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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Email from 12/29/14

Hey Dad,
It was great seeing you all too! And I finally got your present a couple days ago. I was confused when you talked about the gift card haha but I got it. Thank you so much! As far as the SLC thing.. Maybe haha. Honestly I was hoping to fly in Ontario or LA so I wouldn't be surrounded by a bunch of other missionaries going home and their giant welcoming parties. I would like to see Them though. 
Not much has happened this week outside of Christmas. At least not on the surface yet. District meeting was really great we had a Christmas one. And we went to the stage where it was dark except for a enlightened nativity shadow on the wall. We read the account of the Savior's birth. Then we watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas and there were many things that I never noticed before. I never noticed that his dream of the savior helped him to be grateful for the things he already has instead of imagining all these things he wanted. It really humbled me and I thought of all the times where the savior sat next to me as I was going through hard times and at my lowest points. I said a prayer in my heart thanking Heavenly Father for the comfort that the Atonement has given me. I'm so very grateful for it, Christ's sacrifice is so important. It not only helps us to be forgiven, but it is what allows us to receive the strength that we need to keep going. I have felt that strength given me so much, even when sometimes I feel I don't deserve it, but if we humble ourselves and come to God and ask in faith he will bless us. I know this to be true with all my heart. Dad I thank you for teaching me that throughout my life and for being a Father that loves a spirit filled home and I hope to create that same environment for my future kids.  
I love you Dad
Elder Barker

Email from 12/23/14

Hey Dad, 
So, real quick I think I'll be calling at 12 my time so 9 am there. I am now in Camden, NJ which is right across the river from Philly. My address is 425 market st, Camden, NJ 08102. The 2 most ghetto areas in the mission I have now served in both. Things got really screwed up with getting transferred, and it honestly made it feel not like Christmas again. I was starting to make Smyrna home and had set up a lot of great things for Christmas. The branch is small but not as small as my first area. My companion has only been out for 2 transfers and is quite hard to get along with. They took out the other elders serving in the branch so our area just got doubled in size and with public transportation quite infrequent we walk a lot. I'm down 2-3 lbs already. This week has been rough. And it's going to be a 7 week transfer instead of a 6 week.  
My first night here, we were walking from the church and this guy (obviously homeless or close to it) asks us if we're from the church and points at our building, and we answered and said yes we're missionaries. He immediately asked if there was someone who could give him money. We told him there wasn't (there was only youth and their parents in there) and he then turned hostile and told us to give him money , because If we're "God people" then we need to do that and he added, "the way I see it, you people owe me" and went into this story of how doctors or someone messed his hand up. Then he went on and told us how there is no God and to look around, there is no God in this city and how God needs to give him money . I asked him "so you only need God for money?" And he still said yes. So I bore my testimony of the love of God and his heart immediately softened and said he always knew God provided hope.  
The rest of the week was just a lot of knocking on doors with no answers and frustration because our area books on the iPad are not working.  
So yesterday was the Christmas zone conference and we watched 17 miracles. It's a really good movie and shows what the pioneers went through I suggest watching it. Had me in tears not even going to lie. Then we had a talent show. I was really upset last year that I didn't do it so I signed up and I rapped missionary/Christmas song I wrote haha. I was terrified but everyone came up to me and was like dude you got some serious skills haha. I stumbled over my words a decent amount but it was fun and I got it on film too but I can only email short portions of things. 
We help out a decent amount at a nearby Ronald McDonald house here and I really enjoy it. These kids are so happy and grateful for what they have and helping them and the people who operate it have really helped me gain that spirit of Christ(mas) more despite being transferred here so close to Christmas. Well I will talk to you guys soon. I hope Nate got the package  I sent him and I sent a package to Amanda's home but I guess she's going there. I sent it on Monday so you should have gotten it. But just be logged in on skype and I will call! I can't wait to see everyone! It is crazy to think it's been a year. 
I love you,
Elder Barker

Email from 12/15/14

Hey Dad, 
So my email isn't loading (again, my email has been acting up for a
really long time) so I am just going to type an email and hope my
email loads later. 
So I am getting transferred and I am really upset about it. I've only
been here for 5 weeks and I've helped get members to like us a lot
more than the previous elder because he ticked a lot of people off. I
was only here for 5 weeks and was really looking forward to having
Christmas here because we had so many members invite us over for
breakfast, lunches, and dinner as well as skyping. So I have no idea
what I am going to do for skyping home right now. Elder Issertell and
I are both really upset about this. We've been the first companions
we've had for awhile that we like and this is his 5th "one and done"
transfer with a companion in a row and my 5th since my trainer. I'm
pretty stressed out about this but the assistants said that I'm going
to love my new area, so hopefully that means I'm not going back up
north for another winter because I was happy about being south for
this one since last winter was really rough. 
Anyway, this week not much happened. We had our Christmas party on
Friday even though no one we invited showed up it was fun and we found
out that we were going to narrate the Christmas program that was put
The party and Transfers are pretty much all that happened. Everyone
was really surprised I was leaving. Oh a member bought me a Christmas
present and I will be sending it home soon because it's a DVD haha.
Well... That's all folks haha. If my email loads I'll try and respond
to yours. Hopefully you all just sent my packages to the mission home
I got one from Ron & Heidi already. It's hard not opening it haha but
I won't. 
I love you Dad,

