Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Spirit

This is the amazing ornament that Uncle Scott made and sent me. It is perfect. I LOVE it! Thank you Scott!

Hey y'all!
Crazy week! Good one though, we have been getting the hang of the area a little bit more lately, like on Tuesdays we have our District Development meeting, and that is a couple miles away from us, so we have to bike there. It is nice because we have a bike path near our area that leads us straight to the church. It is a bummer to have to bike to meetings, especially because that day was really rainy, and it hit hard while we were in the meeting. It was okay though! We still make the best of it.

We had a gift exchange at the end of our meeting, which was a lot of fun. I liked being able to make the Christmas spirit part of our meeting.
We didn't have a lot of success on finding and teaching this week, and it sounded like the rest of our district didn't have much luck either. We have all been trying though! Usually holidays are a great time to find families because everyone is on break, not working, and home. Plus, the Christmas spirit is already there! It was weird this time though. Oh well! We still tried our best, and are going to keep working hard!
We spent the majority of Christmas Eve on the Ashley river fishing, since we aren't allowed to Proselyte on the 24th or the 25th. We ended up talking to a whole lot of people anyway! They would come and talk to us about what we were up to, ask us if we caught anything, and then ask what our nametags were for. A lot of people asked us if we were military. I have never heard that one before!
Fishing was fun; we didn't catch a whole lot, a couple bream and catfish, except I caught an eel. Did not expect that. But, since I have been to Charleston I have caught an Eel, a stingray, and a blue crab. Next up, I just need to catch a shark! Haha We had a great day. 

Who catches an EEL???

We had Dinner with the McLean family, we love going over there. :) We are actually emailing on their back porch today, same place where I Skyped. 
Just like with my first Christmas out here, I followed Elder Harris' example, and I got up extra early and stuffed everything I could underneath the tree :) It was so much fun!
On Christmas morning, we opened presents at the other Elders apartment, and had a very fun time all hanging out. The other Elders thought the gifts I got were awesome, as did I :) We immediately opened the goop, sand, and foam and had a blast :) Thank y'all for everything! It was a lot of fun. 
We went to the church after opening our gifts, and the other elders started to Skype. We had a couple of hours before it was time for us to go to the McLean’s and Skype, so we hung out at the church too,
Elder Nielsen and I spent some time throwing a Frisbee back and forth in the gym. That was way fun :) Just like hanging out at Hunter Park on Thursday nights back home. We did that for a little while and then got a ride and started the Skype process. Elder Connolly went first, and his Skype wasn't working very well, because he couldn't hear his family at all, so after trying to get it to irk for a while, I just called his family, and handed him the phone, that way he could hear them and they could hear him. :) Problem solved.
Then, I got to Skype :) That was so cool! It was awesome to see y'all again! I hope you enjoyed it :) I did! It was really interesting to see how normal it was, how the last time we Skyped, there was so much emotion, and it was really hard, and this time it was kinda like "Hey, what's up?" Haha just nice to see that everyone and everything was okay. But it was the highlight of my day! I hope the family enjoyed it.

