Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bullet Points

We were locked down earlier today on account of the (finally) snow and ice. Got a text from the AP's (they're da best) that we needed to stay indoors until the ice melted from off of the road. So we finally got to go shopping and email by around 4-ish. The sisters got to the church (only one computer, remember) so and I'm the first one on! #NotTheShortStrawToday!

Anyway, to give my companions as much time as possible to email their peeps here's a few of the highlights:
 > Got to talk with a less-active member back in  Cabot. Gotta love spiritual promptings. Hopefully this will help him return to activity.
> Dinner with the "Wockenflock", a super awesome family here in  Morrilton. I got to dress up as  knight. #ArmorOfGod 
> A*** says she wants to be baptized! Now we just have a few other small things we will help her through first...
> T***hasn't smoked all week! Plus we got him good pulling a prank on him by swapping out one of his knives (he collects them) with a copy Elder Petty bought off line a few weeks ago. It was great.
> Gave a guy named T*** a blessing.
> Walked into at least 5 homes where the flu was and didn't get sick. We call that Missionary Invincibility around here. I'm immortal till the day I day, after all!
> Teaching a new guy named C***. He's really trying to turn his life around, and we just would love to help him do it!
> Didn't get to Weekly Plan till Sunday Night (we usually do it on Friday nights...) because the Lord had other things he put in our path for us to do. Like a double meeting at an investigators home that was entirely unexpected and super awesome. One of said double meetings was in a laundromat. 
IT SNOWED!!!!! i'm just a little bit excited.  =3
> Went teaching with a member who drove up from Russilville. He helped us start to set goals to help A*** stop smoking.
>Today, bought Blue Bell Icecream and taught my companions how to play Canasta. This world will never be the same again!!

In my studies I've been focusing on D&C 1; Ez. 33; and 1 Ne. 1:1-3. Check them out and see how they all fit together.

Also, next week is transfers. Trio's are super unstable and almost never stick together for more than one transfer, so it's almost guaranteed that at least one, if not two of us are leaving. This happens even if they get along great together. The question for you now is, who?

Take a guess!

~Elder Barker

Monday, February 16, 2015

So it's February... February 9, 2015

I'm not sure who is Mother Nature's boss, but I think she either needs to take a short vacation or come back from one, because 70 degree weather and no snow since last November is a bit weird! Seriously, where is all of the ice and snow and gloom that the good people of Arkansas has predicted since last June? Well, while it is warm I'm not going to complain; Nothing the matter with hitting up the rays in the Winter when it's warm out! =D

And speaking of hitting up the rays, check these pics out. This is what happens when you see a spooky forest-shrouded road leading off in the distance and follow it just because you could:

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Somehow we ended up on the Arkansas river! It was truly awesome! That was a fun little adventure, but because we, as missionaries, are supposed to be serious and sober in all of our conduct the pictures of our practicing yoga on top of a small rock will not be shown. ;D\\

Now, on to the nitty gritty! We have been teaching a woman named A*** for a while now, and she is super awesome. She's been seeing the missionaries for over a year now, and has really taken off. She's one of those really rare people who not only like reading from the Book of Mormon, but also want to read from the Pearl of Great Price and D&C as well. She's been going through some hard times lately and recieved the revelation to ask the Elders for a blessing. I was able to go over there yesterday and give her that blessing with Brother Peterson, the previous bishop of the Morrilton Ward. Elder Petty was sick with a nasty 24-hour bug so he and Elder Ford got to stay home. (Elder Ford was perfectly fine, but someone had to play nanny for a bit! #SightAndSound) The Spirit was super strong during our conversation, and we were able to share out testimonies of how we all are children of our Heavenly Father, who knew us long before the foundation of this world. (See Acts 17 and Ecclesiastes 12:7)

Lately I've been focusing my studies on becoming a more consecrated missionary. While I am focusing on it for how it applies to me as a missionary, for obvious reasons, this applies to everything else that we do, whether we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Missionaries for said church, fellow Christians, or just someone who is trying really hard to be a better person. Simply, there are things in each of our lives and conduct with others that we need to get rid of or change. They may be secret and known only to us, or seen by others openly. These things keep us from true happiness and block us in moving forward spiritually. 

