Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for the letters!! Matt, your story really inspired me! thank you so much for being an incredible example in my life! You truly are one of the greatest people I have ever known. And I realize that life is not easy. I now know what that means! This mission so far has been the hardest thing I have ever done! Before I left on my mission I didn't expect it to be this hard! I quickly realized how wrong I was. But as hard as it is,it is also the most amazing experience in my life so far. I have met so many people here in San Francisco that have the sweetest hearts and have had so many amazing and spiritual experiences, but they just don't know how or where to place their faith. It is also very worldly! It is such a culture shock from Utah. I never knew quite what the world was like before. I have never stayed outside of Utah for longer than 2 weeks.  I have seen some interesting things but I love it here!! The members are so nice and supportive!!! I absolutely love the ward mission leader here!! He is the coolest most nicest guy ever!!! I love it here.

Unfortunately, the doubts came back again. And I wasn't surprised because we are constantly tested throughout life. This week was probably the hardest week in that subject, I was very very discouraged. I decided that I was going to start from raw, basic belief once again. And when Sunday came along, I was wanting to find an answer on what I should do because I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I was willing to do anything if it meant getting my belief back again. And yes it got that bad to where my belief of the entire gospel was gone! I prayed very hard hoping that God would hear my prayer. Not knowing if God was listening or if he was even there, I felt like I should start a fast. So Indeed I did so. I started to feel a lot better. The doubts were disappearing so I wanted to keep work on getting that belief back again. So I started my fast at dinner last night. I told my companion what I was doing and what the situation with me was. I really opened up to him and he didn't talk much. At the time, I thought he just didn't care or that he was disappointed in me. Now I think I realize that he was just trying to have me experience what I actually knew for myself rather than him telling me. He then asked me one question, "Elder Barkdull...... Why. did you decide to serve. a. mission?...." It hit me really hard. I took some time ponder that question. Why am I serving a mission? I really did not know why until that moment. I think I served a mission because of the Book of Mormon at the time. But then once I thought about it I realized how much that book blessed my life and at that moment I knew that the Book of Mormon blesses lives. Realizing that again brought back the memories I had of the Book of Mormon before my mission and it brought back that spiritual remembrance. That helped me a lot. And I'm still not there yet but I am continuing my fast right at this moment and I hope that this will help. Thank you for being great examples to me and motivating me to keep moving me forward!

Kam that is awesome that you had that missionary experience!!! I forgot that you are 12 now, that is so weird! but keep it up. Doing those things will really prepare you to serve a mission. And read a lot of preach my gospel. Study it!! I promise you will regret it if you don't! I'm proud of you though!

That is so awesome about your business dad!!! I keep praying for your business to continue to grow and I see that it has!!! So awesome!! Its crazy how many different meanings the scriptures have! Speaking of which, do you know what the scripture in D&C means when Joseph is asking the Lord when the second coming will be and the Lord replies, " If you live to be 80 (or so) you will see the face of the Lord? I don't know it has been bugging me haha. Tell Brian and Aunt Cheryl thank you so so so much for the generous donations!!! They are so sweet!

Yeah mom I will definitely try to get the pictures developed on a CD as well, just to let you know that the money used to develop and send pictures comes from my personal debit card. Just to let you know. 

I wish it was 74 degrees here!! its so cold!!! We are literally inside of a cloud every morning and night!! We can literally see cloud plumes 10 feet in front of us when we are walking. Its pretty cool but its cold! That is so great how you were finally able to meet Nate's girlfriend!! I hope things go well for them. I am also eating relatively healthy. Its kind of hard because for some reason everybody out here has some sort of craving for corned beef!! Bleh! and fatty foods! I try to eat as healthy as possible. By the way I've gained 5 pounds. Not too much but it is getting there. I do not want to get chubby on my mission because people say that they have gained a ton of weight here!! I hope not.

There have been some funny sleep talking experiences that I have had haha. Almost every night I have talked in my sleep. Elder Booth tells me that I teach missionary lessons in my sleep and that one night I was teaching the Doctrine of Christ hahaha. And then another night I was sharing with my companion what I studied and learned during personal study time. It is pretty funny. I remember having full on lessons and everything in my sleep its the weirdest thing. But makes for great stories. I will be an awesome missionary in no time. I'm learning in my SLEEP!!! booya!

