Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017 - Stressed but Blessed!

Hey everyone!!
Tendai, Josh, Mai Arnold, Sister Pardon

I hope everyone's week was as good as mine! The Lord is so kind to us as missionaries, and this week was a culmination of many blessings from Him! It was a little worrisome, but definitely worthwhile.

This week we were focusing on our investigators who were being baptized, namely Bro. Tendai and Mai Arnold, Bro. Josh, and Sis. Pardon. All of them are so amazing and I feel like we got to know them just a little better this week. Bro. Josh is 17 years old. A friend invited him to church my first week in Hatcliffe, and he came. We couldn't find his house for the longest time, but we finally located him and taught him. Although he kept coming to church, we weren't too sure how interested he really was. However, as we've taught him, we've seen glimpses of a budding testimony. He answers questions during church and has potential to be a great priesthood holder. Elder Horton and I found Sister Pardon and her family when an appointment next door fell through. We taught them for a while with no progression, until she prayed and got an answer that the Book of Mormon was true. She's a single mom with two young daughters. Her husband took another wife and sent her away a few years back, so she lives with her mom and sister. She takes notes on everything she reads, and she said that her baptism was the happiest day of her life! And then of course, Bro. Tendai and Mai Arnold. They are so prepared and so wonderful. They have two kids, Arnold (4) and Prince (9 months), and we helped them to be married (more details coming). They are so humble and committed and love reading the Book of Mormon! I am so blessed to be among such special people!
Elder Barlow and Elder Gunther

Elder Barlow and Elder Bollinger

On Tuesday we had zone conference. President and Sister Mkhabela taught so powerfully as always. Sis. Mkhabela talked about protecting our mission from sin and idleness, and President taught us about using the Book of Mormon as our greatest tool in conversion. It was really enlightening, especially as we've seen amazing things as we've tried to use the Book of Mormon more when we teach! Also, I finally got to sing! I sang A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, one of my favorite hymns because it talks of serving the Savior. I had been very worried about it because I had been sick with a cold for the whole week, so I asked my companion for a blessing. He said that my sickness wouldn't impede my singing, and I also prayed that I at least would be able to bring the Spirit. Priesthood power is real. My song went really well, and Sis. Mkhabela said that the Spirit blanketed the room when I finished. Singing is a powerful form of worship, and I'm grateful for the opportunity that I had to share something so dear to me. 


We had some interesting experiences this week, one of them being with Sister Bridget, who I mentioned in an earlier email. She's been through a lot in her life, whether it be tough circumstances or consequences of her bad choices. On Friday she was incredibly emotional, and she proceeded to tell us some extremely terrible things that are happening to her right now. I didn't know what to say, but the Spirit reminded me of what we should always do as missionaries: listen with love and then when appropriate, bear testimony of the Savior. We did so, and she said she felt much better after telling us. We gave her the Book of Mormon and taught her some of the things the Lord told Joseph Smith when he was being tried and tested. She loves the Book of Mormon and she even came to church again! She still has some big changes to make, but I pray that this gospel will give her a new outlook on life.
Tendai and Mai Arnold

Sunday was so sketchy but so awesome!! 13 investigators came to church, the highest since I've been on my mission! However, Tendai and Mai Arnold weren't among them. Elder Horton and I were freaking out a little, trying to figure out where they were. They finally showed up right after church...but they left their ID's at home and had to send someone else to go pick them up. That took another hour. Ahhhh stress. Finally, everything was in place and they got married!! It was so awesome to see their little family brought together and I pray that it only foreshadows their eventual journey to the temple!! Afterwards, we had the baptism. Bro. Nyakuchena, a recent convert, performed the baptisms and did great. It was so special. Honestly my heart was so full. I love being a missionary!! Even though we had to be at church from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Being a missionary is tough sometimes, I have to admit, but it's moments like these that make everything worth it. I know that this Church is true, and that the Lord loves each and every one of us. We are never alone, and we all have special purpose in life. I am so thankful for the blessings that my Heavenly Father has given me, and I'm so thankful to be here among the people of Zimbabwe!!

