Tuesday, November 18, 2014

go big and then go home

                                                         This is how cold it is here now

Mis queridos❤️❤️

It was a crazy week. Not really in the way that last week was, but it was crazy because I gave my departing testimony in zone meeting. You NEVER think that day will come. It was so weird. It was sad and I now know how all those other missionaries felt. It's just like... How did I get here already? But it went well. I said mostly what I wanted to say. I have grown a lot on my mission, in ways that I don't really recognize right now because I have been learning/ changing in a line upon line process. It's like a plant growing kind of- I don't see every small change but I'm definitely better than I was.
My mission has been the peak of my existence so far! 1 week left and it's definitely going to count. We named this coming week 'go big and then go home' during weekly planning so, hence the title. Pray that we will see miracles please!

I was able to go on an exchange with Hermana Lopez down in Joliet last week. It was so great to be with her again!! She is awesome and I learned a lot from her. I love teaching with her! We taught a sweet lady from Guatemala who is staying with her family who are members. She is so close to accepting it all. We taught the plan of salvation- the spirit was really strong. I really know that she has heard this plan before this life, and I know that in that lesson she felt the spirit confirming its true!
We also taught another Lady the restoration which is always powerful! She let us come back because she saw we were young and she wanted to know how her kids could have a love of God like we do. My answer is for sure the Book of Mormon. I wouldn't be even close to the same person I am today if I hadn't read the Book of Mormon!

Sunday I was so excited because Mariana and her kids were going to go to church. Work off forever on Sunday's, they were all set right? Well I can tell you that the biggest struggle of my mission has been getting my investigators to church! (Which is funny because that's what we instructed on in zone meeting this week, :/ ) so anyway their cousins came in town.... Not even a good excuse. We were so mad!! Anyway it was pretty sad... So later that night we call, and Mariana's daughter Sara answered. She is super sweet! We asked if she was coming next week and she said she didn't think so because she now doesn't want to- she went to the other Ward because she has friends there and she doesn't in this one. I was just sad and I felt that nothing was going our way! But luckily we were able to go teach them right after we talked to her on the phone. I was super sad on the way over there because this family seemed kind of like our last hope at the moment, it's hard to find as solid of investigators as them. But I just really prayed that we would be able to help them understand the importance, and God answered our prayer. The lesson was one of the most amazing lessons we've had in a long long time. (Ask me next week to tell you more in depth) but basically we taught the atonement and obedience from the Book of Mormon. Hermana Johnson and I both thought of the same un-expected scripture (mosiah 2:20-22) at the same time and Sara had to go to her room to get a highlighter because it really hit her hard!
By the end she said "I want to go to church."
"Why" "because He died for us"
it was really great and it clicked with them 100%. Mariana said for sure she will be at church and if the kids are back in time from their dads they will come too. Please pray that they'll come! I love them!

I have seen the Book of Mormon change lives just like it changed Sara's a little bit last night. I love the Book of Mormon, I love the spirit, I love Jesus Christ and the atonement and I love being a missionary so so much. This next week will be amazing!

Hermana Barlow

Thursday, November 13, 2014

la familia es de Dios


Hi so today fuimos al templo so I didn't write yesterday and also I don't have much time today, which is too bad but I'll do my best. It was a good week- good things and not so good things but así es la vida so I'm just happy to be here giving my all no matter what happens.

So I'll start with the not so good- so Amelia... She was doing pretty well until she started talking to her ex- boyfriend and he took her to his church and they told her some dumb and un-true things about our church and now she wants to keep going to that one and she thinks we've been lying to her :(. We tried to go and explain but she wouldn't really hear it. So that was a bummer of course. It just helped me realize that it's not all about me! This is my mission but I'm not here to have everything work perfectly my way. I'm here to do the Lord's will and to do it His way.

