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