The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rain, Rain and MORE RAIN!!!

Hola Familia!

It is good to hear that all is well at home, and that you are all finally getting some time to relax after the crazy summer! I am jealous that you had the opportunity to go to Book of Mormon youth conference! I will always remember that experience, the Becksteads were great, and it was one of the most spiritual weekends of my life! I love the Book of Mormon. In our District Conference two weeks ago, Elder Duncan said that no inactive or less active member reads the Book of Mormon, but people who read it always stay active. I have learned that it is the key to conversion. I have been a little timid to use it with investigators, since they know nothing about it, and people here believe that the Bible is the only true book on the earth. But, I have seen in the lives of our investigators, as we read with them, the peace and happiness the Book of Mormon brings into their lives, because of the fullness of the Doctrine of Christ. A, our Dominican investigator, has a great love for the Book of Mormon, and he is getting baptized this Saturday because of that book. He really has come a long way since we first started teaching him, and I know it is because we read a chapter with him during every lesson.

We found a really great family this last week, a single mom and her six kids, all ranging in age from 8-18. They lived in Louisiana for six months so one of the daughters could have surgery on her hips, and the missionaries found them in the hospital, and invited them to church. They are very excited to go back, and during the first lesson, we put a baptismal date with the six kids for the 14th of September!  It will be tough, because they have to go to some form of church activity three times, but we will get it done! Elder P leaves the area on the 18th, so it would be awesome if he could see them get baptized!

These last few weeks have been rain rain rain! This last week, we had the biggest storm I have seen here so far. Usually the storms last for twenty or thirty minutes, but this one lasted for two hours, and absolutely, torrentially poured, thundered, and lightninged. The lightning strikes were extremely close to the store we were at. We were sitting under the roof outside, and the thunder was the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life, but it was actually cool! People in our lessons always ask us why the storms here are getting worse than they have ever been now, I believe it is a fulfilling of many prophecies proceeding the second coming of The Savior.

Today is not actually P-Day, but we are at the internet cafe, because tomorrow we are going to the temple with our zone, and then to the Panama Canal. I am excited to go back, I have missed it a lot since I had the opportunity to go every week in Mexico City!  I remember one day specifically, our last temple trip in Mexico, I sat in the Celestial Room with four or five other elders, and we talked about the blessings of the temple, and looked around the room at all the symbolism. We discussed for almost an hour what all the symbolism meant to us, and it was a really amazing experience. I firmly believe that the MTC and the temple are the two most spiritual places on earth, and I will remember those experiences and people I met in Mexico forever! It was quite QUANTUM!

Thanks for the sports updates, dad, no surprise that the Mariners will miss out on the playoffs yet again. I think the Braves have a good chance this year, or even the Pirates! (who would have thought?) Keep me updated on BYU and the Titans as well if you can!

Well, time is runnung short today, we have to go. But, know that I love you all so much, and that I thank God every morning and night for having you all in my lives! He has blessed me with so much, the gift of tongues, and strength to endure when it gets hard. Another thing Elder Duncan said in conference was to always have the end view in sight. I keep imagining that day when I walk off that plane, with no regrets, knowing I gave my all to God. Also, the day when I meet my Savior again, and he says to me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, now I will make thee ruler over many." 
I Love you all so much! Remember to always thank God for what he has blessed us with, for he truly has given us so much to be thankful for!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

P.S.   No letters yet, probably next week. It takes about three weeks. As for packages, I am not sure... Let me know also when my package gets to you guys..Love You!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Panamá Viejo

Hey Family,

It was good to read your letters and hear that you are all doing so well!  Panama is great, super rainy and humid! It is winter here right now, and it is hot, so I can’t imagine what the summer months will be like!

So, this last Thursday I hit three months in the mission! Time flies by when you are happy and having fun, and this is definitely been one of the happiest, if not the happiest times of my life! I have made so many close and eternal friends while I have been out, and have had many life changing experiences that are helping me grow into the man that God wants me to be. The days are hard here, but looking back on all the experiences I have had, I realize how truly blessed I am, and it brings me so much peace and happiness to realize the hand of the Lord and how it works in my life. CHALLENGE: Every day, when I am feeling down, I say a prayer, but only THANK God for blessings in my life. I have realized that when I pray with gratitude, it makes me happy to realize how much the Lord has blessed me in my life. I would challenge you to do the same, say a prayer every day just thanking God for what he has blessed us with. It invites the spirit so strongly. 

For P Day today, we went to Panamá Viejo, or Old Panama. It is ruins of an old Catholic convent on the east side of Panama City. They are restoring and renovating some of the buildings, and it was interesting to walk through and learn more about the Catholic church and culture. After, Elder P, Elder W, and Elder F and I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch in the city, and it was super cool!!! They had my exact flying V on the wall and a wall with Rush stuff on it, so I enjoyed that! Now, we are at the Albrook Mall in the city to write! We will head back home after this, but it has been a fun P Day!

This last week we had migrations, and I am officially a resident of Panama now. I got my Panama I.D, and I was able to see all my friends from the MTC that came to Panama. It was good to talk to them, and see how much they have grown!  Now, to discuss all things Quantum.  I am planning on attending Utah State the fall after I come back, with A and C. We will be buying a Ford Ranger, which will forever be known as the QuantuMobile, and it will be our adventure car. Those are the quantum plans for now. 

So, this last week, we committed three investigators to Baptism! They were all supposed to be baptized on the 25th, but the two sisters, E and L, can’t anymore. L is still a minor, and her parents won't let her get baptized. E, who is 21, won't get baptized without her sister, so we fasted this last Thursday for them. In district conference, Elder Duncan said that the key to an effective fast is 1: Pray 2: Have a Purpose 3: Pay your fast offering, 4: Going without food and water for 24 hours.  Well, we did all those things, and now we will keep praying to have their parents’ hearts change, so they will be able to get baptized. Also, Andy was going to get baptized on the 25th, but has a family party, so he will be baptized the next Sunday. He has come a long way, and it is very exciting to see his immense love for the gospel! It strengthens my testimony. 

We found a couple other cool investigators this week, The G Family. It is two brothers who used to be investigators. They said they would always listen, but NEVER commit to anything, so the missionaries stopped going. Well, their sister died last week, so we went to visit them, and they had a bazillion questions! We tried our best to teach about the plan of salvation, and they had a lot of deep questions. But, for the first time ever, they asked us to come back, because we are the first people to have helped them answer their questions in a way they can understand. I am excited to go back, I think it will take a while but we will get them to get baptized! And if we don't, we have planted a seed for the next missionaries who come along!

 Well, I am about out of time for this week. Know that I am still growing, and that I love it out here, even though it is still the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I can see the blessings in my life, your lives, and the lives of my friends as I have served, and hope the Lord continues to pour out his richest blessings upon you! I love you all, and will continue to pray for you!
Thanks for everything you do for me! Love You!!!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kuna Indians

Hey Family! 

  Happy Anniversary mom and dad!! Hope you are having a good time in Arizona, and that you had a good day!  How is Colby doing? It doesn´t seem like two years ago that he left, it is crazy that he is already home!  Hope it isn't too weird for him to adjust to regular life again, haha ! Hope you have a good rest of your trip down in Phoenix!
  It is super rainy here right now, August through December are the rainiest months of the year here. It is winter right now, so it is the coolest time of year. If that is true, I am NOT excited for the summer months! It is mid eighties to low nineties every day, but with the humidity it feels like 120! I didn´t think I would ever say that I actually miss the snow!  Snowboarding sounds about perfect right now! 
  We had District Conference this past weekend, and Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the first Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us. It was a great conference, we had priesthood and adult sessions on Saturday, and heard from Elder Duncan. We had three investigators come to the Sunday morning session with us yesterday, which was awesome, and we heard from Elder Duncan again, and also President Carmack, which was great. Our investigators got a chance to meet them both, and I think we will be taking the investigators to the Temple this next Sunday with President Carmack!  It was a great weekend, the spirit was very strong in those meetings! 
  On Wednesday this last week, we had to go into Los Andes to get a couple of things, and we got back to the house around one in the afternoon. We didn´t have any appointments set up, so we began to call all our investigators and contacts to see who we could meet with, but literally NONE of them could meet with us that day. It was really frustrating! We decided to get down and pray, and in the prayer we asked Heavenly Father to help us find someone, preferably a family, who we could begin to teach. So, we went out and started contacting. We walked past this huge hill that we had never been up. My companion asked me if I wanted to walk up that hill, or go up a smaller hill farther down the road. I told him that we should go up this hill, even though it was much bigger and steeper. This hill was huge, and we were getting tired. But, as we reached the top, we saw an old man sitting out in his driveway, so we decided to stop and talk to him. He started talking to us, and we discovered that he had cataracts and couldn´t see very well. As we began to teach him, his wife came out, and told us that her husband had NEVER before accepted people from any church, because he didn´t like religion at all. But, he was listening intently to us, and for that, she knew that we were special people. We taught them about the restoration, and after the lesson, the man told us that it was truly a miracle that we found him. He said he has NEVER gone out to sit on that side of his house, he always sat around back. But, for reasons he didn't know, he just decided to sit there that day. He said he truly knew he was prompted to sit there because god was sending us to him. As soon as he saw us come over the top of the hill (he said he couldn´t see that far when we met him) he knew that god sent us to him. It was a pretty cool experience, and I am excited to go back and teach him this next week! That experience gave me a new excitement to go out and find more people to teach! 
  It is interesting that you mentioned the Kuna indians in your last email. They are the main group of native indians in Panama, from the San Blas islands, and they are the indians that make Mola. Elder Price was telling me about Blas last week, and about the history of the Kunas. He said that the Kunas tell their story of a White God that came to them andtaught them. He said the missionaries on Blas, when they teach, have much success teaching about the book of mormon, because their story is EXACTLY the same as third Nephi. Literally exactly the same. In some of their tribal clothing and different mola designs, they have some of the symbols that are on the garment, and they do very similar ordinances to those done in the temple today. It makes me believe without a doubt that the book of mormon and this church are true. In my dream that I had, I am pretty sure that I am out in the San Blas Islands! I am excited for the day that I get to go out there!
  So, I am guessing that I will be in my area for at least 12 more weeks. They won´t take both of us out unless they put Hermanas in the area, and I dont think they will right now. So, I will most likely have a new comp here in six weeks, then most likely be transferred out in twelve. I like this area, it is really safe and the people here are really cool! I will be sad when I have to leave!
  Well, not too much more to report this week. We are going out to a church in San Miguelito this week to play some soccer for P Day, then we will go buy some ties so we can get some mola made. I got another tie this last week, one of our investigators went out to San Blas with her university because she is studying tourism, and she bought them for us. I will send a picture of all three that I have now! Well, tiem is runnung short, I love you all so much! Thanks for everything you do for me, for your love and support and prayers!!! 

