Monday, December 28, 2015

Mission stuff

Elder W. and Elder Barlow, Christmas 2015 
Hi family,
Well Mom, you asked for details. Friday (Christmas) morning we had a zone meeting (more like a zone party) until 1. Then we got dropped off at our Bishop's house to skype. He wasn't there. Well, our cell phone didn't have any more minutes so we were stuck and I was hard core stressing because you were all waiting by then. So we walked to the only open store around, a little gas station type store, to buy credit for the cell phone. A random member from Pape'ete asked us if we needed a ride somewhere. He took us to the family's house where I skyped you from. After quickly making my own account (since they didn't have one), I sent you the little message, and then you all skyped me! What a blessing to see your faces. But voilà, a little Christmas miracle in talking to you. Sorry you had to wait.
Okay, what else... Oh Wednesday was our missionary Christmas party. There were probably 100 plus missionaries there, and it was so good to see some of my friends from the MTC. It was the first time I have laughed so hard since leaving the MTC. 
Christmas night all the elders at our house stayed up until midnight playing Risk and eating gingerbread cookies that someone's family sent. After going to bed on time every night, midnight feels SO late! But it was worth it, it made it feel like a Holiday. 
We also engaged an investigator to baptism this week for the 9 of January. Hopefully that goes through. Oh before I forget the family where I skyped from is just some investigators who are really nice and have their baptism and marriage fixed. I actually don't know them that well because they have already received all the lessons and we just stop by once a week or so to check up on them.
On Saturday all our lessons fell through, and it was actually one of my favorite days so far on the mission because I was working. I went tracting! I just went around talking to whoever we saw and going up to houses. I don't know the area, I don't speak the language, but I don't care. I had the gift of tongues and actually tracted into some potential people. We set up lessons for this week. So that's good.
Anyways, tracting... everyone's house here has a big gate out front. So you walk up to the gate and shout out "Iaorana!" (hello) really loud. If people come out and talk to you, voilà. If not, you move to the next house. When people come out, you just say hi, how's it going, how's life, what's your name, we're the missionaries have you heard of us, would you like to hear our message, is there anything we can help you with, thanks for your time, okay, Na na (bye). There you go, my "door approach." We bike a lot and there's a lot of hills in our sector, so I have been eating a lot! I have my appetite back, which is awesome. I lost it there the last week or so on Ahe. I bought cereal and milk today! Woot woot. 

And that's awesome Ethan is going on a mission soon! If the Lord calls him stateside, the only reason it's stateside is because the Lord needs him there at that time, and no one else could do the same job he could do. I believe the Lord's servants are inspired, and I know that revelation is a real thing. The Holy Ghost is real and can actually guide people to certain answers or choices. 

Well, that's about it. It's really really hot and humid today, I sweat a ton this morning at the house. Alma 26:27 gave me some comfort this morning.

I love you all, and miss you tons. Praying for you each day, and I feel your prayers each day. I'm so glad you are all seeing blessings in your lives. Our family is a special one, and I think we have been truly "highly favored of the Lord." Happy new year, this is the last email where I can say "see you in 2 years!" Next week I can say, "see you next year!" Woot woot. Time is a weird thing. It has passed so slowly for me the past 4 months, but also kind of quick sometimes.

Love you all,

Elder Barlow

Joyeux noel!

