Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017 - Teaching in the Rain, Just Teaching in the Rain

Hey everybody!!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic week. We've definitely had some interesting experiences. For starters, until Saturday it was raining nonstop here. We've been soaked a couple of times haha and we have no idea where all the water is coming from. Oh well, the country really needs it. It makes for lots of mud and flooded streets though!
Elder Ray and I get along great! He's from Texas and has been out for 9 months. He was homeschooled and plays guitar. He's a little awkward and we have different personalities but we have fun and work hard together. He knows a lot of Shona which is really awesome. I'm learning a lot from him. I've been told that I speak it with a great accent so that makes me happy.
Elder Ray and I

On Tuesday we had a district meeting and it was so spiritual. Sister Walbeck gave a super spiritual doctrinal study on the Atonement and repentance and it was just awesome. We all had an opportunity to give our testimonies as well and that was just awesome. Elder Mkhaliphi is awesome. He's like 5 feet tall and from South Africa and super funny. And Elder Barnett is just elder barnett haha.

On Wednesday Elder Ray was sick so we stayed in the house all day. I spent most of the time studying President Hinckley, washing the dishes, and enjoying the Piano Guys and Vocal Point haha. Luckily Thursday he was feeling a little better. After weekly planning we headed to our area. Seke is HUGE!! Holy cow it is so spread out. We got lost a ton but we were able to meet the branch president and a couple members while getting soaked in the process.

On Friday we kept exploring. We used a lot of Shona which was kind of cool. Our branch mission leader, Simba, took us around to a bunch of members and it was really awesome. They love it when they see a couple of murungus speaking Shona and it's a riot. We taught a couple of impromptu lessons along the way and we enjoyed. Elder Ray is a hard worker and I'm really enjoying being his companion. We came home to find the zone leaders at our house and that was fun. Our house is pretty small but surrounded by basically an iron cage so we are very safe. No worries haha. We were able to go on Saturdayto teach a young boy at an RM's house and it was awesome. Although it's just a branch, there are a lot of priesthood holders and young people that are willing to help us. We then went to a priesthood activity for the Chitungwiza ward for awhile. That was a lot of fun. The other elders went to go do interviews with the sisters and they were supposed to come get us and take us to a DA, but they took 3 HOURS and left us chilling outside our house. Not very fun, but it's ok. 

Our tent/meetinghouse at church

Church was great! The members are really nice here. i got to teach investigators' class on the Holy Ghost and it was really powerful. Then in priesthood we got a surprise call from the sisters: their meetinghouse had no water so they needed to come to our place to do the baptism. We hurried and filled our font (basically a big bathtub) and I sprinted home to change into my whites and ran back. I think I scared half the town into thinking the second coming was happening as I ran through Chitungwiza in my baptismal clothing but I was so grateful to have the opportunity to perform baptisms. I love it so much.
Just to conclude I want to share about one of our investigators, Mai Mondwa. The other elders were teaching her, and upon my first meeting her and asking her what they had taught her, she bore her testimony about the church and the Book of Mormon. Wow, zvakasimba. She's amazing and we are hoping that she can be married and baptized soon!
I love you all and thank you for all your love and prayers! I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of things but know that things are ok and the Lord is helping us!!
Love Elder Barlow
Catching up on a couple week's worth of pictures...

Kadoma Town

Last Picture with the Elders in Kadoma

January 16, 2017 - So...Seke?!

