Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

It was kinda hectic calling home this time for Christmas and pretty distracting having so many people running around. I was hardly able to hear Alyssa and Skylar and I wish I could of talked with them more. I really wish I could of spent more time telling you all about the things we are doing and the experiences I've been having, answering all your questions, and hearing all about what was happening back home, but we only have 40 minutes to call. I want you all to know how grateful I am for you and Dad and how grateful I was for the chance to talk with you all!!! I can't wait to share all my experiences with you in person, even if that means when I'm home. :D

This Christmas was super awesome! So with those cookies we made we dropped them off to the people we caroled to! We made 320 cookies! It was a lot! It was super awesome, we went caroling all day. While we were caroling we shared with the families that would let us in the story in Luke 2 about the birth of Christ. We then left a blessing on their home and went our way. It was really nice and softened a lot of hearts to us. Not to mention that they now think that we are pro bakers. haha! But it was great. The family that fed us that night ended up later coming with us to a few houses so we had a few extra voices to add to ours. So this Christmas was super great. I'm very happy with all that happened. 

Just recently we picked up a new investigator. His name is Mokeni (or Morgan in English) He is the 9 year old son of a member of our ward. It is a pretty crazy situation but basically what happened was he was adopted and they thought he was 8 this year in reality they looked at his birth certificate and he is actually 9! So because of that he goes through us. He will be baptized this Saturday so that is really cool.

Also Misty is doing really good. We had a lesson with her the other night, and I'm not going to point fingers but tears were shed. We had a very spiritual lesson on the Bible and the Book of Mormon and how much God loves her.... and I might of cried.... But I will neither confirm nor deny that that happened! :P haha Anyway it has been a very good week! 

Our mission conference with Elder Higham was super awesome. We talked all about how to teach like Christ taught, how to pray like Christ prayed, and really how to follow him better. I learned a lot and it has added a lot of power to our work.
Elder Barker is in the front on the floor, the 15th Elder in. :) 
Well, I hope that you have a great week! I love you all lots! We will most likely go in early on New Year's Eve, but I haven't heard anything about it yet. I hope you all have a Happy New Year!!!

Elder Barker

P.S. I didn't bring my cord with me today so I'll have to give you all the pictures I've taken next week with the New Years ones. I'm excited to send you the pictures, I have some good ones for you.:-) I will also have some from the Temple because we are going to go there on Wednesday. What a great way to end the year, right?! It will be awesome!!! :D

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Reason For The Season

Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends! 

I can't wait to Skype on Christmas, it's all set up! :D I'm excited too!!! I can't believe it is already my second Christmas already! So weird! Tell Aunt Brenda that I hope she feels better soon! I'm glad she got my card. 
So things have been good out here in the Palmetto ward this week. I would say though that with the Christmas season in gear Satan is trying to do all he can to be in opposition to us. We have been trying to share the "He is the Gift" video with everyone we meet on the streets, but we have been met with many people rejecting it.

That is the way that it goes though. The Savior himself was rejected, why wouldn't we be as well. But I feel myself growing closer to Him and my understanding behind the "reason for the season" is so much greater than ever before. If only people knew what peace and joy comes from discovering, embracing, and sharing the gift of the Savior and what that does for their lives. 

For example we bought a real Christmas tree for some less active members that didn't have enough money for a tree this year. We dropped it off on their door and ran so they don't know it was us; but when we went over again, it was all decorated and stuff with presents under it. It made us feel really good. 

That comes from Christ and I wish people knew that (well I guess that is why I'm out here haha). Not only that but freedom from guilt, shame, suffering, pain, loneliness, sorrow, and even death.

That is the message the Angel Gabriel brought to the shepherds when he stated: 

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

The good tidings he brought was that Christ had come to redeem his people. God's gift of his only begotten son would be what saves us all. The Savior and his gospel will be the only thing that will bring "Peace in this life, and eternal life in the world to come."

I've been feeling my Savior's love a lot lately. I've been feeling the power of his atoning sacrifice heal my soul, overcome my guilt, and give me the strength to move on and do better. It is hard to put into words the change of heart that comes because of Jesus Christ. But I know it is real, and it is free to all people who come unto Christ. I feel this scripture expresses what I've been feeling

Moroni 10:32-33

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength,then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sinsthat ye becomeholywithout spot.

I know that my Redeemer lives. It is an amazing line from an amazing hymn, but I know that it is true. And I know now more fully what that actually means for me and my family. And that knowledge has blessed me in my life. I'm proud to be a servant of the Lord and thankful I can serve his children during this Christmas season. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! 
Elder Barker

Monday, December 15, 2014

Staying In Fontana For Christmas

This week has been good! We have had a lot of cool things happen. But first with tranfers. I'm staying here with Elder Crossett for another transfer! After this one I will have been in this ward for 6 months! It is pretty crazy because it doesn't feel anywhere as long as when I was in the 2nd Ward. Maybe it has something to do with changing companions so many times. I don't know!

I'm not going to be a Zone Leader anymore, but I am totally fine with that. haha. It will be nice just to have to worry about my area! Elder Crossett is going to be the District Leader for our district as well. 

I've been enjoying the Twelve days of Christmas. It wasn't what I was expecting and I got a laugh out of the Lysol wipes! Are you trying to tell me something?! :P

We've had some good experiences, we had a  primary Christmas party this week on Friday that we went to. There was a lot of fun things for the kids and adults as well! We were able to get our investigator Misty there and that was really cool. She is doing super good! She said this week that she wants to be baptized and she is going to talk with her family on which day she wants to do it! She has really come a long way and it is super cool to see the change in her. It just shows me that it is so important to read the scriptures, because that is what she did that completely changed her attitude about taking the lessons from us! When we read we feel the spirit and when we feel the spirit and follow it we will do what is right.

We helped wrap gifts for the kids

Let me know around what time you want to Skype. We have a place set up to Skype for Christmas, let me know around what time you want to Skype and we will talk with them about it some more. I'll let you know next week for sure what they say. I can't wait to talk with you! I love you all lots! 


Elder Barker

Monday, December 8, 2014

He Is The Gift

This week has been very good. MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) was good as well. We learned a lot from President Van Cott that will help us and our Zone. We also gave a Zone meeting training on the things that we learned. 

We learned a lot about the He is the Gift initiative. We are getting a late start on it as a mission but it has been really great so far! With this big push about the Savior, it really has put the Christmas season into perspective for me. #ShareTheGift (<-watch the link)

It has also helped me with my understanding about my own calling. Much of what we were taught in MLC was about how what we teach brings peace, joy and happiness to a world that needs to feel relief from mistakes and freedom from guilt and shame. That is also what the season of Christmas is about.

New beginings, becoming more Christ-like and remembering the Savior. Things that should happen every week during the sacrament, that is why we go to church.  With this initiative we can help people come to know Christ in a world that is forgetting Him, and they are doing it fast. There are so many people we meet now who don't believe in Christ or if they do don't see him as the divine person He is. 

Even many of the Christian churches around are trying to push Christ out of their churches, if you can believe that. Hopefully this Christmas season we can do some good and share what we know about the Savior and also his restored gospel. That has been the big thing around here.

It must be fun to have Alyssa and Skylar at home. The pictures were too funny! It is going to be weird to have them in California! haha 

Well I hope all is going well! Have a great week! I love you all!

Love, Elder Barker

P.S. Here's a few pictures... :)
Me and Elder Griffes 12/8

Leftovers from Thanksgiving

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving - Tongan Style

This has been a pretty crazy week. We have had a lot of things happen, not just the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving was super awesome! It was cool to see the way that the Tongans do it, however it isn't much different than how we do it; although I would say they can eat ten times more than we can! The Bishop and his wife fed us lunch, which was a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing is that the food they gave just to us was about as much as would be brought to feed the whole extended Barker family! I thought I was going to die! 

Then after that we went to another get together that the Maile family was having. Not only was it Thanksgiving, but it was their 50th wedding anniversary and their grandsons first birthday as well. This one was more Tongan style. They had 4 roasted pigs and piles of other Tongan food. It was good, but it was nuts! I'll try to get some pictures of the feast from Elder Crossett.
We had a funeral this week for an elderly sister in our ward. She passed away last Friday. Seeing a Tongan culture funeral has been pretty interesting! They usually last for about a week. But this one was shorter because of the family situation. 

There is food everyday, we have like 8 plates of food sitting at home and 3 - 12 packs of soda! I probably did gain another 20 pounds, we have been running or we'd really be in trouble! 

We had a cool experience at the funeral, we went to the viewing to show our support. And while there we were able to talk with the funeral directors (they weren't members) and they were unfamiliar with how LDS funerals went, let alone LDS/Tongan funerals. So we were able to share with them some of the Plan of Salvation and we also spoke with one them about the restoration! He said he would read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it! It was pretty cool to see how that was all set up!

Being a Zone Leader is very interesting, I have my first MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) with President Van Cott tomorrow. I'm very excited because his training's are always so good! We do a lot of exchanges and we just finished some exchanges with the AP's on Saturday. It is a lot of responsibility and a lot of the time I don't feel like I know what I am doing but it is a very cool learning experience for me.

I love and miss you all. This picture shows this house that we saw that is all decked out for Christmas. It reminded me of the one we have close to our house. Have a great week everyone!

Love, Elder Barker

Monday, November 24, 2014

Member Missionary Work

It is so good to hear about your efforts with member missionary work. One of the hardest things as a missionary is trying to help the members gain the drive to help in the work. Member missionary work is so important and can work so many miracles! It is something that I want you to be on my back about when I get home! :P But it sounds like things are going well with the family you are working with. It is always hard when the husband is not very supportive but the wife is so prepared. That is the situation that we have had with Sita. 

Some advice from your missionary son is to just be a great example to their family. Doing small acts of kindness will go a long way in softening the husband's heart. Inviting them over for a BBQ, fun little game night or movie night would be cool too. Something that the husband would like and wouldn't feel weird doing. If he isn't ready to hear the lessons, then just try to think of and pray about ideas that will help him get to that point, and of course getting Dad in there to help would be awesome too. Hehe. Since they also have kids, as the Relief Society president you can get with the missionaries and coordinate with them on enlisting the help of a family who has kids that are around the same ages and would get along. I will keep them in my prayers.

Things have been going well around here, but just a little slower than we'd like.  Sita is still struggling with wanting to be baptized or not. I guess she has been feeling that we have been trying to force her into baptism or something. Which it is sad to hear because before we start teaching anyone we tell them how this is all about them and how it will be their choice and how when they come to know that it is true for themselves, then that is when they should willingly take the step of baptism. 

We explained to her the promise in Moroni 10:3-5 and let her know that we are here for her and how much we care for her. Because it isn't about adding another number to the church, it is about the blessings she will gain from the restored gospel and happiness she will feel. So that is where we are with her. We also have been having a hard time meeting with any of our other investigators but we did see a lot of less active members this week and things went well with that. But this work is all about faith so as we keep that up we will have success!
Me & Elder Griffes...the picture I promised you. :)
Thanksgiving we are going to go out just like every other day, but we are apparently are going to be headed over to a Tongan feast at a members home. I'm going to get sooooooo fat here!! I've already gained like 20 pounds!! I'm going to have to hit the tread mill hard when I come home to work off all this Tongan food! 

We got your 'gift of tongues' package, we liked it a lot! :D

I forgot to mention that the baptism we had scheduled has been pushed back so it is not going to be this week. They are waiting for some family to come into town and so it might not happen until like December or January. :( 

I sent Kameron an email for his birthday today, I hope he has a great day. I also heard from Alyssa, it's pretty crazy to think that California will be the place to be for the Barker kids, I bet you are excited to have them closer! :D 

Have a great week and enjoy Thanksgiving! I love you all!

Elder Barker

Monday, November 17, 2014

Questions Of The Soul

Sorry I'm so late emailing today, but we did a lot of cleaning! I think you would be proud of me! I'm not so much of a slob anymore, well almost haha. But I am cleaner! 

I split another pair of pants this week, that was fun... :P I guess I can try and get them fixed when I get my suit dry cleaned. But things have been really good. It is cool that you were able to meet Elder Langi! He is a great guy! We were in the same zone for a long time.

I'm also happy that McKenna liked my card! I thought it fit well for our relationship! haha 

Things have been good for my first week as a zone leader. I haven't done a lot yet, so it hasn't been too different. I guess it will require a lot of responsibility though! I'm too goofy for responsibility! ;) haha just kidding... kinda. But it is good. 

My new companion is named Elder Crossett. He is from Orem, Utah. He is a lot shorter than me so that is a bit different since most of my companions have been as tall or taller than me! But he was a wrestler just like Nate and he actually might have wrestled Nate before! Weird! He has been out for about 5 months. It has been really good so far to be his companion.

Our investigators have been doing well for the most part. We have put the Hifo boys on date for baptism, well one of them. The other 3 boys will be child of record baptisms, but they will be baptized on Nov. 29! It will be great!

We also were able to make a appointment with Jackie so we will see what happens with her. Hopefully we can get her to take the lessons from some other missionaries in an English ward. We also had a sad experience with Sita. We went to see her and she told us how she didn't want to be baptized anymore. But we had a really good talk with her, and we were able to get her to pray about the Book of Mormon, so we will follow up with her this week.

I've really been getting a lot out of my scripture study. I've been studying about the "Questions of the Soul" from the Book of Mormon, that has really been a great experience. There is so much that we can learn for our daily lives as we study from the scriptures! I know that I've learned a lot!

Anyway, I love you all lots! I hope you have a great week! Take care! 


Elder Barker

Monday, November 10, 2014

Change Is The Word

So this week we have had a lot of changes. Jackie ended up dropping us because she broke up with the guy she was dating in the ward. We were super saddened about that. Also Misty had been having some troubles as well, but as we were teaching her the plan of the salvation I think that helped her to progress. 

It was a very difficult lesson to teach at first however as there were a lot of distractions. Little kids were running around and crying, a loud Spanish party next door was enjoying blasting its music louder and louder. However in the midst of all of this I felt that we needed some way to bring in the spirit. I mean we can't teach without the spirit, it just doesn't work. So the thought came to me to sing a hymn. So we stopped and sang "I am a Child of God".  It changed everything and may seem like a weird thing to do but the spirit it brought helped us teach our lesson. 

Not all of the week was disappointing though. Si'i came to church and we were happy about that! He has been doing really good. And we picked up two new investigators. They are 9 and 10 years old. It is a similar situation as the Taukeiaho's but they are younger boys.

Transfers are here again, and I'm staying in the Tongan ward. But Elder Griffes is leaving for another ward here in Fontana and my new companion is Elder Crossett. I knew him in San Bernardino so that is cool, he has only been out for 4 Transfers. We are going to be Zone Leaders together. So that will be a big change! 

It is so weird that McKenna is going to be 16! I've got a card for her in the mail that I thought was pretty funny when I saw it. :D But tell her she is not allowed to date until she is like 45 or something like that! Otherwise I'm going to use my best Tongan pose and scare the kid to death! :P haha 

Anyway, things are going well.  I love you all lots and I hope you have a great week!


Elder Barker