Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.

Kj, I know you're right. You said, That there is a time and a season for everything, and that to live will be an awfully big adventure... But... I never thought that today would come. or that it would be such an emotional mix when it did come..
OY! that is all that I can say. OY VE!
Today after packing everything away we had breakfast with the West pointers. Menudo and chili reyeno! yum! The mom said a wonderful prayer that had me in tears and then we were off. Check out at the mission office, make sure you have all your cards and information turned in and spelled correctly. Well done good and faithful servant...
WHY AM I DRINKING PASSION ORANGE GUAVA!??!?! It always makes me emotional...
This week we had such a wonderful week! Sadly I left my planner in my other pants, so I can't tell you all the dirty details. But here's what I remember.
We gave a lady a blessing so she wouldn't be hurting so much recovering from chemo.
I gave a blessing in Spanish to a fellow and the words came that I wasn't even sure if they were right but they turned out to be perfectly said.
Had departing interviews with President Bowen and it was a very spiritual meeting. About letting the lord guide me where he needs me.
Watched "Joesph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration" with the west pointers and the spirit was so strong. there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
I found Bloomingdales' Testimony on Mormon.org. Holy cow! She is on fire!
Stake conference was lovely. All about missionary work. Speakers were Recently returned missionaries and a couple ones from some who were going out to the field in a couple weeks. It really was a conference directly to me. I'm not sure why everyone else was there, but i hope they something out of it too. ;)
we walked for a whole day talking to people in the street and sharing the Gospel.
I'm tearing up right now...
man... I don't want to leave.
Oh Mr. Frodo I'm torn in two...
I've learned a lot out here.
I talked with a return missionary who had become inactive in the church and in my heart I vowed to keep doing the little things to keep contact with Father in heaven. You know, reading the scriptures, praying going to church: the classic three. It's like you said mom, "It is hard to stay in touch if you don't stay in touch! " And it's the Same with God, and I don't want to fall out of touch with him.
This time out here has changed me forever.
I'm not the same.
Nor do I wish to be the same as I was before.
I can hardly believe that I shall be leaving California in less than a day.
Where did the time go!?
Thankfully as I look back over the things I've done out here and the people I've met and the things that I've learned, I can see that although it was just a blink of an eye, I've fought the good fight, and I've kept the faith.
I know that this church isn't just a nice Idea - It's True! And I know that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, our saviour and redeemer. I know that He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith to restore that which had been lost: the gospel. And I know these things because I asked God to tell me if it was true, and HE told me that it IS!
If you don't know it, or if you aren't sure if you know it- I'm going to take advantage of the short time left that I have as a duly ordained minister and Representative of Jesus Christ himself and say- Find out! Do what it takes.
Come on Guys. I just spent two years of my life proclaiming this to everyone that I could. Figure out why I did it! Why is this something that I would devote my life to?
I can tell you why- It's because I know that it's true.
I hope you can find that out too.
I pray that you can.
You can start by reading in, and praying about, The Book of Mormon. It truly is Another testament of Christ.
I love you all.
Thank you so much for supporting me on this adventure... quest... thing. I thank you for every prayer and thought and letter you sent my way. It made my pathway bright.
this is it.
so long.
and thanks for all the fish.
-Elder Soren J. Barker

Sept 12 And in three...two...one...

