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, April 22, 2014

Emails from 4/14/14 and 4/21/14

Hey Dad
So I don't have much time today to email but I will start by saying that I am staying in my area, but Elder Taylor is leaving tomorrow so I'm taking over again, I kinda hope I'm still junior comp again honestly because I still feel brand new. I enjoyed hearing Grandpa and I really miss him. This week was a bit more lesson orientated because I just was tired of not teaching basically. 
So Tuesday we went on 2 exchanges; 1 with the zone leaders (Elder Barker & Mansell, I went with the latter) and 2nd with the district leader Elder Mason, who stayed in the area with me.
We were able to have 4 lessons and one of them was reteaching the Law of Chastity to a 17 year old with his 17 year old member friend who goes off topic quite frequently. It was fun and it's easy to make it awkward but it's also very easy to make it not awkward. We talked mostly about the eternal marriage and how important it is to marry in the temple so you can have that bond with your family in the next life as well. 
Thursday we helped Michael Dean out in his yard and as we were the neighbors (an older couple and their daughter) were struggling with a washer so we offered to help and got that in a trailer as well as a dryer for them. One of the ladies was very grateful and asked if we could help the next day, and we told her we will help if she would help us on our teaching by listening to our  message and give us constructive criticism. Later that day we visited a family elder Taylor had a dream to visit the night before. We had a good talk with them about scripture reading as a family. 
Friday we saw a few more people again, Jackie is awesome! She invited her neighbor to sit in our lesson with her! She will be getting baptized on the 26th, it was going to be the 20th but she wants her family to be there and they can only come on the next weekend. After we saw her we met with our ward mission leader and had dinner. His wife just got shipped out for the Air Force and will be gone for about 8 months. That would be really hard to do. 
Saturday we visited more people Elder Taylor wanted to say goodbye to with a couple lessons, we used too many miles... Also a new convert, Noelle, got engaged! In front of the DC temple and will get married in September right before Elder Taylor goes home so he might be able to go.
And today we left the home at 6:10 to visit the elders quorum and talked with him and played soccer with his dog. And now the back axel on our car got recalled but we will pick it up today. 
I got to go, sorry I'm not able to tell you more about my week but I hope you are all doing well and I love you guys!
Elder Barker

Hey Dad
I don't have too much time but today has been interesting. So yesterday morning Elder Spackman, my new companion from San Diego (he goes home in November I think), had a rash and a small bump on his wrist and it got a bit bigger throughout the day. He took some Benadryl last night and when we woke up he said, "We gotta go to the hospital" and his arm had swollen pretty big with a rash running down his forearm. He also has a blister that is about pop it seems it keeps getting bigger and bigger though and everyone is telling him to go to ER because it looks pretty nasty. We went to urgent care in the morning and spent some time there but they didn't know what it was either. So we'll see how it goes.
I am pretty tired today we had a pretty busy week. It was hard to takeover a huge area after one transfer and I really wanted to go back to teaching people and that led to some long nightly planning sessions. We also had someone come on a mini mission with us from Thursday night to Sunday so that was interesting. I really hope he decides to go on a mission he has been debating it for awhile but his papers are now fully turned in and he went on a mini mission to see if he wants to go. I think he had a good experience though. We had some really good experiences though and I had some learning experiences with that. 
I won't be able to go through each day so I will tell of some things that happened. On Wednesday we were in a lesson with a man named Mike, he has read the Book of Mormon and parts of D&C and PGP and hasn't gotten a "sign." We asked what he is looking for and he said an angel. So Elder Spackman said he would get his answer if he would stop hardening his heart, so we got thrown out. That was my first time with that haha
Jackie continues to progress towards baptism and should be getting baptized on April 26th! I'm excited for her she is so great! She loves the gospel and prays and reads all the time! She's trying to get her daughter to sit with us more in lessons and we actually were able to invite her to be baptized on June 22 and she accepted! She was thinking about moving back to Camden New Jersey, the most dangerous city in America, but we told her to pray about it and she told us that she doesn't feel it is right for her to move there. So that's good.
In total we were able to get 19 lessons this week, my mission high, and we were going to hit 20 but the Benadryl made him sleepy so he couldn't drive.
You'll have to send some pictures of the house and the changes in it so I can see. 
I'll send some pictures in a separate email of transfers and what not

I hope you are doing well!
Elder Barker

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Email from 4/7/2014

Hey dad,

Wow that's weird about the water I hope the damage wasn't too serious. Did it affect anything else? Wiring? I hope everything is okay. [Our dad's house had a leak in a pipe that caused some damage, but yay for insurance! All is well now.]

