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

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