Wow. This has been one of the BEST weeks! Lot's of wonderful things! So... where did I leave off last week?... AH! I remember!
Tuesday Lot's of contacting people.
Wed. WAS SO HOT!!!!! We were both sweating so much. Yuck. But we were able to meet with Army Boy's family and talk about the blessings we receive from God according to our faith. And then we had dinner with The West Pointer family. Great food. I'm going to have to get her recipes Because... Shoot-Dang! Good Sope and Agua de Jamica. Oooo sooo good. In the evening we went to Miss Moon and read a little with her and figured out when we were going to have her Baptismal Service (on Sunday!) and we got her ready for the baptismal interview.
Thursday we had an amazing Zone conference! President Bowen's cousin from the Quorum of the Seventy was there. WOW! It was amazing! Like, we talked about the importance and implications of covenants and alot about the Covenant God made with Abraham concerning his posterity (The saviour would be born of his linage, the gospel and priesthood would be sent by his posterity throughout the world, etc.) and agency and how important it is to choose to use our ability to choose correctly. It was a very spiritual meeting. I learned a lot. Too much to write down. Ask me about it later. In the evening we met with one of our investigators and read some in the Book of Mormon with him.
Friday, we were able to meet with some great people and invited them to the Dia de Hispanidad activity on Saturday. We had Miss Noon's Baptismal interview and She passed! Woo!
Saturday was such a fun day! We taught a couple people in the morning and then we went to the activity! We were there to man the Missionary Table, and while there, we got to catch up with how families are doing in the other wards that I've served in. People getting sealed in the temple, and getting baptized and going on missions and great stuff! It was so great! And there were cultural dances and foods and music and we had some of our investigators come and it was a great activity.
Sunday Church was great. As always. DUH it's Church! It's Always Awesome! But then after church was the wonderful Treat! I was just standing around waiting for my companion when another missionary said, "Elder Barker, follow me!" so I waited for my comp and then went to see what the missionary meant. There I saw a sight I had given up hope of seeing: My dear friend who was baptized a year ago! We embraced and talked and just smiled and it was wonderful to see him. AND he told me that his son is preparing for baptism AND that his wife had accompanied him to church! WOW! So great! THEN we had a wonderful baptismal service (for Miss Moon) And the missionary who first started teaching Miss Moon was there and it was great. Then I got to go attend a baptism in my last ward and it was SO wonderful to see the family who I had taught enter into the covenant of baptism. Wow. AMAZING DAY!!!
And today I mailed home my books and we played soccer in my space cadet suit (ha ha. too funny) But really I played in my Mexico Shirt! MEXICOOOOO!!!!! So yeah. Things are good.
I love you all soooo much!
Catch you next week!
-Elder barker

Sept. 6 How could it possibly be time already?!?!

So the dreaded envelop came this week. We, in missionary lingo, lovingly call them the "Trunky Papers". It's the flight plans, packing instructions, check out procedure, final interviews and temple trip stuff... Yikes. I can hardly believe that it's time for me to actually be receiving this info. Wow... Time is a strange thing. I'm still trying to wrap my head around he whole "time" concept. Oh well. The time has come.
So Monday we had a funny time with a guy on the street. He was pruning his Chyote plant.
I asked Elder Castillo, "What's Chyote?"
"It's a green thing that they put in chicken stew," he replied. Then added, "It's nasty."
Turning back to the gentleman he said, "Esta Rico no?" (it's tasty isn't it?)
"Si, Esta Ricisimo!" (oh yeah! it's so delicious it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. In fact, I think I'll have some right now, since you mentioned it. Thank you my good man!)
Ha ha ha.
Tuesday we had a lesson with an older lady who's husband had died five months ago and her sister-in-law died recently too. Whew! That's alot to take in a few months. So we talked about the plan of salvation and how God has a purpose for everything and how we will see our loved ones again. In the evening we had exchanges. (This means he and his companion "exchanged" places, or split up for the evening to teach with other members or other missionaries so they can see more people in an area that evening----Anne).
Wed we taught the older lady about the restoration of the Gospel. She seemed, kind of, Eh... about it all. Hmmm... that evening we did alot of contacting of people who had met missionaries in the past.
Thursday we met Sleepy who lived at the home of some people that had listened to missionaries in the past and had some time. So we had a lovely time getting to know him. He was pretty tired from working all day though (hence the nickname). In the evening we talked with that one family that I can't figure out a name for... about the love that God has for them. It was great. Then we exchanged back.
Friday we had a super long dramatic service project helping this lady and her kids (think Calvin times four and that'll give you an idea about this kid) move a truck loaded with stuff into her storage unit (which could only hold 1/4 of the stuff. So we got all this organizing and moving and relocating to a different unit and the Kid had to pee so he went in a bottle then chased my companion around the complex with it.... It was fun.