I'm happy that you've decided to do go out with the missionaries. It is something I wish I did when I was priest, not because it would have helped me prepare (it would have though) but also the elders would have been so grateful. When we have a member go with us it is such a huge help because it provides the investigator to view someone as "real" and not someone who is always dressed up nice. 

So telling you about my week will be easy because we had a total of 3 lessons... We have done lots of service for people though and I continue to tell myself it is not about the numbers.

Tuesday we finally got to meet with Mikey who had a baptismal date for the 12th. He told us that he was moving the next day and that's why he hadn't been able to meet us because he was saying goodbye to everyone. He told us that he wants to meet with the missionaries where he is moving to and wants to be baptized on the 12th still. He moved to York, PA which he told us was near Philly but we later found out it's out of our mission so we don't know the missionaries in that area. I'm going to miss Mikey, he was such a great kid. He is slightly autistic so I don't think he needs baptism but the joy that the Gospel brought to his face was so great! I love that kid and I hope those missionaries got our referral. 

After that Elder Taylor and I were a bit bummed out and it was lunch time and we both really wanted pizza. Lil Cs had burned down months ago so that wasn't span option so we decided on Dominoes. We go there and the guy behind the counter was a really cool guy and we asked where he was from and he told us that he grew up in northern NJ and really missed the city because he could see NYC from his window. I told him that I was from SoCal and I really missed the city to and going to the beach and LA and then Elder Taylor says, "this is a city to me" haha. The guy behind the counter told us about how he lived and worked in Wilmington, DL (the most dangerous/violent small city in America). Elder taylor had served there for a bit actually and we started talking about our missions. He had heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before and we talked a bit about God. He was Muslim and we talked about the Old Testament and how we believe in the same God. He pointed out the fact that through mistranslations, things were changed and lost in the Bible. So we talked about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and asked if he would have a desire to read it. He said yes so we went to our car and grabbed a copy and gave it to him. Then as we were eating our pizza we got a call asking if we could help out at a sisters home. We go there and we had to help with her plumbing so we got in a couple of over jumpsuit things- I forgot the name - and crawled under her trailer. Elder Taylor did everything I pretty much just handed him stuff but I have no idea what to do. You, Steve, and Mitch will have to teach some stuff when I'm home. It smelled horrible down there.

Wednesday we finally finished that tent! We got it up on 10 1/2 feet and it was a monster. That tent weighed over 1000 lbs and we were lifting and squatting it so someone else could put a 10.5' pole underneath it. It took a few hours but it's all set up. Then we helped the Spanish elders move to a new apartment. I was pretty wiped out but the Sister Fletcher grilled us a good dinner. They're great people. 