For missionaries this can include pride, inappropriate thoughts and feelings, reading/watching/listening to things that we shouldn't, or something I didn't list. You know what your own things are. The thing we have to do is give them all up to the Lord, place them on the proverbial Alter of Sacrifice. If something is keeping us from being happy long-term we need to get rid of it, no matter how pleasing it may be in the moment. If something is preventing you from coming closer to God, remove it, because nothing is worth that price.

Last week I did my very best to do exactly that. I gave up everything I could think of, including my fear of sharing the Gospel. The day that I did that we had more success than we had ever had in the past 2 weeks. Was it all because of me? Absolutely not. But I did change, and because I was closer to the Lord He was able to do more miracles in our lives. 

I know that this Gospel is true and that it can bless and change people's lives for the better. All we have to do is open our mouths and share it for everyone to be blessed. One thing that I find rather sad is some of the fear that the members here in Morrilton have, particularly in sharing the Gospel. The last two Sundays we have been giving out one copy of the Book of Mormon to one of the brethren in the Ward to write their testimony in and give to a friend. The first time one of the youth, a young man preparing to go on his own Mission for the Lord quickly volunteered to take it. He brought back the story the next Sunday (yesterday) of how easy it was to give to his friend while they were playing racquetball. After he shared his story I extended another copy of the Scriptures for another person to take and do the same thing. There was a deafening silence in the chapel as 40+ men and youth looked at the ground and tried to avoid eye-contact. After about a 60 seconds the bishop said he would take it and everyone hurriedly got on with the planned lesson.

Why is it so hard for people to share the Gospel, particularly when this area just barely grew to Ward sizes within the last year due to missionary work? Because they are afraid. How do you get rid of fear? You grow your faith and act on that faith. If you don't act on your faith, then it will die (James 2). I know that if the members of this Ward begin sharing the gospel as they once did last year then the work here wouldn't be able to be stopped, even if one individual tried to stop it. It just takes that first step.

So the next time a missionary asks you to do something, or the Lord comes to you and tells you to share your faith with another person, just do it. Don't listen to your doubts. The blessings gained from doing so won't be able to be measured, especially once we lay all of our imperfections on that Altar of Sacrifice.

Stay strong, and be of good courage.

~Elder Jayden Barker

"Arguing with the devil is like arguing with an idiot; he will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience."

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

You're special. You know that?!

"...Some  people are only good in exchange for something, but you, you're good for nothing!"

Well, gee, thanks, ***! *** is a super awesome inactive member of the church here in Morrilton. He's a war veteran, loves knives, and trying really hard to both stop smoking and come up with, well, whatever that thing up there is called ^^^.  He's pretty good about it too. ("You ever hear about the dyslexic atheist? He doesn't believe in dog.") We go over there a few times per week to visit with him and just check up on how he is doing.

So this past week was really slow and a lot of our plans fell through, but it was still really awesome. WE were able to see the *** family, a part-member family struggling with their faith a little bit. The kids are all baptized, but not the parents, mostly because they aren't married. They wanted to be baptized, but they couldn't afford getting married. Now, about a year after their kids joined the church, the parents have stopped reading, praying, and coming to church. And now she is wondering how it is that her testimony had gone away and it is really confusing to her. It is frustrating sometimes because, as a missionary, I see things from a different perspective. I know how it is that when you do what is right in God's eyes you get blessed, and it is frustrating to me when others think that they can break the commandments and then expect the same blessings. Sorry folks, it don't work like that. The Lord has told us that when we do what he says he has to give us blessings, but when we don't keep his commandments we have no promise. At times I just want to grab the world by the lapels, shake them a little bit, tell them to be good and then actually have them do it. But it, just like blessings in exchange for sin, doesn't work like that. We have to teach by example, not by words. (I kinda know how you felt now for 20+ years, Mom. Thanks.)