Elder Barker

Email from December 8

Hey Dad,

Anyway, this week we started teaching a less active family the missionary discussions after he said he wanted to get back into church. We taught him the Restoration and it went really well he never lost his testimony that the church is true he just got into the habit of not coming to church and occasionally smoking. We got an exciting announcement on Thursday that we can go do baptisms for the dead with recent converts and less actives that we activate when they go for the first time. Luckily I am in the most southern zone and closest to the DC temple. We have someone lined up in January:) 
Yesterday, Jessica came to church again and later that night called us and told us that she was hanging out with her "friends" and they started attacking her for her beliefs. Mostly saying that marriage doesn't last forever as stated in the Bible (they screwed a verse very far out of context). And she bore testimony that she knows that the church is true and that families do last and that God loves her. She said she lost the "battle" but she had never felt the spirit so strongly as she stood up for what she believed and she told them that the Spirit was telling her that they were wrong as she spoke. We were so proud of her for finally standing up to her friends because they had been attacking her for awhile now. I do believe that she is really starting to build that solid foundation on Christ, and even though she has many trials soon to hit her she will be able to stand strong as Helaman 5:12 tells us. 
I am very excited for Christmas. As a missionary I have learned even more what Christmas is all about. I feel so much less of a desire for stuff to get, especially with the "He Is The Gift" initiative by the church. Have you seen the video? I shared it on Facebook. Also I believe you got pass along cards in the latest ensign. Have you been able to give any out? It's a very non threatening way of talking about the church and it takes them right to The Lord really is hastening his work and I know that as you look for opportunities to hand those out that you will gain that joy and spirit that come from missionary work and Nate will be able to feel it too (even if he doesn't realize it). I am excited to talk to everyone and I can't believe that it's already been a year since last Christmas. I am very grateful for the things that Christmas brings and the joy we can have as we remember the birth of our savior. 
Christmas morning (7 am my time) we are going over to a members home for breakfast and later we will be going to another home where they offered to let us Skype. I will know more details each week. 
I love you Dad,

Elder Barker

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Email from 12/1/14

Hey Dad,

So thank you what you said definitely helped I really appreciate it. So with the razor I will take a picture of my razor and send it today. But it is a Philips I believe. With the call, I heard that with FaceTime you can do 3 way calls for free? Steve might know more about it, but you can check that out. And okay I won't open a package if I get it before Christmas haha.
So this week was pretty hard again. Holidays always make lessons slow down that week. For Thanksgiving we went to the Hengst's home for dinner. They had a lot of family there (which took us for surprise since they didn't say there would be) and we got to have a good time:) Sister Hengst definitely loves to talk though haha. After wards we we went to another home and they gave us dessert. I could barely finish it all. Then we went to another home but they were watching the Eagles game and nothing else haha. 
The week had a lot of hard things happen though. On Sunday though we had 2 less active people come:) one was Jessica the less active who has gone through some hard things recently. The other was someone we just stopped by a couple weeks ago and never really got a chance to talk to him. We didn't even know who he was at first. Jessica loves sacrament meeting though. She likes how she feels in it which is so good to hear because the sacrament is what has really kept me going through everything. I am so grateful for this gospel and the chance I have to take the sacrament every week and renew the Spirit in my life. There have been many days where I know that I wasn't able to work like we did on my own and that I had had divine help. The sacrament definitely keeps us going spiritually, mentally, and physically. 
I hope everything is going well
I really enjoyed the clips of Nate he's doing awesome!
Elder Barker

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Email from 11/24/14

Hey Dad,
So I am currently typing this email in the school library where the movie "Dead Poets Society" was filmed, be jealous haha kidding. The campus is huge and we got to play basketball for a little bit and then hit the gym, first time i have been in a gym in a looonnngg time and i miss it. Anyway, none of that is important, so on to my week.
So the week prior to this last one, we had set up about 26 appointments for this week that just passed so we were pretty stoked about all of the teaching appointments we were going to get and on top of that every single day we were getting fed by members so it was going to be an awesome week!! Not so... almost every single one of those appointments got canceled or just didn't show up; it was so frustrating and really disheartening. I know it was just a mission trial but stuff like that really knocks the wind out of your sails. I think we got less than 50% of the lessons we had possible at the beginning of the week and Elder Issertell and I had to scramble and look for a lot of potential and former investigators to just go knock on but it really burns up miles and this area is quite big.
there is a some good news though, we got a new ward mission leader and he is on fire! The old one was not very good, but he was old and had some health concerns and so he wasnt able to do his duties. This ward is difficult. The people with bigger callings are all very "do it their own way" and stubborn even though their ways don't always line up with church policy. We have had to pull out the handbook on them. They also do not know how to bring back less-active members. They are very over bearing and honestly condemning but they all seem to love me so far so hopefully and i can influence them for good. 
So I know 2 reasons of why I was sent here. One, so in interviews with President this week, President told my companion (current district leader) that i am going to be the new district leader after he leaves... yay...
Reason #2 there is a less-active member named Jessica here and she has been having it rough. Basically everything our family has gone through and some stuff that I have gone through the past couple of years. Well in our stop bys and phone calls with her i have been able to open up to her and tell her what has gotten our family and myself through everything. Saturday night I told her how much church and especially the sacrament has helped me receive the strength and comfort that I have needed and she came! At the end of sacrament meeting she told me that she feels happy and she hasn't in months and so she decided to stay for sunday school as well, but the members made her feel uncomfortable so she left. but she is going to keep coming to sacrament meeting. It was great to see someone really take a leap in the right direction. I've only been here for 2 weeks but I know helping her is one of the reasons why the Spirit called me here. 
In conclusion, this week was very long and very hard, but Jessica coming to church really helped.

Well I hope to hear from you today and i will try and send another note later about what you send.
I love you Dad,
Elder Barker

Email from 11/17/14

Hey Dad,

So yes the Fletcher's are married and they just love missionaries and usually take some to transfers so they don't have to use miles in the mission car. It was nice seeing them. Yeah so at transfers we meet in the cultural hall and the people leaving are on one side and those staying on the other. They show the area and the elder/sister who's staying and then show their new companion and they meet in the middle and just give a big hug haha. I was going to moonwalk to the middle last time but I forgot:/ next time haha. I am excited for Nate and I have a couple gifts for him I think he'll really enjoy. Shoot I want to keep them for myself haha. How's Nate doing in Seminary? Is he reading his scriptures every day like he's supposed to? A promise given to us when I was in college by the president was if we did our religion homework first, we'd have more than enough time for our other classes. The same principle applies for seminary. 
I will tell you the razor I have. And could I have a wallet haha. For Christmas I only have skype and FaceTime, I don't have a Google+ account. Myldsmail works through gmail so that might work but I won't be able to use my iPad then. We'll see if members have us over. 
So I am in Smyrna Delaware, my address is 1205 Providence Dr Smyrna Delaware. It is a small town a lot like North East MD. Definitely a big change from Philly, but I am with Elder Issertell, we were in the MTC at the same time so it's kinda cool. We were talking about the MTC and it hit us that it didn't seem long ago at all and that we're closer to going home than when we left the MTC. Kinda freaked us out a bit. 
Members here seem to like us so far, from what I'm told they already like me a lot better than the last elder haha. Our meal calendar is filled up for the next 2 weeks! I'm gonna need to work out a lot more. I am in a car area again it'll be nice not waiting for buses in the snow. We play volleyball every Saturday and it was fun no one really knew how to play but it was just fun we had like 8 on 7 games going. 
It was a bit of a blur just trying to know the area but I'm very excited to be here

