Monday, June 29, 2015

I love being a missionary!

This week has been really good! We have been finding a lot of new people, and we have 3 new investigators that all live with different less active members of the branch. These are my favorite kind of people to work with, because while we help them prepare for baptism, we also let the spirit influence the members in the home to come back to church! We have some awesome meetings set up in the next week, and we are going to be doing a lot of knocking to find new people also. We went to go visit a less-active family that we see at church every couple of weeks, but they usually aren't too friendly to the missionaries, and they slip away as soon as sacrament meeting ends. We found out that they had previously had a falling out with a disrespectful Elder years ago, and that's why they hadn't really talked to us too much. Well, we had a great lesson with them last night, and we are going back tomorrow to help the wife paint part of their home, she is cooking for us, and I am going to see if I can't get my hands a little dirty by helping the husband with the pull-behind lawn mower that he has been trying to get running. I think they will be a great asset to the Branch in helping build our numbers also! I love being a missionary, and I love following promptings of the spirit! :) Love y'all!
-Elder Joel Odie Sunshine Barker

 He is the one that feeds us every Sunday, he's like our grandpa. :)

We found the snake on the side of the road, it's a king snake. It is
immune to the venom of other snakes, and it eats them. :) 

Monday, June 22, 2015

I am fixed upon the Rock of Jesus Christ,. and I cannot be moved.

D&C 6:34 
Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

Okay, I have to admit. I really do look forward to this day every week because I get to write you Momma :) And the rest of the family! I don't care what the rest of the day holds as long as I get to talk to y'all! :) 
Things have been okay. We have been struggling slightly with the letdown of losing 4 great investigators to another church, and we have been having some difficulties as far as focusing on our purpose in the mission field. I have been doing my best to be a good trainer, and focus only on my purpose to be a good example for my companion. Anyone who reads this and knows me, knows that patience has never been something I have been good at, so there is no better place to learn it than on a mission! The place where good habits start! :) 
I am glad that you enjoyed the video! I like recording stuff like that, because they are like little inside jokes with the family, and I know you'll get it :) 

Well, since we are a very small branch, our primary is tiny. So, when they called up the primary kids to sing, Sister Parris also said, "And anyone else who feels like a kid can come up and help sing". So I bolted up, and I made Elder Gonzales come sing with us! The Branch got a kick out of that :) I love that I am able to just be myself and there is no one to judge me, as long as I don't let anyone. 
We had an awesome lesson with a couple that we have been trying to pick up for a while now, they are in their forties or fifties, and the wife is always running around, crazily busy, while the husband is very much the opposite, but the love that they have for one another is amazing. And they are always careful to make sure the other one knows it. We have just found out that the wife is dealing with some tests that will tell her if she has cancer, and there is only a 3% chance that she doesn't. It doesn't sound to be fatal, and can be fixed with a simple surgery, but is still very scary. We had a big storm here about a week ago, and the winds were blowing very hard. A decent sized tree was pushed over onto her momma’s house where her sister is living. It didn't crush the house, but it poked holes in the roof, and bounced off the roof and crushed the 80's Ford truck (just like Alec's old one) flat. :( She and her husband have been facing a lot of trials, so we were able to pray with them, and show them a couple of conference talks and Mormon Messages. We showed them 'The Refiner's Fire' which they loved, and got a lot out of, then we showed them "Faith Proceeds the Miracle" and we talked about that for a little bit. By the end of the lesson, there was a totally different spirit in their home, and I know that they had received feelings from the spirit. :) I love when stuff like that happens and I am able to be there to feel it :) 
That’s my missionary moment for the week! 
I love y'all!! 
-Elder Joel Sunshine Barker :)

"Prius" ~ Southern Style

Boiling Springs 
(Bowlin' Springs as they say out here) for an outdoor sports day with the zone. :) 
I get to play ultimate Frisbee again! :)
I am sweaty. Like, very sweaty. haha this is the only place where I can actually have sweat dripping into my eyes just because of walking. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

I love the good people of Union!

J's momma's Baptism Day!

 I hope the family has been doing well! I have been praying for y'all a whole lot! 
We had a really great meeting this last Wednesday with our mission president and his wife. We were trained on a lot of different things, including the iPads. 
I was really apprehensive about using them, because I didn't know if the mission was mature/obedient enough to really focus on our purpose and just use them for what they are meant for. I was very wrong in thinking that though. I have taught some amazing lessons with the wonderful new tools God has given me. :) 
Tell Grandpa that the wooly buggers work so well! I got a couple of good bites the first time I cast them out!! :) we haven't had too much luck recently thought because of the heat, the fish go way deep and don't want to bite, but we will keep trying. :)
Also, I love the "Mom's stuff" you sent :) I used it on my carpet burn from last Monday, and it helped a whole lot! Thank you!
I love getting your emails! They don't make me homesick at all, they help me to know that the Lord is blessing the family while I am gone. 
I am so excited to be able to come home to such a wonderful family! It will go so fast, and I love knowing how good everyone is while I'm away. :)
Love ya'll!

Elder Wright, the AP that I came out with!
This is the last time I get to see him because he will go home soon!

This is where I live! I love it!

The sunset setting on my camera is unreal!
 It captured the coolest picture!

Monday, June 8, 2015

I love tough things!

