Monday, February 29, 2016

6 more months!

Hey y'all,
Fun week! We have had some fun times and some hard times too, but we made it.
We went on exchanges this week, and while we were on our second day, Elder Larson and I went to go do some service in the morning at the Habitat for Humanity, which we do every week. We got some lunch afterwards and headed to the library, to do some more service, actually. On our way there, we were biking through downtown and passed little theatre, which is a two room theatre, and there were a  couple people helping some Elderly folks into the building. We stopped and asked if we could help, and the guy said yeah, Of course! He was surprised when we actually stopped and locked our bikes up outside. We helped people up the stairs and down the ramp into the theatre (It was dark and they had trouble seeing) and we would help take their walkers and put them away. We thought it was kinda funny since it had been so long since either of us was in a movie theatre. We talked with the workers and told them about missionaries and what we do and they gave us their number so we could call and help out next time too. The head guy in charge thanked us for helping and asked if we wanted to stay for the movie, on him. Haha I wanted so badly to stay and watch John Wayne in True Grit, but we used it as a teaching opportunity and explained. He laughed and said, okay, next time then. Then he just winked at us haha.  It was funny.

I broke my bike this week. That sucked haha I was just biking, and the gear I was in, the actual gear itself, exploded and fell out. Reminded me of what happened to my '91 Altima, only I was at the wheel this time ;)

Mom and Dad, y'all are amazing. I took my bike to Columbia and got it fixed in a couple hours and it has worked great ever since. Thank y'all so much!

For P-day we got to go back to the Radvansky's home and play pool and bike out back on the dirt track, that was fun, but I didn't go too hard for fear of not allowing myself to work well throughout the next week. Still managed to pop my tire though, haha woo! Bike Problems!  What I liked the most about P-day though, was Elder Olmstead and Elder Bassett came to visit! It was awesome! They had a bunch of miles, and got permission to come down for a little while. It was so good to see those two, I missed them a ton! It was just like last year :) Just comfortable and fun!

Shout out to my cousin Calvin who will be getting baptized soon finally!!! I am stoked! I sent it out as a miracle moment in our district when I found out, and everyone loved hearing it, and is praying for him daily! I wish I could be there for it, but I will just have to be there in spirit! So proud of you Calvin! Love you bro!

We finally got the list of names of people that we needed in order to fulfill what President Turner has asked us to do in this area, and we are so excited to get working on it!

So, I studied the talk "The tongue of Angels" Which Elder Holland gave in April of 2007, and I loved it so much. He is amazingly powerful and very fluid in what he says. One of my favorite things that he said in it was "I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. Surely he must have said at least once, “Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.” "
Haha I love it so much.

I love y'all so much, I am so happy to be out here serving, and I am excited to be able to serve another 6 months and finish strong!

Until next week,
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I love love love doing service!

Hey everyone!
This week was pretty interesting.
I will tell y'all though, white-washing an area is hard. You don't have the luxury of someone who already has a relationship and a knowledge with all the members of the ward, and you kinda have to just start from scratch. The challenges are great, but so are the blessings. We are able to work free of any rumors or bad knowledge that may have been in the area, and we are able to completely rely on God for everything that we do. There is only room for faith in a white-wash. Well..I guess faith coupled with common sense not to do anything dumb..haha anyway.
The week didn't go as planned, but we still had fun! We were excited because we had set up a couple of appointments and we were supposed to have some members come out with us that day too! At the last minute, everything fell through. We ended up not having people to go out with us, we actually couldn't even get anyone to return our calls. Our appointments all fell through as well. It makes it very difficult to feel like you are a good and hard working missionary when you see no success in an area, but then you have to remember that nothing happens in our own time, and we just have to have faith that God knows what He is doing, and has a plan. Then, we just keep working.
We have a couple awesome opportunities to do service in this area though! Every Wednesday we go to the Habitat for Humanity and do odd jobs that they have for us. We do things like: writing addresses and names on thank-you card envelopes, organizing a scrap-book (we let the sisters do that one). They actually had us watch a video they had put together for a charity the Seattle Seahawks were doing and write up the script as we heard it, then put them in as closed captions. It was a lot of fun. We will be going back again next week. On Thursdays we get to go do an hour of service at the library. They have us straighten the books on the shelf, organize any that are in the wrong place, and make sure that they just look neat. After we are done with that, we do our hour of time. I love love love doing service, and we are going to continue looking for opportunities to serve in other areas!
We discovered the extent of the disc-golf course that is in our area, and we are so excited to be able to go play that one of these P-days when it is actually warm and not soaking wet. :P
Right now there is a small lake in the middle of the park where we would play. Depending on if it is warm enough, we may just go do it anyway! I can just wear my Chaco's and go with it! 

