Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hey y'all!

Hey y'all, this week was a little bit more of a slow one, and had its fair share of struggles, but we enjoyed it anyway! 
   One thing that we did get to do that I was super happy about, was help out one of the office staff! Since we are so close with them, as well as in close proximity to the mission office, we were asked to go over one day and help the Elder in charge of transportation with a few things. He had 2 bikes that needed to be shipped to missionaries that had already returned, and needed someone to disassemble them, and box them up, so he called me! We went over, and for about an hour, I got to take these two bikes apart (Separately) and cover them in bubble wrap and foam and box them up. I really enjoyed doing that! And while I was doing so, Elder Taylor was helping organize in the back where all our media orders are stored. We felt good being able to give back to the office staff who do so much for us. 
   After they were boxed up, we helped Elder Mecham load them into the mission van, and took them to the fed ex office to ship them. We talked with him quite a bit during the whole process, learned a few tips and tricks, and when we got back, we just sat in the van with us and related his conversion and life story to us...this man, and his wife, have given up literally everything they owned, to come on a mission....through a concatenation of misfortune, they were in a really tough spot, and decided they needed to take it to The Lord....well, their answer was to sell what little they had, and go on a mission...so they heeded that call, sold everything, including their home and everything in it, packed what was left over, and drove themselves to the SCCM, where we are all so happy to have them here...Everyone loves the Mechams..about the end of his story, we were all in tears, and the spirit was so strong...we would get to help him later on again because he needed some heavy lifting done to get boxes to the post office before the busy week ahead! We love being able to help!

   We got our flight itineraries in the mail...that was trunky...haha I sit in 31c on my way back to Salt Lake, and it is a 4 hour flight, that has something to do it's changing time zones or time travel or something, I will find out more later. ;) 
   We are loving Dutch Fork ward, and the members seem to enjoy having us. They treat us differently, knowing that they will only have us for a short time, and we love it! They are very friendly and loving to us, but sarcastic and silly all at the same time. We have a great ward mission leader, and some awesome Sister missionaries to work with also. We really want to find another soul to enter the waters of baptism before we come home in a few weeks, and we aren't going to let our faith waver on that one. 
   Well, I will hopefully have more stories to tell next week! Love y'all!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Know by the spirit.

Ran into some of the Ciprano family at stake conference!

Hey everyone!

This has been another good week! 

Everything about moving into a new area that neither you or your companion have any knowledge of can either be an extremely fun, or extremely difficult experience. Often times, both.

Well, we have really been focusing our time on trying to just get to know as many people in our area as we can, and we have seen some good success doing that! We have been able to meet a lot of really cool people, and have come to find out that the Dutch Fork ward is awesome! 

So, highlights of my week...well, no missionary week is complete without a bible-bashing lesson...We got a text one day from an unknown number asking if we were still planning on coming over, but she signed the text with her name. We had read a little bit about her from some notes that the previous Elders had left for us, and we knew she had been dropped from the teaching pool, but we didn't really know the reasoning behind it. Either way, we were excited to have a lesson with a non-member, so we scheduled a time, and we went over. She was very nice to us, and invited us in and introduced us to the rest of the family. She started the lesson by giving Elder Taylor and I each our very own bible...it was the King James Version, at least...but it was one where after each and every verse, someone has gone in and put an interpretation to that scripture...now, we all know why that just doesn't work..God doesn't work that way...Jesus himself explained that he spoke in Parables so the truly believing would understand and know by the spirit...It is also extremely hard to convince someone that they need to pray to have help understanding the scriptures, when all they have to do is keep reading, and see what another man has told them it means....right there, I knew this was going to be a challenging lesson, and it was...one of the many problems with bible-bashing, is that it gets contentious very quickly, and we know that God's Spirit cannot dwell in unclean places, and is driven away by a spirit of contention...I also can't stand contention...those in my close family will be able to back me on that. Another thing, is usually when we are being bashed with, it is from a pastor or preacher, someone who is extremely skilled, and payed to be able to remove the spirit of discernment from the scriptures, and teach it "Their" way...so they're crafty, and can use words to confound people...sound like anyone? Korihor, Nehor, those people in the scriptures that caused a lot of trouble because they were able to use words and philosophies of man to stir up the people in anger....well, all those people end up being confounded by true doctrine, and we hope that's the case, but it isn't always...sometimes, more often than not, we aren't able to even get a word out, let alone explain the doctrine...this bashing session wasn't the case though...she didn't really know what she was even trying to explain, and when we would open to a scripture in the Bible or the Book of Mormon that explained/answered the question she was asking, she would quickly change subjects to something else, or cut us off and repeat what she was saying...haha it can get frustrating...oh well, I don't know how much more we will being going over to visit with her. 

We had Stake conference this week! The Saturday Priesthood session and the night session were both wonderful! Some very powerful instruction and talks were given. I was a bit anxious during the Sunday Session, and couldn't sit still or get my mind into it, so it kinda just seemed long...doesn't sound like me, does it! Can't sit still or pay attention ;) haha 

Well, we are on bikes for at least this next week, so we will see how all of that goes until we get our car back! 
Love y'all! 
Two Elders, happy for a ride in the pouring rain!

Sister Barker serving in my mission!

Day of Service 
Love that the Mechling family from my first area are now in this ward!
So great to get to know their cute daughter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God"

Hey everyone, been a crazy week!
        Sorry that I didn't get an email put up last week, so many things were going on that I completely spaced and didn't get one written up!
        Well, We had our transfer calls this last Monday, and Elder Taylor and I both got moved, together. We got the call on either Friday or Saturday, I can;t remember which one..anyway, the assistants told us that President Turner was closing the Camden Elders area, and putting the sisters into a three pack, and letting them cover the whole ward. It was a bit of a shocker to find out that they were doing that, and that Elder Taylor and I would be white-washing another area together. I haven't really ever heard of a companionship getting moved together, but it has happened to me twice in the last 5 months. Haha we are happy to be here in Dutch Fork.
        We spent our last few days in Camden packing, cleaning our apartment, and saying goodbye to members. It was hard and emotional at times, but for the most part, it stayed a happy thing.

        The transfer meeting was an absolute madhouse. Hah I guess the Irmo building, where we usually do transfers, was having some renovations, so we all met at the West Columbia stake center. It was SO hot. and humid. We would be switching our car for another one, and we were told that it was missing the back glass because of an unfortunate occurrence with a golf ball..haha but it would be getting fixed the following day. Everyone is supposed to bring their luggage and everything into the gym so they can grab and go as soon as they got their new companion, but since we were staying together, I went out on a limb and parked next to the Ford Fusion that had plastic instead of back glass..haha

        The new way of doing transfers is a little weird, and it is harder to know where people are going unless you're there for the entire time. The way they're doing it, is as soon as you are called, you find your new companion, and you leave. Grab your bags and head straight to the new area. Elder Taylor and I were the last few since our new area and Stake gets called out last, so we got to hear where most everyone was ending up. But getting back to it being hot and humid, when we were switching all of our stuff over to the other car, I was absolutely drenched. I didn't ever sweat this much in Utah, and even though I have been here for such a long time, I still haven't gotten completely used to it!
        We left transfers after being assigned to Dutch Fork, and we ended up driving back to Columbia because Elder Kirby's new companion had his bike, and they didn't have a bike rack since a member was driving them, so we took it to their apartment for them. It started to rain pretty good on our way back to Dutch Fork, and I was worried about the plastic that was covering the hole where our back glass should be, but I remembered that I had cut a few of the edges and patched some holes that were in it a little earlier, and I hoped that would hold it, which it did. All of our stuff was dry when we got there. The apartment that we live in is where the Assistants to the Mission President used to live, so there are a few things left behind by Elder Wright and Elder Appleton, who both came out with me. It was pretty cool to see! Also, the last time I'd seen this apartment, was when I was being moved from Union down to Summerville, and we stopped to get some lunch at the AP's place. Now I live there! :)
        So, the common theme among people since we have arrived here, has been to let us know how tough this ward is for missionary work, and how they haven't had a convert baptism in quite a while...but here's the thing! We only have about 30-35 less actives on our ward roster, and some great attendance in Sacrament Meeting. That isn't a bad thing! I mean, if all you are looking at is how successful you are in bringing non-members to church, then yeah, I guess you could say it can be hard, but no different than any other ward! If you look at it from a non-missionary standpoint, this ward is doing awesome! People are friendly, they fulfill their callings, and they are active in the gospel. Now comes the time where we get to work and see what God is wanting us to do right now! I really enjoy being here!
        So, since we got here last Wednesday, Elder Taylor and I haven't had much of a lead into who we should be visiting, and since we are both new here, we decided that after meeting the bishopric and most of Ward council, we would go around and visit basically everyone that is in our area and on our lists, and see where that brings us. We had a rough first couple days, being the beginning of summer, no one has been home when we drop in, plus the added anger and yelling of neighbors telling us we can't park on the street, or that we're wasting our time, and they aren't interested in what we're selling. Good old fashion rejection. Haha we trudged on though. We had some cool lessons with some people that would be active other than a few little things like the time being too early, or whatever else it may be, but we taught the doctrine and asked for referrals like we are supposed to, and we saw a little bit of success! We got caught in a HUGE storm a couple days ago, it was a regular, hot, sunny day, but all at once dark clouds moved in, and there was lighting everywhere! We got to our car and got away from any trees for fear of them blowing over, which is common out here since the ground is always so wet, and the winds are so strong. Glad we did it too, because driving around after the fact, there were tons of trees that had toppled over, and we were told that the rain turned into decent sized hail really quick!
        Church was great! We got to meet the majority of the Ward, still don't have all the names down, but I'm getting there! Haha We got to see the Mechlings at church! I was so excited to see them! For those of you that don't know who they are, they are a couple that lived in my very first area back in 2013 in Hopkins, and they now live in Dutch Fork! Sister Mechling is like my big sister, and is trying to figure out a way that we can go have a meal with them! I love them so much haha
        We had a super cool experience yesterday while out meeting people! We were in a neighborhood about 7 or 8 miles away from our apartment, and we knew that there were at least 4 members in the neighborhood. We talked to one guy who was marked as a less active, and it was clear that he wanted nothing to do with us..we left there, and got no answer at the next house, but the next member was just up the road. We knocked on her door, and she came outside to meet us. She was very very friendly, as was her Collie/Lab mix, Freckles. Haha we stayed for a while getting to know eachother and getting covered in Dog Hair, and we left after being told where we should go next. She had given us the address of a less active that she visiting teaches, but has a hard time catching her at home because she's a trucker and is always on the road. Well, we got there and there was lawn equipment on the front porch, and it looked like the lawn had been professionally done, and it was fresh. I remember telling Elder Taylor "Either a team just left, or she's home" we knocked on the door and waited a minute with no answer, so we knocked again. After a few seconds, we heard "Come in!" We walked in, and again were greeted by two very enthusiastic dogs, haha I think God knew I needed a little play time with some animals. Anyway, we came in and found out that we had just woken her up from a nap that she decided to take after working hard and finishing her front yard. Her name is Sister T, and she wasn't too pleased with us being there, but then again neither would I be if I had just been woken up from a nap! We sat and talked for a minute or two, and just tried to get to know her a little better, and she started warming up to us. We offered our service in any way we could help, and after being reluctant to comply, she said "Okay. I am gonna go get a hammock out of the attic, will you help me set it up?" And I said "I'll do you one better, where is the hammock in the attic? I'll get it for you." She insisted that it was too hot, and I insisted that it didn't bother me, and we went to the hall where the entrance was. She had me go up and get it, then we went outside and helped her set it up. We then sat on the little patio she had outside, where we would talk for the next 2 hours! Now, I know it doesn't seem very significant, but it shows how powerful service really can be.. King Benjamin taught his people this wonderful doctrine in Mosiah, chapter 2. He says: "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Well, it works...I know it. And as weird as it sounds, a lot of the time we spent with her, we spent listening to different songs that talked about Jesus. She is on the road a lot, and wanted to bring the spirit with her. We listened to "the way he was raised" by Josh Turner, and "I'm only Jesus" by Tim McGraw" and "Your Plan" By Dustin Lynch..all my favorites. She was in tears during a few of them, and when someone cries, I start to cry too..haha I have heard it is one of the ways you can know that you have the spirit with you..anyway, since we were then on that subject, we had a wonderful conversation about the character of God. We talked about why other churches argue so much about who God is, and why it is so important that we have modern day revelation. We even talked with her about going back to the temple! It was so great :) We loved it! Then, since she had a captive audience, she decided to show us her favorite old country. She had us listen to things like"Phantom 309" and a few others by Red Sovine. Reminded me of when Grandpa and I would be driving to Fremont or out to Generator Exchange, and he would show me his favorite music :) Made me really happy, and I even knew some of the lyrics! Haha I know it is a very round about way of explaining it, but it shows that people are much more willing to listen to what we have to say when we take the time to get to know them, and have the same interests as them.
        Sister T thanked us, and told us how much she truly needed the time and spirit that we had given her and brought with us..and truthfully, I needed it too. She told us about her Elders, and about how much she loved and missed them. Meerkat and Richie Rich, as she referred to them haha She showed us the picture from her baptism and the spirit was very present at that moment. We bore our testimonies, and said a prayer with her. We committed her to come to church as soon as her job would allow her too, and to allow us to come over and help her finish her back yard as soon as she would let us. It was a wonderful lesson, and a great start to our week :)
        Okay, well I will end there and get this sent off.
I love The Lord! I love the Gospel, and I love being a missionary! :) Over and out!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Just living life as a missionary.