Don't worry mama I will be very careful! And I'm so excited! I get to go and do baptisms for the dead in Oakland on Saturday with one of our recent converts!! I'm so excited! it will be my first time going into the Oakland Temple! Oh yeah and tell Gavon and Tanya that Stanford University is outside of my mission boundaries so ya. When are they going anyway?

Oh yeah and last Monday, the district surprised me with a surprise birthday party!!! It was so fun! We had cake and then we slack lined and had a pinata and played a few games. It was great. Oh yes and I did receive Holly's gift! It was so funny. I laughed so hard when I opened the card. Thank you Holly!!:) and happy birthday Brynn and Justin! and Collin!! and Rebecca??  Well that is about all I have to share at the moment. I will talk to you all next week. I love you so much!!!!
Dear family,

Thank you all for the Happy birthdays I had a wonderful birthday!!! And I absolutely love the ties and tie bars that you sent me! The first half of my birthday was hard just because we had to drop a couple of investigators:( because they weren't keeping commitments. There was such a sweet spirit about them too. We had to drop this guy named Rigo because he didn't want to give up smoking but absolutely loved us and the church. And he wasn't keeping our appointment times so we had to drop him. And also one of our investigators who we have a baptism date for, her mom got really mad at her and told her not to go to church. So we are having a hard time with that. She is really progressing but her mom has some issues with the church. I keep praying that her mom will soften her heart toward her daughter's decision to be baptized. But the second half of my birthday was awesome!!! We had a miracle happen to us! So me and my companion were contacting a referral that we received from somebody. We knocked on her door and she welcomed us in to her house. There were 3 people in the house and she told us that she loves the church and she has a firm belief in Jesus Christ and the only thing holding her back was her schedule she is very busy but she wants us to come back and her family does too! In fact, they were the ones who set up the return appointment!! we even set the expectation to be baptized. On my birthday we added 3 new investigators! so awesome! And later that night we went to visit a recent convert. She was really sick so we weren't able to teach a lesson really, so instead we gave her a priesthood health blessing. It was probably one of the revelatory blessings I have ever given to someone. I really have a testimony of blessings! And all of my doubts disappeared on my birthday!! I'm so grateful for that. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday!

On Saturday, I went on exchanges with the Chinese elders in downtown San Francisco! Haha that was very interesting! I got to ride bike for a day so that was a workout going up all the steep hills and everything but it was so fun!! I didn't understand much of anything that had been said that day since my companion that I was with that day only taught in chinese, but it was still awesome! We went to china town that day!! So cool!! there are a lot of interesting people in downtown San Francisco! Lot of hippies!!! its pretty funny! I have never ever been in such bad traffic as I was in Downtown!! We were swerving in and out of so many cars! Oh and I went to this place called Hunters point for the first time a few days ago and man, that place is so scary!!! There are so many killings that happen there! The day before I went there, there were 3 shootings, and the day I went there, there was another killing. We found this guy in hunters point and started teaching him outside and me and my companion heard another gun shot!! ahhh so scary but don't worry Mom and Dad I'm being very obedient so nothing is going to happen!!:)

That is really weird how Parker is taller than Kam!! I can't believe how fast a person can grow within a couple of months. And that is awesome how they are coming to San Fran!! perhaps I will see them here! haha I know its against the rules but if I happen to find them, then that is alright. There is not much you can do about that. I already have seen 3 people here that I knew from high school here!! Super weird! they came to our sacrament meeting because they were here for some symphony orchestra thing. what are the odds! haha. I'm not sure if Stanford is in south san francisco or not.

It is actually a decent possibility that I could get into the Samoan program. I know a lot of elders who got transferred into another language program after they arrived. Oh I forgot to tell you that I absolutely love the CD you sent me! The music on it is great!! I love it!:) I can't wait to see Ryan and Lindsay's finished house!! it will be awesome!!
It is still very cold here although we had a couple nice days but then it just became foggy again and cold. I'm looking forward to spring though because spring and fall are supposed to be the warmest months in south San Francisco. And summer is when it gets very cold here. Which is weird but ya! I had my first Samoan meal several days ago and it was horrible!!! They eat this stuff called Taro. It's like this root similar to a potato its just really thick and bland. I don't know, just takes some getting used to. And they love their corn beef and I don't!! They also love their fish!! not the good kind either. It just tastes weird, I don't know. The best thing I had at that meal was the orange Shasta soda haha. Very fatty and greasy meals!! Its fun though. Actually Samoan people are generally hard to convert I don't know why. But Tongans are much more likely to convert than Samoans. I can't remember the percentage, but a huge percentage of the church are Tongans. Very few are Samoans. But I love all of them!

