Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16, 2017 - Elder Barlow and Volleyball: Reunited

Hey everyone!!!
VOLLEYBALL!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their last week! It's been a pretty interesting week and it's gone by very quickly, so I guess I'll just get right to it! Oh, and we played volleyball today, which was incredible (hence my title). I am definitely a bit rusty after not playing in over a year, but it was so nice to play again!!
On Wednesday we had interviews with President Mkhabela.  Interviews with President get better the longer that I am on my mission. I feel like he knows and trusts me and that I'm not just a name on the transfer sheet to him. He's very willing to help and his scriptural knowledge is so powerful. I always feel uplifted and encouraged when I meet with him. Interviews took most of the day, so we only had time to go meet with Perseverance. She told us everything she loved from conference (pulled out her notes and everything; so sweet) and we had an awesome lesson on the plan of salvation with her and her mom. Her mom asked about rumors that she had heard about the Church and ancestors (so many crazy rumors I could share), so we taught about family history work and baptisms for the dead. It was such an awesome lesson and we could tell that they were visibly touched by the message we shared. I can't wait for Perseverance to get baptized! It's people like her that make serving my mission such a joy!!
Chitown district reunited

On Thursday we got up early and got on the bus to Gweru for zone conference. This time we had the meeting at the Gweru stake center, which is in Mkoba right next to my first area! It was super weird but cool to see where my time in Zimbabwe began. The conference was awesome! We were instructed on obtaining knowledge, the power of the Book of Mormon, and the importance of teaching investigators about families and the temple! I always feel so inspired during zone conference and it really is an amazing time to refresh and recharge spiritually. I also had the opportunity to play the piano during the meeting; it was stressful but I was so grateful that I got to play the piano for the first time in forever.
Elder Taloa and I went on exchanges on Friday. He has been one of my best friends on the mission and he is such a fun person to be around. He grew up in Oakland and San Francisco and played football in high school. It was fun to relate, to tell stories, and talk about improving as missionaries. It has been such a blessing to have him in my district. I got to interview two people for baptism as well, and that is always a special experience for me.
Elder Taloa and Elder Barlow hit the streets

Our baptism on Saturday never materialized because of some problems with Faith (the 16 year old girl we are teaching) , and we found Mandla still at his church....awkward. It's ok though! Faith is back on track and we hope to baptize her in a couple weeks!  On Sunday we had lots of less actives come back to church, including Bongani, who we have been visiting a lot! Only a few investigators came, but one of those that came was a young girl named Andile that we had only taught the day before! Hopefully she will continue to progress! Elder Magoha and I are going through some rough patches here and there, so I'm going to do my best to humble myself and help him with his needs. I have a song on my MP3 called He Walked a Mile in My Shoes, and it talks about how Jesus Christ atoned for all our difficulties, sins, griefs, etc. It has been so comforting to listen to the words about how the Savior can comfort and strengthen me because He has been here before. If the Savior loved me, and the rest of us enough to suffer and die so that He could relate to us and forgive/strengthen us, then I can try a little harder to love Elder Magoha and empathize with him. I testify that Christ has power not only to forgive sins , but to heal broken hearts and lift up the hands that hang down. If you haven't read Alma 7: 11-13 recently, I would encourage you to do so. The Savior is there for us, and He has truly walked a mile in our shoes. I love Him more than I can express, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I have to serve Him each and every day as a missionary! Have a great week!!
Love Elder Barlow

October 9, 2017 - The Voice of the Lord to Us





Hey friends and family!!

I hope you all have had an amazing week! These past few days in Zimbabwe have been full of ups and downs, including some crazy weather. The October heat finally arrived at the beginning of the week, but it was surpassed by the heavy rains that came in the latter half of the week. Well...that's Zimbabwe for you!







Nketa district:
Elder Barlow, Elder Magoha, Elder Taloa, Elder Richardson,
Elder Tuimaseve, and Elder Horlacher

We had our first full district meeting together on Tuesday, which was pretty awesome. All the elders in our district seem willing to work hard, and I'm excited to serve around them. Elder Magoha, my trainee, is doing better and better each day. I love teaching with him, and he has a great testimony of the gospel. He's also a graduated civil engineer, so it's cool to here about his knowledge and experiences. One of the best blessings of being on a mission is that you meet all kinds of people and learn all about them! Later in the day, we met a man named George. He had a big smile on his face, even though he insisted that he was miserable because of currency issues and other struggles of Zimbabwe life. We stood on the street and talked to him for 30 minutes about how there are always things to be grateful for (life, health, family, shelter, a knowledge of Christ, etc.), how happiness is a choice, and how if we truly know God and His plan for us, the challenges of this life come second to the divine potential that we have as God's children (Romans 8: 18). He kept shaking his head and going back to the issues he insisted were too difficult to overcome, but I truly hope that he has thought about what we shared with him. I truly know that if we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, we can and will find lasting joy and peace in this life and in the next!

