Monday, January 11, 2016


Let's blitz through the week, shall we?

Monday was our awesome PDay. We got to spend time as a district playing Bang again and giving impromptu speech at the church building on topics that the other missionaries would assign. I got to try and give an inspirational/spiritual discourse on flamingoes. To make things even better we had someone in the background playing on the piano to make things sound even more epic. It was nice to get to just be goofy for a bit and laugh. Later that night we had supper with the Rougeau family eating hamburgers. It was super good. Afterward we went to try and visit a man named D*** and his family. It turns out they weren't even home, but we saw some of the other people we were teaching outside at the time, so we were able to go inside their home and visit with them instead! It was an awesome lesson, one where the Spirit completely directed us as to what we needed to say. The end result was him saying that he wanted to prepare for baptism! We are really excited to be working with this family.

Tuesday we were blessed with the opportunity to see J*** and his family again and talk more on finding answers to our prayers and on the principle of repentance. The question was asked by N*** "If I'm not living the Word of Wisdom does that make me a bad person?" Our answer was that it doesn't make her a bad person, but that living the Word of Wisdom is simply a commandment that the Lord needs and wants her to start living. Every person has sins and problems that they are working through, and because her biggest one right now is the Word of Wisdom does not make her any less valued or loved in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. We will be directly addressing what the Word of Wisdom is with J*** at a slightly later time. He already knows a lot about it, but we will be teaching it to him later. 

At the end of that night we got to go on splits with some of the members of the Ward up here. I went with Bro. Brent Rougeau to visit with Q***and a few others and correct many of the false teaching that their preacher has been feeding them about us. It was a fun lesson, especially because Bro. Rougeau really got into it. One thing that was surprising to me is that these good people belong to one of the largest baptist churches in Jonesboro, but for all it's size they teach their members that it is impossible for us to become joint-heirs of heaven with Christ and that it is impossible for us to ever become like God. Our thought was "then what is the point of existence? For us to just accept Christ and then stand around in a big circle singing glories for the rest of eternity? What sort of narcissistic god do you worship that he created us, his children, for the sole purpose for us to tell him how absolutely wonderful he is? The God I worship wants me to grow stronger and more like Him so I can be eternally happy, not live through this life so I can turn out to be a mindless heavenly robot with vocal chords." It made me so happy that I have an understanding of how the Plan of Salvation actually works, and that I'm not left to be confused about what the purpose of life actually is. Elder Smith had some success going teaching with J*** M*** also.

Wednesday we had our Zone meeting, where I gave my departing testimony. It was a surreal moment for me, since I had seen so many of my other zone members and friends stand up to give theirs, but it never actually occurred to me that it would some how happen to me!  Clearly I was to be the magical exception to the rule, the one who never went home, right? Yeah, didn't happen that way. Haha. Elder Schoenfeld, Sister Tester (missionary I served around when I was in Morrilton) and I all gave our testimonies. Elder Schoenfeld told me that Elder Lewis recorded it, so hopefully I can get a hold of it. Later that day we had a solid lesson with L*** right before Young Men's and also right after, because we are just that much cooler than playing football in the gym. Elder Smith was helping out over in the Family History Center after P*** and R*** showed up. It was a solid evening.

Thursday I got to be on exchanges with Elder Ceron. It was pretty solid and we got to teach lots of lessons that night..... All of which were in Spanish and I didn't really understand a whole lot. It did manage to contribute a little but when what I can do is put next to a native Mexican like Elder Ceron it doesn't do a whole lot. I'll keep working on it though.

Friday was fun because we got to essentially babysit Elder Schoenfeld while he was recovering from food poisoning from the night before. Just a bit of advice: Never eat the shrimp from a $10 Chinese Buffett when even the locals will avoid that restaurant, especially when the shrimp tastes old and kinda funky. It is also a good idea not to go and get a second plate of said shrimp. The words of my companion described his condition nicely, but alas they are not polite enough to put in an email to send over the interwebs. Let's just say it wasn't pretty and I left my bathroom fan on all day to try and get rid of the smell. We did get to eat two suppers that night though, one at the M***'s and another when we had a lesson with A*** over at the Church with the Julia Rougeau family (they brought pizza). We talked a lot about repentance and what it meant. The end goal is to help prepare A*** to go to the temple in a few months to do baptisms. 

Saturday it rained a whole lot and not a whole lot happened. We did some of our planning, and got to go to a jazz concert to support L*** in his performance (it was super awesome btw. The kid really knows how to play!), but that's about it. Sorry, kids!

Sunday really only got interesting after church. Bro. Schelin wasn't there because he was feeling really sick, so the correlation meeting after church was conducted be Elder Schoenfeld. Later we had lunch at the Spanish Elders' apartment before heading off to our appointments. F*** was going to drop us off at our apartment and we were on the road to go there and get our bikes when the bishop texted asking if we could fill the font for a baptism that was taking place that night for one of the member's kids. We figured our day was already kinda shot so we hung out at the church and made sure the water was nice and warm for them. While we were there we did a lot of work on the Area book, cleaning up records and adding information that we had neglected to add/that the app had randomly deleted. Afterward the other English Elders joined us for supper at our apartment. Elder Smith made chili dogs. Pretty good stuff. We had a great lesson with F*** over at A***'s that night also, again on faith and repentance, this time more for the benefit of R*** and P***. 

Then the crazy stuff happened. Our phone had been on silent since we had helped out with the baptism, because apparently it is considered rude to use personal electronic devices during spiritual moments like baptisms. Well, once we got out of the lesson with A*** we checked the phone and saw all sorts of missed calls and texts and such. One of the people we had been teaching, a man who had a baptismal date at one point, was in critical condition at the hospital with kidney failure and about 5 liters of fluid just in and around his right lung. One of the nurses said that he had become septic. According to the nurse we talked to in the SICU that means that pretty much his entire body had become infected. Anyway, his member daughter and the bishop's wife were both trying to get a hold of us to ask us to go and give him a blessing, so off we went well after we were supposed to be in our apartment. To make a long story short we get there, declaring ourselves to be ministers for the LDS church there to administer a blessing, and it was remarkable how they jumped to help make it happen, even after visiting hours were over.

I think that's just about everything. If you would like to know more about the week or have any questions please let me know! I love hearing from everyone!

~Elder Barker

Don't forget to read!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 4, 2016 "This Week"

This week was a bit a slower one, but one with lots of miracles.

Monday not a whole lot happened. We had dinner. That was nice.

Tuesday We had some off roading adventures driving around seeing people who lived clear out in the boonies. We put close to 80 miles on the car that day since we had extra miles to burn. Later that night we had a great lesson with A*** and her family on repentance and on the nature of God. 

Wednesday we got to hang out with Elder Ceron for the day since Elder Shoenfeld was in Little Rock for some sort of leadership training thing. It's where important people go to smrt.  Me, I'm already smrt enough so I didn't need to go. lol Anyway, we had a fun language study there helping Elder Ceron speak English a little bit better. We would read something out of Preach My Gospel to him and have him translate it into Spanish while we were speaking (as if he was translating a talk into Spanish during Sacrament Meeting). We helped out Sis. Hawkins for a bit and then hurried over to a lesson with L*** at the G***'s house. It was a solid lesson. He had a lot of questions, and we were able to answer most of them. It was a longer lesson, which is something that we are going to have to work on in the future. We picked up some food for a part-member family we are teaching since they were running a little low on stuff. Later we took a road trip out to Egypt, partly because we had the miles to do it and mostly just because we could. After all, if you have an opportunity to go to Egypt, wouldn't you take it? We have pictures, but they are all on Elder Lewis's camera, so I hopefully will be able to get those to everyone next week. Dinner with the Chandlers, followed by a lesson over at C***'s, one of the people who was baptized by the Spanish Elders not long ago. I barely understood anything, but considering how little I actually remember about Spanish I was just happy that I was able to pull anything out! lol

