I am writing today, because yesterday, we went to an international park called Cerro Punta, and it was really far away, and when we got back, we didn’t have time to use internet. It was really cool, though! It is in the mountains of Panama, so the landscape was really different! It is really green, and the climate was just like my Utah mountains! It sure was a nice break from the heat! We went on a hike through the jungle, and took some cool pictures, then hopped on a bus back to David!
There are 3 missionaries in the zone that are finishing their missions this week, so my companion and I wanted to do something cool for District meeting today. There is a lady in our area that makes amazing cakes, and so we had her make us two cakes, one tres leches, and a butter flavor cake with vanilla frosting, and they were so good! She did a really cool fondant of the Mission Panama logo, and it was a big hit!
So, this last week has been a good one. We have been teaching a man named M now for a couple weeks, and he wants to get baptized, but he drinks a lot and so we are trying to help him stop. He hasn't touched a drop of alcohol for about a week now, so he is making great progress! He now just needs to get to church, which is difficult, because he lives far away, and doesn't have a car. We are also teaching his ex-sister-in-law (I think) who is named G, and she is excited to learn more. She is 21 and has two kids, one who is 5 and one who is 3. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and gave her one, and she accepted to read in 3 Nephi about when Christ visits the Nephites. It is a powerful chapter to use here in Panama, to help the people realize that God loved his children who lived on the American continent just like the people in Jerusalem. It is incredible to live in Book of Mormon country. Sometimes I walk down the streets and imagine that the Nephites and Lamanites were battling on the very ground where I am standing.
This change is almost over, and my companion is probably leaving the area. When I got here, he was a little disobedient as a missionary. I have tried to help him as best I can, and he has thanked me a couple times for helping him change. He goes home in six months, and told me all he wants to do now is work hard to make up for some of the time he lost in the mission from being disobedient. It feels great to help people, and it just goes to show that we never know who we can touch by being a good example and serving others.
Thanksgiving was a good day! There is a senior couple from California, the P's who live in Boquete, which is in my zone. They wanted to serve us Thanksgiving dinner, so we rode on a bus about an hour out to their house, and we all loaded into their house and ate all the Thanksgiving fixins'! It was good, but I definitely missed mom's world famous stuffing! I brought a member's guitar, and we sang songs and played games, then loaded back up on the bus and went home. It was definitely a different Thanksgiving, but a good and memorable one!
This week, we found a very poor family, a mom and dad who are both 51, and two kids who are 3 and 6. They live in an old school, and the dad doesn't have work. He just goes around and finds old bottles and cans and sells them. And he has a weed eater, and will occasionally cut grass in people's yards with his weed eater or a machete. So, this last week, we told the ward to collect glass bottles and cans to help them out. We can’t give them money but we can help them by serving them and finding bottles and cans! I love serving people! This last week we also painted a house for Hermana M, the member that feeds us lunch five days a week. The color of the paint was literally called mustard yellow, so it looks like somebody squirted a bunch of mustard bottles all over their house! But, it looks good.
So, no surgery date yet. President Carmack is still trying to find out if my doctor will be coming out to David anytime soon, because he does come out sometimes, or if I will have to go into Panama City. I called him yesterday, but the city was closed yesterday for Patriotic holidays, so he couldn't talk to the doctor. He told me to call tonight and talk to him, so I should know by next week. He is trying as hard as he can to get it set up before the year ends! As for the Ipod, not yet. Things like Ipods are scarce out here in David, so I think I will just buy a USB and convert songs to mp3 on the internet and put them on my USB. As for Skype on Christmas, I am not quite sure. Let me talk to my companion today and see who in the area has internet that we could use. I will for sure have an answer by next week, if not, I will for sure be able to call.
Well, time is running short. I love you all so much. I am so happy that you are going to start working in the temple! I bore my testimony this last week about the blessings of the temple and eternal families, and it truly is the greatest blessing that I have to be able to live with my family forever! I love you all sooo much!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp