Monday, April 27, 2015

"Do you think anyone is home?"

Sadly, the intense vegetation and the small pack of wild pit-bulls made it impossible for us to get even close. (The dogs were push-overs) We probably could have pushed through, but with ticks, dogs, and chiggers to look forward to... it just wasn't worth it!

Speeding right along,  we've been focusing a lot on working with members in the upcoming month. We can't do it without them, so working with them is crucial. 

SOme of the people we've been seeing this past week and seeing miracles with are:
A*** and M***- they are now ready to stop smoking (Yes!!!!!)
The W*** family
The C*** Family
Giving the N*** family priesthood blessings.
Recieving a priesthood blessing from Bishop Moll
The good people in Plumberville, AR!

Something that went crazy awesome and really cool happened on Saturday. We met this guy named N*** who is in charge of a youth-spiritual-camp thing. He says he's going to bring all 20+ of his 'kids' with him to church one of these days. I personally home I get to be there just to watch the Young Men, Young Women, and Primary teachers have a minor breakdown as all of their classes double in size! We were walking around some small country streets following that conversation when we were flagged down by a passing car. It was a young baptist preacher who thought we were JW's, but instead of being nasty like is so common once he found out we were Mormon missionaries he instead invited us over for a bite to eat and some water at his church building in a few minutes so he could ask us a few questions he was wondering about the Church. I was a bit apprehensive about it all because usually these things result in a bible bash of some sort, and while I can now hold my own using the scriptures, it isn't a very good way to invite the Spirit. Elder Thomas wanted to go, and it was hot out, so we went anyway.  Following was one of the nicest experiences I've ever had with a minister of another faith and I learned a good deal about the Baptist faith (or at least one branch of it) from him. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon, his daughter took my copy of the Bible (we give those away too) and both said that they wanted to read from the Book of Mormon to learn all they could. "But," said he, "I probably won't be preaching any sermons out of it any time soon." Hey, that's OK with us, as long as you read it and pray about it!

Brothers and sisters and various extended relatives, The church is true. Testimony can overcome challenges that a knowledge of the scriptures sometimes cannot. Yes, study the scriptures, but a very wise RM said fairly recently that sometimes having all of the knowledge to, well, anything, doesn't do you any good unless you can use it and understand it. The first step to being a convert of Jesus Christ's is to not only hear (or read as the case might be) his doctrine, but to also pray about and understand it. That is my invitation to each of you, pray about what you already take to be true, and seek the Lord's confirmation that what you know is true.

~Elder Barker

P.S. What we had fun doing today on P-Day:

(in front of the sister's appartment. Sister Tu'ifua is fond of the phrase "do you need a cookie?" I'm not entirely sure what it means, but we decided to give her a 'cookie' back!)

P.P.S. Elder Thomas came up with our names. All credit goes to him. Haha!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 20, 2015- "Bring the Hammer!"

Let me just say two things:

1- When Arkansas decides to do something or that it needs something, it goes all out!

2- IT'S A BUNNY!!!!!!

We were over at a member's home for supper last night (Porkroast with some kind of freakishly amazing potatoes. They probably had some sort of secret/illegal ingredient because potatoes, regardless of how soft and flavorful they are, usually don't send me back for three helpings!) and there was a pretty nice storm that blew in. Apparently it spawned a few tornadoes from it, but nothing that touched down near us. The closest one was a pretty small one that appeared about a 15 minute drive south. The skies were a really neat dark green color and hail the size of large marbles started falling from the sky. Alas, I didn't get a picture of the hail before it all melted, but I did get to take a picture with this little guy! He was outside in a cage when the hail started coming down so the Foster family brought him inside. It made me incredibly happy, because, well, it's small, soft, and furry. And who doesn't like things like that? Only crazy people. And those allergic to rabbits.

Before I get off topic I'll start with last Monday and work my way forward.