Love you all!!!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, August 5, 2013

Causeway & Bridge of the Americas

Hola Familia!

First off, Happy 50th Birthday to Dad, hope it was a good one!  I hope the surprise party went well! So how does it feel to be "over the hill"?  Haha, I hope you had a good party, and have a good birthday tomorrow!  Second of all, Panama is great!  It has been super rainy here this last week, the worst storms I have seen here so far!  All the houses have tin roofs, so if it starts raining, we have to wait to start teaching because we can´t hear anyone talking!  It is kind of frustrating, but it usually passes pretty fast.  It is always super humid after the rain, but my skin is super soft now! When I come back to Utah I´m gonna dry up so bad! 

So, Andy is progressing pretty well, we still have to teach him a couple commandments, but then I think he will get baptized.  Also, he has to come to church or seminary one more time, but he works every Sunday, so he can’t ever come to church!  But, hopefully he will be baptized in two weeks.  We are also working with two sisters, Evelyn, who is 20, and Leslie, who is 11, and they love the church. They come every week, and I am pretty sure they will be baptized in two weeks as well!  It is exciting to have baptisms, but I am learning that I am not here to just baptize people. Honestly, if I finished the mission with the one baptism I have, I would be completely satisfied with myself because I know I am doing all in my power to find and teach people, and I have changed so much as well. That is all the Lord requires, that we do all in our power to help others, and He will do the rest according to his will. 

These past few weeks we have found some more good investigators, a couple contacts we made, and a reference we got from a brother in our ward. The lady says she already wants to pay tithing, because our church is the only church that doesn´t use tithing to buy cars or pay the pastors!  Haha, we will see where it goes with her, she is pretty evangelistic, but we will continue teaching her, and hopefully she will feel of the truth of the message.  It is exciting when we are able to see someone´s mind finally "click", and they begin to understand everything we teach them.  That has happened with Andy a ton, and it is very pleasing to see how the gospel can change lives.  I have not only seen it in the lives of others, but my life as well.  I have changed so much out here, and can´t wait to see what else is in store for me here in Panama! 

Today for P-Day, we went to a place called Causeway, which is on the coast. It is a big tourist attraction, with hotels, yachts, and places to rent bikes and stuff.  I ended up renting a gas-powered scooter and drove it around for about an hour!  It was good to see the ocean, and we got to see the Bridge of the Americas that spans the Canal.  After that, we went to Los Andes, the mall where we use internet, and that brings us to now! P-Days are always fun, it is good to have a day to relax from the strenuous life as a missionary! 

So, I read in D&C 31 this past week, and it was amazing.  It talks about staying strong in my calling, and how the Lord will bless me if I do so. It was a perfect chapter to read, I hope you will go and read it as well, and feel the same spirit I did as I read it. Also, I am studying the New Testament and Jesus the Christ, I have never before studied much the Life of Christ. It has been a great experience to learn more about the man whose name I bear on my name tag, and who I represent.  No big spiders this week.  I religiously check my shoes for them every time I put them on. We have smaller ones all over our house, but I am becoming less scared with them, so it is not so bad.  But every once in a while, a huge one sneaks in, and we have to get it out with the broom then kill it. Other than that and ants, the bugs aren´t bad here at all!

I am staying in my area with Price for another change, or six weeks. I am excited about it, because there are people here who I want to see get baptized, and I love it here! Also, I talked to the assistants, and they said they will try and send out that package this week sometime.  The letter I wrote when I was in Mexico, but it talks about all things Quantum, all the Quantum plans for after the mission, and it also has the names, numbers, and emails of Elder C and Elder A´s mothers, so you can get together and start "The Quantum" blog!  That would be sweet! 

Well fam, time is running short! I hope this next week goes well for you guys, know that I love and pray for you every day and night!  May the lord pour out his richest blessings upon you like he has with me!  Know I love this work I am doing, and I love Panama, and even the language every day!  I love you guys so much, thanks for everything you do for me, for your love, support, and prayers in my behalf! Give the family and the Ward my love and thanks!

Love You All!!!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp

P.S.  I got another sweet Panamanian tie (mola tie) this week, the family we eat dinner with on Saturday nights had some kunas (native Panamanian Indians) make them for us, and gave them to us as a little gift!  It is sweet!  Love ya!