We hung out at the McLean’s for a while, helped them make Dinner and ate a little there. I learned how to make monkey bread in a bundt pan :) stoked for that!
We went and had dinner with a family in our ward, the Lohr's. They are very nice, and made a great dinner! Afterwards, they told us that Brother Lohr had hidden the Christmas Pickle on the tree, and no one could find it. He asked us if we wanted to try. We spent probably 20 minutes of our dinner hour searching a decently big tree for this little ornament with no luck at all. Luckily, I got eaten alive by chiggers again, in the tree, so that's great :P after another 10 minutes of looking, we were about to have to call it a night, but I found it, hanging on the bark, visible, but hidden very well at the bottom of the tree. I got the cookie Prize. :) So much fun.
We both gave talks in Church yesterday, and it was different but very fun too :) The entire bishopric was out of town, but things went well anyway. We were originally told to only take 7 minutes each, but right before sacrament started, we were told to take as much time as we could because there were only 3 of us. We each took a good amount of time, and it was awesome :) My talk was based from the Conference talk given by Brent H. Nielsen in the April 2015 conference. The talk was "Waiting for the Prodigal" and it was so much fun. The spirit was very strong in the meeting. :)
After church, we had some lunch, did an hour of training, and went out working. We contacted a couple of people, set up some appointments for this coming week, and decided to do some knocking. We tried a couple of houses with no luck, and then decided to talk to the guys we had passed a little earlier who were working on a vehicle. Pontiac Vibe Gt to be exact.
We walked over by the house, walked up the drive way and I just started a conversation with them about what they we're doing. We were talking for a while very quickly, and there were no walls. They opened up very easily and started talking with us, it was so cool! When the time was right, I asked them about church and if they have a church they went to around here, one of the guys smiled, looked at me and said "Yeah, we're Mormon."
Haha took me by surprise, but then it started to make sense. They went on to talk about how it had been a while since they had been, but they were the children of a man we had been trying to get in contact with! They are in another ward, but their father is in ours. Such a cool blessing!
We also finally got in contact with an inactive woman with 3 daughters and a husband that aren't members, and we have an appointment with them on Wednesday! So excited for that.  :) Great week, having a blast, just hoping to continue to be able to help this area move forward and be a good missionary. 
Love y'all!
On our Mother's Day Skype, Joel caught a bunny. This time he caught 2 lizards. Can't wait for the next one....

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas Y'all!!!

Elder Barker & Elder Connolly

This week has been a pretty good week!
Last Monday we got to go to Frankie's Fun Park with a boy named L, who is preparing to enter the MTC on the 30th! He's great, and is so excited for his mission. He has been going out to work with the missionaries for the last couple months, and has been really helpful to the work. :) Anyway, we had a blast there, playing Mini-golf, racing go-karts, and trying the batting cages. Lo, and behold, I am awful at baseball. We left there, and decided to go get some food.
This is where it gets cool, because the spirit steps in.
We could not decide where to go, since it was Elder Wilbert's last p-day we were letting him choose, but he couldn't think of a place either. We asked L what was around, and he said there was this restaurant he had seen on the way down here and in passing to and from work. He had never been there before, but said it looked cool, but when we got there, it ended up being a bar. So, of course, we decided not to eat there, but there was this little Mexican food place around the corner that had no cars in the parking lot. L asked us if we wanted to try there, and I wasn't super down for that, but the other elders said why not. We almost talked ourselves out of going there, but L really felt like we should. He said "It's weird, I just really want to try it for some reason" Later, we will find out he was listening to the spirit but didn't recognize it speaking to him that clearly before. We go in, and there are tables one side, booths, and a bar on their other, very similar to an Applebee's. There was no one inside except for a girl behind the bar, about mid 20's, and she greeted us, and told us she would be our server. We asked if we could sit at the tables out front to avoid the TV’s inside. She came out and took our orders, then started to ask us about if we were missionaries. We explained a little about who we are and what we do, and she just laughed and said "I know, I'm a member" That was cool to hear! She told us her name was H, and she had moved here from Georgia a while back, but hadn't been to church in a long time. She told us she was trying to get back to church, but needs to get her schedule changed so she isn't working on Sunday's anymore. We told her that we would be praying for her and if there was anything we could do to please let us know. It was so fun to talk to her. Anyway, we got our food, had a nice meal and talked for a while, and when we were finished, she came out and said "Well, it's my month to feed the missionaries, so y'all are good. Have a great day!" There were 5 of us, and she paid for it all. It was just so cool to see :) She told us to come back when she works on Wednesdays to get half off when she is working, and we are going to be trying our best to get her back to church! We started to talk with L, and explain that 'feeling' he had of really wanting to eat there, was the spirit telling him we needed to talk to that kind-hearted member trying to make ends-meat as a waitress. He was so excited to have more experiences like that on his mission in the Czech-Republic.

