The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Monday, October 28, 2013

It Is My Time to Move On

Hola familia! Como estan? espero que estan bien!
ahora en ingles.

Hey everyone!  how are you all?  From the sounds of all the emails, it sounds like life is starting to slow down there in Riverton.  It is weird being here October,  there isn't frost on the ground, and it is 95 degrees.  I am gonna miss Halloween on Thursday, it has always been one of my favorite holidays!

So, it is for sure that I have changes this week!  It feels bittersweet, because I love this area and the people, and I have worked so hard here.  But, I am excited to get another new comp, area, and more amazing people to teach!  It has been a good three changes here in Ciudad Bolivar, but it is my time to move on to somewhere else.  I think it will always be one of my favorite areas, with two of my favorite comps.

Today, we are hanging out with the zone for our last Pday with everyone.  We tried to watch a movie today, but it was a pirated movie and didn't work.   Everyone here only has pirated movies, music, and video games!  We are at Los Andes right now for internet, and we are going to go play some soccer afterward.  Oh yeah, did you hear about the World Cup match with the US and Panama?  Where the US scored two goals in the final minutes to win!! CRAZY!  And now, people here give the gringos even weirder glances! 

This last week was good.  We had a temple trip this last Thursday, and it ws great!  I hope I can stay close to the temple throughout my mission, so I can continually go.  We have been so blessed to be able to go so many times here in this zone.   We have had some good lessons this last week.  We taught Andy about the temple, because he is preparing to get his recommend!  We also have found Brother Ledezma's sister, and have started teaching her. She is very Catholic too (most of the people here are) but she is really interested when she listens to us.  We taught the other Catholic family last night, the Marin Family, a little more about the Book of Mormon, and they all promised to read it and pray, so I am excited to see what happens!  I have also learned a lot about prayer this last transfer, and how it is necessary not just in the mission, but throughout our entire lives, to help us know exactly what God wants and has planned for us. He truly does answer prayers.

So Brad and Joe are the home teachers?  I am sad I am not there to particpate in those lessons, which I am sure are pretty entertaining!  I am thankful for both of those guys, they both helped me a lot before the mission, they are some great friends.  Tell them thanks for me.  So, not much else here in Panama to reort right now, just that I am doing so great, loving the mission more and more every day!  I love you guys so much, and pray for you all the time!  I can also feel of the strength of your prayers for me, and am so thankful for them.  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Tempest is Raging

Hey family!

How are you all?  I am doing great here, just trying to avoid the tempest that is raging outside right now! October and November are the worst months for rain here.  I think we get more rain here in a week than Utah gets in an entire year!  Luckily, our roof doesn't leak, so we stay dry!  Storms here can come out of nowhere! We look outside in the morning to a sunny day, and we go out and within 20 minutes a storm comes and we are completely soaked!!

This past week was a great one!  Our only fan broke on Monday, so we had to go on Wednesday, when we received our money, and buy a new one at Los Andes.  I looked at the prices for speakers and they aren't too expensive, ten or twenty dollars, but they didn't have any Ipods there, so I will need to check today when we go to Albrook.  Also, could you put a little extra in my account around Christmas so I can get you guys some cool Christmas presents?

We are still teaching the Catholic family, mostly the dad because the mom and two kids are super Catholic and don’t really want to change.  We watched the restoration video with them this last Tuesday, and the mom had a lot of questions, and it just seemed to me like she was trying to prove us wrong.  She seemed a little disappointed when we used the bible to answer most of her questions, (haha!) but she was happy to have her answers!  The dad is starting to read the Book of Mormon, and the mom is coming little by little.

Henry, the gringo who feeds us dinner on Fridays, made us some gringo breakfast for dinner on Friday; southern style, with hash browns, grits, sausage, bacon, English muffins, eggs, and juice.  It was probably the best meal I have had here in Panama, and a nice break from rice and platanos!  He said to tell you guys hi, he is from Florida, around the Orlando area, and he served in the army for forty years, so he always has cool army stories to tell us at dinner! (Well, to me, because my comp doesn't speak English and he speaks little Spanish). He served in Panama and Colombia right after the invasion by the U.S.