Monday was an interesting one for both Elder Thomas and myself. We were at FHE (Family Home Evening) at the Gates home when our phone started going crazy. It was the Relief Society President over in Russelville trying to get a hold of us because the mother of a less-active member there in Russilville was in Hospice here in Morrilton and just barely came off of life support.  The member wanted the Elders in the area (us) to go and give her a blessing before she passed away. We did so, and it was a first for both of us. While we were there we met an older man, Mr. K***, who had lived in Utah once upon a time and invited us to come back and see him again. Blessings that come from talking to everyone. Late that night we got called that it was time for us to give up the car again, and we would be doing so on Tuesday. How nice of them to give us so much advance warning..... *sigh* It was just frustrating because we had been able to use a car for about a week and a half over the past 8 weeks, but that's missionary life.

Because we knew we would be giving up the car on Tuesday we decided to use up some of the spare miles we had gained by letting the car sit in the shop by waking up a little early and driving to Jerusalem so my companion could get a picture next to the sign. I had gotten a picture there in the past, so I didn't bother taking one of myself again, but here's my companion:

Following taking this picture we drove down to North Little Rock, about an hour's drive, for our Specialized Training meeting. It was Elder Thomas's first, so that was a lot of fun. Lots of good stuff there. After that meeting we had a "Train the Trainers" meeting, which really was just a 45 minute meeting telling us to focus on the 12 week training program and Preach my Gospel. It was well worth our time. We also went on splits with the Zone Leaders that evening, and I was paired up with Elder Johnston, a missionary who actually came out with me! That was a lot of fun, but we also got a lot done. Dinner with the M***family resulted in our teaching their non-member son and a really good meal.

Because we started the exchange so late it continued on during all of Wednesday, but I wasn't complaining. Maybe Elder Johnston was though, because the first order of business was to help one of the people we've been talking to clean out their house. Picture this: two people with poor health, 30 cats they are fostering including the new-born's, over-filled litter boxes, and a year to let it build up. It was something else, but we were glad to help in every way we could, spiritual reasons aside, because it was unsafe to be living in there. We had lunch with A***, and then accepted a ride from him to our next appointment. Sadly, it did not go well at all, and ended up in our dropping an investigator due to his lack of willingness to keep the commandments of God. We are called to go and teach others the Gospel, but when people are not willing to keep commitments it is sometimes necessary to go and find new people o teach. Sad, but true. The day Ended with our talking again with Mr. K***, and also with a new person named C***, who was walking the track in front of the hospital. We hope to see her tomorrow.

Thursday we exchanged back (I'm hurrying through this because my companion still needs to email). We spent more time in the cat house and was able to see the M***'s son, C***. He's a legit kid, and we are slowly building that trust with him. We also met a woman named L***, the mother of a woman who joined the church many years ago. We hope to go and see her again, also tomorrow.

Friday we spent basically all day doing more service. I gotta say though, but this point the house wasn't looking to shabby. Even A*** got in on it and once he gets cleaning the guy is hard to stop. In his words, "When we first started this you couldn't pay me to stay a night in here. Now I would be Ok with it."

Saturday was more service, but this time it was out at Sis. Gate's home, helping her get a garden started for the first time ever. It felt good to use a tiller again. Following that we helped out Bro. Parks with his Aunt's house. Piano moving, tree limb removal, removing wallpaper, the like. It was pretty awesome. We finished the night by seeing the local high school put on their production of Willy Wonka for free because the one producing it is a member. It was pretty good for a really small high school.

Sunday we had church, a meeting with C*** again, supper, the whole tornado deal, and last a meeting with A***. We were hoping to help her set a date to stop smoking on, but she just wasn't ready for it yet. It is frustrating, because I know she knows she needs to do this, but she just won't do it. Agency really is quite frustrating sometimes! haha. Today M*** went to go and pick up their son from the Navy over in Georgia, so I'll get to meet him for the first time on Thursday.

Tomorrow we will be getting our car back, will be having a District Meeting (the first that I will be conducting) and sometime in there will be visiting the hospital. Elder Thomas has some sort of rash thing on his face that has been around for over a week that we are going to go and get looked at. Probably nothing too crazy, just poison ivy or something, but it's been around for a while, so we are getting this taken care of.

That's everything and a half, so have a great day/night/evening/other for me! Take naps, drink lots of water, and DFTBA!

