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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Email from 3/17/14

We got another email from a member along with a picture:
I am Sister Fox, in the Bayview ward. Your son is serving in my ward now. Last Sunday these guys filled in last minute when we needed an intermittent hymn. They sang an altered version of Army of Helaman made for the missionaries of the Philadelphia mission. I so wanted to take their picture while they were singing on the stand, but felt it was inappropriate so I did the next best thing and took their picture after church. I hope you enjoy it.
Terri Fox

And for the main attraction:  
Hey Dad, 
Everything is changing haha. How are Amanda & Mitch? Nathan is growing it seems, how tall is he? He can get 230? Did he touch his chest though? That's the question haha. And Steve can lift more than I did? [Note:  Steve bench pressed 265 this last week:-D ]  I don't like it I'll change that when I get back but for now I have to stick with pulls ups and push-ups. That's so cool about Nate getting 1st Team! Who got MVP? 
So Monday was a pretty fun day. We went to the Mall in Wilmington and just walked around its funny how different you see everything as a missionary, you're more aware of the good in things but also the worldly. So the mall wasn't completely comfortable all the time, but I did buy me a sixers hat (I planned on getting one when I got called here). 
So my week has consisted with a lot of service. We set a goal to give service to 7 members in 7 days which we did.  
Tuesday we (by "we" I mean I watched) helped a member fix another member's washer. 
We also were able to have an awesome lesson with Jackie! Last week she was about to drop us but now she's excited about church again and loves us coming over! 
We stopped by a less active member named Sharron and... Ugh. She doesn't believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet but she loves going to the temple and the spirit she feels there. I tried to explain to her that the reason the temple is so spiritual is because Of modern day revelation and what not but because in the bible it doesn't have the exact words "Joseph Smith will restore the gospel" she can't believe it. I did share Genesis 50 with her though and how it is a prophecy about Joseph Smith. We also had a really good lesson with Seth Guns. He is a recent convert and he had a lot of questions still since he is joining the marines. We shared a few messages from Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer about military service and how the Holy Ghost helped them make life saving choices.  
Wednesday we got to teach someone named Sandra. She absolutely loved church on Sunday and is excited to get baptized! We had two dinner appointments that day... The struggle is real. I had sea food from the Chesapeake Bay. The shrimp still had legs and digested food inside it. It was not good haha.  
Friday we helped out with another family and moved giant branches that fell from trees from the storms here. The pile was pretty big when we finished.  
Saturday morning we went to the McMoran's house and we helps them move other pieces of wood into the garage and they took us out to breakfast. Then we went to the Kempton's home where we had a really big lunch... It was painful. We helped build a raised garden fence after that. We called some people who wanted us to play football to tell them we couldn't make it but they were all geared up ready to play so we helped the Kempton's for a couple hours and then played football. All that food in me made it hard but I got all the touch downs for us and we won haha. It was fun:)  
Sunday I had to sing during sacrament meeting as a special musical number. Elder Taylor and I were sitting with different people visiting and all of sudden he comes to me and tells me that we're singing. I'm a bad singer and Elder Taylor is a very loud singer who is a lot worse and than me so I'm really scared. I said a prayer that people will be able to feel the spirit as we do. When we walked up to the pulpit I whispered to the 2nd counselor, "Pray for us." He laughed and then we sang our mission hymn which is to the tune of Army of Helaman. It wasn't terrible no voice cracks from any of us. After church we had a Long time of just inputting teaching records into the iPads and it takes a good toll on your sanity after a period of time. Luckily we had an appointment with someone that night. We went over the Word of Wisdom. She (Katie) is a bit worried about no coffee but said she'll try but won't fully commit until next week. She has a baptismal date for late April hopefully her and her husband work towards that. The lesson wasn't great just too many distractions. 
The week was good though. I hope you all are doing great and are well! 
Elder Barker