Thursday we had interviews with President Wakolo. He didn't have all that many questions for either me or Elder Smith, so it was a really quick interview. Later we had a solid lesson with J*** N*** and his wife on the Plan of Salvation. We only got through part of it since we were taking it really slow and being extra thorough with it, but it went really well. Lots of good questions. We will be coming by again later this week once they get back from Little Rock. lol We had supper with Ben Rougeau and his wife that night with the other Elders, briefly talked with a buy named J*** that night to set up an appointment for later (he wants to have us over for a turkey fry. We're excited). We wrapped up the night at the ward New Year's Eve party at the church building. Q*** and X*** were both able to attend. It was a really positive experience for them, and they were able to meet some more members of the Ward here in Jonesboro. 

Friday started off with a bit of a surprise. Just a little bit into studies we got a call from the Spanish Elders letting us know that C*** wanted to have us over for breakfast that morning.
 "When is it?" we asked them. 
"In about 15 minutes." (It takes 15 minutes just to drive there). 
"Ok, we'll see what we can do."
It was really good, not even remotely close to breakfast food, but still really good. Some sort of corn and chicken soup that you eat with tostadas and beans, plus this really good dessert that a different member of the family made. Then he started passing out mugs of this drink made of boiled fruit and sugar and some sort of plant like sugar cane. I have not a clue how to make it myself, but it was spectacular. We finished up our studies after that and did some weekly planning. At about 4 we got a call from Elder Geddes, our old DL who got moved down to Little Rock as an office Elder. He was just letting us know that he was on his way with a trailer to drop furniture for us and the other English Elders. So now we have a really nice 3-seater recliner to add to our collection of a table, chairs, and small sofa. Oh, and a dresser. Yay for commodities! That night we had supper with the Brent Rougeau and his family - hot dogs over a fire out back. The best part is that Q*** and X*** were both able to go. Later we had a great lesson on the Book of Mormon with them. I really hope this means that they will start progressing soon. They have the curiosity, now they just need the desire to act on it.

Saturday was a bit of a bust. Most of our plans fell through within the first few hours, so we spent a good deal of the day knocking doors. It was really neat to see how the Lord guided us to the people that we needed to talk to that day though. A good example of this is a family who recently moved into a really ritzy neighborhood that we tracted into. Typically we don't go into upper-class neighborhoods like that because fewer people are willing to talk with us, but that day seemed to be the exception. They seemed really interested, but had family in from out of town and their day already booked, so they invited us to come back next Saturday instead. We are excited.

Sunday we had two people to church, L***and a man named A***. L*** came all dressed up in a suit and everything and really enjoyed the service. Afterward we were able to have  a great lesson with him over at the G***'s place again. We did a lot better in keeping it short, but it was a bit more of a legarthic lesson since everyone was tired and hungry from fasting that day. We did a bit of driving afterward up to the Meeker's place to pick up something for A*** and her family. Bro meeker and his wife had recently got a new kitten, so we hung out there for a tad bit longer than we needed to so we could play with it. 15 minutes later we noticed the time and hit the road heading back into Jonesboro. Thank heaven for the main highway that goes right down the middle of it! If it wasn't there and we were forced to take backroads in we would have been really late for our dinner appointment with the C***'s. We got there just a little bit after the other guys got there. We finished the night off teaching A*** about temples to prepare her for the trip that she will get to take with some of the youth in the ward on the 9th to the Memphis Temple. She got her recommend that morning and was positively glowing when she walked out of Bishop's office. It has been a really awesome journey to see her progress in the ways that she has.

I think that's about it so far for this week. If you have any questions about anything or just want to drop me a line, please do! 

~Elder Barker