Later the older lady we'd been meeting with kind of said, "Don't call me; I'll call you." Oy.... Then we talked with Army kid about church and maybe meeting with the YSA missionaries. Later in the evening we met with the West Pointers and talked about baptisms for the dead cause they were going to the Temple the next day. Great stuff!
Saturday we took a stress test survey to see how stressed out we are. I got Green (not stressed out). Surprise surprise. Other missionaries in the district got Orange (Almost freaking out under the pressure) Whoa... I'm glad that the Lord has helped me to deal with pressure out here. We taught some kids who we met last week and the lesson went really well. They are super receptive and they are awesome! They just speak English... so we won't be the ones teaching them. Then in the evening we taught a guy on the street about what the Book of Mormon is. I love meeting people on the street! It's such fun!
Sunday was AWESOME! West pointer's Dad blessed the sacrament, my comp talked me into bearing my testimony cause it's the last Fast and Testimony Meeting in my mission, West Pointer the Oldest got ordained as a priest, and The church is true!

After church we met with Sleepy and he had read and remembered really well what he had read, Cool. So we talked about prophets and the importance of scriptures. Then we watched The Testaments with a family, then raced to a seminary kick off and sang a musical number, then ended the night with that one family that I can't think of a name for... It was a good day.
Monday we had an awesome Family Home Evening with the Westpointers! Life is so great!
I love you all.
I love the Lord!
Things are good but they are getting better.
Catch you next week.
-Elder barker

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Aug 29 Seven Days in the Life

Hey! How are you? Weathering the storm I hope. Yikes! I heard on Tuesday that an earthquake hit NY, is that true? Wow... Then a hurricane?! Sheesh. Well I guess it's one of those signs of the times we read about in the scriptures. You know the whole, "Earthquakes in diverse places and the ocean heaving over her bounds," kind of thing. I guess the figurative fig leaf is budding out and the signs of summer are at hand. But it'll be ok. Hooray for the plan of happiness!
Anywho, on my side of the country things have been dry nd warm. And ths key bord hates me. AD HJSDASKYK WUIL WD. Darn sticky library devices. ragga shmagga....(rumbling of mutiny)
Monday we had a lesson with Miss Moon, Who told us that she had tried to get a hold of us the previous Thursday to have the wedding with us as the witnesses. WHAT?! I received no such call! "I called you guys up but you didn't answer. So we had to postpone the wedding until this week." Nuts... you mean they could have been married already if it weren't for Sprint's lousy phone coverage? We got the plans all together for a wedding at the old courthouse in Santa Ana for Thursday at 1:00.
Tuesday we had a meeting with the whole mission! Wow! That was the third time in two years that we've gotten all of the missionaries in one room. Fun! AND there wa IN-N-OUT!!! SOOOOOO good. yum. My companion ate three burgers. heh heh. Then we had a wonderful testimony meeting. I didn't have time to share mine... oh well. In the evening we tried to contact some people but no dice. Then we had coordination meeting with the Ward Mission Leader who told me, "Elder Barker from Maine!" Yup that's me. "You know that there was a 5.8 earthquake on the east coast right?" WHAT?! That never happens -NEVER! "Well, it did." Yikes... SO hope you are well and not too shock up- if the rumors are true.
Wed we started the day off with a Session at the temple. So wonderful. I LOVE THE TEMPLE SO FREAKING MUCH!!!!! I highly recommend going there for any readers who haven't yet. It's such a heavenly place. We taught some fun people, but contacted a cool couple in the evening. She was sitting outside in her yard and we struck up a conversation and----what do you know! She and her husband are interested in learning more. Cool!
Thursday at 11:45 we got a call. "Elders! could we make the wedding earlier?" um.. we're in district meeting until 12:15... SURE we can get out of it and go to a wedding!" So we ditched the other elders there and we went to the wedding! SO fun! It was sweet to see the Disney shine in Miss Moon's eyes. And as they said, " I do," it was so nice to know that finally they were married and keeping the commandments of God. Hooray for not just living together and playing house! Hooray for commitment and responsibility! Then we went out to eat. Later we met with some folks and some recent converts and helped them get things in order to go to the temple on Saturday.
Friday was a BLAST FROM THE PAST!!!
So if you look in the archives of Letters from Elder Barker You may search almost the exact day last year and you will know who the blast from the past was. Friday was the 26th of August BUT last year on the 25th of august I met a woman who made my blood boil and my car get towed. We were walking around, and were just about to cut through an apartment complex to get to an appointment quicker and a voice from my nightmares rang out:
"WHAT do you think you are doing? Are you on the premises by the invitation of someone?"
"We are just walking though to get to the other side. We weren't even going to contact any on here in the comple- "
"OH no you don't! You walk around! Don't you see the signs?!"
"-oops! Sorry about that. We'll be sure to walk around then. Thanks."
"AND JUST so you Know, 145 C was evicted. SO you can stop going by there!"
"-what? Who... I have know Idea what you're talking abou- "
"There was someone there who was meeting with you people and they've been evicted so you can stop bothering the people there!"
"-Well That's not us... but thanks for the heads up."
We had a wonderful lesson with a woman who has a simply lovely daughter with downs syndrome. So sweet. Then in the evening we had exchanges with the zone leaders.
Saturday was a day of much contacting and faith finding.
Sunday was church and the west-pointers were sustained and ordained to the Holy Priesthood of God. WOW! so cool to see they're progressing in the Gospel.
Anyways... that's the long and short of it.
Hope you are well. I love you so much!
catch you later!
-Elder Barker

