Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Driving a spaceship

Hey y'all!
This week has been fun. It has felt more like Utah than South Carolina though. The weather has been absolutely crazy. We woke up one morning and had a solid sheet of ice on the car, and within about 4 hours, it was 80 degrees outside. My companion can wear a jacket and be totally fine in the 70-80 degree weather, but I feel like I'm gonna die. Hah. Today, it is cold and rainy, and I am ready for winter to be here.
We have focused on our planning sessions this last week, in trying to make them more effective, and make sure that we are seeing people that have a good chance of progressing. We haven't seen a whole lot of success coming from it yet, and a lot of our plans have fallen through. That won't stop us though, faith precedes the miracle, and the miracle only comes after a trail of your faith. :) We'll keep working on it.
This is supposed to be the coldest winter that SC has seen in a while, so I am hoping come transfer calls, I will get to stay one more. I would love to see some snow in the upstate!
Transfer calls come not this Saturday, but next. Then the next one is the 23rd of December. It would be no fun to get transferred 2 days before Christmas.
Our cars are all worked out; we are now driving a 2015 Ford Fusion that is more like driving a spaceship. All the little buttons that light up, this car is much smarter than I am...I enjoy it though :)
For P-day, we got permission to drive down to Chapin, SC where I was with Elder Speck, and I got to see Elder Browne! 

The drive down was fun; it was kind of hard to find our way down because all the roads we could've taken were closed. I imagine (and was reminded) that with all the recent rain and flooding, there is probably a lot of road work to be done. I wish I had been able to think of that while driving yesterday, because it would have been able to improve my bad attitude about having to backtrack because of bad advertising. Hah we didn't know the road was closed until bam! We were at the road blocks. Anyway, we got down there and had our little reunion for a minute, loaded up and went to the mall because Browne and his comp needed some stuff from JC Penny, and they had coupons. We walked around for a little bit, grabbed some lunch, I ran into a member from Hopkins! Sister Mechling was very excited to see me, and I was excited to see her! It brought back a bunch of really good memories of when I was first out and serving in Hopkins! She told me to come back and live in her and Ben's (Her awesome Husband) guest room. I might just have to do that! :P

After that, we went to that same putt putt place that Brother Clow took us to! Frankies Fun Park! Basically, little Boondocks for all of my Utah folks. We got to do some Mini golfing and ride some Go-karts. :) I got dippin' dots, so I was happy. I wish more places sold those out here, but then again, I would never have money because I would spend it all on them!

Elder Nielson (Browne's Comp) 

A (Our Recent Convert) is doing awesome! She got to go attend the temple on Saturday for baptisms! She absolutely loved it. She had heard so many great things about the temple, that when she finally got there, it was everything she'd hear plus some! She came back beaming. :) I just love knowing that it is all true. I love the fact that people can be somewhere one day, and the next day be on a path that will lead them right into the Lord's house. :) I hope I get to be back in a year when she goes through for herself, there is no doubt in my mind that she'll be able to. She has such strong faith, and is gung-ho about family history already! I love this gospel!

We are going to be on exchanges this week, and I will be going up do Duncan with Elder Evans, Our DL (Elder Crapo) will be coming down here with Elder Olmstead.
Thank y'all for the support and all the wonderful prayers. I can feel them each and every day! :)
Love y'all!
-Elder Joel Sunshine Barker

Also, a newspaper stand with a mustache...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Small town fair.

Hey y'all!
This has been a good week all together! 
We got a call at the beginning of the week saying that we would be without a car for a little while, which was hard for the fact that our area is quite large, but is also fun because we would get to talk to so many more people as we walk and ride our bikes. Our car was needed up in Easly, South Carolina, because their car up there was once in Union, and the guy had already repaired it and would give them a deal or something. So yeah, no car for a little bit! No big deal. I remember biking all over Hopkins when I came out here in 2013, I wish I'd had a miles counter on it to see how far we pedaled! Elder Olmstead and I are working really hard on a couple of less-active members here in Union, and while doing that, we have a goal of finding new investigators by teaching these members. We had some luck this last week when we went to go visit a sister with some non-members renting from her. We thought we might be able to start teaching them, but when we started talking with her about helping us find people to teach and the blessings that come from sharing the gospel, 2 other names came to her mind. She walked us across the street and introduced us to S and K. They're from Pennsylvania and have the thick accent, they're fun to listen to. They also have a little boy that they take care of named J. He is just bouncing off the walls with energy and has the attention span of little Joel when there was an animal or a bug around. I am having fun relating to him. Sometimes I feel like him, especially after sitting in a meeting for an hour or 2, I am about ready to climb up the wall. Pray for them, they said that they're thinking about moving at the end of the month, and we are hoping that they'll stay so we can fellowship them in. 

The fair was in town this week, so we got to go walk around and talk to people! You would be surprised how many people you run into at a small town fair! We must've talked to 30 people that I've met since I first came out here. We had one guy wave us down and talk to us, he told us that he had once met with the missionaries, and told us to come see him again sometime. 