Find us on Facebook
(but you won't haha) 

On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Richardson. He's from Missouri and lives in an adopted family of 25 kids. That's a lot. He was born in Haiti and is a super outgoing and energetic missionary. I enjoyed talking to him and teaching with him throughout the day. At the end of the day when we went to Brother Taranja's house for dinner, we were in for an unexpected surprise. We found two guys that we didn't recognize inside the house. At first they started accusing us of some crazy things, but I discerned that one of them was a member. After a little his cover was blown and he told us that he was Brother Taranja's brother and an RM. Yet, the other guy kept going. He said that he was a Jehovah's Witness, and he started asking us a bunch of questions. We had a doctrinal conversation going back and forth on several points for an hour and a half and the guy was good. Eventually, it came time to eat and the guy (Bongani) was asked to pray. Afterwards he asked us, "Elders do you enjoy what you do?" Of course we responded yes. Then he said, "Good, because I really enjoyed serving in Durban." Oh no. You guessed it, the guy was a returned missionary that had served in SA. Man, he got us good. We were totally convinced that he was a JW, and we defended ourselves pretty well, I might add. It was crazy, but we had a good laugh about it. 

This week we met another Bongani, this one the brother of a member. He has been staying in South Africa and has been less active for a long time. We've had a couple of heartfelt lessons with him, encouraging him to do what's right and to improve. The Spirit was really guiding me as I felt prompted to ask him about and encourage him to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. I've truly felt a desire for him to reach a higher potential and make something better of his life. It has been awesome to teach him and get to know him. Perseverance also came back from SA finally. We taught her and she is just as powerful as I remember. She has so many questions, perfect questions, and I can't wait to keep teaching her! 

Pizza with the zone
General Conference was so amazing!! I couldn't get enough, and I loved every single speaker. Elder Holland is always powerful, and I thoroughly enjoyed his talk on becoming perfect but not being discouraged, as well as the themes of the Book of Mormon, Repentance, and Christlike service that were present throughout the conference. Perseverance also attended the sessions and was visibly moved by the things she heard, which was so sweet. Elder Andersen's talk on hearing the counsel from prophets and apostles at conference as the voice of the Lord to us really impacted me. When we truly apply prophetic counsel in our lives, we will find greater happiness, greater peace, freedom from burdens, and a stronger testimony of Christ and His gospel. I'd also  just like to share a quick thought from President Uchtdorf's talk in priesthood session. Light chases away darkness. That is how it has always been. The light that emanates from Jesus Christ influences all to do good, and we can invite that light more abundantly into our lives as we seek to become like Him. A shadow is merely a temporary absence of light, and we don't have to get caught up in times where darkness seems to creep in. When we look to Christ, who is the light of the world, we will be spiritually well throughout all our difficulties. Although this life can be hard, we aren't meant to walk unguided in darkness. Let us all let the light of Christ radiate through us and seek to be a light to others. I truly know that light always chases away darkness. So don't give up!! Instead, lighten up with the help of the Savior.

I love you all, have the most amazing week!!

Love Elder Barlow

October 2, 2017 - My Son, Everything the Light Touches is Our Kingdom



Hey everybody!!! I hope everyone's week has been kuhle!!! It has been a busy but awesome week with lots of new experiences. There never seems to be a dull day as a missionary in Zimbabwe!

On Tuesday I was in a trio with Elder Taloa and his new companion, Elder Richardson from Missouri. We taught some awesome lessons, but it seemed to be kind of a weird day, especially after our 3 person district meeting. We now have two more elders in our district, Elder Horlacher and Elder Tuimaseve. I'm glad that we have a bigger district and that I get to work together with some new faces! 

