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.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Email 2/16/15

Hey Dad, 
First off, the oral surgeons office # is ------ The appointment was on February 6 and my patient id is ------. The medicine I picked up at Walmart and My insurance card from kaiser didn't work. As for school I'm asking president if I can do that soon, elders can register for classes out here. But for housing what is the price range you'd like me to go for? There's going to be time because I'm going to coordinate with a couple elders who are now home about rooming together since we talked about it on the mission. One thing though if possible, could you possibly look up a few places in Rexburg, near campus since I won't have a car, that I might be able to work at? I have a resume on the Mac computer that you could submit online if you have time (or someone else). I could really use a job after. I'm trying to prepare for when I go home, not where I ignore my mission but just trying to plan things. My mission has really made me realize the kind of life I want to live and the type of member I want to be after my mission. 
So Nate's season is done huh? Wow that's crazy, has it seemed to kinda make him think more of after high school as far as grades or mission? I hope they win one game, I still remember my senior season for volleyball, my last game was on my birthday. I'd love to be able to have a copy of that game for after my mission, do you know if Sister Tui has it still? Anyway, the snow isn't terrible but the roads here are still slick. 
This week was pretty uneventful, my lip is 99.9% back to normal so that's great (see amber for photos). Church was unfortunately cancelled for the Spanish branch due to snow but the English Ward still had sacrament so that was good, even though there wasn't really any snow. Every big scare for snow this winter I've only had a couple inches if that, but people get so scared it's kinda frustrating really, but I understand. We were able to visit a less active sister who was drinking coffee but we (my companion really since I don't speak spanish) were able to commit to stop coffee and hopefully she does. Honestly that's about it. It really was an uneventful week :/ 
I love you Dad. 
Elder Barker

Email from 2/9/15

Hey Dad, 
So I am now in Stroudsburg Pa, my mailing address is 51 N 2nd St Apt 10, Stroudsburg, PA 18360. I am in the Spanish branch here. I am in a Spanish area now so this is very weird for me. I'm in what's called a "Zebra companionship" Spanish/English and we are now part of the Spanish branch and one of the English wards here (Stroudsburg 1st). I haven't really participated much in lessons haha. 
So the tooth.. A couple weeks ago I started wearing my retainer cause I figured the gap might be smaller for when I go home and wore it for a few days and then stopped and then 2 days later I accidentally packed it. On Monday I started getting a tooth ache and by Tuesday night it was really hurting and was giving me a really bad headache as well as a fever with chills. Wednesday and Thursday as well. I went to the dentist Thursday and he said it looks like my ligaments were pretty stressed from the retainer and may have caused a bacterial infection, but there is no abscess and gave me an antibiotic (clindamycin). Woke up Friday and my face my face was really blown up and they got me into a oral surgeon. My face had been swelling more and more over the days, took a few pictures buuuttt I don't know if anybody will be seeing them until after my mission haha. Apparently I did have an abscess and a bad bacterial infection and so they drained it, which really hurt, and put a rubber tube in my gums which I had taken out today. My face is getting closer to normal now at least, but both dentist and oral surgeon talked about possibility of having root canal... I really don't want that. I have another appointment with the dentist on Feb 26, for a check up/cleaning.  I was just trying to be good and wear my retainer, this is not what I expected. I've paid about $220 in personal funds for medicine and the draining.  I might be able to get a lot refunded though so I will let you know. They gave me Vicodin for pain haha, a smaller dose it definitely worked, but I had complete control of myself though. 
This Sunday we went to the Spanish meetings as well as the English meetings, which will happen each week. As a missionary I'm okay with it because I love church:) but it's definitely tiring still. It's been a rough first week. 
Please pray for me that I won't need root canal, I really really don't want that. That draining was painful enough. I could really use prayers. 
I love you dad.
Elder Barker

Friday, February 6, 2015

Email from 2/2/15

Hey Dad,

Well first off it turns out that I'm being transferred have to just seven weeks. This comes as quite a great shock to me as I have just left my last area after five weeks. Some good things did happen this week though, Gloria Reyes and her husband and son who are both nonmembers came to church for the second week in a row, and she was able to give her testimony in sacrament meeting. That sacrament meeting was so spiritual. I had been able to really build trust with Gloria and her mom, who for a long time did not like the elders but I just was able to call her mom and she loved me. 

When I got up to bear my testimony and said I was leaving, I looked at Gloria and she just looked so sad because this has been the first time in over a year that she has come to church. Her husband, well boyfriend, loves church though and all the men there. We had a big "munch & mingle" after to church to break the fast and everyone was talking to them it was so great to see! I was pretty heart broken to leave, I'll miss the branch here and the Spanish elders here (we live next door to each other and we would go into each other's apartments and do harmless pranks haha). I'll miss being in a walking area. I hated having to pack again after just getting here. It makes you wonder why was I even sent here? Or my last area? I just have to trust that every thing happens for a reason. On a brighter note, I finally have my drivers certificate and can drive now! I need to renew it in may though because that's when my license expires. 