Aug 22 What a weekend!

This week was wonderful! The West pointers Got BAPTIZED!!! Wow. So Great! I even got to be part of the ordinance, But I'm getting ahead of myself----
Monday, We had an awesome Zone Activity: DODGE BALL!!!! It was super fun. And then in the evening we had family home evening with Miss Moon. It was a good time, sharing the story about king Lamoni's father from Alma 22. Great stuff; look it up.
Tuesday we had a great meeting with the zone and discussed mission rules and stuff. Lots of good energy. We taught this one guy who came to church on Sunday saying, "Soy Mormona. El Salvador. Jose Smith. Moroni. Soy Mormona." Ok... so he's not all there. And it was super funny teaching him because, A) his conversations would go around and around on repeat And B) His outfit: He looked like a mix between Genie from Aladdin and a pimp. Ha ha. Pink silk leopard shirt and blue paisley pants. Crazy. Then we taught the West Pointers the last few principles that they needed to know before baptism and answered some questions and ate some DELICIOUS flautas. I'm drooling thinking...
Wed. We got stuff together for the baptismal program then met with our one-legged friend who loves soccer and even though he's been learning more about the church for 18 years----still won't get baptized. Then most of the West Pointers had their baptismal interview. The dad couldn't make it cause he works. And they passed! And we met with another family and talked about the gospel for a bit.
Thursday I was on exchanges with this Newbie from Mexico and it was super fun. I wasn't too familiar with the area so we got lost a couple times. I mean, I know this area, cause I served here last year BUT that time it was in English and I never was able to adventure into the heavily Spanish areas, So it was an adventure exploring.
Friday West Pointer's Dad passed his interview and we taught a crazy lady who reminds me of a marionette: Her movements and head gestures were just so over dramatic it was almost comical when she'd talk. In the evening we had a missionary activity, where we watched this movie as a ward. Good movie. Our non-member friends liked it too. It was called, "And Should We Die." It was about when Pancho Villa was about to attack the Mormons in Mexico and at the end a Bishop gets shot because he wouldn't deny that he was a Mormon. Then we had a great organizing/planning/meeting where we got maps and figured out where everyone would go for the upcoming Missionary Stake Activity on Saturday.
Saturday was AWESOME! We started off with the missionary activity where the young men in the stake all came together and we went out contacting people with them. What an experience! It was wonderful. The YM loved it too. Then we set up stuff for the West Pointers' baptism and had an awesome service! I got to baptize the Dad and one of the sons. Very cool experience. When the son came out of the water he commented to me, "I feel lighter." Awesome! After that we all went to a carne asada cook out and had a blast!
Sunday the West Pointers got confirmed. The mom commented after Sacrament Meeting, "Taking the sacrament never meant anything to me before, but now- I can feel it working in me." Cool. After church we attended another wonderful baptismal service in the ward. Great things are happening in Zion these days. Then we contacted and taught two guys on the street in the evening. Great week!
I hope your week was as fun as mine was. Man, I love you guys. Thanks for the love and support.
Catch you next week.
-Elder barker