So, we had the opportunity to go to the temple this last week AGAIN!  I have been blessed to be able to go so much!  I will be sad when I leave this area, and I probably won’t get the opportunity to go as much, depending on where they send me.  I SHOULD be leaving my area next Wednesday, but it is not a sure thing yet.  I am 95% sure, because President Carmack only wants people to stay in one area for no more than three changes, and this is my third change here.  (Can you believe it?  Three changes, and five months already!!)  So, I am anxious to see where I go, to get to know more of Panama, and more people!  Maybe I will go out to San Blas!!

Elder Ochoa, the one that talked in General Conference, gave a mission conference here about six weeks ago, and he talked a lot about improving and trying to be better each day. He said, "Always try to be better tomorrow than what you were today."  He gave us examples and things we can do to better ourselves, and I have really been trying to put them in practice, and it is starting to show.  We are being rewarded, even if the rewards don't come in the forms of baptisms, we are being blessed with spiritual knowledge and strength beyond our own.   I have started reading "Jesus the Christ" by Elder Talmage, and it has been a great learning experience to learn more about the life of the man who I represent and whose name I carry on my badge every day.  I would recommend reading it if you haven't, or reading it again if you already have.

Well, time is almost up. We are going to the Panama City Hard Rock CafĂ© for lunch today, so we have to get going!  I love you guys so much, and pray for you so much! I love the mission right now, and I know that we are all being blessed!

I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hard Work Pays Off!

Hey guys,

Sounds like it was a pretty crazy weekend with everything that went on at Grandpa's!!  I am glad to hear that everyone is safe, I have put Riley and grandpa’s name in the temple too, and I am going again on Thursday, so I will put them in again.  I will continue to pray for everyone, and hope that everything works out for the best. 

So, it has been a rainy week, like usual, and it has cooled down a bit.  It has been a nice alternative to sweating about five gallons a day!   We have been contacting a TON lately, because we don't have many investigators who are progressing, and it has finally started to pay off.  The first two weeks of this transfer, we would contact for almost an entire day, and we would be lucky to find ONE person who wanted to listen to us.  But, this last week, we found TWELVE new investigators, and the week before, we found six!  All our hard work is finally starting to pay off!  We went back to the catholic family this last Tuesday, and the mom wasn't there, so we taught the dad, and he got REALLY excited about the restoration, because before, he told us that he was wondering how he could know what church was true.  We set a baptismal date for the 26 of October, and he accepted on the condition that he receives an answer to his prayers that the church is true.  We dropped by yesterday, just to give him a Book of Mormon, and we have an appointment tomorrow with him where we will talk more about the Book of Mormon.  I hope we can get him baptized on the 26th, because I am most likely leaving my area on the 30th, but I won’t find out until the 28th. 

Not much more time to write today... we have a busy PDay.   We are going to Albrook Mall to go bowling, eat, and then go to crepes and waffles for dessert!  I will look up Ipod prices and speaker prices today and let you know how much it is here.  Thanks for everything, I love you all so much!!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Pushed Myself and Sat Through All Five Sessions

Hey family!

So, remember my childhood and teenage years, when conference never exactly was the most entertaining thing ever for me?  Well, I pushed myself and I sat through all five sessions and I discovered something. It is the greatest thing ever!  I loved conference, I felt like so many of the talks given were meant exactly for me!  It was so incredible being able to hear so many things that can help me be a better missionary, and a better person.  I took so many notes and have studied them almost nonstop since the conference was over.  My favorite talk was given in the priesthood session by President Uchtdorf. He talked about repentance, and he said something that really struck me.  He said "Our destiny is not shaped by how many times we fall down, but by how many times we get up, dust ourselves off, and continue moving forward."   I have learned that to have the spirit with us constantly, we should be using the atonement of Christ daily to be clean, not when we just commit the "big sins".  By daily use of the atonement, we can enjoy renewed spiritual strength and guidance in our lives.   I also enjoyed all the other conference talks, of course, and this was by far my favorite conference of all time! It was a little different though, as Elder Holland didn't give his usual "Fire and Brimstone, Repent Ye Repent Ye kind of talks! haha, and I was also shocked that no new temples were announced! But, there are so many in construction, and being ready to be started. I have been blessed to be able to go through so many times on my mission, and I will have three more chances in the next four weeks to go! It is a great experience every time, and I always learn something new.

