently "Pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on you." It's this principle that can really help us to accomplish miracles in our lives.

I hope you guys have a great week, and wish Nana my best again (she had been in the hospital for a couple days but is doing better). Keep up all good work back home!

Elder Bigler


"I'm in the Dictionary"
Squint; Have Eyes Askew

The River Vilaine Running Through
The Middle of Rennes

Dinner at the Bishop's House

"It's not like I'm leaving as a lowly worker
to be a missionary"
Or some sort of Translation

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Skype and Back Up Plans

Hey guys!

Mother's Day Skype
Well...I honestly don't really know what to write. I feel like we just talked yesterday, cause we did, and this week was all kind of a blur.

You remember the word "fruge" right? The word that we use in the mission for when you get stood up, when the person who promised you they would be at such and such a place at a certain time, mysteriously vanishes, isn't there, and conveniently doesn't answer their phone when the time comes and you're standing there in the agreed place feeling disappointed, not too surprised because it happens a lot, and a little frustrated because you took out the time to go there for what feels like nothing. That word. :)

So, this week we got "fruged" a good handful of times. No big deal, it's just a part of missionary work. But this time around, Elder Kelley and I are trying to be proactive about it all and "expect the unexpected", you could say, having back-up plans for almost everything we do. If something fell through, we came prepared this week with something else to do in that area and to essentially roll with the punches that tough side of missionary work can sometimes throw at us.

So, my brief little thought for you guys this week is just how important it is to have good back-up plans. I've really gained a testimony this week of how, when things don't work out the way we want them to, that doesn't mean that they're not working out the way the Lord wants them to. As we got fruged on Thursday, we had set up to go visit someone we had been trying to contact for a while, Wedner. Finally, he was there and let us right in and we shared the message of the Restoration with him and committed him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Because we were well prepared, and wanted to do the Lord's will no matter what happened in our personal circumstances, He was able to bless us to be able to bless Wedner. He should be coming to Church this Sunday. :)

You never know how the Lord is going to guide you to those that need his help. This week I'd like to encourage you all to look around for those people that the Lord has put in your path who have need of the Gospel. Whether they're members or not, the message of Faith, Repentance, and Eternal Families, given at the moment of the Lord's will, can and will strengthen those that he has prepared.

It was awesome talking to you guys yesterday, and I love you all so much! Thank you for all that you do for, and all the support you give. Let Nana know that she's in my prayers here in France and that I love her. Keep up the good work and until next week!

Elder Bigler


The Whole Family Together for Mother's Day

Rainbow  Over Rennes

Rennes Town Square with Military Drill for
Bastille Day

Monday, May 4, 2015

Searching Hard for an Answer from God

This week I was able to live a wonderful experience, the experience of searching hard for an answer from God and seeing it come little by little.

After I finished my emails last week, and we finished our evening, I went home that night and prayerfully made a list of the positives and negatives of extending my mission, of staying and of going, whether it was four weeks or six weeks, even to the point of how it would probably be just me, taking a plane by myself. How if I extended I wouldn't get to spend my last day in Paris during soldes for some good shopping. I covered everything spiritual, physical, and emotional. I thought pretty long and hard about it all (while making cookies for Elder Sumsion's send-off; that's a good time to think), and didn't really come to any conclusion. That night, as I prayed for an answer, prayed to know what to do, I felt like I should read my Patriarchal Blessing and do the same sort of thing.

The next morning during part of my personal study time, I really dug into it. I honestly had never before really read my Patriarchal Blessing searching for a specific answer like that. It was really a sweet experience as I realized how much guidance is really given to me in there. But still, through all of that, I hadn't really come to any solid conclusion. To me, it just seemed like either option made sense. So I decided to take Dad's advice and talk to my mission president about it.

I gave Président Babin a call, but, it was Wednesday, which meant transfer day, so, between seeing off the old missionaries, and welcoming in the new ones, he was pretty busy and didn't have really any time to talk. 

But, the next morning he gave me a call back and we got to talk about it. The call with him was really the turning point for me. He explained to me that what the church requires for someone to extend their mission is a "particular reason" (translated from French, I don't know if that has the same connotation) and so he asked me about mine. I told him about how much I've loved my mission and the growth that I've been able to see in myself and others and how I really would like to accomplish more before I go home. He really let me take time to explain myself and said in response that "today is the first day of the rest of your mission". He promised me that if I do my best, right up until the very end, that I will be able to be perfectly satisfied with my mission at the end of the two transfers that I have left. At the end of our phone call, I felt quite a mixture of emotions. Why didn't he jump on the idea of having me extend? Had my extra service just been rejected? Could I really accomplish all that the Lord wants me to accomplish in just two more transfers? It really took me a few minutes to gather myself back together and put my head back into the task at hand. But I thought about what he said all throughout the day and into the evening as I said my evening prayer. I wanted a confirmation of his words, that it was really possible to do what the Lord still wants me to do in just a few short weeks. It didn't come that evening, or the next day.

This last Sunday (so yesterday) I fasted for that confirmation that I had been looking for throughout the week. It was a pretty long fast, due to our Sunday schedule, with dinner at 8:00 that night instead of 5 where we wanted it. But at the end of it all, as we prayed with one of our amis, Blaise, that we would all be able to receive the answers to our prayers, I received mine. I'll be following the council of my mission president, and really, the council that we teach to people every day, and that is, enduring to the end. Working my hardest, every day, until the very end, and that "end" is the day that the Lord assigned me when I was assigned to report to the MTC on August 7th. So, long story short, I'm coming home the day I'm supposed to be coming home, which is July 23rd. 

I'm really looking forward to the few months I have left, and all the miracles that the Lord has in store for the people of Rennes. I have an awesome companion who loves the work and is willing to put in the effort necessary, and I have wonderful, inspired leaders around me who help me catch the vision that the Lord has for his people in the North of France. I love being a missionary, especially here in Rennes. I love wearing a white shirt and tie so people can see who I am from far away, and I love even more wearing a plaque so that people can see who I am representing when I'm talking with them. But more important than those outward physical things are what's in our heart. And I pray that, even when I won't have those outward, physical signs of my calling, that people will still see something different in me, as a servant of Jesus Christ. 

I'm so thankful for His mission, and the time that He's given me to serve Him.

Elder Bigler


Not Coming Home Yet But Planning Ahead

BBQ Pineapple Burgers
That's How You End Your Fasting

Typical Building Where Adam Spends a Lot of Time
10 Buildings Each with 15 Floors

Inside an Abandoned Building on the College Campus
Nice Bulbasaur Pokemon on the Wall

Apparently the Building is No Longer Needed
Not Sure Who the Missionaries Were Looking for Inside

Fin De Chantier
(End of Construction)
Are You Sure?