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!


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!


Elder Barlow

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


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


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!


Elder Barlow