Josh's current address is 51 N 2nd St. Apt 310 Stroudsburg, PA 18360. Packages and letters will be safer going to the mission home. The mission home address is 721 Paxon Hollow Road Ste. B, Broomall, PA 19008. Keep in mind that there will be a delay because it take some time to get packages and letters from the mission home to Josh.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Email from 12/30/13

 Hey everyone,

 I want to start by thanking everyone for all of their gifts.  Thank you for the bag and the electric razor.  Shaving is no longer a pain and this is going to sound weird, but it's fun haha. It was great to see you guys and I wish I could have been able to Skype with Amber and Steve but it was nice being able to see them. Emmy and Daisy are still so cute! I'm sorry I didn't talk much it was just a bit weird seeing the house haha. How did Nathan do in his contest? the place i'm at right now doesn't support the player so i can't watch it. are there other videos as well? or can nathan send me the link to the contest? how did the whole tournament go?  and I know it was Grandma Urie's bday a couple days ago so someone please tell her that I say happy birthday!

 Our week went well. a lady named April moved into the apartment right above us and Elder Parker  and I helped her and her dad move in. Her dad, John, has studied with a lot of different religions but never this LDS church and he is interested in learning more.  He offered to buy us a drink to thank us but of course we didn't haha so he offered to buy us a rotisary (or however you spell it) chicken.  It was really cool because the night before our zone leader asked how we were doing on finding new investigators, and we had not had any new ones that week so he told us to pray for a family and it will happen.  Well I had already prayed but when we got off the phone we both got on our knees and prayed for a family to come across our path. And now April, her son, and her dad John moved in! It was awesome to see how prayers are answered. Sunday I went with the Spanish Gospel Principles class... I need to learn Spanish. Sunday was a good day though. There is a baptism coming up on the 11th for a young man named Fabio. He is so cool. and in the upcoming weeks Dezyrai McFarland will be baptized by her dad so that will be really awesome to see:)

The Molano's invited us over on Tuesday and they gave us some gifts and that was really nice of them and the best present they gave us were left overs because they were divine!  Sorry I don't have much time to talk today we are going up to Hazleton and spending the day up there with the other elders.  How was everyone's Christmas? tell nathan to write or send me an email about his. I still remember him freaking out when he got an xbox haha still funny. I hope you are all doing well and have a Happy New Year!

Elder Barker
p.s. i now get to use facebook!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Email from 12/23/2013

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to let you know that we will be able to Skype.  After taking most of our Sunday after church-___- we were able to finally get Skype to work on our Senior couple's tablet, which they were nice enough to leave for us since they will be in Connecticut. We got permission to go to their home and use it. So I will call yous guys at around 12:30? so just get on when you wake up and I will call you and mom, i don't know if i will be able to call Amber seperately so have her on and I'll just play it by ear.  That's awesome that Amanda and Mitch will be there I am excited to see them.  Don't worry about presents Dad, being out here seeing how people struggle so much and barely even have a family has made me realize even more how blessed I am.  I will be very grateful for whatever it is, me and nathan always just got you Twix and Kitkats anyway haha.
How is Nate feeling? That's really too bad. Has he asked for a blessing? I have become such a believer in blessings. Even though it may not exactly heal him he will be able to be strengthened from it; whether it be physically or spiritually.
This last week had its hard times but it was one of my favorites for sure and may be for the rest of my mission.  Well to be honest, now that I am trying to remember what happened exactly each day, I can't remember anything before Saturday haha other than Thursday. So i guess I will start with Thursday haha.Thursday we had zone conferance where President gathers together a lot of zones. We watched Ephraim's Rescue which i highly recommend as well as 17 Miracles (Ask Amber she'll probably know) then we had a talent show haha. My zone leader wanted me to do a dance thing but i didn't think it'd be okay so i didn't but he - Elder Lozano - wrote a rap about Christmas and performed it. Which reminds me, look up the "Rapstoration" on facebook or maybe youtube. It's awesome!! After the talent show there was some elders beatboxing and playing the guitar and Elder Newbold called me over and told me to freestyle (I'm getting decent actually haha) and then i did a quick popping thing and Elders were asked why I didn't do that in the talent show because there were too many musical acts (they were all musical acts, except for Elder Parker who wrote a Christmas poem which was really good).  After that though we got our presents and letters which was exciting. 

Friday we went on exchanges with the zone leaders and Elder Mower came with us. Unfortunately all of our appointments fell through -___- happens may too much. We had Elder Mower try out the chocolate heart attack and told us to patent that (which honestly i would love to do haha) we had him sign a "waiver" because he has a heart condition and it could have possibly given him a heart attack haha. He's okay last time i checked though.

Saturday an investigator from the Dominican Rebuplic that the Hazleton (Spanish speaking) Elders were teaching got baptized! That was really cool. Almost the entire meeting was in Spanish but it did not matter because the Spirit was there.  I loved that day because I just have been able to feel, or notice, the Spirit very easy and that day was super powerful. when Carlos got baptized I just remember having a feeling so powerful and the wider I smiled the stronger it got. I loved it. Saturday (happy birthday Amanda) we went to Mahanoy City as well.  We had an appointment with Kenny & Lissette but they i guess forgot despite talking to us the night before about it. They promised we would we see them at church the next day though.  We then tried a less active member named Richard at around 7. He is a really cool kid (he's 21). He loves us and we talked to him and his friend Dillon aka Grubby about... well the Restoration as well as the Plan of Happiness. Dillon was asking a lot of questions and seemed to listen intentively. They invited us over again so we'll see:)

Sunday was good and bad haha.  It was bad because none of our investigators were able to come except for Dezyrai so that was good to see. But the other Elders had some there and they were great to have there. The primary had a program (all 8 of them!) and Sister Merrit had to control her kid who loves to run around and another child who is autistic. It went well though and helped bring the spirit of christmas in. Sister Molano's lesson on Christmas though was amazing! She is so spiritual and it was great to have the continuation of the spirit from the day before.  After church we went over to the Wilsons for dinner and then tried to figure out skype/google hangeout.  their computer webcam was terrible. So after their son who is a computer programer couldn't get it fixed we switched to the tablet and it worked instantly. so we will be using that to call.
our skype address is hazleton.elders. so add us on skype and i will accept and call you. the time i will call at will be 12:30. i may call mom first at that time actually and then i will call you guys.