I love you Dad
Elder Barker

Monday, November 10, 2014

Email from 11/10/14

Hey Dad,

So I am getting transferred and I find out my area tomorrow. I have been here for 6 months! I am really going to miss his place it has a special place in my heart there are so many people I am going to miss! I am going to miss the hood. We met with Annie and her sister Tracie who had recently lost her biological dad but we were able to help her out and talk about temples. They both are less active but Annie is improving. They were both heart broken to hear I was leaving and they wanted me to rap haha but I didn't.  
We also met with Mike and Dana again like every week and we played chess on her awesome lord of the rings chess set!! I beat her and am still undefeated in my life. But they said they will miss me and mike painted two really cool shirts and I'll show you them later. Aw man I am going to miss them all so much!! The Wasco family were near tears:( they didn't want me to go at all especially brother wasco. They got me an early Christmas present and they really did accept me like a son out here it's been so much fun here.  
On Saturday we participated in a 5k called the heart walk and I only had like 3 hours of sleep because I had to pack everything the night before after finding out I was leaving at 10 pm. It was a lot of fun though and we had a lot of missionaries out there to just talk to people haha. There's plenty of interesting people here and plenty of laughs as well.  
Tonight we are meeting with the Giordano family who are sad to see me go as well and for my "last supper" as the wife said, they are having us over to help with an FHE. I am looking forward to it and it should be a lot of fun! 
Brandon (got baptized in September) taught gospel principles this week!! He was a boss! His first topic to teach was the law of chastity and he just took it and made an amazing lesson from it. I am excited for him he says he wants to try and go out to Utah next September so elder Cooley and I can go through he temple with him for the first time:) I would love that so much. 
There are a lot of great elders going home tomorrow. Elder Mower who is from Layton, has served around me for about a year! I am pretty sad to see him go but he has been a great missionary and a legend out here. I'm happy for him.  
I am really sad to go I feel like Ive grown so much here and gotten really close to the people I've been working with. A piece of me is definitely going to stay here in the city. 
I will let you know next week where I am at and my new comp! 
I love you Dad
Elder Barker

Ps for Christmas I just need some extra razor blades for my electric razor and I could use a watch if possible. I don't know how much they are but on the Deseret book I think they have watches with temples on them. And it'd be cool to get the San Diego one or D.C. Temple one. And maybe a silver tie bar as well. And yeah cash in my home account is always the best

Monday, November 3, 2014

Email from 11/3/14

Hey Dad, 
Thanks for the updates:) I really wish I was able to see Nate's season. Do you film any of his games? I'd love to get a few clips of him playing if that's possible. Are colleges talking to him? 
Yes I got the package but as long as I'm in philly send things to the mission home. So it is week 6 and it's my 4th transfer here so I am probably heading out.  
So this week was a little slow again and had some good points.  
We were able to teach my old neighbor  from the hood, Nancy haha. She seems to have really missed having the elders as neighbors and is pretty eager to have us over. I told her that I might leave so she got pretty sad. We had some really good lessons with her and her friend Gil and we are seeing themtomorrow night. Her friend Gil seems to be really responsive to what we are saying. Annie, a less active, got a second job and works on the weekend... Ugh I was so upset because she was progressing so well and now it's going to be really hard. We were able to pick up a lot of great new investigators. And I am going to send nathan a pretty cool present that's why i was asking about his jersey number. Ummm sorry I'm pretty strapped for time so it's short again. For Christmas I would like a new blade for my electric razor and umm I'll let you know on the rest. I could use a wallet though. 
I'm glad to know you're doing better.
I love you,
Elder Barker

Email from 10/27/14

Hey Dad,

So on paper this week wasn't that good, but that's why numbers aren't everything on a mission because there were some really bright spots this week.  
Monday's are just always stressful and with the transfer nearing to an end and not being sure if I'm leaving or not just makes them even more. One reason being, there is a man who owns a suit shop and sells really nice 3 piece suits to elders for $99 and I really need a new one because my suit pants are just really faded from the time I didn't have any other pairs of pants. But I wouldn't be able to get one now unless I stay another which I really hope I do because some people are just really starting to progress. 
Tuesday we had dinner at a semi-active family (the Wascos) that I've gotten pretty close with. We shared with a Mormon message called "Good things to come" by Jeffrey R. Holland. They felt it really applied to them and that it was a confirmation from the Spirit of something they've been praying about. Brother Wasco is leaving for Phoenix to go to mechanic school and will be there for 2 years, so it will be pretty hard for sister Wasco.  
We had exchanges on Wednesday and Elder Olsen took over the area for the day and just like the area I went to, didn't have too much luck, our areas are hard and although there's a lot of people to talk to, not too many listen.  
Friday was great I felt. The whole day was just finding but we were able to set up some appointments with some solid people I feel.  
On Saturday we were able to meet with someone we talked to on Friday. Her name was Alexis and we had a lesson with her and her mom Madeline. Madeline had some questions about the Plan of Salvation as we had previously left her a pamphlet, it was hard because she only had a short time but I feel she was able to feel the spirit when we were there and we set up a return appointment. Later we had the ward Halloween party/chili cook off and it was a lot of fun and the Wascos came as well - I'll send a couple pictures of them.  