Elder Olmstead and Jacob got me to go on a ride the lifts you upside down and spins you around really fast, totally not something I am used to :P It was fun anyway. 

I can't believe it has already been a transfer and a half since Elder Olmstead and I were put back together. Time really has been flying by. last night we were talking about how October is almost over, and O said "What about September, when did that happen?" It feels like we just got done with August. 
Woke up this morning to 42 degrees outside, and it felt wonderful :) the upstate is absolutely covered in green, but with the changing weather, it is starting to turn orange and yellow :) I can't wait to see it all! I am loving the cold, and I am just thinking about how much I'll save on power during the winter later on in life because I'll never have to turn the heater on :) 

We had a bunch of service planned for this last Saturday, but things fell through and we didn't end up getting to do any of it. Sometimes things like that are a bummer, but times like this it opened us up for unplanned service opportunities! We were able to go help the Elders in Spartanburg with some stuff they were going to be doing, which included hauling wood out of the forest, splitting and stacking it, and helping a member clear out a felled tree. :) We aren't allowed to use power tools out here, so he decided he wasn't gonna use one either. He brought his ATV out, and we would wrap the winch cable around the bigger branches and back away as he pulled it all out of the way. When we were finished with that, we went in to get some water, and I noticed a banjo on his wall. I said "Nice Banjo, do you play?" and he replied "Nope, you can have it. Learn how to play it." Then he gave it to me. Now I have a new task :) Haha I'm excited to learn! 

We have an appointment this week to go help a member tear down an old house on his property. He said "Imma give each of you boys a sledge hammer and let y'all go ta town!" haha it should be fun. :) I promise we'll be safe and won't let the house fall on us. The roof is already gone :P 

Scripture of the week: Mosiah 2:17 
"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."
 Love y'all!

I tried a new recipe for cinnamon biscuits. YUM!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Caesar's Head & Table Rock

Hey Y'all!

After the effects of the hurricane left the upstate, we were no longer on lockdown, which was very nice. Sitting at home all day is no fun on a mission, and it makes you feel very unproductive. 

Playing Munchkin!
Power was off, then it came right back on and ruined my fun..haha

I got bored, so I decided to take some Joseph Smith style studying pictures. :P

South Carolina got hit pretty hard, and there was a whole lot of flooding here in the upstate, and still is down in Columbia, but all we got here in Union was some good rain and a little bit of wind, nothing that bad at all

Our front Yard.
We have been sending up some mighty prayers for those in the flooded areas though, I have seen and heard a lot of things about the situations down in Columbia. Roads are gone, people are without water, houses are flooded, it's all a big mess. It is an awful thing, but I can already see the hidden blessings coming from it. Everyone is uniting together to help each other, people are donating food, water and time in order to assist in any way possible. I am hoping that they'll send us down to Columbia to go help clean up, but I don't know if that is going to happen. One can only hope! 

This is right next to the church bldg in Joel's first area in Columbia ~sent by a member

I did find out that I'll get to climb under someone’s house on Saturday so I can pump a pool of water out from under it! I am excited for some good manual labor! :P 

We have a couple people that we've been working with, and things were going so well for a while, but Satan is good at what he does and he has thrown a couple curve-balls into the work. It is so hard sometimes to see how easy it really would be for these people to progress, but to have them allow the slightest things to get in their own way. It's almost like they're throwing hurtles in front of themselves. We had a lesson with a couple we are working with, and we just had to be bold with them. We had to teach them that they need to put their own desires aside and do what Christ wants them to do, that's the only way to true happiness. We haven't been able to see them much this week though, and that makes me worry that they're running from the spirit rather than listening to what it's saying, pray for them!

We went on exchanges this week, I was in Duncan with our District Leader, Elder Crapo, and his companion, Elder Evans, came down to Union. We had a blast! We stopped at this boxing gym where they have been teaching this retired boxer, and he was just stoked to see us! He got all excited, stopped the match and had us give them a prayer so he could finish, and when he was done we got to teach him a little about the Plan of Salvation. He's an awesome guy and he loves the Elders, I hope that he'll be able to feel the spirit and accept the invitation to be baptized. Elder Crapo and I finished our night with Hot Chocolate, and some piping hot shmoes (Buzz Lightyear for Smores) that we made in the oven. Haha they were really hot and we burned our mouths while eating them. 

My scripture for this week is D&C 84:88
"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." 

It's been a tough week. The work hasn't been as fast as it has been, and we've had some challenges come up that were difficult to push past, but with that scripture being in our minds, we know that we are being lifted. We are being protected and strengthened, 2 things that we couldn't do missionary work without. We have to be patient, and really understand God's timing and know that when He is ready for it, the work will pick up again. In the meantime, we'll just work, work, work!

Elder Olmstead, Elder Marshall who just went home, and Elder Bateman :)

Deer burgers :)

 P-Day Activity
So. Much. Fun!
We went to Caesar's Head and Table Rock :)
We also went to the 2nd highest point in South Carolina. Momma, there were Mountains! Tiny ones, but mountains!!!
This is out of our zone, and we had to get permission to go. It was 2 hours away from Union, a member from Elder Crapo's ward took us. 

It is very pretty :) it felt like camp. 
At the highest point it was like 3206 feet. 
We live higher than that :P 

This is the bridge that everyone used to have to cross to get from NC to SC. Imagine all the early missionaries that walked here. :)

~This is a special gift to momma from Elder Olmstead. He knows that you collect natural hearts and he found this one for your collection. ~

I couldn't go a trip without catching a snake!
I saw a cottonmouth on the hike...no one would let me catch it! I have seen Steve Irwin do it so many times, I was sure I could do it...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Genesis 9:11-17. No lack of Faith in the South!

Hey everyone!
This week has been...weird. 
We did a whole lot better having members come out with us to the lessons we had planned, and we had some really good ones. 
We were with two members the other day, and we were going to visit a someone who has started coming back to church, and it was like a scene out of a movie. 
Elder O and I were in the back seat of his Toyota Tacoma, (4 Cylinder, 4wd in case you were wondering) haha and we were at a red light. He had already been in a little bit of a hurry, and we were heading to the man’s apartment. I looked over, and saw him in his Mustang and pointed him out as he drove in front of us. The other member shouted sarcastically "After him!" And we laughed, but then the light turned green. Rather than moving on and going to see someone else like I thought we would do, he changed lanes and started to chase him down! They really wanted to visit him. Haha we followed him a couple of blocks and finally met up at this little business. We got out and had a quick little prayer and got to sit down and share a message with him. I shared a scripture with him, and issued him the challenge to pray this week for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone he comes in contact with.

I gotta tell y'all, we are blessed where we live. We don't have to deal with all the pests like these people have to. For example, most nights when we come home, there are 1 or 2 possums looking for food in or near our back yard. I can only imagine what some people in my home town would do if they even saw a possum in their yard.  At home we are very blessed not to have to deal with fleas, ticks (that much) chiggers, roaches, palmetto bugs, giant millipedes and all the other pests they have out here. We were in a lesson the other night, and I looked down, and flicked a flea off my arm. I had never even seen a flea :P I remember my very first night in South Carolina, I walked outside of the mission home, because It was weird to actually be outside in this new beautiful place and there was a roach on the ground. I caught it and showed it to everyone, and everyone was so interested because none of us had ever seen one. Then...you get used to them. I am still gonna try to catch a possum though. Suckers are fast when they want to be! And I still haven't seen an armadillo. 

We had an awesome lesson with one of our new investigators this last week in our Branch President's home. The spirit was so strong, and everything was just going well! We taught all about the Plan of Salvation, and all the wonderful blessing that come from keeping the commandments. I think the most special thing though, was when we taught about how families can be together forever, and her eyes lit up. She was so intrigued by that doctrine and just had so many questions for us. When we finished talking about it, we asked her how she felt and what she thought, and she said "I feel like I need to get baptized." Oh I love stuff like that :) She is on date for Halloween, which I think will be really cool. 
Conference was way fun! We have been on lockdown since Friday night because of the hurricane, so we weren't allowed to drive our car at all. We got rides with Members to and from Church for all the sessions. I think my favorite talks were Elder Ballard, Elder Hales and Elder Holland's. 
Elder Holland had me in tears though. He gave a worldwide shout-out to Mommas. The way he invited the spirit in very strongly by testifying of the Savior preforming the atonement, using words like Carry, Lift, Bear, Deliver..then turned it around and focused on mothers. He talked about how the love of a mother to her child is as close as it gets to the love Christ has for us as. How they bare us, then bear with us. How they Carry us, then carry us through our lives. The work a mother does is essential to Christ's work. I love you Momma Bear :) Thanks for being my momma! 
In the lower parts of the state, there are huge floods, and in some parts of the upstate where I am, there have been some pretty severe flash floods. We barely got any rain. Haha I was so bummed not to see anything worse than that. Elder O and I were ready for 4-5 feet of water coming down the street! Haha didn't happen. We just found out also that we will be in lockdown for Monday too, so I don't know how that's going to work out....It's funny though, because anyone we talk to about the flooding and the rain will say something like "Eh, I aint worried bout the rain, He promised he'd never flood the earth like that again. We'll get through it." There is no lack of Faith in God here in the south! The people are sassy, redneck, and full of faith. It's just a matter of clearing up all the false doctrine that Satan has been able to spread. 
Pray for us! 
We're gonna go try to survive the "Awful weather" up here in the upstate. :P
Genesis 9:11-17
Love y'all!

-Elder Sunshine

....in other news, Elder O. drew me a Trogdor. :) 
He's a burnanator :)