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 talkevening (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. Uchtdorfafternoon (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, "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. :)