Good things are, we had a GREAT lesson with Mariana, Sara, and Emma (the ones who moved from Chicago and have learned a lot already) and we brought a member which was perfect. The only thing holding them back is coming to church, because she works Sunday's and needs the money as a single mom.  I can't even imagine how hard that situation is but, gotta keep the commandments. So we taught the doctrine of Christ and we were really bold! The spirit was strong and she committed they'd be at church. Bad news is that they didn't come. Good news is that yesterday we went to visit and she said they'll be there this Sunday... And....... She talked to her boss and he was super understanding and she has all Sunday's off now!!! That is a miracle, mostly that she had the faith to do that. That is so huge and we were so so so excited. Please keep praying for them. This family is special. I was so thankful for that.

We went on two exchanges this week, I stayed here while Hermana Johnson went to Beloit, Wisconsin, and later in the week we both went down to Bloomington/Normal which was super fun! We rode the bus and talked to cool people on it. One man said "I'll tell you my testimony. I opened my eyes before I came out of my mother's womb, I talked to God and he told me I'd be rich." (Being totally serious) so that's cool. It's actually a pretty big city considering how far out there it is. I wish I could've taken more pictures it was really great. Our GPS took us on the "historic Route 66" on the way down there so that was funny. We walked a lot in the cold, sought the spirit and we were led to this awesome Hispanic family that let us right in. So that was a huge blessing!

Wish I could tell you more stories and such but that'll suffice for now. We had the privilege to hear from President Fenn at 2 meetings we also instructed at this week. In both he talked about eternal families. As I've probably mentioned, that is a new huge focus for our mission. We are now supposed to be looking for as many opportunities as possible to teach about how our families can be eternal. President Fenn taught us about the Abrahamic Covenant again and how much it really does talk about eternal families in preach my gospel. It was really powerful and it has been really great teaching about eternal families, a new spark seems to light up in our investigators when we focus on the end from the beginning with them. I absolutely love the doctrine of eternal families, it really is the most important, it's central to the restoration of Gospel.
I love Alma 7, I read that this week. It lays the doctrine of Christ out really clear, especially how we can have eternal life. The atonement is amazing!

I love you all!!
Hermana Barlow

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Well, we're actually not nuns..."

Holaaa Saludos de Chicago                                                                                                  November 3, 2014

   It has been a good week. We went on 2 exchanges, the first with Hermana Simmons! She is wonderful I love her. It was great being back with her! The next day Hermana Sharp came with me here and it went well. She's a cowgirl and we went to dinner with a member family- a cowboy and a Puerto Rican haha one of the quotes of the night was "what's your favorite kind of cow?" Haha love it.

   We had mission leadership council, Hna Johnson and I taught, it went pretty well. Later President Fenn taught us about Eternal Families and it was amazing. We are putting a new focus on teaching our investigators about how their families can be together forever. He taught us some deep doctrine about it (not really what we'd actually share with investigators) but it was really powerful, because eternal families are what it's all about. It's really hard to describe what I learned and felt but I just know that that is the main purpose of this life. To prepare ourselves to live with God, and our families, for eternity one day. There isn't anything more important. There is a bright hope that comes from that, a hope that everyone needs.
  Saturday we were able to teach the restoration 3 times in a row to brand new people. Each time we shared the first vision, they really felt something. The 2nd and 3rd time they either said "I felt something different when you told that story" and "I just got chills". The spirit really does testify of Joseph Smith and the first vision. Just as much to them as to me. I know what we teach is true.

  We went by to see the Fernandez family but they weren't there :( we were pretty bummed. We were getting into the car when a lady who's house we were parked in front of came out and was waving at us and I thought "oh no she's gonna tell us not to park here anymore..." But instead she said "are you the Jehovah's witnesses orrrr...."  -___-  ha so we answered her and she said " oh well I see that you come by here a lot and I see that you're very diligent and I just wanted to know what you were doing or what you teach."
She was very happy when we said that we could come in and teach her a little bit. It was really awesome to see that people truly are watching us. All of us as members of the church. The spirit is able to work with them, and our good efforts are never wasted. So that was really special for me.

I love this Gospel and I love being a missionary. 3 weeks---- pray for miracles!!