Elder Magoha
Wednesday was busy! I had to get on a bus to Harare at 7 am, and we didn't get there until 2 pm because the bus broke down on the side of the road. For those who have never taken a long bus ride in Zimbabwe, it is SUPER hot and humid because the air conditioning is basically nonexistent. When we finally got to Harare, I got to see lots of missionary friends like Elder Whiting (who's now an assistant to the president) and Elder Horton. And of course, I walk into the cultural hall in the chapel and there's a volleyball net set up. A volleyball net. I about died, especially because they finally put it up after I left. Oh well, you can't have your volleyball and play with it too I guess. The trainers meeting with President Mkhabela was awesome. We read from D&C 121 and learned about principles of righteous leadership, especially those exhibited by the Savior. It is a sacred responsibility to train a new missionary and we got some really awesome counsel about how to fulfill the Lord's trust in us. After that I met my trainee, Elder Magoha. He's from Tanzania (so he speaks Swahili) and is 26 years old. He's a convert to the church from 2 years ago, which is so awesome. He is kind of a quiet guy, but he is super solid and I'm glad to be his trainer. We ate dinner at the mission home with President and Sister Mkhabela that night. It is always good to be around them, plus Sister Mkhabela made lasagna that was just about the best thing that I've eaten in forever. As  to my title, this quote from the Lion King was something my trainer, Elder Bamutesiza, would say to me as we would walk through the area. I thought about my experience of being a new missionary this week, and it seems so far away yet so close. I have grown so much since then and I have seen the Lord's hand so much in my life. He truly has been so merciful to me as I have gone throughout my missionary service thus far. It's strange now to be one of the older missionaries in the mission.

On Thursday we had our combined instruction from President Mkhabela. He is so concise and so focused in his counsel and I always love hearing his instructions. We discussed training, the schedule, and having the Spirit as missionaries and working together. I feel so inspired every time I gather with other missionaries and my determination to do the right thing increases. Christ said that where two are three are gathered in His name that He would be in the midst of them, and I truly believe that applies especially to missionaries. Following our meetings, we endured another 7 hour bus ride back to Bulawayo. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time talking to Elder Magoha. He has a degree in civil engineering and was telling me a lot about his work. He actually met the missionaries online and was taught on Facebook until the missionaries could meet him in person, and he really is converted to the gospel. As a bonus, I think he brought all the clouds with him from Tanzania because ever since we came back from Harare there have been clouds and even a little rain in Bulawayo, the first I've seen in my time here.

2/3 of the new district:
Elder Magoha, me, Elder Taloa, and Elder Richardson

Elder Magoha's first few days in the mission field have been interesting. I've been doing most of the teaching, and although his teaching skills aren't the best, he knows how to bear a heartfelt testimony and that is the best. Our lessons have been interesting, but I've felt the Spirit so much and felt so happy while teaching these people. I encouraged my companion to contact people as we go and he actually did!! It was a bit rough but he did it which was the important thing. I'm so proud of him. He is so humble in missionary work and always talks about how glad he is that we are companions and asks how he can do better. It's been interesting because he's not used to using US dollars or Zim bond notes, so I've been teaching about spending and saving money and also how to go about the area.  Overall, he's been learning hopefully and I have been learning how to be patient and to set a good example.

Church was awesome on Sunday. I have grown to really love fast and testimony meeting. It is such a great time to share our convictions of the restored gospel and to strengthen each other. Mandla came to church again, which was so awesome. When I brought Elder Magoha to teach him this week, he told us that he'd decided to be baptized, which was an unexpected answer but so awesome!!!! I am so excited to teach and prepare him to make that sacred covenant with the Lord. Overall, it's been a pretty sweet week, even though it has been difficult at times. I have realized time and time again that I don't know everything and that training a new missionary is a challenge in many ways, but I trust in the Lord. It is His work. I know that as we keep the commandments, the Lord will be able to help Elder Magoha experience the same tender mercies that I felt as a new missionary. It is a blessing to be a part of our Heavenly Father's work! Have a fantastic week everyone!!

Love Elder Barlow

1. Elder Magoha and I
2. 2/3 of the new district: Elder Magoha, me, Elder Taloa, and Elder Richardson. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 25, 2017 - Time to Dust Off the Training Wheels

The jacaranda trees are back




Hey friends and family!! 

From what I've heard, it's cooling off back in the USA. If you're upset, I will totally trade you weather because I am roasting here in Zimbabwe!! It's still been a great week though, I hope you all are doing well!



The weather has been getting hotter by the day. My Ndebele is still pretty limited, but one of the things I do know how to say is that it's really hot (yachisa kakulu), so that works to break the ice or get some laughs when I don't know what else to say. Thanks to Shona, I can actually understand a little bit of Ndebele. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up more quickly as the next transfer goes by.

Elder Gordon and I after exchanges
On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Gordon in Mzilikazi. He's about 3 months older than me on mission and is from Springville, Utah. I look up to him a lot and we had a good time as companions. As zone leaders they have a car, but of course we were the ones walking for the day. Luckily I've been walking for nearly my entire mission and so I didn't mind. I learned that I need to be more simple in my teaching. It really is the Holy Ghost that will bring the truth to peoples' hearts, so I don't need to put too much effort into over-explaining. It's always good to expound the scriptures, but it was a good reminder that the Spirit is the true teacher. We had a lot of fun talking about life and about the gospel and I'm glad to be serving around good missionaries.

