Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Make the Sabbath a delight.

Hey y'all!
Okay, so this week was pretty good! We were able to do a lot of service Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!
We had a lot of fun, because a member called us and asked what we were doing Tuesday morning, and told us he would be buy to pick us up for a little while to help him. Well, "helping him" was his way of saying "Lowes is having a free lunch today, and I am talking y'all" it was awesome :) He knew pretty much all the people there, and introduced us to everyone that he could, plus we got as much free pulled pork bbq as we could eat! We enjoyed it a lot :) Afterwards, he took us home and we changed into service clothes and went with him to go do a remodeling job in the home of a non-member. We would spend the next 2 days tearing everything out of a kitchen and bathroom, taking a sledge hammer to the walls and tile, and hauling everything out to a dumpster. There were only a few minor upsets while working, like Brother R falling through the floor while trying to lift a piece of tile...he put a decent sized cut into his arm, but had no clue it was there until Elder Taylor pointed it out to him. He was only upset that he had to go get stitches because he hated not being able to work. He’s a tough man.

***WARNING! Gory photo!***

During a slower lull while working, we got to sit down with Miss Daily, who's house we were working on, and teach her a little bit  about the gospel.  That was very fun, but was a difficult lesson.. but we made it through, and with some good inspired questions. We helped her feel involved and it seemed like she understood what we had taught her. We were there the second day as well, but that was more of a floor laying day, so we just prepped everything for the press board that would be laid down. We still had a blast though, and I was actually a little sore the next day, which makes me happy :) I love being able to actually work with my hands and sweat for a little while. It is the satisfying feeling that comes from seeing your efforts bring a result immediately. We also got to do some service for a less active and the Elders serving in Elgin on Thursday. We took down some tree limbs that were hanging over their home and they were afraid that the next wind would bring them down. I had so much fun :) There was a small threat of rain in the weather that day, but it was hot and sunny when we started. Maybe an hour into the project, it started to thunder really loud and close, and lightning was everywhere! It struck a tree in front of the Lugoff Elder's home, about 1 mile from us, and it was loud! Within about 10 minutes it was pouring down rain, and all of us were soaked. Hah we all loved it, and we will be going back this next week to finish what we had started.
We had our ZTM on Friday, and we had interviews with President! He and I talked for a good bit about everything and anything that needed talked about. I came out feeling loved, and cared for. When I was through meeting with him, back to the meeting I went...haha Maybe it was just me, and how I don't do a very good job of holding still because you can't bounce and play while in a meeting...I wasn't made for meetings.
We had a great day Saturday too! Elder Taylor and I biked hard Saturday morning! We went down a couple miles away from Camden, and went to the farmers market that one of our members was working. We got some yummy peaches and cherry tomatoes (that didn't make it back to our bikes) and we biked up to go do our mormon.org time, and go visit some people. We had a few great lessons that day and got to work hard for a while :) It was just a good morning! Things slowed down a little bit after that, my ankle was hurting pretty bad and our scheduled appointment had canceled with us.
I have been trying to figure out what to do about my ankle, and going back and forth with our mission nurse about it....but hopefully everything will get sorted out this week. I should be able to get in and see a doctor at some point. 
Sunday..highlight of my entire week :) As it should be. I have learned what it means to make the Sabbath a delight, and that is exactly the case yesterday. We switched times with the Elgin ward, who meets in our building at 9am, because they had their ward conference yesterday, and in the south you have a linger-longer pot-luck after a meeting like that. We had meetings before church, so we had to be up and ready by about 7 am so we could be there. It was also "seminary Sunday" which meant that since it was nearing the end of the school year, all the seminary students participated in some way in the program. Everything went so well :) Before their talks had even started, I was able to experience one of the most spiritual sacrament portions of any meeting ever on my mission...it may have had something to do with a 12 year old autistic boy who has become a good buddy of mine, who was serving the sacrament for the first time :) I don't know what else it was, but it put me, and a few other people, in tears when the spirit filled that room. It didn't leave either! One by one, the graduating/older group of youth got up and bore short testimonies about what they believed and what they loved, as well as how attending seminary helps them stand against the world, and start each and every day off right. :) After a few testimonies, one young woman who was graduating got up and gave an amazing talk about Seminary, and about how the Mormons at her school had their own table where they would all sit, and support one another, where other kids were maybe participating in things that weren't appropriate. She also talked about how standing up for what you believe is really a powerful tool against the adversary, and how hard he will try to keep you from doing just that. By the end, a lot of people had shed tears, including one of our investigators who had come to church. It just got better from that point on. :) As soon as church was over, we met with another investigator and taught the lesson on "Keeping the commandments" and committed him to a couple different things that will help him to continue progressing towards baptism. When we had finished there, we went over to our ward mission leader’s home for lunch and a lesson with another of our investigators who would be getting baptized on the 4th. I know I have mentioned it in my other emails, but we will be having at least 2 baptisms on the 4th, and if the Elders in the Lugoff area end up having theirs, we will have 4 that day! So awesome :) Should be a great day!
We finished our day with a fireside where the missionaries get to spend about 10 or so minutes on whatever they had prepared. The sisters focused on the importance of listening to and obeying a Prophet's counsel, and we taught about standing up for what you believe in. We read about Abinadi, and how he stood alone, but when he stood alone, the savior was with him. We showed the video "Dare to stand alone" by President Monson, and closed with Testimony. Such a great night :)
Okay, that pretty much sums up my week, I don't think I am forgetting anything, but if I am, I will do my very best to send it later.
We are in Columbia for our p-day so we can see a few places for Elder Taylor's Birthday which is tomorrow, and we will be getting to go have a birthday dinner at Bro R's tomorrow night :)
Love y'all!
-Elder Joel "Sunshine" Barker!
My black eye I got while doing construction. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Mother's Day Momma!