Aug 15 How awesome can it get?

Hello! Wow! I am totally loving being in this new area. IT"S ON FIRE!!!!
Like we have so many wonderful people that we are working with, and it's so great to see how the gospel lights up some one's life. I LOVE THE GOSPEL SO MUCH!!! I'm glad that it's true.
Monday we taught a family about the plan of salvation. I don't have a code name for them yet... still thinking about it. And then in the evening we taught a woman who I will call Miss Moon. She is a cool lady. She's living with a member and they are busily arranging things for the wedding, so that she can get baptized. Silly people, living together is for married people. Anywho, she is super excited about the church and getting married and working towards temple marriage. Woot!
Tuesday we had a great day teaching recent converts who are so strong and bearing testimonies at Girl's camp and then in the evening we had a correlation with our ward mission leader. WOW! He's active! And happy about the work! What a difference!
Wed. We taught a crazy born again lady, and a guy who has an issue with baptism signifying being born again, and a lazy one-legged man watching Fivel Goes West, and an undeceive member who comes to church but feels uncomfortable asking God if it's true BECAUSE he knows that he'll get an answer and then he'\d have to change, and then we taught that one family who I don't have a name for BUT who are preparing to be baptized soon. Busy day.
Thursday we met with some great less actives and helped them overcome some concerns. And then we met with a family and taught about the Plan of Salvation. MAN I love teaching about the plan. Is there anything that brings more peace and security than knowing where we are going and where we came from and what in the heck in the world we are doing here? I submit that there is not!
Friday I ate Menudo! (It's that soup that every missionary is afraid of and tells wild stories of trying it and then being told what it was and then becoming violently ill.) It's cow stomach soup! AND IT WAS SOOOOOOO GOOOD!!! I have to learn how to make it because it was scrumptious. The Mexican family were all looking at me and waiting for me to throw up but I was just enjoying every bite! Yum! and we also taught that one family a bit about faith.
Saturday we taught an old man in a cat/ant/parrot-infested apartment. Interesting experience. Smelly. We had dinner with a stubborn christian guy who goes to church with us and accepts Joseph Smith as a modern day prophet, BUT doesn't think that he needs to be baptized by proper authority. We also had a wonderful lesson with a family that is going to be baptized this upcoming week. Crazy part of the story is that when we arrived, they had visitors in their living room. It was the pastors from their previous church who were there trying to convince them to come back and to not listen to us. BUT the family knows what's what and told them that they have found a place where the fullness of the gospel is found. Wow. Then we had a great lesson about the ten commandments.
Sunday we had a boat load of people at church. It's so fun going to the same building as the other ward I served in. I get to see lots of people I know and they cool thing is that they remember me! YAY! after church we went by the one legged guy and talked to him about being baptized. He says that he can't give up coffee. Oy. Then in the evening we met with that fam that's going to get baptized... I'm going to call them West Pointers, cause the kids want to go to West Point. We taught the West Pointers a bit about prophets and temples. Great lesson. Great family. Great area!
I love you all. Hope things are going well.
Happy festivities back home. I hope the bugs aren't too fierce.
Love ya,
-Elder barker