Monday, March 10, 2014

Email from 3/10/14 and a note from a member in Josh's new area

[On the 6th, our dad got this email along with a couple pictures from a member in Josh's new area.  It so nice of him to send it, letting us know where Josh is, and reminding us all of how awesome he is. :) ]
We had the opportunity to have your son in home for dinner.  He is doing
well and happy in our ward.  He is in the Bayview ward in North East
Maryland.  He is a wonderful young man and know he will do so well in this
area.  Thank you so much for sending your son on a mission. 
[Thank goodness he's eating some ice-cream!  Look how slim he's gotten!  
 [This is Elder Taylor, Josh's new companion]

[Josh's quick note to Amber: (Side-note for those that may not know: A missionary's work is a lot more efficient when local members give them referrals for people that want to learn more about the Gospel, rather than relying on street contacts or knocking on doors.  Despite what the stereotype is, missionaries would much rather spend their time following up on member referrals than on door-knocking! :)  Utah missionaries stay very busy because there are so many members who are constantly giving referrals to the missionaries here.)]

Hey Amber! So my new address is 15 Bertram Ct, North East, Maryland  21901
I will talk more in my letter to dad but I feel like a missionary in
Utah! We barely do any finding ourselves! It's great and the members
feed us almost once a day! I love you! Tell Steve and the girls I say

[Josh's email for the week:]

Hey Dad,

Yeah Brother Fletcher took a couple pictures and asked for your email. The members here love the missionaries and we get fed about once a day so my weight loss may cease but I've been working out a lot more in the morning so hopefully that'll help. I am in the Bayview Ward here in Maryland and there's an average of 130 people in attendance on Sunday. My new address is 15 Bertram Ct, North East, MD 21901 (the 1 I sent Amber is the correct one so check with her to make sure this is right as well) I am very excited to be here. How are Elders Coggins & Mason doing? I am excited for you and Andrea that's cool that Bishop can do that.

So Monday we went to the Hulls house for dinner 1 last time and had a lesson with Mario about the 10 commandments and keeping the Sabbath day holy. It was an awesome lesson to end with and when we left the Hulls came out on the porch and sang, "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." 
Tuesday was a lot of packing and we got to see Michael Bravo 1 last time and Mario as well. Then we drove to Pottsville to spend the night.

Wednesday was transfers and I was the 2nd to last one to find out where I was going so it was very nerve racking. My new companion is Elder Taylor and he has been out for 18 months and, like both of my other companions, he is a farmer haha. I'm getting all these farm boys maybe The Lord is trying to tell me something haha. We went to go see a couple that night who have a baptismal date in April, their names are Jamie and Nicole. We were pretty unprepared honestly so we pulled out a Mormon message series called Daily Bread, it's a really good one. We were able to have a really good lesson after that and we talked about their baptism coming up, Jamie is ready for it and, despite having family in his ear against it, has no more fear about it. Nicole is worried about not being perfect enough for it and we explained how we dont need to be but she is a perfectionist and wants to not mess up.

Friday Elder Taylor started feeling really sick later in the day so a member waiting for his mission call, Michael Dean, and I went to a couple of lessons with him. One of them was with a young 17 year old man named Seth who will joining the Marines actually. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and since the youth were going to the DC temple on Saturday we talked a lot about the spirit world and what goes on there. It was very spiritual. 

Saturday we helped move a couch.  we had a few lessons that day, one was with another person with a date named Jackie but she wants to move to Jersey with her boyfriend and he said to her, "are you sure you want to go back to church? You're not the Holy type." That really made me mad when I found that out. We told her to pray and find out what God wants her to do, not her boyfriend.  Later we went to Jamie & Nicole's again and we watched "Hope of God's Light" by President Utchdorf. They seemed to like it and then started to get a little off topic so I asked if I could share a personal experience and after I did and bore my testimony on the power of the Holy Ghost and how they can have the peace and comfort it brings everyday after they are baptized, there was just silence for awhile. Elder Taylor looked at me and gave a thumbs up haha. Testimonies really do bring the Spirit in abundance. It was a really good lesson:)