~Elder Barker

April 13, 2015- "When your companion knows no bounds"

It is incredible the amount of work that can be done when you have a companion who honestly believes everything is possible. It is truly humbling to see the enthusiasm of another missionary, one who has been out literally less than a week, and get tired doing all of the work that he wants to do. Clearly I've gotten a bit lax with something, because I haven't been this tired since I was serving with Elder Clason or Elder Raiford. It's crazy and awesome at the same time!

One of the things we've been focusing on as of late is trying to go and find more people to teach. One intresting thing that happened this past week happened when I saw a raod on the GPS that I hadn't ever been on before. Elder Thomas suggested we go and check it out, as we had a few spare minutes. Once we got there we realized why it was that we had never knocked any doors on that road before: there was only one house on the entire thing. Well, we were there, so we figured why not go and knock on it. The results were spectacular - nobody was home. Yay! Anywho, we left a pass-along card with our number on it so that this family could call us if they wanted to later. Jump forward about 5 or so hours to when I started getting the weekly numbers from everybody (part of District Leader duties and all) and called the Morrilton sisters. They said that, mainly just by coincidence, they had gone to that same random street with just one house on it and found the pass-along card that we had left. So yeah, at least we know everyone is working hard! 

One event that happened specifically to us was this past Friday. It was Elder Thomas's second full day in the field, and we were going to go and try to see the S*** family. Sadly, they weren't home, but we did see several people outside which was good enough for us. THe first guy we talked to was a large, muscular, black guy cleaning up his car so his son would have something nice to take a date to Prom with. Turns out he was the preacher for First Assembly of God here in Morrilton. My dear companion had a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights moment, but even then he was still able to muster the courage to bear testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon and of our message. Major props to him, because I know that that is something I would not have been able to do my second full day out. The guy acts more like a missionary who has been out for months than someone who is brand new. I can totally see him going AP in about a year's time.

A***is doing well. We will be going over to her place sometime in the near future to help her get her place all cleaned up for when her son gets home from the military. Her husband has really bad PTSD and doesn't like other people in his living space, so when we went and visited A*** we always went to the other side of the duplex to where her son will be moving into so M*** is OK with everything. Well, M***is going to be the one going to go and pick up their son from the military, so while he's gone for three days on the road A***, us, and as many of the Relief Society sisters as we can round up are going to give that place a hard-core cleanup job. Gonna be great!

I think it was on Wednesday, not terribly sure (forgot my planner - oops!) but this past week I was also able to go and give my first baptismal interview to a girl the Danville elders had been working with. She was really young, only 11, but her testimony was crazy strong, and she is already making plans to go to the Temple as quickly as she possibly can. That too was a humbling experience.

Really not a whole lot else to say, other than we have been keeping busy. The work is progressing here, and we are committed that between the two sets of missionaries in Morrilton we will have a baptism within the next month and a half. 

Onward, On to Glory!

~Elder Barker

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April 7, 2015- "#GenCon"

Both because it was simply awesome, and because it is my civic duty as a Missionary, I strongly advise absolutely everyone and their aunt to go and watch this most recent General Conference (again). Seriously, can things get better than hearing from a Prophet of God and literal living Apostles live and, for some really lucky people, in person? The only thing I can think of would be to have a personal chat with Christ and be able to hear his physical voice.

It is sad, but for so many people General Conference is either a boring waste of time or a great time to take a nap while you go and "listen" to it in the privacy of your bedroom. Come on peeps! Think of the blessings and the wonderful opportunities you have not once but, twice a year! Think of the price almost everybody would pay to be able to hear Moses speak directly to them exactly for their needs, or to be able to hear Paul boldly bear his testimony of the Savior before kings and emperors, if only for five minutes. Now think of what we've got: the privilege to hear a Modern-Day Prophet speak and to hear his witness backed up by one who some people might claim is Paul reincarnated! (*coughElderHollandcough*) With all of this in mind, please, at the very least, the next time you have to go to the bathroom during Conference, wait until the choir starts singing so you don't miss as much! (We love you, MoTab!)