We had Stake conference, and we thought we would be getting a ride down to Columbia with one of our members, but when that didn't work out, we turned to the family. I called Brother Clow from the Hopkins ward, and he came and got it was good to see him again! We had a blast, and it was really cool to be back in the Hopkins building. I got to see many people I know and served around. Sister Clow made sure I got skittles and some Rice-Krispy treats for the meeting ;) haha they are just the best. The Ciprianos’ were there too, and made sure that we had the Clows’ number. I love those families so much. It is so cool to have come on a mission and get to be so close with certain people, that you know you will be in touch for the rest of your lives. 

I can't believe that it has been exactly 1 year since I came back into the field, and was serving only 26 miles from where I am right now. This is the 3rd time I have been in this zone, and I love it here. I can't believe how fast everything is going by, and how soon September will be here.

We had a great P-day too! We went over to this family's house for the majority of the day. They have a big game room upstairs where we can play pool, foosball, ping pong or whatever we want! Elder Whittaker and I went out in the back yard and rode our bikes on the dirt bike track and went off all the jumps. It was a blast! It would have been more fun had it not been pouring rain an hour earlier and the ground was dry, rather than feeling like we were biking through beach sand in the water..haha we had a blast though.
Well, that's my week! I love y'all and hope you have a great week!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker

...I may or may not ride on walls...cut through puddles, bunny hop anything and everything I can, ride backwards while sitting on the handlebars, lay on my seat and superman, and perfected the wheelie. :D
*Disclaimer* all the things that could be dangerous (most of them) I only ever do while in a parking lot where I cannot get hit by a car. :D 

Monday, February 15, 2016

I will go, I will do!

Hey y'all, 
This week has been somewhat of a crazy one, let me tell you. 
We had a pretty good start to our week in Summerville, except that is has been very cold and rainy. I have been battling a cold for about a week or two now that seems to keep coming back whenever we get soaked and cold while biking in the rain, haha. 

We were biking home from the library one night after time, and eating lunch with our new district leader and his companion, and right as we started, we noticed that Elder Connolly had lost his bike light somewhere on the way there. It had fallen out of his pocket. We spent the whole ride home looking for it, and when we didn't find it, we knelt together in our study room and said a prayer. We got some flashlights, and started walking back where we came. We walked for a little over an hour to get back where the library was, and we enjoyed ourselves the whole time. It was about 8:30 and very very dark, so I bought my laser pointer out and we looked at stars for a while, then scared some ducks with my awesome laser! (Thanks Mom and Dad!) 
We got a ride back to our apartment, and got invited to go do some service painting a house. We gladly accepted. We got picked up by a youth who went out on his mission, but was sent home for medical purposes. It was awesome to get close with him because I knew what he was going through. We painted for a while and had a blast doing it. We got to back the second day to finish what we had started. 
We got a call Wednesday afternoon, and we were told that Elder Connolly and I would be transferred the next morning to a new area. It was hard to hear, and we were both so sad to go. I love Summerville, and enjoyed every hard time and trial I had while I was there. I grew a lot and learned even more. It was a very emotional couple of days, hearing that our oldest dog passed away at home, and then having to leave our area, pack up by the next morning, and white-wash an area I had never been before. We didn't get to really say goodbye to hardly anyone; only a couple of people, and a few by phone. 
Our new area is Camden, which is back in the Columbia Zone. This marks the 3rd time I have served in this Zone, first Hopkins and then Windsor Lake. Camden is very country. Not as small as Union, but has a pretty similar feel. 
I will miss Summerville a lot, Easton Corbin says, "I'm a little more country than that" haha. 
We were accepted in by the ward very well, and very quickly. We have been shown nothing but kindness since we got here. Members taking us out to eat because no one had signed up to feed us and they knew we hadn't really been able to shop yet. We got to go do a service project Saturday morning for a man in the ward who had a ton of yard debris and felled trees on his property. He wasn't home, and we got to surprise him. We met the bishop for the first time that morning. Blue jeans, a ball cap, and driving his tractor with a front end loader. He spent pretty much the whole time picking up giant logs and taking them to the burn pile, until he got bored of that, and started to push down 40-50 foot dead trees, uproot them, and drag them to the pile. Haha he would finish by saying "Don't worry, I got this one, y'all can get the next one!" It was awesome. That's our bishop. Church was great; the 1st counselor who was conducting has a full beard and raises bees as a hobby, so we get a whole lot of home-made honey, which makes Elder Connolly very happy because he raises bees. 
We have a ward that is primarily and older generation, but that is totally okay with me because I love listening to stories from older people. They are always so wise and have so many things to say :) I love the advice they give too :P 
Well, I will wrap this up so I can send it off! Today all 6 of us Elders are all going to throw a football around and play some basketball. There is even a disc golf course right next to our apartment!