I am excited to see you all and remember to have a merry christmas. there is no place for sadness on this great day for it is the day that grief and pain were conquered!

Merry Christmas!
Elder Barker

Monday, December 16, 2013

Email from 12/16/13


to start off no I am still with Elder Parker. in fact no one in our branch got transferred which is really rare, especially myself and Elder Newbold were being trained. We will all be together for 3 transfers and normally a companionship is only together for 2! Elder Flake was from Idaho actually near Boise. 

That's awesome about Nathan! What did he speak on from the strength of youth? I have found that i am a good public speaker buuut i still have a lot to improve on in actual lessons, but i am getting better. and i did the package from Andrea tell her i say thank you and the vile she sent is really cool:) 

This week we got multiple things of bad news. First, on Thursday, we found out that we will not be receiving iPads or iPhones until January. I don't know how they expect us to be good missionaries without all those things!! (I would put effort in telling you it was sarcasm but our family speaks that more than English) But with that said, I don't know how we will be able to Skype home. There is only one family in our town and it would be impeding on their family time if we were to go there for 2 hours. We may use the Senior couple's but they are going to be in Connecticut and i do not know if we are allowed in their house while they are not there. We have zone conference this Thursday where i believe we get all our presents and hopefully find out more info on the whole skype home thing i will know by next Monday (hopefully, if not how does Mother's Day sound). Also, apparently they are having a talent show and one of our zone leaders asked Elder Parker and me what some of our hobbies were and we both said sports and he said singing and i said "hip hop dancing but i don't think that's allowed on a mission; especially with the Mission President present" but he was like no do it it would be something different from a bunch of people singing hymns. He has a point but i would feel so uncomfortable doing that so i doubt i will haha.  Also, we had a snow storm this weekend and had about 9 inches of snow. it didn't snow hard but it never stopped. So church was cancelled yesterday:( so as missionaries, we had no reason to live... haha.  

Last P-Day, i have no idea whether i made one of the best decisions of my life, or one of the worst. We all went to a diner called Friendlies and we had a hamburger... but this was no ordinary hamburger this was a burger with grilled cheese sandwiches as buns!! it was glorious! until later when I laid down in bed and literally (yes literally) listened to my blood slow down! i can't wait to go back haha. enough about food because i have now lost a total of 16 lbs:) 

Tuesday we went to the soul kitchen for the Christmas dinner. It was a lot better than last month's. so much more organized and less people complaining about their free food. it was good though Elder Parker and Newbold were singing Christmas songs and i was doing interpretive dance. haha kidding i just served and cleaned up. It was a lot of fun. 

Thursday we were able to help out Michelle and Jerry. She was happy to know that we were both staying so she doesn't have to learn to trust another white man haha. We helped sand some walls and doors to help paint stick to it and we did that for a few hours. I had to sand all the tiny grooves by hand so it took a long time but he was able to paint both sides of the door i got by the time we left. 

Sorry we only had one planner for this new transfer and Elder Parker took it so i have no planner (it wasn't a big deal because we were going to be getting iPads this week) so i am trying to remember everything that happened.
Friday we went to go see Brother Nunemacher and we were able to talk to him about the role of the Book of Mormon. and he brought up how he is nervous about going to church and i told him about how continuing to go to church with everything that has happened to us and me has been able to strengthen our family so much and the Spirit was in that room as we both bore our testimonies i hope he comes this next week. 

Sunday we went to Mahanoy City with Zane and Sandy to go see Kenny and Lissette. It was an awesome lesson and we talked about the Plan of Salvation with a lot of emphasis on the Atonement because he wanted to know what the sacrament was meant for because he was new last week. He told us about how he felt at church and how he was close to tears during one of the talks and how he wants to feel that more and more and he said he is sure he only felt 75% of how he could and he wants to know how to feel it stronger. we told him about the Holy Ghost and then i extended a baptismal invitation to him. He accepted but they have to talk to President Molano about their situation, since they are unmarried, before we can have a date for him. Unfortunately, Elder Parker, or myself will not be able to attend it:(  It was awesome having Zane and Sandy there because they are the young couple and are both converts and Sandy has a 3 year old daughter named Leanna, who reminds me so much of Daisy, and Sandy and Lissette exchanged numbers so i am excited for them they are both just amazing people and Kenny, he grew up in the Bronx, is such a down to earth guy who wants the best for his family.

I will send pictures of some things that we did in another email:)

I hope you are doing well,
Elder Barker

Me and Elder Dillon Flake
 Our District doing the Grape White Shark stance. It's how Elder Flake always stood. 
The grape white shark is a whole other story
 And the (in)famous grilled cheese sandwich burger. They didn't add my onion rings:/

 Our ghetto Christmas tree made out of duct tape and Star Wars pens from cereal boxes

Monday, December 9, 2013

Email from 12/9/13

(Note from Amber: I'm posting this on my phone and the spacing is all whacky. Just know that Josh does, indeed, know how to use paragraphs...) 