Aside from that things are going well here. This past week was slow, due to getting sick, doing unusual amounts of service, not having a car, and, of course GenCon, but everything was worth it. Tomorrow is the early (aka optimistic) estimate as to when we will get the car back, but most likely it will be on Thursday. Either way, I'll be glad to get a pair of wheels back!

Other things of interest are transfer calls. They came early Sunday morning, and we were informed that Elder North will be leaving us after only one transfer. It is sad, but honestly not all that unexpected. Because, you see, prior during the week I recieved a call from one of the AP's that I will be training a new Missionary as of tomorrow. GAAAHHH! This is going to be crazy! No, I don't know his name yet, where he's from, or anything about him. I guess you will just get to find that out next (hopefully) Monday! SO yeah, I'm a little bit excited about that!

Hope everyone's day was fantastic. Catch you all later!

March 30, 2015- "The aftermath of Bambi"

Today we moved a piano. It is the primary reason I am on so much later than normal. So yeah, that was fun.

This past week has been crazy and intense with all that went on. First off, the weather was remarkably kind to us. Usually when an Elder is forced onto walk week for any reason Mother Nature tries to add insult to injury by making it as wet as possible. The plus side to that though is you can hear all of the frogs going crazy just outside of your house. Apparently they like the moisture or something like that! But yeah, it was up in the 70's all week, with the one exception where it was raining lightly. Super nice for us as more people are out and about. --> Awesome Easter Message. Check it out and send it on to all your friends!

On Monday we were able to email over at the Cockrum's house and spend some time with them. It was nice to be a (somewhat) normal human being again and just get to geek out a little bit playing some board games with the Ward Mission Leader and his family. Afterward we had supper at Sister Gates's home with a FHE afterward. It was an interesting experience, more so because we had A*** there with us too.

Tuesday was our District Meeting, which was super awesome. We set goals for this upcoming month, and then set specific steps and goals to help us reach those "master goals". Brother Sigler was kind enough to help us out in getting down there and also took us out to eat afterward at Western Sizzlin', a steakhouse/buffet place In Russelville. It was sooooo good, and I enjoyed myself a little bit too much; by the time we made it back home my stomach and head were not happy with me. I think it started somewhere around plate three when I went back for my second helping of chicken legs and blackberry cobbler, but I'm not entirely sure about that. It could have also been the mashed potatoes and gravy or even half-dozen rolls I ate. Again, just a hypothesis, but it could have been those too. (totally worth it)

WHile we were in Russelville we also stopped by and got a Spanish copy of the Book of Mormon from the Spanish set there. (Random cool side tangent, one of the two elders was a student of some sort a few years back at Weber High. We flipped out a little bit when we made that connection.) We had met a guy named J***a while ago in Morrilton and he wanted a copy of the BoM that was in Spanish. We were happy to oblige him

Wednesday was crazy in that we visited so many people, but out of about 30 people we tried only 2 were home. To make it even better we had a member with us that afternoon, a guy named Troy who is preparing to serve his own mission once he is able. Yeah, great impressions..... #RealMissionaryWork. That evening we taught the Isiah chapters of the Book of Mormon, and that was really fun. 

Thursday we met a really awesome family on our way to go and see A***. Because of where we live in relation to the rest of the town it takes us about an hour of walking just to get to a point where we can easily move from one person's house to the next. Because of this we really don't see it a big deal to spend a few minutes to go out of our way to go and knock on a seemingly random door. This is how we met V*** and L***. We had an awesome lesson with them about our purpose as missionaries (to bring everyone to Christ) and how the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, helps with that purpose. We have as yet been unable to set a return appointment due to their crazy schedules (L*** is a church singer working on getting a CD published!) but, just as he promised us he would, he gave us a call on Sunday to try and set something up with us. We will be getting in contact with him hopefully tomorrow again. 

We also saw A***that day, and talked a little bit about smoking. It was interesting in that before we had gone over there the plan was to go through the Missionary Stop-Smoking program to help them get ready both for her baptism and also for her son coming home from the military (he got diagnosed with asthma. ugh...). Before we went over there, however, the Spirit told me that this wasn't what she needed at the time, that she had to be truly ready to make that change in her life first, and it wasn't something that we could just do for her - she has to ask. I didn't like that idea very much, but I have found that arguing with God is an even worse idea, so I went with it. She will stop when she is ready to stop, and we will be there to help her once she gets to that point.

