Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I ate a cat

Hi family!

Sorry I forgot to send a big group email last week, I didn't even think about it until I had already logged off the computer.

This week went well. We had a lot of lessons and things to do, so time passed quickly. Tuesday we had lessons, the norm.

Wednesday was awesome! The branch from Tahaa was here at Tahiti for the temple all last week. We got to go and do baptisms for the dead with our new converts! S and H came with the branch. It was so fun to see all the members. We went early in the morning. S wasn't originally planning to come to the temple this year, so I was really excited when I found out she was coming. I pushed pretty hard for her and H to come when I was still in Tahaa. Anyways, Wednesday morning Elder J and I got to watch S be baptized in the temple for her mother. Then we had the privilege to lay our hands on S's head and give the gift of the Holy Ghost to her mom. Super cool experience! The veil is really thin. It's so neat to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I'm grateful that I was able to go to Tahaa and find S. Thanks for making me take piano lessons, Mom! :)

Thursday and Friday we had some more lessons, normal stuff.

Other notable events: a dog peed on my foot without me noticing it... I don't remember if I already told you that last week?

Thursday night we taught two new investigators, H and H. They're a younger couple with a few young kids. They were a member referral. They're super potential! We taught them the first lesson yesterday (Sunday) and they are open to the idea of baptism if they get a response that the book of Mormon is true. Teaching members' referrals is the best!

I forgot to update you all last week, but we also fixed the baptism of M, the wife of a new convert. She's been ready to get baptized for a while, but kept waiting. She's getting baptized on August 19th with her 8 year old daughter! Yay! We also started teaching M's sister, T, and her daughter K. They want to get baptized the same day as M. Also, T's husband accepted to start taking lessons too! Glory to God.

This morning Elder F, an Elder from Vanuatu who lives with us, killed, skinned, and cooked a cat for us! The zone leaders caught it on Saturday and it's been tied up outside our house all weekend. It tastes like chicken! Yes, of course I ate it. Really, it's not bad. Now I just have to taste dog before I go home! Haha.

Tonight we have the baptism of R! She's been taking lessons for 3 years or so. So things are good! This might be my last baptism on my mission.. weird.

This week should be good. This Friday we have my last-ever zone conference. Then Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday night we have HEIVA! It's the huge Tahitian cultural celebration with lots of dancing, music, and good food! I'll keep you updated on it all next week. I'm playing the piano for our ward's Heiva choir next Sunday night. We had "choir practice" yesterday. Fun stuff!

See you all soon!!!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

july

Hi family!

This week went by pretty quickly. Tuesday morning we went into Papeete and met President and Sister Fox. Sister Fox is from CA, and I think President Fox is from WA? I'm not sure. They met at BYU and got married 8 months after President Fox's mission to France. They have 5 kids, all grown and married or moved out. They lived in WA for about 20 years. They were in the MTC for about 5 days in which they saw 13 of the 15 apostles. Up on the stand in front of everyone, right before President Fox got up to talk to us, they kissed and everyone went awwww. Then President Fox said "ne faites pas cela!" Don't do that! Hahahaha. He seems really cool.
Tuesday night we had a reference from some members and taught the Restoration. We then blessed the lady we were teaching and she was crying afterwards. It was a cool spiritual experience.
From the rest of the week, I don't have a whole lot to report. We taught lessons, etc. Time is flying by fast.
Yesterday at church we gave talks as part of a missionary program. I taught about the importance of members, using the example of Alma and Amulek in the city of Ammonihah. Alma was rejected the first time around, but with the help of Amulek they had some success, notably Zeezrom.
Last night we had our second to last missionary concert in the Papeari stake, about 30 minutes away from here. To get there, we had to drive through my old zone of Paea. So fun!
This morning we played basketball again. President Fox texted us yesterday and told us he would be coming, but then we got a text from him this morning at 4am ish saying he wouldn't make it today. Maybe next week. Basketball was fun, as always.
Thanks for all the news and pictures. Happy holidays! Also, I bought a postcard to send but forgot to put it in the mail today. Sorry. Haha. Maybe if I send it next week, I'll get home before it gets there! Weird.
Have a great week, love you all!

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

JULY

Already July....? Wow.