So, we have an investigator who decided one day, after watching some videos about Elder Holland that he wants to talk with him. So, what does he do? He looks online and find the number for church headquarters in Utah. He calls and says "Yes, I would like to speak with a Mr. Elder Holland, please." and the lady on the other line was a bit stunned, but says "Hold on one minute" and he gets transferred to another woman who explains that she is his secretary, that he is preparing for a long trip and will be heading to the airport. She asks if she can take a message for him. Well, our investigator starts giving his message and she says “Actually, hold on one second." The line goes quiet, then a man picks up the phone, and he hears "Hello, this is Elder Holland..." 
He just happens to get an apostle on the phone, just cuz!!
Well, he talks with him for a minute and expresses that he is a 'recovering southern Baptist' (as he awesomely puts it) and he is preparing to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Elder Holland tells him that he is preparing for a trip and needs to make a flight and asks for his name, phone number, and address and tells him that he will call him back as soon as he can. Haha so cool! 
To make it even better, we got to meet with Elder D. Todd Christofferson on Saturday who came to South Carolina to speak to the mission! The meeting was in West Columbia, very near Windsor Lake, and we needed a ride. Well, we were going to ride with our Branch President since he was going down earlier that day, but that would mean we would be stuck down there about 4 or 5 hours before the meeting. There was always the possibility of knocking around in the West Columbia elders area, but we prayed about it, and felt like we shouldn't go down with Our Branch President. We asked this same investigator to take us there, and he was so excited! Well, in the middle of the meeting, Elder Christofferson had one of the A.P.'s pass a microphone around to anyone that had a question, he got up, and explained who he was (The same way he did to Elder Holland) which made the whole mission laugh, and he asked if he could request that Elder Browne and Shawcroft come back for his baptism!! Haha Everyone loved it :) Elder Christofferson said "well, that is kind of out of my jurisdiction, but it has been noted!" with a laugh. Then, after the meeting, he (Elder Christofferson) made a B-line for us and came over and gave him a hug. So, he met and talked to 2 of the 12 apostles in about a 3 day period.
Yeah. Something big is in store for this him :) Haha Such a fun week! 
I got to see all of the Elders I came out with for one last time before they all go home, and we are having a zone conference on Wednesday for 6 hours! but we get ipads, so that will be new!!! 

The apricots survived fairly well! Only one of them was too smashed to be edible, but the rest of them were just wonderful. :) I loved that so much!!! Thank you for it. Thank you for everything everyone sent for my birthday! 
We didn't really celebrate my birthday the typical way, I mean, we did go bowling and that was way fun and I did go get an ice-cream, but as far as it being about me, there wasn't really a need for it to be about me. I just had fun! I am getting pretty good at bowling; I still need to work on it though...hah
We are great. It is different Momma. A new experience, and I am doing my very best to be an example of a good missionary. New things! I love tough things!
I love you momma. I don't know what I would do without your support and love for me :)

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

This is Sister McMullens. She looks like a Barker. She is one of my favorites. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baptisms are a perfect way to celebrate your birthday


 My birthday was so good, and we didn't really do anything to celebrate it for me. It was all about their baptism and it went so well.  
We had our studies, and then an hour of training, and then we drove with the S family to a place called Joanna in Newberry County to go to this little BBQ place; it was soo good :) I loved it. It was a great drive and when we got back, we got our area book in a little better order because if you slack on taking care of it for just a little bit, it gets ruined. We then went and met with as many people as we could before the baptism, we found a really awesome guy that allowed us to teach him the restoration, and he loved it. He has 14 year old twins, a boy and a girl, and they would be a wonderful asset in the branch. We are going to follow up with him on Wednesday and see how things went with reading the Book of Mormon that we left him.  
It has been hot..and I mean, HOT. You walk outside, and you are soaking wet withing a minute or less. There is no point trying to stay dry haha. We had a little rain two days ago, and that gave us hope for some cooler weather, but nope. It was 80 degrees later that day, and it got so humid! SOOO HUMID! Haha but we love it any way. The more Humid it gets, the more bugs and animals there are for me to catch! 
Also, Fireflies. Or Lightning bugs as they call them here, are everywhere in Union now. Everywhere! And I heard Cicadas for the first time yesterday too, so it has begun! 
We are excited for the baptisms that we have in the coming weeks, and we are working hard to help these people stay on the path. Satan has been working hard on a lot of these people, and I know it is because there is something very good that will come out of Union, and soon! As long as we stay faithful and work as hard as we are able, the Lord will bless us with Success. Elder Zwick of the Seventy came and taught us in a training meeting a week or so ago, and told us the way to have success on a mission, and know that we are doing what we are supposed to, is to 1- take the sacrament worthily every week, and 2- use God's time perfectly. I wrote that down, not too hard! I can do that! :) 
I got my trainee on Wednesday, his name is Elder Luis Gonzales, and he is so cool. :) I just want to be a good trainer for Elder Gonzales, it makes you humble, and makes you crave Obedience. I love it! He worked hard to get out here, and I can tell that he really wants to be here, and wants to work! We have a great time.  He is Fluent in English, Spanish, French, and ASL. Very talented kid, and I know that God will bless him with many opportunities to share the Gospel in those languages.

I got all of the birthday boxes :) I loved them! Thank you so much, I had so much fun getting them, and it was killing me waiting to open them at the end of the day! 
I got Grandma and Grandpa's the day after your big one. So excited! I get to go fishing today (surprise) and I get to try them out! Please tell everyone thank you from me.
We are going to be fishing and Bowling today, so that will be fun. Love y'all! Pray that we have Success!
 I love you so much! Have a great day!
-Elder Sunshine

Largemouth, I caught it fly fishing.

See Mi Hijo??
(Spanish for my son :P)

Random critter photo of the week.