Merry Christmas family! 
So Tavararo... whew it has been a long week! The sector is still great and my companion is great! We have normalish food around and all the members are really nice. But, we are en velo (on bicycles in our area). And there are A LOT of hills. Steep hills. For example, our house is actually in the zone leaders' area, and it is up on a hill (that's why we have the killer view). But that means every night when we go back to the house, we have to bike up a huge hill. I must have gotten really out of shape on Ahe, because this week has been absolutely killer! To give some validity to my claim of the hills being steep: my ankles got really bruised from biking! Haha yikes! Anyways, the Lord answered my prayer exactly how I asked. Now I have a great companion and we work hard. Our sector is down on the flatlands next to the airport and the people are all extremely generous and friendly. That seems to be consistent no matter where you go in French Polynesia.
Well, the work is going fine here. Apparently I came into a "drought" in this area. There weren't many "amis" (investigators) because they baptized them all! But the Lord blessed me on my first day out in the field here last Tuesday. We found a family of 11 who is now taking the lessons! Bam. And then throughout the week we found 4 or 5 other amis. So we have a pretty good amount of lessons going. For the lessons, I actually don't talk too much because my companion talks a lot. So we can work on that. But it's not a big deal. He's awesome and we get along really really well.
Today was a great P Day. The sisters in the next zone over organized a talent show and invited our zone. Everyone was supposed to bring a talent. So the 5 of us in our house (the 3 zone leaders, because 1 of them goes home in a week, and my companion and me) were sitting around one night trying to think of a talent to do for the show. Being goofy elders, we came up with a grand idea. Why not buy a bunch of cereal and milk, go on stage like we were going to do something cool, eat all the cereal, keeping the audience thinking that maybe something funny was going to happen, and then walking off the stage once we were done eating! Surprise! Haha so we did exactly that because we all loved the idea. So this morning at the talent show we went on stage one by one, poured our cereal, prayed over it (each person in their head), then ate, then finished! Haha some of the other missionaries watching thought it was hilarious, and the rest were like "What? I don't get it." But there was nothing to get. We just wanted an excuse to eat cereal haha. Anyways, that was fun. Then later the 5 of us went to Papeete and the mission office to drop off something for the zone leaders and pick up some more Books of Mormon. Then we went around this cool market place downtown. It reminded me a bit of Pikes Place market, but smaller and less fish, more touristy souvenir stuff. Then we went to Carrefour's, which is basically a shopping mall and it has a big grocery store inside too. We ran into President and Sister Bize there, so that was funny to see them. Then we all did our shopping and came back to the house. Now the zone leaders are over at their chapel doing mail, and Elder W. and I are here at our chapel doing our mail! I'm doing great but dreading the bike ride back home... Haha.
I don't have any wise scriptures to share this week. But I finished the Book of Mormon in English and I have 15 pages left in French! I've read the whole thing out loud in French and I am almost done. My goal was finish before Christmas, so voila. And after I will start the Tahitian. There was the huge Tahitian grammar book that I didn't get in the MTC at our house, and the zone leaders said I could have it. Boom. Another blessing from the Lord. And also lots of the people here know how to speak Tahitian. So I will be able to learn slowly but surely over time. Please just keep praying for my health, for me to have the spirit and the gift of tongues, and to love being a missionary.

Love you all and miss you!
Elder Barlow

Monday, December 14, 2015

Words Cannot Describe...

View from Jonathan's apartment in Tahiti!
Oh family. Can we have a moment of hugging and crying and laughing together because the worst is over. I don't know where to start to explain this last week.

Actually, start with reading 3 Ne. 14: 9-11. The Lord knows how to give good gifts.

Last Tuesday night, Elder Gruhn got a call. It was one of the senior couples who works in the mission office. They told him on Sunday that I would be taking the plane back to Tahiti with him! The mission is going to send sister missionaries to Ahe after Christmas. Okay, so that's the biggest news. But the rest of the week was really hard. I like my analogy of the video game last week. This week was definitely the last level, and the hardest level. After hearing Tuesday that I was almost finished on Ahe, I thought the worst was over and I could endure until Sunday. But then on Wednesday I got sick. Like really, really sick. That was a dark night. Thursday I was exhausted and weak, but continued to follow Elder Gruhn around.  Friday brought a new trial. A member who works for Air Tahiti (the airport system here) said my name wasn't on the list for the flight on Sunday. I had a moment of panic, thinking I would get stuck on Ahe. But after prayer and thinking, I realized it's all in God's hand. Saturday, the last day, we woke up at 5am and went on a boat all day. We watched people from Manihi (the next island over) race against Ahe in the little rowing canoes. It's called "ram."  Sunday was the last day. At church we bore our testimonies, then took pictures with the members. I have a ton of shell necklaces, called "couronnes" in French. They're a sign of respect, good bye token, etc. Then around 3 we took the plane for Tahiti.  It worked out with the whole plane ticket thing, there wasn't a problem there. So we flew back to TAHITI! I'm here in the town called Faaa, right next to the airport. Sunday afternoon the assistants picked us up at the airport and we drove to a stake center to meet my new companion. He is from Vanuatu so he understands a little English, but mostly he speaks only the language of Vanuatu and French now, thanks to serving here for 20 months already. His name is Elder Welecktabit (spelling? Not 100 percent sure haha) and I love him! Anyways, Then with Elder W and his old companion, who is still with us until tonight (named Elder Cooley from Kaysville) we drove back to the house. Our sector is named Tavararo. We live in the same house as the zone leaders, both from the US, so they all speak English there. Anyways, I feel like I woke up from a bad dream. I don't know how to explain it. No one will ever quite understand what I've gone through but God and myself, although I'm sure many other missionaries have had similar trials. Anyways, this morning I ate frosted flakes and milk after working out. All the elders in our house are normal, they like to talk to each other, they smile and laugh, there is hot water in the shower, I can drink the tap water. It's like I am in paradise. I love it here already! 