This week went really fast! We were in Papeete a lot: Wednesday for a goodbye meeting with President Bize, then Thursday again to walk in a parade. It was a holiday here: "l'autonomie," or independence. With those activities, those two days seemed to fly by. Like always, it was fun to see all the missionaries and talk. I was talking with some sisters who went to BYU for a semester before their mission, and it made me really excited for college! (As if I wasn't already really excited!)
We had a really good day on Friday. We fixed a marriage and 2 baptisms of a younger couple for the 5th of August (birthday present for Andrea haha). We'll teach them the word of wisdom this coming week. They're names are N and H. That same day, we happened to find 3 new amis. The Lord put them in our path! We started teaching the boyfriend of an inactive girl, and also found the mom of a new convert who happened to be at her daughter's house when we stopped by. So that was a pretty good day.
Saturday.. all morning we were in the zone leaders' sector with the whole zone doing a "blitz." That's where we go to see members and ask for references. We got some names for them. In the afternoon we just planned for next week. Also, Elder J and I planned for the next 6 weeks. We get along really well.  Did I mention that he's half Tahitian? His Mom grew up in Takaroa, an atoll right next to Ahe. But Elder J grew up in Arizona. So he's straight up American with a level of islander cool. We have fun together and work hard.

This morning we played basketball, then went shopping. I found a really cool pancake mix from an American imports store that looks really delicious and I'm excited to try! It's packed with protein and whole grains and good stuff.

Tonight we have a family night with all the new converts, like normal. Tomorrow we go into Papeete again for a hello with President Fox and all the missionaries. We also have some new references to start teaching this week. Should be good!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June comes to an end

Sunday night at Orefero!

Hello family!

This week flew by really fast. We taught family night last Monday night with all the new converts and our DMP (ward mission leader). Tuesday morning I had my last personal interview with President Bize. We just talked a little about my plans for after the mission, etc. I told him I'm going to BYU to study finance, etc. He said he'll be in Provo at the end of August before BYU starts for our first mission reunion. Can't wait for that!

All week we've been preparing for the missionary concert in our stake (it was last night). We've had coordination meetings with the high council members in the stake, handed out tons of invitations, committed members to invite their amis, etc.

Wednesday night was our once-a-month "missionary" ward council. That's where we give our report to the ward council and then we have about half an hour to give a formation! I don't know if it's necessary, but we did it. I was a little nervous, since I don't really know the members that well yet, but we went for it. We basically taught how to teach the Restoration to investigators, then had all the ward council members role play teaching it to someone else in one minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, and in one phrase. The members took it so seriously and got all nervous when I would go listen in on their conversation. In other words, it was a good formation. Oh, if formation doesn't make sense in English, it means training. Sorry... French cognates.

We had some lessons this week with F, the brother of a new convert. Testimony of the importance of members: we invited G, a new convert, to the lesson with F. They're both younger, in their 20s and single. The lesson with F went so well! We got him all motivated to obey the word of wisdom. It helped a ton to have a new convert right there encouraging him, saying "it's worth it! I did it, so you can do it too!" Members, go on splits with the missionaries! They need you!

The longer I am on a mission, the less stressful everything gets. Time is just flying by! It feels so natural to be a missionary.
Sunday was our last missionary concert with President and Sœur Bize. It was in our stake, Punaauia. It was a huge success. The chapel was filled, then the overflow, then the entire cultural hall behind all the way back to the stage. Then they brought in chairs and filled in the aisles. It was a full house! We have about 100 missionaries who are on Tahiti who sing in the concert. It was a pretty emotional concert, with President and Sœur Bize leaving and all. We sang "God be with you 'til we meet again" with the congregation at the end and Sœur Bize was crying. We will miss them! As part of the program, I had to read a little quote from "the Living Christ" (the theme of our concert) and then share some thoughts on it. It went really well. We had a lot of amis there and a lot of new faces. The members did a pretty good job inviting their friends.

This morning we played basketball with the zone and now we're doing our emails. Later we have an appointment with our house-owner.. we might be moving out or something. I don't really know.

