I hope that you have had a great week. Mine has been really awesome, probably one of the best of my mission. It started off with a fun trip to Los Angeles. We met a member from the Bakersfield 2nd Ward, which was my 2nd area, and he took us to the temple. It was a really great trip. They changed the temple trip policy for missionaries so now we can go two times a year, on a set day. We just have to find someone who can take us on those days. We were trying to find someone who could take us, but Hermano Juarez from Bakersfield 2nd pulled through and said he would take us. So we met him on Wednesday morning and headed to LA. I hadn't been to the temple or LA in 13 months, when I went with my trainer for my birthday. It was great to see the big city again and to visit the LA Temple. It is such a beautiful building and I love being there. I took some great pictures which my brother will post on my blog. (Thanks Matt!) As we were getting ready to leave, someone let us know that a forest fire had started along the highway leaving LA and they had to shut the highway down. So we waited for a while until Hermano Juarez decided to take another road. We had to take a huge detour and we went all the way through Palmdale and Lancaster before we got back to Bakersfield. We didn't get back until almost 9:00 at night. It was a long trip and a lot of driving, but it was awesome. We were really grateful that the he was able to take us because we don't get a lot of opportunities to go.
We have some great news for this week: Rustum got baptized! We were so excited for him! Last Tuesday he had his baptismal interview. It is just a couple of questions making sure they are taught everything and are completely ready to take that step. Rustum was pretty nervous so he had us go over the questions a few times on Tuesday. hahaha Saturday at 1:00 we had his baptismal service. It was the best event I have been to in my entire mission. To be able to see him get baptized by his father in law and take that big step in his life was just incredible. This was something he wanted so much and I feel lucky to have been able to help him along the way. It was funny, Rustum and Amerika's baby Keira started to cry so Amerika ran outside to calm her down. Well she was out in the hall for a minute or two and didn't know that Rustum was about to be baptized. One of her sisters figured out she wasn't there last minute and grabbed her right before the baptism happened. She ran back in just in time! A lot of the ward came to show their support and it was a really special day. We went over to their house afterwards for dinner and everyone was just so happy. They are a great family and I love them. There will always be hard things in this life, but you can always always find happiness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so happy for them! We will continue to visit them each week to share a message and see if they need anything. Rustum wants to get the priesthood as soon as he can so that he can give his daughter Keira her baby blessing. That will be another very special day.
This week we also got a chance to visit with Jose. We have been teaching him for a long time. The missionaries were even teaching him before I got here. He is a great guy and loves the Gospel. He comes to church almost every week. The only thing holding him back from being baptized is that he has to marry his fiance, who he lives with. He had a wife before but they separated and she lives in Mexico. For the past couple of months, he has been trying to finalize his divorce with her so that he can marry his fiance, Mayra. Anyway, we visit them every week and they are really nice people. They have a ten and eleven year old boy and girl as well as a little baby girl. This week we found out that things are finally happening in Mexico to make their marriage possible. We told them that as soon as they are ready, the Bishop can marry them at the church for free. When we told them that, they lit up and were so happy. We are excited for them and we hope to see a wedding in the near future.
Well, we have to get going. Elder Tapia has an appointment in Bakersfield to get to. I love and miss you all, but I'm so happy out here serving my mission. I hope you are having a great summer in Michigan. I am so grateful for each of you and for all of the wonderful people out here in California. I am really blessed to have so many incredible people in my life. Take good care.
Elder Chad Thompson