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