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, February 24, 2014

Email from Feb 24

Hey Dad,
Wow, seems like a lot is changing back home;  The wedding sounds like it'll be good i wish i could be there for a lot of things but i know that I am where i need to be. You told me about the youth conference special olympics, that'll be fun we did that my sophomore year i believe and i had a good time doing it. The weather has been really bad here but this week it was good hitting the 40s a few times so that was nice. How's Cali? raining yet? I probably will get transferred we find out Friday so i will tell you next Monday. 6 months seems to have gone by fast and i can't believe that Elder Tuimaualuga has been out for over a year! 
Monday night we got to see Tom, an former investigator that Elder Parker found. The lesson went great and we talked about the Restoration and the Spirit was there so strong as we recounted the First Vision. We committed him to read Alma 7 and pray about it. 
Tuesday we helped out Brother Bhola again and as we were shoveling and picking ice it got really warm and we took our coats off and were shoveling snow in just our white shirts and ties haha. He then gave us some really weird stuff to eat. They seem normal from the outside but always adds things different, like hot chocolate he puts some spice in it haha. Then we helped him put some grip things on the stairs (I don't know what they're called) but he puts them on backwards because it's better? He's an interesting guy haha. Afterwards we went to go see Bill McCoy and man can he talk haha. Eventually he got to the point about his stories and that he wants help us with our "Sales pitch" haha. So we did the Restoration and as I told him the First Vision in Joseph Smith's own words I could feel the Spirit and I could see in his eyes that he could too it was great but right when i finished the door bell rang and he needed to go take care of something so we left. 
Wednesday we called Bill McCoy and he talked about more stories haha but then he said that he was so proud of us and how we present ourselves and that he liked our chemistry and our "pitch" went really well haha. We got to go tracting! Maybe eventually i'll like it haha. We did set up a couple of return appointments though with people and so that was good. 
Thursday I went to Pottsville on exchange and we went to a member's house and had dinner with them. He made a spaghetti casserole with sweet peppers and hamburger in it it was really good and he makes cheesecake. Elder Prue told me he makes 57 flavors or something and is working on swedish fish haha. After that though we had dinner #2 at a person's house who has a reputation of being very unhygienic. The smell was terrible in her house and me having a full stomach almost threw up and was really nervous about the food but the tacos she made was not too bad thankfully. The Elders in Tamaqua though got to go see John Boyle and did the Restoration again. They brought him to tears this time while talking about Joseph Smith and the spirit was super powerful there they said but then he changed the subject and started talking about something else. They also got a couple of new investigators and set up an appointment for Tuesday, we need to find a male to go with us though because they are both women and they are feeding us dinner. Puerto Rican food:) i hope i spelled that right. 
Friday we had planning all day pretty much. Joe Marioni called us though and asked if we would like to go to dinner that night and so he took us out. He was the Christian Atheist. I was pretty nervous and afraid that bashing could occur. He did tell us that he read the Book of Mormon that Elder Parker and I gave him. We asked what he thought about it and that it wasn't a very good literary read. He started going off on how there isn't a universal theology in the world and so there isn't a God. He attempted to bash and if i am being honest, I won. He said he got the answer that the Book of Mormon wasn't true and we asked if he had prayed about it and he said no because he would have to practice a principle of our religion. The Spirit was gone that night when we went home.  
Saturday we had more lessons fall through so that was good but we were able to meet with Eric, a former from 2005, and set up a return with him on Saturday as well. 
Sunday we got to go to Kenny & Lissette's after church and we had a really good spiritual thought. I would call it a lesson but Lissette kept running around but we were able to talk about the Atonement and it was really good. They had read up to 1 Ne 9 since last time we saw them. we committed them to pray together at least once a day. They are really great and Kenny said he can't wait for the Philly temple to be finished!
This morning I was studying my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon; Alma chapter 32. I love how it talks about faith and how we can build our faith from just a simple desire, or seed, to believe, we can have our faith grow into a tree of perfect knowledge! I invite you all to read it!
Hope you are all doing well!
Elder Barker