An interesting thought about walking (since I mentioned it a second ago): Christ walked everywhere He went. As I've studied Jesus the Christ and the New Testament, I've read about how as He traveled, He taught the people and healed them, ministering to them as He went along. Acts 10:38 says that Jesus "went about doing good," wherever He went. Even though it is tough sometimes, I'm grateful that I get to walk as I do my missionary work because there are endless opportunities to meet and teach amazing people as we go along!
With Brother and Sister Nyoni


Elder Daka and I have been meeting with Brother and Sister Nyoni over the last two weeks. Bro. Nyoni is a returned missionary and a super awesome guy, and his wife isn't a member so we are teaching her. He is a great help to us and a great support to his wife. They have a little 3 month old baby name Londile that is about the chubbiest baby of all time. It's so cool to teach with them and it's yet another family that we can help come closer to Christ! 

Saturday was super busy! Elder Daka and I went and helped out with the ward Mormon Helping Hands project at the Tshabalala Library. We cleaned up the yard and parts of the inside, and it felt good to help out and do some community service. After that we rushed home to change and head off to Sister Lucy's baptism! If you don't remember her, her husband was baptized by Elder Daka before I came along with their kids and they are super awesome. We helped work out their legal marriage and she finally got baptized! It was an awesome experience to finally see the whole family in the Church. I am always grateful to be a part of bringing families together. After that came the long-awaited transfer news call. Elder Daka is going to Chitungwiza!! I'm really excited for him and Elder Taloa and I gave him tons of people to look up when he gets there. And.....I'M TRAINING!!! I'm finally getting to train a new missionary, something that I've wanted to do ever since I came on my mission. His name is Elder Magoha and I think he is from Tanzania. I'll be going to pick him up on Wednesday this week. I'm excited and a bit nervous, so I would love if you could remember me in your prayers throughout these next couple weeks! It's crazy how fast time is flying, I can't believe that it will be October in a few days.

At Mormon Helping Hands service project
On Sunday I taught the gospel principles class about prophets. Here in Zimbabwe, there are so many false prophets that take advantage of the people and many people are confused. Teaching them the true nature of a prophet of God and that there is a true prophet on the earth is so important for them to understand. We talked about how we must follow all of the prophet's counsel, and with general conference approaching, I think that it really applies. We can't pick and choose which of God's commandments that we are willing to keep, especially because the toughest things are usually what we need most. I hope you all have a wonderful experience listening to God's ordained servants this week, I think I'll be watching it the following week. After church, Elder Daka and I went around saying goodbye to everyone. I'm going to miss being his companion. He's a funny guy who loves these people, and I know he'll continue to be an awesome missionary in the future! 


Elder Daka's birthday at KFC
Alright, I think that's all for this week, enjoy the final days of September!! (sorry I don't have much time!!) I know that Christ lives and that He is our Savior, and that if we have faith in Him and seek to draw His power into our lives, we can get through any challenges that we may face!

Love Elder Barlow


September 18, 2017 - Another Week in Zimbabwe

Hey everyone!! 

With Melo,
a YSA in our ward who leaves on his
mission to cape town next month!

I hope everyone's week has been good! This week has flown by and the temperatures seem to get hotter with each day! It's funny, whatever season it is here, we can't wait for the next one. Like right now, we are wishing for the rains, but I know by the time they come we will be hoping they stop! Zimbabwean weather is crazy!

On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Taloa, a little throwback to our Chitown days. It was a lot of fun to serve with him again and to see how much he has grown. He is a cool guy and a good friend. We found some new investigators by teaching with the Book of Mormon, and hopefully we will be able to teach them in the coming week! On Thursday we boarded a bus as a zone and drove to Gweru early in the morning. It was crazy to be back in my first area, especially since I haven't been there since last Christmas! It was awesome to see Elders Aden, Sink, Hamblin, Ray, and others. Zone conference is 
With Elders Sink and Hamblin
who were companions and zone leaders in the MTC
and are companions and zone leaders in the field right now
always a good time to meet up with other missionaries. We received powerful instruction from President Mkhabela about teaching the plan of salvation. It is such an important lesson and I've often taken the knowledge of where I came from, why I'm here, and where I'm going for granted. We also got to listen to an awesome talk from Elder Holland about having the Holy Ghost with us all the time. The Holy Ghost is vital to missionary work and without it, we cannot serve the Lord in His way. I have a testimony of how much the Spirit influences our teaching.
With Elder Aden at zone conference


On Friday we had interviews with President Mkhabela. It's been a while since I've seen him, and it was awesome to talk with him again. He taught us about the difference between virtue and vice and how we need to have the Spirit so that we can be loving, joyful, peaceful, and patient. My interview with him was very uplifting. He truly cares about us as missionaries and I feel like he really wants me to be my best. President is really powerful and wise and has an amazing knowledge of the scriptures, and it's a blessing to have a great mission president like him.

