Monday, May 26, 2014

Steady as she goes.

This week has been uneventful, at least in comparison to the past couple of weeks. We have spent a great deal of time​ trying to find inactive members and previous investigators. We haven't had much success yet in the previous investiagor department or in the inactive member one as far as finding people to teach goes. We have found many homes where the people no longer live there, and a very nice family who decided to go back to their old religion a few weeks after being baptized. I just don't understand how someone could be baptized and walk away from the promise with God they had just made.

A*** is doing really good. We have set a baptismal date with her and she is doing everything that she needs to progress toward baptism. She is really changing her life for the better and we are super excited for her. The one kill-joy is that we had to give her to the Sisters. *sigh* We are keeping contact and encouraging her but all of the teaching will now be done by the Sisters.

J*** is taking a while as well. We are back into contact with him, but it is a tenacious contact. We are progressing with him a a snail's pace now, mostly to try and not scare him off again. We are just hoping that he doesn't try to avoid us again for a month.

D*** and his family are doing really well. We are hoping to set a date with all of them in the near future. We spent all of last night over at their place just getting to know them better and building that trust. This family is so awesome. Elder Matangi braided the girls' hair (one of them looked really good and the other.... not so much) and I had fun having them try to guess our first names and ages. They eventually got my name after a bit of help (It's a girl's name out here), are still clueless about Elder Matangi's, and now think that I am 41 and Elder Matangi is 59. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We are also teaching someone named C***, the sister of one of our old investigators. Her brother moved to the other side of Arkansas to take care of his grandmother, and we ended up teaching C***. She really enjoys church and we have hopes for her. 

Elder Jayden Barker

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sharing is caring, unless you lace it with laxatives.

May 19, 2014

Yeah, a couple of missionaries in our zone was very kind to the AP's and left an annonymous gift of brownies at their door. It had a little extra goodness in them that helped them be more 'free'. Poor souls.

So my new Comp is Elder Matangi. Pic at the bottom. He's pretty awesome and is as different from elder Clason as it is possible to get. He is from Logan, Utah, although his parentals are native-born Tongans. He will be attending USU when he finishes up his mission in a year and will most likely going into something psychology related. He is super laid-back, enjoys breakfast cereal, and can snore louder and longer than my Grandpa (that's saying something btw).

Jumping right into the story, things are getting interesting.  We've been able to find 13 people to teach this past week. We also were able to get 6 people to church, an all-time high for me. So I'm super pumped about that. In the midst of all the joyful spirit of the work there were some downers as well. 

J*** has gone from our top Progressing Investigator to being on pause. I don't understand how this happened, but I think that he slipped up on smoking, was anti-ed, and reached a low with some other problems all at the same time. The long and short of the matter is he is now actively avoiding us. He was so happy, and things were going so well for him. I wish I could just talk with him for 5 minutes to try and understand what is going on, but this is the second week we have had with zero contact. If he was anti-ed I would love to hear the reasons that this person would give as to why he would destroy someone's happiness just when things were going good again in his life.

D*** has since moved out again. This time she is somewhere in Bebe, and it will be all but impossible for us to find her there. It is up to her to call us now if she needs anything.

To bring it back to the positive we are teaching a couple of new families. One of them was one of those super awesome right-time, right-place moments. Ash had been going through an incredibly hard time and we were there to listen and talk with her. We will most likely be turning her over to the Sisters because she is a single mom, but she has been prepared by the Lord to accept the gospel. I'm excited to see her progress.

Really not much else to mention. We are finally off of bike week, and just in the nick of time. It rained tuesday-thursday up here. Sorry Cabot Sisters. Elder Matangi and I are still working on getting used to the other person's style of teaching. Hopefully we will be done with that sometime this week. Already we are improving. 

God is great, Cake is good, and People are krazy!
Elder Jayden Barker


May 12, 2014

So really I'm not all that sure what I can mention and what I can't. I don't want to give redundant info, but after a very nice chat over Skype with Le Family I'm not sure what I talked about already, and what I haven't. So, sorry if there's any repetition.