We went to transfers on Wednesday and I said goodbye to Elder Wilbert. I love that guy, I miss him a lot. We had a good 2 hour drive to Irmo, so we had some time to talk. I am excited to get to hang out with him after the mission!

I got my new companion; his name is Elder Chris Connolly from Lehi, UT. He's a great kid, and is way excited about the work. I love that! :)

We have spent the majority of our time together thus far knocking and just trying to find some people to teach. Summerville is a very prime area with a lot of very very kind people, who are ready to learn, but with it being the Christmas season, everyone is so busy and hardly anyone has been home. We still work though! We have been knocking on as many doors as we can, and visiting as many less-actives as we can. We work a lot through referrals here too, so we have been meeting with Members and teaching the restoration in order to ask for referrals. We got caught in the rain on Thursday night and biked about a mile to our home and were spared from getting too soaked. It was raining decently hard, but the minute we got into our apartment, it just started to pour down, hard. Hah it was fun though. A good first few days for Elder Connolly.
I sang yesterday in Sacrament with Elder Lincoln and some other men in the ward for the Christmas program, which was a lot of fun!
And, we get to go fishing again this today! Stoked!
Merry Christmas Y'all!!!
Luke 22:32 "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Our Christmas tree!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Called to be a trainer.

Dear Family,
This has been a really fun week. There have been times where it has been crazy stressful, but it all comes together in the end, and Christ gives me a feeling of relief when it is all over.
So, we were able to fishing this last week in the ocean. That was a new thing for me, and I decided that I loved it! Pretty much anything fishing is very appealing to me :)
We had our Christmas zone conference on Tuesday and that was a blast! We got trained on a couple of new things, one of them being TiWi. A little black box that they put in all the mission cars that tells us when we are being stupid. It reminds us of the speed limit, and helps us to drive better. Being a missionary is way cool, because that type of thing would bug the crap out of me in any other situation, but the spirit was there when we were being taught about it, and we have taken it as a learning experience. :) It's actually pretty cool! But I don't want one on my truck. Hah

It has been pretty different being the companion of a missionary who is going home soon, because we have a lot of things to do. Not only are we doing our very best to find people to teach, we are also trying to get him prepared to go home. I've done it before, so I think I am a decent help ;) Haha
I am really going to miss Elder Wilbert when he leaves. He's an awesome friend, and we have grown very close.

We have a lot of work to do in this area, and I got called to be the trainer for another new missionary this coming Wednesday. A little nervous about it, but mainly excited to have the opportunity! I love new adventures, and I know this will be a good one. My main concern is that I didn't have much of a relationship with the ward and I would be left kind of alone, but every day I realize that this ward is just too good. Day by day I get closer with these people, and they help me know that things will be okay. Little things like putting an arm around me when we're walking in the hallway, and talking about all the fun things we'll be doing in the coming months. Got to talk with the bishop and a member of the stake presidency last night, and they are both way excited to be getting a new missionary in the area, so we can show him that success is normal on a mission. :) So cool. I love this area!
Something funny that happened this week is that we were on exchanges, so I was in my area with our district leader, and we were trying our best to use every second we had to be successful in my area. I didn't know very much about where to go or what to do, so we prayed right before we exchanged, and I knew where to go. We ended up biking about 15 minutes away from our apartment, and headed to a less active member's home, but before we got there, we got flagged over by these 3 guys about our age that were sitting outside smoking. They were smiling and laughing a little bit, and made both of us a little nervous that all they would want to do is bible bash. We talked to them for a little while, and ended up having a really cool lesson!
They had a lot of really good questions about what Mormons believe and how it all started. We taught about Joseph Smith seeing God and Jesus Christ in a vision and that that was how he was called. He was interested that we also believed that they weren't the same person.
They also asked about the 3 Kingdoms of Glory, and asked us to explain "why Jesus would teach that to people in America, but not in the Bible?" and when we opened to 1Corninthians 15 and read it with him, and it was fun to actually watch his eyes get wider and wider as he just stared at my iPad. They all changed demeanor while we were there, one straight up stood and walked off, and the other 2 kicked their beer cans aside and started listening. We were told to come back again next weekend. Should be fun :) haha
I hope stuff like that goes somewhere! It is kind of the story of our lives to have the coolest experiences with people but have nothing follow on their part. It was really frustrating at first, but I totally understand that I have done my part, and now it is between them and God :)
I love doing the work that we do though! It is just so much fun!