Hey y'all, 
This last week flew by, but it went pretty well.
We had a great Monday! It was my birthday and we enjoyed hanging out with Bobby on his birthday too! Elder Griffin and Elder Kirby came up from Columbia, and Elder Griffin brought his guitar, as did I, so we spent some time having a jam session! I love playing guitar with that kid haha we also got to throw a frisbee around for a while that night, and had a long drive back from Columbia. I love long drives :) 
We had our District Meeting on that Tuesday, and the Assistants to the mission President showed up to sit in. It was fun because one of our AP's is the trainer of Elder Thompson, who is our district leader, so they goofed around a little bit. It is nice when you have good leadership that will actually have a little fun here and there. Anyway, I got to teach on How to better use the Book of Mormon in our teaching appointments, and the importance of answering questions using the spirit. I thought it went pretty well :) We have made a tradition of going to Taco-Bell after our meetings and on P-day, so that is what we did. I really enjoy getting to just sit and talk with all of the other Elders in the District. I wish we were allowed to have the sisters there too, because they always feel left out...because they can't do the same things as us :/ oh well. We have some pretty awesome sisters. They work hard, and had an awesome investigator at church yesterday! :) 
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are all kind of mixed together, because we were able to do a lot of service this week. I absolutely love and crave being able to work and serve people...This time, we were taking a tree down. Now, I am not allowed to use a chainsaw while on the mission, so I borrowed a saws-all from another member, and with the help of a verrrrry tall ladder, I got to trim all the big limbs at the top in such a way that they would fall and avoid hitting the house. Everything went very well :) 

It was also about 100˚ while we were out working, so all of us were just soaked by the time we were done. We were all ready for some food, and a milkshake. Chicken fill-it to the rescue! (Chick fill-a) that is kind of our spot, other than TacoBell, there are a ton of members that work there, and they always come talk to us while we are there. We have actually taught a few of the other workers there too! It is amazing what just living life as a missionary can do. People look at us differently, and when they get curious enough, they start to ask questions :) 
We had some great things happen this week too! Our Recent Convert, T, was interviewed for the Priesthood last Wednesday, and we were able to stand in the circle yesterday when he was ordained and received the Priesthood :) That was awesome! We are so happy for him! He has just taken off in the gospel. We could not have asked for a better situation. Really. He is the definition of "Elect" We love him. 
         Well, sorry to cut this one short, but know that I love all of you, and I'll write more next week! 
Classic Missionaries....


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The reason I am here.

Hey y'all,
Sorry about not having a weekly email to input last week. If I can say anything about the last 14 days, they have been eventful...
So, my companion and I have been blessed with a car since my ankle had continuously been giving me more and more trouble, and that could not have come at a more perfect time.
Those of you that keep up with my blog and my updates know that my companion and I have been teaching a man and helping him come closer to The Savior and ultimately, enter into the waters of baptism and make those covenants with Heavenly Father. Well, that happened this week. It was so wonderful to feel the spirit that accompanies a baptism again, but let me assure you; it did not come without a trial of all of our faith beforehand.
There was a large sum of situations that seemed to all be connected against our favor but none of that seemed to matter when, on Sunday, we stood at the microphone and listened to the words "Receive the Holy Ghost..."
It really helps me to remember what is important in life, especially on a mission....there is so much stress caused by things that really just don't matter, and it can really be frustrating when all of those things try their best to get in the way off the important things. It makes everything worth it when you are able to take part in what all of our work is meant to lead up to.
This has been a rough time, and has most definitely tested me to my wits end, but I am happy that it turned out better than I had expected. I am pushing through the hard parts, rolling with the punches, and doing my best to make the best out of every situation. I really appreciate all of the prayers that have come from every single one of you. I have most definitely felt them.