Let's start with a conversation with D***. Honestly that sounds a lot more dramatic that it really was; her name is D***. Anywho, I first ran into her back when I was still working with Elder Clason. We saw her walking down the side of the road at a fairly brisk pace and decided to talk with her. We drove past her and began walking back toward her so we could 'coincidentally' run past her and talk with her. We do that a lot as a missionary, or at least in Cabot. Or maybe just with comps. like Elder Clason. I dunno.

Bringing it all back we had a pretty good conversation with her and prayer. During this time we found out that she was almost 18, homeless, and had walked about 20 miles in 3 hours on the off-chance that her cousin may have a place for her to stay for the night. She had been bumped from one foster home to the next with a few brief stints in Juvie and was working on emancipation because she didn't want to go back. After trying and failing to get a return appointment ("That's right, no home right now. Well, this just got awkward.") we gave her our number and asked her to call if she ever needed anything.

We knew what trailer park her cousin lived in and the description of the outside of it, so we knew that we could find the place if she happened to stay there for any great length of time. We went back to the car and parked it in a discrete location where we could see the entrance of the park. This way we would be able to stay if she wasn't staying with her cousin. If she was staying with him then we would go back to see her. If not, then we would see her leave and... well, we would make it up as we went along.

After about 5 minutes of prayer and discussion on the best course of action we saw her leave the trailer park, obviously not staying with her cousin for the night. By the time we decided to talk with her again and see what we could do to help she had walked out of sight. We searched for her again, but without success. Eventually we stopped at a fast-food place so Elder Clason could use their bathroom.  This time worked out really well for us though, because low and behold, there on the curb sat D***.

After reasuring her that we weren't stalking her we jumped back in the car and drove to a nearby house where a member was working on it. We had been there previously and knew he was there and hopefully had a spare water bottle for her. He did, and eagerly gave it to us to pass on to the thirsty girl. We drove back to the restaurant and gave it to her. She downed it in about three seconds flat and said that was the first drink she had all day. (Score 1 for team missionary). She told us that she was waiting for her grandmother to come and get her, provided that she had enough gas to get out to us. The grandmother, she said, lived out in a town called Butlerville, but is so small in population that it doesn't even show up on a GPS, and is about 20-30 minute drive away. We made a promise that we would do what we could to help her get a ride if her aged parental unit failed to show up.

We then went into the restaurant so that my companion could finally relieve himself. This completed, we began calling everyone we could think of to see who could get a poor girl a ride back home. While we were doing this the grandmother showed up and they drove away before we could do anything but wave. We were very disappointed. A blind search of some of Butlerville's roads didn't yield any results either. We were pretty sure that this was the last time that we would be able to see Destiny.

Jump forward until about a week ago. We had been blitzing the area with the Zone Leaders (blitzing means that missionaries from another area leave their area to go help out a neighboring area) and I was with Elder Soelsberg. After running into a few people we could share our message with we started to head back to the apartment complex to leave for a meeting, and who should we see walking on the road but D***. She had moved in with a few friends (one of them is a literal gypsy. Too cool!) less than a 5 minute walk away from our apartment room.

My new comp is Elder Matangi, and he is from Logan, Utah. His parents are native-born Tongans. He hasn't started a major yet, but he is very talented in most sports. We have hit it off pretty well, and although we didn't get much done this past week because of transfers and getting sick we fully anticipate to rock this area!

I think that's everything for now. 


Elder Jayden Barker

Pic #1 - us in a convertible shortly after talking with our families. Elder Matangi
Pic #2 - last pic taken with Elder Clason. Of course he closed his eyes, that punk. =D

My Comp has rabies

May 5, 2014

( ^ my sister)

Once again, please feel free to publicly humiliate the offspring of my parental units provided that this is the anniversary of their surviving another solar cycle.