Love Elder Barlow

Friday, July 28, 2017

July 24, 2017 - Here Comes Winter.....and there it goes

Missionary work makes ya jump for joy!

Kids these days :)

Hey there friends and family!! Hope you are all enjoying your summer! It finally started feeling like July here. As soon as the winter came, it is now coming to an end. The mornings and evenings are still a bit chilly but the days are hot and sunny again. That's Africa for you!!


We had some disappointments and some miracles this week. We called Tatenda and tried to set up another appointment with him, but he unfortunately told us that he could no longer attend church or meet with us. He didn't even give us a reason. I was devastated. This guy was seemingly prepared and a miracle for us. I hope and pray that we are able to somehow meet with him again. However, we did finally teach Sister Mara! We met her at night as we were walking up to take a kombi and we discovered that she had been taught by missionaries but had lost contact with the church a year or two ago in Mabvuku. We finally taught her and discovered that she had not been baptized and needed to start over, so it will be great to be able to help her recall her testimony!




Hatcliff




Hatcliffe

This week, Brother Hove's father passed away. We went with a bunch of members to attend the pre-funeral mourning at his grandmother's place. It was our first time to attend a funeral in Zimbabwe, and it was interesting to see the cultural traditions. The men sit outside around a fire telling stories, and all the women sleep in the house. They stay all night to support and comfort the ones who are mourning. Shona people really take care of one another, and it was cool to see how the community comes together when someone is struggling.

Aleck








Aleck's farewell gathering
We had 10 people at sacrament meeting for the third week in a row! It was so awesome!! Bridget and Kara actually came at the end of the meeting, which was super surprising. Brother Tendai and Mai Arnold's marriage banns were completed this week and they'll be married next Sunday! They also brought the neighbor girls along with them to church! It was so sweet. Aleck, a young man in our ward, leaves for his mission to Cape Town this week and he gave his farewell talk. He is going to be an awesome missionary and we are pumped for him!


Elder Horton and I also had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting, so that's where my spiritual thought comes from today. We spoke on the covenants that we renew during the sacrament and our attitude towards it. It was special to be able to speak on such a sacred ordinance. I'd like to share a couple quotes that I used during my talk: "One of the invitations inherent in the sacramental ordinance is that it be a truly spiritual experience, a holy communion, a renewal for the soul." -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland  "In my judgment the sacrament meeting is the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the church." President Joseph Fielding Smith. Our attitude towards the sacrament can make or break our Sunday worship, so we need to remember what it truly represents: the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that each of us won't take the sacrament for granted each week. 

I hope you guys have a fantastic week!!

Love Elder Barlow​

July 17, 2017 - Another Week in the Land of Zim

Hey everybody!!

This week was pretty good! It's difficult to have a bad week as a missionary because of all the tender mercies the Lord blesses us with. On Thursday we had interviews with President Mkhabela. I love interviews and getting to know my mission president. Lately I've been having some feelings of inadequacy and not knowing if I was that great of a missionary. However, President Mkhabela assured me that I'd been doing a wonderful job and that he was happy with my work. That was comforting to know. Sometimes I forget that being a successful missionary isn't always based on tangible results. It's based on what our Heavenly Father thinks of us, and we can tell that He is pleased when we have the Spirit with us!

This is Jayden, the 2 year old nephew of an
investigator. He's terrified of us,
but calmed down after he shut his eyes
so he couldn't see us. So funny
On Wednesday we met a new investigator named Tatenda. He's one of the people who came on their own to church for the first time last week. He lives alone in Borrowdale with his mom and is an odd but awesome guy. He had even made us sandwiches and snacks, which was so cool. It was a great first meeting. Elder Horton played him in chess while we discussed our purpose as missionaries and answered some of his questions. He came to church again this Sunday and I hope that he will keep progressing!! We also taught Wilson again. He's meeting every goal as he works to stop smoking and we had a great lesson with him on the Holy Ghost. It's amazing to meet such humble and determined people.