Sunday we had a lot of appointments fall through😥 but we took Brother Moala, who served here for about a year, and visited our old neighbor Nancy. She was happy to see us, especially him and we set up a lesson with her for tomorrow night:)  
It is now week 5 in the transfer and I'm afraid I will get transferred I hope I can stay here for Christmas but that's in 2 transfers.  
Also, the Layton/Brown family came to church again! That was great.  
I hope you are doing well
Elder Barker

Ps what's the whole Ebola thing? And can you check the tracking on the package? I'm nervous about it.

Letter from 10/20/14

Hey Dad,

Yes send that sweatshirt and for the card send it to the mission home it'd be safer. The Tucker address is good. 
So this week was pretty uneventful, I've been sick but not enough to keep me from going out so that's good, but with the weather getting colder quite quickly it is more annoying. SEPTA (public transportation) seems to be getting less and less reliable because this last Tuesday it took us over 2 HOURS to get home from a dinner appointment. We left it at 7 and got home close to 9:30 pm. While we were waiting for one bus (we got to the stop 3 minutes early but it got there 5 minutes early so we barely missed it. Then the next bus was supposed to get there 30 minutes later, but it ended up being 20 minutes late... So we were waiting on a street corner in north Philly for an hour... We saw a lot of interesting things and had a lot of interesting conversations. One man we talked to was from Nigeria who came to America about 6 months ago. He had seen missionaries over in Africa and wanted to know why we are all dressed the same. Another guy tried to teach Elder Olsen a little in how to fight and stick up for himself he was a funny guy. 
Brandon on Sunday was able to bless the sacrament but we got to church late because the bus was a half hour late! So we missed sacrament... Yeah not the best thing to happen. But Annie and her son came and the Layton/Brown family as well! It was awesome seeing them all I feel they are starting to take church seriously now! I hope so it has been very frustrating working with them for over 3 transfers and they are finally starting to come around. Brandon also read the whole Book of Mormon! He started late August and just finished on Friday! He's on fireFireFire.

Well I hope you're doing well
Elder Barker 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Email from 10/13/14

Hey Dad,

I will recount some of the things that have happened the past couple of weeks. :-D So my new comp is Elder Olsen, he's been out for about 9 months and is from Moab Utah.  
2 Thursdays ago we had a lesson with the Giordano family. In the past Paul, the husband, was always shut off but liked us. Well they used to be mormon but left and Paul went back to being Catholic, and we started talking about the Godhead and Trinity. I asked him questions about the trinity and brought out the bible and read some stories such as Christ's baptism and Acts 7 and asked him how are they one. He acknowledged that it didn't make sense so we talked about our view of the godhead and the spirit was really strong because we weren't arguing just talking and teaching. He asked us to keep praying for him at the end because the mold around him is chipping. Elder Cooley and I had been praying for a long time for him to be humbled a little bit so it was great walking home from there seeing that answer to our prayers.  
Conference was great I forgot my notes but I loved how so many talks were about family and receiving answers to prayers and then also taking responsibility for yourselves. With those talks I felt as if spiritual darts were thrown everywhere chastising people left and right haha. But those talks made me look a little more inward as to how I can improve myself.  
This last week we got to watch the movie, "Meet the Mormons" at zone conference. It was amazing and I hear it's in the box office top 10 too! I loved it have you guys gone to watch it? You could totally invite someone to that its an easy way to do missionary work, I mean, who doesn't like to go to the movies?  
On Sunday Brandon was able to receive the priesthood and was ordained to a priest! He was so excited I love working with him. And we had a less-active named Annie that We've been working with since before I got here and she came to conference and church this last Sunday and stayed for all 3 hours!:) she brought her niece and nephew too and they loved it as well! 
It was a good week, fairly quiet, but good. Friday was horrible because well I lost my wallet again and I was just really angry the whole day but I tried to humble myself so I could have the spirit so we could teach and luckily there was another bus pass in the office. How much was my card charged? I'm still really mad about it I'm not going to lie.  
But basketball is always fun at least there's some decent guys that play but obviously not too good because I can guard all of them fairly easy. It's usually good at getting rid of stress. 
But I hope you are all doing well,
Elder Barker

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Email from 9/29/14

Hey Dad,

So yes, the belt came. For the sweatshirt, I'd like a volleyball one and you can send it to either the same address you sent the belt or the the mission home. I am staying for another 6 weeks, in fact Elder Cooley is already at the mission home since he's going home. 

 For the leadership, I still haven't had a call from president so unless they surprise me at transfers I am still a regular proselyting missionary.

Anyway, that's really great about your new calling that should be a lot of fun! As a missionary I've been a gospel principles teacher in 2 out of my 3 areas. Just have a discussion, not a lecture, and you'll do great! I'm sure you know that already but it is hard to listen when someone in priesthood or Sunday school just talks, just be personable:) that's too bad that you do t have that voicemail anymore, I'm really upset about itSmiling Face with Horns for Nathan, do you think you could ask him to send me an email or letter about why he may, or may not, want to serve a mission. Like what his real feelings are, not what he thinks I want to hear. I will be very prayerful in my answer, because despite all of the negative and, quite honestly, depressing things that have happened on my mission, I do not doubt or regret one bit of coming out here and serving, and I hope he sees that. 

That's crazy that Jordan is almost done!  

Brandon got confirmed yesterday! It was great he was so happy to have the Holy Ghost now. Elder Cooley had a great way to end his mission I'd say. Sorry I'm a little scattered brained, we were playing ball and a bunch of guys came in off the street. A lot were high and it was getting hard to control. I kinda wrecked them all, not to be prideful but they were all talking about the white boy so I just didn't miss haha. We had to kick them all out though. It was not good, the spirit was completely gone. But anyway, Brandon is great! I'm happy it's been great working with him and I am so excited for general conference!! I am stoked! I hope you take notes haha.

Well I love you Dad,
Elder Barker

Ps I am super nervous about getting my new companion. Pray for me and him to get along.

Email from 9/22/14

Hey Dad, 
So no I did not get the belt, did you send it to the new address?
So there are two things I wanna talk about. 
First off Brandon got baptized!! It was great and much needed. He is sooo happy to, as he says, "be clean in the eyes of God." I would talk more about it but honestly I am exhausted and I am trying hard to stay awake. Sufficeth to put a screenshot of what he posted on Facebook about it. 