I was able to have a bit of fun at a very old investigator's home last Friday. It was the first time I'd met him, and after sitting down in his home he asked me to introduce myself. Totally on a whim and for the thrill of it I introduced myself in as strong a Scottish accent as I could pull off. I'm not sure what took him by surprise more, the fact that there was a "Scottish boy" sitting in his home, or said 'boy' didn't have a trace of red hair anywhere. I kept the charade up for about two minutes and then told him, in a completely normal voice that I was just from northern Utah. Watching him about jump out of his skin was super fun though, and I will probably do it again. Just not to the same guy. 'Cause that's just silly.

On Monday I went paint-balling with a bunch of other missionaries. There were 15 of us there. Check out the pics:

The whole crew. 

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Ooh, don't I look scary? (Hah! right...)

Sadly I didn't get any pictures or video of everyone when they were in action, but Elder Petty got some, and I will try and get them from him in a bit. It was a lot of fun, and something I will probably invest in when I get home. As Elder Daley, one of the AP's, said, "If you don't get bruises you didn't have fun." Ladies and gents, I had a blast!

Just to wrap things up, just a general shout-out to everyone: keep on going! You may be doing things you really don't like or are proud of, but you can change your course and get out of them. Or if it is something good and you still don't like doing it, keep doing it, because the end result will always be worth it.

Don't do anything you wouldn't do!

~Elder Jayden Barker


Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Mother is a Ninja- January 19,2015

Seriously, she found out where I was and who it was I was serving with possibly even before my old companions found out about it! I'm pretty sure she's just (illegally) using her psychic motherly mind powers to her own advantage. Anyway, I am now serving in Morrilton, AR in a tripanionship with Elders Petty (the District leader) and Ford (the new guy). Both are super chill, but it is super weird being in a Tripanionship, Trio for short. They are rare, and very unstable in that they usually don't last longer than a transfer. Most missionary housing is only designed with two missionaries in mind, so throw a third one into the mix and things get, well, you get very close to each other very quickly. It's rather mandatory.

If you would like my new address, please email me and let me know. Otherwise, please continue to use the Mission Office address. All mail will still reach me if sent to that address:

905 Kierre Dr.
North Little Rock, AR

The really crazy part about this whole thing was that I was told I was going to go to the Memphis side of the mission, not the Arkansas side. (The mission is split basically in half by the Mississippi river.) Originally the plan was for Elder Holden and myself to just go to the Memphis transfer meeting where we would pick up the new guy there around 2-ish. Well, it takes about the same amount of time to drive to Memphis from Pocahontas as it does to drive to Little Rock, maybe a 10 minute difference in favor of Memphis, but that's it. So, in an effort to save as much proselyting time as possible for Elder Holden and the new guy (Elder Hooker), I came up with the truly brilliant idea to go to the LR transfer meeting and then just ride the Transfer Van over to Memphis where I would attend the second transfer meeting and meet my new companion. I called the AP's and told them the diea, and they thought it was great, so we went ahead with it. Imagine my surprise when I was sitting up behind the piano on the stage when President Wakolo calls out my name in the LR meeting. I was shocked. Still more so when not one but two guys stand up for the ritualistic man-hug/double slap on the back greeting required of all male missionaries meeting their new companions for the first time. I find it also interesting that there are three tripanionships here on the LR side of the river. Maybe a few new areas will be opening up in the near future? We had a massive amount of new missionaries come in this past transfer. Alas, I am under prepared so no pictures of anything yet because of a lack of a camera cable.

After I hurried and grabbed my gear from off of the trailer headed to Memphis, we were on our way to Morrilton. It wasn't that far from Little Rock, but I honestly don't remember exactly how long it took because the entire time I was either sleeping or grilling my two new companions about the area.

Elder Petty has been out for about 12 transfers now, about 5-ish months longer than me. Elder Ford was trained by Elder Petty. In our District there are the Sister Training Leaders (STL's) and one other set of Sisters over in Danville. Funny story, Sister Sommers, one of the sisters over there, used to serve for the longest time in Pocahontas with me. I guess I just get to play the part of a stalker!