This week we have a last goodbye meeting/meal with President and Sœur Bize on Wednesday. On Thursday night President and Sister Fox get here. We'll meet them next Sunday at a missionary concert, and then we have a meeting with them during the week sometime. Should be fun! I'm glad I'm on Tahiti right now and get to join in on all the partying! Haha. Life's good. I love the people here and don't want to leave. Luckily paradise is only a plane ride away.

Fun to hear everyone's updates on the week. Have a good week!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hi family!

This week went pretty well. I saw lots of blessings.

Monday night we ate dinner at our Bishop's house and had a good time talking with him and his wife. They're young, only 28 or so. He served a mission in Salt Lake.
Tuesday we had lots of lessons with members! Yay for members! We gave out calendars to help some people keep track of their cigarettes and overcome their problems with the word of wisdom. They seemed excited about it so that's good. Trying to be creative!
We found a new investigator this week, so that's super good! It's a younger lady named M. She's originally from Bora Bora but is living here at her aunt's house until August. Perfect! She seems really interested and wants to know "how she can get into Heaven." We have the answer for that!
We've been working a lot with the new converts too. They're all doing pretty well. We do a lot of lessons with one young couple who is still struggling to overcome smoking. But I love them. I realized part of our missionary purpose is to help others come unto Christ by "enduring to the end." So we're helping the converts a lot!
We had some good faatamaaraa's with the members during the week. The members here in French Polynesia are amazing. So loving, so generous. Such good people. I'm so blessed to meet them and live among them.
Saturday night we had a missionary concert in Papeete. Guess who I ran into?!?!? I saw CLWU from Orofero for the first time in over 6 months! And I also saw A and J for the first time in almost a year! J just got back from Ahe so I was lucky to see him. They were there with V (their daughter) and K P S (another convert from Papeete). I also ran into my bishop from Papeete 2 and a bunch of members and everyone recognized me and was happy to see me. And boy was I happy to see them! I see Elder L at every concert too so it's really fun to go take pictures with our converts together. I also ran into Elder J for the first time in like 3 weeks. He's back from Tahaa and he started his mission in Papeete 2 so he knows a lot of my converts and they know him too. A and J told me that their son got baptized last year! (He's about 18 I think.) So they will all get sealed together in December this year if all goes well! SOOOO happy about that!
Sunday night we went to the stake of Paea for our concert. I ran into a lot of people again that I know and love. It was a weekend of blessings for me. I saw B, an investigator that Elder S and I found together and that I taught a lot with Elder N at Orofero. She isn't baptized yet but she said her son now comes to church with her! (about 15 years old I think.) B is bff's with the relief society president, Sister T (who I also saw last night, I love her and her husband, they're one of my favorite families from Orofero!). B is basically a counselor in the relief society, but unofficially because she's not a member yet haha.
Today was a super fun P day. We cleaned in the morning, then Elder J and I caught a ride with the zone leaders and they dropped us off downtown at the market in Papeete. We wanted to buy some souvenirs. So we went downtown and stopped at an ATM. Then we were going through shops. In one of the shops we ran into Sister F, who is serving as a senior couple with her husband. They're in my district in Punaauia. They're Tahitians, and they give us food and stuff all the time. Anyways, we ran into her in this store. Totally random. And then she bought everything for us! So we chose out some stuff, but then she went around the store and grabbed a whole bunch more and bought it all for us!!! The Lord blessed us for sure with that. I can't tell you what we got because it's a surprise for you all when I get home ;) Then we went and grabbed a "casse-croute" (sub sandwich) for lunch and sat down to eat it, and some random guy came up to us and handed us 2 cans of Coke and then walked off. What?! It was crazy! The Lord has the power to send free stuff when we're obedient! So crazy! Then we were walking back to the car, and I ran into G MAPU from Orofero. She is the wife of M, the guy that Elder N and I found by walking down the street in Orofero. He wasn't able to get married/baptized when I was still there, but it turns out that he got married about 2 months later and baptized. She said they go to church together every week and I was so happy to see them!
Voilà a really long email, but I saw so many little blessings this week. I am humbled to know that God is there. He knows each one of us and he can bless us more than we can imagine possible if we are obedient.
Some verses that I really like in my studies this week: Mosiah 26:14-37. Also the talk "Walk With Me" by President Eyring in the Priesthood session of last general conference.
I have to go, have a good week, I love you all!!!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

june

Hello family!

