Monday, December 12, 2016

tahaa

The only view of Bora Bora from Tahaa.

What my sector looks like- big hills and big mountains surrounding turquoise ocean bays.
Hello family,

Well, I'm still alive! That's always a good thing. The internet here at our little church building is actually pretty quick. I was able to send pictures, etc. That's a blessing. I was a little stressed about the transfer last week. In my head I pictured every island in the mission like Ahe- tiny, hot, and tons of mosquitoes. Luckily I am not in the Tuamotus! Tahaa is not tiny, but very hot, and there are still mosquitoes.

So, I flew to Raiatea Wednesday morning, then took a boat over to Tahaa around noon. Our sector is gigantic. It goes from the bay of Tiva all the way to the bay of Faaaha. You can look it up on google maps. We spend one day a week in Tiva, one in Faaaha, one in Vaitoare (part of the peninsula between Tiva and Haamene bay), one in Poutoru, and one or two in Haamene. It is a ton of biking! My legs are already big after just one week! The island is absolutely breathtaking.  I feel like one of the lost boys from Peter Pan.

Our house is pretty big. It's also very very very very very hot. No AC. Bummer. There are a lot of mosquitoes too, but not as bad as Ahe. Last night I actually slept really well, not a single mosquito bite. The challenge this week was food. When I got to the house Wednesday, I looked in the fridge. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I asked my companion what he ate. He said ramen noodles, but he ran out of money until next week so he just eats what members give him. Tahitians are crazy like that. They can eat only once a day and be fine. For me, after one day of biking, I was exhausted! This week was the first week of my whole mission where I was worried about eating enough, and not too much!

I like serving with a native speaker of the language, it's so nice in lessons and whatnot. Sometimes I forget that I'm speaking in French. Also, apparently my Tahitian isn't too bad. I was able to contact a lady and share the restoration all in Tahitian this week. There is a lot of Tahitian here, so I will hopefully be able to learn it. But everyone speaks French as well.

 This morning was really fun. Here on Tahaa there are 2 sister missionaries in a ward at Patio, and a couple in a branch at Hipu. The couple is a man from France and his wife from Tahiti. Everyone came over to our house this morning to make a skit for our zone's Christmas party next monday. Afterwards we made crepes and talked together. It was really fun.  Well, there you have it. My first week went okay. It was definitely difficult and a challenge, but I survived.

Keep praying for me, because it's all you can do! I need the prayers.

Love you all,

Elder Barlow

Monday, December 5, 2016

Some News



Remember how I mentioned that a ward member taught us how to cut up pineapples a few weeks ago? Well, another member gave us pineapples this week, so I practiced my newly learned skill. Isn't it cool? You cut off the green spiky leaves and the skin on the pineapple, and then you cut diagonally all the poky parts so that you have only the yellow fruit left. Then you cut that in round slices and eat it! Pineapples here are sooooo much better than even the best pineapples in the US.

Thursday in Papeete, I ran into no other than President Poroi, my branch president from Ahe! What a joyful reunion! For the first time we talked and I was able to understand everything and communicate with him. It was awesome to catch up. It's already been a whole year since I left Ahe! 
Hello family,

Soooooooooo, yes, I am transferred! Friday night the assistants made the calls for everyone. They called us first because we're zone leaders. I wasn't expecting to be transferred. But the assistants told me "Elder Barlow, you are transferred. You are going to Tahaa, the branch of Haamene." Tahaa is an island inside the same coral reef of Raiatea. It's in the islands "sous le vent" (under the wind). It's right next to Bora Bora. So it should be super gorgeous.  It is the biggest biking sector in the mission (I don't know how many kilometers) and there are lots of big hills.  There is a brand new branch president who is super missionary-work oriented and President Bize told me on the phone: with a branch president like that, I had to send one of our best missionaries. Oh, the flattery. Haha. But he explained that he prayed about who to send, and my name came up and it felt right.  The sector is soooo huge that there are people who have never even seen the missionaries before. I will have to choose certain days of each week to work in different villages that are within my sector limits.  Other details about Tahaa: it's not in the Tuamotu islands (that means it's not an atoll). It's an island with a mountain. Since there are so many islands right next to each other over there, I will actually see other missionaries from time to time. Raiatea is a huge island, where the zone leaders and a bunch of other missionaries live. At Tahaa there will be me and my companion  and a couple missionary and 2 sister missionaries on the other side of the island. In our zone there is also the island of Huahine. For zone meetings we all get to go over to Raiatea and meet up. It's like a 3 minute boat ride from Tahaa. Also for P Days, apparently sometimes the missionaries get together over there on Raiatea and do hikes and stuff. There's a mountain that has a view on top of Tahaa, Huahine, and Bora Bora all in one. Also, at Tahaa there are lots of wild vanilla plants. Also, Tahaa is renowned for being Tahitian speaking. I will learn and teach the gospel in Tahitian finally! So maybe at Christmas I will actually be able to do more than just pray and bear testimony in Tahitian. Cool! Also, at Raiatea there is a mountain where a certain flower grows. The flower won't grow anywhere else in the world, and no one knows why. Legend is that the mountain is the center of Polynesia or something crazy like that. I can't wait to go over there and learn so much new stuff!  Also, at Tahaa there is no baptismal font. So if I can find some baptisms over there, I will be able to go swimming in the ocean and be obedient to mission rules at the same time! Haha #goals

This weekend has been crazy. How the transfers work here: if you're transferred to an island, you have to drop off your big suitcases and bike at the mission office to be shipped to your sector by boat. So in between lessons and saying goodbye to members and stuff, I've been packing and doing laundry like crazy. Last night I was up until 11pm finishing up packing. This morning we dropped all my stuff off at the mission office. It will be shipped to Tahaa tomorrow. Now I am living out of my little carry on suitcase until Wednesday morning, when I take the plane to Raiatea and then a boat to Tahaa! 
More fun facts: Tuesday night I will be sleeping at my old house in Faaa (at Pamatai) because it's right next to the airport. I can't wait to have that amazing view of Moorea again one last time. Wednesday I take the plane to Raiatea with Elder Peel, one of the missionaries from my MTC group!  Anyways, my plan is to go in and love my new companion and learn Tahitian, and then to find and baptize like 15 people or so in the ocean. That's my goal. It's really weird to be going into my 5th sector already and to think that when I come back from Tahaa in 4 months or so, I will only have 4 or 5 months left on a mission!

Miracles/blessings I saw this week: since I got transferred I wanted to buy some things that might not be in stores out in the islands, like more shaving cream, razor blades, lights for my bike, etc. I asked some Elders in our zone to stop by and pick up some stuff for me at the store during the week. They kindly did so, and then they wouldn't tell me how much it cost and wouldn't let me pay them back! They just said "Merry Christmas Elder Barlow." I was touched. Then this morning, we stopped by the store really quick to buy a few more things to put in my suitcase before shipping it off by boat. I went up to the cash register and a member came out of nowhere and bought everything for me. This same member's house just burned down a week or two ago. She lost everything. I was incredibly touched by her kindness. It is unbelievable.  It's just a tender mercy of the Lord. 

I get to Tahaa on December 7, which will make almost one year since I came back to Tahiti from Ahe (last year, December 15ish I think). Crazy how fast time flies! And who knows where the Lord will send me in the next 9 months! Anyways, things are going good. In a way, I'm pumped for the islands because,I'm sure the Lord has a lot of things to teach me and new trials to encounter. Please pray for me and keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Love you!

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

thanksgiving already?

A nice hot meal waiting for us in our washing machine!

Fafaru, which is raw fish that they put in fermented salt water!


Sweet Reunion with a family taught last year!

Iaorana family!