So, we loved the baptism. Let me go through the story and explain it from the beginning. Our investigator T was on date for the 4th of June, and was on fire. He was ready to go, and one of the most elect investigator I have ever had the privilege to teach...well, our ward mission leader was recovering from his surgery, so the Sisters decided to Heart Attack his door, and called us to come and help. We accompanied them, and when we were through we were able to go in and give our ward mission leader a blessing, and sit and have a little missionary devotional/testimony meeting with him. It was a very sweet experience. It was also very nice to be out of the sun, it was a hot day.

Well, we began on the topic of T, who had talked with Brother C before his surgery about how he really wanted his daughter (who is a non-member also) to be at the baptism, but she would be leaving town the Wednesday before. When we got T on the phone, we decided it would be best to move the baptism a week earlier. Now, keep in mind that all of this takes place on Tuesday. We got everything arranged as best as we could, but still had one lesson to go over with him before we could set up his interview. That is when we lost touch with him. We went to his home several times and had no luck. We would spend the next 2 days trying to get in contact with him, until Thursday when that finally happens. We set up a teaching appointment with him at out WML's home, and it went wonderful. He understood all of what we taught, and saw the purpose for every principal that we presented to him. As soon as we finished our lesson with him, we made the trip up to Elgin to pick our district leader up to bring him back to Camden for an interview. I hate stress y'all, and at this point I had felt a lot of it, and the adversary was pushing a lot of doubt into my mind that something wasn't going to go well, or that he wasn't going to pass his interview, or that we had failed to teach something, but that was all a lie coming from Satan, because T walked out of that room with a big smile on his face, and threw his arms in the air and said "Praise the Lord!" It was awesome.
We kept getting things ready for the baptism, but we were having a very difficult time getting on contact with...well, anyone. It is graduation time right now, so everyone has been insanely busy and trying to get everything set up. We decided we would get everything finalized on Friday, since we would have the whole day to do that. I hate being so unprepared, but given the circumstances, I didn't have a whole lot of choices. Well, Friday rolls around, and that was kind of the tip of the iceberg for me and the stress...We had an unexpected phone call, that was tough, but we made it through, and at about 10:00 that Friday night, we had finished the last phone call we had to make, everyone that needed to be ready for the baptism was as ready as they'd ever be, and I was able to set the phone down and give myself a little time to unwind from the day. I got a blessing from Elder Taylor, which helped a lot too.

Well, Saturday morning came, and we had a couple more bumps in the road, but we got all of those sorted out head-on. The baptism was so wonderful...there is this different feeling when your day is started by filling a baptismal font. More people showed up for the baptism than we had expected, and we even had to set up some extra chairs in order to accommodate everyone that was there. Okay y'all, to give you an idea of how hard the Adversary was trying to keep this baptism from happening, during the opening song and the first portion of the invocation, Elder Thompson and I could see the light in the font coming through the accordion doors start to flicker a little bit...then boom, the power was out. Only in the font lights and the AC were affected though, and he and I seemed to be the only two that noticed. While I got up to give my talk on baptism, he ran into the hallway, and I don't know what he did but he got the lights back on. T was baptized, and there were many tears shed by members, and the non-members of his family that had come to support him. Even the Sister Missionaries that are currently serving in Columbia ward showed up to support him, because they were actually who started teaching him while he was in the hospital recovering from an accident...We finished our day by going to get some snow cones in celebration. You know, you have to have ice cream or some sort of treat after a baptism, it is like a missionary tradition!

Sunday came around, and all those people that were at his baptism showed up to church as well! It was great because the members (Who are most of them related to T) really stepped up in fellow shipping these people, while all four of us missionaries were sitting up on the stage. We were told Wednesday night that we would all be speaking about missionary work in Sacrament. We got the whole program. Anyway, while we were on the stand, the members of the ward went around and invited these kind people to sit with them and support them being there. It was great to just sit on the stand, and watch while T had hands laid on his head, and was given The Gift of The Holy Ghost, and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...Truly, the reason why we are here. That is the sole purpose for coming out on a mission...helping people come back to the Fold...Whether they be a member or a non-member, Christ taught us about the "Lost Sheep" in Luke 15. We are to go out and find these people that have strayed away, and often times we don't realize that they have been prepared for this...