Elder Daka and I found 10 new investigators this week and had 6 people come to church on Sunday! It was a good week and I know that the Lord helps us find the people who are ready to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ! This week I have been studying about the Savior's visit to the Americas in 3 Nephi. The Lord loves all His people and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is only in and through Jesus Christ that we may be saved, and if we put our trust and faith in Him, we will be comforted and strengthened through all the trials of life! I love my Savior and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve Him! Sorry that this email is shorter and has less details, it's all I have time for today! 

With Elder Ray
I love you all, 
keep pushing on!!

Love Elder Barlow


With Elder Scoresby, one of the AP's​
Elder Barrus and Elder Gordon


Some P-day fun




September 11, 2017 - Tender Mercies

Hey everybody!!!
Some cool clouds, a rare sight in Blues


This letter might be a little shorter, but it certainly has been an amazing week!! My last email was talking about how hot it has been, but this week was definitely worse. Bulawayo is basically the land of 0 clouds, so we are at the mercy of the glaring sun every day. My sun tan is coming back fast haha.

I figured out how to click like a properly Ndebele native this week!! The Q sound was giving me trouble but we had a breakthrough this week haha. For those who want to practice speaking Ndebele, try this: ixoxo liyeqe umgwaqo (the frog humped over the road). 

This week we had the wonderful opportunity to baptize Samantha. It was so special and we were so happy for her. For being only 16 years old, she is incredibly mature and intelligent and one of the most prepared people I have ever met. Basically she taught us every lesson. Elder Thomas (who's serving in Nkulumane) baptized her, and in her testimony afterwards she said that she really felt a connection with our message and with the Book of Mormon, even from our first meeting. She said that being baptized felt so good, and that it was something she needed to do a long time ago. Powerful. She basically just needs to be a missionary already. She went back to boarding school today for another 2 months, but I have no doubt that her testimony will continue to grow until she comes back. Being a missionary is such a blessing because you get to meet the most amazing and humble people and watch as the gospel touches their lives!

Samantha's baptism, featuring Elder Thomas

The other highlight of my week came last night. I got an unexpected call from Elder Leneham, who's now serving in Seke (my 3rd area). He handed the phone to Sister Kwaramba, who told me that she had been married and baptized this past weekend. I just about died of excitement and started going crazy on the side of the road. If anyone remembers, Sister Kwaramba was a mom that Elder Ray and I found and were teaching. She was super powerful and came to church several times with her kids, even though she lived far away from the church. There were some complicated problems that stood in the way of her getting legally married so that she could be baptized, and we didn't know when the time would come for her and her husband. Well, 4 months after I left Seke, she and her husband have finally been married and apparently the branch there has really embraced them. Plus, the husband is getting baptized this weekend!! It was just about the greatest news that I could've asked for. My gratitude for being a missionary has increased a ton, and I am filled with so much happiness. It is moments like these that make the burning sun and tough days so worth it! I know without a doubt that God's hand is in everything and he shows forth his love to us every day if we will open our eyes to see it. In 1 Nephi 1:20, Nephi says that he would show unto us that "the tender mercies of the Lord" are over all those who love and serve Him, and that by the grace of God and our faith in Him, we will be delivered from our trials. I have experienced so many of these tender mercies throughout my mission, and I don't have words to express the gratitude that I have for a loving Father in Heaven that is mindful of all His children.

The elders of Bulawayo zone

We played soccer again today with the zone and had a ton of fun! It's always great to get together with the other missionaries and have a good time. It's a great day to be a missionary!! I love you all, have a fantastic week!!

Love Elder Barlow

September 4, 2017 - Yachisa Kakulu

Hey everybody!! I hope the week has been good. My title means "it's really hot," which accurately describes the weather this week. I can't believe that September is here! I know I mention a lot about how time flies as a missionary, but it really is so crazy sometimes.

