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, 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