Monday, December 28, 2015

"So you think you have free time?"

Hey friends/family/secret admirers! 

I hope everything is going well for you and that all of you had a fantastic Christmas. If you had an opportunity to give your family a really big bone-popping squeezey hug but didn't, please go and give them one for me. Both they and their chiropractor will thank you later for it.

Let's start with how the week went, shall we?

Monday started as an unusual PDay. P*** and her family (reactivated members) had recently moved homes but since they owned no vehicle was unable to bring much of their furniture with them. A***, P***s daughter, had been taking stuff over one trip at a time using a shopping cart and a couple of buggy/wagon things tied together. She was able to get quite a bit over the course of several days, but the really big stuff she wasn't able to get for obvious reasons. We had talked with Bro. Schelin about him helping and he said he had a large trailer we could hook up, but he couldn't lift anything because of a surgery he recently had. Luckily for us the Spanish Elders showed up for the party too, otherwise we would have been there a while. As it was we made short work of it, getting it all knocked out by about 12.30. After that it was off to the college to email! It was seriously weird because there was pretty much nobody else around, what with school being out and all, just the occasional faculty poking their heads in and asking us how in the world we got into the building and what it was we thought we were doing on the computers. It's remarkable what happens when you mention the Dean lol. We cleaned up a bit in our apartment, made it look all nice and pretty (not!) and enjoyed doing some hard-core R&R. It was tiresome work, but we were more than happy to take a nap and accomplish it!

We had supper over at the T***'s home that evening and it was really good. I hadn't realized how much I had been craving stir fry until I saw the massive wok that they were cooking it in. I must have piled it on there, because I was only able to get down one bowl of veggies and rice. After the meal we saluted the upcoming holiday with celebratory eggnog in proper miniature toasting glasses. It was glorious. We had a short game of Dirty Santa with them and their kids afterward. I got a nerf blow dart gun. It's pretty classy. Elder Smith got some soap and was thrilled that he wouldn't have to buy any more in the near future; he had forgotten to get some earlier in the day when we went shopping. That night we had a lesson with Angie on some of the commandments, specifically the importance of the sabbath day and keeping it holy.

Tuesday was Elder Schoenfeld's first District Meeting as a District Leader. He did really well instructing us and has been asking us to recite from memory a scripture from both the Bible and the BoM for each lesson point for one of the five lessons. I thought I knew my stuff, but apparently there's quite a bit for even an old foggie for me to learn! I was able to share a great scripture in Nehemiah chapter 10 on keeping the Sabbath Day Holy though, and that was fun. People's jaws tend to drop when you pull out scriptures from the really obscure Old Testament books. Brownie points if you email me back with the verse I was talking about! (BTW, there's not a whole lot you can use in Obadiah or Nahum. I checked.) We ate at chick-fiil-a (SP) afterward as a district. It was awesome because the nice server lady gave be a free refill. It must have been the suit I was wearing, because there were lots of other people in the restaurant at the time - the line went out to the street by the time we left. Even more fun is we ran into Bishop Rich when he brought some of his kids in to eat and play in the play area.

Right after that we headed over to Walmart (bad mistake; everyone and their grandma was there buying last minute gifts) to get some supplies to bake lots of cookies with for members and investigators. After all was said and done we had enough dough to make 15 dozen normal sized mint chocolate cookies. Naturally that didn't work out that well because we are Elders after all and it is practically a law that we make all types of food bigger than it has to be. This means we only made 12 dozen instead of the normal 15. We got dropped off by the other guys not far from our apartment with a small sack of groceries to bake stuff with and as we walked up the parking lot toward our apartment we saw a bunch of kids sitting on one of those large metal green power boxes laughing at something. Perhaps the sight of two young guys in suits and ties carrying a Walmart grocery bag across a parking lot was a comical sight; I dunno. Anyway, as we got closer to them some of them called out to us, just the usual kid-in-the-hood style greetings. 

I wasn't really sure what it was I wanted to talk to them about, but I mentioned to Elder Smith that I wanted to go talk with them. We started just asking them about what it was they wanted for Christmas, if they were going to be able to visit with their families, and what some of their favorite parts about Christmas were. We soon turned the conversation to about Christ, teaching these little kids, all of whom looked to be between 6 and 12, about why it is we have Christmas to begin with. We asked them if they loved Jesus, to which they all responded "yes!". We told them that Jesus loved them too, and that's why He was born. We mentioned to them that Jesus and our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us and we can talk to them through prayer.

Right around this point one of the younger kids stuck his hand in the air and, looking somewhat left out, told us that he didn't know how to pray. Several of the other kids piped up and said something similar once he finished. We asked them all how many of them knew had to pray, and only one or two of the older ones put their hands in the air. We started to teach them about prayer, first asking them for what they were grateful for. After they listed off various toys and games they had we asked them about their families, and if they were grateful for their homes. We asked them about some things that they wanted and more suggestions about toys and games were given. Then one of the boys from the back mentioned that he was grateful that his mother wasn't sick anymore and wanted her to stay better. Almost immediately the boys started thinking about other people and about how they wanted this person or that person to do well. We taught them that was all a prayer is, telling those things to God. We asked them if they would be willing to pray that night and talk with God. They all said they would, but one of them, the boy who first raised his hand, said he still didn't know how. We asked if they would like us to show them how and a dozen little heads nodded with muttered "yes sir"s. It felt like Elder Smith and I were teaching a Primary class about prayer as we told them fold their arms, bow their heads and close their eyes. I started to say a simple prayer, pausing a moment after saying "Dear Heavenly Father" to decide what it was I wanted to say to show these kids how to pray. During that short pause a dozen little voices repeated the words "Dear Heavenly Father" back to me.

It surprised me at first, but afterward as I thought about it all I remembered that this was how my siblings and I learned how to pray. Yes, we watched and listened to others, but first we practiced by repeating what others told us to say. So phrase by phrase together we prayed a very simple prayer. It was one of the neatest experiences, and to make it even more incredible to my mind is that later the next day we saw one of the kids on his bike as we pulled up in our car at lunch time. I was busy grabbing stuff from the back of the car, but he went up to Elder Smith and told him that he had did what we asked and had prayed that night and felt really good afterward.

A good chunk of the rest of the day was spent baking cookies. I was fighting with a bit of a cold and thus didn't help much with the baking, but worked on the area book and on keeping my bed from floating off instead. We ate some food in there (not cookies) and finished the day off by teaching A*** about some of the other aspects of the church, such as home and visiting teaching and callings. It was a solid lesson, one that R*** and P*** got a lot out of as well.

Wednesday we drove a lot trying in vain to deliver our many creations from the night before. You'd a thought that when we baked that many cookies it would have occurred to us that we were not super-humans with the power to deliver 12 dozen cookies within 6 hours, but sometimes we aren't thinking completely rationally. (We still have about 4 dozen in our car yet to be delivered. Oops;) During the madness we stopped by to visit a guy we had thought had a lot of potential, but when we got there things were quite different since last time. There was a distinct lack of the Spirit in his home and we found out a little later that it was because he and his wife had been looking up nothing but anti for the past several days. I wanted to shake him by the lapels and ask "Why are you looking up things specifically designed to destroy your faith? What good could possibly come from it?" It was irritating, because the only thing we could see come of it thus far is his wife is now afraid to even look at us. =/ Once this little episode was over we headed over to the Schnider's home for supper. It was really good, some sort of rice and chicken meal similar to Costa Vida. We wrapped up the day with a lesson with A*** on the Baptismal Interview questions. It was solid.

