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)

June 12, 2017 - Walking in a Winter Wonderland?

Hey everybody!!!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week. Haha winter is finally here in Zimbabwe. In the mornings and evenings, the weather is super cold! However, in the afternoon, it's as warm as ever. African winter is definitely bipolar!!
Our meeting house

This week we mostly spent our time preparing Rachel, Emeka, and Phillip for baptism. There wasn't a whole ton of time for much else, but it was still a pretty good week. We had the amazing opportunity to teach Tenai again. We had to walk an hour into Borrowdale to teach him, but it was so worth it. He opened up to us about some serious issues that had taken place in this last year and how his faith had been awakened but shaken. We had the great opportunity to talk about the Savior and His sacrifice and love for all of us, no matter what has happened. It was a special opportunity. He knows the gospel is true and really truly wants to do right before God. I am so grateful for the relationship that I have with the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing I have of teaching others about Him!

On Friday we had zone conference with all the missionaries in Harare, Mutare, and Bindura. The Spirit is always present among a group of missionaries, especially when we sing hymns. I love being able to gather as messengers of the Lord. President Mkhabela gave us powerful instruction on teaching about the Restoration and the power that is carried with that message. I always enjoy getting to listen to him. I also loved being able to see all the good friends that I have made on this mission. They have been a strength and a blessing to me. The only downside to zone conference was that they forgot to announce my musical number....a bit of a disappointment. I hope I get a chance to sing at a future opportunity. 

Philip, Emeka, and Rachel's baptism
On Saturday we had a baptism!! It was actually overcast and really cold, so the water was frigid! Haha that never lasts long. We baptized Emeka (13), Rachel (15), and Phillip (21) and it was so awesome!! All 3 are powerful and were confirmed yesterday! Phillip also received the priesthood, so that was incredible!! It was a super cold day, but it we were all warm inside. Haha I slipped and fell on a large stone pipe and bruised/scraped my right leg a bunch, so that was no fun. You win some, you lose some, right? Haha Elder Horton keeps learning Shona. His favorite phrases seem to have to do with what you eat and he often yells at kids telling them that he either is a rock or that he eats a big chicken....enough said. Why teach the gospel when you can tell the world that you eat a big chicken? 
With Philip and Kelvin (ward missionary)

Church was incredible!! We had a family that we have been teaching for a few weeks now (Baba and Mai Arnold) come to church finally!! We were super excited to see them. We also had a great lesson on the importance and sacredness of family relationships and responsibilities. I am very grateful for my parents, who always took the time to take care of me and make sure that I turned out ok!! 

Elders of Marimba Zone

Today we went with the zone to Sister Reeve's house and played basketball and ping pong etc. That was so much fun!! I've still got the moves in ping pong but that does not transition well to tennis....not even gonna say how that went. Overall it has been a great week and I hope this one will be even better!! Time is flying and I am happy to be in Zimbabwe serving my Father in Heaven!!

Love Elder Barlow

Our street in Borrowdale

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017 - Faith, Friends, and Fun!

Happy Monday everyone!! I hope everyone's week was great! I can't believe that we are already in June! Time flies like crazy these days.

Dinner with the Nields

On Monday evening last week we were privileged to have family home evening with the Nields. For those who don't know about Reeve Nield, she's a professional golfer and runs a charity called Eyes4Zimbabwe. We were with her, her mom, and her younger sister's family. They have two younger boys and wanted us to come and teach the lesson. We discussed for a long time on the stripling warriors, prayer, the Holy Ghost, and being an example and it was so awesome! We got to know them better and they are a special family with great faith! They fed us Mexican enchiladas afterwards, and let's just say that us missionaries were on cloud 9! 
Elder Horton and I have continued to find lots of new people! It's my first time as a senior companion, so I'm learning a lot about how to work and set an example. We have been trying to exercise our faith to find new people who are ready to hear our message, and the Lord has been blessing us. It takes courage to talk to a random person about the gospel and about their beliefs, but it has led us to some amazing people! As we have opened our mouths, the Holy Ghost has helped us to know what to say and what to do. It has strengthened my testimony a lot! I got to teach in Shona a couple more times this week. It's still a little difficult, but I am learning and growing and I love having that opportunity! We teach in English whenever possible, but it's unique to teach them in their native language when they struggle to understand us.
Me and Caston!