I am loving Camden, but I will always miss being in Summerville. Charleston was an amazing place, and I will miss a lot of people down there. I made so many friends, and love so many people in the Low Country. 
Have a great week everybody!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker

Saying goodbye in Summerville
I will miss this family so much!

Our district before transfers

In Camden I found this sewing machine that the other Elders left behind.

So, I picked up a new hobby. What do you think?  I made them myself! Isn't that cool! 
These are the 2 I have made so far, and I made Elder Connolly a Minion tie (Despicable me)
 I have some little instructions on how to make a tie, but I tore a cheap one apart and studied it to figure it out. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lovin' life and workin' hard

Hey everyone!
So, this week was a little slower when it comes to lessons, but it is okay because we worked so hard, taught a couple really really cool lessons, and got rained on hardcore! It has been pretty cold and wet the last couple of days, but I have been enjoying it over the hot and sweaty alternative that will be here in a short month or two. 
We did some service for a lady a while back before Elder Wilbert left, and it was a great time. We raked up a huge yard packed with leaves and threw them into a burn pile. She came to church that week, but we weren't ever able to follow up with them until this last week. We biked for about 30 minutes to get up there, but it was worth it. Her and her son let us come in. We figured we would teach her and were slightly leery of getting some negative responses from her son. I guess that was the natural man in me, because it was an amazing lesson. We taught the restoration, and it went so well. They had a lot of questions, and received everything we taught so well. My favorite part of the lesson though, came right before teaching about the Book of Mormon. We had just finished talking about the restoration of the Priesthood, and before we got a chance to start talking about Christ visiting the Americas, her son cut us off, and told us about his heritage is Sioux Indian, and he has done a lot of research about them. He then said "y'all might think I'm crazy, but I believe that after Jesus rose on the third day, he went to America and taught the Native Americans. What do y'all think about that?" 
We were pretty stunned, hah. We pulled out a Book of Mormon, and all I could really think to say, went something like "Yes. You're right!" Haha we opened to 3rd Nephi 11 when Christ visits the Americas and teaches the people. We committed him to read it, and he was very interested in it. We will be going back this Saturday to Follow-up with them. So stoked! Such a great lesson! It was raining pretty hard by this point, and it was dark. We had a busy day planned, and we were far enough away that we decided to work through dinner. We stopped by a member’s home on the way back, and asked if we might could put our bikes in their truck and get a ride home. They brought us in and made us each make a sandwich and warm up before they would take us home. We were grateful for that! ;) Members are so great. 

We got soaking wet the night after, and I ended up with a cold that I am still trying to shake off. The new elders in our ward are great! We have enjoyed them a lot already. They got right to work and hit it off with the ward very quickly. 
Today, we are in Mt. Pleasant again to hang with Elder Jacobson and Bates for p-day. We will probably end up doing something super fun, like always.
Our plans are to go to this place called Tangier Outlet, and I guess it is huge and a lot of missionaries want to go there, so I am excited to have the opportunity. 
I am doing awesome, and I hope y'all are too! 
My theme for this week is from the quote you sent me momma:
"If being hard on yourself worked, it would have worked by now." For any of y'all having issues with this, let it go.  Move on from it, take the right action, get on your knees and ask God to help you forgive yourself and then enjoy the peaceful feeling you get from feeling the love from a perfect, endless Heavenly Father. 
Love y'all!
-Elder Joel "Sunshine" Barker

Photos from last week's P-day adventure

Elder Connolly got a very special care package from home.
He is so happy! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

"He who the Lord calls, He enables."

Hey y'all, this has been a pretty good week. We went on an awesome exchange on Wednesday with our district leader. Elder Connolly went to their area, and I stayed in ours with Elder Penman, who is from Alaska, and one of my favorite missionaries. We had a blast and got work done. We had a lesson with our new investigator L, and she has been a little discouraged about it all. She isn't too sure about being baptized, and is scared to come to church. She told us she more wanted to learn about what we believe rather than convert. We hear this all the time, but it doesn't mean we ever like hearing it. We shifted our focus with her to just stopping by a couple times a week and reading the Book of Mormon with her. We are hoping that if we just take it slow and really focus on the Book of Mormon being true and revealed scripture. The spirit will help her to know for herself what she needs to do. Pray for her, she would be such a great addition to the Ward, and knowing her story, the Gospel would bless her life so much.

We picked up another investigator this week as well, her name is N. She is going through some things in her life, and is now a single mother taking care of her 3 kids. She is really close friends with a member family, and actually lives next door to them, so it makes it really easy and ideal to have members in the lessons we have with her. We got her name as a referral about 3 or 4 months ago, and have just been waiting for the OK to go contact her. The time was right, she had been prepared and there was an opportunity to do service with her. We ended up rearranging her house for her. We moved furniture out that she didn't want anymore, brought a huge projector TV down the stairs. N had a lot of questions as to why we did what we do, why we don't watch TV or date or anything like that, and it lead into a discussion about modern revelation coming from a modern day prophet. She really liked that we believe in having a prophet on the earth, and the way God will give him the revelation that will strengthen the family and help protect us from the world. We are so excited to teach her about eternal families, we really think she'll just soak it up when the Spirit tells her it is all true. We invited her to come to church, and she committed for next week! We already have a member lined up to pick her and her kids up and bring them. So awesome! It makes me so excited when something like this happens, it gives me hope when I am lacking.

On Thursday, we drove up to Sumter to listen to Elder Brent H. Nielson speak to us. It was a really good Zone Conference and we learned a lot about how we can improve our missionary work. A lot of it was the same as what we have been learning for the last while, but some of it was new to us, and made a lot of sense as to how it will work and help us to do better work. There was a point where we got to ask him questions and have him answer them in hopes to help us with our work, and I was first to ask a question. I asked how we as a mission and as individuals, could use prayer and our faith as a power to help President Monson fulfill his calling as Prophet for the world, as well as deal with all the trials the world and his health are giving him. I could hardly make it through the question before I was in tears. Part of my testimony of having a prophet on the earth today is the spirit I feel when speaking of him. Elder Nielson gave me a smile, and for a minute it kinda felt like it was just him and Me in the room. He talked about President Monson with the greatest of respect, and told me something that will stick with me: "He who the Lord calls, He enables." He talked about how President Monson is having health issues, but also about how he will be cared for, and how he is in the Lord's hands. The whole thing was hard to take, because it felt like the spirit was helping prepare me for when he was very comforting though, hearing from someone who sees our Prophet on a weekly or even daily basis, speak of him as if he were a friend. He told me he would tell President Monson that there is a missionary in South Carolina who is worried about and praying for him, when he sees him on Thursday. It was a really good conference. It is about a 2 hour drive to Sumter, and we had to split my companionship the night before so there would be enough seats for everyone. Elder Connolly went with Elder Jackson and all them, and I went with the Summerville 2nd and Walterboro Elders. They played freeze out in their apartment the night prior since it was all of us, Elder Nyborg had set up a hammock and needed the windows open, and Elder Fullmer turned the ac to 50 degrees (as low as it will allow, and turned it to auto. Since the window was open, the ac turned off when it got below 50, and we were all frozen. I, however, slept great, and felt like I was back at camp. Haha

Elder Connolly and I hung out with the Mt. Pleasant Elders today, so we got a ride to the bus and rode to Charleston, grabbed some hot chocolate, then caught another bus to Mt. Pleasant. We got to hang out with them and some youth that I knew from serving around Elder Bowles, and we went to Fort Moultrie. It was pretty cool, and was full of all these underground tunnels that we got to explore. It was really fun.
We also attempted to go shark tooth hunting, where you go to certain spots where they have used beach sand as road base for off road trails, and there are shark teeth around it, but it was so overgrown that we couldn't find any, we also will probably be eaten up by chiggers tomorrow morning. Fun p-day anyway. We caught the bus back to Charleston, and waited for the number 3 which takes us back to Summerville, but the lady drove right past us. Hah we ended up waiting about 35 mines for the next one. No biggie, just slightly annoying and means we have to adjust our schedule a little bit.
One thing that was really cool, and a blessing, was that we had some pretty cool bus drivers. One guy had been talking to us about our church before he'd picked anyone else up, and asked us "how many wives y'all got?" We laughed and I told him none. But we explained how we aren't polygamists, and he cut up with us a little. We ended up missing our stop, even though we let him know we wanted off, so he actually turned the bus around, told the other passengers we were from out of town and needed to catch our ride, and then ignored the Snide remarks that came from them. We gave him a tip for his kindness. The lady that drove us back made sure we got there on time, and we ended up seeing her again after the first bus had driven past us. She radioed to the next one to make sure they stopped for us. So cool. :) Everyone talks to everyone; there are no strangers, only really close friends you didn't know you knew. It is really really fun to be a part of.
We got transfer calls today, Elder Connolly and I are staying together (just like President told me) and everyone else is leaving. Hah, we are losing 6 people from our district, including Elder Neilson and Jackson, who are both being transferred. Elder Lincoln is going home to Utah haha and Elder Jackson, no one expected was leaving. We'll miss our old district; I hope things turn out for the best.
Well, I'm gonna get this ready to send off, and we have a bus to catch.
Love y'all!
-Elder Joel 'Sunshine' Barker.