things here in Tamaqua, PA are going pretty well. it's a pretty small town but there is definitely a lot of interesting things going on. the branch here has about 45 people (total) but the active members are around 30. everyone in the branch though is awesome they all have great testimonies despite some of them having been excommunicated a few still come to church and love having the missionaries over. the branch president is president milano and he is one of the most spiritually in-tune man i have ever met.
my first night was interesting (i am going to be saying interesting a lot) we went to go see an investigator named Ed who recently had committed to being baptized in november and when we got there his neighbors house had burned down along with his... fortunately no one was hurt in the fire but his phone got lost in the fire and we have had no way of contacting him since. the next day we went to go see a former investigator named michelle who has a pretty fascinating background. she is half white half cherokee and was raised on a native american reservation but was put in catholic school. so she believes in jehovah but also in native american gods and goddesses like the sun god and mother earth. she believes and loves the book of mormon but is a huge smoker (i might be addicted already just from her house haha) and lives with her boyfriend. for years though she took in people off the street and helped them get back on their feet and never asked for anything. the day before we got there however multiple pipes had broken in her house and her basement had 3 1/2 ft of water. she needed a lot of help so my companion, the spanish speaking elders, and myself went the next day and helped prime her walls and will soon go back and help her paint the walls because we didn't have time since we had another appointment that same day.
that night we went to another investigators house named michael who is an injured vet whose wife and kids left him. his wife still demands increasing payments to help with her medical bills but the VA says he can only pay her 800 a month but he is paying 1250 and she wants more. it is just a terrible situation and his drinking is his only escape he feels like. he is a great guy who does as much volunteer work as he can do and absolutely believes in God and the book of mormon and that we are people called from God but he doesn't feel worthy of our time or Gods love as he puts it because of his drinking. the lesson on the atonement that we taught him however was great and he felt the spirit and i was able to extend a baptismal invitation to him and he accepted! i just hope he doesn't get too down and keeps his commitments to reading the book of mormon and praying to our heavenly father for a desire to stop drinking. a scripture that is one of my personal favorites that i shared with him was D&C 122 verse 9 i believe (its the last verse in the section) and he felt the power from it as well.
we had another lesson with Zane an investigator, who recently got engaged to a member, about the entire plan of salvation and is getting baptized on the!! their wedding date is set for so in a little over a year elder parker and i may be able to go to their temple sealing!! which would be awesome!
my companion (elder parker) is from utah and fresh out of high school. he has only been in the field for 6 weeks and is technically still in training too but he is my trainer, plus his companion before me apparently was very lazy and just did not want to be there so elder parker never learned much from him. so he is learning and teaching at the same time (normally missionaries are out for a minimum of 12 weeks to not be a golden/greenie. so we are both goldens. he went to Davis and started on their basketball and has a spot waiting for him on the utah state football team (sorry steve he hates BYU). he is a great teacher though and a really cool guy.
how is nathan's basketball and school coming? can you forward my address to everyone? 223 center st, tamaqua, PA 18252. send letters to this because i won't get letters from the mission office until like a zone conference or a transfer.
this town is full of problems the entire town smells like cigs because everyone is a heavy smoker 15 years old and up it seems like it really is so sad. the cops just drive by people doing drugs because there are more important matters like murder to attend to.
my day is pretty busy i wake up atwork out shower breakfast
and then personal study at 8
companion study at 9
then go out for a bit at 11
then be back aroundfor lunch and try and contact people and set up appointments. we never have much luck because people who make appointments rarely ever answer the door when we come. it is starting to get pretty cold out here, we went contacting and it was just pouring i think my pants might still be damp from it the mr mac coat was amazing though haha.
then we come back between-9 and plan for the next day and set goals.
i am doing the best i can to work hard and be a good missionary. i love it and am very happy to be out here:)
oh and i found a place better than shaved ice its called ritas
Elder Josh Barker
ps could you send me a copy of jesus the christ? i really want to read that. and a scripture case?
pss i really hope nathan's knee gets better and tell him to take his seminary hw seriously because i wish i did.