What's up everyone?! Transfer #3 has drawn to a close so quickly. And surprisingly I've been transferred again! They took me and my companion out and replaced us with Sister Missionaries. I've been assigned to open Seke in Harare!! Crazy right?!
I don't have a ton of time but I'll try to include as much as I can. It was our last week as a district and we definitely enjoyed. It rained cats and dogs every single day this week and that made the mud even worse. That made it tough to get to some appointments. There was even a river forming near our house! Like, a real river not a tiny stream. Elder Mtunja and I got soaked a couple of times in the area so that was certainly an adventure. The power went out a bunch too so that was interesting. Haha what can I say, I'm in Zimbabwe!!
Just a couple of cool experiences this week! We finally found this guy we had contacted a while back. His name is Ronwell and he stays in a shack on top of the mountain" in town. We hiked up and taught him. He was super humble and kept saying that his life needed church and Jesus. That was super powerful. Also, we were unable to see Laston but he came to church again!! I was so pumped! It's a shame that I won't be able to see him get baptized.
I was able to teach investigators' class yesterday on the Freedom to Choose. It was so awesome. I could feel the Spirit putting words into my mouth and guiding my lesson and I could feel some confidence as well. Everything was just clear. Then Bro. Mahachi taught elders quorum on the Restoration. You could really tell that he has a powerful testimony and that he grew on his mission. I loved my last Sunday in Kadoma.
This morning we got up early and we played squash at the golf club! (It's basically like racquetball with a less bouncy ball) That was so much fun and we got some good exercise. We sent Elder Banda off this morning which was a bummer. I got to see Elder Larson for a second which was awesome. We got on the travel bus at 11 and headed to Harare. It's so huge and urban, something that I'm not used to in Zimbabwe. I got to see a ton of my missionary friends which was so sweet. I'll be serving in Seke, which is part of Chitungwiza, a suburb of Harare. My new companion is Elder Ray from Texas, who has been out for 9 months. He's an interesting guy and humble and I think we'll be able to do miracles! This area's been closed for a while so we'll see what happens! Overall it's been a great week and I'm so excited to be serving in a new place!!
Love you all!
Elder Barlow
PS I don't have my stuff to send pics because it's all packed up so I promise to send a bunch next week!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017 - Madhaka Akawandisa!!

How's it going everyone? My title this week is interpreted to mean too much mud, which pretty much describes most of our experiences this week! With most of our area not having paved roads and there being an excess of rain, mud becomes a little inconvenient haha.

So this week kind of got off to a rough start. Our first three days all of our lesson appointments fell through. Like, all of them. That was kind of frustrating, and the reason why this email will be a little bit shorter so I apologize in advance! The fall throughs wouldn't be so inconvenient, except for the fact that we have to walk often 30 minutes between appointments. It was a bit tough but we did our best to keep working.

We ended up doing some contacting in the town neighborhoods, which ended up being ok. The houses in that area were all probably really nice 30-50 years ago but haven't been kept up too well. So there are some pretty big houses there, not to mention lots of cool trees. Most of our contacts haven't yet been fruitful, but we are doing our best! Another fun fact about Zimbabwe: there are dogs just roaming around everywhere. I'm not talking about golden retrievers or cocker spaniels, I mean mangy, irritable, zhing-looking dogs. For those of you who know me really well, you know that dogs and I haven't always been pals. Haha tracting can be difficult sometimes because of said circumstances but nothing has happened as of yet!

On Friday we went to Rimuka with Elder Barrus and Elder Ogonda. I never thought that I would miss serving in a township, but I do. There are just people everywhere, which is a change from my area. We contacted a lot of people and it was fun to see another side of Kadoma. We got to have dinner with the Chavengwa familly again. While the food was being prepared, we just stood outside and stopped people and invited them to church. Haha, oh mission life. The food was great though. Sadza sadza sadza all the time. It's pretty great haha. That family thinks I'm fluent in Shona which is kind of cool, but also a false assumption because I'm nowhere near that point! It's good to feel like I'm making progress though. It was kind of intense on the way home because our comby conductor got out to beat up a drunk guy who was in the road, so there's that. 

Saturday was one of our better days this week. We brought the other elders with us. Surprisingly our first lesson was a success! We taught Laston and his friend David about the Godhead and about part of the Restoration. We actually had a good discussion and there were some good questions asked. I was getting excited because it had been so long! It made me really happy. We were able to visit a couple other people as well, which was awesome. We then had to walk to Rimuka for a dinner appointment. That includes walking 45 minutes through muddy and watery paths. We had to stop several times to clean our shoes and our pants were all splattered with mud. It was an adventure for sure. For the dinner appointment, we cooked chicken, rice, and pumpkin leaves (which are super nice by the way) for Sister Matare, who's an older lady with a son on a mission. We had fun cooking and she's a sweet lady. She hasn't been too well so I think she enjoyed the company.

