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.

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!!)