Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016 - "That's Powerful, Man"

Hello Everyone!!
I survived my first full week in Zimbabwe! Each day seems to get a little better. On Tuesday we had zone meeting and it was good to see some other Americans haha. It's so funny, we eat the same food for all three meals because my companion is a simple cook and I haven't yet gotten up my courage to attempt anything. So beans, rice, beef, tomatoes, and onions for every meal! Haha it's actually really good.
As to the title of my email, whenever something spiritual or cool happens, everyone says "powerful." Haha it's so awesome. I find myself saying it more and more haha. This week we contacted 102 people!! Holy cow it's so much. Most people in Zimbabwe are too nice to say they aren't interested, so we end up with a billion contacts haha. Everyone says they will come to church too, but no one really means it but that's ok. I can't let the ninety and nine keep me from the one! One guy actually told us yesterday that he wasn't interested, so although it was disappointing his honesty was refreshing. We have taught a bunch of lessons this week, almost all of them about the Restoration. The highlight of our investigator lessons was Shane. So there's a YSA named Tino that's our branch mission leader and he goes around with us often. He introduced us to Shane, who's almost 17 and one of his good friends. We taught Shane and then Tino brought him to church yesterday! That was so cool. Also after we taught the first lesson to him, he followed us around as we finished teaching for the rest of the day! I think he has real promise and that the Spirit is speaking to him.
The other highlight of the week has been eating dinner with a couple members. We first had dinner with the Muchemwa Family. Sister Fadzai Muchemwa is really influential and has helped us in our teaching and finding a lot. She also teachessunday school and seminary so members like her are so powerful in this branch. Last night we had dinner with Sister Jabangwe. She's the relief society president. She was married in the temple and has 4 grown daughters, but her husband died 20 years ago and she now lives with her young grandson who has bad legs. She's so faithful and sweet, and the sadza and chicken that she made was absolutely delicious. Haha I think I can survive the food here so far. We had the opportunity to give her grandson Clayton a blessing and that was special, and it is so tender to see the way she takes care of him. People like her strengthen my testimony and remind me of the good in this world. 
I need to find more change. They use American dollars but not coins because they use their own coins which is odd. I need change to buy the African equivalent of otter pops when it gets hot haha. It has been extremely hot this week and I've had to drink lots and lots of water. Also, I love African names! Some have English names, but others have names like Innocent, Believemore, Reward, Precious, etc. which is so cool. Others have native names that are awesome but that I have a very hard time pronouncing and spelling in my planner haha. I'm learning a little Shona each day thanks to my companion who knows a good amount. As I learn more I'll be able to participate more in contacting. We also had a cool experience this week. As we were contacting, a lady and her baby ran up to us. She had a smile on her face and tears in her eyes as she gave us her contact information. We referred her to the missionaries in her area and I hope that goes well! I participated a lot more during teaching this week and my companion says I'm doing well! I'm so glad to be doing the Lord's work. Because of resources we can't give out many copies of the Book of Mormon which is hard for me, but we are finding ways to help people learn about it and eventually read it! 
Also, I really understand what Joseph Smith was talking about when he talked about religious confusion. There are a ton of different churches in our area and plenty of false prophets in this country. The people are very Christian but there's so much confusion.
My companion happens to be a movie buff (whataya know!!). We talk about movies often and he quotes them all the time. Africans have such great senses of humor. Elder Bamutesiza has a deep, rich laugh and it kills me every time. I'm doing my best to work hard and find joy in the journey. Haha so funny story. Yesterday in church the speakers didn't show up. So guess who the 2nd counselor comes to to speak 2 minutes before the meeting? That's right, yours truly. So I got up and talked about the Book of Mormon for as long as I could. I think it went well. It's hard because many members that were present last week weren't there this week, even though other members came this week. This branch really needs some strengthening and a real jumpstart. We are trying to influence less actives as well. As I was doing my personal study I came across Alma 32, and it talked about that if we forget to nourish and care for our seed of faith, it won't take root and will wither. That really impacted my thinking about this branch and I hope this work continues to strengthen it. I love you all and I'm grateful for your support and love!
Elder Barlow
1. Oh Zimbabwe!!

2. Our humble abode

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