Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 1, 2016 - "Survived Week 1"

Hey everyone!

So I survived my first week at the MTC and it's been great! It's definitely a lot of hard work but I love it. I think that's mostly because of my great companion and my awesome district. What a great group of guys. Half of my district is going to Zimbabwe and the other half is going to Ghana Kumasi, so Mimi and Papa will be getting a great batch of new missionaries soon. Let me tell you about them.
Zimbabwe Elders: Elder Dixon is my companion. He's our district leader (which is awkward because I'm the senior companion haha). He's 20 years old and from North Ogden. He played soccer at Weber State and is just a genuinely polite and super nice guy. I love working and teaching with him. We play off of our strengths really well and we have a lot of fun. Elder Sink is from Las Vegas. He's about 6'4" and 300 lbs. He's super hilarious and really nice and he's going to play football at Colorado Mesa after his mission! Elder Hamblin is from Syracuse, Utah and he grew up on a dairy farm. He's a little more quiet, and he has a bit of a country accent which is awesome. Elder Gunther played football and basketball for Lone Peak and is just an all around stud. He was the only one I knew going into the MTC. Elder Makalio is a year older than us and is from West Valley, Utah. He played football and rugby and is just the most fun-loving guy ever! 
Ghana Elders: Elder Boyce is from Montana. He played rubgy and football and wrestled. He's really funny and has kind of a baby face. Elder Crowley is from Arizona and is really smart. Elder Edgerton is from Nashville, Tennessee. He's really punctual and smart and logical, but can also be really funny. Elder White is from Riverton. He's just a cool guy to be around and real genuine. And elder Christiansen is from Pleasant Grove. He's really short but has a really big heart. He's really good at having a good time and staying on track.

So that's our district. We all have so much fun together, but also really help each other out spiritually (so Dad, we are taking the work seriously but not taking ourselves too seriously). I really haven't been too stressed out. It's really strange though. I have trouble staying awake in class, but when my head hits the pillow at night I'm wide awake. So that's tricky. Basically we go to class almost all day. Lots of prayer and scripture study. I love it a lot. We've had practice investigators really often, and that's been great. However, I've had some humbling experiences. Turns out that you need to teach by the Spirit, not just know the doctrine really well haha. Oops. Well, ever since Elder Dixon and I have realized that, we've prayed and studied a lot to allow the Spirit to work through us and the results have been incredible. Our lessons have gotten progressively more impactful and it's amazing. We started teaching our TRC investigator on Monday. Her name is Jen and she's going to UVU. She's super outgoing and fun to talk to, and she's also very receptive. In our first lesson, I really felt prompted to bear my testimony on the Atonement, right in the middle of our lesson about the Restoration and prayer. The Spirit was so strong, it was incredible. And guess what?! We invited her to be baptized the next lesson and she said yes!!!!! Ahhh it was so cool! Elder Dixon and I were so pumped. So that's been the highlight of our week. The food is good and being surrounded by so many fellow servants of God is a really special thing. We have exercise time, and although I make a fool of myself in the weight room, I wipe the floor with everyone in volleyball haha. That's been a huge stress release. I took Daniel's advice and sang in the MTC choir and that was so amazing! There were 1600 of us. Wow. The Spirit works so strongly here. I've done a lot of studying and this is definitely really hard. But it is so right. This is the work of God and I know this is exactly what I should be doing. 

Another exciting thing was that I've already run into Elder Hales, Elder Callahan, Elder Jackson, Elder Romney, Elder Kerr, Elder Edlefsen, Elder Fankhauser, and more! It's so awesome! Basically being a missionary is hard, but absolutely worth it. I've felt the Spirit more this week than I have in my whole life and it's incredible. I've been studying in the Book of Mormon a lot, and my mission scripture, Alma 26:12, about sums it up. I know that I'm not much, but through God all things are possible! Thank you to grandmother, mom and the boys, and everyone else who has sent me packages it means so much! I love you all and I will try to be more specific and ramble a little less next week haha. 

Love, Elder Barlow

1. Elder Dixon and I
2. Our district: (left to right)  Elder Crowley, Elder Boyce, Elder Makalio, Elder Gunther, Elder White, Elder Edgerton, Elder Hamblin, Elder Christiansen, Elder Dixon, me, and Elder Sink (plus our teacher Sister Merrill)

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