Sunday! Our whole zone fasted for our areas. We haven't been productive as of late even though we have been working hard, so we are hoping the Lord will bless our efforts going forward. Guess what?! Laston came to church!! On time! I was so surprised! I had forgotten what that felt like. It was an awesome time to have an investigator at church because it was a fast and testimony meeting and there were some powerful testimonies being born. Laston even went up and bore his testimony!! We were so surprised but it was awesome. He's in his 30's. kinda shorter and more reserved. He doesn't seem super bright, but he feels the Spirit. It was just awesome. In priesthood meeting our branch president talked a lot about making this a powerful and spiritual year. Our branch leadership really is so awesome here. The only downside was that Nellie didn't come early to be confirmed, so hopefully that will be taken care of soon. Afterwards we walked around Rimuka visiting members who weren't able to come. Then we had dinner with the Manwhere family, who was baptized a year ago. That was awesome too. It was just an awesome day overall!!

Thank you for your love and support!!! A huge thank you to my loving ward members for the packages that were sent! I hope you all know I love you and pray for you!!

Love Elder Barlow

January 2, 2017 - Makorokoto Egore Idzva!!

Happy 2017 Everyone!! I hope everyone enjoyed a fantastic conclusion to 2016 and I look forward to the year of the elder (my full year as a missionary)!!

Just some quick new years resolutions that I'd like to share with everyone. I want to speak Shona semi-fluently by the end of this year, and also grow closer to the Savior. I know that second one is pretty general but I have a great desire to come to better know my Redeemer and to do what He would have me do. I hope everyone's resolutions last throughout the year!

This week was pretty tough with regards to missionary work. This is mostly due to it being the holidays and people just being busy. You would not imagine how many people are just drunk throughout the holidays. Africa is pretty different from back home haha. The weather has been pretty unkind to us as well. When it's not pouring rain and muddy, it's scorching hot. It's kind of a pick your poison thing, but we push through! The Lord's work can't be stopped! Most people that we contacted and saw this week were pretty uninterested, which was disappointing, but I have faith that things will improve in the coming weeks.

We did have a couple of highlights though! We taught a 16 year old girl named Tinevimbo about the Godhead and also part of the Restoration. It's amazing how so many people don't understand the true nature of God, and I'm so grateful for modern day prophets and continuing revelation that teach us about our Heavenly Father and His Son! We also saw the Mositeri's again, and we shared a short lesson with them on Ether 12:6 talking about faith. It was so powerful and the Spirit was there, so much that they said that they didn't feel like they should ask questions or add to it. It was pretty awesome! On another high note, we baptized a 19 year old girl named Nellie yesterday. We are just hoping that she isn't converted to us and we pray that she becomes more serious than she's been in the past. It felt great to be able to bring someone into the fold again! On a side note, the branches here are so awesome!! Everyone loves each other and has fun and they are all really supportive! They are such a joy to be around!
 Some traditional Zulu food that Elder Mtunja made

For new years eve we took care of some baptismal interviews and then had some time to kill. Elder Blignaut, my zone leader, and I were tired of waiting for our dinner appointment so we went out and contacted a little and saw some less active members, which I enjoyed. Afterwards we had dinner with a member, and then we went back home to sleep haha. We woke up at 12 to the sound of fireworks! 2017 has come!! Elder Banda kept running around excited and calling people cause he's going home next month, which is super exciting for him. We enjoyed as missionaries and it was fun to welcome in the new year!! Then last night we helped cook dinner with the Pikani family. They are awesome! The daughter served here and returned last spring and so it was fun to hear her share stories with the older missionaries. We also cooked japati's, which are basically African tortillas and they were amazing! The festivities certainly lifted my spirits a little after a difficult week.

I'm so excited to spend 2017 as a missionary and I can't wait to see the experiences that lie in store! I love you all and I hope this next year brings joy and blessings to you all!!

Love Elder Barlow

Our 5 star bathroom