Thursday we had the interview with A*** and President Busbea at the church building. Right after we had an impromptu lesson on the Atonement with A***. It was really powerful; President Busbea is a powerful teacher and has a strong testimony of the gospel since he is a convert himself. We had brunch with Bishop Rich and his family and all of us got matching scarves. It was pretty awesome. Dropped off a bunch more cookies, and had a great lesson with B*** on the BoM. He enjoyed the cookies. Later we had supper with the G*** family and played Bang with them. It's a super awesome simple card game about Cowboys. The best part is that the French made it. Apparently the French love the Wild West as much as us 'Murrican's do! Sometime during the day we got a call from the AP's asking them to meet us at the Chruch building to pick up some last minute boxes. It was fun, and at last we started in on the BoM from the Beginning with A***, P***, and R***. We left them with the Introduction and the Testimonies to read. No matter what God always provides multiple witnesses to almost everything He does.

Friday was Christmas! We opened presents from home with the other members of the District, at breakfast with the Rougeau's, and later Lunch with them also. It was awesome. At the close of the night we Skyped home at the Schelin's place. It was awesome! Best Christmas gift Ever!!

Saturday we had lunch over at the Schelins. I'm not sure what it was called, but it was kinda like an omelette, but it had potatoes slices in it and bacon. It was really good and went great with the salad. After that it was driving around trying to see people as best we could without much luck, but that's OK, because we had a Baptism that we went to go prep for!!! It was super awesome. 

Sunday  we were invited to attend the Ward correlation meeting. It was really neat to see all of the goals and plans that are being set for the upcoming year. I'm kinda sad to not get to be a part of it, but at the same time I'm perfectly OK with working my hardest this final month and then calling it good for a bit! Since our weekly planning kept getting bumped back because of Christmas and such we got to do that Sunday night instead. 

Sorry for the freakishly long email, but I really don't want to forget most of what happened this past week. It was one full of miracles, and am super stoked to see what this next week will bring! Thanks for all the support, and I will talk to y'all again next week!

~Elder Jayden Barker

"Don't forget to read!"

December 21, 2015

Hey ya'll! I hope everything has been going good down in, well, where ever it is you live. I was about to say Utah, but a good chunk of the people who are getting these letters don't even live there, so yay for me being politically correct! This past week was pretty wild with all sorts of abnormal stuff going on, so instead of adding more pleasantries that most people don't care about anyway, I'll just jump straight into the meat of the story!

Monday, because truly a Missionay's week starts on their PDay: After emailing and watching some of the other Elders play pingpong we drove over to our apartment to do groceries and laundry and all those other mundane tasks  that makes the rest of life seem so pleasant in comparison. I had gotten a little behind on laundry and had a bit of a bigger load than normal, but our washer is a fairly large top-loader so I wasn't worried about it not being able to handle it. Drop the clothes in, set it to "Large", add soap, and call it good, right? Unfortunately for us it only started out that way. Since Elder Price and I were sent to live in this apartment we knew that the washer was a bit on the rattly side, doing its best to noisily shake its way into the stratosphere every time the spin cycle came along. The first time this happened  we were reasonably certain that it was either about to rip itself to pieces or spontaneously combust so we made sure we were on the other side of the apartment until it finished. When the clanking was over we were equally grateful and disappointed that no combustion occurred (or at the least that's how I felt about it all). So from that point on we just used it like normal and did our best to ignore the sounds coming from it during it's spin cycle, which I am reasonably certain sounds very close to how it would sound if two armor-clad Knights started swinging swords at eachother. Unfortunately for me, my adding extra clothes and water to the machine last week was more than the poor beast could handle and sometime during its now-infamous spin cycle it started to spin across the floor, pulling the poorly attached outlet hose out of the wall and spraying water everywhere. We realized something was wrong after the noises stopped and we noticed that we could now see the ceiling reflected off of the floor. (Flashback to Harry Potter #2 anyone?) We had fun cleaning that up and putting the washer back to where it belonged, so now to prevent further mishaps we just sit on it while it is running to keep it in place. It's like a massage, but in a place I will probably never have worked on. Once 6 pm rolled around we headed over to R*** R***'s place for supper (baked beans and hotdogs), and later tried without much success to find people to teach the gospel to. We did run into a few of our old investigators, but all of them were sick, so we just called it a night.

Tuesday was a little more successful than the day preceding it. We split out studies up to go and try to see a guy who asked us to come by at 9 since there wouldn't be any sport games of any kind going on at that time. When we got to his house nobody answered the door. Judging by the four trash bags full of beer cans, we assumed that he was probably hungover from the night before and left him to his alcohol induced coma. Finished up our studies, I found a bunch of awesome scriptures on the resurrection and off we went again! We again tried to find a few people to teach, and again met with limited success. We then thought of a guy named B*** whom Elder Smith had met at the Ward Christmas breakfast a few weeks back. He is the non-member father of a member here in Jonesboro who recently moved in around that same time. We punched the address into the GPS, saw it was about 6 miles away, and decided that we were going to do it anyway. 
It took a minute or two to find the right trailer, but find it we did. After we knocked on the door he told us he was feeling a bit sick at the time, but invited us in to talk for a few minutes and get out of the cold. Those few minutes turned into a fairly decent discussion about the Book of Mormon and why we should read it. He loved the idea that our Heavenly Father would provide multiple ways for us to understand His word, through the Bible, Book of Mormon, modern prophets, and also personal revelation. Heavenly Father truly is aware of all of our needs and has provided multiple ways for us to receive the knowledge that we need to return back to Heaven again. 
Right after we got out of the appointment we got a call from P*** asking for help moving her stuff to her new place. The old one was riddled with roaches and mice, so we were really glad to help her get out of it. We cleaned up a bit afterward and then headed over to the B***'s for supper. We had an appointment right afterwards which sadly also fell through, but that was OK because it opened the door for the major miracle of the day - having a 15 minute discussion on faith in Spanish with a man who doesn't speak a lick of English! It was super cool and was a very real indication to me that the the gift of tongues is real, because I know a little bit of Spanish, but I was using words and verb tenses that I hadn't used since I was back in High school. Sure, I have been speaking Spanish with Elder Ceron at every opportunity just because it is so much fun, but there is no way that is the sole place those words came from: It was a miracle. To wrap up the day we had a solid lesson with a guy named J at McDonalds. The Land of Golden Arches is also the Land of Golden Investigators!

