Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I ate a cat

Hi family!

Sorry I forgot to send a big group email last week, I didn't even think about it until I had already logged off the computer.

This week went well. We had a lot of lessons and things to do, so time passed quickly. Tuesday we had lessons, the norm.

Wednesday was awesome! The branch from Tahaa was here at Tahiti for the temple all last week. We got to go and do baptisms for the dead with our new converts! S and H came with the branch. It was so fun to see all the members. We went early in the morning. S wasn't originally planning to come to the temple this year, so I was really excited when I found out she was coming. I pushed pretty hard for her and H to come when I was still in Tahaa. Anyways, Wednesday morning Elder J and I got to watch S be baptized in the temple for her mother. Then we had the privilege to lay our hands on S's head and give the gift of the Holy Ghost to her mom. Super cool experience! The veil is really thin. It's so neat to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I'm grateful that I was able to go to Tahaa and find S. Thanks for making me take piano lessons, Mom! :)

Thursday and Friday we had some more lessons, normal stuff.

Other notable events: a dog peed on my foot without me noticing it... I don't remember if I already told you that last week?

Thursday night we taught two new investigators, H and H. They're a younger couple with a few young kids. They were a member referral. They're super potential! We taught them the first lesson yesterday (Sunday) and they are open to the idea of baptism if they get a response that the book of Mormon is true. Teaching members' referrals is the best!

I forgot to update you all last week, but we also fixed the baptism of M, the wife of a new convert. She's been ready to get baptized for a while, but kept waiting. She's getting baptized on August 19th with her 8 year old daughter! Yay! We also started teaching M's sister, T, and her daughter K. They want to get baptized the same day as M. Also, T's husband accepted to start taking lessons too! Glory to God.

This morning Elder F, an Elder from Vanuatu who lives with us, killed, skinned, and cooked a cat for us! The zone leaders caught it on Saturday and it's been tied up outside our house all weekend. It tastes like chicken! Yes, of course I ate it. Really, it's not bad. Now I just have to taste dog before I go home! Haha.

Tonight we have the baptism of R! She's been taking lessons for 3 years or so. So things are good! This might be my last baptism on my mission.. weird.

This week should be good. This Friday we have my last-ever zone conference. Then Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday night we have HEIVA! It's the huge Tahitian cultural celebration with lots of dancing, music, and good food! I'll keep you updated on it all next week. I'm playing the piano for our ward's Heiva choir next Sunday night. We had "choir practice" yesterday. Fun stuff!

See you all soon!!!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

july

Hi family!

This week went by pretty quickly. Tuesday morning we went into Papeete and met President and Sister Fox. Sister Fox is from CA, and I think President Fox is from WA? I'm not sure. They met at BYU and got married 8 months after President Fox's mission to France. They have 5 kids, all grown and married or moved out. They lived in WA for about 20 years. They were in the MTC for about 5 days in which they saw 13 of the 15 apostles. Up on the stand in front of everyone, right before President Fox got up to talk to us, they kissed and everyone went awwww. Then President Fox said "ne faites pas cela!" Don't do that! Hahahaha. He seems really cool.
Tuesday night we had a reference from some members and taught the Restoration. We then blessed the lady we were teaching and she was crying afterwards. It was a cool spiritual experience.
From the rest of the week, I don't have a whole lot to report. We taught lessons, etc. Time is flying by fast.
Yesterday at church we gave talks as part of a missionary program. I taught about the importance of members, using the example of Alma and Amulek in the city of Ammonihah. Alma was rejected the first time around, but with the help of Amulek they had some success, notably Zeezrom.
Last night we had our second to last missionary concert in the Papeari stake, about 30 minutes away from here. To get there, we had to drive through my old zone of Paea. So fun!
This morning we played basketball again. President Fox texted us yesterday and told us he would be coming, but then we got a text from him this morning at 4am ish saying he wouldn't make it today. Maybe next week. Basketball was fun, as always.
Thanks for all the news and pictures. Happy holidays! Also, I bought a postcard to send but forgot to put it in the mail today. Sorry. Haha. Maybe if I send it next week, I'll get home before it gets there! Weird.
Have a great week, love you all!

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

JULY

Already July....? Wow.

This week went really fast! We were in Papeete a lot: Wednesday for a goodbye meeting with President Bize, then Thursday again to walk in a parade. It was a holiday here: "l'autonomie," or independence. With those activities, those two days seemed to fly by. Like always, it was fun to see all the missionaries and talk. I was talking with some sisters who went to BYU for a semester before their mission, and it made me really excited for college! (As if I wasn't already really excited!)
We had a really good day on Friday. We fixed a marriage and 2 baptisms of a younger couple for the 5th of August (birthday present for Andrea haha). We'll teach them the word of wisdom this coming week. They're names are N and H. That same day, we happened to find 3 new amis. The Lord put them in our path! We started teaching the boyfriend of an inactive girl, and also found the mom of a new convert who happened to be at her daughter's house when we stopped by. So that was a pretty good day.
Saturday.. all morning we were in the zone leaders' sector with the whole zone doing a "blitz." That's where we go to see members and ask for references. We got some names for them. In the afternoon we just planned for next week. Also, Elder J and I planned for the next 6 weeks. We get along really well.  Did I mention that he's half Tahitian? His Mom grew up in Takaroa, an atoll right next to Ahe. But Elder J grew up in Arizona. So he's straight up American with a level of islander cool. We have fun together and work hard.

This morning we played basketball, then went shopping. I found a really cool pancake mix from an American imports store that looks really delicious and I'm excited to try! It's packed with protein and whole grains and good stuff.

Tonight we have a family night with all the new converts, like normal. Tomorrow we go into Papeete again for a hello with President Fox and all the missionaries. We also have some new references to start teaching this week. Should be good!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June comes to an end

Sunday night at Orefero!

Hello family!

This week flew by really fast. We taught family night last Monday night with all the new converts and our DMP (ward mission leader). Tuesday morning I had my last personal interview with President Bize. We just talked a little about my plans for after the mission, etc. I told him I'm going to BYU to study finance, etc. He said he'll be in Provo at the end of August before BYU starts for our first mission reunion. Can't wait for that!

All week we've been preparing for the missionary concert in our stake (it was last night). We've had coordination meetings with the high council members in the stake, handed out tons of invitations, committed members to invite their amis, etc.

Wednesday night was our once-a-month "missionary" ward council. That's where we give our report to the ward council and then we have about half an hour to give a formation! I don't know if it's necessary, but we did it. I was a little nervous, since I don't really know the members that well yet, but we went for it. We basically taught how to teach the Restoration to investigators, then had all the ward council members role play teaching it to someone else in one minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, and in one phrase. The members took it so seriously and got all nervous when I would go listen in on their conversation. In other words, it was a good formation. Oh, if formation doesn't make sense in English, it means training. Sorry... French cognates.

We had some lessons this week with F, the brother of a new convert. Testimony of the importance of members: we invited G, a new convert, to the lesson with F. They're both younger, in their 20s and single. The lesson with F went so well! We got him all motivated to obey the word of wisdom. It helped a ton to have a new convert right there encouraging him, saying "it's worth it! I did it, so you can do it too!" Members, go on splits with the missionaries! They need you!