We as missionaries struggle with a lot of things, but when it comes to asking for referrals, the most common theme is that the person being asked doesn't feel that who they are thinking of is ready, or would be accepting of hearing the message we have to share...other times, they are afraid that their friend would be offended that they would invite them to church. One of the Sister Missionaries in her talk today, gave a great example, and said "Imagine you are over at a good friend's home for breakfast. You sit down at the table and you see a big pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice sitting in front of you. Your friend grabs a glass, fills it, and begins to drink...you look at him/her, and ask "May I have a glass?" And they look back at you and say "Oh, I am sorry. I didn't know if you liked orange juice, and I didn't want to offend you by offering you some..." “See? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense...and we all too often live the gospel right in front of our friends and loved ones without reaching out to them and offering the same thing that we have, because of silly fears that Satan pushes into our minds...Let's all be missionaries!

Okay, other things that we got to do this last week? We had some awesome opportunities to help a member with some service in a home he rents out. We put new carpet in, painted some of the rooms, and bleached the sides of the house. That was fun! I love being able to serve at any opportunity I am given...

Sorry that the beginning of this wasn't as happy as some of my other emails, but it was a trial no doubt, and I am glad that it is passed and I am able to move on to better things. We have another investigator that we are getting ready for baptism in the coming weeks, and we are stoked for him!
Hey, it's my birthday! I am now 21, and we are having a joint birthday dinner at the R home, because they are awesome! It is also Brother R's birthday too. That is pretty cool!
Love y'all! Hope this makes up for the lack of an email last week!

-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker

Joel celebrating his birthday with the kind people in Camden.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Make the Sabbath a delight.

Hey y'all!
Okay, so this week was pretty good! We were able to do a lot of service Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!
We had a lot of fun, because a member called us and asked what we were doing Tuesday morning, and told us he would be buy to pick us up for a little while to help him. Well, "helping him" was his way of saying "Lowes is having a free lunch today, and I am talking y'all" it was awesome :) He knew pretty much all the people there, and introduced us to everyone that he could, plus we got as much free pulled pork bbq as we could eat! We enjoyed it a lot :) Afterwards, he took us home and we changed into service clothes and went with him to go do a remodeling job in the home of a non-member. We would spend the next 2 days tearing everything out of a kitchen and bathroom, taking a sledge hammer to the walls and tile, and hauling everything out to a dumpster. There were only a few minor upsets while working, like Brother R falling through the floor while trying to lift a piece of tile...he put a decent sized cut into his arm, but had no clue it was there until Elder Taylor pointed it out to him. He was only upset that he had to go get stitches because he hated not being able to work. He’s a tough man.

