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