Monday, August 31, 2015

A Missionary's Testimony

My dear, wonderful family and friends,

My full time service for the Lord will come to a close here in just a few days. This will be the last e-mail sent by Elder Barker. Sad I know! :) I've thought a great deal of what I would say about the end of my mission and how dramatic I can make it... haha!

But in all seriousness I've thought a lot about what has happened the last two years and I want to give my last testimony to all of you, as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

There has been a lot that I have learned serving as a missionary. I have learned that not only is God real, He loves each and every one of us in a way we can scarcely understand. His love is endless. I have learned that I truly do have a loving Savior, Jesus Christ, who has made it possible for me to rise above myself and my faults. I've felt the healing and enabling power of His atonement fill my life. It has changed my whole being. I have learned that revelation is real. Not only for us personally, but I have come to know that revelation guides this church.

I know we have Prophets and Apostles on the earth who are guided by the spirit of the Lord. I know that the Lord restored his church through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I've met so many people who speak ill of Joseph Smith and say all manner of things about him. I've come to know Joseph Smith was an honest, good man who was called of God. The gospel restored through him has changed my life, and the lives of those I've taught.

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 128, verse 19, which reads: "Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!" I know that these glad tidings change lives. They are definitely beautiful, at least to me.

So as Joseph says in verse 22 of this same section: "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?" I sure plan to, even when I'm home. I know this work is true, without a doubt. I wish you all well. I'm excited to see you all again!

Elder Barker, signing off.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Finishing Strong!

This week has been good, I can't believe that it is my last week, it will be nuts! Today I'm going to get a water bottle holder and all the rest of the tune up stuff for my bike taken care of, like the light; so it will be in good shape for the new missionary. I'm also going to get my suit dry cleaned today as well. That way I can look nice and smell nice for you all! haha :D 

Tell Sister VanBuskirk that I totally understand! Also tell her to say 'Hi" to Francisco for me! This week is going to be interesting. So tomorrow I have my departing interview with President Van Cott. Then I have my last P-day on Saturday, so I'll e-mail you then. The reason we are doing that is because on Monday we have a Mission Conference with Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy, which will be awesome! So I will go to that and then go to the Mission Home for the rest of the day, I will probably turn in my iPad then. Then the next day I fly home! I will be flying home with Elder Griffin, Elder Frost, Sister Baker and Elder Ashcraft. 
Elder Griffin & Elder Barker (taken at a Zone Meeting)
We have lots of interesting things happening this week, so I imagine it will fly by. This past week was good, we had some good lessons. Our investigator Tyrell is just on fire. He is always keeping his commitments. He comes to church nearly every week. He feels he isn't quite ready for baptism, but I feel he is really close. We also met a guy named John yesterday who doesn't know if he will ever join the church, but he feels his faith strengthened every time he meets with missionaries. We are starting to have quite a few people come out of the wood work who are progressing well, so that has been awesome.

That has been pretty much it for this week, I'm finishing strong! This is it! It is time to sprint to the end! I'm excited for this upcoming week! I love you all lots. I hope you a have a great week as well, remember I'm going to be emailing you on Saturday. I'm excited to see everyone soon!

Elder Barker

Monday, August 17, 2015

Making A Difference

Elder Barker & Brother Nogueroles
It is nuts to think that I am this close to coming home. This week was full of the 'You are going home soon missionary stuff'. We had our temple trip on Wednesday with President and Sister Van Cott. That was awesome! I love going to the temple. The feeling that you get there is the best, and the knowledge that you gain is priceless. It set a very good mood for the rest of the day. 

After that, we had lunch at the mission home and we had the 'Hey, here is what you need to know in order to adjust back into normal life' talk. That kinda throws you off from the work just a little bit. Some of that was on job searching, to look within your network of people, so if you could ask around for me, to make it known to family or those in the ward that I will be job searching when I'm home that would be great. 

Then on Sunday I had my departing devotional. I do have pictures on my camera, so I can't show you just yet. It was a lot of fun. I got my flight itinerary and stuff, so that is weird. I had some people show up for it. Most were from the Tongan ward. People like Manase, the Toutai's, and the Vave's. They gave me leis of candy so when you see my pictures, you will see lots of candy around my neck! Yum! Haha 

The Flores family also came and some exciting news is that they are going to be sealed here in the temple in September. So I really want to be back in California for that! 