Wednesday we had transfers and things got really crazy for a couple of days. Here's the shake-down: Both Elder Geddes and and Elder from Paragould were getting transferred to the Memphis side, so they would need a ride. Sister Boudrero said that she would be willing to give them a ride (I love that woman) and I got the miles on our car waived for the trip to Little Rock. President Wakolo said that every missionary needed to be in attendance for this transfer meeting, so Elder Price and Elder Lewis (two of the other missionaries from Jonesboro) and Elder Smith (my current comp) were going to go with Sister Boudrero, and Elders Ceron, and Hansen (the other Elder from Paragould) were going to go with me to Little Rock to pick up the new missionaries there. The reason Elder Smith and I had to split up was (1) to make room in our car for the way back since bringing 6 Elders plus two sets of luggage back in a Corrola isn't feasible and (2) to make mission rules ok for the other guys coming back from Memphis. So split up we did! Everyone in my car left at about 9 am to make it there in time, with the others leaving to Memphis a short time later. Elder Smith was soooo happy to be able to see Memphis, if only a little bit; apparently it's been a life dream of his, so we're glad that worked out.
While we were driving to the meeting we get a text from Elder Cunningham, one of the Zone Leaders, asking us to stop by his appartment and pick up his iPad since he was getting transfered. To make things more fun, this is the first time in forever and a half that they actually remembered to lock their door on the way out, so we had to go and ask the nice people in the office to let us in. They handed us the key, we walked over to their door, only to find that the key will not get the lock to turn. It was frustrating like nothing else was at the time since we were by this point late to the meeting. So we head back to the office, ask for some more help, and received it - they got a secondary key and walked out with us to try to get it to work. Much to our embarrassment it worked on the first time. After just a sec we were able to get the iPad and walked back part of the way since our car was parked at the office. Perhaps all of this happened for a reason though, because we were able to clear up a lot of things about what it is we believe about Christmas. You'd be surprised the sort of things other are told we believe! Anywho, once we got to Transfers a couple of crazy things happened. First we found out that the Elders in Paragould were being put in a trio, which means we still had 6 Elders to try and get back to to our areas, plus 3 sets of luggage and several bikes. Our little Corolla simply wasn't big enough for such an endeavor! Second, President Wakolo announced that that Transfer meeting would be the last one ever held, and that Transfer meetings around the world were being done away with. It is now up to ourselves to find rides to our new areas upon receiving notice that we are getting moved. Honestly, I'm pretty glad that I don't have to mess with it! #OutInTheNickOfTime
Well, we had the whole car situation to figure out, and honestly I'm still not sure how we managed it. Some of them took their luggage and went to Pocahontas, and others, including me-self, Elder Ceron, Elder Hunt (an elder heading to Paragould), and Elder Schoenfeld, our new District Leader and Elder Ceron's new companion, got to hang out for the night in south Little Rock with the Spanish Zone Leaders. We did some service that evening raking a bunch of leaves and stuffing them into bags, and later ate with that family. The Sisters were there just before us, and so by the end of the night that family had had 14 missionaries in their home for a meal. It was crazy! This family has a book that has the names of every missionary they ever fed going back to the 1960's, and it was pretty fun to put my name in the book too! I was hanging out with Elder Hunt as his temporary companion, and since he was feeling pretty sick we went in early for him to sleep and for me to do some hard-core studying. That was fun, sleeping in my suit and on the floor. =\ We woke up the next morning on Thursday, went to a meeting for the Leaders of the mission (I got to dink around on the piano for a couple of hours instead. #Bliss!), and finally got on the road... only to have to turn around and go back because Elder Hunt had left one of his bags in another missionay's truck. It was crazy. So on we drove, stopping in Searcy to pick up more luggage that had been taken there, and then drive up to Paragould to drop off Elder Hunt to his other companions. It was really strange being there again, since the last time I was there was over a year ago on exchanges. I felt pretty pleased with myself in remembering where the other Elder's used to live, and guided them over to there, only to discover that the Elders and Sisters had switched apartments sometime within the last year! That was fun! But we got it figured out and headed off to the Sister's old apartment (which I also remembered luckily). We finally got back to Jonesboro at about 8-ish PM following being on the road for almost the entire day. Oh, did I mention that we were without a phone for the last few days also? Yep, flying by the seat of our pants without any way to communicate with the other Elders! This is how Elders roll!

Friday was also a day of miracles. It started with us going to go and talk with a guy named Otis, who wasn't home. It was cold outside, I was still exhausted from the lack of sleep the previous two nights, and I honestly wasn't feeling all that good and was a bit disgruntled that we had put off our weekly planning for an appointment that I had expected wouldn't even pan out. One thing I really admire about Elder Smith is his optimism and enthusiasm for absolutely everything, but that morning I was absolutely in no mood to hear him tell me how wonderful that day was going to be and that we were there in that area for a reason. What made it even worse is I knew he was right, that the Lord undoubtedly had something in mind for us to do there. So we prayed and I felt that we needed to head just a little ways over to the East. Beyond that I had no idea what it was we were supposed to do, nothing specific, just a general "Get your sorry butt over there and stop whining". We bike over there and notice that there was just one house on the street, so what do we do? That's right, we knock on it. And guess what? Nobody Was Home!! Cue the fireworks, right? Nope. I wasn't really upset by this, just kinda resigned that it was going to be one of 'Those Days'. As we stood there we noticed a man in his PJ's walking down the street smoking a cigarette and walking his dog. We call out to him and start talking with him about the gospel and his belief in God. He said he was interested in what we had to say and invited us to walk with him and talk with him more. He said he was interested in history and so we told him all about the Book of Mormon, about how it was a record, a religious history book if you will, of God's dealings with the people who lived here in the Americas around the same time as much of the Bible. It turns out that he lives with a lost member of the church, a woman named Nancy, who just so happens to live right next to O***! It was nothing short of a miracle, and had we wanted to go home like I had wanted none of it would have happened.
We were able to teach several more lessons that day with other miracles happening in a similar way. Dropped appointments leading to more lessons with future awesome investigators, including the step-father of one of our other investigators. Lots of finding miracles! We also were able to teach the Law of Chastity to A***, one of our most awesome investigators. If things go according to plan she should be baptized soon. So please keep her in your prayers. She has been making huge changes in her life and it is so cool to see all of the other changes she has been making. Finished off the day with Supper with the W*** family.

Saturday we finally got to do that planning we had neglected the day before, and then got to help out usher a wedding! First time for everything! To make things even better was that I was able to talk with the F*** family there, since it was their son's wedding! I had been teaching them back in Walnut Ridge, and now I get a second chance to help get the family to the temple! I'm all over that! As shown that every sentence in this paragraph thus far ends in an exclamation mark! Later that night we got to go teaching with Freddie and teach both B*** and J**** N***, the awesome dog-walking investigator from the night before. We had a super awesome lesson on the Restoration, and he just ate it up! N*** was there too since the two live in the same house, and she had some really good comments. I really hope to get the two of them to the temple to. Of course he would have to be baptized first, but we are more than willing to help him there too! He really is prepared to hear all that we have to share; he even read the pamphlet we left behind with him, which is super rare for new investigators to do! Yeah, we're stoked!!!