So I'm pretty sure that everyone has heard about the tornado. If not, well, grab the nearest random person with a newspaper/phone from this century. We got hit by an F4 tornado just 10 miles north of Cabot where I am staying. It was pretty awesome. We were able to go up and start the clean-up process this past Tuesday and Saturday. The damage done was incredible, and I will let you kind people look up whatever pics you would like to see it for yourself.

There was a woman behind us in Walmart on Tuesday, just before we went up to go and do whatever we could to help. We had picked up some needed supplies, gloves and the like, and were standing in line to pay for our purchases. Behind us was a woman buying roughly 60 lbs of cat food and dozens of toys. After she heard that we were going up there to help with the relief effort she tried to give us everything she was purchasing to take up to Vilonia. Luckily there was a donation center nearby that we knew about, because we really didn't want to lug around cat food with us. But we were complete strangers and she wanted to give it to us. This sort of generosity happened all over the place.  Kinda reminds me of a country song called "It's America" by Rodney Atkins I heard before my mission. 

The destruction, the chaos, it was unprecedented. I've never seen anything like it before, and while I hope to someday see a tornado, I really hope I don't have to live through one. Manual clean-up is still ongoing. I'll leave the topic of the tornado to that.

Elder Clason has rabies.

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention. It's a good one-liner. Anyway, while we were cleaning up Vilonia we were focusing on the Wassom's home. His story is pretty cool, but I'll let you google it if you are so inclined. This family had a cat, and while we were getting rid of a bit of rubble we saw a pretty persian cat underneath it. Thinking it might have been this family's cat Elder Clason pinned it to the ground right behind its head. Usually when you pin a cat there, or any animal really, it can't do anything to you except meow loudly. This cat somehow managed to get it's paw on something to use as leverage and flipped over onto its back. It then showed him exactly how much it disliked having it's hiding place removed suddenly and then being pinned to the ground. After about 2 seconds of abuse Elder Clason decided that it just wasn't worth it to try and catch the cat.

That night his arm started to swell up and turned a lovely shade of maroon. He quickly decided that this was not a normal shade of skin color and called the mission doctor. He advised us to go to the ER immediately (this was at about 9:15pm) because of the risk for infection and rabies. We said OK and off we went. Finally at 3am we left the hospital in North Little Rock, a journey of 20 minutes, having received no vaccinations of any sort. The wound had been scrubbed with some disinfectant and the explanation that because it was a provoked attack the risk of rabies was very low. Waking up the next morning at 6:30 per usual proved impossible.

The next day we called up the doc again and told him what had happened. He became very angry and told us that they had screwed up because there was active rabies in the area and didn't think it would be a good idea to at least call the health department. He gave us the number to call and we were put in contact with yet another doctor, who just happened to have been on call the night before. She told us that unless we could ID the cat to have it tested Elder Clason would need to get the shots. He and I both knew that the chances of finding the cat again was incredibly unlikely, and even if we did find it Elder Clason would probably kill it first for mangling his arm. So back to the ER again for the same reason at basically the same time. We got back home again at 2:30am this time though, which was a bit nicer. He has to go in repeatedly this next month for follow-up shots.

The next day we had our vehicles recalled because of axle problems. This fiasco took up basically the full day, but as a definite perk we now have a rental car through Enterprise. This means we now have unlimited miles on our vehicles until we get our old ones back. Still, that was annoying.

Sometime during the craziness we met a girl about our age walking on the side of the street. We stopped and said a prayer with her and discovered that she was homeless at the time. She had walked for about 20 miles and for 3 hours from Bebe to try and stay with her cousin. We saw her again later at a nearby fast-food joint, clearly not staying with her cousin. I offered her a bottle of water and purchased her some food. We sat and chatted with her for a short while before going into the building to use the restroom and to try and find a ride for her to some relative who could take her in. While we were calling around her grandmother showed up to take this girl to her home. We had hoped to share the gospel with her, but we had very little hope to be able to do this with no address and just the general location of where the grandmother lived.