It's gotten to be pretty cold here in the mornings and evenings as we are entering winter. We have a total of about 5 minutes of hot water in the mornings, so that's been tricky to negotiate. At least we have water!! It's fun to be with my companion. He is very different, but a very solid guy. Haha his Shona has been slowly improving, but he sometimes mixes up the conjugation. For example, sometimes he likes to tell little kids Ndinokudya (I eat you) to get them to laugh. However, this week he told a kid Unokudya, meaning you eat yourself. I had a good laugh over that, as did all who heard him. Well, you are what you eat, right?

One of the highlights that we had this week was teaching Mai Kelvin. Kelvin is one of the branch missionaries and a really fun guy to be around. However, his mom his less active at church and has a lot of questions. We had a very profound lesson on getting answers from the right sources (the scriptures and from the Holy Ghost) and on exercising faith. We read from Alma 32 with her and encouraged her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon again. She says she knows that she'll come back someday, we just hope that it is soon. We also taught Brother Francis again yesterday. When we first met he had a bunch of strange questions on Daniel's prophecies and some conspiracies that he had heard. However, this time his questions were based on staying firm in his faith when so many sources say different things about God and the gospel. We read from Helaman 5:12 about how building upon Christ and His teachings provides a sure foundation, and then we taught him about the Book of Mormon and other parts of the restored gospel. By the end, he told us that the understanding we had given him had enlightened him and that he believed in the Book of Mormon. He thanked us over and over, and it was so powerful and a great experience for Elder Horton and I. Teaching from the scriptures is the best!!

Domboshava District
Elders Horton, Horlacher, Gomez, Makalio,
Guajardo, Josiah, Barlow, and Gordon

We are super excited because we are going to baptize 3 people this week! Emeka and Rachel are both young women and super powerful, and Phillip is 21 and just an awesome guy. I love the people that we have been meeting and I hope everything goes well this week!

Today we got to go visit Lion and Cheetah Park as a district, my second time there. Our district has 8 missionaries, all elders, and we had a good time together. We saw some awesome animals and had a lot of fun! I really do have the coolest mission ever!

Love you all!!

Elder Barlow

Lion and Cheetah Park

May 29, 2017 - Learning As We Go

Hey everyone!!
I hope everybody has had a good week. Everything is going pretty well here in Zimbabwe, nothing really to complain of. We had some pretty cool experiences this week. That's the wonderful thing about being a missionary: it's never boring!

This week Elder Horton and I spent a lot of time finding new investigators. When I came to Hatcliffe, our teaching pool was incredibly small, so we've done our best to build it back up. We found 14 new people to teach this week! It's funny because those 14 come out of talking to about 100 people. Here in Zim, everyone wants to learn more about the Bible and about Christ, but few truly understand our purpose as missionaries, which is to help them become converted unto the Lord through repentance and baptism. Hopefully these new people will be blessed with that understanding. It's always fun to talk to strangers! They call us mafia all the time, which is not what we are haha. There are so many good people here and I love how we have the time to say hello to everyone we pass on the street.

On Thursday I taught an entire lesson in Shona!! That was really stressful and really hard, but so cool. Elder Horton taught while I translated for our investigator and it worked out ok! I have been blessed to get to know the language pretty well. I don't speak it completely fluently, but most people we meet say I speak perfect Shona. It is a blessing to make friends and create smiles as we talk to people in Shona. 

Spencer and Nield family

That night we had the amazing opportunity to have dinner with the Spencer's and their family. If anyone knows of Reeve Nield, she is a relative and was also there. They are such amazing people. We had a delicious dinner and talked about missionary work and the charity/relief work that Reeve and her organization have been doing. The Spirit was very strong and it was a wonderful evening. They are a very interesting and cool family and we loved the experience.