This is Elder Cooley's last week. Because he is about to die ["die" in Missionary Speak means that a missionary is about to finish his mission and return home] I encouraged Brandon to have Elder Cooley baptize him and i think that was the right decision. 
The other thing is we had interviews with President and we talked about some of the things that have happened during my mission and he told me that he's proud of me for how I've dealt with the things that have happened. He also told me that I'm going to be called to lead in the mission. I asked him for a blessing because I haven't had one since I got one from you the day before I went to the MTC and in it he told me that leadership positions will come to me in the mission from here on out. I'm pretty nervous about it especially since everyone thinks I'm going to train and possibly be district leader as well. Hopefully not haha. Well I'm sorry it's so short but I gotta go. I love you 
Elder Barker

Ps. Could you send me one of my sweatshirts from high school? Either basketball or volleyball, preferably volleyball. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Email from 9/15/14

Hey Dad,
This week we only got 15 lessons but we both felt a lot better about it than the week when we got 31. A lot of it I think has to do with Brandon and the quality of lessons we have had with him. 

We were able to have him in a lot of members home this week and we have another set up for tonight. On Tuesday we were able to go to the Wasco's with him and we talked about the Ten Commandments and following the prophet and we watched a Mormon message called "Dare To Stand Alone" where President Monson talks about his experience with the Navy, Brandon loved it especially since he's in the Navy. 

Wednesday we met with Chris S. again and he told us that he wants to meet with us more but he wants to go to Catholic Church because it's less commitment to live. Elder Cooley and I were just like, "really?" At least he's honest but I can't believe he wants to just go to there because he doesn't have to give up certain aspects of his life style. It's really frustrating but we're doing our part the best we know how and that's all we can do. 

Wednesday night though we were able to meet with Brandon at another members house and we taught the Law of Chastity and Elder Cooley being the home schooled kid from Rexburg was just funny seeing him teach it haha. 

Thursday another member invited us over to teach Brandon so we went over the Word of Wisdom. He already knew it because he read a lot on and he loves it. 

Friday we had a conference with Elder Anderson in the Seventy it was great and I took plenty of notes. I loved it:) I would talk more about it in detail but I don't have much time sorry:/ 

Sunday we had another lesson with Brandon at the Wasco's and he helped teach! It was really cool we are going to bring him teaching with us:) I'm very excited for his baptism it is this Sunday!

Well I gotta go but I hope you are doing well

Elder Barker

Email from 9/8/14

Hey Dad,

So first to answer your questions: no I did not get the package, did she send it to the new one? We are entering week 4 of the transfer out of 6 and my comp is going home this transfer so I will most likely stay for another one. I'm glad Elder Nathan Mason is loving Idaho.  What's Nate's feelings towards a mission?

Well this weeks focus was pretty much Brandon. He's amazing still he was a very active Catholic  went every Sunday but he said it just always felt empty as if Christ wasn't alive in that church but when he came to Sunday he said it felt full of the Spirit. This Sunday in fast and testimony meeting he got up and bore his testimony and everyone thought he was a member. He has no doubt that the Book of Mormon is true and because he knows the Book of Mormon is true he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet and because he knows that he knows this is the true church of God. It was great to see! He is getting baptized on the 21st and I'm very excited! 
I hope you're feeling better Dad. I miss you guys and the house looks great! 

Email from 9/2/14

Hey Dad,
So my P-Day got moved to Tuesday because of Labor Day so that's why I'm emailing today. Also I lost my bus pass running to catch a trolley so I had to buy a week pass on my home card so that's why there's the $24 missing on my account. There might be a month pass that the office has extra so hopefully I don't have to buy anything more. I'm glad to hear that you are all moved in and that you had a lot of people help out. If you could sometime send me some pictures of the house other than the backyard is like to see what it looks like. Are you and Nate going to put a hoop up in the front?
This last week was definitely great because of the close of it! On Tuesday though we moved into our new place at 2130 E Tucker St, Philadelphia, PA 19125. It took up a good portion of the day but since we didn't have a fridge yet we had to leave the food in the old place in that fridge. We lived on pancakes so that wasn't too bad. The location is much better and the apartment could almost be a starter home, actually it is bigger than the duplex Amber and Steve were in awhile back. It has central air and upstairs has nice carpet it's great! Plus there's a washer and dryer but the washer doesn't drain that well and the dryer doesn't heat up much. So I was up all night waiting for my bedding to dry because it never got hot in the dryer.
Friday we got a referral so we stopped by and he was waiting outside for us and told us that missionaries gave him a Book of Mormon a year ago and he read the 1st book of Nephi and now he wants to be baptized. Since then he has come to football with us, to church and the baptism afterwards, to the Labor Day activity and we are meeting with him tomorrow as well. He even said he wants to serve a mission but he's in the navy and wouldn't get out til he's 28. We set him a baptismal date for September 21! He is really solid and already wants to pay his tithing and everything!
I'm excited to teach him!
Well I really hope everything goes well with everything
Elder Barker