So, the 3 Ne. 14 scripture. God really knows how to give good gifts. Not only did he give me a good companion, but he blessed me with so much more. I can't explain all my feelings. It is too much. I want to cry with joy and gratitude. Thank you for all the prayers. The hard times are over. Last night while eating at an investigators house, my companion started talking to a family member who wasn't part of the conversation. He totally started teaching her on the spot! It was amazing! So I am confident the work here will be great.

Reflections on lessons learned on Ahe: before I left Ahe this week, I was reading in Mormon chapter 8. In verse 5, Moroni explains just how alone he really was. That totally related to me. I was completely alone on Ahe. Then in verse 11 Moroni says, but I had the ministering of angels. I had the ministering of angels on Ahe. Perhaps I needed to learn that lesson and it wasn't possible without the trials. Then this morning I was sitting on the balcony of our house here (did I mention we have a killer view?! I'll send a picture) and thinking. The other missionaries here are great, but they're kind of goofy and love joking and stuff like that. After my time on Ahe, I feel like a different person. I am kind of reserved, but also I feel like I planted deep spiritual roots. And my French is actually pretty good. I don't have the same accent as the Americans because I never heard an American speaking French on Ahe. Anyways, I'm sure I will see tons of blessings from my time on Ahe as my mission continues. My goal now is to become an effective teacher and to re-open my personality, rediscover humor, love life again, etc. It will take some time, but I am excited again. I don't feel homesick for the first time in two and a half months! Prayers of gratitude!!! 
 What is everyone's plan for Christmas? For me, there will be a missionary Christmas with the mission president on Dec. 23 for all the missionaries here on Tahiti and Moorea. That's just another blessing of being here. All the missionaries on Tahiti dream of being sent to the outer islands, but I would be happy to stay on Tahiti the rest of my mission. For now, I am happy, safe, comfortable, and happy. Did I mention I am happy? Haha. Love you all, praying for you all, Merry Christmas!


Elder Barlow

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


This past week was difficult again. It's like the Lord is raising the level of difficulty with each week and not letting me get comfortable. I think of it like a video game. Each week is a level and the following week is always more challenging. Hopefully after this week I will beat the game. 
Anyways, last week it rained harder than I have ever seen in my life. And it lasted for a long time. One of the little fields between the houses turned into a lake. We named it Moses Lake. Haha. The week was challenging because it rained so much. That meant no basketball on Monday and Wednesday, like normal. 
My thoughts this week have been all over the place. Besides not being able to exercise, I did okay most of the week. When I look back at the first week I was here to now, nothing has changed externally, but I am much more patient/go with the flow. Also, this week I started feeling more comfortable in French. I am getting close to the end of the Book of Mormon in French. I have been reading about 15 pages out loud every day. By the end, I should be fluent. At least, that's the promise President Hinckley gave the missionaries a long time ago. If a missionary reads the Book of Mormon out loud in his mission language, he will be fluent by the end. After the French, I am going to read it in Tahitian. 
Anyways, I really enjoyed reading 3 Nephi this week. In chapter 11 the Lord says become like little children. I feel like a little child here. I don't really understand much and I just submit to the will of my companion. Haha. I've had the feeling repeatedly that the Lord is really preparing me for something. I don't know what, or why. I just have to trust in faith. 
I got your Christmas package! Yesterday our branch president came back from Tahiti (for the weekend he was there). He brought mosquito spray and some letters from you! I got the ones you sent on October 27 or 28 and the one after that. Also I got the letter from Cara that she wrote around Halloween!  My favorite letter was Cara's to be honest. She said sometimes its hard for her with the bike accident, and I realized I have nothing to complain about. She is an example for us all. I will keep her letter. It is a treasure to me.  I find out who my companion is on Wednesday and he will be here on Sunday.
Thanks for the letters. Prayers going to the whole family for health and safety. Thanks for fasting for me, I feel the strength everyday from you. I tried to fast yesterday but then our dinner appointment was at noon, so that was that. Oh well. The Lord will understand. Stay strong and safe.
With love,
Jonathan (Elder Barlow)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trust God, Week 8 on Ahe