I am not getting transferred I am staying in Tamaqua for at least 6 more weeks.  I don't know what is going to happen for Christmas every mission president is different, the last one said take what time you need to not be distracted, so like a use your best judgement type of thing. so depending on what happens i might be able to skype amber and steve separately? That's really cool about the Nativity thing i am sure the missionaries are able to meet a lot people with that. Do the Lakers have any draft picks this draft? if so i am totally okay with them doing terrible haha. Time seems to go slow and fast depending on what i look back at. sometimes things seem like they happened weeks ago but in reality it happened just a couple days ago haha and vice versa.  

This last monday we took pictures to make a christmas card thing but we don't have any good paper to print it on and the color came out terrible but it was really fun. 

Tuesday we went to Michelle's house (the lady we helped paint her rooms) and helped move some more stuff around and talked about the Plan of Happiness a bit.  We also set a time for this thursday to come back and help her boyfriend Jerry do some more work around the house and we will be able to talk more about God with him so that will be cool.  After that we went to Brother Bhola's house (a less active) and helped give service as well and then talked to him about the Melchizedek Priesthood it was a really good lesson and hopefully he will be able to come to church soon -- he just had surgery -- and be able to take part in his Aaronic Priesthood duties to progress.  Oh and Michelle's huskie, Nanook, is the reason why i want a huskie when i get older!  Then we went to Brother Hylands again and talked to him about the Melchizedek Priesthood as well and invited him to come to church.

Wednesday was a lot of fun. we helped out at the new building to do some heavy lifting and we were there for a lot longer than we had originally planned and our night was almost up so we drove back and changed then went to Hometown and checked out the Farmers market for a bit and i bought a Star Wars mug it's awesome haha.  Then we went to Angelos and i got a 1 pound philly cheesesteak called the Hazleton it was so good haha. we went to Pottsville and stayed the night with our DL Elder Flake since we had zone training in Reading in the morning. Saturday we went to Mahanoy City and went to see a man named Ray and we had an awesome lesson about the Restoration with him! Ray and his fiance Charlene felt the Spirit so strongly and both committed to be baptized on January 11! it was super cool! and then right after we went to go see a less active named Lissette and her boyfriend Kenny. Kenny is so cool he has such a strong testimony in Christ and is so grateful for what he has. We committed them to come to church and they came! at the end of sacrament KEnny said, "i really like it here you'll be seeing me next week" he's the man haha. They have twin 9 month year old girls and they are adorable and they make me miss the girls:( Coming home we just felt like getting some McDonald's and we go in there and a guy says, "Those are some nice coats. you work for Jesus?" and we started talking to him and were able to exchange numbers and invited him to Church he was a cool guy.  Sunday was our first week in the new building and we were going to have our Area Authority speak but he couldn't make it due to weather. But it was great it's so much better despite being a bit small. we had 60 people there! That's the most in a lonnngggg time. Before any of the elders here were here.  Last night we went on splits with the Spanish Elders so i had to try to understand Spanish for a bit it wasn't too bad i definitely forgot everything haha.
The are is getting better and is growing. It has definitely been hard however but i am working.
hope you are all doing well,
Elder Barker

Monday, December 2, 2013

Email from 12/2/13

Dear Dad,

It was weird not being home for Thanksgiving. We went to the Fairalls for our Thanksgiving with the senior couple (the Wilsons) and the Spanish Elders. It was good not nearly as good as the dinners back home for sure but it was nice being with a lot of people. after that dinner we went to a less active member's house and he fed us again (and i was already super full) so we ate again... it was almost painful haha. That's way cool about Nathan i wish i could watch him play more is he being more aggressive on offense? any colleges starting to pay some attention? it's awesome that he still has another year! he will definitely be a force these two years. 

Last Tuesday we were able to go out with our Branch President and meet with a couple of less active familes and the Spirit there was so strong.  We talked about the Restoration in both and President Molano shared experiences from his mission and invited them back to church.  it was really cool just feeling the power of the Holy Spirit there.  before those though we went to the Hospital because a sister in our branch (Sister Schuck) was there.  we talked for some time and then she asked for a blessing so we all gave her one.

Wednesday we went to Michelle's daughter's house and well it was definitely interesting. Her name is Jody and her brother Shawn is another interesting one.  i can not even try to describe what happened there other than say it was total chaos! both were speaking at the same time and it wasn't bashing but they had ideas of what we were haha. Jody had a watched a documentary on mormons and according to these people who made it the Angel Moroni was an alien... i don't know. she knows the Bible really well because she went to Catholic school. i don't really understand the whole sainthood thing though i keep hearing about that here and it came up again there. Neither did Jody's daughter, who was there, because she asked, "isn't that like praying to false idols?"  But we gave Shawn a Book of Mormon so we'll see how it goes from there.  

Friday I went on exchanges with Elder Flake who leaves in a week. We visited Helen again with the Wilsons and she gave us a lot of food, too much haha. We left her a Restoration DVD and then went to Michael's. He seemed to be doing better he signed a contract to never drink until he gets to his rehab center at the VA.  I could tell he was able to think much more clear than before. He also kicked out his alcoholic roommate which was really good for him as well. we read with him 1 Ne 8 and 11 which are the tree of life visions.

Saturday we went to the Mousseau's for dinner which is out of our zone really but it is barely out of our area, brother mousseau is the Branch Clerk.  His family is so fun. His son Ryan is a paratrooper medic for the Army.  I asked him if he had ever jumped out of a C-17 and he said yes and i told him that my dad works for Boeing and is a project manager for the C-17 etc. (i am still not especially sure what you do exactly haha) he said to tell you "thank you" and that you'll know what it means? he also went on to say that they are the Cadillacs of planes.  So people appreciate what you do Dad:)  

This Sunday was our last in our old building and we will be going to Hazelton next Sunday. it is pretty exciting even though it is just a store front but we are working towards a phase 2 building.  Brother Hyland showed up to church (he was one of the less actives we saw with President Molano) and he paid his Tithing! his family is going through some financial trouble and i know he will be blessed for his act of faith. I got up and bore my testimony about the tender mercies the Lord shows unto us. i cried a bit not gonna lie. We had 50 people show up this Sunday so that was really cool because it was the second time since we broke 50!
i am sure that i am leaving out things I'm sorry:/ 

I love you all!
Elder Barker

(This is a photo Josh took of the area he is in.)