***WARNING! Gory photo!***

During a slower lull while working, we got to sit down with Miss Daily, who's house we were working on, and teach her a little bit  about the gospel.  That was very fun, but was a difficult lesson.. but we made it through, and with some good inspired questions. We helped her feel involved and it seemed like she understood what we had taught her. We were there the second day as well, but that was more of a floor laying day, so we just prepped everything for the press board that would be laid down. We still had a blast though, and I was actually a little sore the next day, which makes me happy :) I love being able to actually work with my hands and sweat for a little while. It is the satisfying feeling that comes from seeing your efforts bring a result immediately. We also got to do some service for a less active and the Elders serving in Elgin on Thursday. We took down some tree limbs that were hanging over their home and they were afraid that the next wind would bring them down. I had so much fun :) There was a small threat of rain in the weather that day, but it was hot and sunny when we started. Maybe an hour into the project, it started to thunder really loud and close, and lightning was everywhere! It struck a tree in front of the Lugoff Elder's home, about 1 mile from us, and it was loud! Within about 10 minutes it was pouring down rain, and all of us were soaked. Hah we all loved it, and we will be going back this next week to finish what we had started.
We had our ZTM on Friday, and we had interviews with President! He and I talked for a good bit about everything and anything that needed talked about. I came out feeling loved, and cared for. When I was through meeting with him, back to the meeting I went...haha Maybe it was just me, and how I don't do a very good job of holding still because you can't bounce and play while in a meeting...I wasn't made for meetings.
We had a great day Saturday too! Elder Taylor and I biked hard Saturday morning! We went down a couple miles away from Camden, and went to the farmers market that one of our members was working. We got some yummy peaches and cherry tomatoes (that didn't make it back to our bikes) and we biked up to go do our mormon.org time, and go visit some people. We had a few great lessons that day and got to work hard for a while :) It was just a good morning! Things slowed down a little bit after that, my ankle was hurting pretty bad and our scheduled appointment had canceled with us.
I have been trying to figure out what to do about my ankle, and going back and forth with our mission nurse about it....but hopefully everything will get sorted out this week. I should be able to get in and see a doctor at some point. 
Sunday..highlight of my entire week :) As it should be. I have learned what it means to make the Sabbath a delight, and that is exactly the case yesterday. We switched times with the Elgin ward, who meets in our building at 9am, because they had their ward conference yesterday, and in the south you have a linger-longer pot-luck after a meeting like that. We had meetings before church, so we had to be up and ready by about 7 am so we could be there. It was also "seminary Sunday" which meant that since it was nearing the end of the school year, all the seminary students participated in some way in the program. Everything went so well :) Before their talks had even started, I was able to experience one of the most spiritual sacrament portions of any meeting ever on my mission...it may have had something to do with a 12 year old autistic boy who has become a good buddy of mine, who was serving the sacrament for the first time :) I don't know what else it was, but it put me, and a few other people, in tears when the spirit filled that room. It didn't leave either! One by one, the graduating/older group of youth got up and bore short testimonies about what they believed and what they loved, as well as how attending seminary helps them stand against the world, and start each and every day off right. :) After a few testimonies, one young woman who was graduating got up and gave an amazing talk about Seminary, and about how the Mormons at her school had their own table where they would all sit, and support one another, where other kids were maybe participating in things that weren't appropriate. She also talked about how standing up for what you believe is really a powerful tool against the adversary, and how hard he will try to keep you from doing just that. By the end, a lot of people had shed tears, including one of our investigators who had come to church. It just got better from that point on. :) As soon as church was over, we met with another investigator and taught the lesson on "Keeping the commandments" and committed him to a couple different things that will help him to continue progressing towards baptism. When we had finished there, we went over to our ward mission leader’s home for lunch and a lesson with another of our investigators who would be getting baptized on the 4th. I know I have mentioned it in my other emails, but we will be having at least 2 baptisms on the 4th, and if the Elders in the Lugoff area end up having theirs, we will have 4 that day! So awesome :) Should be a great day!
We finished our day with a fireside where the missionaries get to spend about 10 or so minutes on whatever they had prepared. The sisters focused on the importance of listening to and obeying a Prophet's counsel, and we taught about standing up for what you believe in. We read about Abinadi, and how he stood alone, but when he stood alone, the savior was with him. We showed the video "Dare to stand alone" by President Monson, and closed with Testimony. Such a great night :)
Okay, that pretty much sums up my week, I don't think I am forgetting anything, but if I am, I will do my very best to send it later.
We are in Columbia for our p-day so we can see a few places for Elder Taylor's Birthday which is tomorrow, and we will be getting to go have a birthday dinner at Bro R's tomorrow night :)
Love y'all!
-Elder Joel "Sunshine" Barker!
My black eye I got while doing construction. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Momma!

Dear everybody,
This has been an eventful, long, and fun week!
We had a great p-day for Elder Connolly's last one here in Camden, we hung out at Brother R's like we usually do, and we spent some time playing pool with the other Elders. We spent Tuesday saying goodbye to the people Elder Connolly wanted to see, as well as going to a few appointments that we'd made the previous week.

It was sad to see him go and I will, & already do, miss him very much. He and I served together for quite a while, and grew very close. The week leading up to transfers; I was caught up and very worried about who he would be placed with, and where he'd be serving. Well, I had done quite a bit of praying that, if he left, he would get a great companion in an awesome area. They have changed the way they do our transfer meeting, so they actually sent an email to all those people who'd be getting moved, and the email had their new area in it, so I found out that he'd be going to Union to be companions with Elder Cuff! - for those of you that are reading this and aren't aware, here are two things you need to know:

 1) Elder Cuff and I are close friends, I love the kid, and he served in the next area over recently, so he knows Elder Connolly very well.