Sister Gutu was baptized on Saturday!! She is so powerful and so happy all the time. Her little kids are adorable and love to play with the varungu. It was a great experience for Elder Horton and I. We had a ton of appointments fall through this weekend, which was unfortunate, but we didn't waste any time and we contacted tons of people. As missionaries, we don't always reap the harvest, but we definitely take part in sowing the seeds of conversion.
Sister Gutu's baptism

Sunday was great as well. Our ward is super powerful and the members are very strong. It's been uplifting to be in this area so far. Haha Elder Horton has a couple of board games with him, so we've been playing those a lot. Watch out everyone, when I come home I'll roast everyone in Settlers of Catan. We also made cake and homemade mac n' cheese, so that's been an adventure. As a missionary, you learn all kinds of things about the gospel, about the world, and about yourself. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to grow, even though it has been hard sometimes. The refiner's fire is always hot, but when we endure, we emerge better than we were before!
Have an awesome week everybody!!
Love Elder Barlow

Can you find the snake???

May 15, 2017 - ET After Phone Home

Hey everybody!!

Things have been absolutely crazy this week, so I will do my best to record my thoughts. This week has been a little bit emotional and full of ups and downs, which is a good way to describe missionary work.
Chitown District:
Elders Ray, Taloa, and Barnett
Sisters Erickson and Walbeck

On Tuesday we had our last district meeting together and it was really powerful! We discussed about studying and we were able to take pictures afterwards. It was awesome and I really will miss the amazing elders and sisters in this district.
Elder Whiting and I

On Wednesday we had exchanges with the zone leaders! I had the opportunity to be with Elder Whiting, who is awesome and one of my best friends on this mission. We got to use a lot of Shona together and we taught some powerful lessons. One thing I've also always appreciated about him is the great conversations that we always have about desiring to be good missionaries. We had a ton of fun. However, then came the news: the AP's called and told me that I was being emergency transferred (ET'd, see title) to Hatcliffe and Borrowdale. I had to scramble when we got home from Eastview and pack all of my stuff so we could leave directly. I was very sad to have to leave my recent converts, district members, favorite companion, and favorite area so suddenly. I now live in Borrowdale alone with my companion Elder Horton, who is from Draper. He's a little odd, but I think we'll do good work. A little info about our area: it is so massive. Borrowdale is the richest part of Zimbabwe, and Hatcliffe is pretty poor but extremely big. We have one ward that covers both areas. There are white people in our ward!! It's a little weird but super cool. You don't see too many murungu members of the church here. I've also seen some of the biggest houses ever in our area, along with the smallest. We definitely get the best of both worlds. It was a little discouraging at first with the circumstances of the whole situation, but things are picking up. Elder Horton knows 0 Shona because he was trained in Bulawayo where they speak Ndebele, so I have to try and translate and communicate with most of the people. However, we have received many referrals in the past few days that we are very excited about!

On Saturday and Sunday we had ward conference. The Stake presidency came and did priesthood training on Saturday and it was super powerful. It's good to meet the members and see the strength of this ward. Sunday was super spiritual as well. We had great meetings and managed to have 12 investigators at church!! That was incredibly encouraging, as was the personal and general counsel that we received from the Stake presidency. Hopefully this area will be fruitful and I pray that we will have good experiences this transfer! On a side note, I also met two more RM's from Ghana that served under Mimi and Papa! That has been so fun.

Elder Horton and I

Also, today with transfers I wasn't planning on doing any activities. However, when the other missionaries showed up with a basketball and needed one more player, I couldn't say no. So we destroyed the other team haha, but it came with a lesson: don't play basketball in dress clothes--you feel miserable even if you win haha.

I would encourage everyone to read King Benjamin's sermon in Mosiah 2-5. It's so uplifting and an incredible discourse on the Savior and keeping his commandments! 

Have a fantastic week!!

Love Elder Barlow

Farewell to Elder Blignaut!

May 8, 2017 - Some pictures from our tour of the National Heroes Acre