After our Weekly Planning on Friday we got to try and see a lot of very nice people and got rejected by a lot of other people. It was just one of those kinda days, the ones that help you repeat the mantra "At least the Church is True" over and over to yourself. If there ever is a testimony builder, it is days like those where you run face first into a brick wall, but then ask a passing angel to give you a bit of a lift over it so you can keep on going being awesome. Angels are pretty chill like that. The Passing Angel in this case was an older man I'll call Mr. Young
​. He is a minister at his own small baptist church here in Morrilton, and has been doing so for many years.

The thing that makes him so cool is that even though he was a preacher at another church he was still willing to stand and talk with us for a short while. We talked a bit about the differences between his church and ours, and some of the ways that we are helping others get ready for Christ's Second Coming and keep our families strong. It was a really good conversation. Before we left I reached into my bag and pulled out a Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet (I usually carry about 6 with me at all times) and gave it to him with a simple invitation to read it so he could know more fully what it is that we believe. Of course, the end goal is that he will feel the Spirit and want to talk to us again, resulting in baptism, but even if that does not happen he is in a position where he can help dispel some of the falsehoods that are preached in some churches about our faith. I honestly doubt very much that we will every be able to see him and teach him again, but I know that the Lord leads us to specific people every day so that we can be a good influence in their life and bring about some sort of eternal Good.

Saturday was a lot like Wednesday, complete with a member being with us. Perhaps the highlight was a visit with a guy named Mr. H***. He's going in for an operation relatively soon, which means we most likely won't see him again for some time. We've been over there several times to visit with him and to help him progress towards Christ and the Salvation He offers, but he just can't get past the fact that Christ would ever speak to anyone outside of Jerusalem, or that said person would have the audacity to write down what Christ said to them. I dunno why this is such a hard thing to believe, but I do know part of it has to do with the condition of the heart. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament knew more scripture than anyone save Christ himself, but that didn't help them any in believing what Christ was trying to tell them. However, look at the power and effect that Christ's words had on a few simple fisherman. The difference between the two, other than their scriptural knowledge? How soft their hearts were. It does not take a scriptorian to be close to God; it just takes a heart willing to recognize the truth when it is heard.

Sunday we met a woman named S***. She has been going through a really rough time lately, and is working on getting her kids back after being in jail for a short time. While she was in there she attended a daily bible study and came to have a faith in Christ that she didn't have before. When we went over there yesterday and met her for the first time we introduced the Book of Mormon to her and just just soaked it all up like a sponge. She loved the idea that there is more of Christ's word that she can read, and said she can't wait for us to come back again. It is people like her that make everything we do worth it.

Then we get to today, where I am frantically typing as fast as I can to get this done before curfew. The piano made things fun (sorry Mom, no pics this time), as was the email service being down globally for missionaries earlier today. But all is better now!

I hope your day/week/other was just absolutely fantastic, and look forward to hearing from you again! Thanks to all those who take the time to write your missionaries; even just a simple conversation with your sister can mean the world on a day that otherwise was just quite painful.

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!

~Elder Barker

March 23, 2015 - "Bambi caught air!"

This is what happens when you hit a yearling going 55 mph! Nobody was hurt, but sadly, Bambi didn't make it..... She caught at least a solid second of air time!

Pretty awesome stuff, right? This was by far one of the most exciting thing that has happened to me so far. Yes, it was fun running off the road into a ditch last year (if "fun is the right word for it"), but this was me hitting a deer it doesnt usually happen every day. Mozt people are also glad for that fact. 

Last monday we started off at Sister Gates's home with brother Stover to have FHE with them. We had a really good meal of some sort of caggabe and chicken stew and finished it off with a good helping of getting my butt kicked in basket ball.

Tuesday we were able to go and talk with two people, A*** and Sister M*** Sister M*** has been really having a hard time with her testimony, but I was able to see firsthand again how awesome it is to have a member with you when you go teacing. We were with a member of the stake presidency and the power of that man's testimony and knowledge od the scriptures was truly incredible and I know that the Spirit would not have been there nearly as strong had we been there just by ourself. She was able to come to church again yesterday.  When we were with A*** we had a great discussion all about the Word of Wisdom and the blessings God gives us when we keep all of his commandments. 

