I'm still loving Bakersfield. I am starting to find my way around town. I think the main reason I like Bakersfield so much is because I get to meet so many awesome, interesting people. Take Sally for example. The missionaries have been teaching her for a very long time. We meet with her about twice a week. She is the sweetest old lady ever, but she is also flippin' hilarious. I love going over to teach her too, because she is so interested in the Gospel. Every time we go over to her house and teach, she makes us some popcorn for the lesson. Like I said, she is a super sweet lady, but she doesn't mess around either. She lives in a pretty ghetto part of Bakersfield (there are a bunch of bullet holes on the side of her house) and she was involved in gangs over the years. She is getting ready to move though, because she says that she is getting too old to be in the middle of all of that. haha, I love her. She really wants to be baptized, but she wants to wait until after she has moved, so that will probably happen in late August. She has this cool parrot, that can talk, sing, dance to Beyonce songs, and eats popcorn with us during the lessons. Mario and Yasira are two other really cool people we have been meeting with. Yasira is a member of the church and Mario is her boyfriend. They love the missionaries and have been having them over for years. They love the Gospel and come to church every week. We get them rides since they don't have a car. In the past, they have even biked all the way to the church building which is a couple of miles away. Mario wants to be baptized, but we are working with them on getting ready to be married first, so that has been cool. We also met with Victor this week, and we will hopefully have his baptism in early August. It was funny, Victor went to a young single adult potluck at the church all by himself this week and he told us he loved it. It is cool to see him making friends in the church and getting involved. He also came to church this week. I'm so happy for him.
Church was pretty sad this week. There is an awesome family in the ward who have have five children. One of them is a 13 year old girl who is paralyzed. She is a such a sweet little girl, and the ward absolutely loves her. Even though she couldn't physically do a lot, the ward always included her and she even went up and her Mom helped her conduct the music for the Primary(children's) program. It was obvious how much the ward and especially her family loved her. I knew from the few times I met her that she was a special little girl who was loved very much. Well, on Sunday they announced that she passed away. The Stake President came and gave a really good talk and spoke a lot about the little girl. The family stayed at home that day, getting ready for the funeral. Elder Juarez and I went with some of the young men and Brother Arrington, the 2nd counselor in the bishopric, to bring them the sacrament. They were so grateful that we came, but it was so sad. They are such a sweet family and they are going through a really heartbreaking time. Brother Arrington asked me to share a quick testimony for the family. I don't think that in my entire time on my mission have I ever felt so inadequate or so unable to do something. It was difficult to say anything, because I couldn't possibly understand their pain. I had no idea how to offer words of comfort. But they had a really cool quote on the wall that said something like: "The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance to protect us from experiencing pain. It is a resource to help us in the event of pain." So I just bore my testimony of that principle and how we can rely on Jesus Christ and He will help us through difficult times. They were all crying, and then I got pretty choked up too. I love this Gospel, because we know that we can be with our families again. And in the case of this family, they will see their daughter and sister again, and she will be perfect. She will be able to walk and talk and do the things she couldn't do while she was on Earth. I am so grateful we were able to visit that family and see their faith.They are going through a hard time, but I know that they will get through this together and one day they can all be together forever.
Well, it's time for me to get going. I hope you have a great week. I miss you all so much.
Elder Chad Thompson