I loved conference and I wish I had my notes with me to go a bit more in depth but for both Saturday sessions we watched them at Jamie & Nicole's home and it was fun:) they liked "going to church" in your pjs haha. Conference seemed to have a general theme (on Saturday and Priesthod a bit as well) to have courage and stand firm in your beliefs and morals even if it means taking a dive in social status. It reminded me of something that happened to me in I believe 6th grade. I was invited to a dodgeball tournament at crossroads church by some friends at school. I don't remember if we won or not but I'm sure we did haha. Afterwards the pastor gave a scriptural thought and read a passage in a "modern English"  Bible about all believers in Christ will saved and go to heaven. So as long as you're Christian you are okay no matter what you do. He then listed off religions that will go to hell, among them were "Mormons" and I immediately raised my hand and said, "I'm Mormon" but I didn't say it loud enough for he didn't hear me. I remember thinking of all the points of doctrine I could bring up to stop him from saying how no matter how good of a person you are, if you don't say that you believe in Christ than you are going to hell. The opposite also seems to be among the norm in society now as well, they seem to believe that no matter how unChrist-like you are, if you say you accept Jesus you are automatically going to be with God in heaven. As a missionary I have come across many people telling me that I try to earn my way to heaven and other things, they say this because they recognize as Mormons as being nice but in reality by being the best people we can do as Christ directs, "IF ye love me, keep my commandments." It is not by publicly saying we accept Jesus as our Savior that we show our love for Him as many people think, but by following the commandments he has laid out, the two most important being, "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" and the other being, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mark 12:30-31). As we show our love for those around us we show our love for Christ. By simple and subtle acts of kindness we can receive the greatest blessings in this and the next life. By showing that love that our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, spoke of we show our love and devotion to our Savior Jesus Christ. This is nothing new that the Mormons "invented" it is what Jesus Christ told us those many years ago. "If he love me, keep my commandments." There is no commandment that had been given that is impossible to keep, even when Christ said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" it can be attained, it includes eternal progression but that progression towards perfection begins now in this life. I realize now that I got carried away a bit but I hope it all makes sense as it does in my mind. I love this Church and I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to listen to living prophets! It provides so much comfort and strength to me because I know God loves me and you enough to call prophets again and help guide us. Just like the song the choir sang before President Monson spoke, "A Child's Prayer" He is listening and hears all of His children's prayers. I love you Dad!

Hope you are doing well
Elder Barker

Ps I really hope it didn't seem like I was jumping around too much haha if I had my notes it would've been smoother

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Email from 3/31/14

Hey Dad 
Wow sounds like this last week was a blast. I was pretty scared when I saw the post on Facebook about the garage sale thinking you guys were just going to sell all my stuff like all the stories you hear from RMs haha. Hopefully it was just junk haha. But that's really cool that you got to talk a bit about Christ and the Book of Mormon. Simple things like that are so effective in member missionary work. 
So I am pretty upset about BYU-Hawaii. [BYU Hawaii recently made the decision to get rid of their sports program] That was one thing that I didn't like about Idaho was there was no sports to go watch. At least your place in the all time lists will be untouched (including the turnovers haha). UVU though is going to start sports soon and That could possibly be an option for him. Have any other schools expressed interest in him? I pray for him to receive the guidance he needs on this decision whatever it may be. How tall is he now? I'm sure he's taller than me now, which is weird. I have been encouraged more and more to go to Utah St or UVU and I wouldn't mind either one, U of U has a pretty good pharmacy program though (so I've been told maybe Dan thinks otherwise). That's not important now though. 
So anyway this week was different. We were more service oriented this week, and even though it's not about the numbers, our numbers were bad. 
Monday we went to the lighthouse here, I believe I sent you pictures, it was pretty fun.