I had a cool experience this week. We decided that we finally needed to talk to Elisha's mom to encourage her to let him come to church. While we were waiting for her to come, we sat with Elisha and I was humming a hymn or two. When his mom came back, we went out to ask her to meet with us and Elisha's sister (who is an incredible singer) said she heard me singing from the other room. She asked me to sing for them. I was suddenly super nervous, but I remembered that music can bring the Spirit. So I sang a verse of I Need Thee Every Hour, and everything felt different. They said that their spirits were lifted, and it was a good start to our conversation with the mom, who said that she would think/pray about whether Elisha would come to church. It was unique and kinda cool.

We had several investigators who hadn't been progressing make some good steps this week! Bethel and her friends actually read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and Sis Pardon came to church again on her own! It was exciting to see them work towards keeping commitments and exercising their faith! We also taught Bridget, a single mom who is kind of a mess. She'd been dropped by other missionaries and we didn't know if we should teach her because she isn't really serious. Then we met her 12 year old daughter Kara, who is super smart and just awesome! She even likes volleyball! When we left, Elder Horton and I both expressed how we felt that we had found an even better reason to teach Bridget: her daughter. There are so many people who need this gospel.
Doctor, doctor

On Friday night we started teaching this guy named Martin. He's...too friendly. It's kind of creepy actually. He bought us some snacks and stuff which was nice, but then plunged us into a long discussion on why he thinks tithing isn't a commandment anymore. He knew his scriptures, but he was really unnerving as he was explaining. Both Elder Horton and I felt a little weird about the lesson. Neither of us were comfortable, and we made a few jokes about how strange it was. Elder Horton then didn't sleep all the next night and got sick the night after. Haha he blamed it on the creepy guy that we taught. It was pretty funny.
The fence we are building at the school

On Saturday morning we went to Hatcliffe 2 Primary school with our ward and started our Helping Hands project. We cut down some brush and started building a chain link fence for the preschool. It was nice to get my hands dirty and to be a part of a great project. Plus they gave us surgical masks for the dust, so we had fun with those. We taught Mai Arnold and Brother Tendai again on Saturday night. They both read in Alma 5 in the Book of Mormon and had great questions!! They always ask for things to read before we leave, which is a testimony to their conversion. I have come to love their family so much and I can't wait until they are married and baptized in two weeks!!


Like I said, Elder Horton was sick on Sunday so we didn't do much. We did have 10 investigators at chruch again!! That was great. After that we went home and I got some great study time in. I love the scriptures!! They put things so simply and so perfectly. Where better to turn for counsel than the word of God? I know the scriptures are true, not because they match up historically or because anyone told me so, but because I have gained a witness from the Holy Ghost that they are true. I know as we do our best to make them a pattern for our lives, we will find ourselves reaping God's promised blessings!

I love you all and hope this next week is a great one!!

Love Elder Barlow

The bunny wisperer


July 10, 2017 - The 7th of July

Happy Birthday America,
all the way from Zim!
Oh say can you see, because I sure can't from here! Haha hey everyone, I hope your week and your Independence Day were awesome. No surprise, almost nobody celebrates the 4th in Zimbabwe, but the best way to celebrate everything is to do missionary work!

On the 4th we had district meeting. Our district gave us some great advice on our struggles with bringing people to church, so we decided to apply them this week! It worked so well! We arranged for a member to bring Sister Pardon to church and sent out a text to all our investigators the night before church. And they came!! We had 10 investigators attend church, and it was super exciting. Sister Beth and her friends walked 2 and a half hours to get to church, even though we were unable to meet with them this week! There were also a couple miracle investigators that came, even though we had never met them before! Brother Tendai and Mai Arnold were able to have their marriage bans read during church,  and Elder Horton and I couldn't have been more excited! The Lord truly blessed us this week.

One of the investigators that came to church was Mercy. We taught her for the first time this week. She's 25 (but super short) and loves missionary work!! She just goes around trying to help and pray with people in the community, and basically she is super prepared for the gospel. Apparently her church doesn't really encourage member missionary work, and she was very excited to learn that our church is a missionary church! We had a nice lesson with her and it was so awesome to have her come to church after only one meeting. We also met a man named Wilson this week. He is quiet and humble and has been trying to quit smoking for his health and for his small family. We had some sweet lessons with him and he is working to achieve his goals for overcoming his addiction! His heart has definitely been prepared for the gospel.