Dear family,
Thank you so much for the prayers and fasts, the advice and the worries. Also thank you for the emails with all the advice and love. I teared up a lot this morning reading them!
This past week was so much better. We stayed at our own house and did our studies each morning, even our companionship study! Even though it was only about 10 minutes of comp study, it helped a lot. We also taught 22 or 23 lessons and I learned to do some fun stuff from Elder Gruhn, like make taffy candies from coconuts! Also, the Lord continues to provide food for me. There's always something that pops up to eat. I can't wait for the day when I can go to the store where there is bread and fruit for sell. Here there is only crackers and powdered milk. 
Also, the mission said they sent bug spray! I am anxiously awaiting it. I ran out of my own probably halfway through October. That being said, the mosquitoes bite me less because my skin is tan and tough now. But I still get lots of bites on my feet. 
Please keep praying for me. And stay safe. Etc. I hope you all are doing well. Is it Thanksgiving this week? They don't celebrate it here. A scripture I really liked this week is Alma 38:5. In French, the gyst of it is that however much you trust God, he will bless you with the same measure. In French it is quite elegant, I don't know about the English. Haha

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Seen some little miracles...

Hi Family,
     The branch here is small, perhaps 80 members with 20 or 30 active. There are not many youth; they are all on Tahiti for school. Yes mom I sleep on a pad thing with a mosquito net. Our house isn't bad, we have a fridge and an oven and a sink. And it's made of wood, not grass or anything haha.
     There are 300 people or so on Ahe; tiny, I know.  I'm on the opposite side of the Atoll as the airport.  Maybe you can find it on Google Maps.  We have running water, but it's not drinkable.  We have to buy all our water in bottles.  Also, the shower is cold!  No hot water here.  For breakfast I usually heat up water on the stove, add chocolate powder & dehydrated milk powder & sugar, and add biscuit/cracker things.  It's pretty good.  I wake up at 6:30am. each day & work out.  Then from 7-8 am we shower/prepare and eat breakfast.  Then we either study or teach lessons.  Did I mention we opened this area?  There haven't been missionaires on Ahe since the Spring.  People here are so open.  It's a different world.  Also, the people feed us well each night.  Always there is rice and meat or fish.
     The language is very difficult.  I can't understand most people's French here.  They talk very fast and with an accent.  A lot of Tahitian is spoken, too.  So I don't understand much.  The weather here is very hot and humid.  The humidity made all my books curl up a little.  My scriptures are all warped- but that is okay.  I have very tan arms and a tan face.   On P-day we go out fishing with members on boats.  Last week I burned my feet really bad because I forgot to put on sunscreen  Now they're just really tan.
     I've seen some little miracles since I've been here.  One day, we had no food for breakfast and I was starving.  I read in Alma during my personal study a scripture about the Lord providing clothing/food etc. to the sons of Mosiah.  Minutes later, an investigator stopped by and dropped off some sandwiches.  A coincidence, at 8:30 am?  I think not.  So that was really cool.
     President Bize is awesome. Friday President Bize came to Ahe for about 3 hours total. He met with us, his missionaries, for about 15 minutes each.  It was great to meet with him.

Anyways, miss you all tons.  Please pray for me and be righteous and safe!