Hermana Barlow

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Creo que Dios las guió aquí." Oct. 27

Querida Familia-

thought I'd start with some random funny/great quotes people said this week:

~*companion coughs while walking in the dark* random black man voice: Eeeebola.
watch out fo dat Ebola.
~at the door: "yeah, I think I can ditch my church for yours this week"
~at the door w/mom and son: "Look son! God sent you two angels!!" son:
"Who wants to get married? :)" uhhhhhhh -__-
~ "Jesucristo, espiritu santo and ME!" -Amelia
~ "I think that God lead you to me today"

I am thankful to my Heavenly Father to tell you today that: it was
another really great week!  The Lord has been blessing us over and
over again. I am appreciating more than ever all the mercies we see
and the Lord’s hand in our area. I love being a missionary so much!

The exchanges for this transfer started again! They were really great.
The first one was with La Hermana Frisbie and she came here with me.
We taught three really great lessons and talked to a lot of people!
The first lesson was really great. We were going around these
apartments trying to find a referral. We were in a building about to go
down the stairs and then we were like, why not let's just knock this
door right here. So a lady answered who was on the phone and at first
she was like "I'm about to leave sorry" and we were like are you
sure?? what about saturday do you have 15 minutes then?? And she was
like "ay muchachas what do I do with you." then she said hold on,
finished her phone call, and came back and said we could come in! So we
taught her a short version of the restoration and found out she was
having a lot of struggles and trials right now. The best part was when
we all knelt down and we were really persistent about having her say
the prayer. She said the most heartfelt prayer I had ever heard. It
was like 5 minutes long and she was crying and the spirit was just so
so strong. I could really feel God's love for her. After the prayer
she told us "I think God sent you to me today."

Right after that we found the referral we were looking for and we
taught them! They have learned almost all the lessons, have strong
testimonies of the Book of Mormon and they want to be baptized. Her
problem is just getting work off sundays. We talked about how making
that permanent is key so that they can come to church. Please pray for
Mariana and her kids. They are so great and so close, they're
definitely a gift from God!

Remember the family Hermana Cadd and I taught like, 2 or 3 weeks ago?
We finally met with the Mom and I think all of them have been reading
the Book of Mormon and she said that she really feels the spirit when
she reads it and really wants to come to church. She said some
comments about her kids and how they really liked it too and they are
feeling the spirit while reading it as well. So thats exciting :)

Sad thing is, Camila kind of dropped us this week. She is facing
opposition from her husband about having us over. We were super sad :(

I went on an exchange with Hermana Robinson! She is from Southern
California and is awesome!! We have at least one mutual friend hah. We
taught 3 lessons in her area as well, and the coolest thing happened
in each of them- in the exact same moment in each of the lessons, we'd
both pull out our scriptures, and then I'd be like (for example):
"mosiah?" "yeah" "2?" "41?" "yeah....." so that happened with 3
different scriptures where we both had the impression to share the
same scripture ha that has never happened to me before. Too bad we
won't be companions could you imagine????

While I was gone, Hna Johnson and Morby taught Amelia with Bishop! She
said it went really well and that she received an answer about the
Book of Mormon. The greatest news is that SHE CAME TO CHURCH! That was
truly the biggest blessing because no one really goes ANYWHERE unless
they come to church. She really loved it and she is excited for her
baptism. It will take a miracle for her to be prepared by her date but
that's ok we are showing all the faith we can and expecting miracles.
But we still need your prayers. Especially that she will be able to
quit smoking.

So I am stilll learning a lot about covenants in the Book of Mormon. I
love in Mosiah 18- " a covenant to serve him until you are dead..."
Those people in that chapter as well as those in Mosiah 21 were
righteous, had changed their ways, and wanted to follow Christ. So of
course they wanted to enter into a covenant to make it official. I
love the covenants I've made. making them and keeping them make all
the difference in our lives.

Love you!!
Hermana Barlow


Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Esta es me gran pregunta: QUIEN ES NEFI?!" Oct. 20

Quote: "This is my great question: WHO IS NEPHI?"                                                              

Hi family!