This week went a little better. One of our investigators died, that's always a bummer. We went to his funeral. He was old and his death might actually be a good thing because now maybe his whole family will listen to us. That's the first funeral I've ever attended in my life. It was outside the family's house right next to a bunch of chickens. Tahiti. We worked generally really hard this week. I've been pushing to work hard. We found some more people who might be potential, we'll go and follow up with them this week. I no longer have any fear to contact people. It's pretty interesting. After doing door to door every day for a few months here, I don't care if people yell at me or whatever. I just go with the flow.

So for one of our faatamaaraa's, the member called us and said he would stop by our house and drop off our meal. But we were out in the sector working. He asked where he could put the food. I said on top of the washing machine (which is outside, under our car-port open garage like thing). He said, "on top of the machine? Not in the machine?" He was worried that cats or chickens outside would eat the food. Haha so I said, okay in the machine then. When we got home that night, we found a nice hot meal waiting for us in our washing machine. Hahaha

Yesterday after a lesson, the family invited us to stay and eat with them. The Tahitian tradition is to make "maa tahiti" (tahitian food) every Sunday. So we got to eat maa tahiti, my favorite! It was super good! On the right side of the plate is fafaru, which is raw fish that they put in fermented salt water. It smells like rotting fish, but it tastes pretty good actually! I love it! Also, the yellow banana like thing is fe'i, which is like a mix of a banana and a sweet squash. You eat everything with your fingers, no silverware, and put coconut milk all over it all. It's a messy, slurpy, delicious, heavy meal. This is just a few of the foods in a meal of maa tahiti, there's actually like a million different dishes that are all considered maa tahiti.

The zone had some mini miracles, with two baptisms this last week that were scheduled for December. The investigators decided they wanted to get baptized sooner. Sweet. As a zone we went to the temple together on Saturday. Normally that's against the rules but I had worked it out a few weeks ago with president. He accepted. That was fun. After the temple we started a fast as a zone with some of the stake leaders. I like the temple, it's been a while since I last went. I noticed some interesting things I hadn't thought about before. Always learning. It's really weird being on a mission. I have had some moments on a mission where I feel like the Lord is really preparing me for something, like he knows me and has chosen me to do something for him and his gospel. I don't know. I had one of those moments in the celestial room. I just had the hymn come into my head "I'll go where you want me to go" and the thought that I'll just keep on keepin' on. Things will be fine.

This week has been a little stressful. Elder Cardon (of the 70) is visiting our mission this week. Tonight all the zone leaders have a meeting with him followed by a dinner at President's house. Then tomorrow is a multi zone conference. All the zone leaders have to plan a meal and everything for the conference (of about 60 people). The conference tomorrow happens to be in our chapel here at Paea, which means I'm basically in charge of everything. I'm playing the piano and I have to get our chapel all set up and this P day is already over and I need another P day! Haha there is too much to do! There's 4 zones coming to the conference, so I asked the other 3 zones to worry about the food, a salad, and a dessert, and drinks. I'm in charge of getting the building ready: tables, chairs, forks, spoons, knives, plates, etc. I had some of my missionaries reserve the church building and ask their relief society to help out. Today we have to go buy all the stuff at the store. It's a little stressful. And since there's a 70 coming, everyone wants everything to be all perfect. Our mission president's wife wants nice tablecloths for the tables, etc. Haha.  I just want to be nourished spiritually by the 70 and then eat some good food! But whatever, making people happy seems to be important. I really have grown a lot, when I look back to the start of my mission. I'm directing tons of people to do tons of stuff, all in a foreign language, and everyone listens to me and stuff gets done. Crazy how that works. I know the Lord is at the head, this is his work, and that by living the Gospel we all become better. It's a process of refinement. I now see how living the gospel consistently over a lifetime really will prepare us to be like Christ one day, so that we may be accepted into his kingdom.

Have a good Thanksgiving, eat some pie for me! But don't get too fat because I want to go hiking with you next summer! I've had several dreams lately about the mountains and I'm really missing Colchuck lake! Thanks for the prayers on my behalf, this week went better. The zone has had some miracles and everyone is in a little bit better of spirit. Keep praying for me like crazy, I need it!

Happy turkey day,

Elder Barlow

P.S. Tell me which kind of pie turns out the best this year. I'm in the mood for some pumpkin pie and some pecan pie. With vanilla ice cream. Haha eat some for me.

Monday, October 31, 2016

poisson cru


Fried Fish & Rice

Hi Family,

We had a lot of lessons cancelled, which is tough. This week we went contacting more with C.  He's fun to be with because he is always optimistic and he likes to joke and stuff. He is teaching us Tahitian, and I am learning a lot. The past month or two I've taught several lessons in Tahitian. It makes me feel cool! I am starting to understand a little bit more each day, but it is still difficult and I am far from fluent. I can survive though. I now can manage to ask questions. It took a while to remember all the question words and forms in Tahitian. The French is good. I can express myself fine in French. I'll have to talk some Tahitian for you when we skype at Christmas. The gift of tongues is cool. Also, I think learning a language would be pretty easy now that I've got one down really well. Did I mention that a lady started teaching us Chinese? I don't remember if I did or not. Anyways, mandarin sounds kind of similar to Tahitian in some of the grammar ideas. Weird! I think if I went to any country with a language study book and immersed myself for 6-8 months I could learn the language. I would love to learn mandarin one day.

This week we found a new ami by doing door to door contacting. I got kind of sunburned for the first time in months and months. The ami was a Jehovah's witness, but inactive for a long time. He said he has always wondered what 'the mormons' teach. He has never been baptized, and was interested in our message. We taught him the first lesson and gave him a book of mormon. It was one of those moments when we were walking out of a neighborhood and I was like: let's try this one last house. And he let us in. The next lesson with him is this week.
Also, another amie we found two weeks ago is progressing! We found her through door to door as well. She had already been given a book of mormon years before, and I think the Lord really prepared her to hear the gospel right now. We invited her to read Moroni 10 and pray. When we came back this week for a follow up lesson, we asked if she had prayed. She said yes, and that it brought lots of deep feelings. We asked her if she had asked if the book of mormon was true. She said she hadn't asked yet, but she will pray. If it is true, she said she is willing to drop everything, including a protestant background and family, and cigarettes. With that desire to follow the lord, how could she not receive an answer? We taught her the plan of salvation and she was in tears most of the lesson. The last time I taught a lesson like that was the first lesson with A, my convert from Papeete. Her whole family is now baptized. Hopefully the same thing happens again this time around. Anyways, the zone and the mission as a whole are not doing so hot. President Bize asked if we could ask our families to join us in a special fast and prayers this weekend, that I can have the spirit with me stronger and be led to those ready to hear the gospel. I need all the help I can get. Keep praying for me!

Fun stuff this week: I made more poisson cru, and also fried some fish. It is super delicious. The poisson cru is sooooo easy to make and so yummy. I never knew you could just eat fish raw. My mind is blown every time but it's so good and so easy! I will definitely make some for you all when I get back! And tonight we don't have a family night so I am making lentils again. Soooo delicious and easy and cheap also. And today Elder Nelson made banana bread, which was pretty good. It's fun to experiment with food and whatnot. It's about the only thing that changes in our routine. Besides what tie we wear everyday.

Tahitians celebrate halloween. I'm not sure if they do the whole trick or treat thing, but they dress up and have class parties for the little kids at school, etc. When we went shopping today, one of the cashiers in the store had facepaint and stuff. So it feels a little festive outside. Too bad it's not cool weather and colorful trees here. But the palm trees I'm looking at outside the window of the church are pretty too, so I can't complain. This week we have our conseil des dirigeants de la mission (mission leadership council) at president's house, so that should be good. Elder Cardon is coming in two or three weeks and we'll have another mission leadership council with him. So I'll get to learn directly from a 70. I'm excited for that.