Being on a bike has been fun :) A lot of Elders complain about the fact that we have to bike around instead of being in a car, but If you are in a good area, biking is way fun and effective :) We get to talk to way more people.
Transfers are next week, and I will be a trainer! Wish my luck!
Love Y'all!!

Low Country Boil

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rainbow Row

Hey y'all!
This week has been fun and very interesting!
We had a pretty fun p-day, but we didn't have much planned. I'm not a huge fan of just going to the gym in the church to play basketball, but that seems to be the default for most missionaries. I would have liked to go find something to do, but there are six of us elders that are serving around each other, and only one companionship has a car. They're kind of like the taxi cab companionship. We sometimes have to just go along with what they say, but sometimes that means we get left at the church while they and the other companionship go somewhere else. Not always the funniest thing, but I have to step back and realize that they're 20 like me, and we aren't always the best problem solvers.

We had a pretty good week though! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Summerville, even though I've only been here a couple days. I'm getting the hang of this place pretty fast! I guess it helps that there are only a few miles across our area, rather than Union, where our area was the biggest geographical area in the zone. I am really sad to have such a short time with Elder Wilbert though.
Elder Wilbert

On Tuesday we got to do service for a lady in our ward named Sister P. She is really nice, and always had a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies for us! She is fixin to pack up her kids and move out to Utah as soon as she can, so she is doing a lot of work in and around her house so she can turn around and sell it. We helped her with a much of stuff. She had brick bordering her house a couple feet out, with mulch on the inside for flowers or bushes, and she had us roll the bricks out and dig under them so they'd be set in the ground instead of just sitting there. She had planned on it taking a few good
hours, but God seems to really help us out when it comes to moving someone or any other service, and we did the side and back of the house in about an hour. It also helped that there were four of us. :) She also told us we could come and fish in her pond anytime! Score! We finished by putting new hinges on her cupboards, and I got to remove the light fixture covering and fix the lights in her kitchen. Next time we go over, we are going to see why her garbage disposal isn't working. She has a son, and she introduced him to us as her little spitfire, and we could see why. Hah he's very active, and reminds me a little of how everyone says I was when I was his age. To help out, while we did the service, we needed him to help because sometimes the shovels were too full and too heavy for us, but he was strong enough to get them. It was awesome, and he gets really excited when he hears we are coming over.

Wednesday was a slower day, because I had a dentist appointment down in Mount Pleasant, where Elder Bowles served! They were very nice and thorough. They helped me find out why my tooth was so sensitive all the sudden, and did their best to fix it without drilling into it. When all was said and done, I went up and paid for it. The member that had recommended us to come down, and worked there rushed to the front and was frustrated when she found out I'd paid, so she went and got the money she was going to use to pay for it, and gave it to me. I was very very appreciative. The coolest things happen when you're on a mission; everyone is so nice to us. We see cool little miracles on a daily basis :) we stopped on our way back from Mount Pleasant at a fishing shop so Elder Wilbert and I could get salt water fishing licenses for Monday.