Sunday was another fun day with lots of miracles! Both J*** and N*** came to church, as well as L***, B***, A***, R****, P***, B*** and O***! It was one of the biggest turnouts we've ever had. The only downside to everything was that by the time we got home from church I was feeling really sick. It had started the night before, about part-way through the lesson with J*** and N***, and got to the point that I couldn't stop shaking. Elder Smith essentially ordered me to bedrest for most of the rest of the day, and I slept a solid 5 hours that afternoon. The only reason I got out of bed was so we could teach A*** the Word of Wisdom and help her prepare for her upcoming baptismal date. It was one of the coolest experiences I've seen where, after the lesson, she just handed us the cigarettes she had on her so we could throw them away. We ran into her earlier today when we helped them move from their old home to their new one and she said she was doing great. Sitting on top of the garbage can was the coffee maker, another huge thing for her to overcome. Truly she is an inspiration to me. She has changed so much, and I am so lucky to get to be one of the people to help her come into the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you took the time to read my novella for this week, thanks! I'm glad to know that someone is taking the time to read it! I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, and remember the reason for this special time of year. Go and do something nice for someone else today to give your gift back to the Savior. Truly there is nothing we can give Him except our using our Agency to do good deeds for others and to give Him ourselves.

Until Next Time!
~Elder Jayden Barker

December 18, 2015 "Hey There"

December 18, 2015
“Hey There!”

Not sure where my other email went that I was typing up. It just sort of poofed! So here's the abridged version of my past week!

Monday you already know about. Yay for late emails from last week!

Tuesday was solid but slow. Awesome lesson on receiving revelation with N*** and D***. She us so spiritually hungry it is awesome. She is one of our biggest miracles here in Jonesboro. Mix in a little finding and contacting some referrals. Dinner with the D*** family. It was great, even if we stayed a bit longer than we should have! Had a great lesson with them about serving a full-time mission and the importance of preparing ourselves daily. Finished it up with a great lesson with A*** on the Plan of Salvation.

Wednesday was the Christmas Zone Conference. I'll send out pictures in a sec. (Assuming I remember). It took up most of our day, with the last little bit just us running around trying to visit people who weren't home.

Thursday was intense as we were involved in the scare at ASU. We had been at the campus doing some work there when we were told we had to evacuate. Lots of running, people in hysterics, and nobody knew what was going on. Finally we found out after we were holed up in the ROTC building with some of our army buddies. Found an awesome guy there named Brian, and because we were holed up in the same room we got to have several awesome conversations with him the entire time. There really is a silver lining to every mushroom cloud! We saw him again later that day along with his wife and two kids.

Friday consisted of us running around like mad again contacting as many people as we possibly could. We made a little headway and set an appointment for tonight with a new contact. Lesson with N*** and D*** at M***'s, the land of magical appointments. It seems like every time we go in there we find someone we either already know or someone else who would want to talk with us. Finished up the day with dinner at the Boudrero's

Saturday was a lot of missed appointments. A lesson with Q*** and his family. Lesson with A*** finishing up the Plan of Salvation and on Enduring to the end. Day ended with a baptism of the Spanish Elders'.

Sunday we had church, not very many of our investigators came, but we were super happy that some of them did want to come. Lunch with the M***. Then lots of driving around to different churches trying to start up an inter-religious service campaign. We'll see how it goes; we hope to keep working on it later this week. We had dinner with the S*** family at the end of the day, and that went really good but really long also; they weren't ready when we showed up. Lol
That's about it for this week. Sorry I don't have time to write more, but I'll try to keep my emials from getting eaten by the internet next time! Love you all!

~Elder Jayden Barker

December 7, 2015 #RiseUp

Good Morning Ladies/Gentlemen/Other! This past week was one of miracles mingled with sad disappointments. But sweet is the work, and the work goes forward!

Monday was a bit of a slower day, but we were able to teach a short lesson with S*** and B***. They are still making baby steps, but each step is a step in the right direction!

Tuesday we were able to recontact a few old investigators. Had a great lesson on the BoM and it's use with a woman named S***. She was pretty interested and wanted us to come back later that week to talk with her again and some of her family members. Lots of finding afterward, followed by a great dinner with the Schelins. We were also able to go on splits with some of the members of the ward, and had lots of success. We were able to find a lost member who hasn't been out due to health problems and also set a baptismal date with A***! We are so excited to help her move toward her future baptism!

Wednesday was also spent recontacting people, but we were also able to find a super awesome family that lives not far from some of our other investigators. One of them in particular, N***, is more hungry for the Gospel than anyone else I've ever met. She wasn't able to come to church yesterday with us, but she is excited to go next Sunday!​ She has no experience with church at all and her few attempts to read the Bible on her own left her frustrated and confused. (If you are going to start for the first time, don't start with Genesis; read the New Testament first.) I felt prompted to go over with her how to find passages in the scriptures to help with the problems and concerns she has. It was so neat to be able to help her gain an appreciation for the Scriptures. We also were able to visit with A***again, having a great lesson on what Faith is, how we can grow it, and what it can do for us.

Thursday we were able to burn some miles and contact some people up in Brookland. There we met a really neat woman named A***. She was busy at the time, but we set a time for us to come back a few days later. We later dropped in to visit with N*** again, and she had loved reading the pamphlet we had left with her the time before. She had a few questions for us, which we were more than happy to answer! We also were able to have dinner with T***D*** a recent convert. She is super awesome, and I really look forward to all the times we are able to eat with her. Later we were going to go and see N***i, but she texted us saying that it wasn't a good time. As we sat there, trying to decide what to do, we saw a guy standing awkwardly in front of a house, not really doing anything at all. As we watched, a car whipped into the driveway, and before it even completely stopped a short little white guy flew out of the passenger side, ripping his shirt over his head as he went just positively shaking with rage. When I say that this guy is white, I mean he is white, as in we-could-not-bleach-him-any-whiter-if-we-tried white. Anyway, he runs over and confronts the guy who dared stand at the foot of his driveway, looking all the while like a poodle confronting a grizzly bear. It looked like it was going to get pretty heated with everyone else that was outside asking the first guy to please just leave. He refused, and after a few tense moments everyone else went inside. The guy never left the bottom of the driveway, and with our sitting in a dark car with the engine off we didn't want to attract attention to ourselves by starting it back up and trying to drive away, so we just stayed put.

We had probably been sitting there for only a few minutes or two with nothing to do except talk quietly among ourselves about what we should do with the rest of our time and watch the guy as he talked on the phone a few times with someone. We were about to start up the car anyway, even though this guy was still there, when the front door of the house flew open. The guy from earlier was back, and he was madder than ever. His shirt already off and thrown to the side, he sprinted down the driveway and threw a punch at the first guy before he even got close. The first guy was a lot more calm and collected, whereas the shirtless guy was jumping around like a mad grasshopper. It was crazy. The short guy took several more swings, untimely deciding it wasn't worth it when none of them connected and the bigger man just put him in a head-lock. After a few more heated words everyone went back indoors. Later some people in a black SUV came and picked up the first guy, which is when we made our grateful exit.

Alas, I am out of time again, so I will finish this tomorrow and get it off next Monday.

Until then, Catch you later!

~Elder barker

#Rise up Continued…

So, I got a bit more time than I had expected, so I get to continue my stories earlier than I had thought! Right now the other elders are playing PingPong, and since I am a terrible PingPong player I'm sitting this one out and just enjoying watching them get more and more into it! Who knew it could get that intense? Anyway...