The one year braai

Last Monday we celebrated my year mark along with the other elders from my group in the zone. We rented out a turf soccer field and played some soccer and football, which was a ton of fun. Afterwards we had a braai (bbq) and talked about mission stories and the gospel. We really enjoyed, and it was good to get out and play some sports again. I burned a shirt to signify the end of my first year as per mission tradition. It's still so crazy to believe that half of my mission has passed me by, and it motivates me even more to enjoy and make the most out of the year that I have left!
Burning the shirt, mission tradition

On Wednesday we had a wedding from Brother Prosper and Sister Lucy! Prosper was baptized by Elder Lucas and Elder Daka last transfer and although he is very shy, he's so powerful! We've been teaching his wife, and we finally managed to get them legally married! We had a small ceremony for the two of them and they were very happy! We look forward to baptizing Sis. Lucy this weekend. We were also teaching Samantha and she was telling us about how she's heard at school many times how science and religion contradict each other. She told us that she believes that God is the greatest scientist of all because of all that He created. Her perspective is so awesome, and we hope she will be baptized this week too!

At Prosper and Lucy's wedding

On Friday we went on exchanges. I went with Elder Ochieng. He's 26 and from Kenya, and he's about 5 months out. He's a mature but funny guy and we had a good time. It was so hot, which made the day go by so slowly. We went searching for a house in the morning (which by the way, in Zimbabwe, is incredibly difficult because the neighborhoods are a bit disorganized and the numbers are ridiculous) and finally happened to bump into the daughter of the person we wanted to teach. We found the house and taught Sis. Besie about the Restoration. It was a solid lesson, and afterwards she opened up to us about some challenges in her life that were not easily apparent. It's incredible to teach people and get to know them. These people are so strong and go through so much, and I seek to learn from them as much as possible. On Saturday night we went to visit a member family and found them arguing about the scriptures. Nobody was listening to each other, and there were more factors at stake too. It was frustrating to watch, but Elder Daka and I calmly answered their questions and at the same time taught them about listening and about treating others as we would want to be treated. If we love someone, we should care about what they say. It was a little bit of a mess, but we will be visiting them more often to try and encourage them to do better. 

Kung fu in the area

Sunday was super powerful! The Spirit was so strong during fast and testimony meeting as many of the members shared their testimonies. The ward here isn't as strong as my last area, and it was so encouraging to have a wonderful sacrament meeting like that. We had another lesson with Samantha where we read 3 Nephi 11 with her about Christ visiting the Nephites. She said that she got an answer about the Book of Mormon being true and the Spirit was really strong as we read the account of the Savior's teachings. I truly know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it testifies plainly of the Savior Jesus Christ. I don't know this because somebody told me, but because I asked God and received a witness from the Holy Ghost. That kind of knowledge can't be taken away. Christ truly testified that if we seek, we shall find and I know that if we seek the truth about the Restoration and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will find the light we are seeking. It is such a privilege to serve my Heavenly Father and help others find the same testimony that I have received. 


I love you guys!! Until next week!!

Love Elder Barlow



Our kitchen...
Elder Lucas (who I replaced) went Kool-Aid man
on the door and put a nice hole in it last transfer.

August 28, 2017 - Rimwe Gore / Unyaka Owodwa / ONE YEAR!!!!!!!!

How far??

Haha that's basically the casual greeting down here in the land of Blues. The first time I heard that I didn't know how to respond so I started laughing. Haha usually Elder Daka and I will just say 10 meters or something funny. It's a different world!

Tshabalala, day...and night

The weather is definitely picking back up here! During the day it is really hot without a cloud in the sky. Haha I forgot how serious Zimbabwean summers are. The hard part is that after walking around, when you sit down to teach a lesson you start feeling like a nap would be the best thing ever. That's definitely getting to be a challenge these days, but we push through! 

Comps

Haha Elder Daka sometimes mixes up his R's and his L's, so sometimes resurrection will be "lesullection" and level will be "revel." It's pretty awesome. He's a good missionary and we are enjoying our time together. It's really nice to finally be familiar with the area. I don't feel lost anymore, which is good. I still keep finding people who speak Shona, which is a lot of fun. It shocks people like crazy when they hear me speak. We found this gogo who stays next to some recent converts and she only speaks Shona. We taught her and it was cool to speak to her in her language, even if I occasionally needed a translator. We taught her about the Restoration and about true prophets, which she loved because there are so many false prophets going around and teaching wrong doctrines. In her closing prayer, she prayed for us to be protected as we preach the gospel and also to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. It was powerful! 

Thursday was my one year mark on my mission!! I have officially spent one year of my life preaching the restored gospel and representing Jesus Christ, and I couldn't be happier about it! During these last 365 days, I have grown so much as a person. I've learned to talk to strangers, testify boldly, speak a new language, and so many other things. I am eternally grateful for the experiences of the last year that have made me who I am, and I can't wait to see what this next and final year of my mission will bring! 