Today for P Day we went shopping in the morning, went home and ate/made banana bread/ took a nap, and now we're finishing up mail at the church before playing some basketball outside. It's been a good day. Hope you all have a good week, love and miss you!

Elder Barlow

Monday, October 24, 2016

toujours octobre

Fish the members gave us!

My first Zone leader.  Getting ready to go home!
Hello family!
Before I forget, is there a Richmond Barlow somewhere in the family tree? A member this week told me he had an ancestor from America who married into his family a long time ago named Richmond Barlow.
This week's Big news: the mom of R told us she wants to get baptized! At the end of the year. She said she's willing to come to church every Sunday and do the lessons every week and read from the book of mormon because she wants to change her life. She needs to change a few things, but we can work with that! It's cool to have investigators who want to change. If they have the desire, they can do about anything. Also, the grandma of R wants to get baptized too! We'll see how that goes.
Besides that, the week went alright. We found some new amis. We did quite a bit of door to door (gate to gate actually) contacting and found one new family who seems kind of potential. It was a pretty normal week. Elder M is training (did I mention that last week) a new elder from America (from Murray Utah- he went to Cottonwood high school like Dad). It's pretty fun to have a newbie in the house, he's so lost! I can't believe it's already been a year since I got here. Time flies!
Some fun things this week: I made raw fish (poisson cru), which was delicious. I will definitely make some for you all when I get home. I feel like we would be able to find some fresh fish at Pike's place market. It's really easy to make. Also, last P Day we made pancakes.
What else is new.. our zone will go to the temple altogether in a few weeks. Also, Elder Cardon (of the 70) is coming to visit us in a few weeks. And this week President Bize is in Australia for a mission president's conference with Elder Holland. Lucky him. Also, our baptism last Saturday went well. It was the baptism for H. She is 17, the same age as Elisabeth! Weird, I feel so old.
We already did our shopping for P day this morning. This afternoon we're going to come back here to the chapel and play some basketball with other Elders. I think we might try and make some banana crepes for lunch. So yeah, life's okay for the moment. It's fun to hear from everyone, I miss you all! Have a good week.

Love,

Elder Barlow

Monday, October 10, 2016

Octobre

Soirée familiale chez les membres lundi

 Elder Barlow nametage with the minionaries

Me opening the package! So Fun!
Papaya that a member family gave us!



Hello family!

Last Monday we went on a little "hike," on a really steep paved road up the side of a mountain. But the view at the end was nice. I think I am desensitized to beautiful views. I don't think too much of it anymore, even though most people would pay thousands of dollars just to be where I am. Weird. Monday night we had a family night at C's family's house. They made me not 1, but 2 birthday cakes and sang to me in English, French, and Tahitian. Then I blew out all 20 candles in about 3 tries. Haha. It's weird to be 20, I feel old. But not really.
Tuesday and Wednesday were alright. We actually had some more stuff to do this week, more lessons, etc. That was super nice. We still had the same problem as last week, lots of lessons cancelled, but on a smaller scale. So it was bearable.
Thursday was our "conseil de dirigeants," or mission leadership conference at President's house. It was awesome. We ate some homemade enchiladas for lunch. That's the first time I've eaten mexican food in a looooong time. Sorry all the time's I complained when you made tacos Mom. Missions really do make you love your mom's cooking! President Bize gave a really touching formation on becoming better. He talked about the times when he has met apostles and prophets and what seems to make them different from other people. It was inspiring. Also, Thursday night we taught a lesson to B and her husband T. They're an older couple with grown up kids. We met B when we were eating at our relief society president's house last month. She came over and we started talking and fixed a lesson with her. She is protestant, but she has started coming to church and she loves it. We taught them the word of wisdom last night and engaged them to get baptized in December. They said yes!  Also, R, the little brother of D (who just got baptized last weekend) told us he wants to get baptized now! So we did his baptismal interview on Friday and he will get baptized this Saturday. We've been working a lot with his family. All the extended family live in the same area, so there's a ton of potential. We also started teaching the grandparents after giving a blessing to the old papi (grandpa) and healing him (or temporarily giving him relief from pain). So things are good.
Also, the new mission challenge is to have 16 baptisms for each zone by the end of October. Our zone has 17 baptisms planned before then, so if all goes well we should succeed. We decided to fast as a zone yesterday to reach our objective. Already we have some miracles from that. At church yesterday, H, an old investigator who we don't teach anymore but who comes to church every week, came up to us. She's 17, and the problem with her baptism was that her family was against it. Yesterday she said, "Elders, here's the parent permission slip thing. My mom signed it. I've chosen the 26th of October for my baptismal date. When can we do my interview?"     What? We were like "okay, that works, no problem! Next Sunday, baptismal interview!" That never happens like that, basically an easy baptism. So that is exciting!
This week should be alright. Hopefully we find some more people to teach this week. Besides that, the ward is good. I love the people here. We ate at our relief society president's house again last night and it was so fun to sit and talk with her and her husband. They're converts from 6 years ago and they're just such good people. I felt really relaxed around them. It made me think of Mom and Dad. Miss you guys!
Also, I got my birthday package Thursday! It was so fun to open it that night. I love it! Haha the "minionaries" were awesome!
The plans for today are simple. We're going to go do our shopping and then come back to the chapel and play a little basketball with some of the other Elders in our zone. Should be calm and laid back and a nice break from the week. Voilà. Thanks for all the emails and pictures and stuff.

Love,

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Hike last P Day to the "foschoda?" I don't know how to spell it. A waterfall




"pomme d'étoile" aka star fruit. you scoop it out with a spoon

S'mores!
Hello family!

Aaron made a hilarious comment, that today is probably the only time I will ever be excited for my birthday to be on a Monday. Because it is P Day! Woot woot! I can't believe it has been one year this weekend since I arrived on Ahe. This weekend has already been infinitely better, because I was able to watch all the sessions of conference in English! It was broadcast at our stake center in French, but they set up two little TVs in different rooms for Tahitian and English. So I am feeling blessed. And I can't believe I am 20 years old. I feel old. But to put things in perspective: Mom and Dad, you now have three kids in their 20's. So I guess you two are the old ones ;) Hahaha.

To start off the week, 12 of our 14 fixed lessons were cancelled, or the investigator wasn't at their house, etc. I started going to lessons expecting no one to be there. Anyways, what resulted was that by Friday we had taught 5 lessons all week, and we had already visited everyone we knew in the whole sector. We tried a little bit of door to door contacting, and found one new ami from it. But overall, it is extremely ineffective here in our sector. Everyone has big metal gates and they hide from us when we call. Oh, to be in America where you ring doorbells and people come to the door! #missionarywoes
We ended the week with 9 lessons.  But we had the baptism for D, one of our investigators. I was entering his info on our report for the zone last night, and I realized that he is younger than me! He's 19, and I am now... 20. Weird.
What else was cancelled... oh, a meeting with all the missionaries in the zone and the stake president and our stake high councilman. The missionaries came, but the stake leaders didn't show up. But I was hardly surprised after our week. That's how things were this week!

Some positive things that happened: we taught D, an 18 year old french boy we're teaching, how to make S'mores! Super fun! We roasted s'mores at his house Tuesday night. He lives with his backyard on the beach and a view of Moorea. It's one of those locations where you think "is this even real?" Million dollar views exist haha. Anyways, we didn't have hershey chocolate, so we had to use some cadbury milk chocolate instead. I recommend it to everyone, it really makes the s'more taste a lot better! And there's no graham crackers here. So we used a biscuit/sweet cracker thing. The brand is "Arnott" and the cracker was the "milk arrowroot." They're from New Zealand. But all in all, the s'mores were like a million times better than any s'mores I'd eaten before, and we convinced D and C, (our new convert who came with us) that the USA knows whats up. Haha.
Conference was also great. I really enjoyed President Eyring's talk in the Priesthood session. I liked all the talks, I'll have to review my notes. Can't wait for the Liahona magazine next month!

Last night our zone had a little family night to say goodbye to some temporary missionaries who were waiting on their Visas. They're leaving this week. It was fun, we played some games and had a lesson and then ate cake after. Our zone is cool. I'll send some pictures of everything.

Anyways, I'm super happy it's a new week. Today we're going to try and go hiking again (it was great last week!), and tonight we have a family night. This Thursday we have our mission leadership conference at President's house, so it should be a good week! Keep me in your prayers!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bananas can be cooked

Someone gave us bananas, so we decided to experiment.  We fried bananas in oil and even microwaved a banana and ate it wrapped in a slice of turkey.  Cooked bananas are super delicious. 

Hi family,

Well, the story of my life the past every p day ever is that there is never enough time. So this email will be quick. Today we cleaned our car and the house a little bit, and now we're going to go shopping really fast before driving to Papeete to go to the mission office and then go on a hike! Woot woot! We're going to hike to that one waterfall I already did when I was still in Papeete. But this time we're doing it with several other zones so it should be pretty fun. I'm excited at least for the exercise.

This last week was kind of tough. We didn't have very many lessons planned all week, and then every day at least one lesson or more seemed to be cancelled. It was frustrating. What do you do when you have 4 or 5 hours of unplanned time and door to door is not recommended because it's so uneffective? It's tough. I've already visited everyone I know, including members,several times over. I had several moments during the week of "oh man, I hate this. I'm tired of people seeing me and running inside and closing the doors and windows and saying 'we're not interested,' etc. I miss a smile and 'hey, how are you?' " Yes, those moments exist on missions.

What else is new...  D is still getting baptized this weekend. Our bishop called us last night asking if D was ready. Bishop didn't think he was ready, and he asked us "who did his interview, I want to talk to him, who are your zone leaders?" etc. So we got D to meet us at bishop's house and did a lesson with them all last night. We explained to Bishop that we are the zone leaders (it was a moment of 'we are the brute squad'... 'we are the zone leaders' hahaha sorry hope you get that reference), that D had satisfied the conditions for baptism, and then we taught them. Luckily D came in clutch and asked Bishop to be the one to baptize him. As soon as he asked that, Bishop was touched and everything went smoothly. So yeah, that was super stressful yesterday.

For the week, overall pretty normal, besides not a lot going on. I had fun cooking some bananas.
Last night we ate with an older Tahitian couple, so they were talking to us in a lot of Tahitan. And I actually understood quite a bit! The tahitian is coming little by little, I understand a little more each week. But I am far from fluent, or even able to communicate effectively. French is good though, I can express myself and do everything I need to. It's weird to take control of situations in a language I didn't even speak a year ago. The gift of tongues is cool.

Tonight we're going to eat with some members for family night. We ate at their house a few weeks ago and they asked what our favorite foods were. We told them fresh fish! So tonight should be a good meal! Next week for my birthday I have already been invited for family night with C and his family. Should be fun.

Oh, so we're teaching this young french boy named D. He's 18 and super smart and talks in really fast Frenchy french and he's awesome!  And we started talking about marshmallows, and it turns out tomorrow we are going to have a s'mores night! He has never eaten them. I can't wait.
Elder N and I get along great together. He's super nice and happy. He's my little sidekick, it's fun stuff.

Hope you all have a good week. I restarted the book of mormon this week and I am loving it. I'm impressed by the difference between Nephi and his brothers. Don't forget to thank the Lord for all the blessings he gives us, gratitude makes a little worth a lot.

Love you all!

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wow!


Wow! Hi family,

This week was insane. Last Monday was basically not a P Day. I dropped off Elder S in the morning, then we had to do a bunch of stuff en ville, like changing a car tire. By the time I cleaned the house a little and showered, it was already 6pm and time for our family night! It went pretty well, I taught the whole first lesson (by myself) and committed them to read the book of mormon, pray, and get baptized if they find it to be true. The wife is super converted already! She comes to church every week now and I love her! We can't do more lessons with them until next week though because they are super busy preparing the marriage of their son for this weekend.
Tuesday I didn't have a companion. I basically signed off my sector for the week. I dropped off one of our Elders in Faaa because he was transferred out to the Marqueses Islands. Then I stayed with his companion Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. We worked in both his sector (Maraa) and mine (Orofero). I like Elder M, he's cool. We shined shoes together and went for a run and it was great. Wednesday morning we drove back en ville to pick up Elder M's new companion: he's training! It was fun to be at President's house and see all the newbies. They seem so young! Crazy to think that just one year ago that was me and my MTC group.
Wednesday night and all the rest of the week I went with C, our new convert, all day long to work and teach lessons. It was super weird to not have a companion all week. At night I was with the Elders of Vaiatu (who live in our house with us), but I did my planning for the next day all alone, called the shots all alone, etc. In some ways, it was super nice! But in other ways, it was super stressful.
Thursday and Friday we worked pretty hard. C and I went contacting a little bit, and actually found 2 new amis who seem pretty potential. I got a little sunburned for the first time in forever. It was awesome.
Friday I also gave a training in zone meeting. I took over the zone and ran it all by myself this whole week. I'm ready to go back to the Tuamotu islands where there's less responsibilities ;) haha just kidding. But seriously, this week was pretty crazy. Also, the ward asked me to give a talk in church Sunday, so I prepared that on Saturday ("prepared," more like read some scriptures and just went for it on Sunday). Also, there was a missionary themed fireside last night at the stake center. Saturday the grand council member in charge of it called me and was like "the choir who was supposed to sing isn't coming. So the missionaries are going to sing. Prepare 4 hymns." So I got the zone all up to date and everyone came on Sunday to sing. But things got more complicated. Sunday after church we taught some lessons, then went to do our report. But there is no more internet at our chapel. And yesterday the internet didn't work at the stake center. So we had to call a member in the ward of Vaiatu and do the report at their house. And that made us late for the fireside to sing. All our missionaries were in there singing. So basically it was a bunch of crazy situations out of my control that made me super stressed last night and I am just so grateful that today is P Day. Wow.
The good news from this week: Elder N finally got here Saturday night at 5pm. He was all covered in flowers from the members of Takaroa when he got off the plane!
And our faatamaaraa yesterday was amazing. We ate chicken and potatoes, cooked fish (rare here- it's always raw or no fish at all!) which was delicious! rice, pasta, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, bananas, cooked/fried bananas (my new favorite, holy cow they are so good, I'm going to try making some later), chocolate tart and brownies! It was super delicious. Haha. Anyways, today is finally P Day and we already cleaned the whole house this morning and I went on a run, and cleaned the car. And now we have to go downtown (en ville) again to go to the mission office to pick up people's suitcases and stuff. On the way back we'll do our shopping for the day! Can you tell that I'm going looney? Haha. Pray for me, I love you all, the church is true.

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

septembre

Last week's P day!

Picture of the presqu'ile (almost island) on the back of Tahiti.

Goodbye dinner with the members for Elder S.

Hello family!

This week flew by. Things are different now. Last week was hectic, Thursday all day we were "en ville" (downtown) for the mission council of leaders. That was good. It's fun to be at President's house and learn from him and eat the delicious lunch they always make with all the other DZs and STLs. Crazy that it's already been a month since the last meeting. Friday night we got transfer calls. Elder S finished, so I got a new companion. My new companion is... Elder N! He's a super nice little redhead from my MTC group, we started at the same time. Right now he is out in the Tuamotu islands. They haven't bought his plane ticket back to Tahiti yet, so I have no companion for a week! Yikes! So this morning I dropped off Elder S. downtown, and I have no companion for the near future. I have to do splits all the time with the other missionaries or with ward members until my companion gets here. Also, I am now totally in charge of the zone as the senior zone leader. All the responsibility now falls on me!  Basically my whole P Day today consisted of driving en ville and dropping off Elder S, then getting the tire on our car fixed up, getting a haircut, and then doing our shopping. We haven't even cleaned the house yet or the car, and it's already 5pm! Stressing out, because in one hour we have a family night at a new family's house with our bishop and relief society president and I get to teach it all by myself (remember how I don't have a companion yet?). Haha yikes! I am of the opinion that P Day should be two days long. One day for getting everything necessary done, and another day for resting. I like the normal weekend of Saturday, Sunday. It works out better. One day just isn't enough. But voilà quoi. Enough complaining.

So this past week was actually pretty good. We got a super great reference from our Relief Society president. We went to see the family (the mom and Dad of the family, actually). The Dad said "why not try the lessons, why not get baptized?" So we'll see how it goes with them! The family night I mentioned is at their house tonight. Pray for me, I need to be directed by the spirit! The longer I am on a mission, the more I realize how little I can actually do to help people. It's the spirit that does everything, I just have to be there to be an instrument for the spirit to manifest itself. It's humbling, knowing that I am not good enough by myself. Weird.

Other' fun news: there have been several cases of the "dengue" in our zone, so pray for me that I don't get it! It's spread by mosquitoes and knocks you out with a flu/fever like symptoms for a week or so. A mosquito just bit my leg....

Sunday we ate with member families at lunch and dinner who wanted to say goodbye to Elder S. The people here are really so kind. It is so hard not to get fat when people stuff delicious food down your throat several times a day. But voilà, I sent some photos. Hopefullly you got them.

Also, Saturday was the baptism of E! Yay! Her mom came, which is a huge step. Her mom wanted E to get baptized, but wanted nothing to do with the missionaries herself. I'll go contact her this week and commit her to take the lessons. Then the whole family can get baptized soon! That would be cool.

Did I mention that the new mission challenge for the next three weeks is to fix 5 new baptisms in each sector? That's my new goal starting today: fix 5 baptisms over the next 3 weeks. I'll keep you updated.

Anyways, this week should be pretty crazy, working with members and not having a companion and all. So pray for me!

Love you all, gotta go!

Elder Barlow

P.S. So I got a flat tire in the car this week.... a nail was lodged straight through the tire. A member put the spare on for us, and today we took the normal tire downtown and got it all fixed up. Thank goodness for the members who helped us out! They also gave me a bunch of instructions on how to make maa tahiti (tahitian food). Cooking party when I get home? Haha have a good week!

Monday, September 5, 2016

mois de septembre

Photo from last month's mission leader council. All the zone leaders and sister training leaders.

Hello family! Can you believe it is September already? This week went by pretty quickly.

I don't have much time to write, we're going to go to a "treasure hunt" competition between zones at a botanical garden on the other side of the island in about an hour, and we still have to go do our shopping for the week, so I will be brief!

This week went well. We fixed another baptism for the 17th of September with V! V is a woman who is the step daughter of a member in our ward. She came to C and M's baptisms last week and was really touched. This week we continued teaching her and she said she wanted to get baptized but didn't feel ready. I felt so guided by the spirit to just start talking about the word of wisdom. I was taking a guess that she didn't feel ready because she smokes or something. I was right. She smokes about 7 cigarettes a day. So we made a calendar with her to decrease 1 cigarette per day, in other words to quit smoking in about 1 week's time. She agreed, then agreed to be baptized the week after! Yay! The church is true haha

Another cool experience: I was on a split in my sector of Orofero with Elder F, an Elder who just got transferred into our zone last week. We were teaching an ami who is not at all interested in listening to us. We were teaching her and her family members, but I was mainly focusing on her. I was trying to figure out what her needs were and then teach accordingly. I prayed and felt prompted to start talking about eternal families. That made no sense to me, according to her needs, but I was like "what the heck this lady isn't listening to anything we're saying, I'll talk about eternal families." So I just started going off on eternal families. The lady got even less interested, to the point where I stopped talking mid sentence and was about to say "thanks for your time, can we end with a prayer?" And then one of her family members, a lady, said "I want an eternal family!" When she said that I got the chills through my body. The spirit totally told me to talk about eternal families! The lady then went off about how she has been in the world too long and wants to come back and have the blessing of an eternal family, etc. She then committed to come to church this Sunday... and she came! The Lord knows his children.

This weekend we have the baptism of E, a 10 year old girl we've been teaching. Her parents are not at all interested in church, they drink and smoke and everything, but they have been pushing her to take the lessons and get baptized. This week, they came and talked to us a little. They're coming to the baptismal service! I hope to commit them to start taking the lessons afterwards. The whole family is so potential! It's amazing how my views of certain things have changed on a mission. Now when I see people who drink and smoke and live in sin, I see it as potential. It's amazing what the Savior can do to people's lives when they decide to follow their Lord. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.

Love you all, hope you have a great week! Wish I had more time to tell you more, but voilà.

Sincerely,

Elder Barlow

P.S. Elder S finishes his mission next Monday, so I will be getting a new companion! Pray that I get a good one! Haha

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hello Family

Burning a shirt to celebrate one year on the mission!
Lentils for the multizone conference!
Well, this week was alright for me. We worked hard. It rained all week, for the first time in months. Luckily we're in a car so we don't get too soaked. I honestly don't know what to write about. I'll be honest: when I write emails, I'm struck by the sheer number of crazy stories and experiences I have on a mission. There's no way I can describe it all in a short email. If you want to really understand what a mission is like here at Tahiti, you'd have to come serve a mission here at Tahiti.
Anyways, the mission challenge this month is to do lessons in the presence of a member. We've been working really hard to set the example for the zone. So basically every morning we call different members of the ward until we can find someone to come with us to all of our fixed lessons. The goal is 12 member lessons each week. We had 16 last week and 12 this week. With members, you have someone who can relate way better to the investigators and bear a powerful testimony and integrate the investigators once they come to church, etc. It's way more effective than just a lesson by two young white guys. I really like our ward, the members are great. We got a new ward mission leader last Sunday, he worked with us a little this week.
What else is new...
I ate snails yesterday! That was a first. I also ate lots of lentils this week, which I really love a lot!
Oh, so Thursday we had a multizone conference with our zone (Paea) and the zones of Taravao, Papeari, and Punaauia. Our zone was in charge of the main course for food for everyone, about 60 people! Yikes! So Tuesday Elder S and I were stressing because we didn't know what to do as far as food. We had a tight budget of about 80 000 francs (about 80 dollars). We got the great idea to do lentils! Yum! We went and saw Papi Tepa, an old Tahitian papi in our ward who is also a new convert from earlier this year. We asked him how to make lentils really yummy and if he had the pots and pans we could borrow, etc. In the end he offered to make it all for us if we brought him the ingredients! So it turns out 5 little bags of lentils feeds about 50 people. Who knew? It ended up costing about 30 dollars to feed 60 people. I felt pretty money efficient. :) haha. I love saving money, even when it's not mine! So to make lentils, you just put lentils in water with some onions and corned beef or whatever meat you want (it's super good with cut up lunch meat like roast beef!) and spices or salt if you want, and then you heat it all up for a really long time and let the lentils soak up all the water. You serve it hot as a semi liquidy mess over hot rice. It is super delicious, cheap, easy, and healthy! I experimented with lentils later this week and found out I can make them in the microwave in about 20 minutes (but it's not as tasty). That's my fun news for the week! All the food worked out for the conference. There was just enough lentils for everyone to go through the line once, but not enough for everyone to have seconds. Oh well, we all need to watch our weight here in Tahiti anyways. The conference was good, I don't really remember any specifics right now off the top of my head, but President Bize gave a really good formation on leaving our fears behind and using our strong points.

