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? 
     
Rachel
With Philip and Kelvin (ward missionary)



Emeka
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

Hatcliffe
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!
Hatcliffe

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!


Hatcliffe
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


















May 8, 2017 - And That, Is a Crazy Lady

Chi-town District!
Mhoroi everybody!! I hope this first week of May brought flowers instead of showers. For us the rain stopped, but the heat returned. Haha be careful what you wish for!!

Interesting challenge about missionary work in Zimbabwe: marriage. Most couples that you find are not legally married. Rather they have been traditionally married. However, there's also the factor of lobola (marriage dowry), which makes it difficult to get a family's approval for marriage. The Church requires that every couple be legally married before baptism, and although the Church provides the service for free, it's still a major stumbling block in the way of many people progressing to baptism. Just a thought that I'd share with you all that kind of explains a major factor in the work here. 

Mai Mondwa, Maybe, and Us

Today I'll just focus on the main parts of my week. Sorry again for not including pictures last Monday!! They kicked us out of the internet cafe early because it was a holiday, but I promise there will be many pictures this week! On Tuesday we had a powerful lesson with Sis. Joyce about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. She said that she wanted to do what Joseph Smith did and ask of God because there are so many churches in these days. Elder Ray and I were grinning from ear to ear! It was one of the more powerful and effective lessons that we've had. On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Barnett to his area. We taught some good lessons and had fun together. He's a good elder and they are doing magic in their ward.
Sis Kwaramba, Tasha, and Us
Us with Saru

Thursday brought a few unexpected surprises. We had just taught a nice lesson to a struggling member and she was feeding us dinner, when the zone leaders called us and informed us that an insane lady had been bothering the sister missionaries at their house for several hours. We rushed with Simba and the other missionaries to Zengeza to check it out. We weren't sure what to do so we said a prayer and I remembered an initial prompting that I had to call their branch president. So we did, and after some circumstances which I won't mention, the problem was solved and nobody was hurt. It was a blessing from the Lord and we were all glad that the issue was resolved relatively quickly. On Friday the zone leaders came to interview Saru and Tasha (Tasha is Sis Kwaramba's 12 year old son. She is yet another powerful woman who can't be baptized yet because of legal marriage issues). Both passed and were powerful. It was also a good time to talk to Elder Baldwin and Elder Whiting, who are both good friends.
Saturday was powerful!! Saru and Tasha were baptized and we were so happy!! We were so excited because both came as a result of street contacting. It was amazing! That evening we had our YSA talent show activity and it was a huge hit. There was singing, rapping, dancing, eating contests, everything!! The missionaries contributed with some singing, dancing, and....the haka. Elder Taloa wanted us to learn it, so we did and it was a huge hit!!! Yes I am white, but it was still kinda cool. We had investigators there and it was so much fun. Zimbabweans go crazy when they are excited.




Us and Tanaka

Sunday was pretty good. Saru, Tasha, and Tanaka (from last week) were all confirmed. It was so awesome. Saru even brought her mom, her brother, and a friend! I taught investigators class on prayer and it was super powerful. We had a lot of members join us and it went really well. Very few investigators came to church again, but we aren't losing faith.
Today we took a tour of the National Heroes Acre just outside of Harare. It was so awesome and we got some unbelievable pictures. I love Zimbabwe!!!!
This week I'd like to encourage everyone to read through the first 4 chapters of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. Jacob was an incredible example of teaching repentance. The pleasing word of God is what we'd like to hear all the time, but it's not always what we need. Most churches here preach the gospel of prosperity and it's so appealing because many here are so poor. However, what we truly need is a call to repentance so that spiritual prosperity may be abundant in our lives.
I love you all, have a fantastic week!!!
Elder Barlow



Clouds!

May 1, 2017 - Gift of Tongues, Fresh Milk, and 19 Years

Hey everybody!! I hope your week was good. The end of April absolutely flew by and now we are into May!! Thank you to everyone for wishing me a happy birthday, I finally feel old enough to be on a mission when people ask my age!