Thandeka's baptism

On Saturday, we had Thandeka's baptism. We had her cousins who were members come support and everything went great. As always, the water was freezing cold, but it was definitely worth it! Sunday was pretty good as well. We walked to church with an investigator named Samantha. She's 16 and super intelligent. From our lessons with her, she understands so well and seems really prepared! We also picked up Anton, a mentally disabled boy who was baptized a few months ago. He's a sweet kid and loves church; he knows every Sunday that he's going to church and he gets excited. It's awesome. I had the privilege of speaking in sacrament meeting. I spoke on charity, the pure love of Christ. If you haven't studied 1 Corinthians 13 or Moroni 7 lately, I would definitely recommend it. Jesus Christ loved all of us enough to suffer and die so that we could be able to return to heaven. We have been given the greatest gift of love possible, and it's up to us to show our gratitude by loving God and our fellow man. The two greatest commandments, according to the Savior, are to love God and our neighbor. Love can be something as simple as a listening ear or a smile, and we will never regret it.  Paul says that if we don't have charity we are nothing, even if we do all sorts of amazing things. Love should be in our hearts and it should be shown to all around us. It truly is the greatest motive. Moroni 7:48 counsels us that we should pray with "all the energy of heart" that we may be filled with this love , and I hope each and every one of us will seek to do that! I love you all and I love my Savior, and I am so grateful to be serving Him in Zimbabwe!

Elder Barlow

August 21, 2017 - New Kiwa on the Block

Hey Everybody!! 

I hope you're all doing well. It's definitely been a good week and a nice transition to Tshabalala. Ndebele is definitely not Shona haha. A few tips for speaking Ndebele:

-namhla (today) is pronounced like nam- thla, but without the t
-c makes a small clicking sound, x is a click in the back of your mouth, and q is like a popping sound with your tongue
-it's a lot harder than it sounds haha

Elder Daka and I
Bulawayo is overall similar to Harare, but it's smaller, cleaner, and less busy. In the place where we stay, it kind of looks like some obscure town out in the middle of Arizona, which is kind of cool. People here speak SUPER good English, while the Shona people often struggled with it. Oh, and white people aren't called murungu anymore!! Instead they call me kiwa, which I actually like better after hearing murungu for the past year of my life.


Elder Daka is awesome!! He's only been out 3 months but he's a good missionary and really humble. He's fun to be around too. He joined the church in 2015 and worked diligently to be able to serve a mission. So far we've enjoyed our time together! It's fun to be with Elder Taloa again since we stayed in the same house for 3 months and became good friends. He's companions with Elder Ochieng, who's from Kenya and also just finished being trained. It's a sweet district, and there are other great missionaries in our zone!
Nketa District
(Elder Daka, Me, Elder Ochieng and Elder Taloa)
It's a bit tough to not be able to speak the language again, but I have found the occasional Shona down here and being able to speak to them is awesome. It's helped me make some cool connections and it shocks people a lot. This week we passed a group of teenage kids and one of them called out, murungu. My eyes lit up, and I quickly replied "Handisi murungu, uri murungu" (I'm not a white person, you're a white person!) and they went crazy. It was so funny because we could hear them laughing all the way down the street.


We are teaching this family called the Moyo family. The husband and kids are recent converts and we are teaching the wife now. They are sweet and humble people. The husband is very shy, but has a powerful testimony. It's special to be able to bring families together! We also met this young girl named Samantha and taught her about the Restoration. She's super smart and super prepared! In grade 3 she left her church because she felt like it wasn't right, and said that she'd always wondered what happened after Christ's Apostles died. It was such a cool lesson, and we extended a date for her to be baptized and she agreed! Powerful!

With Elder Larson and Elder Makalio 
It's been super cold and windy this week, even though the sun is shining. Hopefully it warms up soon. I have to be careful what I wish for though because September and October will bring the scorching summer. Last night we made japatis and they turned out super good. Haha mission has definitely taught me a few cooking skills; it would be miserable if I was eating PB&J all the time. Anyways, I love you guys and hope you have an amazing week!!


Love Elder Barlow

August 14, 2017 - Singin' the Blues

Hey Everyone!!
Nyazungu family


Today will be a shorter and crazier email than normal because I'm being transferred!! Sadly, I will be leaving my beloved Hatcliffe and Borrowdale and heading down to Bulawayo (often nicknamed blues by the missionaries), which is about 6 hours south of Harare. Elder Horton is also leaving, which came as a huge surprise to us. It isn't often that an area gets two new missionaries (whitewashing) but this happens to be the case this transfer.