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Email from 8/19/14

Hey Dad, 
Hey Dad so I am sending you an email today because for some reason my email stopped working after I sent one to Nate and so I hope he got that one as well and I hope this goes through because it still won't upload anything. Thanks for the address I will send president it as well as soon as the move is official. If I send a letter today will I still be okay to send it to our old address still?  So BYUI doesn't start til the 15th? I may do that but I still have a year so I don't need to stress about it. I wouldn't mind working for the time before school but it would be hard to find work I'm sure. I definitely would like to have my days planned out haha. Some of us elders have talked about rooming together at school and we joke about having weekly planning with our classes and dates and having "finding activities" haha it would be a lot of fun.  
So my week has been pretty crazy we got transfer calls and Elder Cooley and I will be staying another 6 weeks so I will be "killing" him. This will be my 3rd transfer with him.  An Elder who opened a Spanish area here though, Élder Hardy, got transferred and we were pretty surprised since he just got here.  
This week we were able to meet with the Layton/Brown house hold again and one of the family members there who isn't LDS said she would like to be baptized along with her 8 year old son (her 11 year old son is baptized) on September 29! Unfortunately we found out that their neighbors kids have head lice so we won't go over there until the coast is clear.  
Another thing that was cool was that another person we are teaching, Susan, stuck up for us and the Book of Mormon when her husband and 16 year old daughter started bashing against the Word of Wisdom. Her daughter just wants an excuse to drink. But Susan stuck up and said how we need to have faith and we will come to know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet and that the Word of Wisdom is of God. It was frustrating because of the contention, but it was great to see that Susan really does have a testimony. We are going to go to the temple site here in Philly for a lesson this weekend.  
Another awesome experience was one day Elder Cooley and I were going to the church to use Facebook and as I'm walking out of the subway I realize my comp isn't with me but I realized that he was talking to someone coming up the steps. He invited him to talk inside our church since it was just across the street. The mans name was Terrence and his initial question was, "Why do people attack us if we are followers of Jesus Christ?" It turned into an hour discussion and he seems to be a very Christ like individual who is always giving and he basically wanted to know how do I not give money to people who beg on the street and still follow Christ? It was a question I had to think about more and more because he wouldn't fully accept us saying to point them to places that can help. But I told him that it is not required of a man to run faster than he has strength and we cannot stretch ourselves too thin. Elder Cooley then gave him a short stack of pass-along cards with the Risen Lord on the front and said he could give these to them because the Gospel will help them so much more than a dollar will. He accepted gladly and seemed excited to do it. He was such a cool guy- he was an African refugee who came to America 16 years ago. Sadly he didn't live in our area so we gave him to the other elders in a different ward.  
A bad thing that happened though was we had a lesson with Chris S and we brought a member of the bishopric with us. We gave him some background and told him that we feel he may have a history with drugs but that he told us he has never done anything and his only problem is smoking. Well the member multiple times throughout the lesson talked about how Chris needed to stay strong off of drugs and get away from those dealers. It was horrible we controlled the best we could and ended the lesson of the Plan of Salvation short. Our next lesson with Chris we read with him in Leviticus where he was reading because that's what he wanted to do which was chapter 20. You should look up  the chapter heading... very "interesting" chapter. Elder Cooley and I tried to tie it back into the Book of Mormon which we used Alma 39. After the lesson though he told us to not be disappointed if he doesn't make it church. I'm afraid he is dropping us and I'm sure it's because of the lesson before and how uncomfortable it made him. I was really excited for the lesson I love teaching the Plan of Salvation it's my favorite but it did not go the way it should. I have hope for him still though.  
Other than that though my week was pretty good I need to look into getting a license though because I have no ID. 

I hope you are all doing well!
Elder Barker

Sent from my iPad

Monday, August 11, 2014

Email from 8/14/14

Hey Dad,
First off I did get the wallet and the ATM card thank you so much:) thank you for the address as well I will let my mission president know. And it would pretty cool to get my PT license and work at Dan's pharmacy it would be a great way to familiarize myself more with the field and they make a decent living especially for a college student. I hope I enjoy being a pharmacist because it's all I have pretty much (ideas wise) but the paycheck will help a bit haha. So I did ask my mission president about going home 1 transfer early and he said he wants me to serve a full 24 months but if I do that I will miss the Fall semester of BYU-I and have to go in April or I go home without you coming out here and I go to school right when I get home. I don't really want to do the second part I feel it would add so much more stress trying to transition. 
So Tommy is home huh? Wow did Jeramy Jones ever go back out? How's he doing? 
It's a bit strange that I won't go back to Corona since I was born and raised there but really it's okay and I'm excited for the change and it's not that far away anyway. Hang in there Dad it seems like things will normalize very soon. 
So I shall commence of recounting my journeys of this last week.
On Tuesday we were able to meet with Chris Smallwood again and we talked about the Restoration and really focused on how the authority to run Christ's church was brought back through Joseph Smith. We also talked about the word of wisdom he seemed to really like it.  He said he would quit coffee for sure but that he would need some more time on the cigarettes but that he does want to quit. 
On Wednesday, we went to to the Giordano's and we watched I will not fail thee nor forsake thee by Thomas s Monson. It's one of my favorite talks of all time. Susan felt the spirit and loved it and kept looking at her husband Paul who says he didn't hear anything new but we all felt that he could feel the spirit especially during one of the last stories of his talk. Susan was in tears and I just hope that Paul's heart will be softened. 
Thursday we had our district meeting and weekly planning and after we had dinner with a new family in the ward named the Diehls. They live right next to the temple it is really cool. Sister Diehl's parents are here visiting till November they are converts from Hong Kong.
  Friday was zone conference. It was great and really helped me figure out what could help better this area. After we had exchanges with the zone leaders. I was with elder Stubbs who had served in Bayview before I did. We were able to meet with Chris again and we talked about the first part of the plan of salvation which is where did we come from for this life. He seemed to really enjoy it and he says it made sense. 
Saturday we got a call from someone asking if we could go give a sister in the ward a blessing so we went with a member who was able to drive us there. Her name is Sister Anton and she is nearly blind, she also found out her older sister has brain and lung cancer, so we gave her a blessing of comfort and she asked me to do it but before we did we sang a hymn called "Abide with me." As I gave her a blessing I started to tear up, but only a little, and when I did I could feel her starting to cry as well. After she thanked me and I hope it was able to help her. 
Michael Dean (from Bayview) came and picked Elder Stubbs and I up and took us out to dinner I'll send some pictures. We then went to the talent show a couple wards were having and some of us missionaries did synchronized swimming haha it was hilarious! The final act was going to be late though so everyone was asking me to stall and get up and dance but we couldn't find music that was missionary appropriate. I'm glad we didn't though because the act was a dance act and the guy was amazing!! One of the best I've ever seen so it would've been bad since he could blow me out of the water! 
The cockroaches are getting really bad though they ate hole through a cereal bag! We need to get out of this place I hate these bugs so much!!
Chris unfortunately did not come to church :/ it gets tiring sometimes hoping people will actually do what they say they will and come to church but I keep praying they do. 
I'm so grateful, however, to be serving here in the best mission in the world, Philadelphia, PA. I've been able to experience so many things that have helped me grow more. Thank you for always encouraging me to go on my mission!
Elder Barker