Tuesday we met with Jackie in the morning and we read with her in chapter 15 of 1 Nephi. She is doing great but is being tested a bit. She is so excited to be baptized though she told us that she has invited her family to come and see it happen. She is just so genuine about learning more of the Gospel and coming closer to our Father in Heaven and Christ. After we met with her we had interviews with President Anderson. It went really well. When I talked with Sister Anderson she asked for my favorite scripture. I gave her 2 Nephi 18, it is one that is comparing Isaiah and I still have no idea what it's talking about or how it applies to my life. This isn't my favorite scripture, but it's the one that gave me a testimony of the comforting power that the Book of Mormon has. I read it in early November when I wasn't doing too well. It was when I read that chapter I felt that everything is going to be okay and to continue on. Elder Christofferson talked once about Daily Bread and the Book of Mormon has become my daily bread to continue going on. The Book of Mormon is easily my favorite part of my studies in the morning. There are so many great stories in there! I have found that if I read out loud then it helps bring the stories to life. When I read silently I always have the same monotone voice and so it becomes boring, but the Book of Mormon is truly an amazing book. I always believed that it was true but my mission has shown me the power and spirit that is contained within its pages.  
[Josh sent us a picture of this scripture, but no explanation.  He must have just been inspired by it]
Wednesday was pretty bad, each of our 6 appointments fell through. So pretty much nothing happened. Jackie did go to the temple site in Philly though so that was awesome that she could go:) 
Thursday after district meeting, we went to help the Whitley's at their Bed 'n' Breakfast to help them put up an event tent. The tent was like 45x80' or something and it took about 45 minutes to just unfold the tarp. We were there for about 6-7 hours total helping getting it up and cleaning it (our appointments cancelled again so we had a free night and they really needed our help). When we left the tent was up and we sprayed it with stuff to get rid of the mildew on it, inside and out. A lot more needed to be done and we offered to come back at 6:30in the morning and work on it some more. The look on Seth Whitley's face was one of shock and pure appreciation. It meant a lot that we would come help again, they needed all the help they could get because an event was going on on Friday. We got back at 8 and so we met with Jackie and talked with her about the temple visit, she absolutely loved it, and God's Plan of Happiness. She said that it made a lot of sense and told us that she just loves the way she feels when we visit and at the temple site. It was powerful. 
Friday we woke up a bit early and went to help with the tent more. We found out that Seth worked on it till 6 am. We woke up when we called it a night. That guy works hard. We scrubbed outside and in the whole time, I got to be on the inside... Yay. I smelled like cleaner the rest of the day even after a shower. I wish we could have had a before and after picture because the difference was pretty good. I hope it was able to help them. After that we did our weekly planning and could barely lift our iPads. I was scrubbing above my head for hours so I was pretty sore. We then went to the Jayaprakash's and helped them move furniture and TVs up and downstairs. They really appreciated it. After that we went to Noelle's house for dinner. She was baptized a few months ago and her soon to be fiancĂ© (he served in Australia) was there along with Michael Dean. They all go to the DC temple all the time and do baptisms. I'm pretty jealous but they're all hilarious it was a lot fun. Michael is still waiting for his call to come it's been about 3-4 weeks because he needed to lose some weight. I'm excited for him he already is an awesome missionary.  
Saturday morning we helped the Clowards with a service project. Have you heard of the "flat Stanley" thing? Maybe Amber has. Well we took a picture with Flat Stanley and I was in my Laker shirt from service so got some product placement but we didn't have a Book of Mormon.
That night we stopped by Karen Thodos. When she opened the door she asked if we could come by another time because it wasn't a good time. We went back to the car and Elder Taylor said, "Call me crazy but I'm going to knock on that door again." So we got back out, got soaked in the rain, and knocked on her door. We could tell that she had been crying. After Elder Taylor bore a quick testimony about the love God has for her and telling her about blessings, she let us in and asked for a blessing. We gave her a blessing to help comfort her. Her dog was barking so much when we walked in but was silent during the duration if the blessing, and when we said amen she told us that she felt so much relief and she feels that she doesn't feel so weighted down anymore. We shared a brief message about living to our potential and enjoying the privileges we have as children of Heavenly Father and committed her to quit smoking, she wants to and I believe she can. We asked her to close with a prayer and she was very nervous and even started over once but it was a beautiful prayer.  
Sunday wet met with Jackie before church. We talked about the Word of Wisdom, mainly smoking since that's the only thing she has a problem with but she is trying hard to quit. She also told us about her going to watch the women's broadcast and how much she loved being there. She told us how happy she is that we've come into her life and how the Gospel has helped so much in her life in the weeks we've been meeting with her, she's doing a lot better. we met at our new location, the stake center, at 2:30! It was pretty late and the fast Sunday was hard for some people. We gave a quick presentation during sharing time with the primary kids that was a lot of fun. 
I hope you're doing well! I love you Dad!
Elder Barker

Ps could you send me some short sleeve shirts? Size 16 1/2 preferably fitted shirts

Email from 3/24/14

Hey Dad

That's really cool about Colbie going on a mission just after a year of being baptized and that's really cool that she is going to the same place as Elder Steingraber.
As far as the family pictures go, you can ask what the Tuis did for Jake's wedding haha. Oh and for the member missionary thing, you should get "The Power of Everyday Missionaries." It's a great book that President wants us to read and it talks about how members can do missionary work in their everyday lives that isn't so "scary" as missionary work tends to sound like haha. Bonus: all the proceeds of it go to the missionary fund!
Oh so what is going on with Russia. I've heard a lot but I hear WWlll is gonna happen pretty soon if Russia gets greedy with Ukraine.