Elder Barlow

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 6 on Ahe, Week 12 on Mission!

First Morning in Tahiti, September 29th
Hey family,
I am still alive. This week was more of the same. It's very difficult but I am growing spiritually. I started carrying all my books around and now I just sit down and study wherever. I was able to get in a full hour of language study 7 days this week! Fist bump. Anyways, I've been studying chapter 6 of PMG a lot and I really love the virtues Patience and Charity. I pray for them every day and I try and gauge how patient I am with my companion every day. Also, I prayed for charity after studying one day and had a really special experience. I felt my heart fill with the Holy Ghost and felt like all my shortcomings and sins were purged, and I only felt a desire to serve others. I want to feel like that all the time, but now I'm kind of back to normal. Haha!
 Elisabeth said life is really good for you all. That's an answer to my prayers. I pray every day for 3 specific things: patience/charity, the gift of tongues, and for my family to be protected while I am away. I can see myself slowly changing, hopefully becoming more humble, etc. My only regret is that the week before my mission with you and G/G Barlow in western Washington, I remember I was grumpy all week because my shoulder was injured. You remember that? Please forgive me. I could care less now whether or not I could workout. Haha. 
On a less spiritual note: I am now 87 kilos. There is no fresh fruit here except for Coconuts, which you can't really eat. The only food is what the members feed us. Fatty stuff. Combined with being stuck on a tiny island it is very difficult to not gain weight. But the Word of Wisdom is a commandment, and 1 Ne. 3:7 teaches us that God prepares a way for us to keep the commandments. So now I also pray for fruit to be provided and I am going to start eating only 1 plate of food at each dinner appointment. Anyways, that's the news this week. We lost power yesterday morning, so I showered from the bucket again. But today it is back. This weekend President Bize is coming to visit Ahe and then another island nearby with other church leaders for a conference thing. So that will be good. Also, I may start an English class here soon. 
Glad you are all doing well.  Stay righteous and pray for me to have healthy food and spiritual endurance. Pray, pray, pray for me please!  I can honestly feel the prayers. Love you all,
Avec beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Barlow

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Power out on the Island...

Hi family! Hopefully you are not too worried about me. The week went well until last Friday or so. Then we lost power on the island. Luckily some people have solar power for backup, like our Branch president, but in our house no power means no running water. So the weekend was really hard. I showered by hand with water from a bucket and then shaved without running water. It is an experience of the mission! Elder Gruhn and I started singing and playing the guitar one morning and making up our own songs. I sang about how God must favor mosquitoes.  That made him laugh. So we are becoming friends.
This week we got power back. It is very hot here. Always. We sleep out on our terrace, or porch, because it's too hot. Weird that its cold in America.
Well, the language continues to come slowly. Last night at our dinner appointment a member told me he thinks I am starting to speak better. That was encouraging to hear. Also, I have a scripture for Dr. Feller: 2 Nephi 24:8. Other scriptures during the week that I really liked: 3 Nephi Chapters 8 9 and 10 helped me realize I have it pretty good here. Then in Mark 10:28 to 30 I love the promises. And also 3 Nephi 13:31 to 34 is comforting for me. I never know where my next meal will come from. Haha
Anyways, things are still very difficult, but I am doing okay. It's a blessing to say that. Thank you for the prayers, I can feel them. Thank you for the emails too. I love hearing updates on everyone and everything...
Everyone, stay righteous and happy and safe.
à lundi,

Elder Barlow
​Selfie after our first lesson together in the field. I totally am looking like a Pedersen in this photo :) Oct. 4

Birthday Cake!  Oct. 3

My birthday cake. That is our Branch President.

 Haha!  Here is a mosquito I killed. They are bigger and thicker here than in Tahiti or America. yikes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Week 4 on Ahe!

Hello family!

This week had ups and downs. But as of last night and this morning I am doing well. This computer in the mini post office works a lot quicker than the other one I was using. I left my camera adaptor at home, but I will try and send pictures next week. 