2) Union has been the area that I have served the longest in, and it is awesome! As soon as I learned this, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace come over me, and I had no worries anymore about him being treated well. Everyone in that area is going to, and probably already is, loving him. :) 

The way the new transfer goes, is everyone puts all of their stuff inside the building, and we all sit in the chapel, and they read who your new companion will be, and you get up, find them and you leave the chapel, and the next person gets their companion. It is kinda odd, but it seems to work okay. I already knew where Connolly was going, so we just unloaded his stuff directly into the back of the truck going back to Union.

My new companion is an Elder Eric Taylor! He is from Holladay, UT. He went to Olympus High, and we probably crossed paths at the G.T.I. Building while I was taking vet classes with Dr. C! He's a great kid, and I already love him a lot. He goes home 6 weeks before I do, so we will probably be together until he goes home, and I will most likely have a companion here when he goes home and I'll leave for home from Camden in September. It is interesting to have a companion who has been out as long as me, because we both know the ropes pretty well, so we are able to get a lot done!

We had a fun service project this week with Bro R! He does a lot of body work and has this Ford Focus that was wrecked on the side, so he was restoring it. We were going over to help him wet sand it, and then paint it. But first, Lowes in Camden was having a customer appreciation luncheon and they were serving Pulled pork, so we went there first :) Then we went over and spent a few hours wet sanding this car with him. Took a break while it rained and I cut Elder Taylor and Elder Dearden’s hair using the little barber shop their daughter has attached to the house. That was really fun :) Then we got back to work on taping the windows, trim, and any part of the car we didn't want paint on, and then Bro R painted it. 
There were a few times it started to rain on us, so we had to hurry and get everything in the garage. The windows on the car were all taped over with paper, so there was no way to see out of it, so I had to lead Bro R to the garage while he had the door open and his head out. Fun time! We eventually got it figured out!

We have 2 people that are preparing to be baptized still, and we are very excited for them! It is actually going to be a pretty awesome day, because another companionship has 2 people on date to be baptized that same day, so if all of our investigators stay solid, we will be having 4 that day!
We had both of them at sacrament this week, and had a great lesson with one of them as soon as we were through with church. It was great! The ideal situation!

We spent our Sunday with our ward mission leader and his family, who were having a get-together to celebrate his son graduating from the Citadel, and another son being accepted to the University he’d been praying to go to. They fed us, we had an investigator there, and we got to have a lot of fun! Elder Taylor tried to Skype his family while we were there, but his family's Wi-Fi wasn't working, so we had to post-pone it until a little later that night, when I would be Skypeing.

We went from our Ward Mission Leader's home, over to another member’s home who has some awesome Wi-Fi that would be more than capable of allowing both Elder Taylor and I to Skype at the same time, and we got to talk with our families. :)

That was so much fun, and a much needed time! I loved that I got to Skype with each of y'all individually. It felt like I got some personal time with each of ya, and helped me greatly. I miss y'all so much, and I am so excited to see y'all again :) I hope y'all had as good of a time Skypeing as I did! I am so excited to be able to go on adventures with y'all, and just be home and actually be able to relax and have a good time with y'all :)

We went over to Brother R's again today for Pday, and Elder Kirby and Elder Kevin cam....I mean Elder Griffin, came up and we all hung out :) I missed that guy. I am excited to hang out with all these guys that I have gotten close to. Everyone went upstairs to the game room to play pool and ping-pong, but Griffin and I stayed outside with Brother R to help him take the wrecked side of an F350 apart so he could do some body work on it. I enjoyed using my hands to work again, and getting to talk with Elder Griffin. :)
We have a great service project tomorrow ripping a bathroom and kitchen out of a house, and some awesome appointments coming up!

We also are going to have interviews with our mission President this coming Friday at our Zone Training Meeting and they will be one-on-one interviews, which we haven't had for a while, so I am excited to get to talk with him. :)
Okay, I think that about does it for my week.

Love y'all!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker! :)

My new companion, Elder Taylor!

I was so happy to see Pop at transfers!

Last day with Elder Connolly, at transfers.

I got to see Elder Browne!

We "helped" at a mutual activity :)

The Pday bunch at Bro R's.