It rained this week, which was super surprising. Winter in Zimbabwe is usually very dry, so this was unusual. It made all the dust in Hatcliffe turn to mud and made the evenings SUPER cold. The sun came back after, which was a huge relief. Haha I think all this warm weather has made me soft. I'm glad it doesn't snow here! 


Fun fact: I ate garwe (crocodile) this week! It tastes kind of like fishy chicken, but it was super good!
Us and the Trogers

On Friday we were invited over to the Trogers' house for a 7th of July barbecue (we had teaching appointments on the 4th). The Trogers are an American family in our ward; Bro. Troger works for the American embassy. We had steak, barbecue chicken, and a busbuck that they shot while hunting. Probably the best food that I've had in Zimbabwe, holy cow. They are an awesome family too. Their kids running around chasing each other with nerf guns reminded me a little of home. After dinner we shared 2 Nephi 2 with them about our freedom to choose. We are so blessed to have so many rights and freedoms, but the greatest one comes from God: our ability to choose right and wrong for ourselves. It is a blessing to be able to learn from our mistakes and grow in wisdom/understanding as we progress in this life. Overall, the best late 4th of July celebration I could've asked for!

Today we played basketball with all the missionaries, which is always fun. I also got certified to drive a manual, which was a bit sketchy, but I didn't stall once! I hope you all have an amazing week this week. I also hope you know that I love you all and pray for you! I know this is the Lord's work and that He loves us so much more than we know!!

Love Elder Barlow

July 3, 2017 - Hatcliffe 2.0 (aka Dust in the Wind)

Hey friends and family!!

Elder Horton and I will be staying another transfer together in Hatcliffe! I'm actually pretty excited for it. I feel like there is a lot of good we can do over these next 6 weeks. The new transfer feeling is awesome because I feel renewed and ready to get back at it. Hopefully with the Lord's help we can accomplish miracles!
Sister Gutu's 3 yr old daughter Tinaiyi
doing her wash - adorable!

Winter in Zimbabwe is super dry. That means that Hatcliffe extention, which has no paved roads, is SUPER dusty. I'm talking dust akawandisa. Every time a car drives by we have to cover our faces and all the plants along the roads are reddish brown from the dust. The cold and the dust is an interesting combination. It's definitely hard to keep a white shirt clean!

Enterprise with Elder Gomez and me on exchanges
This week there weren't too many exciting things going on. Just another week in paradise! We had a lot of appointments fall through this week. That was kind of frustrating, but it's a part of missionary work. If everything went our way, we'd never grow! I went on exchanges with Elder Gomez in Enterprise last Thursday. We had a great time. He's from Australia and a very animated guy. Enterprise is beautiful!! It was cool to see the place that Elder Muzenda told me so much about in my first months on my mission. We had many fall throughs and Elder Gomez was getting pretty discouraged, but we tried one last lesson at this other farm. We taught Darius (a semi-active member) and Dallington (an investigator) on self-mastery (see 1 Cor 9) and then about charity. It was so incredible. The Spirit was filling my mind with thoughts and my heart with impressions as we spoke to them. It was one of the most powerful lessons I've ever taught. Any difficulties of the day were instantly wiped away and replaced with a joyful and lively feeling. Few things compare to the strength that comes to you when the Holy Ghost is guiding you. It is one of the greatest blessings of being a missionary!

Dinner with Brother Dennis and the district
On Saturday evening we visited with Brother Dennis Chimunda with the district. He is an old man who lives alone in Borrowdale. He is very educated and a powerful member. We had a little braai (bbq) with him and he said we made his day because missionaries hadn't visited him in years. It was special to spend time with him and talk about the gospel while having a little fun. On Sunday there were very few investigators at church. Hopefully more will be able to come next week! After church we taught Bro. Homwe and two of his daughters. I taught them the Restoration all in Shona!! It was exhausting and I had to mix a lot of English in there, but it was also super cool. I love teaching in English whenever possible, but when needed, speaking Shona is really awesome. That was one of the highlights of the week.