The Flores Family (Courtesy of Sister Flores)
One thing that I got out of this devotional was that my service did make a difference in others lives. It has always been a thought of mine, am I making a difference? I learned last night that the Lord has blessed me enough to know that in His service you always make a difference. That has been a great theme of my mission. 

We did teach a few lessons this week, we taught Tyrell The Plan of Salvation, and he is doing good. Not too many leaps and bounds in that regard, but we are working with him. Anyway, I love you all!

I hope you have a great week!

Elder Barker

I do have one picture for you! This is me and Brother Nogueroles, he is the dad of my former ward mission leader in the YSA ward. His son is now on a mission in the same mission as Andria Lamb!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Making It Count

So I took my bike to a bike shop today to get it tuned up a little. I'm planning on trying to sell it, I just need to find someone to buy it. 

This week I have a departing devotional, I sent out a bunch of invites to people in all of the wards that I've served in. I really hope that some of them can show up! I also have a departing Temple trip and lunch with President on Wednesday coming up here. So I have a lot of stuff to deal with! Ah!! 

I also figure I'm going to throw away a bunch of things that I won't need anymore. Some of my clothes, and things. A lot of my pants are really done for and one of my suits doesn't fit me the greatest anymore.  So I will have to go through everything and see what is stuff I really need and what don't I need. I already threw a lot of junk out when I left my last ward. 

Things here in Redlands have been good. We are busy and we did a lot of service this week. I got a pretty nasty sunburn, but it is fading away now. I might start peeling, who knows. 

Things with our investigators are going. It was hard to meet with them this week but when we did we had really good lessons. Quality over quantity I guess?! Tyrell came to church again so he is on fire! He is excited because he gets to search things out for himself and he isn't being forced to believe anything. He gets to choose. 

We also saw Ashley and she told us that she isn't ready to make certain changes in her life just yet so she wants to stop having lessons. We told her that we understood and that we would be here when she was ready. She really appreciated the fact that we were understanding. So our week I would say was overall good. Oh, and Elder Allen is home now, so that was a sad goodbye but I'll be seeing him again real soon. :)

I really want to make these last few weeks in the mission field count, I want to finish strong! I want to talk with tons of people, teach lots of lessons, all that stuff. I'm not the biggest fan of just sitting around and doing nothing. So I hope to pick up a few new investigators before I come home. I love being a missionary and the longer I get to wear my name tag, the happier I'll be! 

I hope you have a great week! I love you all lots! 

Elder Barker

Monday, August 3, 2015

Strength In Our Time Of Need

Elder Aguilar, Elder Thornton, Elder Barker, Elder Allen
This week has been good, it is Elder Allen's last week and he has been handling it very well. It is weird how the time is going by so fast. It's been wonderful to serve with him again and to be in his presence. 

Life in the Redlands Pioneer Ward is pretty good. We are staying in the same apartments that I stayed in my when I had my previous sojourn here. Our teaching appointments have been good too.

We are teaching a man named Ken and he is doing well. I feel that as we read to him from the Book of Mormon, that it will help him to progress even more. Things with Ashley have been going pretty well. She has been going through some tough times and that has been affecting her progression towards baptism, so we will have to push back her baptismal date a bit, however she's bouncing back really well and is becoming stronger because of it. 

It is amazing to see the atonement of Jesus Christ working in people. For it truly does give us strength in our times of need. Also fasting and prayer can play a very powerful part in helping someone come to God. I love the scripture and Alma 6:6, that talks about how the children of God are commanded to meet together oft to fast and pray for the welfare of the souls who know not God. Our faith can help others to come closer to God. 