Wednesday we were able to go to the Zone Meeting down in Conway. Apparently we are supposed to get iPads in May. I dunno, I am still just a little bit skeptical because we have been hearing that they will be coming for the past at least three years. But perhaps they really will be coming now. Maybe. After the meeting with all of the excitement that it had we drove home in the car we had just barely gotten at the end of the meeting, simply enjoying the feeling of not having to walk everywhere anymore. we enjoyed our newfound freedom by driving to an investigator we havent seen in a few weeks due to home far he lives away from us. We then drove up to Springfield, a small town with a whopping 500 people in it, where our dinner appointment was. The meal was wonderful and we left there with some homebaked bread. and then we hit the deer.....  Yeah..... Back to two more weeks of full walking! Whoot!

Thursday we walked around talking to people about getting our car fixed. That was pretty much it.

Friday we saw R***and A*** again, and they were both really good appointments. Both of them came to church yesterday.

Running out of time, somI will just say that Saturday was awesome and we takid to a bindh of. Really wonderful people about the gospel. Sunday was more of the same, just livigng up the life of a missionary. It involved me teying to use my limited Spanish to talk with a man who spoke only limited English. It was great! I also was told in the most polite manner i have ever experinced that I was an anti-christ. 

Love you all, and I really hope things arw going well for you. Keep things exciting, but always remember that deer do not like to fly!


~Elder Barker

March 17, 2015- "Da Fog!!"

I almost feel like saying in a really deep raspy voice, "Welcome to Zombie Territory." Sadly, the fog doesn't usually last though. It disappears with the sun.

Moving right along to this week, it has been good, but a bit slower than I would like. In a meeting we recently when through a bunch of the ways we measure our numbers has changed, and that altered things quite a bit, but I know the changes will be for the better. It will force us to grow and be more effective at teaching.

A*** is doing really well. She's been going to church regularly the past several weeks and loving it! I'm so happy for her, and look forward to talking with her again later today with Bishop Moll. I've not seen someone who is not a member of the Church this fired up about God's word in a long time. We are going to discuss the role of prophets when we go over there today.

On Wednesday and Thursday I spent a good amount of time over in Danville on Exchanges with Elder Meza. He's a Spanish missionary, and a super awesome speaker. By the end of our 24-hour work together we had found 8 new people for the Danville Elders to teach. By the end of the week they had found a total of 32 new people. This is nothing short of a miracle for the Danville Branch, which has always struggled with teaching new people. 

In some of our own work here in Morrilton, we have also been able to find many truly wonderful people. Not quite 32, but a good number. One event was just our walking down the road and a man in a white SUV pulled up next to us and started talking to us. He had been talking with the missionaries for almost 4 years, and we had no idea about it. I'd never seen him before. but just being outside and walking around, trying to do our job, miracles are happening. You just have to look a little bit to see them.

A*** is also doing well. He is still working on the Book of Mormon 30 day challenge. All it takes is a bit of dedication and 18 pages a day and you can read the whole thing, cover to cover, within a month (now that it's not February I can actually say that)! His goal is to gain a testimony of it by reading it all, and we had a great lesson with Brother Stover all about gaining the desire to know the truth. In the end, that's all it takes, because if you really want to know something, and I mean really know, then you will do whatever it takes to find out your answer.

Yesterday we were unable to email because the Sisters were at the temple, and they are the ones with the key to the room with the computer. And, very conveniently I might add, the library is closed on Mondays. I"m not bitter, but I do find it incredibly ironic that the one day we could really use a library open on is a Monday, and that is one of the few days it is closed. Haha. Anyway, that's why I get to email today instead! Yay!

Also yesterday we had a great FHE with Sister Gates and her two kids. It was all about the Holy Ghost and His role in teaching us the truth, and ended in my getting my butt handed to me on a silver platter by an 11 year old when we played basketball. Luckily he's light and much smaller than I am so I could cheat and just pick him up to get the ball from him. We both had a great time. Also on Monday, Elder North and I played a board game he brought from home for days like this called "Betrayal at House on the Hill". It is crazy fun, and totally worth buying it. 