Tell Brian that there is no rush I completely understand! And sorry I didn't have time to mail my photos last week but I am mailing them today for sure! So plan on receiving them this week sometime. I'm having a great time. I am slowly getting the hang of being a missionary but I am constantly tired. I can't get used to waking up at 6 and I don't think I ever will! All the boys in the family are probably laughing at what I just said because I'm sure they know exactly what I am talking about. It is so fun being in the city it is just so different than Utah I can't even explain!! But I love it and I got a happy birthday phone call from the Chinese Elders! They sung Happy birthday 5 times in 5 different languages it was pretty funny! I had a great birthday. It didn't really seem like my birthday though it was weird but fun!

I tried listening to the file that Ryan sent me but it wouldn't work on the computer I'm using:( I'm sure it was awesome and I'm sorry I couldn't listen to it!! Thanks for it anyway though!:)

Well that is about all I got for now Thanks for the letters and the update I miss you all too! And I didn't get the package that Holly sent me yet but I'm sure it is at the mission home, I just need to pick it up. I'll let you know next week if I get it or not thank you so much! I love you all very much!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hello to the Family!
McKay and Stan Hawkes in the MTC
I'm so happy that I received so many letters! And thank you for all of the happy birthdays that I received!:) I am so blessed to have such an awesome family.
I enjoyed reading about all of the blessings that have been given to you all since I have been gone. It just proves that the Lord really does bless the family of the missionary. I just want to let you all know that I have been doing a lot better. This week was probably the most difficult week of my life when it comes to casting the doubts away that come to my mind. My companion, Elder Booth gave me a priesthood blessing this morning and it was amazing! I feel so much better already. The stories you shared with me about your missionary experiences really helped me realize that I'm not the only one who was going through this. I know that the Lord has his plan for me and even though it is difficult to go through the process, it will benefit me for the better. It got so hard for me this week that it came to the point where I was questioning if God is really there. When it got to that point I felt like giving up until I realized that It was fast sunday. I knew exactly what to fast for, to provide me with the faith to continue pressing forward and put my full trust in God. And by the way, I know now that there is no possible way that you can do this by yourself. I hope we all remember that including myself. I also fasted for 3 of my investigators, Lisa, for her to open her heart to our message. And for Rigo to have an interest again and call us back. And by the way guess what?.... One of our investigators named Jordan, (she is 17) she accepted to be baptized on March 30th!! I'm so proud of her decision and I am so excited. During my fast around 4:30 on Sunday, Rigo called us and apologized for being rude and he wanted to have an appointment with us as soon has possible! And the following morning, Elder Booth gave me that priesthood blessing and I am feeling so much better and I feel my relationship with Jesus christ and Heavenly Father has increased a lot. I definitely have a testimony of Fasting. We are meeting with Rigo tonight and I am fully confident that we will also accept a date to be baptized. Because he already wants to be baptized. I am so grateful and excited for all these things that are coming up.

I have been learning a little bit of Samoan!!! its pretty fun. I would love to get reassigned to speak Samoan! Its freezing in San Francisco/ Daly city area. And the fog gets soo thick here. you can literally see a wall of fog like 15 feet in front of you and once you drive through it, you can't see a thing!! Oh and by the way i'm super angry because we got a parking ticket! Parking in San Francisco is ridiculous. they ticketed us 98 BUCKS!!!! for a PARKING TICKET!! how stupid is that!? Oh well.
 I want to challenge all of you to try to have a missionary experience at least once a week. We are challenging our ward here to really get involved with the missionary service and the ward is very supportive about it. I love our Ward! Oh and my pictures should be arriving soon so take a gander. I will be taking more pictures of the area where I am more. So i'll get better at that. There are captions on the back of the pictures so read those as well. Well this is about all of the time that I have to write.I love you all so much and I miss you. Keep writing I love reading your emails! And I also received the Kyani package and I'm loving it! Faafetai Lava! (thank you in Samoan!)

Love Elder Barkdull