Sent from my iPad

Email from 8/4/14

Hey Dad, 
Yes i did get the pants thank you so much they are very comfortable and were much needed. so do you have the address for the house? i'll have to know when you move because i need to tell President that my address and ward (possibly stake) is changing. I am excited to see all the new changes when after my mission but i know i'm where i need to be right now. I'll get the card this Thursday we are having our zone conference then and so they bring mail from the mission home so as long as it says Elder Josh Barker instead of just Elder Barker i should get it because there are two Barkers now but soon just me. The Elders around me are all older than me and are now having to think about college and i think i might want to go back to Idaho at least for my Associates and then go to BYU (or wherever Nate plays) or a school with a good program to help me get into Pharmacy school. if i do that though (BYU-I) i will need to come home a transfer early and i might ask president about it in my letter but what do you think i should do? 
Well this week was confusing haha. Monday we were supposed to finally have a dinner appointment and it was with our Elders Quorum President and we were going to bring a less-active with us but he kept having to put off coming little by little because of traffic until it got to the point where we had to call it off so the member just dropped food off at the church in the fridge. Tuesday we had a lesson with a woman named Rosita, and i feel so bad for her because she lost her boyfriend that she was living with in January and she is just broken over it. I think our lesson about the Plan of Salvation helped and she recognized that there may be a reason that after all her prayers for help we came into contact with her but she says she barely has any faith and is trying to hold onto that. I felt pretty tired after that lesson because i bore testimony as much as possible about how i know the plan of salvation is true and how families can be together forever.  
Skipping ahead to Saturday, we were able to meet with Chris Smallwood, who we met a couple weeks ago. We talked about the Gospel of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism & receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and how important having the authority to baptize was and how it has to be by immersion not just sprinkling. It went really well and he told us what he had read in the Book of Mormon and he accepted baptism for September 14. He said he didn't have any bus fare so I still had my weekly pass and I recently had gotten my month pass for August so I gave him my weekly since it expired after Sunday so he could get to church, it meant we had to walk the rest of the night but it wasn't a big deal.  
Sunday he was able to come the last 5-10 minutes of sacrament. I was happy that he came even though he was late and he stayed for Sunday school and priesthood so that was awesome and he participated! He says he likes what he's seen and he plans on staying around. He's a good guy just has had problems with drugs in the past but he's staying clean. 

That about sums up my week, hopefully we move apartments soon, we checked out a place on Wednesday and it is really nice and it a better part of our area.  
I hope you are doing well,
Elder Barker
Ps. I don't really have good access with Walmart or any store like that could I possibly get a wallet? Or I could get a fake Gucci one haha kidding

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Email from 7/28/14

Hey Dad,
Wow I can't believe Bishop has been released, he was a really good bishop and I've realized how great of one he was even more being on my mission with working with other Bishops. How was Bishop McKee? Was he shocked? Especially since being in the bishopric haha. Who are his counselors? The house seems really cool and the elders here were all like, "soo in a year we're going to show up at your place..." Haha but I'm supportive of it it's not a big change, but does that mean we'll be in Norco now? No bueno haha kidding. 
So my week wasn't as stressful as last week but we were both still pretty drained from hitting our lesson goal last week. 
On Thursday we got a call from an old referral that we had tried to get in contact with. His name is Derreck and he lives in a men's homeless shelter and we set up a time to visit him. Later in the day we went to an appointment with someone named Susan. She is just stretched very thin and feels she should church on the back burner. I've never been a situation like that but I hope and pray that if I do come to a point where my life is full of stress that I rely even more heavily on God because that's the only way I'd be able to get through it in one piece.
Then Saturday, like a lot of days lately, it was pouring rain but still played football in the morning i got soaked. We then got to go to our appointment with Derreck Wallace and he is just this very big, very ripped, humble man that seems to be trying to change his life for the better. We were able to go through the message of the Restoration of the Gospel and he accepted to be baptized if he finds it to be true! He really seems to have a sincere desire to find the path God wants him to take. Then later we were walking and a woman stopped us and it turns out her husband died in January and she is still very broken about it. We talked to her the little that we could get in about the Plan of Salvation and Gods plan for the families. We are going to be seeing her tonight actually and I sent her the talk from President Monson, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." 
Well I have to leave in a couple of minutes now but I hope you are doing well!
Elder Barker

Email from 7/21/14

Hey Dad,
Sorry this may be another short one I don't have much time, we got to the church to use wifi and then everyone wanted to go play basketball at a park (there were some guys there and after the first game asked if I played college ball haha).
Anyway, I am excited about the house I know this is stressful but no matter where it is I'll be happy with it so don't worry about me. Just be prayerful and allow your mind to relax so the spirit can be heard by you — I know it's easier said than done but try to. 
So this week we passed a mark that our Zone leaders didn't think we could hit. We told them we'd get 30 lessons this week and they said to aim lower. So we got 31 instead. This week has been so stressful though, we feel satan really didn't want us to hit that mark especially since in the recent pass this area was only getting 1/3 of that. I was so exhausted last night. To top it all off, as you know, my wallet got stolen along with my name tag. Which is really annoying and will cost me money to get a new card and then I had to use $40 from my birthday money to get new bus passes, luckily I had saved some. I was really annoyed. But Sunday night as we were going home after our lesson I just said to my comp "we got it" haha. 
This past week started with thunderstorms like crazy, streets were flooded from the rain and lightning was flashing all over us. The highlight of the week though was on Sunday seeing a former less active member we've worked with pass the sacrament and speak in sacrament meeting. It was so great and he talked about his conversion story (he was Catholic before), it was amazing. I love those moments so much.
I'm sorry I can't tell more of the week:( but I hope you are all doing well and I pray for you every day.
I love you
Elder Barker

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Email from 7/14/14

Hey Dad,
So thank you for putting the money in my account.  And no I won't be transferred at least for another 5 weeks.

