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!


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!


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