We went on exchanges on Thursday because our district leader wanted to be sure to go with each of us this transfer. I went up to their area, and he came to mine, which was probably a good thing, considering I still don't really know this area that well. I've got one week left to learn it, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job! Anyway, exchanges were pretty fun! I went with Elder Lund who is a farm boy from Ephraim Utah, and we went straight to one of their investigators houses to do service for her. We spent a good while raking up leaves and piling sticks for her. I love raking, it is a calming thing, and it lets me just think. We stopped in the middle for some dinner that she cooked us. She made this super good ground beef and beans, chili like dish that was so good, and she had bread and garlic butter. She gave me the recipe :) I'm going to try it once I can get my hands on a big pot or a crockpot; however I'm going to see if I can't substitute some of the ingredients for sweet baby rays, or A1 steak sauce. I'm excited :) I love trying to cook new things. We finished our night by going around and visiting with some people in their ward and trying our best to make sure we are using every second we had. Our goal for the exchange was not to have any idle time, so any chance we had where we weren't sure where to go, we would stop and pray, then follow the prompting we got. We had a lot of fun! I got my advent in the mail this week, and had a blast getting it up! Our apartment is starting to get Christmassy and it is really cool :)

We had ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) down in North Charleston on Friday which was really fun! Elder Aldous and Elder Skeen are our Zone leaders, and it is pretty cool to see, because one of the missionaries I came out on the mission with trained Elder Skeen. Elder Nissen! Who is a boss :) I need to get his email.

We left ZTM spiritually fed, and spent some time at the Panda Express to get physically fed! 
Anyway, we left there and went back with the other Elders to downtown Summerville to do some proselytizing there. We played a game to see which companionship could hand out a Book of Mormon first, and we totally won! We had four awesome lessons that night. We started with a prayer and we got working. We first talked to this couple walking, and when we started talking to them, they were very receptive and friendly. Come to find out that they're former members who used to have the missionaries over all the time and considered them family. We taught them the first half of the restoration and they were very kind in listening. They didn't give us their address, but took a card for the Christmas video that was put out.
We kept working and talked to these two guys in front of a bar. They talked with us about their scooters which were lowered and kinda ghetto, and we just started teaching the restoration. They were a little less attentive than the others. One guy was very nice and actually listening, but the other guy was pretty not there. I think it may have had something to do with being very drunk. Probably. Anyway, we finished up, gave them both cards, the one guy asked if he could burn it and I told him whatever he chooses to do with it is up to him.
The other guy said he'd like to know more. When we left we told them Merry Christmas and shook hands, and the drunk guy shook my hand, bowed to me and kissed my hand. So that happened...
We then had two of my favorite lessons of the night, we talked to this high school couple, and they were really sincere and talked with us. We taught, testified, they asked some questions, and gave them a Book of Mormon. They committed to read it, and we laughed a little about high school with them. Then, we were finishing the night, stopped at a restaurant to use the bathroom and headed back to the car to meet with the other elders. There were some guys about our age that were sitting in the back of a lifted Dodge Ram, and skateboarding around. I am always a little leery of teenagers and young adults because they aren't always very respectful, or even nice. We were hanging out by the car, and one of them skated right up to us and I started a conversation with him about his deck. About 30 seconds in, we were laughing and having a good time. He asked us what we were up to, and we started to explain it to him and tell him what it is to be a missionary. He thought it was really cool that we were his age but spending our time for The Lord. The rest of his friends skated over to see what was going on, and we just talked and laughed with them. We started to tell them about the Book of Mormon, and they all listened and had a question or two. One of them was from Canada, and has a copy and told us he'd read it when he gets home. We gave them the copy we had, and committed him to read it, and gave him a card. It was way cool, we said a prayer with them, and they kept skating. Such a cool night! God was really looking out for us, and he blesses us when we go around on purpose and talk to everyone we see. 
We had a good rest of the week too. Church was awesome, very spiritual fast and testimony meeting and a lot of really good lessons. We got a ride down to the Charleston building for a musical devotional before the first presidency message, and I was pretty sure we were gonna die.
Some people drive really crazy out here, and you'd think you'd get used to it. We all gathered together for the message and watched it in the church while eating the potatoes someone had cooked for all the Elders. That was pretty cool. 