My short thought this week is about testimony. Each of us has one deep down, a valued knowledge of the truth gained by the Holy Ghost. The Lord wants each of us to share that gift with others. If we only open our mouths and share what we know or even believe to be true, the Spirit can carry our words unto the hearts of those who listen. We can never underestimate the power of a simple and heartfelt testimony! I felt that as I listened in fast and testimony meeting yesterday. A warm and comforting feeling filled my heart throughout the whole hour. A testimony is like a muscle; as we seek to exercise it and bear it, it becomes greater!

I love you all and hope this week is a powerful one!

Love Elder Barlow

Enterprise


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

June 26, 2017 - Jersey, Jacket, Whatever You Call It

Mhoroi everybody!!
Me and my little friends
I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the warm weather back home in Utah. Weather is so funny here. In the mornings and evenings it is super cold (like see your breath in the air cold), but most days are warm and sunny. It's kind of funny because even in the sunshine you'll see people bundling up and asking us why we aren't wearing jerseys (jackets, don't know why they call them that haha). It's funny because when it actually gets cold, 75% of the time I don't have my jacket. If any of you don't believe that Africa gets cold, come to Zimbabwe during June. You will have a testimony haha.

This last Tuesday we had dinner with the Melvin family, who are actually family friends of Elder Barrus. They fed us Mexican food and we had a great evening with them. Right before we shared a message, they asked if any of us were musical. A few of us raised our hands. Sister Melvin looks right at me and asks if I sing. I said yeah a little. And she said you should sing for us before we start. I was like uh.....but of course we had almost the whole zone there and they all piggie backed on that idea. So I sang I Am a Child of God for them, and although I was shaking the whole time, it was pretty good. I like singing hymns because they bring the Spirit in a way that words sometimes can't.
Faith's baptism!
Temba is in the middle and he baptized,
which his cool cause he's still a recent convert!!

Faith got baptized on Saturday!! She's Rachel's little sister and only 12, and though she's quiet she really knows the gospel! Since she speaks mostly Shona I had the privilege of teaching her most of the time, and it was exciting to have her be baptized. We had Temba, a recent convert, perform the baptism and he did great! It was an awesome day. Sister Barbara was unfortunately not baptized. President Mkhabela told us that we should wait for her husband (who is working indefinitely in South Africa) to come so they can be married first. She took the news ok, I just hope she gets baptized soon because she is so active at church!

We found 12 more new investigators this week and we have 13 people on baptismal date! It's so amazing because 3 of them are fathers. It is always a blessing to teach a father because they often are busy, but when you find those who are humble, they can lead their families closer to God! The humility that some of these people have, though they may not have much money or education, is so touching and so incredible.

Yesterday we had a two hour discussion with these Seventh Day Adventists. One guy started off by saying that we shouldn't have a church fight or whatever, but that we should talk civilly about what's important to salvation. We happily agreed. However, they kept interrupting us, often with the phrase "so let's cut the long story short." That was a bit frustrating. At least they were much nicer and willing to listen a little more than most people like them that we've met. They mostly were trying to convert us, so not much was accomplished. Zimbabweans know the Bible SO well. It's pointless with many people to try and settle a point using only the scriptures. That's why I love that a testimony comes from God through the Holy Ghost, and we can obtain it through asking in humble and sincere prayer. We concluded by offering them the Book of Mormon and asking them to pray and take the Lord's word for it, not just ours. The scriptures are incredible and support the restored gospel, but so many people are unable to see that. That's why the Holy Ghost must be the true teacher, not us.


Earlier in the week, we went as a district and ate at this Indian restaurant in our area called Taj. They took an hour to bring out the food, but when they did, it was about the spiciest and most delicious food that I've had on the mission. Not to mention the Indian outfits on the African waiters were powerful haha. Our stomachs are used to sadza and vegetables, so it was kind of a fun experience. Who knew that the best Indian food that I've ever eaten would be in Zimbabwe? You learn something new every day.
Elder Horton and I enjoying the Zimbabwean winter
I know that the Lord watches over us and loves us. As a missionary you come to know that we need to rely on the Lord in a very literal way. There have been many times when my own knowledge or my own strength have fallen short. It has required me to take a deep breath and trust that my Heavenly Father will accomplish His purposes through me. I am learning more and more about being humble and patient. The Savior never came to testify of himself or of his will. Rather, he was the perfect disciple of His Father, doing "always those things that please him." (John 8:29) Earlier in that same verse, Jesus said that "the Father hath not left me alone." I know that as we too seek to do those things which please our Heavenly Father, we will never be left alone. He knows us, cares for us, and His ways are higher than ours. 