After the epic little show on Thursday we spent the rest of the evening getting haircuts from a woman in the ward, Sister Boudrero. She is one of my favorite people here in Jonesboro.

Friday was pretty relaxed. Not a whole lot went on, other than some practice on the piano I had to do to prepare for the Christmas Zone Conference on Wednesday. I still don't know if I will be ready for it. We will see.

Saturday was the crazy day. We started of by heading to the church early for a Pancakes and PJ's activity. It was super good (we didn't go in our PJ's btw), and we were able to teach our first lesson of the day there. After that it was just go go go for the rest of the day. All week we had been stacking the events to line up on Saturday for a huge competition that the Zone was doing. You see, the week before the Civil War was all tied up with the Union winning 2 battles and the Confederacy winning 2 battles. Saturday was to be the big game changer. Each new investigator found that day counted as a point, each lesson taught with a member present counted as a point, and each new baptismal date set counted as two points. By the end of the day Elder Smith and I had 13 points. When the final score was in from everyone on each side, our companionship accounted for a third of the total points! We were super blessed by all of the miracles that worked out for us that day. Our reward: The STL's are baking everyone in the Confederacy baked goodies. Score!

Sunday we had the Christmas Devotional. It was really awesome, and if you hadn't had a chance to see it, please go to and watch it. It is well worth the time. We also were able to have some of our investigators there, Q***and X***  

So Glad I was able to catch up, but it is getting close to 6. Time to get back to work! Thanks for all you do, and I hope that you can take the time to remember the Savior and all of the miracles in your day-to-day lives. As you recognize them, you will see them more often.

~Elder Jayden Barker

"Don't forget to read!”

Monday, December 7, 2015

November 30, 2015 "Rain and Gratitude"

With Thanksgiving just over I still feel that I have a lot to be
grateful for. We've been seeing a lot of miracles, even in the midst
of all the rain. As I was going through the week it felt a lot like I
was failing at what I was supposed to be doing. And yet, by the time I
got to the end of the week the numbers showing what we accomplished
were higher than they've been in a while. It truly was a miracle.
Because of time I can't go into detail on what happened, but I will
let ya'll know more next week.

I know that God's hand truly is over this work. He cares for us and
since the work of Salvation belongs to Him, He will do all he can to
help it go forth. When we are working our hardest great things happen.
When we are working our hardest and are being obedient to the
commandments those great things become miracles. Sorry for the short
note, but I love you all and will write more next week!

~Elder Jayden Barker

Fun side notes: Missionaries have a thing called "Six Months to Sexy".
According to the other members of the district I am currently in "Six
Months to Sumo". I'm not sure how I feel about that. lol

We had a Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving morning. We were playing with a QB
who couldn't run due to injuries, and the other team only beat us by 2
TD's, even with it basically being 4 vs. 5.

It was pouring nicely yesterday and we were quite wet when we biked over to dinner. We had an appointment after dinner that went really well, and when we left the appointment for home it wasn't raining at all. Not long after we got back inside the rain resumed. #SmallMiracles

We had 4 non-members and 2 returning members at church today. We also were able to confirm 4 people in church following their baptism on Saturday.


"Don't forget to read!"

November 23, 2015 " Adventures in Arkansas"

Elder Smith and I had a very interesting past week with lots of driving around and random stuff that we didn't expect happening.

Monday: Pday, spent some time relaxing with the other Elders until it was time for us to get to work. Tried to see a few people, they cancelled and then drove around like crazy to get D***J*** and his family to the FHE at the Schelins! We probably spent a solid hour trying to get the rides all set up after our original ideas fell through, but literally at the last minute we had some help from a member in the ward. While doing all of this we also found out that the inactive sister of a R*** R*** lives right next to D***J*** and his family and we never knew it! The FHE was awesome, and hopefully this will happen again today.

Tuesday we had District Meeting, Elder Geddes' first one as a District Leader. It was really good, focusing on Obedience. We were able to see R*** and P*** and teach them again about the Restoration and check up on how they are doing living the Word of Wisdom. They are going to need some more help in that last area, but we are more than happy to provide the help! We had planned to recontact a bunch of our former investigators, but it really didn't work out the way we had planned. Instead we got to trapeise all over the boonies of Arkansas again! Apparently it is Elder Smith's dream to see all of the crazy places of the south, so it was a bit of a dream come true for him! We even ran into a lady named Sister S***. She seems fairly interested so when we are in that area again we will be going out there. We also got to talk to a guy named G***. He really lives out in the boonies at the very end of a dirt road. It was pretty sketchy, but he was one of the nicest guys I've met! At the end of the night we were able to visit with the Clough family, some of the active members of the Ward to see how we could help them and invite them to come teaching with us to a particular family.

Wednesday I got sick for a good chunk of the day and slept until about 4. It was really nice, but kinda threw off my sleep schedule that night! Lol. After I was feeling well enough to tackle the day we walked out to the car . . . only to see that the back right tire was completely flat. We pumped it up with a bike pump and could hear the air hissing out of it, so we booked it over to the nearest autoshop to get it looked at. We could have put the donut on it, but didn't want to take the time. Luckily the air held until we got there, and then proceeded to sit there for a solid 2 hours while it was looked at. The final prognosis - we had run over an industrial sized staple and had twin punctures in the tire. So that was fun. We ended the day at D***J***'s teaching them all about prayer.

Thursday we were pretty excited about because we had finally got authorization to go and work on campus at a booth. So we set up and tried to get people to come and talk to us for the next 3 hours. By the end of the time only 4 people did; two of them were members who were too cool to stay to talk with us, and one of them was using us as an excuse to get off the phone with his ex-girlfriend. Not the most successful.

Friday was spent trying to get a hold of less-actives and YSA's to ge them to the Thanksgiving potluck that night. The most interesting thing that happened was at about 4 with a guy named R***. He saw us knocking on a door and called out to us, trying to sell us something for a little cash. We told him that we weren't interested in that, but we would love to talk about the gospel with him. I didn't think he was going to want to come and talk with us, but up the stairs he went. We had a great conversation during which he told us much of his life story about the things he did on the streets and how he wants to do better for his kids and to be a better example for them. We taught him about repentance and went over the steps to forgiveness and challenged him to be sober for just 24 hours. Immediately he started grabbing stuff out of his pockets, starting with a glass bottle of whiskey, to throw over the fence. It was the coolest experience. At the potluck we had a bunch of people there, a total of 10 people that we helped bring. It truly was a miracle.

Saturday we contacted more Less-actives and YSA's and tried to recontact a few of our old investigators. We spent the day very busy, but without too many lessons. We were able to teach a solid lesson to B*** though on faith at the end of the day, and that was great. Really ended the day on a high note!