Anyway I'm doing really well, life is good. I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Barker

Monday, July 27, 2015

Last Day In The Dunes & A Quadpanionship

Elder Stafford, Elder Barker, Oscar, Karen & Paula
Karen and Oscar are like a second family to me, they have a daughter named Paula that reminds me a lot of McKenna. They are are a really sweet family. Gabe is a convert in the ward and he has a really awesome back story. He is super cool and loves spending time with and getting to know the missionaries, that yogurt was really good by the way! :D Sister Broadhead is another sweet lady in the ward, She likes to feed us and her fettuccine is delicious! Also Sister VanBuskirk's pizza is so great too! Haha we had a lot of food before we left. The people in that ward are really great, I will miss them a lot. 
The Elders at 5 Guys
Elder Armstrong & Elder Barker
Elder Taylor & Elder Barker
Things here in the Pioneer ward are going well. There are a few people that remember me, so that is super cool! The weird thing is that I'm in a quadpanionship, so there are four of us together. Elder Thornton, is one of my companions, he is from North Dakota. Elder Allen is another, we get to be companions again, which is great! But he is going home really soon, and once he is gone we will be a trio. Of course Elder Aguilar is good as well! 

We are actually really busy, we will be having a baptism soon. It's a woman named Ashley. She is really cool and has has gone a long way in her teaching, she is on fire right now so it is awesome! 

Anyway, I hope you have a great week! I love you and miss you all! 

Love, Elder Barker

Monday, July 20, 2015

#LastTransfer #BackToWhereIStarted

Love it when someone sends you a picture, but even more to hear that your son is doing his best to be an amazing missionary who is touching people and bringing the spirit into their lives. 

So transfers are in... I'm being transferred back to the Pioneer ward in Redlands! I'm going back to where I started, it will be kind of weird after two years, I guess it will show me how much I've changed. 

My new companion will be Elder Aguilar. He was Elder Griffes companion in Fontana awhile back. He is from Texas and he came out with Elder Stafford. It will be sad to leave Bermuda Dunes, there are a lot of people here that I'm going to miss. So I guess I will be able to come by and visit them real soon. It is also weird that this is going to be my last transfer! Only 6 more weeks, it is nuts, I'm not sure what to think.

This week we have been getting some rain. It was a much needed break from the sun and the heat! We were actually able to go out and walk. It felt amazing!:) We were not able to meet with the Anderson's this week. We are not exactly sure what is going on with them, but we are probably going to have to hand them off to other missionaries. 

Other than that, we have met a lot of nice potential investigators this week. There will at least be a little work for Elder Stafford and his new companion. 

Anyway I'm excited for this new transfer. It will be fun! I love you and miss you all! Have a great week!

Elder Barker

Monday, July 13, 2015

Family History & Comic Books

This week was good. With the Anderson's, we are going to push their baptismal date back a little bit. We are having some interesting things happening with them, so we have to pull back a little. 

However, we had a really great lesson with them on the Plan of Salvation. We also tried to meet with Hector this week, but with no luck. A lot of people have been gone for vacations and things like that. 

We have been trying to push family history a lot so we are trying to get an event started so members can bring their friends. I even sent a letter to grandma and grandpa asking them some questions I had and stuff. 

I also had an idea of maybe starting up a comic book shop on the side or something, so we have been doing some business contacting with store owners. That is where we go "Hey, I'm interested in starting a business and have a few questions.", and hopefully we can get them to ask us questions about what we do as missionaries. :) We are trying to get creative with our search for investigators, so it is fun!

Anyway I'm doing good. I hope things are going well for you! I love you all!

Elder Barker

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hope Ya Know, We Had A Hard Time

Tell poor McKenna that I don't miss getting up and putting up the Flags! Haha What I like about the desert is that it is always nice and warm in the morning! Haha Yes we had to come in early for the Fourth, just like usual. We updated records and stuff.  

This week was really good. We have been spending some time trying to get used to the new area book app that we have. I'm super excited to have these technologies! It is weird that it is July already. Time just doesn't want to slow down I guess! 

The work has been going good. We set up for the Anderson's to come over to our Bishop's house for the Fourth of July, we also helped them move out of their house. They were looking for anything that could give them a sense of normality in their lives. They came, and we shared a message with them so that was great! 

They had a good time and the people who were there really helped them feel at home. We shared the message from Elder Cook called "Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time." One of the Bishop's sons had a friend over and the message really helped him out a lot. Hopefully we will be able to start teaching him as well. 