Have an awesome week, and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts! Cheers!

~Elder Barker

March 12, 2015 - "Slow and Steady"

Hello fellow mortals! If there be typos in this email please just ignore them; I am currently emailing on a member's iPad just before we play a new game I recently learned how to play called Betrayal at the House on the Hill. It is glorious. We have been teaching the J*** family this past week. They are super smart and have some questions that put our new found missionary biblical knowledge to the test. I love it. I heard a missionary recently say that if you want to learn a foreign language go to another country. If you want to learn a foreign language and the bible like a boss go to the south! I have found it to be so true because I would not know my scriptures as well as I do now had I not been sent to the Bible Belt. 

We have also been able to find an older man and his family who had been talking with the missionaries over 10 years ago. 10 years ago! Its crazy particulary that we have no record of it from previous missionaries. Just fyi, that's another thing we are working on right now. My time is running out, me and the ipad arent getting along very well, but please know that everything is going well here in Arkansas. The church is true!

~Elder barker

March 2, 2015 - "The Holy Land"

At the end of each month the miles on our car resets. Well, we were really good at saving miles, perhaps a little bit too good, so we decided to just drive to Jerusalem. Because we could. 

This week was a tougher one as far as work goes, but Elder North and I are working hard here in Morrilton, and I just know things will be going awesomely sooner than later.

THe highlight of the week was when both A*** and A*** came to church! We are super stoked about that, and are continually preparing them to be baptized a member of Christ's church. Just this past Thursday we also were able to use the vacuum cleaner the sisters accidentally left at our house and we spent all day over at Anna's helping her get the place looking awesome in preparation for her son coming home from the Army. Her house is a duplex, and we cleaning up the other side, which had been desecrated by cats. But the desecration and the defecation has long since been cleaned up. We only had to take apart the vacuum three times while we did so!

Saturday we had a great lesson with A*** about faith and the scriptures. He wants to read the BoM in 30 days, and we are going to go over there more frequently to help him do so. This should help him be able to gain the faith needed to move forward spiritually.

As of right now we are at the Cockrum home, who very kindly allowed us to use their computers for the day (For you missionaries shaking your head, it was approved. ;) We are going to hit up the card games and the board games in a P-Day extravaganza before returning to the grind-stone. It will be awesome. I will also be learning how to play Hero Scape. Yessir, the world will never be the same again! Bwahahaha!

One more interesting thing of note; yesterday we werea able to help out a homeless person, and now have a return appointment with him for Tuesday. He seems pretty legit. ;D

My friends and family, I am out of time, but hold to the truth in the scriptures. If you have doubts, another fallible source of information will not give you the solace that you need. Seek what is real and unchanging, not what is fake and changing.

Yours in Christ,
Elder Barker

These were pictures taken around Christmas time by the Latina Sister below.  She is deaf and is here on an ASL mission.

March 2, 2015- "To the missionaries of the world"

I know your time is short, so here's a short thought that I had a short while ago in Zone Conference:

If a person knew the day they were going to die, what would he change? How much faster would he do all of his work? How much more frequently would he tell people he cares about them? What things would he do to prepare to meet God?

You and I, we know the day we are going to 'die' and go back home. It's on our Ecclesiastical Endorsement, signed by a prophet of the Lord. It doesn't matter whether you have over a year left or just a week, you know when the 'end' will come. Now what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do differently?

Elders, one week of your mission is almost exactly 1% of your mission. Sisters, every month is about 5%. Just bringing things into perspective. Now is the time to kick it into high gear and work all the harder. Keep up the good work.

~Elder Barker

February 25, 2015 - "And it came to pass...actually it was just a big snowball in the face!"

Hello on the Homefront!

Just to make all of you deeply jealous, check this out!

Now, if  you aren't incredibly jealous, it is probably because you are somewhere in the Eastern half of the US and are absolutely sick of the stuff. Now, to take away the jealous-ness, here's something you can be glad you don't have!