So this week, like many others, had good and bad. 

Monday after p-day we went to FHE at the Dean's and we ended up talking about eternal marriage for the most part.

Tuesday we had a lesson with Jackie and it went really well! She was able to find a lot of questions that she needed answered just by reading the Book of Mormon with us! We then got to teach Mikey about the 10 commandments and we took him through the hand signs which he seemed to enjoy. He told us that he had prayed about the Book of Mormon and that he found for himself that it is true. It was great hearing that from him.

Wednesday we had another lesson with Jackie and we read 1 Nephi 14 with her and her daughter's boyfriend. He had a lot of questions that the plan of happiness will answer. It was really cool to see Jackie help answer some of the questions that he had. After that I went on exchange to Wilmington, Delaware; about a year ago was the 4th most dangerous city in America. That was a lot of fun:) all the appointments were Spanish speaking though so I was able to understand what was going on but if I spoke the other elder would translate. Elder Paulsen and I though had such an awesome time we got along too well haha. He's a funny kid, he's going to go to BYU-I after so he will be married after his 1st semester there. 

Thursday we were going to do our weekly planning but elder Taylor was feeling too stressed so I asked him if he wanted to go for a run and he said he'd love to so we got changed and he wanted to go a nearby state forest so we drove there and got out and just ran in the forest. It was a nice day and as much as I hate running, running in forests is pretty nice. We then went on splits and I got to go to dinner with a family (the Mayes) and she made meatloaf which was really good. 

Friday before our weekly planning we met with Jackie - she lives right below us haha - and she was feeling stressed about what to do. We watched the Daily Bread series with her and we just sat there letting the Spirit work on her. It may have 4-5 minutes before she said anything but she said she knew what she needed to do and we talked with her about the Holy Ghost and how we can receive His guidance more when we are baptized. 
Saturday was a service day. Started at 8 with the Kemptons. He is building some garden boxes and so we helped fill some. After carrying the wood he was going to use, we grabbed a wheelbarrow and filled it with dirt and mulch and mixed it by hand and then wheeled it over 100 yards to the garden boxes and dumped it. After 2 hours our arms were pretty tired. But then we got some study time in and then went to the Mack's and helped clear some space for their garden and killed some moles that were burrowing there. After that we brought the axes and started chopping wood. A lot of wood. A lot of wet wood. It was pretty hard but it was fun. Then we went to the Aydelotte's and helped Sister Aydelotte in the garden tilling and getting dirt from grass roots. It felt like I was in our yard doing that. It was relaxing but listening to sister Aydelotte talk about gutting rabbits was a bit different. I'm sure they make good eatin' haha. 

Sunday was the last Sunday in the building for 8 months or so and we will be going to the stake center at 2:30 from now on. I always thought 1 was late. But we were able to have a good lesson with Jamie & Nicole. Jason and Noelle (she got baptized a few months ago) were there as well helping us teach.  they will be engaged soon I'm sure, elder Taylor and I think that he is going to propose when they go to general conference together. The lesson went well we were able to clear up their concerns for Joseph Smith and why he was needed. We get to teach them the Law of Chastity to them next time, apparently elder Taylor and Roberts really made it awkward last time so I'm just gonna have to be more mature and tell them of why we do this and use the "Family: A Proclamation to the World" pamphlet we have. They're really funny haha. After we went to visit an investigators daughter and we talked with her for a bit. She was really receptive and she committed to be baptized in April! It was really great:) I'm excited for this area!

I hope you are all doing well! 

Elder Barker

Ps how is March madness going? This is my first year since I was like 5 not filling out a bracket and it's weird. 
ALSO when you can please send my Space Jam pillow case haha. The one I have is tearing in a few places haha thank you guys!