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