At first most of our work in the new area comprised of seeing some of the old investigators and getting organized. We've recently went from one very small and dinky whiteboard to two massive ones (3' x 4') tacked side-by-side to the wall so we can keep track of everything we are doing and the people we are seeing. It is really nice now.

In our spare time Elder Petty is making stuff out of road-killed raccoons. No worries, I've not eaten any yet and the ones they have already eaten before I got there were freshly killed with limited splattering. Pictures of the event will most likely not follow. ;D  He has made a very nice hat out of one of them though.

The reason for the really late email is we had a dinner/teaching appointment with some inactive members who live super far away. The lesson went longer than normal, and resulted in our getting back late. Prior to leaving the one (and only) computer at the church was undergoing some sort of maintencne so we couldn't use it very long. Tomorrow is a meeting in LR, followed by an companion exchange with the ZL's, so no waiting to tomorrow either. I would write more, but I am out of time. 

Remember who you are, a spirit begotten by God. -Ecclesiastes 12:7

~Elder Jayden Barker

This week. January 26, 2015

We had a really good meeting with President Wakolo this past week. Not a whole lot to mention about it until we got to right at the very end. President got up and began to tell us a little bit about how he was converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I had known from previous meetings that it had taken him a very great length of time and  24 different missionaries for that to happen, but what I didn't know was a little bit about that final missionary.

By the time he arrived (I'll call him Elder Green because I don't actually know his name. lol) President Wakolo had been meeting with missionaries for several years. He had received the missionary lessons 6 times over and could teach the doctrine back to the missionaries better than some of them could teach it. The first time he met Elder Green was the also the first time that Elder Green had met anyone in course of his mission who was not either a member or another missionary; the very first lesson Elder Green ever had was at the Wakolo home.

Early the morning before the appointment and late the night before this Elder had devoted a great deal of time to prayer and meditation. Clearly he received an answer from God, because after they had sat down and said a prayer with the Wakolo family, Elder Green looked straight at President Wakolo and asked him just one question: "If you were to open up a family grocery store, what would it be called? Now don't you think that if Jesus Christ was to have a church, wouldn't it be called after His name?"

President Wakolo said he just sat there for a moment nodding his head and then responded to the new Elder's question with a statement of his own. "Elders, if you answer this next question right, I will be baptized a member of your church." Can you imagine how those Elders must had felt? This was a man who had resisted baptism for many years, and suddenly everything was put on two young missionary's shoulders, one of them very 'green' indeed. "Elders," Wakolo asked, "when can I be baptized?"

Fast forward many years down the line to this present time and this same man is now faithfully serving a mission of his own with his wife and kids beside him. And all it took was a prayer and an inspired question at exactly the right time.

People have asked me before why it is our church's name is so long. The simple answer is that Christ Himself named it. The longer answer is that we are the Church belonging to Jesus Christ, and we are doing our very best to become faithful servants of our Savior (the very definition of 'Saint') here in these Last Days before He comes again to rule personally on the Earth. He is coming again, and we are trying to get the rest of the world ready for it by helping them understand the fullness of His gospel, namely Faith in the Savior, Repentance of sin, Baptism by immersion and proper authority, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and Enduring to the End (Mark13:13). Endure to the End simply means repeat steps One and Two for the rest of your life.

As far as actual missionary work go we had the great blessing to help an investigator come to church with us for the first time ever. She has been seeing the missionaries for over a year now, and we are just helping her build her faith in Jesus Christ. We have great hopes for her.

know that this church is the only true and living church on the Earth set up by the Lord Himself. Great blessings come from being active in it, and by living the gospel that Christ taught while he was on the Earth. Please, if you have anything in your life that is preventing you form living as He would have you live, change it so you can have the sort of Joy that He would have you have. I know all the blessings I now have is a direct result from faithfully living and keeping the commandments of God.

God bless you till we meet again.

~Elder Jayden Barker