I hope everyone is having a great week. I am doing well out here in Lake LA. It has been a pretty good week. We are still trying to work a lot with the members, but we have also been doing a lot of tracting (knockin' doors)! I have really grown to enjoy knocking doors. It intimidated me a lot at the beginning of my mission, but now it is really fun. You meet some of the most interesting people. Some of the really funny stories that have come from tracting will probably have to wait until after the mission, but we have met some great people. I have noticed that people seem to be a lot more open during this time of year. One person we met this week is named Vanessa. We met her while talking to people on the street. She is super nice and also happens to be good friends with a girl in the branch who goes to her high school. We shared a Christmas message with her and she really liked it and asked us to come back next week. We already talked to the girl from church she knows, and she said she will invite her to church next Sunday.
The rest of the week was pretty cool. On Saturday, we had a Christmas Morningside as a mission. Our side of the mission (Lancaster and Palmdale) and the other side of the mission (Bakersfield) got together and had a Christmas party. We got to watch a Christmas movie, Mr. Krueger's Chrismas. It was super cool to be able to see a Christmas movie! Afterwards, we had lunch and got to hang out with all of the other missionaries for a little while. It was really great to see a lot of my friends who I have served with before like Elder Morales, Elder Martinez, Elder Bean, Elder Antunez, and Hermana Usher. They also had a bunch of packages from home waiting for us, which was awesome. I've put them all under the Christmas tree at our house. It was so good to talk to Elder Morales and hear about some really cool things that happened in our area after I left. There was this one guy we were teaching, Ephraim. He was awesome and he had a really strong desire to change his life around and follow Christ. Well, one day we went over for an appointment and he was gone. It turned out there was a family emergency in Iowa and he had to move over there to help his family through some hard times. We were super bummed, because he had so much potential and he was making a lot of progress. Well a few weeks later, after I had left the area, Elder Morales got a phone call from Ephraim. He had called to thank us for visiting him and for giving him the Book of Mormon. He said that when he got to Iowa, he kept reading it and he knew he had to keep trying to make a change in his life. He tracked down the Elders in Iowa. He called Elder Morales on the day that they were holding his baptismal service. Elder Morales said he sounded really happy. That was amazing to hear. I really love Lake LA. I love the members here. I have a great companion and I'm having fun living with three other Elders, but the work has been a bit difficult. So hearing that news made me really happy and excited to keep searching for people we can help.
This month, leading up to Christmas, we have been sharing these little Christmas cards with people. It is called "He Is the Gift". On the front it just has a picture of Mary with the baby Jesus and on the back there is a website that you can go to to watch a short 3 minute video about the birth of Christ. The link to the video is christmas.mormon.org. It is a really awesome video and I invite everyone to look it up and watch it, regardless of what faith you are. It is a good reminder of why we celebrate Christmas. I'm grateful that I have the chance to be out here on a mission in the little town of Lake LA during the Christmas season. It's helping me to realize why we celebrate Christmas. I miss being home for the holidays with family and friends, but I am so grateful for the opportunity I have this Christmas season to share the message of the miracle of Christ's birth with those around me. It has been a huge blessing in my life to be able to share our Heavenly Father's most precious gift with others. It makes me so happy and this Christmas is going to be great! On Christmas I will be able to Skype home to my family, which will be awesome. I am so excited. I hope you all have a great Christmas and enjoy time with family celebrating the birth of our Savior. I miss you all. Thank you so much for all of the cards, letters, and packages. I love hearing from home, especially at this time of year. I hope you all have a safe and merry Christmas!
Elder Chad Thompson