Sunday I got to give an introduction/testimony in sacrament meeting and while I was speaking I felt I needed to talk about something that had happened that I was not planning on sharing. In the words of President Thomas S. Monson, quote, "Tears were shed" close quote haha but it was great I was able to get a few laughs as well:) but afterwards a member in the ward came up to me and told me that the Spirit told very strongly that I should go see a less active member, he is about the same age as me and she feels that I would be perfect to help him get into church. I really hope I can do that and I will definitely act on this Sister's prompting! 

I am really excited about being here:) how are Amanda and Mitch doing? Tell them I miss them and I love them.

Have a good week!
Elder Barker

Monday, March 3, 2014

Email from 3/3/14

Hey Dad!

So first off i am getting transferred! I drive down to Broomall on Wednesday and go to my new area then. I will miss a lot of people here: Zane & Sandy, Kenny & Lissette, Mario, the Molanos, the Hulls, Brother Roman, everyone! I got up to bear my testimony yesterday and said that is was my last sunday here and i saw some faces that got sad. It made me kind of sad as well but at least that means they're not glad to see me go... I hope haha. 

This week was good got most of the goals that we had set at the beginning of the week. 

On Tuesday we met with Mario at a McDonalds, i really don't like meeting there but it's better than BK at least. We taught him the word of wisdom, tithing, and the law of the fast and he took it all very well and committed to live them all. He was a little concerned about coffee but Elder Hansen helped him see that he would be blessed physically and spiritually for it. He also was a little nervous about fasting, going two meals without any water he was afraid that he would pass out or have a dry mouth or something haha but we promised him he would be fine and that i had fasted once a month for almost all my life and i didn't keel over haha. He doesn't have any conditions or anything he's just funny. On Wednesday one of our zone leaders came to Tamaqua and we went to the Hylands. It was a good lesson and we were able to get Sister Hyland involved and invited her to read and pray at least once with her husband every day. she said we'll see if i have time then went back to staring at facebook like she has done every time i have been over there. 

Thursday we got a lot of fun pictures since 4 of us in the district are leaving. 

Friday we got to see a lady named Shannon. Now she has had a hard life with abuse of all kinds and less than a year ago her husband came home from the Army after being away for a year and decided that he didn't want to be with her anymore and left for a younger girl. we talked about the restoration of the gospel and how it has helped our lives and she said she was very interested. Michael Bravo also came back! he was in rehab for a long time for alcoholism and seems to be doing a lot better. 

Saturday Mario took us out to dinner and even though we continually said no because he has a lot of debt he wouldn't say no since i was leaving and it was elder hansen's birthday. we both got something really cheap though. Earlier though we went to the McFarland's and taught them the Plan of Happiness and we had some cut outs and i think that helped her visualize it a lot better. i just can't tell what she gets and doesn't because she barely talks.

Me and Mario

Zane, Sandy, and Lianna

Sunday was good. I was able to get a lot of pictures with people which i will send, and the testimonies were really great. We had a couple in spanish but it didn't matter because the spirit knows all languages and was still there. We were unable to see Kenny & Lissette because he had to work so i am pretty sad that i couldn't say goodbye to them in person but we have facebook haha. 

Brother Roman (former mission leader) holds title of best handshake in world

My district! From top left: Elder Prue, Elder Hansen, Elder Mower & Elder Lozano (zone leaders), Elder Cowley, Elder Wilson, yours truly
Bottom from left: Sister Wilson, Sister Maybury, Elder Clark, Sister Davis, and Elder Newbold

I am going to miss the people of the Hazleton branch, but I am very anxious to see where the Spirit calls me next!

I hope you are all doing well back home and are enjoying the mudslide causing rain! it's going to getting warm with close to 40 at the end of the week! 

Elder Barker