Dear everybody,
This has been an eventful, long, and fun week!
We had a great p-day for Elder Connolly's last one here in Camden, we hung out at Brother R's like we usually do, and we spent some time playing pool with the other Elders. We spent Tuesday saying goodbye to the people Elder Connolly wanted to see, as well as going to a few appointments that we'd made the previous week.

It was sad to see him go and I will, & already do, miss him very much. He and I served together for quite a while, and grew very close. The week leading up to transfers; I was caught up and very worried about who he would be placed with, and where he'd be serving. Well, I had done quite a bit of praying that, if he left, he would get a great companion in an awesome area. They have changed the way they do our transfer meeting, so they actually sent an email to all those people who'd be getting moved, and the email had their new area in it, so I found out that he'd be going to Union to be companions with Elder Cuff! - for those of you that are reading this and aren't aware, here are two things you need to know:

 1) Elder Cuff and I are close friends, I love the kid, and he served in the next area over recently, so he knows Elder Connolly very well.

2) Union has been the area that I have served the longest in, and it is awesome! As soon as I learned this, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace come over me, and I had no worries anymore about him being treated well. Everyone in that area is going to, and probably already is, loving him. :) 

The way the new transfer goes, is everyone puts all of their stuff inside the building, and we all sit in the chapel, and they read who your new companion will be, and you get up, find them and you leave the chapel, and the next person gets their companion. It is kinda odd, but it seems to work okay. I already knew where Connolly was going, so we just unloaded his stuff directly into the back of the truck going back to Union.

My new companion is an Elder Eric Taylor! He is from Holladay, UT. He went to Olympus High, and we probably crossed paths at the G.T.I. Building while I was taking vet classes with Dr. C! He's a great kid, and I already love him a lot. He goes home 6 weeks before I do, so we will probably be together until he goes home, and I will most likely have a companion here when he goes home and I'll leave for home from Camden in September. It is interesting to have a companion who has been out as long as me, because we both know the ropes pretty well, so we are able to get a lot done!

We had a fun service project this week with Bro R! He does a lot of body work and has this Ford Focus that was wrecked on the side, so he was restoring it. We were going over to help him wet sand it, and then paint it. But first, Lowes in Camden was having a customer appreciation luncheon and they were serving Pulled pork, so we went there first :) Then we went over and spent a few hours wet sanding this car with him. Took a break while it rained and I cut Elder Taylor and Elder Dearden’s hair using the little barber shop their daughter has attached to the house. That was really fun :) Then we got back to work on taping the windows, trim, and any part of the car we didn't want paint on, and then Bro R painted it. 
There were a few times it started to rain on us, so we had to hurry and get everything in the garage. The windows on the car were all taped over with paper, so there was no way to see out of it, so I had to lead Bro R to the garage while he had the door open and his head out. Fun time! We eventually got it figured out!

We have 2 people that are preparing to be baptized still, and we are very excited for them! It is actually going to be a pretty awesome day, because another companionship has 2 people on date to be baptized that same day, so if all of our investigators stay solid, we will be having 4 that day!
We had both of them at sacrament this week, and had a great lesson with one of them as soon as we were through with church. It was great! The ideal situation!

We spent our Sunday with our ward mission leader and his family, who were having a get-together to celebrate his son graduating from the Citadel, and another son being accepted to the University he’d been praying to go to. They fed us, we had an investigator there, and we got to have a lot of fun! Elder Taylor tried to Skype his family while we were there, but his family's Wi-Fi wasn't working, so we had to post-pone it until a little later that night, when I would be Skypeing.

We went from our Ward Mission Leader's home, over to another member’s home who has some awesome Wi-Fi that would be more than capable of allowing both Elder Taylor and I to Skype at the same time, and we got to talk with our families. :)

That was so much fun, and a much needed time! I loved that I got to Skype with each of y'all individually. It felt like I got some personal time with each of ya, and helped me greatly. I miss y'all so much, and I am so excited to see y'all again :) I hope y'all had as good of a time Skypeing as I did! I am so excited to be able to go on adventures with y'all, and just be home and actually be able to relax and have a good time with y'all :)

We went over to Brother R's again today for Pday, and Elder Kirby and Elder Kevin cam....I mean Elder Griffin, came up and we all hung out :) I missed that guy. I am excited to hang out with all these guys that I have gotten close to. Everyone went upstairs to the game room to play pool and ping-pong, but Griffin and I stayed outside with Brother R to help him take the wrecked side of an F350 apart so he could do some body work on it. I enjoyed using my hands to work again, and getting to talk with Elder Griffin. :)
We have a great service project tomorrow ripping a bathroom and kitchen out of a house, and some awesome appointments coming up!

We also are going to have interviews with our mission President this coming Friday at our Zone Training Meeting and they will be one-on-one interviews, which we haven't had for a while, so I am excited to get to talk with him. :)
Okay, I think that about does it for my week.

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

My new companion, Elder Taylor!

I was so happy to see Pop at transfers!

Last day with Elder Connolly, at transfers.

I got to see Elder Browne!

We "helped" at a mutual activity :)

The Pday bunch at Bro R's.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

He's in his element.

This has been a good week y'all.
We were able to have 2 super awesome lessons yesterday with our ward mission leader. We have 2 people that I want to talk about, and both of them are on date to be baptized next month!
We have a man who was involved with the church his entire life, but in the recent couple years, backed away for a while and is now deciding to be baptized. We have had a few really awesome lessons with him, and it warmed my heart to see his 2 boys who were raised in the church. One is 4, and the other is 11. They stick together like glue. While we were talking to their father about the restoration, the 11 year old started to pull out Mormon action figures and his little brother was naming each of them as he pulled them out. I loved seeing that :)
Well, yesterday after church, we got picked up by our ward mission leader to head to his home where we would be having another discussion with this man. Before his discussion time though, we picked our other investigator, TD, up and brought him over for his discussion.
Anyway, our Ward Mission Leader is actually the cousin of our investigator, TD, so having him over was just amazing and the spirit was ever so present. We had a meal before and as soon as we were done with that, we moved to the living room and said a prayer to invite the spirit. We started the lesson, just explaining a little bit about Joseph Smith, and Brother C (ward mission leader) took over. He went on and on about it, jumping from scripture to scripture, talking with TD, and using the bible to explain everything in very great detail. TD was in tears at one point, and said "I have never heard any of it like this, and I love it!" It was just so cool and at one point, Sister C came in while Brother C was teaching, and when she saw that he was on a roll, walked up behind me, and giggled "He's in his element" and he was. It was the best lesson. So powerful!  TD should be getting baptized on the 21st. 
As soon as we were through, we drove him home, and came back for our lesson with our other investigator, which was just as powerful, but we taught the majority of this one. We went through the Plan of Salvation and, like always, we emphasized on the family aspect of the whole thing. It is very interesting because he has been involved in the church for so long that he already knows it all so all we are doing is rekindling that faith and spirit he had and felt at one point and time. Such a great time :)
We got our transfer calls this morning, and I will be losing Elder Christopher Connolly...I am pretty upset about it, and wish there was some way that I could be with him for at least one more transfer, but I know how good it will be for him to see missionary work from another perspective and with a new companion. This kid has become my best friend and I feel like his older brother and I will protect him as such. I know he has a bright future ahead of him in the mission and I know God will take care of him through it all. 
The whole district is changing. The only two that are staying from the original district are me and Elder Thompson. We are getting our sisters back on Wednesday. We have really enjoyed having the car, it has made a huge difference in how we are able to get around and get out to the farther areas in our area, and has helped a lot in the pain I feel in my ankles while on a bike...but it will be good to have the sisters back in the ward, and I know the members have missed them.

We have been helping a guy in the ward with a project he has been working on, of turning an old Bug into a camper. We sanded the entire thing, helped him put a couple layers of base paint on it, and when we went over today, it looked like a hippie van! It was awesome. It is going out to Utah for his daughter, and he had us put our initials on it, so that way we could prove we helped make it when we see it. :P You can't miss it.
Well, that's my week. I will fill y'all in next week when I find out who my new companion is, and where Elder Connolly goes.
Love y'all!
Talk to you on Sunday when we Skype!
-Elder Joel "Sunshine" Barker!
My amazing companion practicing. I love to hear him play. 

This is my buddy Jonathan. He has some autism, and is very very loved in the ward. Their family had a little hard day, and he was very broken up about it. He was having a hard time, and talking to his momma about it. We walked up, and I began to tell her how he was my best friend, and how he always makes sure to tell me hi, and give me a good fist-bump when he sees me.  I signed one of my ties, and brought it to church for him. He seemed to like it :)