This Saturday was good. We had our two baptisms. The ward here is great, I love the people. They came and supported. I hope to re inspire the ward with a few more baptisms and really get the members in the missionary spirit. That's what happened at Papeete once we started having baptisms every month. The ward here has only had 3 baptisms this year, but now there's 5 total. My goal is 15 baptisms for the end of the year (also the mission's goal for every ward in Tahiti- at least 15 baptisms). So there are 10 people out there that I need to find, teach, and baptize. We have some really great investigators that we're teaching right now, including some younger kids and a teenage girl who wants to quit smoking pacalolol (marijuana). I'll keep you updated on their progress over the next few weeks. Things are going well overall.
Yesterday and today I am driving people all over. As a zone leader, I have to drive missionaries all over the place for their needs. Today has already been a crazy P Day of driving and trying to get things done. I want to just go clean the house and the car and sleep! We'll see how it goes though, I have to drive back downtown later and pick up Elder S. He went to Moorea today for P Day because he served over there at the beginning of his mission. He wanted to go visit some people for one last time before he finishes (in two weeks!).

Oh, one last fun story! Today while shopping, I saw G T

! He is one of the people I taught during my brief stay in Tavararo (Faaa). Remember when I skyped from their house at Christmas? He works at Carrefour, the grocery store where we went. He still remembers me and was so excited to see me. He told me I have to come visit him before I finish my mission and give him one of my nametags so he can remember me. He got baptized with his wife and daughter in February. I am continually humbled by how loving the people are here. This morning seeing him was again a fulfillment of the promise in my patriarchal blessing that those I teach on my mission will always remember me and praise me for the effort I put forth to bring them the gospel. Super cool to reflect on those moments.

Well, I love you all tons! I am going to go eat, I am super hungry hearing about all the yummy Amish donuts and deep dish pizza and cruise liner food y'all ate this week. Have a great week, keep praying for me!

Until next week,

Elder Barlow

Monday, August 15, 2016

August encore

Hello family!
This week blew by. It was filled with activities and things I don't normally do, so it seemed quicker than normal.

Monday was P-day of course. Then Tuesday morning we went to the temple in Papeete. That took up most of the morning. I love going to the temple, so peaceful! Tuesday afternoon was a normal work day in our sector. At our faatamaaraa Tuesday night we ate with the members and we found a new investigator! A family friend was with the members that night and we invited him to take the lessons. He said okay. We did several lessons this week and he came to church yesterday! Woo hoo! Super potential. Anyways...

Tuesday night I went down to the house at Papara and went on split with Elder P in the sector of Maraa! It was great to spend time with the missionaries in our zone. There's 4 missionaries who live in the house at Papara. Overall in our zone there are 16 missionaries on Tahiti, 11 Elders and 5 sisters (two three-person companionships), and 4 missionaries out in the Marqueses Islands (super far away). Voilà. So all day Wednesday I was biking around the sector of Maraa with Elder P and we did work! It was great. I tried to help him see how to engage investigators to get baptized, come to church, etc. He said some of the investigators we had taught came to church yesterday! Yay! It was a good split.

Wednesday night I got back into my sector/house. Thursday morning we woke up early and went back into Papeete (Elder S and me). There was the monthly mission leadership meeting for all the zone leaders and sister training leaders at President's house. It was most of the day and consisted of formations, trainings, brief reports on the zones, and a lunch of delicious home made hamburgers! (shout out to american bbq) Thursday night we did one or two lessons in our sector, then went to bed!

Friday I woke up not feeling so hot. I went on a run in the morning, and felt really tired. After showering and doing our studies, I felt even worse. Really achy and fatigued all over. I went to our zone meeting at the chapel just next to our house, but before the meeting even started I had to go back to our house and just sleep. I passed out all day. Literally all day I slept. Friday night I threw up for the first time in ages. It was terrible. I didn't sleep well Friday night. Saturday I woke up and was still sick, just really tired and weak. I was able to make it to several lessons throughout the day, and in between lessons we just came back to the house and I slept. It's pretty terrible to be sick on a mission. You can't do anything to get better quicker, but you feel super guilty just laying around doing nothing. It is the worst. Mostly I just think about how much I want Mom to be there to take care of me. Haha.

Sunday (yesterday) I was still pretty wiped out, but able to go to church, then go do some lessons, etc. Today (P-Day) is the last P-Day for Elder Porter. He's hosting a mission wide 3 on 3 bball tournament in Papeete and I was sooooo excited to play, but now I am way too wiped out from this weekend of being sick to play. Bummer. I have little energy and probably lost a ton of weight and I don't feel that great, but life goes on, right?

Voilà la semaine. Good news, the zone is picking up! Every sector has baptisms that should happen before the end of August. Also, we had 9 amis who came to church yesterday! The members brought some new people who we are going to start teaching this week. Blessings! Keep praying for me, I need it! Miss and love you all, thanks for the emails!

à lundi prochain,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August again!

Hi family!

This week we worked pretty hard. Time flew by. Monday night after P Day I had to do zone leader stuff. We had a family night at a member's house, but we also had to go pick up some missionaries from the airport. So we did a split with the missionaries of Vaiatu (who live at the same house as us) and I drove to the airport to pick up a missionary who is now serving in our zone. I felt weird. I never imagined that one day I would be driving around Tahiti in a stick shift truck, speaking French, familiar with the airport, parking, roadways, etc. Crazy where life leads, huh?

The rest of the week we went and visited members, tried to find investigators, the normal stuff. We scheduled the marriage of one of our investigators and his baptism the week after (beginning of September), and another investigator normally gets baptized next week. So the sector is starting to pick up. The bad news is none of the investigators we're teaching made it to church yesterday. It's a constant struggle. That's about how most of the week went.

Saturday morning was wonderful.
Background: so while I was still in Papeete we had been teaching a lady, the sister of K (my new convert who we found tracting in the pouring rain). So we taught S and her husband a little bit. They were interested, but afraid to change.  After I left Papeete, Elder L and Elder P kept teaching the husband and their little daughter. It turns out they fixed their baptisms for yesterday, Saturday. I was invited, since I had taught the family a lot, but we had a lesson so we weren't planning on going. Friday night, our lesson called and canceled. Saturday morning, we asked the assistants for permission to leave the zone and go to Papeete for the baptism. They said yes. I sent a text to Papeete 2 that we were coming. Elder L then promptly called me and asked if I wanted to baptize S! Friday night Elder P and L asked her if she wanted to get baptized the next day with her husband and daughter. She was ready, so they made it happen and wanted me to baptize her, so it worked out perfectly that our lesson had been cancelled! I was excited Saturday morning to go back to Papeete for the 2 baptisms, but when I got the phone call from L saying it was 3 baptisms, I was ecstatic! I hung up and then just yelled at the top of my lungs "yes!!!!" I gathered up my white clothing and a towel, and we booked it for Papeete. I was able to see all my new converts and all the ward members that I love. It was awesome! And the baptismal service was so great. Elder L baptized  the little girl; I baptized  the mom; Elder P baptized the dad. It was great! I love that ward and that sector so much. We have to go visit. It's right next to downtown Papeete, and the temple is next to the chapel, so if we ever come visit as a family, we'll surely stop by. Anyways, it was a wonderful event that happened tout d'un coup. (don't know what to say in Engish... "all of a sudden" or "just like that (with a snap of the fingers).") I was so grateful to be the instrument in the hand of the Lord that blessed that particular family. What a blessing.

