Well, it has been a great, hot week here in Panama!
The rain has pretty much slowed down until next September here. It rains every once in a while, but not very hard. We are getting into the hottest months of the year right now, which is what everyone here says, but I didn't think it could get any hotter than it already was! Well, sweating a ton helps me lose weight! I think I have lost about 30 pounds since I have been here! My companion and I are doing this exercise video every day called insanity, and it is killing me, but I love it!
I am jealous that you guys are going to work in the temple! You two are perfect for the work there, and you will be so blessed. Being on the complete opposite side of the country, I will not get to go to the temple for awhile, and I have missed it, because in my last area we went almost weekly. But, maybe I will sneak over to Costa Rica, since their temple is even closer to me than the Panama Temple! hahaha! Speaking of Costa Rica, we are going to the frontera (border) of Costa Rica and Panama today! They have a bunch of stores there where you can buy things for really cheap, and I will get a picture with the "Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!" sign!
I love the zone here. My last zone was 12 people, and this zone is 26, so it is fun to meet so many new missionaries! Our ZL, Elder M, is from Sandy and went to Brighton, and he is in the Marines. He was the one that got me into doing insanity! He also knows where a killer sushi restaurant is out here, so we are going on divisions this week to get some sushi! The food out here is good. We eat ojadras, or scones, all the time! They are fantastic, but don't even stand a chance next to mom's scones! We have dinner every day except Friday and Saturday, so we usually end up getting pizza one night, and eating sandwiches the other. The food here is really super cheap, so it is nice!
As for the burning of the pants.....outside, no. We have a huge concrete slab in the back of our house next to the back door, with a big metal clothes line, so we hung them up there. We couldn't do it outside, because the police are always patrolling our house, and if they saw us with a big flaming explosion of pants, especially a gringo, they MIGHT just think something is up. Plus, other missionaries who have done the same thing have scared people, because the people think they are doing brujeria, or witchcraft. So, if they think that, it could give a bad image to the church, because everyone here knows we are Mormons. I will send some pictures next week. I forgot to bring my cable today to internet for my camera.
We are doing good work out here right now. Our zone had a Noche Blanca (white night) last Saturday, and all the missionaries in the zone who had baptisms for that day baptized. Our zone leads the mission right now with 17 baptisms in the last four weeks! I don’t have one this change yet, but we have three investigators planned for December, before the change ends!!!!! The work our here is moving fast, and I love it! There is so much to do, so we are always busy!
The activities are going good. English is still hard to teach, but my comp helps me out a ton because he speaks alright, and he learned in a classroom, so he knows how it is taught. We are starting this week to have everyone sing a song in English, so it will be fun! Also, we play soccer every Wednesday at the church. Most of the guys that come are youth and not members, so we give them all a restoration pamphlet, and it is their ticket to get in. Before we play, we discuss the gospel for twenty minutes, then play. We had group night activity on Wednesdays after soccer, but everyone just ended up leaving, so now we are doing it before soccer. We moved the real group night to Friday so more members could come. It is a small lesson, a game, and some sort of treat afterward. We are really trying to work hard to get the members involved, because the most effective way to work is through and with them. Both of my baptisms so far have been member references!
Thanks for putting the extra money in the account. I am not quite sure what I am going to do about Christmas presents yet. I will definitely get you guys something for Christmas, but I think I will just bring it with me when I come home, then I don’t have to pay expensive package and shipping costs. But, I will send something home for Christmas for sure!
Thanks for everything, the prayers, fasting, support, everything. I love you all so much, and I want you all to know how happy I am right now. I read my mission call the other day, and it says that greater joy and happiness than I have yet experienced are awaiting me as I serve the Lord in His labor of love among His children. That statement is true. I am so happy here right now. I love you all so much!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp
P.S. The guitar is in my last area. I will have it in two weeks!