Sunday was more of the same. We had a lesson with R*** on the BoM, to which Sister Orey came with us. She shared some of her conversion experince with him and it really helped him see what it was we were there for. When we left the apartment after lunch we called Brother Caldwell, the HP Group Leader about anyone he would want us to contact. He gave us a whole list of people in a small town about 12 miles away. We started with the closest name to us and knocked on the door. He invited us right in, asking essentially what took us so long to get there. While there he started pointing out all of the inactive members of the church who lives in that house/were visiting. It was really funny because everyone got out of the room rather quickly once he started doing that. He's inactive himself, but we are going to work with him and his family more in the future. We were also able to teach a young woman who was there at the time and he was participating in the lesson like he'd been doing it his whole life. It was great. It also took a lot of time becuase he would make funny and snarky remarks about us, himself, and the other people in the room quite often. We were able to eat supper at a YSA devotional that night that Sister Rawlins put on. It was a really good pasta bar. The only downside was that part-way through the supper the mission decided to do a disaster response drill, requireing us to leave all the yummy food and drive to a member's house about 15 minutes away. So that was fun!

All in all, a solid week. It was certainly a different flavor of work than we'd done in the past, but well worth our time. Today we are going to hurry with shopping and then head over to a member's home to learn how to make ties. I'll be rocking a brand new tie at the next meeting! Whoot!

Remember the purpose of Thanksgiving this week. Truly the Lord has blessed us with everything, so take some time out Thanksgiving night to reflect on the miracles you've seen lately and thank the Lord for them. I promise that if you do you will see more of them in the upcoming months and year. As always, have a great week!

~Elder Barker

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 16, 2015 "Brevity"

This week was another one with ups and downs. I seem to be seeing a trend here! lol.

Some of the downs were most of the people we had found last week we were unable to see (yet). Failed appointments are nothing new, but they were still a bit disappointing. The part I want to focus on though is the ups, the awesome things that happened. We had a large meeting on Jacksonville this past Friday which took up most of the day. During it we received some truly excellent instruction on how we can better work with our ward and branch leaders, how we can better use the BoM in our teaching, and also try and speak to a few people in the area itself to use some of what we had been learning. We were able to find a fairly solid family for the elders there to go and teach which was really exciting.

Before getting sent out into the city for about an hour we were assigned a different companion to work with, perhaps just so we can get to know a few of the other missionaries and learn how they work. I was put in a trio with a missionary who had spent nearly all of his time over on the Memphis side of the mission (about a year) and with a missionary who had only been out a few weeks. As we walked we asked each other the usual questions: Where are you from? Where have you served? and How long have you been out? When I responded that I had been out about 21 months the young missionary stared at me with an expression akin to a young child staring at the skeletal remains of a dinosaur. It provided no small amount of amusement for me.

Another HUGE highlight is being able to work with a less-active family, a mother and her son. Their names are R*** and P***. They were baptized about 4-ish years ago in Kentucky and eventually moved down here to Jonesboro. I might have shared some of their story with you before, about how Elder Price and I met them while getting free hotdogs at the park. Anywho, We had been working with them for a while, but this past week we were able to teach them the Word of Wisdom again, and help them with their Family History work. They both have such a strong desire to get to know their ancestors and preserve the memories they have of their family who has already passed on. Richard in particular has a desire to go to the temple and be sealed to his father. This past Sunday they were also able to come to church for the first time in a very long time. A member named Freddie helped us out with that. I'll send a picture of all of us here in a bit.

We also were able to see D***J***'s mother for the first time in a while. She has been letting us teach her kids about the Gospel for some time now, even allowing us to bring them to church, but hasn't taken an active part in the lessons at all. Yesterday evening we were able to talk with her about the scriptures, about revelation, about prophets, and, most importantly, God's love for her as an individual. We were able to share some scriptures on the Atonement with her, Christ on the Cross in Mathew 27:46 and what he did for us there and in the garden of Gethsemane, explained in Alma 7:11-12. It really touched her and (finally!) got her interested in what we had to say. We left her with some passages from the Bible and the BoM for her to read and for us to discuss when we come back again tomorrow.

I've been learning that this work truly isn't about numbers; if you looked just at our numbers for this week one might say that it was a dismal failure. But it is in the lives we touch by our simple actions. I've heard this compared to a football game. If you have two teams and one of them has more passing yards, more time with the ball, more interceptions, more successful sacks, but the other team has more points on the scoreboard, which team truly did better in that game? Last week we were able to touch at least 3 people's lives for the better, and ultimately that is all that counts.

I know this work is true. There is a reason it cannot be stopped. There is a reason people join the Church every week by the Hundreds, and that reason is not because Elder Barker is a perfect missionary. This is the only organization I know of that can send young adults between the ages of 18-26 out into a strange land with an apartment, food, cell phone, and a car, leave them mostly unsupervised, and have them accomplish anything meaningful. Ask a buisiness executive about if that sounds like a good idea and he would double over laughing, and yet work it does. The Lord's hand is over us and this work. I close with Joseph Smith's own words:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

~Elder Jayden Barker

November 9, 2015 "This Week"

This week was intense. My new companion is Elder Smith, from Washington state! He's a great guy and is already progressing towards becoming a truly great Elder. He's about 5' 2" and is able to crank out pushups like nobody else.

We've had a lots of downs this week, but we've also had a lot of miracles happen. But since time is an issue right now (we are sacrificing 2 of our PDay hours to help with a baptismal goal of 100 this month) I will include just one of them:

Yesterday after church both of us were feeling rather down, for obvious reasons. We had been expecting about 10 people to come to church and only 1 came. The news about A*** was a blow below the belt. I really didn't want to do anything even remotely resembling missionary work after that; I was tired both physically and mentally, and I wasn't feeling the spirit like I wanted to. Training though has given me a stronger incentive to go and do what is right, because I really want to help Elder Smith have a happy successful mission. I knew that work is the best antidote to feeling depressed about things, but it was still difficult for me to put that into action. I know that the miracle that followed though never would have happened to us had we just stayed inside. We headed out on our bikes, just looking for new people to talk to. There were a few smaller side streets on our path, and since there were only a few houses on each street we paid tribute to traditional tracting and knocked every door on the street. This yielded more rejections than appointments and we decided to stop paying tribute after about an hour. We continued on, stopping to talk with the few people who were outside (one of them was brewing beer; we have a return appointment for tonight) and to contact the referral we recieved. Ultimately though, it was appearing unsuccessful. 

We looked on the map to see where we were and about how long it would take us to bike back to our apartment for supper and studies when I noticed a few streets that caught my eye, mostly because the names were kinda funny. We decided to go there before heading in. On our way to those streets I saw a few kids outside playing in the street down a road that we were just about to pass. Following a gut feeling I now recognize as the Spirit working through me I told Elder Smith that we needed to go and talk with them. When we got there four of them recognized us, calling out "Missionaries, Missionaries!" It took a moment but I eventually recognized them as some kids we had met the day before in a completely different part of town about 20 minutes away by car. They had been staying with an uncle of theirs while the mother was shopping. The uncle, J*** spoke with Elder Smith for just a few moments while I was talking with the kids outside about the Book of Mormon. What Elder Smith said to get him interested I don't know, but he ran up to me and said that he (J***) wanted to be taught right then. We headed inside and learned a bit about him, how he had come from a rougher life and how he was now a Deacon in a Baptist church and then taught him a great deal of the Restoration. We were unable to get through all of it because of the good questions and comments he had about the scriptures we shared, but we left him with a copy of the BoM and a desire to learn more. We go back on Saturday. I know none of this would have happened had we just stayed inside like I had originally wanted to. I am sad that I had even considered giving in to the natural man, but am glad I decided to work anyway. My driving thought was that no doubt the Savior would have wanted to stop and rest at some point during his ministry also, to just give in for a small time, but had he done so the Atonement never would have happened and his greatest work would have been left undone.

