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