Mmm. Yummy, right? (*cough cough gag*) If you want a Jar, just let me know. I'll just print off a haz-mat symbol to put on the package first! Lol

Anywho, the snow here is awesome. This is what it looks like as of about an hour ago:

Sister Tu'ifua, one of the missionaries here in Morrilton, is originally from Tonga, so naturally I talk about how wonderful the snow and cold is as much as possible while I'm in her presence. She shows her appreciation for my kindness by repeatedly giving me Tongan Death-Glares and threatening to eat my dog, all the while doing her very best to not shiver! She goes home in 6 weeks to her island paradise, so this is good for her. Her companion, Sister Neal, goes home tomorrow, so she will be getting a new companion for her last transfer! As they were leaving the building just a few minutes ago, Elder Ford and I ran outside and started throwing snowballs at them both. Sister Neal returned fire, but Sister Tu'ifua hurried and jumped in the car. Just before they drove off I ran to Tu'ifua's window and drew a large smiley face with the tongue sticking out on the window in the snow plastered there. Just a little something to remember us Elders by. ;D

And speaking of transfers, both Elder Ford and Elder Petty will be leaving! This means the end of all the poorly thought out puns we think up as we walk around, but that's perfectly OK! I'm looking forward to getting a new comp and just tearing it up here in Morrilton. I've got no ideas what is going down, but I just know it's going to be great.

A few highlights from this past week:

>T** has started smoking again, this time cigars. He says those will be easier for him to stop in the near future. We will be going over the 15-step Stop Smoking program every missionary has to help him stop again. It's all up to him though on whether it works or not.
>Stake Conference was this past Sunday, and it was super good. We talked a great deal about Missionary Work (my favorite!) and about strengthening our own conversion. Before we can help others we first have to help ourselves.
>Wednesday we had a bit of fun with the Danville Sisters. More on that in a bit.
>Thursday we had Lunch with T**. I sang my happy-birthday song, and I think it is starting to be a bit famous around the mission. We also had quite a few interesting conversations, not the least being one with a man probably in his late 20's shortly after offering him a picture of Christ. It went something like this:

<Us> Would you like a picture of our Savior?
<Him> I don't need no picture! I already knows what he looks like.
<Us> Really?
<Him> Yep, he's my son. I'm God!
<Us> *stunned silence, not sure what to say...*
<Him> *lights a cigarette* You boys be good now! *gets in truck and drives away*

That same day we were also able to have a great lesson with A*** and share with here some of the Mormon Messages with her so she can hear the words of the Prophets and Apostles herself. Everything in Christ's church is based upon faith, but not blind faith, and to know if someone speaks the words of God it does a remarkable amount of good to know what those words are!

>Friday I we had Zone Conference, and that was super awesome. It was all about becoming a consecrated disciple of Jesus Christ. Afterward I got a haircut from a member there (You are welcome, Mom), and had a great interview with President Wakolo.
>Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference, and then Sunday evening we got snowed in. Yeah, that was fun, but we did get to go to bed early that night!

I do believe that's everything! Have a blast, wherever you are. Remember who you are and who you represent.

The Morrilton Missionaries

~Elder Barker
I just realized I didn't tell y'all about the Danville thing. They were having it really rough over there with little member support and a even smaller group of people interested in hearing about Jesus Christ, so because of this and also partly just because we could we spent the first part of Wednesday morning making a pineapple cobbler/cake from a recipe that my family sent from home and then drove for about 90 minutes to Danville. With the help of there neighbor across the hall (they live in an apartment complex) we finished frosting it, making a hurried trip to a local grocery store for supplies we had forgotten, and stashed it in their refrigerator. We had to re-frost it after this picture was taken because the stuff we used was applied  just a few minutes after we pulled it out of the oven, and the letters sort of melted... yeah, not my best moment. Alas, I neglected to take a picture of the final product after we fixed it up in all of the excitement, but here's this at least!

We had this same nice neighbor help us by calling the Sisters on their phone and tell them that there was some "suspicious men creeping about [their] door" and that they "should come home as soon as possible". It was the best (and nicest) prank I think elders have ever pulled on Sister missionaries. Haha!

~Elder Barker