I love this work and all that I am able to do. I love that the last 12 weeks of my mission are able to be spent training a new missionary and sharing my knowlege with him. I am really looking forward to everything we are going to accomplish!

Thanks for your prayers and all that you do to share the gospel with those around you.

~Elder Jayden Barker

What do you do when your mother sends spiderwebs in your halloween package and mission rules say that you have to stay in Halloween night?  Dress up as Santa Clause, of course! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Game Over...One Life Left

This week was a slower one as far as missionary work went. Nearly the entire week was spent in the rain, which did very little to help both with motivation and encouraging people to open the door. On a positive note we were able to see more people with members of the church this week than we've had since I got here! That was really exciting, and I hope that the trend continues as we make it a focus in our work. We were able to see A*** like we had talked about last week, and that was a solid lesson. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel.

We were able to spend a decent chunk of time on Tuesday getting CD's burned with the entire Book of Mormon on them so we can give them to our investigators. We've already seen good success from doing so. We were also able to see D***J*** and the E*** family with Elder Green. Elder Green is a missionary whose family lives here in Jonesboro. He has been serving in Ghana for about a year before getting seriously sick, so he was sent home to recover for a short while. We made the most of it while he was here! It is likely he will return to Ghana before the end of the week.

Wednesday we had the ward chili cookoff/Trunk-or-Treat. It was awesome, and we got to see a lot of investigators there who have never been to our church before. Prior to the cookoff we also were able to go teaching with Freddie Green to visit several people. One of them was a woman named S* K***. She is a convert to the church some years back and is a very good example of a woman who was offended by some members who made some inappropriate comments and has since decided that since she can't understand all the reasons for things everything must not be true. It is really quite sad.

The rest of the week was spent without much to talk about. Thursday we had our usual basketball game at the church and it got pretty awesome. A few minor injuries, but nothing crazy. Elder Lewis, another one of the Elders in the District, is a basketball fanatic but has hurt his knees and decided to take it easy. That lasted all of about 5 minutes before he was hopping around like a little rabbit. During the game I ended up biting the inside of my cheeks pretty hard when I went for the ball. I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly they are healing up!

On Saturday we spent the evening with the Rougeau family. Since it was Halloween going door to door like we normally do would be more than a big waste of time. So we instead participated in Elder Hamblin burning a suit to commemorate the close of his mission!

We also carved pumpkins. Here's mine:

A few of the other guys did scary stuff, and one of them, Elder Geddes, carved the angel Moroni. It was pretty awesome looking. 

Sunday we had our correlation meeting and was able to prep for a lesson before heading over to the Schnider's for dinner. Since it would be Elder Hamblin's last day in the mission Elder Price and I wanted to do something special for him to send him off. So we wrote some song lyrics and sung it for him. This was sung to the tune of Alleluia:
It made him cry. :3

To finish it all off we had a great lesson at the E***'s with M***, one of the Ward Missionaries. We focused on the different aspects of missionary work and how it various auxilaries came to be, like the Relief Society and the duty of member missionary work. She had some concerns about her own work in spreading the gospel and how fit she would be to do these things, and we hope that this helped ease her fears. She seemed to be much happier afterward!

One last thing of note: On SUnday I both myself and Elder Price got calls from the AP's. I will be training my last transfer and Elder Price will finish training Elder Lewis, Elder Hamblin's half-trained companion. I am super stoked to be training my last 12 weeks. I've heard it said that the last 10% of a mission is the hardest and the most successful ever. Well, it's time to put that to the test - that starts in two weeks! Elder Thomas, my first trainee is also training again, and his trainee is training. Mission Posterity!!!

Got to go, but I y'all are awesome! Keep up the good work!

~Elder Barker

Monday, October 26, 2015

Short and Simple

One of the things we have been focusing on a lot in our lessons and meetings is simplifying what we say. In honor of that I will do my best to keep this a bit shorter than normal! (It's not just because we have a lesson at 4 and we still need to clean our apartment and get groceries... no, nothing like that... ;)

Picking up where I left off last week, Thursday was bizzare and nothing really went as we had planned for it to go. After we deconstructed the wooden pallets with style - and perhaps more force and bigger tools than strictly necessary - we tried to find a few people to teach. This only resulted in having an old woman chew us out saying she didn't want to hear about a "Mormon Jesus" (because apparently that's a thing). Later we broke our fast by eating supper with a recent convert, T***. She made some killer chicken, and I ate far more than I probably should have. Later we played basketball at the church. One of young men here brought a whole bunch of his friends from school and several instructors with him, resulting in about 30 people there to play. It was the birthday of one of his instructors, so said young man bought a cake for him. We ate it, right after we shoved a small piece of it into his face.

Friday I got sick and we stayed indoors. yay.........not

Saturday was spent running around trying to teach people the Gospel without great success. We were able to share with a few new people, including a woman named T***, though, and that was nice. After pumping up our bikes again we headed off. Later it got a bit colder and I was finally able to break out the jacket and gloves again. We also ate a truly autumn-style dinner of biscuits, stew, and apple cider, wrapping it up with some icecream that tastes just like pumpkin-spice eggnog. Life was good that evening!

Sunday B*** came to church! It was awesome and she really enjoyed it. We also got to meet a less-active, BK*. After a little bit we started walking to see who we could find, running into a hispanic family that spoke zero english. Elder Price speaks zero spanish, leaving it up to me. I was able to say just enough to be able see if they were interested in hearing our message and then sending the address on to the Spanish Elders. 

I find it remarkable the number of times I've had to speak Spanish on my mission, mainly the past few months. I might as well just go Spanish, because we've sent over a dozen names of interested people to the other Elders. I know next to nothing really, but the Lord is using what I've got and is supplementing it with words that I didn't even know I still remembered. It is remarkable. 

Monday we had a few small miracles occur. After eating supper we hitched a ride with the Spanish Elders, who were planning to work and area just a few miles from our apartment. We got out of their car about 8pm. Our intent was to simply walk back to our apartment and talk to whoever might happen to be outside on the way. On our way back we were prompted to knock on a particular door, which we obeyed. Please keep in mind two things that make this a miracle: 1- It is after dark, and 2- nobody answers their door after the sun goes down. Not only did the woman answer the door, but she was willing to talk, perhaps because she had talked with missionaries about 8 years previously. We left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon, which she said she would look into. She also asked us to come by again today at about 4. We continued walking and ran into some other less-actives we are working with just walking the streets. We were invited inside and were able to teach again about what the Book of Mormon is and how it can strengthen our faith in Christ. Randomly the Elders from Mountain Home, AR (outside of our mission) called about some information on a referral we had sent about a month previously, and we had a great conversation there. One of them knew a missionary in this mission, and I was able to pass on a message for him. It was really cool.