It was another great week thankfully, thanks so much for all of your prayers! We worked so so hard, saw some good progression and I am so happy! Hermana Cadd went home and I miss her a lot but I will see her again soon!! Tuesday night at the departing devotional at President's was amazing. Most powerful one yet- many of the leaders I've had went home. The mission is a very powerful thing, can't take it for granted! 

So Hermana Johnson and I have been working very hard and finding a lot of people! Talking to everyone.... One of the nights it was getting dark and a lot of things were falling through. And that's the hardest because it isn't my favorite thing to knock doors in the dark. But I randomly remembered this lady in a locked apartment building. We buzzed a few times, no answer, then the buzzer that unlocks the door went off for a tiny second and we missed it! So we did the awkward thing and kept buzzing because we knew they were there and we finally were buzzed in! We went up and didn't find the same lady, but we ended up teaching the babysitter who was there! Her name was Florencia and she was awesome. We went back and taught her at her house later in the week and she is really great. She committed to come to church but cancelled the last minute. Moral of the story is follow your promptings and do the awkward thing but don't be awkward about it!

We taught Camila again! This time we brought an awesome bi-lingual member. Camila had read and LOVED the Book of Mormon. She said she felt the spirit when she asked God about it and we tried to help her realize what that means for her life. She promised to come to church but later in the week she called us saying that her husband (a musician) was called by someone in Chicago because it was their birthday and they wanted him to go and sing the Mañanitas which is the birthday song. -__- and she had to drive him. So we were wayyy bummed about that.

We also taught Amelia again! At first we were real nervous because her phone kept going to voicemail but we just showed up and her boyfriend was there with some friends about to play poker. Amelia was there too... they invited us in and we sat down with her about to teach her when we invited the poker crew to come learn about the Book of Mormon real quick hahaha so they were like.... Yeah... sure. So we taught a quick Book of Mormon lesson and they were great. Her boyfriend was sad (and us too) when Amelia said she had work AGAIN Sunday because he wanted to come to church too. So yeah she didn't come to church yet :( but she did say "I'm so excited for November 22nd, I've got it engrained in my mind!" Haha so please please keep praying for her, that she can quit smoking and get married or move out. :/ those are my biggest worries.

A funny thing was that we taught a very nice, hilarious Guatemalan man. Only Hermana Cadd will truly understand what I'm about to explain hahaha. he is so funny. He is older and loves the bible and we've been in contact with him forever just inviting him to things but he can't always make it. He talks a million miles an hour and always forgets/ can't say my name. Finally he was able to make it to an 8 year old's baptism this week. Afterwards we grabbed one of our sweet members to have a lesson with him in another room. When I get home, just ask me to tell this story in person because I can't do it justice in the email! But he had a whole long list of questions but we told him we didn't have time for all of them so he narrowed it down to three: who is Joseph Smith? Who is Mormon? And who is Nephi? It was so funny. Obviously those are the easiest questions but it was such an ordeal because he won't really let you answer hahaha but it went better than I had anticipated.

Some things he said,
 (he said this all completely serious): "what caught my eye when I first met the Hermanas was the color of that book."
"THIS is my GREAT QUESTION: WHO IS NEPHI??" Hahaha it was so funny.
And he was constantly talking about Hermana Cadd and how she left us :)

 It was a wonderful week and I've left out some other great things that have happened but over all it was very spiritual and I am seeing the mercies of the Lord right and left. I'm obsessed with the Book of Mormon-- I read king Benjamin's address this week. Mosiah 5 taught me so much about covenants, being born again and what we need to do to be received into heaven. I love covenants so much! I invite you all to go read that chapter, it's for sure one of my favorites. I could say a lot about it but... I'll just stick with: I am so thankful for the covenants that I have personally made with God. I love them. I love personal revelation, I know it's a real thing- especially through the Book of Mormon.

I love you all so much and I know that this church is true.

Hermana Barlow