I love you all and I hope you have the best week ever!!

Elder Barlow

Elders of Harare enjoying Pday



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 19, 2017 - No Elder Horton, You Don't Want Some "Stuff"

Hey friends and family!!

Look what I found!
I hope everyone is doing well!! Happy Fathers' Day to my dad and to all the awesome fathers out there! We love and appreciate you!

This week was a bit difficult but still great. The sweet thing about being a missionary is that no matter how many touch experiences you have, they are always outweighed by the good ones!! We had interviews with President Mkhabela on Tuesday. He is a great man and really cares about us as missionaries. I've enjoyed being able to feel closer to him as my time has passed here. We also had pizza from this place called Pogo's, and it happened to be the most delicious meal I've eaten for the past 10 months or so. Mission teaches you many things, including how to appreciate good pizza haha.

On Wednesday night after bishopric we needed to grab some food, so we went to the store in our area and then walked over to a restaurant. So here in Zimbabwe, many people sell airtime for phones on the street to try and earn a little money. A man came up to us on our way to the restaurant and asked if we wanted airtime. We told him that we were sorry and that our phone had enough. He then in kind of a hushed voice said "Hey, do you guys want some stuff?" Uh oh. I was like no, we are good. My companion was confused and kept saying what stuff. The guy was like you know, mbanje (marijuana). I was like, Elder Horton, come on let's go. He finally figured it out and he freaked out as we were walking away. So, beloved friends and family, if a guy on the street asks if you want some stuff, probably a good idea to get out of there.

Throughout this week Elder Horton and I tried our best to work hard, even though it seemed like all of our appointments kept falling through. Haha even our back-up plans for our back-up plans didn't work out. I know that no effort is ever wasted, so it was ok! We went to some new parts of Hatcliffe too and that was definitely an adventure. It was a blessing because this week we got to teach families for many of our lessons! It's so meaningful to teach a family because the gospel is meant for them!! Of course the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everybody, and God put us in families because that's where the greatest blessings come. We met the Homwe family when we went to teach their neighbors. The baba doesn't speak much English and things are tight for them, but he asked us to teach him and his children. Although I had to explain a few things in Shona, as we taught them about the plan of salvation, they were able to understand and they were very happy. I hope the whole family is able to accept the gospel!!

Our front yard

We've also been teaching Brother Ndowa, who accepted a baptismal date for his family this week!! He has great questions and it is always fun to teach him because he reads and really has an interest in the gospel. We taught him about the love Christ has for us, specifically in Moroni 7, and he told us that he can see the goodness of the gospel and thanked us for the love he felt from us. It was great. This week also I was feeling a bit discouraged and I kept praying to feel loved. As always, the Lord answered me in His way by letting me see the love others had felt through me. In addition to Brother Ndowa, others we have been teaching expressed to us how great it was that we had showed our love and integrity by visiting and teaching them, and one lady even remarked that she and her family could see God through us. It was really touching and I felt so happy, because that's truly what we are here to do: love others the way God loves them. It was so amazing.


We've continue to teach Elisha and he is so powerful! His mom still won't let him be baptized even though he loves the Book of Mormon and the church, and so we encouraged him to be a missionary to his mom. He truly loves the gospel and I think he will bless his family because of it. We got to have stake conference this week and it was awesome!! Seeing so many wonderful members was a really cool experience and we received some great instruction.

You Know You're in Zim When..... #2

-kids on every corner are playing soccer with a ball made of bread bags
-traditional sungura music is playing everywhere
-people say how is it? instead of how's it going
-you pass a different church every 2 minutes
-everyone knows how to dance
-people feed you whenever you visit, even if they didn't plan to!

I love this wonderful country and I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to serve God and His children here in Zim!! 

Love you all!!
Love Elder Barlow 

(I'll send more pictures next time)