We also had a great experience doing some service for a random guy this week. We were visiting a member of our ward and we saw his neighbor struggling trying to remove a little palm tree from his front yard. We went over and offered to help and he let us. After a some hard work and lots of sweat..... we couldn't get it. So we got our member to come use his truck and we pulled it out that way. So we were talking to the neighbor and we just asked him if there was anyone that we could come by and share a message too, and he said we could come by next Wednesday and teach him and his daughter! So that was awesome for us! :)

This week has been filled with a lot of good things so that has made me happy!

Have a Happy Birthday, Momma! :D I love you and miss you! I hope you all have a great week!


Elder Barker

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Family & The Temple

Don't you worry Mom, you will be my first hug when I come home! Haha And no, you didn't tell me you have my flight itinerary! That is so weird! I guess I can speak on the 13th. :) Haha

Things haven't been too bad heat wise. It stays at about 110 most of the time, but now it is down to about 100. Yes, I know Elder Craven. He is my roommate, He is actually right next to me, right now. :) 

But anyway, this week was good. We went to the temple which was great! It was on Thursday which I think was perfect since it was only the next day that we found out about the Supreme Court ruling. It has been a pretty big deal around here. 

I don't have too much to say about it other than I'm grateful for prophets and apostles that receive revelation. We have been sharing The Family: A Proclamation To The World with everyone. The document is amazing. And the timing of when it was given was inspired by God. 

I have a testimony gained from personal experience and confirmation from God himself that gender is a divine characteristic, and that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is in fact, when sealed with the priesthood of God in his holy temple; the only way to fulfill God's purpose for us being here. And true happiness can only be found with it. 

There is no way to receive exaltation without it. I invite all who read this, to study The Family: A Proclamation To The World and pray and ask God if what it teaches is true. I want that on my blog, and I want everyone to know that this is my position on the family. 

We do need to remember to be respectful to others, and bear our testimonies of the plan of salvation. I love this scripture in Alma 31: 5 "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just--yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them--therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God." 

I really don't like arguing with anyone about what I believe and really that will do nothing, but I will testify of what I know to be true and how I know it and then invite others to find out for themselves by reading and asking God for themselves.

Things have been going well for the Anderson family. They are on date for baptism. We had a great first lesson and sister Anderson really just soaked it all in. By the time we invited her to be baptized, she was just like "of course!" I think that things will go well with them. 

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
Love, Elder Barker

Monday, June 22, 2015

iPads & Missionary Work

Palm Desert Zone Conference
I've been having a good week! We had Zone Conference and it was really good. We mostly talked a lot about ways to find investigators and helps for planning. Then we got our iPads at the end, and spent some time setting them up at the church. It is really nice to have them now, we are really enjoying them a lot. It is great because now we don't have to wait at the library for emailing and stuff like that. We can now just go to the church and spend some time emailing.

The iPads are really nice for the work! They are the mini iPads. We have the gospel library app which is really great! We don't have our area book app yet, but when we do it will be really helpful. It is also nice to share videos during lessons and stuff like that.

It is weird to think that Ammon is going to be coming home soon. It
seems like just yesterday that he was escorting me through the MTC. You know I never asked you what what was it like driving away from the MTC after dropping me off. Was it emotional? :)

The work has been going well. It has been hot lately. It was 118 on
Thursday! The average temperature is about 113 or so. And it is only
supposed to keep getting hotter! It makes it so we have to get creative with how we find people. So it is fun!

Things are going well with the Anderson Family. Sister Anderson came to church! She was able to meet a lot of people at church. We are going to have a lesson with them on Wednesday, so that should go well.

Well, anyway I hope you have a good week! I love you all lots!

Elder Barker

Elder Stafford & Elder Barker

Monday, June 15, 2015

Working Hard In The Dunes

Haha Ah poor McKenna! She looks so miserable after getting her wisdom teeth out. I will have to send her an email to cheer her up! :) She looks funny in her picture :P haha But I know that is how I looked too! That is crazy that you are getting a new fence. It will be weird not to have the wooden one that I've had all of my life! it will be strange to see all the changes when I come home, wont it?! 

It is getting really hot over here right now. It has been in the 100's all week. It is supposed to reach 110 this week so that will be fun. ;) We got the package you sent, so we will have fun with the gift cards and everything, thanks! Elder Stafford is really awesome, we get along really well. Funny thing is, he has been companions with every single elder from my MTC district. I'm the last one! 