The longer I am on a mission, the less stressful everything gets. Time is just flying by! It feels so natural to be a missionary.
Sunday was our last missionary concert with President and Sœur Bize. It was in our stake, Punaauia. It was a huge success. The chapel was filled, then the overflow, then the entire cultural hall behind all the way back to the stage. Then they brought in chairs and filled in the aisles. It was a full house! We have about 100 missionaries who are on Tahiti who sing in the concert. It was a pretty emotional concert, with President and Sœur Bize leaving and all. We sang "God be with you 'til we meet again" with the congregation at the end and Sœur Bize was crying. We will miss them! As part of the program, I had to read a little quote from "the Living Christ" (the theme of our concert) and then share some thoughts on it. It went really well. We had a lot of amis there and a lot of new faces. The members did a pretty good job inviting their friends.

This morning we played basketball with the zone and now we're doing our emails. Later we have an appointment with our house-owner.. we might be moving out or something. I don't really know.

This week we have a last goodbye meeting/meal with President and Sœur Bize on Wednesday. On Thursday night President and Sister Fox get here. We'll meet them next Sunday at a missionary concert, and then we have a meeting with them during the week sometime. Should be fun! I'm glad I'm on Tahiti right now and get to join in on all the partying! Haha. Life's good. I love the people here and don't want to leave. Luckily paradise is only a plane ride away.

Fun to hear everyone's updates on the week. Have a good week!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hi family!

This week went pretty well. I saw lots of blessings.

Monday night we ate dinner at our Bishop's house and had a good time talking with him and his wife. They're young, only 28 or so. He served a mission in Salt Lake.
Tuesday we had lots of lessons with members! Yay for members! We gave out calendars to help some people keep track of their cigarettes and overcome their problems with the word of wisdom. They seemed excited about it so that's good. Trying to be creative!
We found a new investigator this week, so that's super good! It's a younger lady named M. She's originally from Bora Bora but is living here at her aunt's house until August. Perfect! She seems really interested and wants to know "how she can get into Heaven." We have the answer for that!
We've been working a lot with the new converts too. They're all doing pretty well. We do a lot of lessons with one young couple who is still struggling to overcome smoking. But I love them. I realized part of our missionary purpose is to help others come unto Christ by "enduring to the end." So we're helping the converts a lot!
We had some good faatamaaraa's with the members during the week. The members here in French Polynesia are amazing. So loving, so generous. Such good people. I'm so blessed to meet them and live among them.
Saturday night we had a missionary concert in Papeete. Guess who I ran into?!?!? I saw CLWU from Orofero for the first time in over 6 months! And I also saw A and J for the first time in almost a year! J just got back from Ahe so I was lucky to see him. They were there with V (their daughter) and K P S (another convert from Papeete). I also ran into my bishop from Papeete 2 and a bunch of members and everyone recognized me and was happy to see me. And boy was I happy to see them! I see Elder L at every concert too so it's really fun to go take pictures with our converts together. I also ran into Elder J for the first time in like 3 weeks. He's back from Tahaa and he started his mission in Papeete 2 so he knows a lot of my converts and they know him too. A and J told me that their son got baptized last year! (He's about 18 I think.) So they will all get sealed together in December this year if all goes well! SOOOO happy about that!
Sunday night we went to the stake of Paea for our concert. I ran into a lot of people again that I know and love. It was a weekend of blessings for me. I saw B, an investigator that Elder S and I found together and that I taught a lot with Elder N at Orofero. She isn't baptized yet but she said her son now comes to church with her! (about 15 years old I think.) B is bff's with the relief society president, Sister T (who I also saw last night, I love her and her husband, they're one of my favorite families from Orofero!). B is basically a counselor in the relief society, but unofficially because she's not a member yet haha.
Today was a super fun P day. We cleaned in the morning, then Elder J and I caught a ride with the zone leaders and they dropped us off downtown at the market in Papeete. We wanted to buy some souvenirs. So we went downtown and stopped at an ATM. Then we were going through shops. In one of the shops we ran into Sister F, who is serving as a senior couple with her husband. They're in my district in Punaauia. They're Tahitians, and they give us food and stuff all the time. Anyways, we ran into her in this store. Totally random. And then she bought everything for us! So we chose out some stuff, but then she went around the store and grabbed a whole bunch more and bought it all for us!!! The Lord blessed us for sure with that. I can't tell you what we got because it's a surprise for you all when I get home ;) Then we went and grabbed a "casse-croute" (sub sandwich) for lunch and sat down to eat it, and some random guy came up to us and handed us 2 cans of Coke and then walked off. What?! It was crazy! The Lord has the power to send free stuff when we're obedient! So crazy! Then we were walking back to the car, and I ran into G MAPU from Orofero. She is the wife of M, the guy that Elder N and I found by walking down the street in Orofero. He wasn't able to get married/baptized when I was still there, but it turns out that he got married about 2 months later and baptized. She said they go to church together every week and I was so happy to see them!
Voilà a really long email, but I saw so many little blessings this week. I am humbled to know that God is there. He knows each one of us and he can bless us more than we can imagine possible if we are obedient.
Some verses that I really like in my studies this week: Mosiah 26:14-37. Also the talk "Walk With Me" by President Eyring in the Priesthood session of last general conference.
I have to go, have a good week, I love you all!!!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

june

Hello family!

This week flew by pretty quickly. Every week goes by pretty quickly now.
Monday afternoon we went for a little hike down in the zone of Papeari. We hiked up to some ponds with little natural waterfall/waterslides into them.
Tuesday we had our multizone conferences with President Bize. It was only a half day this time. We drove down to the stake of Paea (my old stake!) for some formations and what not in the morning. In the afternoon we went back into the sector and taught a few lessons.
Thursday night we ate at a member's house and they made homemade cheesecake that was pretty delicious! Then Friday our faatamaaraa was dropped off at our house and they had bought real cheesecake that tasted REALLY GOOD. It's the first time I eat cheesecake in almost 2 years!
Saturday night we had a "family night" with our zone because there's a few people finishing or getting transferred today. We played a bunch of games and ate together and that was pretty fun.
Yesterday (Sunday) after church we drove over to Mahina for another missionary concert. I saw K and V, two of my converts from Papeete. So fun to see them! V said her parents (A and J) are coming to the concert this Saturday in Papeete. I am excited to see them. It's been over a year now since their marriage and baptisms, so I hope to hear that they'll go to the temple soon to be sealed! I would be able to attend their sealing if they get sealed before August!
This morning we woke up early and played basketball at the chapel, then we had to drive into Papeete to drop off missionaries' stuff for the transfers. We are going to have 6 missionaries in our house now; they just put 2 elders into the ward of Taapuna. It will be Elder J and I, Elder M and Elder H (who started with me), and Elder O (from Tahiti) and Elder F (from Vanuatu) in the ward of Taapuna. Should be an adventure.

My companion and I had fun speaking to each other in a british accent all week. It got to the point where I started thinking in a British accent. Haha.

Have a good week, love and miss you all!

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happy June!

Hello family!

This week has flown by. Last week we played basketball with the zone for P day. We actually played against the zone of Paea and we won. Hehe.
The week went by really quick. Tuesday we taught a ton of lessons. We do a lot of follow up lessons with new converts. They are all active, but we make sure to follow up with each of them. Many of them have already gone to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Super cool!
Wednesday was similar, more lessons, some contacting, etc.
Thursday morning we went and did a session in the temple. It was the first time I've been in over 6 months, so that was nice! Always very peaceful in the temple.
Friday we had a district meeting in the morning, then planned for the week in the afternoon. We taught our English class at night.
Saturday was a good day. In the morning we had a "blitz." All the missionaries in our zone came to our ward and split up with our ward missionaries. We went out and visited a large part of the active members in the ward (almost all of them) and asked them for referrals, committing them to go and talk with their amis. The idea is to find member referrals and then go contact them with the member who gave the referral. So this week we'll be going with our ward mission leader (we say DMP) or our ward missionaries to follow up with the members and see if we can start teaching their amis. Saturday afternoon we were invited to eat at a really cool restaurant called "Captain Bligh" right on the water front of Tahiti. There was a pretty view of Moorea and a nice sea breeze coming through the windows. Gorgeous. We were invited by a convert from Moorea who knows Elder Jordan, my comp, from when he served over there. After eating a ton, we started our fast because...
...Sunday was fast Sunday. Church was nice. It's so different being in a ward than in a tiny branch for sacrament meeting and classes, etc. After church we ran home and ate, then went back to the chapel for another missionary concert. The concert was at our chapel this week at Vairai. We actually go to the stake center of Faaa for church, so the concert this week was for the Faaa stake. In a few weeks we'll be at a different chapel here in Punaauia for the concert for the Punaauia stake. (By the way, Punaauia is pronounced Poo-now-wee-uh. Some people make an almost v sound when they say it, like Poo-now-vee-uh, but it's subtle.) The concerts are always fun, I love seeing all the other missionaries and catching up, etc.
This morning we woke up early and played basketball at our stake center with some members. It's a holiday here today, I'm not sure what for. But no one has work today. When we went shopping there were tons of people at the store. Later this afternoon we're planning on going on a little hike down in Mataia, near Papeari.
Life's good! Time is going by too quickly. I'm busy and enjoying the missionary work while I can. Have a good week everyone. Stay righteous!

Lots of love,

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

End of May

Hi family!

This week was excellent. Monday night we went to do a family night at Tiva with members and some of their friends who are starting to investigate. I said goodbye and took photos after. The members gave me so many goodbye gifts! I can't tell you all what yet, because it's a surprise, but they gave me gifts for you all, too!
Tuesday we went and said goodbye to M and S and J. Sooooo sad. I played the piano and they all sang for a last time. Then we took photos. After, when I was leaving, M came out with gifts for me. She gave me a bunch of vanilla from Tahaa (so cool!) and a pearl necklace! The saddest part, I went to say goodbye and then M and S started crying! Goodbyes are so bittersweet. Wednesday we biked a lot and did some lessons.
Thursday morning I packed all morning and then went over to Raiatea with members. Oh, I forgot to mention, when H found out that I was transferred she was super sad because we just met like 3 weeks ago. So we went and had a family night lesson and ate at their house Tuesday and Wednesday night. Thursday morning she stopped by and dropped off tons of gifts for everyone in my family! And then she came with us and the family L to Raiatea Thursday afternoon and bought us food and stuff while waiting for the plane. She loves the missionaries now, it's amazing how fast she has accepted the Gospel. Also, her husband started taking the lessons!
I caught the plane Thursday afternoon and stopped at Bora Bora before flying back over Tahaa and Raiatea and back to Tahiti. Super gorgeous! Getting to Tahiti was weird. There are so many cars and people everywhere! It gave me new life and energy. I forgot what it's like to not live in super quiet paradise island. It's different, but fun! A lot more up-beat. I met my new companion, Elder J from Arizona, Thursday. Elder J is super cool.
My new ward is Outumaoro, in the stake of Punaauia. Church yesterday was awesome. It's the first time I went to church in a real chapel in 6 months!
Last night we drove down to Taravao for the first missionary concert of the year. We'll do a concert in all the stakes around Tahiti over the next few Sundays. So I got to see a lot of people that I haven't seen in a long time! I don't know about half the missionaries here now because I've been out in the islands for a long time.
Today we went shopping in the morning. Punaauia is kind of in the city. Right across from our house is the biggest shopping center on Tahiti, with a huge grocery store. It's kind of like Walmart. That was awesome! I love how much food there is. And it's cheaper than Tahaa. It will be even crazier in the US, food will seem so cheap!
I'm really excited and motivated to go to work for the next little bit. I want to finish strong and I am motivated to work because I realize that I can't be a missionary forever. It's weird, but normal. This afternoon we're going to go play basketball against my old zone, Paea. Should be fun! Happy to be back in Tahiti.
Have a good week!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Iaorana tatou!


Planting vanilla!


Drinking coconut water after working hard planting vanilla.
 Hi family,

This week was awesome!
Tuesday we did a lesson with H. She asked me to baptize her! I was surprised, but honored. Riding back home every night this week it was clear and beautiful and there's no moon, which means all the stars are incredible. I would bike and just look at the milky way and the beautiful water and think how blessed I am to be here serving the Lord. No worries in my life. Super fun.
Thursday morning we went to Raiatea and dropped off Elder J with Elder G (one of our zone leaders). Elder P took the boat back to Tahaa with me for a split! It was fun, Elder P and I started in the MTC together, we took the same plane to Raiatea together, and we've got to do a few splits together. Sorry I didn't get any pictures with him. But it was super fun. He did the baptismal interview for H. All good!
Friday morning we went back to Raiatea and switched back companions. Elder P couldn't believe how much biking we actually do here. So shout out to myself and Elder J for not dying of biking every single day! Haha.
Friday night (drum roll) was transfer calls. It turns out that I am transferred! I will finish my mission back on Tahiti at Outumaoro, Punaauia. It's about 10-15 minutes outside of downtown Papeete, so I am basically in the city. It's about halfway between Papeete and Paea, my old sectors. That's cool. The best news, I'm pretty sure that we have a car in our sector! Which means air conditioning and freedom to go visit my old sectors right before I finish! Woot woot! My new companion will be Elder J, an American. But I don't know how long we'll serve together. There's a mini transfer in 3 weeks and President Bize said in his weekly letter today for everyone to learn their new sectors really fast. Maybe I'll train someone in a new sector in 3 weeks! What an adventure! To make things better, Outumaoro is the ward with the most baptisms in the mission so far this year. So I am expected to keep baptizing a lot for the end of my mission apparently. Challenge accepted. I'm pumped!
Elder M will replace me. He's currently the zone leader at Paea. He got to Paea a few days before I left and later became zone leader and served with my ex comp., Elder N. He'll take over Haamene with Elder J.
I'm super sad to leave, especially because the sector is just starting to take off. But it feels good. I'm excited to go back to Tahiti and see everyone again and live in a house with multiple missionaries.
Saturday was the baptism day for H! We started the service at the chapel, then we all walked out to the ocean side. The 4 of us (H, myself, and 2 witnesses: Elder J and a member) walked out into the ocean. We had to walk pretty far out before it got deep enough, so that's why the photos might be kind of blurry. Luckily our branch president's daughter took a ton of high quality photos. I'll save them to my flash drive and you can all see them in a few months! It's the first time on my mission that I've gone into the water deeper than my knees. I wanted to keep going further in! Haha. Super gorgeous. I have the feeling that I am living a dream, honestly. Everything is flying by and it doesn't feel real. When I look at the photos, I'm like "oh yeah, I did that!" for example, baptizing someone in the ocean. So weird, but such a cool experience.
H's husband came to the baptism, and he must have liked it, because he showed up at church on Sunday!Wooo! We started teaching him yesterday and he seems pretty potential. I'm sad to leave such a great family behind. When they found out that I was leaving, they were super sad. H was like "We just met!" It's been 2 weeks since we started teaching H. A lot can happen in 2 weeks!
Last night we ate dinner for the last time at President Tsing's house with his family. I don't know why, but I feel so comfortable around them. Elder J makes fun of me and say that I'm like President Tsing's son. We've worked really hard together. President Tsing will see a lot of success in the next few years here at Haamene!
I leave Thursday afternoon for Tahiti, so there's a few more days to go say goodbye to everyone and do some more missionary work. This morning we went with a member into a "faaapu Vanille," or vanilla farm. We planted 3 rows of vanilla. Basically you just have to take some vanilla vine, tie it to a pole, and then cover the bottom of the vine with moist coconut husks (the vanilla's "food"). Then the vine will grow all by itself. Vanilla grows on a vine, like a bean. It basically looks like green beans. But it's really expensive because you have to mate the flowers by hands, bees don't do it. Vanilla is like literally worth it's weight in gold. Vanilla grows really well here on Tahaa, so they call it "l'isle vanille," or vanilla island. When we're biking around sometimes, we get lovely smells of Vanilla coming down the mountainsides. I'm truly in Neverland! After planting the vanilla (hard sweaty work!) the member fed us and we also drank coconut water right next to the ocean. Coolest thing ever!
Anyways, that's a little update on my week. If we come visit Tahaa in a few years, my vanilla plants should be big enough to give fruit and you can all take some vanilla home to the US.
I get to my new sector on Thursday night, I'll let you know how it is next week! Fun fact: Outumaoro is actually where I started my mission. Elder G was serving there when he was assigned to train me. So we worked in Outumaoro for about 3 days before we caught the plane to Ahe. Can't believe that that was 2 years ago! Time flies!

Have a great week, lots of love!

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 15, 2017


So randomly on Tuesday we get a call from Mareta and she asked if we were at the house because she wanted to drop something off. We weren't at the house, but later when we were back she dropped off a HUGE bag of groceries and tons of good stuff! Haha what?! We get money from the mission for groceries, but she just loves us too much! Awesome!

This is Sophia's grandson at our family night last Monday. He's super cute!

Saturday, ex Elder F (he finished his mission last September) stopped by our house. I was super surprised and super pumped to see him! He was really good friends with Elder P, so I got to know him last year at Papeete. He had also served at Tahaa and is visiting right now with his Mom.


 Hello family!

It was so great to skype with you yesterday. Happy Mother's Day!!!! It was fun to hear your voices. 45 minutes goes way too quickly!

This week has been good. Every day we have biked to the other side of the bay of Haamene to teach H. Her baptism is this Saturday and she can't wait! This week, almost every lesson was incredible. H is so prepared for the Gospel! We showed up to teach her on Tuesday. We had planned to teach the Plan of Salvation. The first thing she told us is "since the beginning of the year I've been asking myself a lot of questions. Like Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Also, my Dad died when I was 11, where is he now? Can I see him again one day?" What?!? No one ever asks those questions just like that, it was like reading a missionary textbook. So cool! So we taught her the plan of salvation and how this life is a time to prepare to meet God. She said her desire to get baptized went from being little to being 100% sure. She can't wait for this Saturday! It's awesome.
We taught her daughter yesterday too. Also, her husband came to the lesson yesterday for the first time and seemed to like it. Hopefully we can start teaching him! He said he "might" come to the baptism this Saturday.
Besides that, we biked a lot this week. Back and forth around the bay of Haamene, and also into the other villages and bays on their respective days. Vaitoare on Wednesday, Tiva on Thursday, Faaaha on Friday, etc. Friday night I went to bed fine. I woke up in the middle of the night really sick. Mostly in those moments of being sick I just think to myself, "I want my mommy!" Haha. Miss you mom. Saturday morning I was super wiped out.
Yesterday morning we left early to the chapel to skype with you! On the way there an old guy flagged us down. He asked "do you have a book of mormon for me?" Apparently his daughter is a member of the church and told him to get a book of mormon. He said he's been searching for the truth and has gone in all the religions. All the religions say they have the true church. How can he know which is true? Another moment of "did he just say that? Is this really happening?" Luckily, as missionaries, we have the answers to those types of questions! The man's name was T. We took down his number and said we'd try and stop by his house on Wednesday. He called us this morning and said he wanted to talk to us. He's pretty excited about the book of mormon apparently! We scheduled a lesson for Wednesday.
Yesterday at church all the members who found out that I was sick were mad at me for not calling them. Haha. They were like "why didn't you tell us? We can bring you medicine and food" and stuff etc. All I needed was to sleep, and I was feeling quite a bit better. It was pretty funny. The members love us too much.
In the middle of the night last night I woke up and Elder Jenkins was sick. Bummer. So today he's wiped out. Apparently my sickness was contagious. He called M, one of the member's who loves us! and asked her for some soda because that sounded good. She came by and dropped off soda and medicine. So we're well taken care of here. It's so fun.
Tonight we have our family night at the chapel with the branch. I'm excited, there should be a lot of investigators there! This Friday night we'll find out if there's a transfer for us. Pretty excited/nervous/completely no idea what to expect/ for the transfers. We'll see how it goes. Saturday is H's baptism in the bay of Haamene (I'll take lots of pictures, hopefully it's a sunny day!)
The work is taking off here in the branch. There's definitely the Spirit at the chapel. President Tsing is awesome. We have some member referrals, notable a family of 4, made up of two younger parents and two young boys, ages 11 and 12. Hopefully we can start teaching them this week! The work is really taking off. It's sad, because one of us will most likely be transferred next week.
I'm doing well. Can't wait to see you all in 3 months from today!

Have a good week, send me lots of pictures!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May

Riding bikes around Vaitoare!

Pic from our zone conference a little over a week ago at Raiatea.
Hi family!

This week was actually awesome.
Monday night we had our family night at the chapel with President Bize. So many investigators came! Funny story: President Bize shows up to the chapel and gets out of his rental car. He's wearing a floral shirt and flip flops with his khakis instead of a white shirt and tie. He walks into the chapel and he tells them "The church says no meetings on Monday nights. So I'm here as a family!" It was hilarious. It set a really good tone though for the family night. We had a little lesson, then several big group games and some small desserts afterwards. All the investigators loved it and said they were surprised, it was different than other things they've seen. There was a really good spirit there.
Last month sometime when I was at a split at Raiatea, Elder J and Elder M were here at Tahaa. They didn't get off at the right stop for the boat, so they ended up in Haamene without our bikes (which were in Vaitoare all day). They ended up walking all around the bay of Haamene, which isn't very effective. But they contacted a lady named H who didn't seem too potential. We kept contact with her and invited her to the family night. She came with her daughter and loved it! We set up a lesson and went and taught her on Friday.
Friday we get to her house for the lesson. It turns out she has studied with several religions, but doesn't feel like she found what she's looking for. She had an old Book of Mormon and had started reading. We left a brochure with her about the Restoration and she had read it all. We sat down Friday to teach her and the first thing she asked was "How can I know if it's true?" What?! No one ever understands it that well. It was like a textbook moment! So we explained the Book of Mormon and prayer and the promise in Moroni 10:3-5. She committed to read and pray. She asked how the Holy Ghost responds to us. We answered that it's through our feelings normally: peace, joy, hope, a warm feeling inside, etc. She was like "Oooooh. That's what that is." She committed to get baptized on May 20, in less than two weeks! Sunday she came to church with her 16 year old daughter. We went to teach her daughter after church and she agreed to be baptized too! So we will have two baptisms on May 20! So excited! What a blessing. It will be a little crazy with the daughter. She goes to school at Raiatea every day and doesn't get home until 6pm. But she has to go right to bed because she wakes up super early to catch a boat to school in the morning at Raiatea. So yesterday we gave her a bunch of brochures to read during the week, and this weekend we'll teach her everything so she can get baptized with her mom next weekend! Woooo! So cool!
Other people came to the family night too. A couple, T and S, came and really liked it. They seem to be somewhat interested by what they see. They invited us to eat with them next week. Elder J and I accidentally contacted them in February when looking for someone else from our area book. We started teaching them occasionally.
Those are the major updates for my week! I'm out of time, but I'm loving it here at Tahaa! I don't really want to get transferred. We'll see how it all works out in 2 weeks.

Talk to you soon via skype!

Elder Barlow

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MAY!

Pretty view of the bay of Haamene last week after emails. I took this from our chapel.
Saw a cow at Tiva with 4 birds on it's back. By the time I got my camera out there were only 2 birds. But it's still cool. That's Raiatea in the back ground.
 Hello family!

It's May already! So fun! Is it warming up finally back home? Spring and summer are on their way! It's hot and beautiful as always here, although it's finally starting to get a little cooler in the evenings and mornings.
This week went well. It was a pretty normal week, we went around inviting people to our family night at the chapel tonight with President Bize. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were like that. Friday morning we woke up early and biked to the boat for Raiatea at Vaitoare. We boated over for our zone conference with President and Sister Bize. It was fun to see some other missionaries.
Some of the things I liked during all the trainings:
Follow up with your new converts during their whole lifetime.
I represent the Lord here to the people in my sector.
Serving an honorable mission is the goal. To be honorable is to be worthy at all times, regardless of how many baptisms I get.
Just be happy!
A story from Acts 16:9-40. Paul and Silas were instruments in the hands of the Lord in the worst of circumstances. Always be happy, don't lose the vision.
It was a good day. Also, during one of the breaks between formations, we found a good quote on the wall in the nursery room of the chapel: C'est bien d'etre important, mais c'est meilleur d'etre bon. Translation: It's good to be important, but it's more important to be good. I like that.
Afterwards we had our interviews with President Bize. Since he stayed at Raiatea all weekend, he had a little more time to talk. It was nice to talk about things. We planned out the few days he'll be at Tahaa. I don't know how much longer I'll stay here, there's a transfer in 3 weeks, another mini transfer 3 weeks after that, and then one long transfer of 2 months. Then I am home!
Saturday was Stake Conference for the stake of Raromatai. Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the 70 came for it. He's part of the Pacific Inter-region presidency. He had some great training and talks. What an energetic, inspired guy. He's the one who played QB somewhere (maybe BYU? I think Dad was telling me). He's 6'5". We watched the conference via the internet from our chapel, since he was at Raiatea and we're at Tahaa. Sunday morning was more stake conference.
Sunday afternoon we were biking around when a little red Fiat rental car coming towards us honked at us and pulled over. It was President and Sister Bize! They came over to Tahaa after the conference. Last night (Sunday night) they were at Patio with the two other Elders for a split and then a fireside. Tonight they'll be here with us for a family night at our chapel and then tomorrow we're doing a split. I can't wait! I'm really hoping to be able to touch some investigators. Maybe we'll have some baptisms this week!
Yesterday afternoon we were teaching M, an older Protestant lady who's really close to baptism. Hopefully we can convince her and she'll get baptized soon.
Other fun notes: Elder Nielsen talked about when the First Presidency was changing the mission age. When changing the mission age, their biggest question was "Will this strengthen families?" I found that interesting. Elder Nielsen also talked a lot about hastening the work of salvation and missionary work, etc. 'Twas a good conference.

Hope you're all doing well, talk to you soon!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 24

Hello family!

This week flew by. Every week flies by. Every Saturday we realize that another week has come and gone already. It's weird.

We worked a lot this week, biked a lot, etc. We're trying to find new investigators. This week we made little fliers with questions on it that the book of mormon answers. We put the corresponding chapters of the book of mormon that answer the questions next to each question. At the bottom we wrote "if you want to know more and if you want to receive a free copy of the book of mormon, call the (our phone number)." We're going to put the fliers around town, like at the store and the post office. We also made the same flier but in a book mark size that we now give to investigators and use to contact people. Hopefully the creativity yields some results. This way interested people can contact us.

Tuesday I was really hoping to find someone to teach. I prayed that God could use us to show his power. We stopped by a lady's house and she told us she had the Dengue, a mosquito carried sickness. So we gave her a blessing. Maybe she got miraculously healed. But the opportunity to give a blessing was probably an answer to prayer. We'll stop by to see how she is doing tomorrow.

Wednesday was a lot of biking. A few weeks ago some random guy called out to us " Hey elders!" The last time someone did that was M, in the street at Orofero. He is now baptized, so I had to contact this guy here on Tahaa who said Elders. It turns out that he got married about two years ago so his wife could get baptized. He's from Tahaa and his wife is at Papeete. But she moved back here last week so we started to teach them both. She came to church yesterday, but her husband (the investigator) didn't. The Lord's timing is interesting, the fact that he led us to that guy right before his wife (an active member) moved here.

Thursday night we taught the first lesson to N and M, a younger couple. We committed them to get married and baptized in 2 weeks, on May 6. They said they'd pray about it. We took them cookies on Friday. We also went to see them Saturday night with our Branch President. It turns out May 6 is too soon for them. A lot of these people will take more time in their spiritual progression. I'm just here to help them out as best I can, even if they don't get baptized until a later day.

Friday we biked to Faaaha and visited M. She's the older Protestant lady and probably our most potential investigator for the moment. She keeps reading the book of mormon. We committed her to stop drinking tea. She has almost stopped smoking, thanks to the book of mormon. She knows the church is true, but hesitates to get baptized. But if she got baptized it would be huge because she has a lot of kids and grandkids!

Saturday we biked to Poutoru, then Saturday night went out with our Branch President to visit N and M, like I said. N ended up not even being there, which was a bummer. But we had a good talk with M. They didn't come to church yesterday, but hopefully we can talk them into getting married sometime soon. It was great to go out with President Tsing. He's a sharp guy.

Sunday morning I got out of the shower early in the morning to hear the phone ringing. I was surprised to see President Bize's name on the screen. He was informing me that he will be coming to Tahaa next weekend. He asked me to set up a fireside Sunday night at Cumorah and a family night Monday night here at Haamene. Also, he will be going on a split with us and with the Elders of Cumorah while he is here. That will be great! We'll go visit some amis with him. I've never done a split with him so I'm super excited. He has the priesthood keys for the missionary work and it shows when he talks to investigators. There's a different power. It's cool.

This morning we went to Raiatea. While walking to the boat, H and M drove past us. They pulled over and asked if we were busy today. They want to talk to us. I'm praying they tell us that they are ready to get baptized and want to know how soon they can. haha. Thinking positive.
I've been praying a lot for some miracles and some success before I leave here. I will miss Tahaa. I have a feeling that something good will happen in the next few weeks.
Thanks for all the prayers and letters and support, it means a lot. Miss you all tons and can't wait to see you!

Have a good week. Love,

Elder Barlow

Friday, April 21, 2017

encore avril (still april)

Elder P and Elder G! We were proud of how much we fit in the back of the little truck. 3 bikes and a ton of suitcases!
View of the bay of Tiva from the south side. Super pretty over there.
Spoiler alert... we made cookies! With Mom's recipe from home. They turned out DELICIOUS.
Have you heard about the latest (pine)Apple product? iPhone is out of style.



Hello family!

Happy Easter! Eat some Cadbury eggs for me. This week flew by. I have the feeling that my time is running out on a mission and I want to make the most of it.

Last Monday we had a much needed low key P day. 
Tuesday we contacted all our amis here around the bay of Haamene. We managed to fix a lesson with a lady we haven't taught yet for tomorrow, so that was a success.
Wednesday morning we woke up early and biked to catch the boat to Raiatea. While over there, the zone leaders picked us up from the dock. We helped them out with some transfer stuff. They had to pick up suitcases and bikes from the sisters' house and drop it off for another boat to take back to Tahiti. I was Elder G's zone leader before, and now he's my zone leader. It's fun to see them balance all the responsibilities. We fit a ton of stuff into the back of their truck. 
Thursday we biked to the beautiful bay of Tiva. We decided that we are in a tropical version of the Shire. 
Friday we did our district meeting by telephone.Then we made cookies for our investigators! We used Mom's recipe from home for chocolate chip cookies. We used raw sugar instead of brown sugar, oats that had been pre ground a little bit, and a chocolate bar with nuts in it (because we didn't have brown sugar, a blender for oats, wheat flour, chocolate chips, or nuts). But they actually turned out really well! It smelled just like home and tasted like home too. A little bit sweeter than normal, maybe because of the milk chocolate bar, but overall pretty good. It made about 4 dozen cookies. We delivered a bunch to MC and S and J, gave some to D (another amie), and then biked some over to Faaaha for M (another amie we've been teaching). We got feedback yesterday from everyone: they loved them! Homemade cookies don't really exist here so that was fun.
Saturday morning there were some stake leaders who came to our branch to go visit and stuff with the auxiliaries. We went out with them in the morning. In the afternoon we biked to Poutoru. We found a lady who said we could come back next week... hopefully that turns into a family that we can teach. It's tough here because the sector is so big and we're on bikes. We can only visit people once a week. As a result, if they're not there one day, we end up not seeing them for weeks at a time.
Sunday, yesterday, went well. No one really did anything special for Easter. Our sacrament talks didn't really even focus on it. I forget about holidays and stuff here on this little island. It's too peaceful and removed from the world.
Some fun experiences: Monday night after our family night at the C's house, M and S brought some food over to our house. S dropped it off and just said "thank you so much for teaching me" really sincerely. It touched me. We love S!
Tuesday S and M dropped off some fruit at our house when we weren't there. Elder J and I had fun taking pictures with a pineapple. Haha.
We met lots of people yesterday while biking around. Hopefully this week brings some new investigators and good news. 
Keep praying for us. I love and miss you all lots!

Have a good week,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April showers bring may flowers!

Did a split with Elder P. at Raiatea! He's my zone leader. We started at the same time in the MTC.

Misty mountains in the rain at Tiva, also in our sector.

Fun time! He's really short and I'm really tall so we took a funny picture.


View of Raiatea from our sector at Poutoru. There was a really pretty boat.





Hello family!

This week was pretty crazy. Lots of biking. Wednesday we woke up before 5am to bike to Vaitoare and catch the boat to Raiatea. We did that because I went on a split with the zone leaders (Elder P), and Elder M came back here to Tahaa with Elder J. Wednesday was a really good day. It was so fun to work with Elder P. We both started at the same time in the MTC together, so we're both really experienced missionaries, etc. We taught some great lessons and it was fun to meet all the members in their sector. The longer I'm out, the easier it is to relate to people here. I love members so much! The Tahitians just love missionaries, so every time you're in a different sector, if anyone sees you they'll come up to you and ask your name and everything. I made so many friends in the 24 hours I was at Raiatea.
Thursday morning we woke up early again to catch the boat back to Tahaa and finish the split. Friday we woke up before 5am again and biked to catch the boat back to Raiatea for our zone conference. The conference was super good. I loved learning from President Bize. He talked a lot about staying worthy to be able to be called by the Lord to serve. He told several stories about people who hadn't been called to serve as branch presidents because they hadn't payed a full tithing. It's sad when people disqualify themselves from potential blessings. He said looking back right before his call as a mission president, he could see that the Lord had prepared everything already. Nothing could prevent him from being called as a mission president except himself. Luckily he was worthy and able to be called to serve. The other main point that I got out of the conference was to give it our all. Time on a mission is very short, and we need to be fully committed for these two years. I want to be a little more diligent after the conference! We also had interviews with President Bize after the conference. He said I'll probably stay here a while longer. I'm happy with that! I was really touched by some of the things he told me. He said something along the lines of "The Lord needed an Elder Barlow in that sector." It helps me see that the Lord knows each of us personally.
Saturday morning we woke up before 5am to get ready and then bike to the chapel for general conference. We watched it live, so the morning session started at 6am. Too early! I really enjoyed all the talks. I don't have a favorite talk in particular. But I enjoyed hearing the prophet speak about charity and the book of mormon. Also, there were tons of talks about the Holy Ghost and the Divinity, the nature of Christ, and the Gospel in general. There seemed to be more doctrine and less stories in this conference. It was all in French, so maybe I didn't understand some of the stories if there were some. Haha.
Sunday we woke up before 5am again. Conference again. In the afternoon we biked to Faaaha and worked the sector a little.
Update on our sector: Already we taught one lesson yesterday, so this week is bound to be good.
Today we woke up early (again!!!) because we have to go to Raiatea. While we're over there we're going to meet up with the zone leaders and go check out a traditional polynesian altar thing, where they used to sacrifice people apparently. Cool! Tonight we have a family night at the chapel with the whole branch to promote unity among the members. We're in charge of teaching a portion of the lesson. And tomorrow the work restarts.
Glad to hear that everyone is doing well. Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March


Elder J took a picture of me while studying Tuesday morning... that's what a little of our house looks like.

There are little crabs everywhere called "tupa" in Tahitian. One of our amis had us try them.



Hello family!

This week went by really really fast.Some things that I enjoyed this week: our branch did a little branch choir for our branch conference this weekend. We practiced Tuesday night at the chapel. I enjoyed playing the piano for everyone and singing. It was super fun. I love the members here. Basically any branch activity or anytime we get to go hang out with the members, I'm pretty happy. The people here are so open and loving. You can be their best friend super easily.
Another fun experience: Thursday afternoon we biked to Tiva. We had a lesson over there Thursday night. Before our lesson, we stopped by to eat at the H family's house. They are converts from 2001. It was super enjoyable to just eat and listen to their conversion stories. They came in contact with the missionaries through an English class. At first, brother H didn't like the missionaries, but slowly he opened up to lessons. After 9 years (9 years!!!) of lessons, they got baptized. Now they are some of the most solid members in the branch. It's cool to hear them talk about their lives before. The Gospel has completely changed who they are.
We also do an English class here every Saturday night. Usually two member families come. So far no amis have come. But this week no one showed up. Bummer.

This weekend was our branch conference. Some stake leaders came by and it was a really good meeting. Second hour during sunday school we gathered up the amis and new converts and a member of the stake presidency taught the class. It was great. S shared her conversion story and there was a new guy there who seemed touched. We're teaching him tonight at our family night at the C's house. We've talked briefly with him a few times. Saturday night we stopped by his house. He said he had been praying to know where the true church was the day before, and we showed up right after. We invited him to church for the next day and he came with brother C. It's interesting; the Lord seems to respond pretty quickly to his children's prayers when they ask where the true church is. S had been praying too, and within several days we had showed up at her sister's house to play the piano. Cool.

Voilà my week. Time is flying by, I can't believe I come home in 5 months!

 Lots of love,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February continues

view back towards haamene from the end of the bay, on Tuesday evening. Gorgeous

view of Raiatea from Vaitoare on Wednesday

Elder Jenkins taking a picture of Raiatea on Wednesday

Elder Jenkins taking a drink with Raiatea in the background,  Super blue water

View across the bay of Haamene


Hello family!

This week went well. Last Monday night we had our family night our investigators.  It went super well. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray that we have the spirit with us! Also, they came to church again Sunday and they are pretty well integrated by the members.

The highlight Tuesday was a choir practice! Yes, the branch council planned to have a choir for our branch conference, which will be at the end of February (the 25th and 26th).  So Tuesday night we were all out on the C's patio with a piano they rolled out there and all the members of the branch council and a bunch of investigators. I was playing the piano. They asked my companion to direct the music (wave his arms, etc.). While I was playing, I couldn't help but smile and not laugh. We were directing about 20 Tahitians who were singing hymns at the tops of their voices. I had the thought, 'if someone drove past the porch right now, they would see 2 huge white guys leading a bunch of Tahitians in loud beautiful singing.' It was an awesome moment. We have another practice this Tuesday. I feel blessed to be able to use my talents to help others accept the truths of the Gospel. Now I look back on all the moments when Mom used to make me practice piano with fondness. I'm glad I stuck with it!

Tuesday also brought bike problems... my back tire wore through and the air tube went flat. So we walked under the hot sun all over the place, since we were far away from our house when my tire went flat. A member helped us out, he lent me a wheel and tire from his bike to use until the new tire I ordered from Tahiti gets here. While walking around Tuesday, we walked past some white people (a less than common sight). They said hello, so we asked 'are you Americans?' They laughed and said 'no, thank goodness. We are from the Holy Land,' in accented English. What?! Haha crazy. Tourists apparently. So that was cool.

Thursday we biked to Tiva, which is up a huge hill and down the other side. While biking down, we just heard a roar of rain hitting the trees on the mountain side. Oh no. Within several seconds the rain arrived and we were instantly soaked. Once the rain stopped, we biked to a bench by the ocean and put our socks in the sunshine to dry out. I took advantage of the moment to snap some beautiful photos. There were also a bunch of hermit crabs crawling around under the bench. It was fun to play with them. We took one home and called him Ernie.

Friday morning we woke up around 4:30am and biked to the quay to await our boat to Raiatea. We got to Raiatea and had our zone conference all day with President Bize. It was awesome. There were trainings on teaching repentance, adjusting to missionary life (with the new schedule changes), and teaching/using the book of Mormon to convert. I liked it, I feel like I do most of the stuff pretty well already. I tried to listen to the spirit and take some notes on things I can do here in my sector. After the conference, we had our interviews with President Bize. I understand his French accent a lot better now. So we just talked. I asked about transfers and how long I'll stay at Tahaa, or where he'll send me afterwards. He said 'I have no idea. Ask Him (while pointing towards heaven).' He then explained a little about the transfers, how that works, etc.  It was fun to tell him about the family we're teaching that we found through my piano playing. That's definitely a reason why the Lord put me here. After the interview, President switched into English and said "Thank you very much." Haha.

Saturday morning we cleaned the chapel with some of the branch members. Then we went out and worked. We biked to Poutoru. All of our lessons fell through, which was a bummer. However, we prayed to be led by the spirit. We ended up stopping by at some inactives' houses. We talked with them and invited them to come back to church. Sunday morning we walked into the chapel, and all the inactives that we had seen came to church! Wow! We were definitely led by the spirit.  When our branch president saw them, he said "Elders, do you know this family? They live way over in Poutoru." I said "yeah I know them, we visited them yesterday." He smiled as he understood that we were the reason that family came. Brownie points for us! Haha

Yesterday (Sunday) after church we ate maa Tahiti at the C's house. It was super yummy! I love it, it's made up of taro and manioca root, fe'i (a banana like thing, cooked like a squash), po'e (a jello-like fruit pudding), poisson cru (raw fish), faafaa (a cooked spinach dish with chicken inside), and of course fafaruu! (I don't know how to spell it really, but fafaruu is the raw fish that is put in fermented sea water and smells like death. But it tastes really good with all the other foods! The best part about fafaruu: after eating it, you can still smell it on your fingers 2 or 3 days later. The odeur is intense!) Then we biked to Faaaha, another huge hill that is very far away from our house. When we got back last night, we slept soundly. And today is P Day!

It's been a good week! Normally this weekend is the baptism for M, the 80+ year old lady. It will be the first baptism of the year for the branch. We'll do it in the baptismal font at the chapel in Patio because the lady is so old and fragile. I need to baptize someone young so we can do it in the ocean, I want to get my feet wet! Haha. The work is progressing. It's super cool. Voilà an update of my week. Glad to hear that everyone is doing alright!

Love you all,

Elder Barlow

Monday, February 6, 2017

fevrier

Bora Bora in the background.



Hello family!

It is February! Wow, time is flying. This week went really well. It was work as usual, lots of biking, lots of sunshine (except for right now, it is raining hard and there is a lot of loud thunder and lightning outside!). I love calling this island neverland. It is so gorgeous. I realize more and more each week recently how much I will miss this place. It's so great to be able to worry about nothing but sharing the gospel. I have to come back here one day with all of you.

The people here are amazing.  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning this week I was outside doing my daily exercise on our little covered patio area. The brother of sister C stopped by each of those days around 6am to drop off fresh hot french bread from the bakery down the street. The people here love us so much it is amazing! I really think I was sent here for that family in particular. We have a lesson with them tonight and I can't wait.

Branch council earlier this week was interesting. I helped the branch make a mission plan for 2017. Also, the members had some questions about rules and such for sacrament meeting (can non members take the sacrament? etc.) I had to bust out the church handbook in french several times and correct the members. It was a little strange to tell all the church leaders here what to do. But it was also super cool. The more we study the scriptures and rules, etc, the more we can help others serve the Lord effectively while following all the rules.

The past few weeks have been great, I feel like we are being led by the spirit. That is probably the best feeling you can have on a mission. We showed up at an inactive member's house in Tiva on Thursday. She started crying just because we were there. Apparently she wanted to quit smoking and come back to church. She prayed asking God for help and mercy. The next day we showed up outside her house. It's interesting. For us, we had nothing to do, so we decided to go see if that particular inactive member was home. I had never met her before. I've found that often the spirit leads us when we just try and work hard. Often inspiration comes in the form of good ideas, or even thoughts of "I have nothing better to do," followed by action. I think about these kind of things while we're biking all day, because we bike A LOT.

What else is new... we fasted Saturday night to yesterday with the branch council, specifically for missionary work. While fasting Sunday, we biked to Faaaha (one of the furthest away areas in our sector, also one of the biggest hills to climb) under a blazing hot sun. We found 3 new amis and taught several lessons. Blessings of working hard! Also, at church yesterday one of our amies named M went into the branch president's office to talk with the branch president. After sacrament meeting, we found out that our branch president committed her to baptism! Awesome! Haha. M is an 80+ year old lady. I haven't really done much to teach her, she's been an amie for a long time. But finally she's ready to get baptized! It will be next Saturday (the 18th) at the chapel in Patio, because they have a baptismal font. M is too old and fragile to baptize in the ocean outside the chapel here in Haamene. She asked me to give her the Holy Ghost. And so the work moves on here at Tahaa!

Elder J and I have plans to make smores on a little sandbar out into the bay of Haamene off our backyard once we fix a baptismal date with an ami. We didn't actually commit M to baptism, it was the branch president. So we're waiting to fix some more baptisms before we have our reward of smores. Haha. Also, after the first baptism here I am planning to go to the store and spend the $7 necessary to purchase a box of Fruit Loops in celebration.

Life's good! When not out biking or teaching lessons, Elder J and I are talking about BYU and how pumped we are, etc. It's a constant party. While in Poutoru this Saturday, an ami gave us a bag of "ramboutans (spelling?)," a little red tropical fruit. We biked down the road to a nice stretch of sand. We sat on some rocks in the shade of a tropical tree with a view of Raiatea across the ocean and munched on the sweet ramboutans while talking about life, college, bro stuff, etc. for a good hour or so. It was awesome. I felt a little guilty afterwards about wasting the time, but life here is just ridiculously awesome right now. If you had the view of Raiatea and the blue ocean in front of you, you'd be tempted to sit there for a long time too. ;)

Looking forward to this week: work like normal Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday morning we are going to Raiatea for our zone conference. That will be all day long. President and Sister Bize will be there, so we will also do interviews with President. We come back to Tahaa Friday night. Saturday and Sunday are normal days, and then it's already P Day again! Time is going too quickly.

Thanks for all the prayers and support and emails. I love hearing from you! Miss and love you all,

Elder Barlow

Monday, January 30, 2017

I'm in Neverland!

my nametag with Raiatea in the background



my adventure gear as a missionary- bike, helmet, and backpack


palm trees, the road on the left, the ocean on the right. My sector is probably the prettiest in the whole world.


Sister Chinking stopped by our house. She said "I have food for you two." It turned out to be two huge bags of groceries! What?
What our chapel looks like from inside. Lots of bright red plastic chairs!





Hi family!

It's sad to hear about Grandpa Barlow's passing. What a blessing it is to have the knowledge of the Gospel. I'm glad we can see him again one day after this life. I hope you're all doing well! I wish I could have been with everyone during the funeral.

This week went well! We have been so blessed. All the members in the branch here love us because we actually go out and work. They see a difference from the missionaries that were here before.

We're teaching one family of grown up sisters. There are 3 sisters who aren't members, and another sister is a member. We met them because I play the piano. My first day here with Elder J we went to see them and played the piano. Since then, we've started the lessons (every Monday night for family night) and they've come to church twice. They are super potential. I hope everything works out. Anyways, their sister who is a member loves us now because we're teaching her sisters. She really wants to be able to be sealed to them. Since we started teaching them, she stops by all the time at our house to drop off food and stuff.  The people here are so generous! I feel super blessed.

What other miracles happened this week.... We went to get a haircut and the guy did it for free for us. That was great (even though my hair looks like a flat top now.... haha). Oh, C, who I taught at Orofero called me this morning! He is doing well. It's been over 5 months now since his baptism. He told me he has started his mission papers and he will hopefully leave on a mission  before the end of the year. That made me really happy. What a life change he's made.

Also, we had our worldwide missionary broadcast this week. Elder Oaks and the missionary committee gave a live broadcast/training announcing several changes. First, the missionary daily schedule is a little different, giving us more flexibility as missionaries as to when to do our studies, planning, etc. Second, they announced changes to our daily and weekly reports. We no longer report how many lessons we do each week! Yay! Now we only report how many baptisms and confirmations we have, how many baptismal dates we have fixed, and how many people come to church. It's great!

One cool experience that I had this week: we were in a lesson and I couldn't really feel the spirit. I had no idea what to talk about. During the lesson I was praying super hard. At one point, a verse I had read in my morning study came into my mind. It was a verse in Alma 5, saying basically 'if you died today and were brought before God, have you sufficiently repented and been made clean through Christ?' I said something of that effect to our investigator and he was struck by the spirit. It was awesome. The spirit can lead us if we open our mouths!

Overall I am doing well. It is beautiful here, and I love the branch members. I had the thought several times this week: I never want to leave. I realized that I go home pretty soon. It will be sad to leave this beautiful place. I'm in Neverland! :)

Love you all,

Elder Barlow

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hello family!

This week was soooo wonderful! Highlights: my new companion is from Holiday Utah. He is almost as tall as me, maybe an inch shorter. He loves music and played guitar before his mission. We're basically the same person, so we get along well! He just finished his training, so he's still learning french. It's fun to show someone who's still new around. It makes me re-appreciate things. Like the little crabs everywhere, and the beauty of the blue water and palm trees. Sometimes I forget to look at the blessings around me.

Elder J.  got here Monday night on the plane at Raiatea. We took the boat back to Tahaa. My branch president and his wife picked us up. Tuesday and Wednesday we didn't have the bike of Elder J yet, so we went for a walk. Lots of walking. Wednesday we walked from our house, out of the bay of Haamene, all the way around the peninsula with the town Vaitoare, into the bay of Pouturu. We stopped along the way at several people's houses. I don't know how far that is, maybe you can look it up on google maps. It took all day. 
Once we had Elder J's bike, things sped up.

As far as missionary work goes, this was one of the best weeks of my mission. I didn't contact a single time all week. We went and visited members a lot, and the members here LOVE us!  As a result, we have tons of referrals rolling in and lots of potential for this week.

For example: one sister had said a few weeks ago that her sister has a piano at her house. Her sister isn't a member. So we went to visit the sister who is a member. She walked over to her sister's house with us and we started playing the piano. I started singing hymns and the two sisters sang. Another sister came from another room, and pretty soon everyone was singing the hymns while I was playing. They loved it! Tonight we have a family night with them and we'll hopefully start teaching them. Do you see how much more effective it is working through members like that? Playing piano, what a creative contacting technique. 
Other adventures from the week: friday we went to visit some members who live way up in the back of a valley above the bay of Faaaha. It's a hike of about 15 minutes up to their house. It was way cool, we crossed some rivers and I got my shoes all muddy and I felt so adventurous!

Church was great yesterday. I was able to run around between blocks coordinating with members and fixing appointments, etc. And today is P Day! We did our personal study in the morning, and now we're going to go clean the house really well after email. My comp still has to do his mail, so I'm going to log off quick. But that's just a little update for the week! Hopefully this week brings more good news and some potential for baptism. 
Thanks for all the letters, I'll keep you all in my prayers.

Lots of love,

Elder Barlow