So on Ahe... today a cruise ship stopped outside the pass (the entrance to the Atoll lagoon) and little boats are bringing lots of tourists through. It's sunny and beautiful! The name of our village is Tonukupara. But everyone just says the village. We get around on bikes that the members lent us. Our house is in the school compound, so every morning we wake up to little kids running in to school. Our house is about 2 minutes away from the ocean in one direction, and 2 minutes away from the lagoon in the other direction. And that's two minutes walking time.

Well, we taught 28 lessons this week and committed "V", one of our investigators, to baptism. I study each morning from the book of Mormon for 30 minutes, and then everything else I study in French (PMG, etc.). The church is true.  Dad, I read in D:C section 20. It is a good section to review the duties of each level of the priesthood (your teachers quorum, etc.).
 I feel your prayers and love, please keep praying for me. I miss you but today I am doing better!

Love you all. Stay righteous and safe

Elder Barlow

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 3 on Ahe....

Hello hello!  I have internet today.  My time is limited, but thank you                for your letters!  Thank you for the prayers and fasting,
I felt it for sure. Things are very difficult still, but I am getting
used to it. If I just have to suffer through 3 months before I learn
the language, so be it.  I love playing b-ball with the members
each p day. They have asked me multiple times if I am joining the NBA
after my mission... hahaha. I have limited time, I'm sorry. I love
hearing from you. I only have time to read a few letters. I have about
30 unread emails, let everyone know I feel their support and will
reply when I have time. So good to hear from you all. Keep praying for me, I send my love.

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First Companion & Mission President

Elder Barlow  with Mission President Pierre F. Bize, Elder Gruhn, and Sister Bize.  Elder Gruhn is his trainer and first companion in Tahiti. The second picture is of the group of missionaries who arrived in Tahiti on September 28th.  Elder Barlow is the second one in from the right on the back row.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Area, AHE, Atoll, French Polynesia


Family. I miss you so much.  The past three days have been the hardest of my life.
Monday night we arrived in Tahiti... it was a long flight. Tuesday we
had some meetings with the mission president then got our companions.
The next few days were on Tahiti, which I liked. But Friday my comp
and I flew to Ahe, a tiny Atoll, to open a new area. Here it is so
isolated. My comp is from Maupiti, another island, and doesn't speak English. No one here speaks English, they mostly speak Tahitian. I don't understand the language
. Please pray for
me. We have taught one lesson over 3 days. I want to tell you so much
more, but apparently the internet here can't handle it. Also my comp is
waiting. Thank you for the photo book, I had a good birthday, the
branch president and his wife made me a cake. Also there are
so many mosquitoes, I probably have 100 bites. Keep me updated on
football, Dad. And please fast, pray, anything. I need the help. They
don't get general conference here, maybe in a few weeks I will get it.
I have pictures I will send when I get internet in a few months. I
miss you all, 
Elder Barlow

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Provo MTC Week 5

Hello everyone!

This is my last week in the MTC, and my last P-Day here! I'm pretty pumped about that. Dad I forgot Haley was turning in her papers, that's so awesome! I think I heard something about it a few weeks ago. Let me know where she gets called!  I miss you all so much! That's cool you all could go support Dallin. I've been thinking back on my friend group this week quite a bit, and I am convinced my group of friends really was something special. Our little group of friends has more missionaries out in the field or leaving soon than anyone else I've talked to here, even people from big Utah high schools like Davis. I'm really grateful I grew up with such sharp people around me. I said good-bye to Ralph this last Sunday at dinner. Sunday nights the schedule is a little different, so I actually found Alex and Ralph at dinner and talked to them for a while. It was really fun to catch up. I will definitely look for Philip tomorrow! I also see Kenny about every day. His classroom is actually down the hall from mine! They group the French and Island districts all on the same floor in the same building right in the middle of campus (4M is the building number).

Let's see, what's new. This last Friday we got our flight plans! We fly out next Monday morning.  We should be in Tahiti by 9pm Tahitian time, which is midnight your time, or 1am Utah time.  This last Wednesday I hosted new missionaries. That was a ton of fun. Basically a host waits at the curb of the MTC where people drop off their missionaries. Then we show them to the main building where they get their name tag and meal card, then we take them to the bookstore, their residence, and then their classrooms. Andrea, remember the host that took our picture when you dropped me off? That's what I did this week. It's weird being the older, experienced missionary around campus. Everyone who comes in their first day looks so young!

