I am so happy to hear that you all are doing great! Mom, 64 pounds is pretty amazing, and I hope you can reach your goal! I am so happy you and dad are trying so hard to change your lives! I think I have lost a couple pounds being here, because we all have had a little stomach bug from the food…but, the food is so delicious! At every meal, we have some sort of meat, with tortillas of course, vegetables, cereal, mounds of fresh fruit, and rice and beans! There is an Elder here from Panama right now, and he said the food there is pretty similar to the food in America! He lives east of the canal, right next to Colombia. He brought two of those way awesome ties that we saw on the mission blog! His mom made them, and he is writing his mom today to see if she can make me one for five bucks!!!!! That would be so exciting!!
So, to give you a taste of P-Day, we wake up at 6:30, then head to breakfast. P-Day starts at 8:00, but we don't do laundry until 9:00, and we can't email until 11:00. So today, we walked to the bank with a teacher, and took some money out of the ATM. Then, we went back to the MTC, and did our laundry, and I took a nap because I think I am getting a sinus infection, and it is wiping me out!! And that brings us to now! After email, at 12:00, we have lunch, then we go to the temple!!! The temple here is so beautiful! It is hard to do the sessions in Spanish... But we still feel the spirit! Mom and dad, I echo you when you say it is the greatest blessing to be able to spend eternity with my family!!! I love you guys!!!
Classes here are hard for me. I am tired in the morning, and it is hard for me to sit in my chair all day and listen to teachers. But, I do it, and pray for strength every morning! I am learning so much more Spanish!! Elder W, my Companion, is still having a very hard time with the language and grammar and pronunciation. We teach investigators (actors from the MTC) every day, and the words just seem to come to us. It is the most amazing thing, and after we teach, I feel SOOOOO much happier!! This last week, one of the teachers here brought in her friend who is a REAL investigator. She told us about fifteen minutes in advance that Elder W and I were going to teach him! We were super nervous, but we got in there, taught him about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Church, and he committed to read the Book of Mormon. He asked lots of hard questions, but we were able to help him and answer them through the scriptures!
This past week, I had the most amazing, spiritual experience exercising my priesthood I have ever had. Elder N is REALLY, REALLY struggling with the language, and Elder C, his companion, asked me to help give him a blessing. I went in their dorm, and we talked with him for about twenty minutes about how we love him, and always want to help him with anything he needs. Then, we laid our hands upon his head... And Elder C and I LITERALLY FELT the power of the spirit enter our bodies through the tops of our heads, go through our arms and our hands, and into Elder N. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced! All three of us were crying. It was a motivator to me to keep on trekking here until I can go to Panama and help more people with priesthood power.
Yesterday, the Area Pres. came and did a devotional about how we need to teach with the spirit, otherwise we are useless. He said that it is a COMMANDMENT of God to teach with the spirit, and if we do, our teachings will be considered scripture. It was an amazing devotional!!!
The new Latino elders we got last week are not nearly as friendly as the last group. We can hear them every night grouped in one dorm making fun of us while we are trying to sleep. They all use lots of English cuss words, and so we told the President of the MTC about it, and I'm not sure what he is going to do. But, there are a few really nice ones! Elder Perez, from Panama, is really cool! Also, the Origel twins from Northern Mexico are really nice too! But we definitely miss Elder Ponce, Flores, Cordero, and all our other favorites from the last group, but know they are happy doing the work of the Lord!!!
Last week, as I was struggling with homesickness pretty bad, I opened up to D-C 9:14. It said something to the effect of "Stand fast in the work wherefore I have called you, and not a hair of your head shall be lost, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day." I don’t know if it said exactly that, but pretty close. I have had days where I have just wanted to come home, but that scripture reaffirmed to me that I need to be here!!! Please continue to pray for me every day, I can definitely feel the strength from you, and the love you all have for me! Know that I love and pray for you every day, ten times a day, at least!!! I don’t have much more time to write, but I want you all to know that I truly know this is the Lord's Gospel. The Book of Mormon is like the boat that Nephi was commanded to build. If we abide by its teachings, it will carry us across the "great waters", or trials and tribulations is our lives. I love reading the scriptures. Every day I find one that is perfect for me at that specific time! Know that I love you all so much, and I am so thankful for the inspiration you are to me in my life, and for the example to me in my life! Mom and dad, thank you for raising me in the gospel, in a way that I was able to serve my mission. I love you! I didn't have a chance to write any letters this week... but next week I definitely will!
I love you all!!!
Elder Austin Kipp