Email from November 25, 2013

hey dad,
so i will try and take more pictures i just always don't think to take my camera when we walk out the door. Times are getting exciting for this little Hometown Branch. Actually, the Hometown Branch will soon cease to exist and will become the Hazleton Branch and probably soon (well after i leave most likely) Ward! We are moving to a new building in Hazleton it is a store front lease and the church is looking at a plot of land to build a new building and possibly stake center! this new building will not have a baptismal font though so it is on to the Susquehanna River! December 8th is the first day in the new building and last day of this transfer so possibly my last sunday in this area:( this area is difficult and i would love to go more south for the winter haha but there are a lot of awesome people here and the growth has been tremendous! Plus the Branch President already told us missionaries that we were going there for Christmas Eve and that would have been really awesome i was so tired last time but not from the food but from the conversation! it was just so spiritual! This area was hard.. but it has been good as well.

Monday night was ummm different. we met with Joe M. again he just loves taking us out to dinner and buying us steak haha but he is pretty frustrating. he is difficult to explain the most simple way to explain it is that he is a Christian Atheist.. he believes in the teachings of Christ but does not believe in a God. he does not like thinking there is something higher than himself. Wednesday we had zone conference and that was really cool we learned how to incorporate the pamphlets in our lessons better. it is hard to explain how exactly i felt just the spirit and the power in that building with all of us missionaries was incredible! The Church is true! haha.

Friday we met with Helen again (the 81 year old lady) with the Wilsons. She made us so much food!! her chicken stuffing was really good! i even ate the stuffing!! haha we talked about eternal marriages and how couples can be sealed for time and eternity instead of just til death. i don't know how much she took but we gave her a gospel principles book because she had asked for one and she will love that haha. in the beginning we talked about il divo for a bit because she loves them and the 3 tenors. Sunday we were able to set up a couple of dinner appointments with members so that was good:) for thanksgiving we are all going to the Fairalls. the branch clerk brother mousseau (who is a lawyer and his wife is a RN) invited us for thanksgiving as well but we had already told the Fairalls we are going there. but we are going to the mousseau's on saturday:) Sunday we were able to see John B. an investigator. we had been unable to contact him for a few weeks so we drove to his house and knocked on his door and he invited us in and we taught him God's Plan of Happiness. he had a lot of questions and a lot were on suicide, which for both Elder Parker & myself is a pretty tender topic. we talked a bit about Elder Holland's talk and we are going to email that to him after i send this email. Michael is still the most depressed individual i know and has had a very hard life but he just wants a miracle just like that instead of little blessings adding up. He is going to go to a VA hospital and to rehab for his drinking so that will be good.  just a few hours ago we were able to meet with David (who we met at Angelo's) and we taught him about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Lord's Gospel and about the Book of Mormon. i think it went really well and he accepted our invitation to read the Book of Mormon and find out for himself if the book is true. even if he doesn't he was just an awesome guy to talk to: humble guy, strong believe in God, trying to do the right thing, and just out going. and he bought us lunch haha. 

i know that there is something i am forgetting but everytime i email my mind goes into a rush because i feel strapped for time. 

i love you all and keep your faith in God. Hope is one of the most powerful tools he gives us with our fight against Satan.

Elder Barker

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


that's pretty cool about the Masons i am so excited for Justin! what is his address in the field? i know he will be going to the MTC for 6 weeks.

i would take pictures but honestly there is nothing to see haha. it is kind of in the middle of nowhere and all so many parts of the towns i serve in are falling apart:/ Philly is about a 2 hour plus drive away so i have not seen it at all except for the airport. President Anderson and his wife are going to be coming around for christmas presents i believe. she sent an email, meant for the families, to the missionaries by accident and it said their plans for it haha. December 18th, give or take a few days, every single companionship will be getting iPhones and every single missionary will be getting an iPad!!! we will have our own iPad for the duration of our mission and we will be using skype and facetime to teach! we would have to go to the church for a wifi connection of course but it is pretty exciting! We will be the first mission in the North East to have them. 

Tuesday we went to what was called the Soul Kitchen at a church in Hazleton, where the Spanish speaking elders live, and helped serve food. the missionaries go every time but it was just my first time. it was a really cool experience but i was so surprised by how impatient and how ungrateful people were to get FREE food! there were also a lot of people who were truly grateful and that was so great to see. the minister who runs it loves the missionaries and appreciates us helping out. Unfortunately we were unable to meet with our set appointment for David (we met him the Wilson's first day here at Angelo's) because he would not answer his phone. We were able to meet with a less active computer genius Brother Hyland who, like most of the people who live here, is having a really hard financial time right now but he is really cool and loves to talk for sure haha. this week was pretty slow honestly. all of our set lessons except one did not happen because people either got sick or forgot or "forgot" or weren't there. an investigator who requested a visit from the missionaries on and lived in our area (we thought) apparently lives in Pittsburgh so we sent his info to the missionaries out there.  Saturday we went to the Adult session of stake conference and President Anderson was there and he talked to me for a bit after. Sunday we had Stake Conference and that was really cool we had to drive about an hour away to go to this High School in Reading to use the Auditorium there. it was pretty huge it had an upper level haha.  i don't know if i told you last week or not but Zane was ordained to the office of Priest and will pass the sacrament this coming sunday most likely and Brother Roman (our branch mission leader) became an Elder! Last night we met with Joe Kalista -- the guy who wanted to take us to the Penn St game -- and had dinner with him and his wife. we had roast and mashed potatoes so i was happy:) it was fun but he just kept telling elder parker to let him introduce him to Penn St people. it was pretty funny. 

i'm trying to focus and be a good missionary my studies in the Book of Mormon have helped even when Jacob is comparing Isiah (Jacob was way too smart haha) keep me in your prayers i still need them a lot haha. i love you all!