Last night we had a cool experience. One of our teacher's, Frere Pistorius, is a really great guy. He went to Canada (French speaking) on his mission. We were supposed to start studying French for the last half hour of class before gym time, but instead we all started asking him questions about missions, life, etc. He ended up just talking about his mission and then sharing his testimony and talking about how to make your mission a sacred experience. It was a pretty spiritual bonding moment. 

Also, this week I have really come to love personal study. I bought a little notebook, about the same size as my quad, and have started taking notes on things I find interesting during my daily reading of the Book of Mormon. I read the whole book of Mosiah this week. I love everything in it! The Abinadai chapters are super cool. When you take time to write stuff down you get so much more out of scripture study. I feel the Spirit everyday while studying now. 

Today was good. We did initiatories in the temple this morning, so we had a little bit more time than normal afterwards. We came back, ate, did laundry, took a picture of our crocs (which we're all wearing right now), then ate lunch, went and got a haircut (which I also have a picture of), and now are emailing! Fun stuff. P Day rules.  I can't wait to pack and leave for Tahiti! 

Avec l'amour,

Orometua Barlow

P.S. I really don't know what scripture I would want on the plaque... I love so many! Mosiah chapters 15 and 26 are legit. Go read 26:20-39. Also, think of the temple when you read 26:24. Cool cool cool. As far as a scripture for my plaque, I really like parts of Helaman 5:9-11. "yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.(10) ...the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. (11) And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls."

Have a great week! :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Provo MTC Week 4

Hi family!

I should be getting my travel plans this coming Friday, and then we'll leave in just less than two weeks (early that Monday morning, the 28th)! I can't wait. The MTC has been good, but I am so ready to leave. The upside is I saw both Alex and Kenny last Wednesday on their first day here! I took pictures with them, which I'll send in a separate email. Also, one of the elders (Elder Gilstrap) in our district left on Monday for Arizona for about a month. He was already fluent in French, and his Visa wasn't coming through, so they shipped him off until his Visa comes through. His companion was left companion-less, so now Elder Stewart and I have a new companion, Elder Lewis! He's from Southern California, and he and I get along really well. With 3 people in a companionship, it's even more fun. The downside is it's harder to focus all the time. But with Elder Gilstrap gone, we now have more room in the classroom and in our residence. We took his desk out of the classroom and rearranged everything so it is a little bit less cramped. 
My shoulder is feeling better slowly but surely. I can now do the pullup workout without pain. That's good. I got through 3 sets this week, so I was happy about that. Also I have been trying to eat more fruit during meals and eat less junky food. I've struck a pretty good balance where I don't get too hungry but I still eat somewhat healthy.

From our classroom I can see the top half of Y mountain. Every day it has been turning a little bit more red than the day before, it's crazy to watch over time. And thanks for sending Kadens' letters! It's fun to read them. I wish I could be in the field already! Oh, I also ran into Maddi Lybbert when she got here last week. So I have seen familiar faces pretty often! Josh Boyer left this week for Russia. It's crazy to think I won't see all these people again for two whole years. 

At gym time last Saturday we were up on the field above the MTC playing soccer (our gym time is from 8:15-9:15pm) and I could hear the BYU stadium going crazy and see all the lights. One of our teachers, Frere Pistorius, was at the game. He didn't have much of a voice left in class on Monday. Haha. The weather here has been nice, it has cooled down a lot. Today it is kind of rainy, and right now I hear a lot of wind blowing in. Woah, we're looking outside, and it is really dark and stormy looking! Cool! Allison Hyer said Elder Ballard spoke to all the stakes down here. We didn't get to hear it, but it sounds cool. Did you hear she got her mission call to WA D.C. south, English speaking? 

One thing that seemed to come up a lot this week in my studies and in church on Sunday was the Spirit. Did I mention that Elder Stewart and I taught Priesthood meeting and District meeting in church on Sunday? We taught about the Spirit. I've learned that really any good thought comes from the Spirit. If you feel like you should do something, don't waste time worrying about if it is your own thought or if it is from the Spirit. As long as you're being "a good boy" or "a good girl," as Elder Bednar says, then "don't worry about it." Just go forth doing what you know is right and things will work out.