Then P-day! The Jeffs, an awesome young couple in our ward, picked us up, and we headed down to Charleston to fish off the pier! It was such a cool little place and we had so much fun even though we didn't catch any fish or sharks or anything like that. We did however catch like 5 blue crabs, and a stingray! That was cool, it's not usually something you think would happen, and with all my experiences of fishing in Utah, having a stingray on the end of your hook is never really a concern. 

We left, had some bbq at a place called home team, and went sightseeing down in Chuck Town. They gave this market place like Pikes Place Market in Seattle, but it is all southern stuff! Sweet grass baskets that smell so good, and everything else you could imagine. 

I really enjoyed just driving around and looking at all the cool sights. We got to go take pictures by Rainbow Row, which is a famous street of houses that are all connected and painted bright pastel colors. There isn't much history behind them other than they're old, and painted and people like them. 

We got to see the pineapple fountain, which is pretty popular for people down here, and I got to feed a squirrel by hand. They're that used to people. Now I want a pet squirrel, as if the sugar gliders
weren't enough ;)

 I was trying to get the squirrel to come get the water oak nut from me again:) It grabbed my hand and grabbed it from me! They were so used to people.

Very good week, had a lot of fun, and did a lot of work. It is a little stressful having only been in the area a little over a week, and knowing that my companion is going home next week. I have a lot to learn and a lot to do to be ready to take this place over. I'm willing to do it, and I'll pray and get to work and just trust that God will take care of the rest.
Well, that's about it for my week! Hope y'all like the pictures
Love y'all! Merry Christmas!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunshine in Summerville!

Hello family, 
This week has been crazy! Started it in Union, now I am across the state in Summerville, right next to Charleston! 
70 degrees in Summerville today ;)

I love Union with all my heart and I know I always will! I met some of the best people while serving there, and I know I'll never forget them. It is a very small town, and everyone knows everyone. We sometimes had better luck running into people at Walmart than if we were to knock on their door, and ask anyone that has served there, that's no joke! 
The people are quirky, and very nice. It only takes a short time to become part of the Union family. 
Our week started with a fishing trip. Monday was pretty hectic but fun anyway, it was pretty cold too. I loved it :) We caught quite a few fish, again, which I filleted and cooked. 
We had DDM (district development meeting) on Tuesday, and it was a very good meeting. We studied a lot about preparing for our appointments, making lesson plans, and role playing how things were gonna go down. Our district was very close, and we all had fun.

 I had no idea that was the last time I would see all of them, but I am very glad to have that be our last time together! We finished DDM and headed to go give a blessing to a member who'd just had back surgery. We headed back to Union and had a good night of seeing people. Wednesday morning, we got the call from the Assistants that I would be transferred Friday morning. We were all really bummed. I figured I would get transferred when we got put into a three pack, but I wasn't entirely sure. It was a hunch that came true. We spent Wednesday meeting with and telling people that I was leaving. It was hard being the day before thanksgiving, because a lot of people weren't home. I only got to say goodbye to a few people, it was hard. I'll miss Union a lot. 

Thursday morning, we got a ride up to boiling springs because we'd been invited to the turkey bowl up there with the zone leaders. It was a lot of fun, but pretty much every missionary that participated throughout the mission over did it. We were all super sore. It was really cool though, we had a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of missionaries that I wouldn't have been able to see before I left. We headed back to Union when we were through, and had thanksgiving dinner with the Southards’; they made some way good food. We were fit to burst before we left. It was really terrible to have to say goodbye to them all. 

We went to the Songs after that, and they were also eating. We mainly went to say goodbye though. Family parties with them are always a good missionary opportunity, because there are a lot of less actives there. Her brother Caleb tried to get me to ride his motorcycle too, that was funny. 

