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