Tuesday was District meeting with a focus on teaching in unity. Every time someone said "switch" the person speaking had to immediatly stop and let the other guy talk. It was fun, particularly when, since we were doing so well, the people we were 'teaching' started saying "switch" every 5 seconds, sometimes in the middle of a scripture referrence! It was crazy

Wednesday I got to split wood. It was great. I'd send the video, but it's kinda big. Sorry peeps! WE also got to teach D*** about prayer. It was solid! Dinner with the Dinsmore's.

Thursday we helped Sister Casteel with some stuff in her yard, cleaning up some large limbs that broke off of a massive tree next to her house. Can anyone say "health hazard?" I got to use a large ax again. It made my day. #SimplePleasures

Friday we had the privilege of teaching the E*** family again, this time about the Word of Wisdom. It went for a very long time, but was good. WE were also able to see S*** and B*** and help them get more ready for coming to church in the future. That morning I also crashed hard-core. I took an hour nap right after studies to help me focus on the rest of the day. Three-and-a-half hours later I woke up. This is getting crazy; I've not been this tired my whole mission!

Saturday not a whole lot happened other than trying to help various investigators we have not do stupid things and go to jail. We also had to help another part-member family realize that just because one person wants to go to church and the other doesn't is not a good grounds for divorce! *sigh* The work goes on! (We helped get both things cleared up btw...)

Sunday we found another Hispanic man who had recently moved in, and again sent him over to the Spanish Elders. He lives right next to another one of our investigators, so maybe they'll be able to fellowship each other into the church! I love it when that happens! We had two people to church, D*J*and his brother. We wrapped up the day with dinner at the Chandler's, an awesome family with 8 kids, all of whom have names that start with the letter 'K'. It was oodles of fun! Lastly all three sets of Elders got to help teach the youth at a missionary-themed fireside. Elder Price and I taught on how we can tie just about every conversation and question back to our belief in Christ and the Book of Mormon. It was awesome!

All in all, things are going well. I am happy and loving it here in Jonesboro. This is Elder Hamblin's last Pday with the rest of us, and we will be sad to see him go. Elder Price and I want to compose a "Trunky Song" to sing to him just before he heads for the Mission Home. I know he will enjoy it.

I also realize that this email isn't nearly as short as I had thought it would be. Perhaps next time I will type more of it up in advance! Lol.

Life is good! God loves us! This is His work! Remember who you are and that you are wonderful in God's eyes!

~Elder Barker

Friday, October 23, 2015

October 19, 2015 "Remember"

This past week was impressive. Perhaps I've used this subject before, but it seems fitting.

Last Sunday (not yesterday, but the one before that) we were able to have supper with the Schnider family. It was sort of a last minute thing with them calling us just a few minutes before it was to start to see if we wanted to come, but it was awesome. And what missionary wants to pass up an opportunity for free food? It was great, and afterward we spent far too long there as all of us started geeking out over different forms of classical music. Elder Hamblin is really into that type of music, so he had fun there. Then I found the Phantom of the Opera sheet music and I had lots of fun there! They also made some of the best banana pudding I've ever had. It was awesome.

Monday was a much slower PDay than some of the other ones we've had, as far as the personal time we had was concerned. The other Elders ran off to do something (we later found out it was tennis), so we just went home and slept a bit, wrote a letter, and relaxed. Later we had a quick supper with the Adam's family. We wanted to go and contact a referral immediately afterward, but shortly after getting on the road we got a call from one of our investigators saying that her son, P***, was in the hospital and wondered if we could pray for him. We offered to go to the hospital to give him a blessing and she was more than thrilled. We changed our plans and headed to one of the hospitals here in Jonesboro, meeting the family in the CCU. I think it is interesting how most of the PDay's we've had here in Jonesboro have been spent, at least in part, in visiting someone in the hospital. I love being able to help out, but still find it interesting. By the time we left it was close to 8pm and figured we would try this referral anyway, even though it was a bit later than normal for us to do so. We usually try to contact referrals about 6pm, when people are more likely to be home but not trying to get kids in bed. It turns out that it was perfect timing on our part, because she had just gotten home. We were able to give her a copy of the scriptures and also bless her home while we were there, at her request. Probably the greatest thing that happened that day, apart from D***(the woman's name) was the fact that they were selling Eggnog at Walmart. Normally I am a strong advocate of selling Christmas-related things only after Thanksgiving, but in this case I am more than happy to make an exception. Let the Eggnog pour all year round!!!

Tuesday we started off our day with a really solid study session in planning for the lesson we would have later that day with D***, probably the best one I've had on my mission.  We headed over to the post office to mail off a letter and package (since the offices were closed on Monday; Columbus day or something lame like that) and spent lots of time  trying to get things set up over the phone. We probably spent a solid 2 hours trying to get stuff figured out. On the plus side it was warm that day and we hung outside a McDonalds to use their free wifi! We set up a ride for one of our investigators, B***, to get to a job interview with some members who live nearby and then was able to go to this thing at the university called Conversations. There are a lot of students there who don't speak English and Conversations is just us going and being the "Native Speakers" to help them in their practice. We got to talk with a few guys from Saudi Arabia and had a great discussion on the differences between Islam and Christianity. Hopefully we get to see them again. We later had dinner with the S*** and had a solid lesson with G. E.. He's an older man, and has a hard time accepting anything. We made some serious headway though. Later we had a Great lesson with D***. We met up with Brother Brumwell at the church building and drove over there in a Camero. it was a fun experience. Anyway, once we got there she let us right in, and then proceeded to disappear into her bedroom to get 'ready' for about 30 minutes. We just sort of chilled on her couch waiting for her to reemerge. We taught her about the Restoration of the gospel and the Spirit was felt very strongly. Since we had just blessed her home the other day we were able to tie Priesthood Authority in very easily. She understood easily.

Wednesday we had Zone Meeting and that took up most of our day. Later we got chewed out by a member for not calling ahead for dinner early enough, gave up the car, had a bunch of appointments fall through, and ended up talking with a Church of Christ guy who was more converted to his preacher than he was to Christ, assuming he was converted to Christ at all. His big hold up was that unless we could arrange the Prophet to come and visit him personally and perform a miracle for him he would not believe a thing we had to say. All I could think of was the two criminals who hung on either side of Christ, one of them recieving favorable words from the Savior and the other receiving silent condemnation because he unrighteously requested a miracle before he would believe. I offered similar words to him, saying that even if a miracle was to be performed he still would not be able to believe since his heart was in no condition to receive more of God's word and if he was to make it anywhere after this life he would have to learn how to have faith first. Perhaps I should have been a bit more careful with my wording, but the only thing that was good that day was the Zone meeting and I was in no mood to mince my words and put up with such foolishness. Hopefully it did some good.

Everything that happened Thursday was not what we had planned for originally at all! First off we did service for Sis. Boudrero, an awesome member of the Ward here. She does a lot for us Elders. We spent the better part of the morning dismantling wooden pallets for a Relief Society thing she was doing. Eventually we found a system that knocked it out (literally) almost as fast as we could move the pallets into position. 

Shoot, I'm out of time. We are on bikeweek still, so we are dependent on the other Elders for rides. I'll send the rest next week! Love you all!

~Elder barker

"Don't forget to read!"