Elder Barker

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Email from 11-11-13

Note from Amber:  Last Monday, Josh found out that a close friend of his passed away, so this last week was hard on him.  His faith is amazing, and we are very proud of the eternal perspective he has maintained during this time.  


This last sunday was exactly what i needed. Sister Molano talked about temple work and how others have had experiences where some one who has passed on is now doing missionary work for others on the other side. 
This past week was not as productive because of well.. yeah. Monday was not exactly my perfect day... and we were just sitting around and then a sister called us and asked if we could come over now and help her move the rest of her stuff after she broke into her old place (her landlord locked her out because it was a few weeks after she was supposed to be out). we had an appointment at 7:30 with an investigator though so we told her we had to leave by no later than 7. After that we went to this artist's, from new york, house and he gave a tour of his home and art studio and it was huge! i didn't think something nice was in Tamaqua haha. after the tour he took us to La Dulce Casa (or Demagio's) and it was a pretty nice italian restaurant and we talked about what we do. he started almost lecturing us about Catholism though and then he apologized saying, "sorry i went into lecture mode. yous guys are supposed to be teaching me!" -- yes people say yous out here, as well as warsh (or wash) and instead of semi truck it is a tractor trailer-- but he is a really cool guy and wants to meet with us again. 

Friday we were able to meet with Zane's sister and brother in law and they have so many questions so that is really cool.  Sandy's (Zane's fiance) daughter Lianna reminds me so much of Daisy except a bit more shy and it is so hard not to play with her because i miss Daisy and Emmy so much :( They fed us Lasagna though and it was good and were very welcoming and we actually got in pretty late because the lesson was just going so well it was hard to leave but they invited us to come back this Friday.  Yesterday we had dinner at the Hulls and we had Venison roast and mashed potatoes :) yes i had deer haha. it was really good. later we were calling people to try and hopefully set things up for this week and Joe Kalista picked up (the guy who wanted to take us to Penn St) and was asking if he could talk to President Anderson himself about the possibility of taking us to a game. he really wants to take us and i would love to go so bad but it is very very unlikely, but he did invite us for dinner this Sunday so that was good:)  this week is definitely going to be better than last week.

 President Molano talked to Elder Parker and I about everything that happened and told me that the adversary is trying very hard to stop me from being here on this mission at this time very hard and it is up to me on what i want to do. i want to work i want to serve. i know that if i consecrate my time fully to the Lord that He will provide for me. I can do all things through Christ who giveth me strength. I know that this is true and i know that the Lord has plans for me that Satan doesn't want accomplished. i have said it before though, nothing satan throws at me will deter me from doing the work of the Lord. I love this gospel and i know it is true. don't worry about me dad. i am okay. God is watching over me and yesterday he sent an angel to comfort me.

I love you all,
Elder Barker

Josh's mission plaque is finally up in the church!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 28, 2013

i'm glad the girls were able to come down for a visit i'll have to check ambers email i think she sent some pictures.  how were you able to fit in steve's costume? i've been away for a bit but if i remember correctly there was a bit of height difference haha. i'm excited for nathan to start his season i can't wait to hear how he does. i miss NBA and when i left they said that kobe likely wouldn't play till christmas but i know that d-rose is back and i am pretty jealous that i don't get to watch him but i will in the 2016 season! For halloween we go in early at 6 to stay out of trouble and apparently the night before halloween is called mischief night out here on the east coast where people prank each other and by prank i mean egg. so we most likely will go in early wednesday night as well.  
This past week was not bad but not our best. Monday was zone unity day and we met with most of the missionaries in our zone and played games in an actual church building haha.  it was fun but we got in really late because we met in Reading and its about an hour and 15 minutes away. we did go to a pizza buffet and it was really good. Wednesday we went to Lansford to help a member move out of her home. 
Friday we got a new senior couple, the Wilsons, from Lindon, UT i believe. We drove over there and welcomed them to the area and they wanted to go try a cheese steak so we drove over to Angelos and all had a sandwich together. they are very nice and excited to start their mission but they have big shoes to fill from the Tews.  while we were at angelos elder wilson started to talk to a customer named David and it turns out he lives in Lansford and elder parker and i started talking to him as well and were able to get his number and address and so when we get more miles on our car we will go see him.  
We also met with brother mcfarland and his daughter on saturday and watched finding faith in christ. his daughter seemed to have some anxiety with people being over and talking to her so she left the room and distracted herself multiple times which made it hard to teach her but her dad is trying the best he can to bring spirituality in his and his daughter's life. 
We also ran into an old former investigator who said we need to look at the world with a scientific mind and how god has nothing to do with what is being created chemically and biologically, and me loving science and being a chem major wanted to correct him in so many ways because even his science he pointed out had flaws, but i kept my mouth shut realizing nothing positive would come from it. he also had the theory that christ was an extra-terrestrial who was simply smarter than people back then so he was viewed as a god... just some interesting people here is all haha but we are all God's children whether we know it or not.  
We did run into another person named Dave in tamaqua who is goth and practicing Wicca.  but he has a christian background and was very open to listening to us and talked about the first vision with him. we asked him if there was a way he could find out for himself if what we said was true, if he would want to, and he said oh absolutely so we are meeting with him tonight to give him a Book of Mormon and talk about his questions of why he is here and where he is going after this life. i am pretty excited to work with him.   
i assume you got the email about christmas presents? they sent it to me by mistake as well haha.
i got the card from grandpa and grandma and i really enjoyed their card it was pretty funny.
i got a package from mom and it was decorated to the brim with halloween stuff and candy and a pumpkin haha. not gonna lie after helping clean a really dirty apartment this week, fake roaches and bugs were not the best sight ahah. i was surprised she was able to put those in without freaking out herself haha 
hope everything is well:)
Elder Barker

ps i really need those cookies haha i miss them

October 21, 2013

It is very unlikely that i will be transferring after this week because i am still being trained and most likely will stay in this area at least 1-2 transfers (6-12 weeks) after my first 2 transfers so sending the package is a safe bet. 

