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


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