This week flew by pretty quickly. Every week goes by pretty quickly now.
Monday afternoon we went for a little hike down in the zone of Papeari. We hiked up to some ponds with little natural waterfall/waterslides into them.
Tuesday we had our multizone conferences with President Bize. It was only a half day this time. We drove down to the stake of Paea (my old stake!) for some formations and what not in the morning. In the afternoon we went back into the sector and taught a few lessons.
Thursday night we ate at a member's house and they made homemade cheesecake that was pretty delicious! Then Friday our faatamaaraa was dropped off at our house and they had bought real cheesecake that tasted REALLY GOOD. It's the first time I eat cheesecake in almost 2 years!
Saturday night we had a "family night" with our zone because there's a few people finishing or getting transferred today. We played a bunch of games and ate together and that was pretty fun.
Yesterday (Sunday) after church we drove over to Mahina for another missionary concert. I saw K and V, two of my converts from Papeete. So fun to see them! V said her parents (A and J) are coming to the concert this Saturday in Papeete. I am excited to see them. It's been over a year now since their marriage and baptisms, so I hope to hear that they'll go to the temple soon to be sealed! I would be able to attend their sealing if they get sealed before August!
This morning we woke up early and played basketball at the chapel, then we had to drive into Papeete to drop off missionaries' stuff for the transfers. We are going to have 6 missionaries in our house now; they just put 2 elders into the ward of Taapuna. It will be Elder J and I, Elder M and Elder H (who started with me), and Elder O (from Tahiti) and Elder F (from Vanuatu) in the ward of Taapuna. Should be an adventure.

My companion and I had fun speaking to each other in a british accent all week. It got to the point where I started thinking in a British accent. Haha.

Have a good week, love and miss you all!

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happy June!

Hello family!

This week has flown by. Last week we played basketball with the zone for P day. We actually played against the zone of Paea and we won. Hehe.
The week went by really quick. Tuesday we taught a ton of lessons. We do a lot of follow up lessons with new converts. They are all active, but we make sure to follow up with each of them. Many of them have already gone to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Super cool!
Wednesday was similar, more lessons, some contacting, etc.
Thursday morning we went and did a session in the temple. It was the first time I've been in over 6 months, so that was nice! Always very peaceful in the temple.
Friday we had a district meeting in the morning, then planned for the week in the afternoon. We taught our English class at night.
Saturday was a good day. In the morning we had a "blitz." All the missionaries in our zone came to our ward and split up with our ward missionaries. We went out and visited a large part of the active members in the ward (almost all of them) and asked them for referrals, committing them to go and talk with their amis. The idea is to find member referrals and then go contact them with the member who gave the referral. So this week we'll be going with our ward mission leader (we say DMP) or our ward missionaries to follow up with the members and see if we can start teaching their amis. Saturday afternoon we were invited to eat at a really cool restaurant called "Captain Bligh" right on the water front of Tahiti. There was a pretty view of Moorea and a nice sea breeze coming through the windows. Gorgeous. We were invited by a convert from Moorea who knows Elder Jordan, my comp, from when he served over there. After eating a ton, we started our fast because...
...Sunday was fast Sunday. Church was nice. It's so different being in a ward than in a tiny branch for sacrament meeting and classes, etc. After church we ran home and ate, then went back to the chapel for another missionary concert. The concert was at our chapel this week at Vairai. We actually go to the stake center of Faaa for church, so the concert this week was for the Faaa stake. In a few weeks we'll be at a different chapel here in Punaauia for the concert for the Punaauia stake. (By the way, Punaauia is pronounced Poo-now-wee-uh. Some people make an almost v sound when they say it, like Poo-now-vee-uh, but it's subtle.) The concerts are always fun, I love seeing all the other missionaries and catching up, etc.
This morning we woke up early and played basketball at our stake center with some members. It's a holiday here today, I'm not sure what for. But no one has work today. When we went shopping there were tons of people at the store. Later this afternoon we're planning on going on a little hike down in Mataia, near Papeari.
Life's good! Time is going by too quickly. I'm busy and enjoying the missionary work while I can. Have a good week everyone. Stay righteous!

Lots of love,

Elder Barlow