French is coming along well. I like reading from Le Livre de Mormon, I understand most of it now. Also, Elder Stewart and I taught our first lesson in French without notes of any kind. It went really well! Probably one of our better lessons as yet. So I am pretty confident that I can be fluent within 3 or 4 months once I am immersed in Tahiti. I also learned how to pray in Tahitian this week. I need to study it more, because I don't remember a lot of it. But that's okay! It will come!

Avec beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Barlow (Jonathan :))

P.S. Avec beaucoup d'amour means "with lots of love."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Provo MTC Week 3

Today has been really good. P Day really is the best day. We went to the temple this morning and then ate in the temple cafeteria, as usual. Then we came back, did our laundry before lunch, ate lunch, and now we are emailing! The best part is we will be done emailing by 2 pm and we have nothing until 4:30 pm.. in other words, we will have an awesome P day nap! 

We got another permanent teacher, so now we have two teachers like everyone else. That should help our time here be more effective. Our new teacher is named Brother Pistorius (I think..?) and he served in Canada. He seems really sharp. And then of course we have Sister Johnson still. We all love her a lot, she is a really great teacher and we have learned so much. We practiced teaching in English for the first time last week and it was so amazing! After teaching in French for 2 weeks solid, English felt so easy. We were able to just follow the spirit however it prompted us and it rocked. That's hopefully how I will feel in 3 months or so when I am fluent in French. Soeur Johnson said it took her about 3 months to be mostly fluent in French, and 6-9 months total before she felt comfortable in Tahitian. I'm confident I can match that. 

So my district is pretty awesome still. I finished up my 3 week term of district leader and that was nice. Now Elder Hanson is the district leader for the remaining 3 weeks. I had to show him how to get the mail this morning, but he will do a good job. I'm glad I don't have to be the one in charge anymore haha. I guess I am just a reluctant leader. It's kind of funny though.. Even though I'm not in charge anymore, everyone still kind of looks to me when a question comes up of what to do. I'm glad I gained everyone's trust. 
Yeah, so my district is really sharp. Some of the Lord's brightest are going to Tahiti. It's really cool. We all love each other a lot. The two pictures are from this last Sunday when we walked to the Temple. They are of me and my companion, Elder Stewart. We still get along just dandy.

I have been exercising less and eating less healthy then I used to, and it definitely makes a difference. I feel a little sluggish, but at least it's only for 3 more weeks. I gave up on eating healthy because I never felt full enough. The fatty foods stay with me longer. My shoulder is feeling better. I was able to do my pullup workout. I can only make it through 2 sets though! Crazy that I used to make it through 4. I decided that eating healthy and being in crazy good shape is just something I will give up for the next two years for the Lord. I'll get it back when I get home. It will be better once we're in Tahiti, too. I'm pumped for all the fresh fruit!

I'm doing good as far as food goes. Between the 6 elders in my room we have way too much food to know what to do with. 

I haven't heard from Kaden. Could you get me on his email list or send me his email or something? I would love to hear about it. I'm so jealous he is in the field already! Did I tell you I saw Garin Bergeson in gym time my second or third day here? He works here. I also saw Jordan Bowen this week. And I continue to see Josh Boyer in passing on a fairly regular basis. I can't wait for Alex to get here tomorrow. I'm going to go find him and give him a big hug haha.

Labor day yesterday wasn't much of a holiday, just a normal day of study. But I wore my American flag tie for the first time! It rocked, I got a few compliments. 

So last Tuesday night for the devotional, Elder Dallin H. Oaks came to the MTC. That was pretty cool. I was probably 30 yards away from him or less. The apostles are just normal people, it's really cool to see them in person. He talked a lot about the importance of the sacrament and the spirit in our teaching. Want to know the number one way to get and keep the spirit? Take the sacrament worthily. It's so simple. He also gave some missionary teaching tips on the plan of salvation and stuff like that. Everything else has been fairly normal here this week. 

So good to hear from you all! Je vous aime beacoup (Love you all a lot!)

Na na,

Elder Barlow