This week was relatively slow unfortunately.  Wednesday was pretty cool. we went to an investigator who had dropped us and then picked us back up and were going to share a message from the book of mormon but he said he just didn't have any time at all. we were walking down the street and then all of sudden a guy yells from his truck, "hey my friend from utah you never came to my house!" then he pulls over and gets out of his car and starts walking towards us. Elder Parker had met with him once before I was there.  Joe was his name and is a huge Penn St. football fan and because Elder Parker is going to go play at USU he just loves him.  he was raised Catholic but just questioned a lot of things from past experiences but has a very strong belief in God. He got our number and he wants to get together and have his wife cook us a delicious dinner and we are never going to say no to food haha. he also told us he wants to take us to a Penn St game!! Which would be awesome!! but pretty unlikely, i'm kinda hoping President Anderson gives us an ok for it :). 

Later we went to dinner at the Gottstein's (the Elder's Quorum President) home and his wife made shepherds pie it has come to be one of my favorite meals ever.  after we had dinner we went to Michael's and he was fairly down again and was venting to us a bit, but then all of sudden he said, "you guys are telling me i can be happy... so what would i have to do to get baptized?" and Elder Parker and I told him about how the Holy Ghost can help us stay away from sin and we challenged him to not drink from then till Sunday was over. He recognized it would be very difficult but he said that through Christ all things all possible and accepted. unfortunately, he was unable to attend church but we are meeting with him tonight so we are going to follow up with him.  Thursday night was exchanges and i got paired with our District Leader here at Tamaqua.  we had a lesson with an 81 year old widow named Helen who knew Elder Flake's (our DL) aunt.  she was one of the sweetest and funniest people i have met and had more energy than me!! she unfortunately does not know what she believes in anymore. I just enjoyed talking to her though she was so quick!

Saturday we had a couple of cool lessons.  the first was with Brother Roman (our mission leader). we began teaching him about the Melchizedek priesthood and the significance of it which was fairly difficult to teach because Elder Parker and I have a combined time holding that authority of maybe a year! and here we are teaching of college professor of about every known course and study on the Earth about the oath and covenant of the priesthood! this lesson could have lasted with days of both of us learning as much as him! we need to meet with him again because, although our lesson went very well, there is just so much to cover and we won't cover every single detail it's just so much! i never realized how much there is to it being raised in the church i always just kinda viewed it as the next step. i wish i had taken some time to study more of it.

Right after Brother Roman we went to Brother McFarland's house.  a big reason for him coming back to church since he was 12 is to put some spirituality in his daughter's life who is almost 13. he has taken her to church a few times but would love to meet with us with dezyrai (his daughter) so he could learn along with her. I spoke this week on the importance of coming to church and the blessings we can receive from doing so and apparently his daughter was asking him questions about things in my talk and what not which is awesome because it means she was paying attention and brother mcfarland came up to me and thanked me for my talk and said it was very enlightening. 

i was super nervous for my talk and i don't know why really. i didn't really have my talk written out like every one in the past i just wrote an outline with topics and notes that i wanted to touch on. i did have a quote from President Uchtdorf's talk at conference. many people said i had a really good one and thanked me so i hope i was able to help a couple people in any certain way. i paraphrased Elder Bednar when he spoke about tithing and i said that actively coming to church can bless us in subtle yet significant ways which i completely believe. in sunday school sister molano shared a clip from the movie 17 miracles which is about the martin handcart company and if you can i would watch it. it is one of the best movies in my opinion and is so sad yet uplifting.

Later that night we went to our branch president's house for dinner with Elder & Sister Tew (the senior couple) and sister molano is such an amazing cook!! President molano grilled steak and Sister Tew brought pot roast and cheesy potatoes and sister molano grilled salmon and made scones!! i apologize if this offends anyone but it was the best meal i have had in recent memory! they even had strawberry lemonade candy corn! and we brought leftovers which will be legen, wait for it.... dary!! haha. but after dinner we had one of the most spiritual and intellectual conversations i have had; let me change that, we had THE most spiritual and intellectual conversation i have had! we talked about so many principles such as the atonement and why Christ had to suffer the way he did which enlightened me so much. i felt exhausted after that talk.  unfortunately the Tews leave tomorrow for home and will be very missed and Sister Tew took me aside and gave me a couple of talks and ensign articles that she had printed out and told me to not give up and continue to work hard and not stray away from the path. i am going to miss those two. 

today we are going to have zone unity day and play games i guess it is going to take up the whole pday basically so i hope its fun haha.

i hope everyone is doing well and i love you all,

Elder Josh Barker

Sunday, October 20, 2013

10/15/13 email

Hey Fam!

Elder Parker and I had our first baptism Saturday! sorry i totally forgot to tell you about him in these last couple of letters i think but thats because i was just scrambling on what to talk about haha. His name is Zane and he was brought by a member (seriously the most effective way for missionary work).  His fiance, Sandy, is a disfellowshipped convert who has been coming back for awhile now since before me. Zane is an awesome guy and Sandy was so great to teach Zane with because every thing we taught him he would always say, "yeah Sandy talked to me about this" and he was willing and able to accept the word of wisdom, the law of chastity, the law of tithing and everything else that i am forgetting with ease.  His testimony is so cool and everything in the church "just makes sense" to him -- it really does just in general.  