It was definitely an emotional day, I had spent 8 months getting to know and love all these people, only to leave with 3 days notice. It seems like three days notice is a theme for me. :P 
I was finished packing an hour or so before the assistants came to get me, and they were limping and sore from football the day before too, so now I didn't feel as bad for overdoing it. I was slightly worried about my rhabdomyolisis acting up, so I started pounding water the last couple days. Anyway, they picked me up, I said my goodbyes, and we headed out. It's a pretty long drive across the state; to we stopped at their apartment to have lunch. We all limped and groaned as we walked down the stairs, and laughed at how dumb we were. I'm glad it only lasted a couple days.  

Okay, one of the coolest this about driving across the state, everything changes! In Utah, you drive from one end to the other, and it kinda stays the same with some light differences, where in South Carolina, I went from lots of pecan and water oak trees and rolling hills, to fewer hills, and a lot of pine trees. So many pine trees, then we left the Columbia, Irmo area and we started seeing more palm and palmetto trees, then both sides of the road were just swamps, we were literally driving on a highway surrounded by swampland and water, then all the Spanish moss started to appear. I felt kinda dumb as I would flip around to take a picture of a moss covered tree, only to see that they were everywhere in my new area. Hah! 
We left Union around 9:30am and got to Summerville at 2pm with a one hour lunch break in between driving. Pretty good time. It is very pretty down here in the low country, and now I have been everywhere! Columbia, West Columbia, the upstate and the low country! I am pretty a cited to be here! 

Elder Hunter Wilbert is my new companion, and he is from Pleasant Grove UT, and will be finishing his mission in about 2 weeks. I have a short time to learn this area, but I know it is inspired that I'm here, so God must have a plan to help me do it. 
1 Nephi 3:7 very quoted and seems cliché sometimes, but it is a very accurate scripture! We have to have unwavering faith and trust that God knows what's up. 
I love this new ward; I actually found out that this is where Elder Welty trained my trainer, Elder Sumner! Now I'm here! :) This ward is very self-reliant when it comes to missionary work; we filled the font Saturday morning for a baptism that the missionaries really didn't have to work to get. His wife and the other members had prepared him and taught him everything, and the missionaries just had to go over everything with him to check his understanding, and boom, he's been baptized. :) so cool!
I got sick yesterday, but I am grateful that God let me get through church, the afternoon and a dinner appointment before it really hit me and I started throwing up. No fun for my new comp to have to deal with, but he's very kind and makes sure I have everything I need. 
I know I'm supposed to be here, and I'm ready to take on this new challenge. I love tough things.
5 things I'm thankful for this week:
1) tums
2) spiritual confirmation
3) member meals
4) challenges
5) scriptures that testify of trials

Love y'all!
Elder Barker with Elder Nielsen
They attended High School together and are now serving in the same area :)

Makin' new friends already!

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'm grateful for y'all this Thanksgiving!

Hey Y'all!
South Carolina is FINALLY COLD!! Haha this has been so great :) Woke up this morning and went out to the car and just sat there. It was 44 Degrees, and I love it :)
This has been a fun week, and a crazy one too. We have found 2 new, awesome investigators who both have a close connection to a member that lives here. J is one, and D is the other. We are really working on trying to help solidify them both to where we can have daily contact with them and help them gain the desire to learn. J is a way cool dude, and is on date for December 19th, please pray for him! And pray that D will accept the invitation to be baptized!

S is awesome! She is not in Union, she lives in Duncan where Elder Crapo and Evens were. Elder Crapo is now in Gaffney, and Elder Bateman is in Duncan now, or I guess it is Spartanburg 2nd. She is doing awesome! Her and her 2 girls are getting baptized on December 5th! Pray for them!
Thank you so much for sharing those things with me about the family Thanksgiving party, everyone has been in my prayers, and I am so grateful for y'all & so glad that everyone is doing great.

