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!