He asked Elder Parker to baptize him which i was expecting because Elder Parker was teaching him before i came out here and i would show you the picture of us but i look fat and i am still very shallow soooooo i won't be sending it haha sorry.  the service was really cool we had a couple of speakers talk on baptism (Elder Parker) and the Holy Ghost (Sister Molano, the Branch President's wife) she is such a good speaker! then we had Elder Newbold (the other golden/greenie in the area) sing "i stand all amazed" and it was really good too; fun fact he was at the tryouts for Beyond 5 as well haha. He brought his best friend as well as his sister and brother in-law and his parents. all except for his parents seemed to be really interested and asking a lot of questions. Oh and Sister Molano made these brownies which tasted like eternal happiness! they were incredible my mouth is now watering.

Earlier that week (Tuesday) we went on exchanges with the District Leader and his golden. i went to a town called Potsville with Elder Prue who has been out as long as me and we (or should i say I) helped move some people's furniture around and across town so that was fun right? haha. Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Zone leaders and we stayed here in Tamaqua. we went to go teach a man named Chester with our branch mission leader Brother Roman who has the best handshake i have ever felt oh my gosh! but it was pretty cool. chester has mountain climbed with mormons his entire life and has always respected how much family meant to them and how they were able to stay so close with their kids. he loves our religion but the only thing keeping him from converting is his dad who is a stout Lutheran, his dad is 91 and still goes bow hunting. he told us that he will be baptized after his dad dies basically because he doesn't want to upset him.

It has been starting to rain a bit more and more and the end of the week was pretty slow.Sunday i gained the 10 lbs that i had lost all back. Since Monday was  Canadian Thanksgiving the Hull family invited us over for dinner since Sister Hull is Canadian. We had Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green bean casserole, rolls, and pumpkin pie! and being a missionary and not wanting to offend... I ate everything! Big mistake. when sitting on their couch for a gospel message my stomach felt like it was going to burst. I tried very hard to not fall asleep after we got back. i got on the scale and I had literally gained 10 lbs!! Now granted i was still in my suit and shoes but still.

Wednesday we had a member (John Valentine) pass away. he was starting to come back to church more and more and his death was a bit of a surprise despite his health issues. i think we are having the memorial on saturday.  

On a brighter note Brother Roman (our mission leader) has been a member for a year and one  day! and will receive the Melchizedek priesthood soon! we will be getting a new senior couple and they will hold a temple prep class for some of the members and we will be taking over the gospel principles class. i have to give a talk this sunday and i am pretty nervous mostly because i have no subject so i am going to be speaking on the importance of coming to church and the blessings we receive from doing so... pray for me on that please haha. i think that is everything this past week was really hectic and i am running short on time. i hope everything is going well.

I love you guys,
Elder Barker
 Elder Newbold was knocked out so i decided to take an awkward picture of myself. Elder Parker is on the left and Elder Levitt is behind my shoulder haha. and i look fat...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Email from 10/7/13

Josh sent me an email this morning while I was checking my emails, and we got to email back and forth for a few minutes.  It was great!  I took a quick video of the girls saying hi and telling him about their Halloween costumes, and then uploaded it really quickly to YouTube and sent him the link for it.  He was able to watch it real quick, and put in a request for chocolate chip cookies before I let him go.  It was so good to talk to him!

Anyway, here is his email:

Dear Dad and family,

I shall start by answering your questions: 1) [Do you have regular dinner appointments?] on a good week we may get 2 meals a week with a family (its always the same family), 2) [Is it just you and your companion in the apartment or do you have other Elders living with you too?] yes it is just me and my companion in our apartment we get along pretty well so its good.

We cleaned out the baptismal font again and the biggest spider i have ever seen in person was in there. you could see its pinchers from afar! I still have yet to have a philly cheesesteak :( and when we were doing our beat-to-teach i told you about last time i think someone on the sideline yelled out while we were playing, "i think a couple harlem globetrotters dressed as businessmen came!" haha it was a lot of fun and i dunked! the rims may have been a couple inches low but still haha

The man we challenged, Michael, unfortunately took back the baptism invitation :( he has PTSD and is bipolar and his emotions fluctuate greatly between each meeting with him. he is one of the most Christ-like men i have ever met but because of his anger towards his ex-wife and his alcoholism he feels he doesn't deserve God's love. He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true, but he feels unworthy. i hope we can help him in any way possible

i loved general conference it was definitely one of my favorites ever! Elder Holland's talk Saturday evening (it started at 4 here) made me cry i'm not going to lie. some key points i wrote down either from what he said or what i felt during his talk was that: 1) we were chosen to live in this time because we can overcome this fallen state of the world. 2) Christ makes our trials easier through a process, he makes them bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive. 3) we need to never lose faith in our loving Heavenly Father. His love for us is simply always there for us, no matter what we have done. and lastly, we need to hold fast to faith, it is through that we can overcome our trials.  There was so much that i loved about this talk and will watch it again as soon as i can.

Another talk i loved was from Dieter F. Uchtdorf saturday afternoon (or morning for you). in it he invited everyone to come with us and come unto Christ, if you are new, come know the joy that we know and feel, and if you have left the gospel that you once held dear, come back and feel the love you once so profoundly felt.
there were so many that i loved but the other one to conclude my 3 favorite (not sure if it is my favorite or 2nd) was President Monson's. Like you said, Dad, he talked about his sweet wife who passed away 6 months ago and how hard it has been for him. he even brought out the point that sometimes people don't see a light at the end of the tunnel and have given up hope. sometimes we need to remember that others have traveled the same treacherous path and have conquered those trials.  like you brought up, Dad, he said, "the more severe the storm, the stronger the tree." We ARE able to endure those trials and we will grow stronger as we do.  Yes we have lows so low that at times we think that we don't have enough strength to climb up to where we were and to where we will be happy, but if we do our best to climb the rope out of the deep and dark hole in our lives, Jesus will be on the other end of the rope pulling us up as we go. He really can lighten the task and burden placed on us, but is our job to take that first step and put our trust in Him. 

I really hope Nathan is doing well. I know that sports are important to him and that he wants to play college sports, and that's great i would love to be able to have the talent that he has, but it is like what Elder Dallin H. Oaks said on Sunday, "Make God your 1st priority" and he will bless you. when he said that i had a feeling that if Nathan put his trust in God and served Him, he would be blessed and be able to keep (if not increase) his talent.  Nathan keep emailing me and tell me about school and basketball i really do wish i could see this two seasons for you, even though you only beat me once, you can do things that i was never able to do! Just remember that it is God who gave you those abilities and he can still further increase those for you! But serving a mission will bless you forever, there's a common saying by my mission president, "you have two years to serve, and the rest of your life to think about it."  with everything that was/is going on back home with family and friends, leaving to go on my mission was one of the hardest things i ever did, and it is still hard at times... but like i said earlier Christ can lighten our burden, He will lift and push alongside us and when we reach the end goal he will be standing at the destination with us with a smile and a look of admiration and tell us, "well done, you made it."

I love you all and i hope you are doing well,
Elder Josh Barker

*Side note from Amber- The Lord has done such an amazing job with this amazing kid in just a few short weeks.  Proud sister.  :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Email (and photos!) from September 30th

So this last week was pretty cool! our zone focus (goal) was to get 3 new investigators.  Tuesday night we were just walking up a "busy street" and it had been a relatively slow day and then a guy across the street with two friends yells out at us, "you enjoying your job yet?" and he was so astonished that we told him that we volunteered for this that he ran across the street to come talk with us! he wasn't really sure if he believed in a God and his two friends were atheist (one was his gf or wife i'm not sure).  so they were asking a lot of questions about general christian beliefs and a bit about the Book of Mormon as well. one of them was about dinosaurs and it brought back my memories from loving dinosaurs as a kid -- only for like a second though.  he asked about what happens to people who don't believe in God because he was worried about his girlfriend and was a bit worried if she was going to hell. we then explained to him about the 3 kingdoms of glory and how after we die God is going to give us every opportunity to accept the gospel in the spirit world. he then asked about families and so we started talking about temples and how if people get married in a temple they are sealed together in this life and the next, not just "till death do you part."
he got really excited about that actually and asked how he can get a temple recommend. we told him that someone has to be baptized and be a member for a year in order to be able to enter. he then said "well i know what we're doing in 2017!" haha we left him a book of mormon, his girlfriend took his and had read some actually. while we were talking to him a couple of guys ran across the street and just started asking us who we were and what we do because he had seen us walking around earlier that day. his name was Justin and he was really interested in learning more and invited us to play ball with them at this park sometime and we naturally accepted.  

Thursday we had an interesting visitor... by that i mean a part centipede part spider part one of satan's demons almost ate us. i am going to send a video i think so you will understand what i mean. it teleported across the room!! i wish i was joking... anyways i am not going to waste time in writing this haha.

This is the bug!

on saturday we helped give service to this art program. they are trying to bring some culture to this town and one of our investigators volunteers there a lot so we went and helped. we helped clean up their painting stuff as well as all the paint chips, i could hardly breathe until i got the mask on. with our help we were all able to finish cleaning within 3 hours. we then had to carry a 200+ lb tarp full of paint chips down the fire escape... that was fun. but the guy in charge of the project was so impressed that he was asking us about our church and asked if he could keep the book of mormon we had brought (which was why we brought it to give it away)

 we finally got a beat to teach (basketball). we were passing by this park that we always walk by and there was a group of people playing. there was one guy who was really good and then one guy who was athletic but not a ball player at all and the rest were bad. so when they finished their game we walked up (in our shirts and ties) and asked if they wanted to play twos.  we played to 15 and we just rained 3s on them. we couldn't miss so we won. my knee was killing me though after because church shoes aren't great for basketball. 

we got invited to play again and the people there watching just instantly loved it. we went back sunday because we saw Justin playing there so we were going to stop by and say hi and a lot of the people that were watching on saturday were there and immediately were like i call those two on my team!! we didn't play though don't worry. but then we had an hour long discussion with him as well as about 10 other people who were listening in and asking questions. he had a rough background and at times had found it hard to believe in religion but he told us that he knew he was supposed to come up to us on Tuesday and introduce himself he just doesn't know why. 

we got about 5 new investigators from that courtside discussion. we talked about joseph smith, the plan of salvation, the 3 kingdoms, and the book of mormon. they asked if it was our bible and we told them that nothing can replace the Bible but that the Book of Mormon enhances the teachings in the Bible and allows us to better understand it as well. unfortunately we did not have any to hand out but we had plan of salvation pamphlets and we handed out about 6 of those to people who asked us for one.  it was kinda funny because when we would talk about a principle of the plan of happiness they would all be like, "shoot man that's some deep stuff" i censored it a bit but it was generally that. Justin though his thirst for knowledge and truth was great and i look forward to beating him in some basketball tonight actually. 

thank you everyone for the letters i love them! Aunt Michelle thank you for the cut outs they were really cool and tell Jacob and Robbie i say hi! Mom thank you for the care package i immediately started reading Jesus the Christ. and the pictures i have on my dresser. Tell amanda i loved her letter and will write her as soon as i can! 
I love you all and i hope you all are doing great

Elder Josh Barker
 my mtc zone. my then companion is on the very left in the back
 my companion after we killed it. yes we destroyed our room...
 it was a tiring but well fought battle
 my mtc district with the best mtc teacher ever! (brother vogt he served with Jake Tui in salt lake!!)