I have a confession: I've never gotten emotional when leaving an area. However, upon finding out that I was leaving, I felt super torn apart. On Sunday, the Bishop asked us to bear our testimonies one last time. Standing in front of that wonderful group of people that I'd come to love and trust, I had a hard time holding back my emotions. I also bore my testimony in Shona, which I think shocked most of the people, and I did pretty well. Zimbabwe is such a wonderful place with such faithful people. The Lord has worked miracles for Elder Horton and I as we have sought to be diligent and work hard. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve in this place.
Leaving the Nyika Family

I will be going to serve in Tshabalala with Elder Daka, who is from Zambia. I've also been called to serve as a district leader this transfer. It will definitely be a big change from Harare. I have spent the last 7-8 months of my mission here in the capital of Zimbabwe, so I will miss being here as well. I have faith that there are more good memories and good people in Bulawayo! Fun fact, all my Shona speaking is taking a back seat for now. The people in Bulawayo speak Ndebele, which is clicking language. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up quickly, it would be cool to have two languages under my belt.
This week wasn't too exciting. We had some disappointments with a few investigators, but our teaching was good and Elder Horton and I really got along well. He has been a great companion and I will definitely miss him!!
Us and the Borrowdale ward council

Alright well my time is far spent, I'll definitely write more and send pictures next week from Tshabalala!! Love you all!!
Love Elder Barlow

Elder Barlow's not so famous Zim Chili

August 7, 2017 - What is Dating Again?

Hey everybody!! I hope the week has been good. My title means "it's really hot," which accurately describes the weather this week. I can't believe that September is here! I know I mention a lot about how time flies as a missionary, but it really is so crazy sometimes.

Last Monday we celebrated my year mark along with the other elders from my group in the zone. We rented out a turf soccer field and played some soccer and football, which was a ton of fun. Afterwards we had a braai (bbq) and talked about mission stories and the gospel. We really enjoyed, and it was good to get out and play some sports again. I burned a shirt to signify the end of my first year as per mission tradition. It's still so crazy to believe that half of my mission has passed me by, and it motivates me even more to enjoy and make the most out of the year that I have left!

On Wednesday we had a wedding from Brother Prosper and Sister Lucy! Prosper was baptized by Elder Lucas and Elder Daka last transfer and although he is very shy, he's so powerful! We've been teaching his wife, and we finally managed to get them legally married! We had a small ceremony for the two of them and they were very happy! We look forward to baptizing Sis. Lucy this weekend. We were also teaching Samantha and she was telling us about how she's heard at school many times how science and religion contradict each other. She told us that she believes that God is the greatest scientist of all because of all that He created. Her perspective is so awesome, and we hope she will be baptized this week too!

On Friday we went on exchanges. I went with Elder Ochieng. He's 26 and from Kenya, and he's about 5 months out. He's a mature but funny guy and we had a good time. It was so hot, which made the day go by so slowly. We went searching for a house in the morning (which by the way, in Zimbabwe, is incredibly difficult because the neighborhoods are a bit disorganized and the numbers are ridiculous) and finally happened to bump into the daughter of the person we wanted to teach. We found the house and taught Sis. Besie about the Restoration. It was a solid lesson, and afterwards she opened up to us about some challenges in her life that were not easily apparent. It's incredible to teach people and get to know them. These people are so strong and go through so much, and I seek to learn from them as much as possible. On Saturday night we went to visit a member family and found them arguing about the scriptures. Nobody was listening to each other, and there were more factors at stake too. It was frustrating to watch, but Elder Daka and I calmly answered their questions and at the same time taught them about listening and about treating others as we would want to be treated. If we love someone, we should care about what they say. It was a little bit of a mess, but we will be visiting them more often to try and encourage them to do better. 

Sunday was super powerful! The Spirit was so strong during fast and testimony meeting as many of the members shared their testimonies. The ward here isn't as strong as my last area, and it was so encouraging to have a wonderful sacrament meeting like that. We had another lesson with Samantha where we read 3 Nephi 11 with her about Christ visiting the Nephites. She said that she got an answer about the Book of Mormon being true and the Spirit was really strong as we read the account of the Savior's teachings. I truly know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it testifies plainly of the Savior Jesus Christ. I don't know this because somebody told me, but because I asked God and received a witness from the Holy Ghost. That kind of knowledge can't be taken away. Christ truly testified that if we seek, we shall find and I know that if we seek the truth about the Restoration and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will find the light we are seeking. It is such a privilege to serve my Heavenly Father and help others find the same testimony that I have received. 

I love you guys!! Until next week!!

Love Elder Barlow

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