Friday we saw her again. She was no longer living with her grandmother, but was now staying with some friends in a duplex. Honestly, it was a miracle that we saw her at all again or that she moved over to Cabot. As an icing to the cake, she now resides less than a 5 minute walk away from our apartment. 

Transfers are in two days, and I will be staying in Cabot. I'm a little apprehensive to be taking over the area, and still more so about my new comp. Hopefully he'll be experienced and should be able to help me out. Basically everyone else I know is going through transfers as well. It'll be quite the shuffle.

J*** is doing incredibly well. He has completely stopped smoking and is very excited for his baptism this next Saturday. He's coming to church, came with us to Vilonia to help out there, and is trying to share his newfound happiness with his otherwise unexcited family. I'm just very blessed to have been able to help him come closer to Jesus Christ.

Love you all!
Elder Jayden Barker

Storms of Life

 April 28, 2014

There were tornadoes yesterday night. To the relief of my mother and the mission president, and to the disappointment of every missionary/college student in the area, we were unable to see the twisters. Yes, I know that they are big and nasty forces of nature, but if they are going to occur, they might as well happen where I can see them. It would only be polite. The cool part is when I woke up yesterday morning I totally felt like there would be tornadoes. I don't know how I knew (the Spirit maybe?), but I totally called it. Latter in the evening, around 6 pm, everyone was called and told to get indoors by the Zone Leaders because funnels were touching down. I got go get to bed early. The disappointment of not being able to do more work was over ridden quite quickly by the bliss that comes from sleep.

We also are not allowed to go and aid in the clean-up efforts. For one, President Peterson says not to do anything until the local bishop organizes an effort we can join. For two, EMS and the police force have the entire area on lockdown to try and find survivors or something like that. For three, F3's or greater don't usually leave all that much behind for cleaning up, or at least this one didn't leave anything behind in the part of our area it went through. I hope to be able to go and help soon though.

J*** is still on track to be baptized on the 10th. We are super happy for the progress he is making. He's gone from smoking a pack a day (when he could afford them) about 3 weeks ago to around 1.5 death sticks per day. And he is setting his goals in 0.5 increments; it's kinda funny. I've yet to meet a person who has been prepared more by God to hear our message. It has been seriously cool to watch him change for the better.

The W*** family has been hard to get in contact with again. Lots of hospital visits and sicknesses following it. Plus K*** is the stereotypical soccer mom. There is no time there. We will be going again to visit them this week.

The B***family is on Pause right now. K*** and K*** aren't huge on keeping their commitments, which is kinda sad, but then again theyare teenagers. There is also a great deal of alcohol-induced marital problems, which I really don't want to get into or feel I should talk about.

D*** and his family is back on the radar though.  The girls are very eager to talk with us, so much so (I think I said this before) that the parents use our visits as a means of rewarding good behavior. Example: if they don't get their room cleaned in time then they aren't allowed to talk with us or go to church. I think it's kinda funny, but I wish that D*** and A*** could find a different means of rewarding their children.

Anywho, D*** has been against anyone being baptism, simply because he is trying to take care of his family. Like most incredibly awesome dads he wants to ptorect his family from any and all threats. The unknown is a threat. Because we haven't been able to get over there and have a conversation longer than 2 minutes with him, he doesn't know what baptism is. This should change this week though.

Our zone has seen 10 baptisms this past saturday - 3 from the Cabot Sisters, 3 from the J-ville sisters, and 4 from the Searcy Sisters. I'm super happy for all the progress and the lives changed, but I think us Elders need to step it up a bit.

I think I'm turning into my companion. He has the ability to study the same 4 verses in the scriptures for a full hour, and while I laugh at him a bit for it, that is totally what I did this morning. Mosiah 28:4-7. I"ll attach a picture as proof.

Love you all. Keep on smiling!

Elder Jayden Barker