I am also glad that you were supplied with pictures and videos from people here! The members here love you!  Last Sunday, Alonzo, who is our branch mission leader, asked me to come listen to his car because it was making an awful squealing sound. I went, and so did another mechanically inclined man in the church, and we both ruled that the bearing in his alternator pulley was bad. He knows a guy that rebuilds them for cheap, so he had me come take it off. No problem, got it off just fine, the problem came while I was trying to put the new one back on. I was trying to put pressure on the tensioner pulley, but the power steering pulley was made of plastic, so it crunched in and broke. Good job Ford. We went the next day, and bought him a new one for 10 bucks, and went and took it all apart again, rented a tool with Brother Song, and took the old one off and pressed the new one on. We also changed the idler pulley while we were there. It still squeaked like crazy, so we did some more investigating to find that it was now coming from the water pump. We got a new water pump, but the awesome guy at "O'really's" told me a little secret. He told me to put a little RTV silicon of any color on the pulley right where the belt hits it. I did that before we put the water pump on, and the squealing went away instantly. That was way funny :P We took the water pump back, and all is well. I really enjoyed working on his car :D

There have been an unusual amount of possums around Union the last week or so, and we have gotten to interact with them quite a bit. Sister Song has a trap by her chicken cage so they'll get left alone, and she caught one, and had no clue what to do with it! She called us (Awesome) and we got to take care of it. I just took it way back into the woods and let it go, because we had to get to our DDM, and I didn't have enough time to skin and dress it ;) I also have a companion that isn't very okay with that kind of thing. Last night when we came in, there was a possum by our house, and I usually get out and chase them, and they run up a tree, but this one didn't. It just backed up to the wall, and started to hiss and growl at me, so I grabbed a stick and played with it for a little bit. :)

We also got to go fishing with our recent convert A this week. :)

We went out to John D. Long. It is lake that was just reopened after being drained for years. Lots of fish!

We caught upwards of 25 bream and 2 catfish :) They were delicious!

We are going to head back out this evening around 3 to go catch more!

Pop is doing well, he loved his gift!! You are the best momma and Dad is the best dad ever!  He isn't cooking this week actually, he is going to be eating with his family. We ate lunch with him yesterday, and it was so good! When I come home, I am going to need to find a place that sells grits, and collard greens. Well, collard, mustard, or turnip greens. They're all good :) I have learned a lot of new recipes that I am excited to show y'all!

Ummm....Is it me or does Joel look exactly like his Grandpa here....

Elder Olmstead, Elder Bassett and I are doing so well. We are all so happy to be serving with each other, and everything we do is so much fun. We have such a good time with the work, and it was such an easy transition! It is like Elder Bassett was never not here! Our small house is housing all three of us very well, and is much more lively now. :) We are allowed to go see single sisters now, because there are three of us, and with a branch full of older widowed women, it is very useful! We have been able to see a lot of the people we were unable to before. :) We are unstoppable!!!
This week has been challenging though. Not just for us either, we have been hearing how all the members have been having trials too, which makes me think that Satan is working hard on separating this branch.
We have been working hard though! 

I am doing very well Momma, everything is good here. I am not even nervous about transfers. I am sad, slightly that I most likely won't get to spend Christmas with Elder Olmstead and Elder Bassett, but that is overcome by the feeling of safety and comfort I feel in leaving this are in their care. I know they will work hard and do good things here :) I trust them, and so does the Lord. I don't even know if I will be leaving though. It could happen, but I could stay too. Whatever the Lord wants.

 Moroni 7: 27-29 27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men? 28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens. 29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

~and my favorite:
 Moroni 7: 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

In this world, we need to have faith. Because of the truths we have, we know that faith will bring miracles. I have seen so many amazing things happen in this area because we have had faith that they will happen. "Faith precedes the miracle" -Spencer W. Kimball

And now, a list of things I am thankful for this last week:

1) Bishops that work hard
2) The book of Ether
3) Clean water
4) Spiritually prepared people
5) Cold weather :)
Love y'all! Talk to you next week! Happy Thanksgiving!
Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker!