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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Provo MTC Week 2

Wow the weeks really feel like days and the days really, really, really feel like weeks. This week went quick, but it's been a long week at the same time. Ha-ha. So the biggest news this week is that our teacher, Brother Hapairai mysteriously disappeared. We don't know if he got fired or got a new job, but he just never came one day. We had a substitute instead and no one will tell us what happened to Brother Hapairai. So that was weird. It's been tough having substitute teachers. They never know where we are in the material, and as a result I haven't learned much French since I've been here. The first few days I learned how to pray, bear testimony, and introduce myself in French, but since then it's been up to Elder Stewart and me to teach ourselves the language. Also, Tiare, our investigator, is actually also our teacher. She is a really good teacher. We've now taught 4 or 5 lessons to her in French. (To clarify, each district gets two teachers normally. She is our only teacher though because Bro. H is gone.) Tiare's real name is Soeur Johnson (Sister Johnson). 

So this Sunday my district is fasting that we can get our books so we can at teach ourselves Tahitian in the field. Soeur Johnson served in Tahiti. She said average missionaries only learn French. Those who learn both French and Tahitian work miracles in the field. The people of Tahiti are much more receptive when white people know some Tahitian. It is the "language of their hearts" after all, which is what the gospel should be preached in.

I'm really proud of my district. I've had some opportunities to follow the spirit and teach them some things, ask them to focus, etc. They did a really good job focusing this week. We also discovered that we love singing together. We're singing a French/Tahitian hymn in sacrament in a few weeks. We sang it for our Sunday Priesthood meeting as the opening song, and it sounded so good that the Branch President asked us to sing it in church! (He didn't know that we have been practicing it the past week or two. It's the men's arrangement of "Brightly beams our Father's mercy." It sounds so cool in Tahitian!) So that is fun. 

Today we went to the temple in the morning. Then we did laundry. Now we're emailing, then we're going to take a nap until dinnertime at 4:30. The P Day nap is seriously the best part of the week. I am always so tired, even though we get 8 hours of sleep each night. That's what happens when you sit all day long. I have more sympathy now for those with desk jobs. Ha-ha. 

About half our zone left this week for the mission field. Most of them are going to France, and a few to other French speaking places. We get in a new batch of elders going to French speaking missions tomorrow! That means we are now the older group of missionaries in the zone (which is also our "Branch" on Sundays). The zone consists of about 6 districts, maybe more, as far as I can tell. Two are going to Tahiti, one to Montreal, and a bunch to France, one to French-Creole speaking places, and then random elders going to Madagascar, other French speaking missions, etc. 

I'm really excited for Alex to get here next week. It will be so good to see a familiar face. Josh Boyer and I want to get a picture with him when he gets here. 

Missing everyone, but life is good. Also, tell Mike Asay I love my haircut. It makes getting ready in the morning so quick and easy. Bet you didn't expect me to be shaved and ready for the day 25 minutes after waking up in the morning ;)

Na na for now!

Elder Barlow

(Na na is Tahitian for bye bye.)

So this is 5 of the elders in my district.  Elder Thorpe (the blonde one in the back) and Elder Peel are companions.  Elder Peel is on the right in the white.  Elder Nelson is the redhead on the left, he's a sweet kid.  Elder Gilstrap is in the red shirt, he is funny and lived in Luxembourg the last two years so he is fluent in French.  And then Elder Stweart is in the Gray in the back.  He's my awesome companion! And the Elder taking the picture is me in case you couldn't tell.  

My bed is the bottom bunk.