Monday, August 17, 2015

ONE YEAR! Excited for new. Hopeful for hard work. And faithful for improvement.

Last district pictures before transfers!
From left to right, top, Elder Mitchell, Elder Hall, Elder Bowles, Elder Barker.
 Bottom, Elder Gonzales, Elder Crapo
So, story time.
We had a birthday on Saturday for our recent converts daughter. We went over a little early to help get things set up, during the time that everyone was opening presents, I grabbed a handful of animal crackers. The party was at Foster Park right next to our house. It's a little pond and there is a playground and some pavilions. Elder Gonzales watched me back away and kneel down and start throwing crackers to the geese. They inched their way over to me and were really apprehensive about coming to eat. Rightly so. They kept getting closer and closer, and the only person watching me was Elder G. I ran out of crackers, reached out and grabbed a goose by the neck, and pulled it up and gave it a big hug to calm it down. Haha I picked it up and brought it over to the pavilion. Everyone was laughing and pretty amazed. The 2 year old birthday girl kept calling me over so I brought the goose to her and she pet it over and over again. She was pretty sure it was hers. haha I turned around to let it go, and where there were 10-15 geese, there were now about 40. I was like whoa. They called reinforcements!! Haha I let it go, and all the other geese crowded around it, then they all just stood there and watched us. I kept my eye on them, because I was pretty sure they were planning an attack. :P
I will always catch some kind of animal!

This week was pretty good! It flew by a lot faster than I had expected it to! We started off by going to this cool park on P-day where we played tennis, kickball, and volley ball. We had a blast! Elder Gonzales and I both freaked out when we saw that this park had Frisbee Golf baskets too! We made plans for this P-day right then, and that is exactly what we will be doing today. :)
We had our DDM (District Development Meeting) On Tuesday, and the Zone Leaders came down since they were going to be going on exchanges. We had a great meeting, and then we headed to The Beacon in Spartanburg for lunch! We all had a nice big plate, and then afterwards, I went and bought us a "Pigs Dinner" Is what it is called. And, well, refer to the picture. haha it was sick! We all pitched in on eating it, and we finished it. It was so much ice cream!  I bought a shirt this time.

We also had our "No more strangers" devotional (Ephesians 2:19) all the way out in Greenville. We rode with the Spartanburg elders out there. It was a really really good meeting :) It was a little discombobulated because there was an error in the communication on who was supposed to speak, and what recent converts were going to be bearing their testimonies, and there ended up only being 3 speakers. There wasn't much of a foundation to it, but the spirit was still there, and was very strong. I love the talk one of the speakers gave, she talked about the first time she felt the spirit. She related it to smelling smoke from a campfire. When you camp a lot, there are so many good memories that are associated with that smell, and when you smell it, all those memories flood back into your mind. At this point I wasn't really following, because I was lost at East Fork in my mind. I found myself there, Winter Camp, and Fremont. I loved a trip down memory lane, then she related it to the first time she felt the spirit, and how it felt familiar it was to her, even though it hadn't been there before. It was really cool :)
I love how far away Union is from everyone else, because it means we have to drive for a while to get anywhere, and y'all know how much I love driving. That's not the only thing though, it is also causing me to be much better at planning and budgeting our miles. We have also done a lot of walking and some biking. I always feel it in my ankle after a long walk or biking, but it feels so good to come in at night just exhausted from a long hard day of work. :) Nothing feels better.

Transfers are this Wednesday, and Elder Gonzales will be leaving Union. Everyone reading this; please keep him in your prayers. Pray that his new area will help him, and that his new companion will be able to be a friend to him.
When we got our transfer call, they send it out in a voicemail. It is a common thing in the mission that before the voicemail is sent out; someone will record a fake transfer call and send it to everyone to mess with people. Well, when we got this voicemail, the zone leaders had done it in a really high, weird voice. We thought it was fake. So we deleted it like 15 seconds in. Oops...haha turns out it was real, so we ended up having to call the zone leaders and have them tell us who was leaving. They said everyone's name, except Elder Gonzales, just to mess with us. Then they finally told us, It was messed up.
I am really going to miss this kid, and I hope he does well.

I am so glad to hear that everyone is doing well! I have been praying for Dad and I am glad to hear that he is recovering well. Does this mean he will be able to walk better now and won't be in as much pain while walking? What exactly did they go in and do?
I wish I could be there to come watch Savannah's play and clap as loud as I can for her, but I know that y'all will give her all the support in the world :) Let her know how proud of her I am. :)
And Sawyer is a boss. There isn't one thing that boy can't do if he puts his mind to it. He looks so grown up! I can't believe how well he did!
I am also happy that Alec will be leaving the Mall. I think he will enjoy working somewhere else, somewhere quiet, and not running into all the weird people we went to high school with heading to hot topic :P Haha

Love y'all. I am truly enjoying myself out here, and I am going to go and wear myself out playing Frisbee golf in this heat.
Tally Tally Ho!

-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker

That graffiti is in the middle of the projects in our area. It is full of drug dealers, gangsters, and fights. But the second we step foot there, everyone perks up and cleans up their act. They call us Jesus People, and they know not to be dumb around us. Black people especially have respect for Jesus. ;)  
We seek the gifts of the spirit in all that we do, and He will always tell us where we are safe and where we aren't.

She named her chicken "Bonnie Barker" after me :)
(upon closer inspection she may have to change it to Elder Barker)

My Carolina reapers!

Elder Barker hit is year mark in the past week! 
He sent this video to commemorate the special day.

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