We have been doing pretty good this week. We have found a new investigator that we will meet with tonight. She is a friend of a member of the ward and is staying with them for the week. We also had a really good lesson with a family that is in a really bad place right now. They reached out to the church because they are going to lose their apartment. The Bishop asked us to go over to meet with them. So we went over and talked with the wife.

We had a very spiritual meeting with her, where we talked about how our message can help improve the quality of her families life. They are not members, but have some member friends that pointed them to the church. We talked about the Savior and asked them if they would like to take the lessons. She told us they were interested, so we invited them out to church so they could meet the Bishop. They didn't end up coming, so we don't know what is going to happen with them. But hopefully things will go well. 

We are seeing a lot of good things happen, so I'm super happy about that. Anyway I love you all! I hope you have a great week! Oh, we get our iPad's this week so that is exciting! We will be able to email from them, so that will be super nice! I'm really stoked! 

Elder Barker

Monday, June 8, 2015

Transfer Week Is Cool and Hot

Transfers are here and I'm staying here in Bermuda Dunes and and Elder Duffin is headed to San Bernardino. My new companion is Elder Stafford, he is from Missouri. He served around me in my district in Fontana, so I know him well. It should be fun!

We get our iPads in like two weeks or so. As soon as all the missionaries do their online training, then President Van Cott can start giving them out. This week was cool! Francisco was able to stay until Thursday, so we were able have another lesson with him. 

We also were able to learn more about his mom. She is a really neat lady. She loves the VanBuskirk family (the member family Francisco had been staying with). She also has seen the changes in Francisco and she really likes that. We feel she will really want to take the missionary lessons, so we are going to send her in as a referral.

If she gets baptized then I feel that Francisco will get baptized in an instant. We also had Billy come to church again yesterday. It was cool because we hadn't seen him in a while. His mom wants to start coming back to church as well. 

Things this transfer will go good. It will get really hot! It's going to be over 100 degrees all week.  I'm going to come home very sunburnt! haha 

Anyway I love you all and hope you have a great week! :D I'll be waiting for that package! Tell McKenna that I hope she enjoys all of the ice cream she can eat when she gets her wisdom teeth out. :) Hope she feels better soon!

Elder Barker

Monday, June 1, 2015

In The World, But Not Of The World.

Things this week have been going better. I heard about Elder Perry's passing yesterday, I will miss him a lot. He was an amazing man of God. We were only able to meet with Francisco this week, his dad let him stay another week. We are going over to spend some time with him today.  

There are a lot of exciting things that are going to be happening in the mission. We had our iPad training on Wednesday, and it was really awesome! It wasn't so much of a technical training as it was a spiritual training.

We talked a lot about how these iPads are just tools. They haven't been set apart as missionaries and they don't have the gift of the Holy Ghost. But we do. All of these tools are here to help get us in front of more people. We will be able to reach the world with these tools, so they will be a great help for us. 

There was a lot of cool things which they shared with us that I could share with you all, but I want to focus on the things that are spiritual. It was really good for me to see how the Lord is preparing the rising generation. These tools are going to arm the missionary force with power and healthy habits that will go far beyond our missions. It really is an inoculation for us. We were taught safeguards for using technology. 

These safeguards include things like being focused on your missionary purpose. Be disciplined, rely on the spirit, and be one with your companion and the other missionaries in your district. It seems that the Lord really wants to pull all of his children together. One of the keys to being safe is to be open and united with those we love. If we are one, then Satan can have no power over us. I love the scripture from John 17:15-22.

17 15 pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the worldbut
that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.16 They are not of the 
worldeven as am not of the world.17 Sanctify them through thy 
truththy word is truth.18 As thou hast sent me into the world, 
even so have also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakesI sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the 
truth.20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which 
shall believe on me through their word 21 That they all may be oneas thou, Fatherart in me, and in thee, that they also may be oneius: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me have given them; that they may be oneeven as we are one.

It seems that the more that I study the gospel, the more I learn that our purpose is to be united with our Father in Heaven and to be together. Satan wants everyone to be alone. God wants everyone to be together!

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

Elder Barker