August 8 And so the end begins

Hello! Wow. A great transfer is about to begin! Saturday we got the call to see who would be going where. Elder Jaquez had been itching to get out of the ward even though he only had just gotten there- but the man Likes English better. BUT he's still in the ward. and that's where he'll finish. I on the other hand have been transferred out of the ward, so I go off into the sunset. Now I don't know what the deal is with me going to areas that I've already served in BUT it happened again! I'm back in the area I was in a year ago! Woo hoo! POLLY World I LOVE IT!!! BUT, this time I shall be in the Spanish ward! YEEE HAaAAA!! I'm still in Spanish! And I'm in my favorite area! AND LIFE IS WONDERFUL!!!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!
So this was the week:
Mon. we did the usual Monday thing: ya' know, shopping, emailing, that stuff. Nothing too exciting. In the evening we tried to meet with Tamales but she was busy moving he sister into another apartment. Funny thing about this family There are the grandparents, parents, five of the six siblings and all of their children living in the same apartment complex. Close family! And when they come to church together they take up two rows! It's so cool to see. Anyways, like I said not much happened on Mon.
Tues. we had Chinese food with some less actives and then taught Jean-luc Picard a little bit. It's hard to keep him on track though. He got off o some... ahem... interesting topics. Then we taught the x-boxer and his wife. She had a really weird concern with what she was reading in the book of Mormon.
"They ate raw meat?!" -yes.
"But why?!" -because they were fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem and had they lit a fire in the wilderness it would have been like shouting 'here we are!'
"But, how could they eat raw meat?" -The lord told them that he would make the meat sweet to them so it wouldn't be dangerous.
"But! Why wouldn't they make fire?!" - um.. because it was a commandment at the time because they were running away.
She just couldn't wrap her mind around the idea of doing that. But in the end her concern was resolved---something about beef jerky and sushi... I couldn't quite catch the whole resolution.
Wed we had a lesson with the Peruvians, who, it turns out, AREN'T MARRIED. oy.
So when were you two married?
"Oh, it's been what... seven years now, right honey? yeah seven years."
-Oh that's wonderful! You know my sister is getting ready to get married. what was the hardest part about your wedding?
"Oh.... well... actually we aren't married."
I couldn't quite get a straight answer from them about why they weren't married yet. HELLO?? you have a child! What on earth would be keeping you from being married?
"The rings."
"We're waiting for the rigs to arrive from Peru." -....
Thursday was district meeting. And then we had tacos with the x-boxer and his wife. They have been reading a lot! so cool.
Friday, we went to get our car fixed because the service airbag light has been on for the past 6 months and I was told that it was just a malfunction in the wiring. BUT when that truck hit us head on and the airbag didn't go off I realized that it wasn't just the wiring.
JUST KIDDING ! We didn't get hit.
But we took it in the have the recall thing about the light fixed- but it turned out that there actually was something wrong with the airbag. So... good thing we checked.
Later we taught Jean-luc Picard and his wife! Finally I met her. They don't live together. Interesting lesson: She thinks that she's active in the church... yet this was the first time I'd laid eyes on her. Weird how one's concept of reality can be so different from actual reality.
In the evening we had dinner with the Peruvians. SUCH GOOD FOOD! wow. and then we talked about eternal marriage and how that should be a goal for them.
Saturday we helped jean-luc Picard move his stuff From his son's house. Then in the evening we had carne asada and then coordination with our less active ward mission leader. And then got transfer calls!
Sunday I said goodbye to a bunch of people. Had carne asada. Packed my stuff and
Monday here I am! back on the golden streets of my favorite area! WOO HOO!!!!
life is great , isn't it?
Do you realize how much I love you all? Well if you don't, I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!
Thanks for your love and support! You rock my world!
HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
catch you next week.
-Elder Barker