Well for the home coming talk yeah talk with my mission president and let me know what he says. What coaches were talking to Nate? That's really cool! It was a lot of fun when I would go to volleyball tournaments and play in front of coaches and even though I missed every single playoff game I don't regret my decision on not playing on Sundays. Did you film any of his games that I could see?

This transfer and finding out I'm being doubled out has really taken me by surprise, I still can't believe I'm leaving. 
I love you Dad
Elder Barker

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Email from 1/26/2014- pictures!

Hey Dad,

Yeah the storm is starting to come now (9:30) and I'm sure Elder Barker has already been hit hard. We are on the edge of the impact area so we'll see how bad it gets. It's just a little bit of snow at the moment, but the mission is having us take precautions so we had to cancel our trip to Philadelphia, which is right across the river from us, even though we would take the train. I can't believe Elder Tui is home!! I guess it's Jordan now again, how was his talk? Did Nathan talk to him at all about the mission? When does Elder Coggins go home? I know he's been out for awhile too. Has Nathan invited his girlfriend to church events?

Well this week things started to pick up. We were able to go visit the temple site with an investigator named Pete. He has been meeting with missionaries for some time now and has been taught everything, but can't get baptized yet because he's living with his girlfriend (for like over 20 years). He absolutely loved the temple and the spirit there. It was great to be back on the streets of Philly where I spent so much time of my mission. I honestly would love to try and move there for some time for like Pharmacy school maybe (Temple has a really good program and I talked with some members in philly about it that were attending pharm school there). The temple would be built and the church is also building an apartment building right next to the temple and it would so cool to live there! It would only be for a couple years but if I am able to work at Dan's pharmacy during summers and if I transfer somewhere closer to where I could work there during school as well, I would hopefully have a decent amount of money saved up for it. My mission has helped me budget so much better! What do you think though? It was an idea I had when I served there but didn't think much of it, but it came to mind a lot while being down there again. It'll be something I'll pray a lot about when that decision comes closer but yeah haha.

We got to help out at Ronald McDonald and they had some decent sized projects for us and in the process and I was told by someone that we were their favorite and we seem like we are "somebody's son." They meant that we seem normal haha but it was an interesting way to put it haha.

On Wednesday we went to dinner at our branch presidents and well, I got whipped cream in the face haha. I'll send pictures. It was fun and then we went out with the first counselor and stopped by a few people and were able to have a really good lesson with a recent convert who has only been coming sporadically. Her kids have missed the missionaries come over more so we are going to try more.

Before dinner though we had a lesson with a less active named Gloria Reyes. The lesson seemed to go relatively well and she said that she would "try to get to church" which normally means "I'm not going." Sunday though, so the less active we had called the night before with a ride set up and was set on going, didn't come. However, as we were singing the opening song, Gloria walked through the door with her husband (well her boyfriend who's not a member)! I was so happy Especially since she hadn't come in at least a year! She told me after that she feels happy, she felt that she won that day. We set up an appointment with her and her boyfriend. I'm very excited for them:)
Well I hope everything goes well!
I love you
Elder Barker

Email from 1/26/15

Hey Dad,  
That's so crazy that Elder Tui is going home! I had just gone back to college when he left! That's really cool about Nathan hopefully they do well tomorrow-can you film it? I was thinking this week that the players that went to college the same year I did are now Juniors. Their college days are almost up. If I was going to play college sports I'd be super happy because my mission would have stretched it out. I would've had a year playing and then got another 3 when I got home.  
I've had a huge reminder of the importance of temple marriages and eternal families this week.  I have always known that my sights were on the temple. I know that if I married outside of it I would never truly be happy and thinking of my children growing up with one parent encouraging the gospel and seeing them see the other parent doing things outside the gospel, or worse just not having the gospel at all. And then future generations growing up in darkness because of me not staying true to the covenants I made. It's amazing to see the difference that knowledge has made to so many families out here, and it was a reminder to me that I won't settle for anything less.   
Well this week things picked a bit... Slightly. Luckily it hasn't snowed a whole lot because my boots have caused the back of my heels to bleed from them cutting into me. But we were able to go on exchanges with the assistants and we were able to have a really cool lesson with a less active member and her non member. It was super great and we set up an appointment which fell through unfortunately. 
This week we studied a lot about prayer though and I contemplated yesterday a lot of how much prayer has helped me. I have often found myself just on my knees just pleading to God for strength, I have told him to strengthen me as he has before and then got up and read my scriptures trying to get any message he might send me. And I have felt just slowly my anxiety and depression just leave me.  
I found an amazing poem and I had all this stuff I wanted to talk about but we just were super busy! But I love it:  
I know not by what methods rare, But this I know, God answers prayer. I know that He has given His Word, Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late. And so I pray and calmly wait. I know not if the blessing sought Will come in just the way I thought; But leave my prayers with Him alone, Whose will is wiser than my own, Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.
I know that God does indeed answers prayers, he has answered mine time and time again. I love the power of prayer so much and when it is coupled with righteous acts, miracles are the product of it.  
I love you Dad
Elder Barker