Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick and challenging week

This one is from the hike today. The view of the ocean and of Moorea was absolutely stunning. Magnificent.
Hello family!

Wow it has been a quick week. In fact, this week was one of the more challenging weeks for me, but it seemed to go really fast! Challenging, why? A lot of lessons fell through this week and we just didn't have anything planned to do. So we did door to door contacting in an apartment complex for the first time ever on my mission. Haha. Yes, I am now a missionary who knows how to knock doors. We found some good potential that we will go see this week. Also, fun story. We went to visit an old investigator when a lesson fell through, but she wasn't home. Her family member was home though. Apparently she has talked with the missionaries before, a long time ago. She wanted to be baptized but couldn't quit smoking. I felt prompted to ask her when was the last time she tried to quit smoking? She said "I fasted yesterday and didn't smoke for 6 hours." What? So we told her obviously God had sent us to answer her prayers for help! We will work with her for the next few weeks. She is really potential for baptism. It's amazing, God knows each one of his children and uses the smallest, most random situations to answer prayers. On a mission I have the chance to see little miracles like that more often than the average person. I'm grateful for that.
What else is new... oh, yesterday we were fasting for an investigator, so basically we were entitled to the spirit. The weekly report is due each Sunday at 2pm. Yesterday after church (around noon) we realized we needed one more new investigator for the week to fulfill the "standards of excellence" (weekly goals for each companionship). So we prayed that God would lead us, then we went to see some potential. We went to see a lady who we have talked to before, but she has never let us fix another time to come back. To count someone as a new investigator, you have to do at least one lesson with them and fix another date for another lesson. So we stopped by and she was home. She actually lives with her parents, who are members. We were talking and she told us she wasn't ready for the lessons. She comes to church often and knows all the doctrine anyways, etc. She kept telling us no when we asked if we could come back another day. Then I had the thought to ask if they do family home evening as a family. Inspired thought by the Holy Ghost, glory to God, and long story short we are teaching the lesson tonight at their family home evening! Cool! When we work hard and rely on God, he helps us meet our goals.
What else is new... the hike last P Day was cool, but our zone is wimpy! Everyone got tired quick, we only hiked for about 2 hours. And up high it got foggy, so there wasn't much of a view. It was cool though, it was actually kind of cold! I miss being cold sometimes.
This P Day we did another short hike above Punaauia. It had a killer view! I'll try to send pictures, sorry if it doesn't work though.
Other news.. oh yeah! I'm a district leader now! So I have to lead weekly meetings and give formations/trainings and stuff. I also take the weekly report for my district each Sunday, etc. Fun stuff. That's about all the news I can think of this week. Thanks for all of your emails, I loved seeing all the pictures too! When I opened my email today, the inbox was full of emails from family. Those are my favorite emails to read. So thanks.
 Love you tons, have a good week!

Elder Barlow

Monday, May 23, 2016

Today we go... HIKING!!!

Hello family!

Yes, we're going hiking soon so I don't have a ton of time. This morning we went and did our shopping for the week, now our email, and in about 20 minutes (around 11am) we're going hiking as a zone up above Faaa somewhere. I can't wait to get up in the mountains! It's been a long time. Apparently the hike takes about 4 hours, my goal is to do it in 2 or 3. One of my zone leaders said he's down to run the trail with me; we'll see if he can keep up.

This past week was good. We had one baptism of K, a little 9 year old boy we've been teaching. Elder Langomazino baptized him, and I gave him the Holy Ghost (in French this time ;) ). That was good. Our other baptism that was on plan didn't go through.

Other cool stories. The 4th of June is the marriage and baptism of a couple who is actually from Ahe. Small world, huh? The husband agreed to be baptized this week on the same day as the marriage with his wife. He asked me to baptize him. They were telling us during a lesson this week that before their life was "normal." But now they realize that their life before was filled with "darkness." They told us that since we showed up the first day, their whole life has been filled with light. It is amazing. I have never seen someone so prepared to accept the gospel. They really were waiting only because they knew not where to find the truth.

Another couple we're teaching is an inactive member and his girlfriend. She told us she had been searching for the truth and prayed to God to send her some help to find the truth. The same day we showed up on her doorstep. I remember that day, we were in the quartier, it was raining pretty hard, and we had no planned lessons. So we went exploring up high where we had never been before. We were kind of down and didn't stop to knock any doors (or shout over the gates, as we don't really "knock doors" here in Tahiti). But for some reason I felt like I should just keep walking up this steep hill in the rain, I kind of had the thought that it would be fun to explore. At the top of the hill, the path happened to be blocked by a big piece of metal, and as it was raining it was getting muddy. So we turned around. We decided to stop by one house that was next to the path, and they let us in. And now 3 or 4 weeks later, the girlfriend wants to get married so she can get baptized. Now we just have to convince the boyfriend to come back to the church. He told us last night after watching our missionary concert that he had a dream of two angels or something like that; and talking to us, he thinks that we are the fulfillment of his dream. So that was cool. Just some cool examples of how the Lord knows all his children and brings about miracles by small and simple means.

Overall, a normal week. We worked really hard to see our investigator with the baptism every day, as recommended in Preach my Gospel. Also, Friday for our zone conference I gave the training and I think it went really well. While preparing for the training during the week, I realized I have taught 18 people this year who are now baptized members of the church this year (between Tavararo and Papeete). That's a lot for this mission, so I felt pretty qualified to give the training on "how to avoid losing planned baptisms." On reflecting on all the amis who went through with their baptisms, I realized the key is really to get the amis to read the book of mormon and come to church. If they do that, they get baptized. I think the formation went really well, I definitely learned a lot by giving it.

Other than that, a normal week. The missionary concert last night was here in Papeete. Next week it's down in Punaauia, the other side of Faaa. I'm excited for the concert in a few weeks in Papeari, the other side of the island. I've never been over there. Apparently it's pretty and a little more wild, weather, terrain, etc. Cool. I want to serve there one day.

Voilà, things are going well for me! Love and miss you all, have a good week!

Elder Barlow

Monday, May 2, 2016

Another week is gone... and it is May.

Hello family!

Another week is gone and it is May! I have been in Papeete now for over 14 weeks. Time is flying. There is a transfer next week, but I hope I stay here. Normally I should stay here at least one more transfer.

This week went well. We worked really hard. We went and visited our family with the fixed baptism every day this week. Their baptism is this coming Saturday. It's cool to see them changing. Apparently they used to live on the streets here and beg for their food. Now they have a pension that pays for a tiny apartment, but they are still extremely poor. But they are really starting to open up. I hope everything goes well this week, we fasted for them yesterday.

Another cool story: we went to a lesson with a member but our investigator wasn't there. Lame! That makes us feel panicky as missionaries, especially because a member gave up their time to come with us and then our investigator wasn't even there. So we prayed a little and thought of who we could go see instead. We both felt like calling a lady we had contacted 2 weeks before. She said we could come over and do a lesson, so we went over to her house. We taught the first lesson, the restoration, and it was awesome. At the end she started crying and said that when we had called she heard a voice that said "Ouvre ta porte," which means open your door, aka let the missionaries come over. She said she has been searching for something in her life. It was cool! Afterwards, we were reflecting and we realized we were totally led by the spirit to call her. Follow up with her... she came to a baptism this Saturday and loved it! And then Saturday night we did a presentation at the center across from the temple and she loved it again! But then she didn't show up for church yesterday.... the struggle. We just have to commit her to get married to her "basically husband but they're not married yet after 20 plus years," and then she can get baptized. Cool!

I have been sick since about a week before Elder Porter got transferred, over one month now straight with something or other. But luckily I am still feeling better overall. I have energy now to keep doing normal stuff. I restarted my workouts in the morning too and that feels great. I can't wait for after the mission to go on adventures with the family.

Yesterday was fast Sunday. It's the first time I've fasted in 2 months or so because I was sick. So I am excited to see what blessings come. Last night we were at the center waiting for some other missionaries doing a presentation to finish and then drop us off at our house. But what ended up happening is all the missionaries who were there had their faatamaaraa's dropped off (meals the members make for us). All in all, there were 6 Elders and 2 Sisters from our zone who were there. So after the presentation ended, we all said a prayer and then ate together! It was super fun. Our zone is awesome. To make things better, it was like 7:30 at night and I hadn't broken my fast yet so I was starving and the food tasted pretty good! And after being on a mission for a while now, I can support the saying that missions make you appreciate your mother's cooking. I miss the food back home!

That's about it for my week. Today is another super packed P Day. I just want a p day where I can actually prepare for the week and rest. Today we're doing mail from 8 to 10am, then from 10 to noon we have our missionary choir practice. Then at 1pm we have to go pick up some of our investigators because they have to go do a special baptismal interview at the mission office with a member of the mission presidency. Then afterwards, around 2 or 3pm we have to go do our shopping for the week, and that leaves about 2 hours from 4 to 6pm to clean the house and "prepare" for the week. At 6pm P day ends and we'll hopefully do a lesson/family night with some investigators. At 7pm we're going to eat at a member's house. P Day is too busy! Voilà. We actually say "voilà" all the time. French haha.

Have a good week,

Elder Barlow