Saturday afternoon was work as normal, and yesterday was a normal fast Sunday. Our zone is doing better, and I think our sector is on its way up. We found a cute little girl who was at her friend's house (a member). We taught her a lesson and gave her a book of Mormon. We found out that her mom is an inactive member we had tracted into three weeks ago. So we went and talked with her mom. She said she is totally okay with us teaching and baptizing her daughter, as long as it's what her daughter wants to do. So that was great! I'm again grateful to be the medium that brings the truth of the gospel to people. It is such a blessing. We'll teach the daughter again this week and invite her to be baptized in two or three weeks. The sector is on it's way up!

Thank you for all the prayers and support, I felt it this week! I love and miss you all, hope you have a great week!

Avec beaucoup d'amour,

Elder Barlow

Monday, July 25, 2016

encore juillet


Iaorana family!

This week was alright. I am in love with air conditioning in our house. Also, this morning, we deep cleaned our house. Yes, we live with two other Elders, Elder G and Elder M. Elder G is from my MTC group and just came back from the Tuamotus, so he has lots of fun island stories. Elder M is an awesome and funny little french man who is half Spanish. It's a nice group, the struggle now will just be to keep our house super clean! We mopped the floor and cleaned out the fridge and cleaned the bathroom and the car and our bedrooms. I loved it! The rest of the plan today, go shower, go shopping, play basketball/soccer at the chapel with some of our zone and the zone of Punaauia (the zone right next to us), then go home. So it should be good. I love P Day.
Our zone has 12 Elders and 5 sisters and one senior couple. In our house there's 4 elders, there's 2 elders who live alone, but not far from our house, there's 4 elders down south a bit in the Maraa house, and 3 sisters in another house quite a bit further down. There's also 2 elders in the Marquises Islands and the senior couple on another Marquises Island. It's a fun zone.

This week was interesting.  We don't have a ton of investigators and door to door contacting is extremely ineffective here.  But it's alright. We'll just keep working and the Lord will take care of the rest.  Tuesday we worked in the sector, Wednesday I got to do my first split as a zone leader! I went down to the Maraa house Tuesday night and stayed the night there. I served with Elder C, a new elder who is being trained right now by none other than Elder T! Remember him? The old assistant who lived in the same house as me at Papeete. He's awesome. Elder T is in our zone, he finishes next week. So I was at the Maraa house with Elder C and Elders M and P. It was super fun! I like their house, they are right next to ocean, it is beautiful. Wednesday I was on the split in the sector of Papara. It's a good sector. It was fun to see, it is so beautiful down here in Paea! Yes, it's a little more rural than Papeete. It's less crowded and more calm and right next to the ocean and really beautiful. I love it. Thursday was another day in the sector. We average about 1 lesson a day, and other than that we go and see members and inactives and such. It is difficult work, not the fast pace I became accustomed to at Papeete. Friday was zone meeting. Elder S and I gave the training. It went well. It's weird to be the leader, everyone looks up to us now. Every Sunday as zone leader we get to take the report for the zone and put it in the computer and send it to the assistants. It's a pretty cool system, and fun to call everyone and see how all the sectors are doing. We use the numbers to determine what the needs of the zone are, trainings to give, etc. It's cool. I like analyzing numbers and stuff and acting de suite. Don't know how to say it in English anymore sorry. Acting in accordance? Something like that.

Oh yeah, last Monday we also did a hike, I sent pictures. We summited a mini mountain, rock cliff thing up above the sector of Maraa. It's really steep and right next to the ocean, so we had a great view of all of Paea, the ocean, and the big Tahitian mass of mountain behind us. The pictures don't do it justice. Y'all are going to have to come to Tahiti and visit here with me after my mission, it's unbelievably beautiful.  Basically any given moment of the day, I can look around and if I took a picture it would be worthy of a calendar or postcard.

That's about all I can think of for the week. Thanks for all the emails, it's fun to hear about everything.

Love all the news, if you guys have any questions for me or want to know anything about Tahiti, let me know. I don't really know what to write about except for what we do everyday. Keep praying for me, I need it and the sector definitely needs it!

Bisous,

Elder Barlow

Monday, July 18, 2016

With ward mission leader in Papeete and Elder  L.

Fun story. First day here at Paea, the sister missionaries called us to come remove a dead hen. It had tried to fly over the fence at their house, missed,and fell in between the fence posts, strangling itself. Eww! And the sisters hadn't told us about it for a few days, so it was all maggotty and stinky! Zone leader points for Elder S, who removed it with a garbage bag.  
Hello family!

Apparently you are up to date a little on the situation because of an email or something? Yes, I am transferred, yes I am now a zone leader. It's weird. So Monday was P Day. Tuesday was a normal work day. Tuesday night were the transfer calls, which meant a crazy night at our house! We love listening to the assistants call everyone for the transfers. So for me, I was in the shower Tuesday night. I came out of the bathroom, heard Elder F on the phone downstairs saying "your new companion is Elder L!" which meant I had been transferred! Elder R came up the stairs and I asked "what, I'm transferred?" He said "yes, I don't have a lot of time, you're transferred to Paea with Elder S, you will be a zone leader, you will be the driver of the truck." So there I was,completely stunned. I hadn't even had time to get dressed after my shower! And my replacement at Papeete? Elder P! He is coming back to Papeete for the last 5 weeks of his mission. Apparently President felt that P hadn't finished his work at Papeete yet and there was something there for him to do before he finishes. Yeah. Transfers. So my first thoughts: what, me as zone leader? Already? Shocked, surprised, honored, etc. I'm the youngest zone leader in terms of mission experience, with only 10 months (almost 11!) under my belt. But it's cool, I am excited to take on the challenge. So I stayed at Papeete all week because Friday was the extra P Day! We went to President's house and ate pizza and watched a movie called "one man's treasure." I enjoyed it. I'm sure you would all find it very corny, but it was about missionaries so I thought it was pretty funny. So many typical missionary inside jokes. Then Friday night I went and said goodbye to all my new converts. Some of them started crying. It was very touching. Saturday morning I left for Paea.
So it was a great week for me until then. Now I am in the zone of Paea, the ward of Orofero. I got to the house and unloaded my stuff, and we did our studies and went to see some people. The house here at Paea has air conditioning which is very strong, which means I can wear a shirt inside and not be all sweaty all day! Yay! But in the house, the toilet is broken and the house flooded my first day and everything seemed like it was falling apart and I was stressing out hard core and missing Papeete where everything had become familiar!  But I'm getting used to the situation here. Elder S, my companion, finishes in 8 weeks. He is also from Washington! We should get along fine. He's nice and knows the gospel well. I hope to help motivate our companionship to go work really hard and set the example for the zone. Already we have blessings. This morning a member called us and said there's an 11 year old girl who's parents want her to get baptized as soon as possible and take the lessons! Yay! So we have something to do this week. I am confident the Lord will give us people who are ready for the gospel as we show that we are working hard and following the spirit! Besides all that, the hardest thing right now is adjusting to a new sector, new people, new house, new everything. Also I am no longer the senior companion, so I can't go do whatever I want. But that's okay. I can endure a few weeks. So pray for me, I need help! Haha!
Also, I am the driver of a white Toyota Hilux stick shift truck. Yes, I learned stick shift here and am now driving all over the place for the zone. It was a little scary at first, but I have the hang of it now. So that's an update on my life. Today we have to go clean the car (I insist, it is dirty!) and then we're doing a short hike this afternoon! I am nervous about getting fat in a car. We don't spend much time walking around, just driving to appointments and such. It's not the same as before when I was on a bike all day! Yikes! But we'll see. Worst case scenario, I get fat for the next 8 weeks and when I'm in charge I'll lose it all. The food in Tahiti is too fatty and delicious and produce and things healthy in general are too expensive for missionaries to buy. Jealous of the farmer's market, mom! That's about it for my week, have any questions for me?

