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

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