Haha so funny story: last week we went shopping after we finished emailing and we were on our way out of town when the car died. We pulled over and discovered that one of the cables was broken and we later learned that there was water and dirt in our gas tank. Yikes. We waited on the side of the road in the rain for an hour until the senior missionaries brought us another car to get home. If you asked me 2 years ago if I would've been pulled over outside of Harare, Zimbabwe in the pouring rain, I would've called you crazy. On the bright side, we had fresh milk this week for the first time in almost 9 months!!! I can't tell you how good it tasted or how excited we were. Missionary work helps you appreciate the little things.


 On Tuesday we had zone conference with the Marimba, Mutare, and Bindura zones. Over half of the mission was there; so many missionaries in one place. We were given great instruction from President and Sister Mkhabela on having the fire of faith burning within us and using that to find new investigators who will accept the gospel. We had a lot of great counsel, even though the meeting took absolutely forever. I found another new missionary who enjoys beatboxing, so we had a little fun with that after the conference. We didn't end up getting home until late, so we went and visited a member and taught a nonmember cousin that was there. Of course, we had to teach about the gift of tongues. You can't really go anywhere in Zim without teaching people that the gift of tongues isn't a made up gibberish language that you use to speak to God when you feel the Spirit. (It sounds silly when I put it like that, but it's a legit concern here) I think we must've taught about/clarified the gift of tongues at least 5 times this week, and we were a little tired of teaching it. Oh well, when you have the truth, you need to share it!

We spent most of the week preparing Maybe and Tanaka for baptism. Maybe is Mai Mondwa's daughter and she's been taught well by her mother. She's only 10 and super shy, but she reminds me lots of Brooke. She knew all the answers to our questions, which was so awesome. Tanaka has been taught by several sets of missionaries and was disallowed  to be baptized by his father. However he persisted and was granted his request! He's 16 and quiet, but powerful.


This week Elder Ray and I worked hard. There was never a time where I felt we had idle time. We were rushing all over the place, and the days seem to fly like crazy. We started creating more detailed and organized lesson plans, which was really interesting. I studied a lot in Jesus the Christ and in the scriptures and learned so much. The scriptures bring such solace and knowledge to me and I love having the opportunity to study them each week.

On Saturday, Elder Barlow the Baptist made a return. 10 people were baptized - 5 for the other elders, 2 for us, and 3 more children of record. I baptized 8 of them, and wow, the water was frigid! Haha I also got in the tub/font and found a little frog swimming around in there. Only in Zim... (fun fact, frog in Ndebele is ixoxo - seems easy until you know that the x's are clicks) One of the other elders' recent converts baptized his friend, which was really cool. Overall, it felt so good to have another baptism. Hopefully another one will be this weekend!! We taught one of our investigators about the importance of attending church and Elder Ray and Simba bore their testimonies on how church has blessed their lives and it was powerful. I was feeling Spirit!! That night we had dinner with Tanaka's family. When we walked in he was studying his scriptures: powerful. We were given sadza and fish (I think we ate sadza almost every night this week...yo) and of course, you are supposed to eat the head. So what did I do? I ate the fish head in one bite. It wasn't too bad either as long as you didn't think about it too much. Sunday was tough because only a few investigators came to church even after all that we did. However, I know that success is measured in different ways and that the Lord is the one who gives us success.

It was Elder Taloa's birthday yesterday and it was mine today, so we played some basketball and ultimate frisbee today. It was so much fun to enjoy a little bit of sports. Like I said, on mission, the little things make a huge difference.

Fun fact, in April:
Mission baptisms - 234
Zone baptisms - 70
District baptisms - 23

The work is rolling like crazy here and it's so fun to be a part of it!! Also, I'd like to invite you all to read Alma 29 about the joy that comes from sharing the gospel!! I love you all and hope you're doing well!!

Love Elder Barlow

will send pics next week!!

