Can you believe Christmas is almost here??
I can't mostly because there is no snow, and I am not smelling the tantalizing scent of mom's mountain of Christmas goodies she always makes. But, the Panamanians are really starting to get in the Christmas spirit! In the main part of David, there is a big Christmas tree with lights and ornaments and all the Santa Claus blow up things, and a lot of people have decorated their houses with lights. The Christmas lights were always one of my favorite parts of Christmas, so it is nice to see the lights when we are walking at night. Even more that the presents, lights and Christmas goodies, I love the true meaning of the season. It is a season of thanksgiving and remembrance, and at this time I am especially grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission here in Panama. I have so many blessings to be grateful for, and the Lord continues to bless me.
The last week was good, we are still teaching M, and we started teaching his brother too. M used to drink with his brother and brother in law almost every day. They would go out and spend 80 dollars on beer and it would be gone by the end of the day. He told us that he really wants to drop it, and we have been praying for him. He hasn't drank for over a week and a half now. We went to pick him up to go to church yesterday, but he wasn't there, so now we just need to get him to church before he can get baptized.
His brother, S, has been a little tough to work with. He is ALWAYS drunk. Here, the majority of bad things like violence and stuff start with alcohol. So, when he is drunk, we don't teach him. Bad things have happened to missionaries with drunk people, and president just tells us to stay away from them when we can. But, when he sees us walk away, he gets angry that we don’t want to talk to him. We found him yesterday, not quite drunk yet, so we taught him, and he told us that he wants to quit drinking, but he feels like he can’t do it because he is weak. I got the impression to share the story of Ammon, when he talks about how, in his own strength, he was weak. Have you seen pictures of Ammon? He is huge ! He then says that through the Lord, he has the strength beyond his own, and that through the Lord, he can do anything. After sharing the story with him, he said he wanted to pray. He offered one of the most sincere prayers I have ever heard in my life. It will take a while for him to change his habit of drinking, but that is why we are here…to help him.
Other than that, not much happened this week. We contact a lot, because we don't have many solid investigators. I DID get my guitar back this week, so that was sweet! I love the power of music and the spirit it brings. Changes are this week. My companion is probably getting changed, so on Thursday, I will most likely be with someone else! It has been a good change, a little frustrating, but despite that, I have learned a lot from my companion and we are great friends.
Well, time is running short. Gotta go hit up our zone bbq! I love you all so much! I am so happy to be out serving right now, and I know that we are all being greatly blessed. I am happier than I have ever been, which is weird, because the mission is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done! I hope the best for you all, and will continue to pray for you!
I love you all!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp