Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Last time in June!

Hello for the last time in June!

That actually went by pretty quick.. weird. This week has been good, I don't have a whole lot of news. Tuesday was the baptism for K, our investigator we found tracting in the rain that one day a long time ago. I had the honor to baptize her, it was cool. An additional blessing, we invited a new investigator named J to come to the baptism and he came! And he liked it, and his girlfriend (who is pregnant with their second child together) came too, and she liked it!

The rest of the week continued like normal, lessons, work, etc. Our ward had a "fariiraa" for the senior missionary couple Jones, who finishes in several weeks. They're from England. A fariiraa consists of lots of Tahitian dancing and music and afterwards eating! It was great! I loved it, our ward is awesome! It's starting to feel like home here in Papeete, I know all the members and everything. It was like a normal ward activity back home, only in French and with different faces. Weird, huh? At the end of the fariiraa, the Jones were given a time to share their thoughts, testimonies, etc. Elder Jones doesn't speak French very well, and he called me out of the audience to come translate for him in front of everyone! Yikes! President and Sister Bize were in the audience too, so the pressure was on (they both speak English). But as Elder Jones started talking and I translated, the words came naturally and I realized I speak French! Weird... the gift of tongues is real! Afterwards I realized I made several little errors technically, but whatever, everyone understood the message.

Yesterday after church, we went to do a missionary concert in Mahina. It was okay. Except I got a little bit of a cold or something because after singing I lost my voice! This morning my voice is all growly and deep and people probably think I am a bear. Haha. Plus, I no longer speak English. Elder P left Saturday night and his replacement is Elder F, a Tahitian. So now at our house it is two Tahitians, one Frenchman, and me! Bye bye English.

That's about all I can think of that is new... later today we might go do a short hike or something, it's sunny outside today. Other things you want to know? Sorry if this letter seems informal, I'm tired and don't feel like writing all professionally today. Missionary life is good overall, sometimes a little long, sometimes the same thing over and over. But the rewards are worth it!

Oh a side note: remember A and J, our new converts? They are super active and awesome, etc. They got their patriarchal blessings this weekend, and we have been teaching their daughter and she is so excited for her baptism this Saturday! She is already preparing to serve a mission next year, I am astounded at how prepared she was. She has learned almost completely the scriptures and church culture and church doctrine in just one week! What?! Amazing. The investigators like that make life so good. Why isn't everyone else like that? Voilà my week.
It was fun to hear from all of you! Stay righteous and keep praying for me!

Love you all,

Elder Barlow

Monday, June 20, 2016

10 Months!!!

Selfie at emails with Elder R and a picture of Bora Bora on his computer haha.
Hike from last week!
Dear Family,

The update for transfers: I am staying another six weeks in Papeete 2! Woot woot! That means I will have spent over 1/4th of my mission here! But I am happy because it is the best sector ever. Between the assistants and us we have 5 baptisms on plan for this weekend, we're totally leading the mission and feeling the spirit and it's cool. Elder P has finished as assistant and will go finish his mission in the islands. The new guy in our house will be Elder F, the new assistant. He's Tahitian, so I will be the only English speaker in the house! Good bye to English for a while... Also, Elder R finishes his mission in 6 weeks, so I get to witness his "death" on the mission. Haha.

Highlights of the week: remember last week I was in a hurry to email because we had to go to a family night? Well, the family night was in Fautaua Val, a quartier in our sector. And pretty much the whole neighborhood was there! We watched Meet the Mormons on a big projector screen, then ate barbecued chicken afterwards! A ton of potential investigators were there, and they said they really felt the spirit. So all week we were working in Fautaua Val contacting people who were at the "soirée" (family night). We have lots of potential and new amis and it was so great! Our ward is really the best ever.

Another highlight: Elder Pearson of the seventy came with Sister Carol F. McConkie and Linda S. Reeves and their spouses (young women's presidency and relief society presidency). They spoke to all the mission on Friday morning and that was awesome. We sang "I'll go where you want me to go" for them and Elder Pearson was really touched. He said he loves that song. He mentioned that as a seventy he has learned that he "belongs to the church." Think of the word "belongs." The church doesn't belong to us, we belong to the church. We really need to commit our lives to serving the Lord. It was a great talk, I felt the spirit. Also, we got to talk with each of them and shake their hands. For the first time in 10 months, when I said I was from Washington, they asked "Oh, where in Washington?" So refreshing. The normal response from people here in Tahiti is "Oh, do you know Obama?!" Elder Pearson was the mission president in Tacoma in 2005, so he knew where Moses Lake is. Cool! Also, I was reading his bio on the program for our meeting, and he happens to have an MBA from Harvard Business School. Seeing things like that continues to inspire me to dream big and go after my goals.

Another highlight: since our ward is awesome and happens to be right next to the temple, this Sunday for church Sister Reeves came to our ward. She and her husband spoke in sacrament. After, during the third hour I was outside priesthood opening exercises. The way our chapel is, is that there is a big courtyard in the middle, and all the classes open into the courtyard. So I could see into the relief society classroom. What do you know? I saw Sister Reeves up front with her arm around one of my investigators and smiling and talking with her (via an interpreter). Yes, my investigators were being taken care of by a member of the relief society general presidency, no big deal. I found out after that a bunch of my investigators had a chance to bear their testimony and everyone felt the spirit. It was a testimony to me that we are led by people chosen and inspired by God. Anyways, remember the couple who just got baptized and married two weeks ago? They came to church yesterday with one of their daughters, who is 19 years old. Apparently her mom (new convert) bore her testimony in relief society, and after the daughter (named) bore her testimony too! What?! We haven't even taught her yet! She said she felt many "deep emotions" at church, aka the spirit! So we fixed a lesson with her and yesterday afternoon after the chapel, we taught her the plan of salvation and engaged her to be baptized in 13 days, the 2 of July, by her father who happened to receive the Aaronic Priesthood last week! Miracles are happening here! She was so excited and touched and said yes right away! Bam! The Lord is preparing people for the gospel, this family is gold. I am so grateful and humbled to be able to be the instrument the Lord uses to bring his children into the truth and light of the Gospel.

Another highlight: today is P Day.

Haha it is so fun to hear from everyone. I have been out for 10 months as of yesterday! What?!
That's about it for this week. I am doing well.  K
eep praying for me, I need it!

Also, the girl we tracted into who is getting baptized on Tuesday gave me an awesome mother of pearl shell with Elder Barlow engraved on it, and mountains and palm trees and "Tahiti" and their family's name engraved on it. It is a huge beautiful shell, what a treasure! Cool, huh? Today is raining really hard, so we will probably end up playing basketball or something. No hiking this week;(

Love you all and miss you tons! Keep me updated on the comings and goings of everyone at home!


Elder Barlow

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Can you believe it is already June?

Hello family!

Can you believe it is already June? I can't believe it has been a whole year since I graduated high school and big bend and seminary! Wow, time flies. Thanks for the letters and pictures! I love hearing all the fun updates on life in the USA.

This week was alright, it went by pretty quickly. Our sector has really slowed down the past two weeks. We need to find new investigators. We did some door to door and contacting again this week, but that doesn't really work. It is terribly inefficient. We ended up with about 20 lessons this week and 0 new investigators. But there is some good news: we had the marriage and baptism for A and J! It was Saturday. They are so ready to be contributing members in the Lord's church. I am proud to have been able to teach and baptize them. After their marriage at the city hall, the wedding party came to the chapel (Saturday just after noon). The Bishop blessed their marriage, and then we had a nice baptism service. I baptized J and a little boy named T who we taught a while ago (now he is 8 years old, but his mom is a member so it counts as a primary baptism). After the baptism, they had some refreshments, cake, etc. and some members of the family did a cool Tahitian dance. It was really nice and an all around good event for everyone. That means that Elder L and I have had 6 convert baptisms together in the past 6 weeks! (7 baptisms together if you count the primary baptism.) Not bad, huh? The Lord is really blessing us with success. All it takes is hard work and the Lord does the rest!

Saturday also happened to be Elder R's birthday. The ward gave him a cake. Then someone gave us cake from the marriage. Then at our Faatamaaraa Saturday night the family ate cake with us and then gave us what we didn't eat (over half of a huge cake). As a result, we have way too much cake at our house! And it's all really good cake too, not just your average cake. We froze some haha. Saturday night the faatamaaraa was actually at a member's house who lives not far from President Bize. So after we left the faatamaaraa with cake in hand, we had the idea to go stop by President's house and offer them some cake! Haha. Since we are always with the assistants, it isn't too scary to go to President's house. We dropped off some cake and spent a few minutes talking with President. It was cool. Their house is really nice, air conditioning and everything. Then we went home.

What else is new... yesterday we had another missionary concert in Arue (just next to Papeete). It was also Fast Sunday. Glad that's over for another month! Haha. But when I was fasting yesterday, I felt like I really had the spirit with me. I was really direct with all our investigators and a lot more serious than normal.  When it comes to the gospel, it is a serious matter, with eternal life hanging in the balance.

That's about all for this week! I don't really have any other news. Oh, since I'm district leader, I do all the baptismal interviews with the investigators that the missionaries in my district teach. This week I did 3 interviews. It is so cool to see the people who are ready for baptism. They have made the necessary changes in their lives and are ready to follow Christ. I love it! People are also really open in interviews, you see into their soul. It gives me hope for the world, there are good people out there who need the gospel.

Today is P Day! We don't have anything planned, so I don't know. Maybe we'll end up playing basketball somewhere. I would love that. Until next week! Miss you guys, have a good week!


Elder Barlow