We found a cool family this week, they are SUUUPER Catholic!  We were out contacting in the pouring rain, and no one was home, or just didn't come to the door.  We finally found a house with the door open, and they immediately invited us in, and asked what they could do to help us, and we told them we wanted to help them, by inviting them to come closer to the Savior. They shared some of their views on baptism and different things like that, and they are EXTREMELY Catholic, but willing to listen. I know God puts prepared people in our path as missionaries, and so I have faith that they will progress!  Their son was playing guitar when we got there, and my companion just happened to tell them that I played, so they asked me to play, so I busted out some shreddage!  Haha, it is nice to be able to play music, I have a guitar in our house, and music brings me such a peaceful feeling. 

I am jealous that you guys got to go to Washington and that it is starting to snow!  Mother, please send me a cooled package with snow for Christmas, some of the members are asking me to show them what snow is like! haha! That is awesome that you can get up to Washington to help grandma and grandpa so much, I pray for them all the time!  I show everybody here pictures of the grandparents, and everyone thinks that Grandpa Gary's epic beard is sweet!  I call him Quantum Santa Clause Grandpa!  Well, time is running short! know that I love you all, and that I am doing so great! The language is coming, as is the gospel knowledge and guidance by the spirit. I am happier than I have ever been, and I can’t wait to see the growth I will experience as I continue on in the mission!  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Gift of Tongues

Hey everyone!

So, this past week has been a little interesting, on account of not being able to speak English, but I am finally starting to feel confident with the language, and actually speak really well for my time in the mission. The gift of tongues is definitely a real thing! Also, my comp is super quiet, and Elder P talked a ton, and didn’t give me much of a chance to talk in lessons with people, so now I am talking more than ever with people, and it is great.  Q is teaching me new ways of sharing the gospel, and it is great to see and learn how different missionaries use different methods to share the gospel. 

We have been having a really tough time finding people to teach, and we don't have many interested investigators as is. It seems like any time we go to visit someone, they are not home or not able to talk to us.  We fasted this week with our zone, and we fasted to help us find new investigators, and we did just that!  We found a really cool lady named Olga this past Thursday, who lived next to some members and they talked to her about the church, and she is super interested. She hasn’t been able to sit down and listen to us yet, because she was really sick, but we are going back this week. Yesterday, we went out after church to do some visits, and went to visit an inactive member we found last week.  She wasn’t there, so we stood out in front of her house for a bit deciding what to do and we decided to walk down to a little circle where we had never been and contacted a guy who was sitting in front of his house drinking. He invited us in and told us that he had no religion, but listens to all religions.  We explained about how God is Elohim and Jesus is Jehovah, and the creation of the earth as explained in John Chapter 1.  He got really excited and told us that in all his study of the bible, never had anyone explained things to him with such clarity and never had it made as much sense to him as it did when we were teaching him. His name is Alfredo, and we are going back on Wednesday to teach him!  I am super excited!

As for the whole debit card thing, I had some clothes I bought, and the rest was cash I took out, so I still have the money and I haven’t really spent 87 dollars!  We did go to Causeway last week again, and I did rent a motor scooter again with Elder J, and he crashed it into a curb coming out of the parking lot!  Not really crashed, just lost control and started running alongside it trying to catch up, and fell over!  I was already gone, and looked in the mirror, and he was laying on the ground and it was hilarious! 

Not much more is happening here right now, it has been raining a ton, and we started eating on Friday nights with a gringo from Florida that lives in our branch. He gives good American food, and it is good to talk some English with him!  He was in the army, and served in Panama and always tells us crazy stories from his army days. 

Well, time is running a little short. I love you all, and am happier than ever out here!  In Jesus the Christ, it says that Panama is the Promised Land that Lehi came to, so I am serving somewhere pretty dang cool! I walk down the streets and imagine that 2200 years ago, the Nephites and Lamanites were battling on that very piece of land!  Well, I love you guys! I continue to pray for you all, and hope the best for you! 

Love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp