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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

making "pa'i," (pronounced almost like pie) at the members' house. All it is is a simple dough of flour and sugar and milk and butter, and the filling is bananas that have been slowly cooked for a long time. Bananas turn red ish when you cook them for a long time.

Lots of news this week. First off, Elder T. is transferred back to Tahiti. We're taking the boat to Raiatea this afternoon to go to the airport. My new companion gets here this afternoon too! He's American, his name is Elder J. He just finished up his training in the marvelous sector of Papeete 2, my old stomping grounds! So we'll have lots to talk about in common. He's been in the field about 3 months now is my guess. He is about a half inch shorter than me, so we are going to be the twin towers here at Tahaa and I can't wait! It should be super fun.

It was great to talk to you all by skype Monday night! It made my day. I came away feeling so happy and loved and comforted. I miss you all! I heard that we finish the 14th of August. It's a Monday, so I'll probably get home the 15th, the Tuesday. Exciting!

Other news: for 2017, the church is making mission daily schedules a lot more flexible. So what we're doing here in our mission is instead of planning every night, we now plan every morning. Also, our curfew got moved up 30 minutes to 8:30pm, and we wake up earlier every day- at 6am. I like that schedule better. That means we leave the house around 9:30am instead of 10am. It's not a huge schedule change, but it's a little more effective for the people here. Everyone wakes up early and goes to bed early. People live following the sun. If it's light out, people are up. If it's dark, we can't really go tracting because people are sometimes already asleep. Lately it gets light here around 5:30 or 6am, and dark around 7 or 7:30pm.
Last Friday we had a zone meeting on Raiatea. That was fun to go over there. That's where we got all this news.
I'm excited to take over the sector and put some of my ideas into action. Also, I'm excited to start working more with the Branch President. He and I get along really well.  We're going to start an English class here at the chapel and try and get some new investigators that way. There's some young couples we're teaching too that I think are potential. Next week is the big transfer for the mission, but I don't think it will affect me now. It will be fun to see the changes in our zone. Transfers are always fun as a missionary- it breaks up the usual routine a little.
Hope this letter finds you well, thanks for the prayers and support! Sorry that it's so cold back home. It's hot and sunny here! This island is so gorgeous.

Love you all!


Elder Barlow