The house you're looking at sounds pretty cool where is it at? UVSC? Where's that? Do you mean UVU? I would love to go where Nate plays at I would go to all his home games after his mission. Speaking of for college I honestly do not want to go back to Idaho.
Oh so did no one see my statement that I almost got shot? Does no one care about my physical well being? I'm sad:( haha
In all seriousness though we had a good week relatively calm week. We were able to get 24 lessons (my mission high) so that was really cool considering two transfers ago this area was only getting 9 lessons a week. We had a really great lesson with our investigator from China, Roni, and she told us that she believes the Book of Mormon to be true and feels very peaceful when she reads it. We passed her off to the Assistants though because they are over the YSA ward in the stake and she is in her 20s. I'm pretty sad that we not be able to teach that much if at all any more but I'm sure being with more people her age will help out a lot. 
Yesterday we had a dinner appointment with a sister in the ward and bishop came with us. She lives in the middle of center city and it has such a great view of the city I will send pictures. We shared a spiritual thought with her and elder Cooley said I was in charge of it so we watched a favorite Mormon message of mine called Our True Identity, It is by President Utchdorf and is one of my favorites.  I loved the spirit that was in the room as I bore my testimony about our true identity as children of a Heavenly Father and it was one of my favorite spiritual thoughts I've been apart of so far on my mission. 
Sorry this isn't too detailed about my week:/
But I hope you are doing well,
I love you,
Elder Barker

Email from 7/7/14

Hey Dad,
So I will start off with saying that I almost got shot... But more of that later
My 4th was pretty cool didn't get to see any firework shows since they all started when we had to be in bed:/ but we did get to go out and see some cool stuff. Philly definitely goes all out for the 4th. Kensington (the district that we live in) did go crazy with fireworks though. People were lighting the big ones off in the middle of the streets, even the main streets, yeah I didn't like that and apparently a lot of people got their hands on sticks of dynamite and set those off too! Those were really loud. I do hope the Lakers get someone good haha here in Philly I hear sports talk all the time and it's kind of a ice-breaker since people are shocked that this white dude in a shirt and tie knows basketball haha.
The mission is going well our area has the best numbers of the zone which is surprising because it's not like our area is amazing and you would think that being in the middle of Philly it'd be easy to teach a bunch of people but people really don't like talking to us haha. But hey our area is progressing and that's what is important, not our numbers. So for the garments the site is blocked on our iPads so I can't go to the store. If you could order me some that would work and just send them to the mission office maybe? I would just need a couple more pairs of cotton/poly boxer briefs and cotton/poly rounded shirts. Unless Steve thinks something else might suit better for hot and humid weather. And the pants yeah i desperately need some because my suit pants are becoming lighter and lighter than my suit jackets. There's just only one place where I could buy good ones and it's far (well for public transportation it is). And I can't really afford to dry clean haha. Yeah I have had good companions there's only been one that just really bugged me but I was only with him for 1 transfer so I was able to just swallow my pride and go on, something I have had to do my whole life with all those pesky arguments that Nate and I had haha. That's crazy that Rachael is almost done! I feel like we all just barely left.

So this week was interesting, it had good things and things that are bad. So on Wednesday the only thing that happened was that there was a really big thunderstorm that night and on the way home I just stood by the bus stop and watched the lightning. My comp took cover under an awning because it was raining a bit. It was so cool I felt like a little kid seeing all the flashes of lighting and feeling the thunder shake me haha. East coast thunderstorms are awesome, it's the only thing it has over the West Coast. When the bus dropped us off it was a waterfall of rain! We got soaked and we had no umbrella I'll send a picture of how drenched I was haha. I'll send a picture. 
Then Thursday we met with a less active household, the Layton/Clayton/Browns, and taught them the 10 commandments it went well. After, we went to the Book of Mormon class that we hold every Thursday and another storm hit, not as bad but still. The class went really well we read Mosiah 4 and it is one of my favorite chapters there are so many awesome things in that chapter:) 
Friday we had a ward breakfast at the church and it was a lot of fun and since there are lot of students In the ward we talked about college and someone told me that if I stay at any BYU and try to transfer well it would be very difficult for any of my credits to transfer even at a Utah school and that it would be harder to get into pharmacy programs with a bachelors from a BYU. I have a lot of time but I don't want to make that decision last minute. Maybe others could shed more light but that's what this member said. 
Saturday, we went to go play football and as we were waiting for the bus, well this guy came up to us asking for change as many people do. I told him that I had nothing but he didn't believe it since we were waiting for the bus and pestered some more and my companion then said that we have passes that we just swipe and they guy said to let him see. My companion unfortunately did and held it for him to see and the man took it from his hand and proceeded to walk away and I, being bigger than him already, grabbed him pretty firmly and told him that that wasn't his to take. Well this guy then proceeded to put his hand in waist and said, "you think I'm playing?" It didn't look like he had a gun but I wasn't going to chance it. Elder Cooley then started explaining how we are missionaries and pleaded for his pass back. The man gave him his pass back and started asking questions about what we do. He said he would come to church on Sunday (he didn't). But he started saying how respected that I stood up for my companion and that I was like a bigger brother haha. He said that he got a little scared when I grabbed him. It was awkward because the whole time this guy is talking to us trying to be friendly, I still have adrenaline going through me thinking this guy just threatened to shoot me what the heck haha. So yeah if we tour my mission we won't visit Kensington. But then we got to football and told everyone what happened and they all thought it was funny that we committed the guy to come to church haha. Football was fun though but when we finished my back was a little tight and well now I have back spasms. I had it my senior year during volleyball and it was pretty painful but this is so much worse. The nurse should call me today sometime.
Also on Saturday we met with Roni Ho from China. We talked about the Gospel of Christ with an emphasis on the gift of the Holy Ghost and how it has helped us. It went well and she said she will get baptized when she feels it's true. She's hard to read though, I feel usually I'm pretty good at reading people but not with her. I hope and pray she will come to know the truthfulness and divinity of this church.
That was basically my week, I hope you are all doing well.
Elder Barker