Email from Feb 17th

Hey Dad.
This week has definitely been interesting. Tuesday we received iPad mini's and got instruction on them. they're pretty cool but it took forever getting our area book into them. we had to manually put each teaching record in an app on it. i think we just finished and we have the smallest area book in the mission i'm sure since the area is so new and the population is small. With all the storms that hit us this last week and getting the ipads up to date the week was really slow and we had the lowest amount of lessons i've had on a mission... wasn't happy about that but it's not about the numbers. I have to come to find out that some people, despite not knowing about us, really don't like mormons no matter how old they are. It's okay though it doesn't phase me i heard a lot weird things back home too haha. 
Wednesday we went on exchanges with our District Leader and he and I stayed in Tamaqua. He and I are the only ones not from Utah. He's from Brea, CA. We went to Brother Bhola's and helped shovel his snow. two california boys shoveling snow is always good right? I mean we are experts haha it was good though we were able to clear their street for them and their yard. 
Thursday we almost were unable to switch back because of a storm and the streets but we were able to since the Wilsons volunteered. Elder Hansen and I then went back to Brother Bhola's to help shovel again.  There was 18 inches of snow and freezing rain was coming down. That was some heavy snow. turns out he did have a snow blower though so we got to put it to use for a bit and it came in handy. 
Friday well because of continued snow we got a few appointments cancelled... but we were able to meet with Bill McCoy and he offered a room in his basement for us to teach people and hold a scripture study class so we will hopefully be able to find people to come to that. 
Saturday we got to shovel more snow for some members so that was good again. That wasn't sarcasm it was nice to help them haha
Sunday church got cancelled... due to weather. Did not exactly make my week since Sacrament meeting is our refuel time for the week. instead of church we got to go tracting! Yay! we did get to set up a couple of return appointments through that though so that was good but the place i'm at is very hilly and it was pretty hard. We did have a great lesson with Kenny & Lissette though and we read 1 Ne 1 with them and they really liked it and we committed them to read daily and Lissette said we can read the next 2 chapters by our next visit. So i was thinking let's set up something during the week but when we asked when we could come back they said Sunday and Kenny said they could read the entire 1st book of Nephi by then! So we will hold them to that. I'm pretty excited for them:) Kenny is an awesome guy they just need to get married haha but it will happen. The Spirit was strong when we brought out a picture of Christ and I wish I could send it to you because it my favorite picture of him but if you have the gospel library app it's on the gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet in the repentance part. the pamphlet is in the missionary section. It is a great picture and you can feel the peace that Christ offers all of us through His Atonement. 
Honestly that's all for this week it was very uneventful because of the weather.  
Hope you are doing well!
Elder Barker

ps last day of the transfer is March 2. I will probably be leaving but I don't know yet.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Josh's email from 2/10/14

Dear Dad,
My week was better towards the end. There was another snow storm early in the week followed by freezing rain so that was fun, but the party happened when Elder Hansen and myself got to help Brother Bhola shovel his front yard and all the walk ways around his house as well his deck. I could almost walk on top of the snow without falling in because of the freezing rain. So i got a good workout. We did that a couple times during the week actually. Thursday we went to Zone Training and then went to weekly planning, on the drive back Sister Watson called and was asking about baptisms for the dead wondering how she can do it and how she can be baptized for her relative. It was neat because she was recently a less-active member and is now getting more and more curious about temples so that is awesome to see. 

Friday we went to the Salvation Army again to see if we can help out and the Major there (Pastor) told us that she wants to meet with us so she can have a better feel for our beliefs, which is what I would do too, so hopefully we'll be able to help them reach out to the youth in this area. Then we went to Brother Nunemacher's house and talked about the importance of Church again and committed him to go on Sunday, unfortunately he did not come. We called Lissette and Kenny again to see how they were doing and they said that they just want to go to the local churches because it is more convenient, so I just asked if we'd be able to come Saturday and meet with them and she agreed. 

Saturday morning we were able to meet with Mario and talk about the gospel of Christ and invited him to move his baptism up a week (he didn't want to be the only one being baptized and there is a couple getting baptized on the 1st of March). We invited him to pray about it and let us know. We also went to McAdoo to visit an investigator of the Hazleton elders and taught him the Gospel of Christ as well. During the lesson he told us that he wants "the glow that we have" and we told him how after baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost which enables us to have His companionship always. He told us that he wants to be baptized! It was really powerful.  Afterwards we went to the library to use facebook and on our way out a man asked us, "Are you Mormon?" and we said we sure are! Apparently he was being taught by some sisters in Missouri and was just talking to them on Facebook before meeting us. We are meeting with him this Friday

We then went tracting for awhile before we headed to Lissette's and we got a few satanic remarks thrown at us which is a little disturbing honestly but at least they know we worship Heavenly Father. While we were tracting though an old investigator, named Joe Kalista, drove by and then yelled out, "isn't it too cold for missionary work Elders?" We started talking to him and he told us that he needs to have us over after he comes back from his soon vacation. He's a really good guy and awesome to talk to. We then had to go to Mahanoy City for our appointment with Kenny & Lissette. We taught about Joseph Smith and how he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, and how the Authority to run Christ's church was given to him after nearly 1800 years of it being absent from the face of the earth. Kenny towards the end asked us what gave us our witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon and also what our favorite chapter was. As we bore our testimonies the Spirit was so powerful and I know they could feel the same thing. Lissette then closed with a prayer and it was a great prayer and I am so happy that they will continue to have us over.  I'm pretty sure that they invited us to their daughters' birthday party haha. 