Sounds like everyone back home is doing well. I loved all the photos and news, so fun to see and hear from everyone! Keep me in the loop. Have a good week and stay righteous!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

encore juillet

Hello family!

Wow, I loved all the photos! Talk about beautiful Washington state, I miss it! I'm excited to go hiking with everyone next summer!

This week was alright. Monday we didn't do too much, just the 10 minute hike or so up to the cross above Papeete.
Tuesday- we had planned to do an interview with President Sun of the mission presidency for one of our amis, but she didn't show up.

The rest of the week we were just trying to find new investigators who are actually interested and not flaky! In French Polynesia, lots of people come to Tahiti during the school year for school, etc. Since it is now summer break, lots of families leave for the outer islands, tuamotus, atolls, etc. to be with family, summer vacation, etc. So this week we lost all of our progressing investigators. Our report for the week was pretty sad. Haha. We have zero progressing amis, but oh well. We found some new investigators from OLB (ouvrir la bouche) (OYM in English I think, open your mouth) in our quartiers, so hopefully this week when we go back for the first lesson there will be people there.

Friday was our zone meeting, like normal. We met a little as a district and planned some activities to help out a sector that is struggling right now.
Saturday we didn't have any planned lessons. We had an OLB activity in the struggling sector, then later that day we had a sport activity in the same sector, where we went and played volleyball with youth in the quartier. It was a fun day, and I think it helped out the sister missionaries in that sector to find some new people to teach. It was fun to be able to do something as district leader to help out the district.
Sunday (yesterday) was good. It was the first Sunday in forever that we didn't have a missionary concert. So we actually had time to go do lessons, etc. Then we got home a little early, around 7:30pm. It was nice to have extra time before p day to start some laundry, get to bed early, etc.

Today is p day! Emails this morning, then shopping, then maybe a sports activity later with the zone. I would be happy to just take a nap all day haha. Also, the weather here has been more bearable lately. We still are soaked with sweat everyday because it's humid, but when I walk outside it's not overly unbearable. I can breath at least.  Voilà an update on life!

Also, our zone was the only zone to succeed the mission challenge last month for a certain number of baptisms (different for each zone). So President told us to choose our reward! We all voted for an "extra p day" and President said yes! Haha. So this Friday we get to have 3 hours or so after our zone meeting to do whatever we want in p day clothes, and President will bring us pizza! Score!
The new mission challenge this time around is to do our personal and companionship studies everyday, along with a language study, including p days and Sundays. That will be challenging! But important.  I started reading "Jesus the Christ" in my personal study this week and I am loving it! I recommend it for anyone who wants something churchy to read.

There's a mini transfer this week to organize a new zone being created on the other side of Tahiti. Exciting mission growth! But the odds are I won't be transferred until August 2, the next big transfer. So I will have spent over 6 complete months here in Papeete! I know basically everyone in the ward and in the sector, it feels a little bit like home. I think we all have to come visit Tahiti sometime after the mission as a family, and I can introduce you to my new home here!

Love you all tons and bunches,

Elder Barlow

P.S. the subject "encore juillet" means July again, or "still July" in French. Sorry if you didn't understand. I think I can probably express myself more effectively in French now, sorry if my English doesn't make sense sometimes. Haha.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

A picture of the temple I took one morning this week because it was pretty.
Dear Family,

Well, no one in Tahiti knows what the 4th of July is. It's kind of like Thanksgiving. So enjoy a hamburger and fireworks and all that fun stuff for me. The sisters in our zone had planned to make hamburgers and hotdogs, or so they said, but then yesterday I asked them what the P Day plan was today and they said MacDo! Which means McDonalds. A mcdonalds hamburger on the 4th of July is basically blasphemy or treason before the state, so I will be boycotting that zone activity. I'll probably make a classic PB n' J sandwich. Haha.

Yesterday, Sunday, was fast Sunday. We started fasting after lunch Saturday, so we finished our fast yesterday around 2:30pm. That worked out well with our plan yesterday. We went to church in the morning, 8am to about noon with after church meeetings, then right away we left for Papeari, the other side of Tahiti. It's about an hour drive or so, so we got there right around 2pm, 2:30ish. In fact, Elder Requillart had a branch president back in France when he was little who is from Tahiti, and they invited us over to eat. So we got to Papeari and ate a delicious meal. The wife of the family is French, and they made us a legit French meal. I love French people. The meal is called "raclettes," (say rack-let). Basically, they have a sweet kitchen appliance that looks like a pancake/crepe maker. But it's raised up about 6 inches. Underneath is space for little non stick spatula things. So what you do. You put baked potatoes on top of the pancake/crepe grill to stay hot. Each person has a mini personal spatula that you put underneath. You put slices of special raclette cheese in the spatulas, and ham if you want, and it melts! Then you cut up your potato, pour the melted cheese over the top, and eat it with ham slices (hot or cold, however you want). They also had a delicious salad. Wow! It was a delicious meal. It tasted so.... normal. Extremely delicious, but normal. Not a ton of white carbs and fried meat and rice. It reminded me of home. Also, Papeari is far away from the city, so it was nice and quiet. Here in Papeete is constant sound. Anyways, after eating we went to the stake center at Papeari for our last missionary concert this year! It was fun to see all the other missionaries. It made yesterday feel like a mini holiday, since I only spent about 20 minutes in our sector working.

Saturday was good. We studied, then went in the sector. Our faatamaaraa was at noon, so we ate really well and started our fast around 2 or 3pm. Also, Saturday night was the baptism for V! It was great. J baptized her. That was cool for me, because I baptized J last month. Now he is baptizing his family! Cool how the gospel works. Also, V is basically ready to serve a mission already. She shared some cool scriptures in her testimony Sunday at church and I am humbled to be the missionary who got to teach and baptize this family! They are the golden family for a missionary!

Oh yeah, Wednesday was like a national holiday or something here. In fact, no one really knows what the holiday was, but there was a parade in Papeete and all the missionaries walked in it! Sounds like fun right? Wrong. Actually, we ended up waiting in parade formation for about 2 hours to walk in the parade, standing around in the sun waiting and waiting, and then the actual parade route was about 5 minutes long.

Other fun news: Elder F likes running! He's the new assistant in the house, and we went running a few mornings this week. Turns out my heart is in pretty good shape from biking, but my hips and legs were super sore after running! It's been too long! Eating healthy and exercising like I want is definitely one of the biggest trials for me on my mission. I have no agency, because you can't just go running without a companion. I hate that rule. Honestly, I am an independent person. I like making decisions and going and doing what I want just like that. It drives me nuts waiting around for someone else's agreement for every little activity. Argh. Haha mini rant finished.

What else is new... I talked with Elder P on the phone last night. He went out to Makemo, an atoll in the Tuamoto archipelago. It's comparable to Ahe, just a little bigger. He was feeling a little lost. He went from being the assistant, in the middle of all the action, etc. to being out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do! Haha it's his first time in the islands. But it's a good life experience. I'm glad to have the experience and lessons and memories from Ahe. I want to go visit Ahe with you guys one day, it would actually be fun for 1 or 2 days as a tourist.

Voilà my week! I don't have much else to report. There's a mini transfer in 2 weeks. If I'm not transferred, then I'll be transferred for sure at the next big transfer in 4 weeks. I've been in Papeete a long time now!

Well, I love seeing all the pictures and hearing all the updates from your guys' week. I miss you all tons! The longer I'm away and the more of the world I see, the more I am convinced that our little family is a piece of heaven on Earth and there really is "no place like home." I'm grateful we are an eternal family. Keep me in your prayers, have a good week, love you!

Elder Barlow