April 24, 2017 - The Song of Redeeming Love

Hey everybody!!
This has probably been the slowest week in recent memory, but it was a pretty good one! I'll do my best to describe it.
This week was full of a lot of singing. We actually planned to do a musical number for zone conference until they told us it wouldn't be included in the program, which was a bummer. We promised an investigator that Elder Ray would bring his guitar and we would sing for their family, so we did that on Wednesday. They were pretty pleased and kept filming us. American songs are pretty popular here, FYI. Haha I also just love singing around the house. Music is a great outlet for me and I really enjoy being able to express feelings that way. I also love how it relates to the gospel (see later in the email).
Farewell to Sister Dzapasi. She stays in the church
complex and is moving to Durban, South Africa.
She is a fantastic tailor and always called us
missionaries her sons. Sister Dzapasi took a long time
to join the church, and her family even kicked her
out after she joined, but she couldn't be more faithful.
Her daughters have served/are preparing to serve
missions and she will be missed!

On Wednesday we also taught Mike, a father in his 30's. He's struggled with drinking for years and it's really destroyed his work and affected his family. He's never gone to church and we are trying to help him understand that Christ is the only one who can help him change. It was my first time teaching the Word of Wisdom to an addict, and I couldn't help but feel this desire to help him change. However, I realized that isn't my role, it's the Savior's. That was a new experience for me. That evening we cooked American burgers and fries for Sister Dzapasi and her daughter Millicent. I'm not sure how much they liked them, but it was a great evening. Elder Taloa and I went on exchanges on Thursday. In our companionship study we studied about virtue and self-mastery and our desires to be pure in heart and mind. I opened 2 Nephi 4 and read about Nephi's struggle with his temptations and his enduring trust and love for the Lord. We made a pact that by the end of our missions, we would read that chapter as if it were our own words. That was really awesome. Elder Taloa is a good missionary and he learns more every day. He also loves to have fun, which is powerful. We taught some pretty good lessons, even though we seemed to have a ton of appointments fall through.
I'm learning more and more Shona and speaking it gets easier every day. However, understanding is a little bit more a of a challenge. Again, deep Shona is pretty tough and requires study, which we don't have time to do. There's no way I'd be able to learn this language without the Spirit.
Elder Ray was sick on Friday and Saturday, so there wasn't much going on. We did have another YSA activity on Saturday. We taught them to play telephone, mafia, and musical chairs and they absolutely loved it. It was fun to play games and tie it back to the gospel. The YSA's here are so powerful. Sunday wasn't too eventful either, but it was still nice. Mai Mondwa brought her daughter Maybe to church, and she's adorable! She's 10, and will be baptized this Saturday. We were able to visit with them in the evening and teach them about Christ's visit to the Nephites. I love the Book of Mormon so much and it's my favorite thing to be able to teach people about it. We experimented with cooking fried chicken last night, and it actually turned out pretty nice. One thing about Zimbabweans, they really know how to cook chicken.
Birthday presents are the best

I just wanted to add an extra thank you for the birthday packages that I received!! I know it's not my birthday until next week, but it was super awesome to be able to have a little taste of home and to feel the love and support of my family and friends.
Alright, back to music. Most of you know me pretty well, and know that I love to sing. It wasn't always like that though. Growing up, I was always afraid or embarrassed to sing in front of others. It wasn't until my best friends got me into choir that I realized how much I loved music and sharing it with others. Now I can't imagine getting through the day without singing a song here and there. It's the same with our testimonies. We have such incredible knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His plan for us, but sometimes we are too subtle or even secretive about it. Alma calls the joy of Christ's Atonement "the song of redeeming love" in Alma 5:26. We should be singing this song freely and joyfully, not bottling it inside. Elder Holland, in this past general conference, talked about the songs that we cannot sing and how the gospel relates to singing in a choir. Not all of our voices are the same, but there is room for everyone and each voice does make a difference. As much as I love to sing songs, the song of redeeming love brings far more joy than any other tune I or anyone else could conjure up. I'm learning each day as a missionary that we help others hum that same tune as we bring them to the Savior, who Elder Holland says has "absolutely perfect pitch." As we show others charity, our voices become more than just a "sounding brass" or a "tinkling cymbal." I love music, but more than that I love this gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with the people of Zimbabwe. These faithful people love the Savior and desire to know Him, and I feel privileged to assist in guiding them to the right notes.
Have an amazing week everyone!!
Love Elder Barlow