Sunday I taught Sunday School on the Holy Ghost and His role in the Godhead. We cleared things up about the trinity after John asked about it. We talked about how they - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost - are one in purpose but are three separate beings. He then said well that makes a lot more sense! Once again as Elder Newbold and I closed with telling how the Holy Spirit has helped and guided us we felt the Spirit in the room so strongly. The Gospel is awesome! After Church we split up in Hazleton and Elder Newbold and I went to see Fabio because the Elders haven't seen him in a few weeks. We talked with him and he is just having a really tough time and so we offered him a blessing. He at first didn't want one of healing but he accepted one of comfort and asked me to give it. I was really surprised because he knows Elder Newbold so much better. I don't really know what to describe the feeling as especially since I have given so few blessings still, but as soon as Elder Newbold and I were outside he turned to me and said, "That blessing was powerful! That was one of the most powerful blessings I have been a part of." That was really great to hear knowing someone else was able to recognize and feel the Spirit work through me to bless this brother. 

I know this church is true. I know that through Joseph Smith, our loving Heavenly Father was able to restore the true Gospel to this Earth so that all of us - his children - would be able to enjoy the great blessings from living the Gospel in this life. I am so grateful for the Plan of Happiness that allows us to be with those we love for time and eternity and not just until we die. I am very grateful to be here on a mission serving God's children here in Pennsylvania. 

I hope you feel better Dad.
Elder Barker

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Email from 2/4/14

Hey Dad,
Sorry i didn't email yesterday there was another snowstorm and the college and library were closed so we couldn't email. But that's cool about everything going on sounds exciting. This last week was relatively slow we're focusing on trying to find more people to teach here in Tamaqua so we have gone tracting a few times.
 On Tuesday we went to the local Salvation Army to see if there was any way that we could help them out, and they told us they would love if we came on Friday to help out with their youth program they have. They have been doing a lot of good in the community but there is a pool hall just a couple buildings down and it attracts a lot of bad things, cops have had to go there a few times because of fights and drugs. Maybe we'll go there and do some beat-to-teach with pool. i mean, i did beat you before i left. After that we went to Brother Nunemacher's and it was good he is an awesome guy and Elder Hansen and him were talking cars a lot, so i was sitting there like, "I can change a tire!" haha.

Thursday we went to District Meeting and it was good, our DL was not there because he and his companion (Elder Prue) had to go to Broomall to get Elder Prue's iPad since he is a tech elder now. we probably will be getting those on the 11th so a week from today. We combined with a spanish district it was fun.  Later we went to Brother Bhola's and helped him with some more things around the house and helped him back up all of his files onto an external hard drive because he wants to sell his computer. The estimated time to completion kept going up and so we had to go because it was getting pretty late. So we told him we would come back tomorrow and finish everything. 

Then Friday we went back and finished backing everything up and then restored his computer back to factory settings. that took a long time too, longer than we thought anyway, Sister Watson (his wife) made us some mac n cheese though which was good. I hate mac n cheese but i don't mind her's. We went to go to the Salvation Army and then Brother & Sister Mousseau drove past and were like elders! and pulled off to the side. They gave us a pizza they couldn't finish at a local restaurant it was really good:) So we hurried and went back to the car and put in the trunk and now we were 10 minutes late to the Salvation Army. Turns out it got cancelled anyway and will go back to this week. I was pretty bummed out but oh well.  We went to go try a couple of former investigators from years past and we knocked on one door and apparently that person had moved away 16+ years ago but we asked if they would like to hear a message of Jesus Christ and she let us right in. We gave her the restoration lesson and asked her to pray about whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or not so she bowed her head and said a prayer and then waited in silence for a time. Then she looked up and said, "He was a prophet. I know that" I was really happy about that but honestly i am not sure on how much she actually took in of what we told her. We asked her to read the Book of Mormon with her husband and we would come back the next day to see how it went. They didn't answer though Saturday or Sunday.

Saturday we met with Tom, an old investigator of Elder Parker's. He wants us to help him quit smoking and the church has a program that leaves peoople smoke free in 7 days but only if they do every step. So we need to study on that. We also met with Mario and talked about the Plan of Salvation. He understood it all because he read the pamphlet multiple times he is just awesome. Then we met with Brother Hyland and he showed us a lot of some unusual things that he has come across. 

Sunday Brother Hull (he had recently just been rebaptized) said the opening prayer, bore his testimony, and got called to be the branch mission leader!! I am excited to work with him as he lives close and we might actually have a correlation meeting. Brother Hull after church went up to Mario and said "tomorrow our house @7?" and Mario was like yeah sure i can move some things around. He didn't mean it to be enforcing but Mario just went with it haha. Mario though did not show up. His phone was dead too so i got a little worried about him. we ended up just giving a spiritual thought with the Hulls and i think it went well we talked about Helaman 5:12. Turns out that Mario couldn't come because he couldn't get his car out of the driveway because of the snow. Glad he's okay though. 

So that was my week. Thank you for the exercise band and the cookies:)
Elder Barker

Elder Parker and I haha