The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Monday, April 21, 2014

Panama Viejo and Cerrro Ancon

Feliz dia de Pascua!   That means Happy Easter!

This last week was busy!  We had a ton of things to do for transfers last Wednesday, like make the transfers video, sort all the mail, get the oldies sent back home, and get the new missionaries and train them on all the basic mission functions!  It was almost painful to hear some of them speak Spanish, and realize that I spoke like that about ten months ago! Haha!  The gift of tongues is real!!!  That last week consisted of three almost-sleepless nights, so it was good to finally be able to get some sleep that last few days!

The work was good the last few days!  We are trying to get more involved with the members of the ward, since I saw so many miracles in David that came from working with the members.  We have put two new dates for baptism with some investigators that we found contacting, and they accepted!  If we can get them and the other two married, we will have four baptisms coming up soon! Now, we just have to get all the legal issues worked out! C is still strong.   He is one of the ones that needs to get married.  We are planning on taking him to the temple this Sunday.  President does tours of the temple grounds every Sunday, and teaches a mini lesson about the temple.

My areas has Panama Viejo in it, so yesterday, as we were waiting for a member to meet up with us, we started walking through, and seeing all the old ruins.  It is incredible to see that these buildings have stood for over hundreds of years!  At the time it was built, it was one of the biggest ports in all of Central and South America, and it was the biggest cathedral around.  I love serving in a country with so much culture and cool cultural sites! 

That is so crazy that J leaves next week!  I am excited for him! I have a couple friends here from his mission, and they say it gets really cold there, because it is in the mountains. And when does T leave again?  I am excited for both of them to learn Spanish, so we can all be mutilingual bosses! There is a kid from our ward here, his name is I, and he got his mission call to St George!  He already speaks English, he lived in England playing semi-professional soccer on a minor league team for the Champions League team Chelsea.  He leaves August 5th, and I kind of want to visit him when I get home from my mission!

Well, there is not much more to report on this week.   It was a great Easter, reflecting more on the atonement and how to apply it in my life more than I ever have before.  We are going to Cerrro Ancon, a big mountain, to hike in the rain for P-Day! The first rainstorm of the season just came in!  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Harvesting Seeds

Buenos Dias Familia, 

It has been a pretty normal week in the office.  The highlight of the week was getting the birthday package and getting beef jerky.  I am lucky that I am the mail guy.  They aren't supposed to let any type of food pass.  When I go to pick up the packages, I have to open every single one and review them with the mail lady, but luckily she loves us so she lets basically everything pass, unless it is just a ridiculous amount of food.  And, if she does confiscate it, she usually lets us eat it right there so she doesn't have to throw it away!  We call her tía (Aunt) and she seriously reminds me so much of Aunt Ashley and Kristie!

So, C is progressing so well!  We taught him yesterday in Gospel Principles about the scriptures.  He told us a really awesome story!  He said that he went to a restaurant, and he saw one of his friends there, and she saw his Book of Mormon that he carries with him, and asked him if he was a Mormon now.  C then told us about what was said in conference, about calling the church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and not by other names.  So, he looked at his friend, and said, "I am not a Mormon.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." and he then bore his testimony to her about the book of Mormon! He is basically already a member!  We just can’t baptize him until he gets married, so we are just finding out all that we need to do with his paperwork before we can baptize him.  He reminds me a ton of A, my convert from Cuidad Bolivar, in his excitement about the gospel and his love of the Book of Mormon.  We should be having a baptism in the next couple of weeks!

Speaking of baptisms, I talked with one of the sister missionaries who I shared an area with in David.  She said that K (my convert's) daughter was baptized, also her niece that Elder C and I were teaching.  Also, the daughter of Hermano J that got baptized on my last day in David got baptized!  I felt so happy when she told me that, to realize that all those seeds I planted in David were finally being harvested!  It was a special manifestation to me that the work and efforts we do, even if we do not see the results, are not in vain.  Every effort we put forth in the service of God brings blessings. 

I saw one of my favorite Mormon messages a couple weeks ago, a message given by Jeffrey R. Holland about when he was a young, struggling father. He gave a powerful quote about staying true to the gospel in hard times. He said, "You don't quit. You keep walking. You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come till Heaven.  But for those who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God, and believe in good things to come."  I have seen countless times in my life, that people think the gospel should make their lives problem free. That isn't the case.  God gave us the gospel to help us know how to be able to support our problems and trials, and to learn and grow from them. A leader for world MTC's was in Mexico, and he told us that there are  7,000,000,000 people in the world, with 7,000,000,000 different needs and problems.  And there is one gospel.  He said our purpose as missionaries is to help all those people find out how to be able to use the gospel to meet their needs and solve their problems. I have learned, and am still learning, how to truly apply the atonement in my life, and how to help others correctly apply it, and there is no greater joy in life than helping someone become clean of their sins.

Well, this week hasn't been too eventful.  I did finally get out and do some real teaching yesterday, so that was great!  I am feeling good, and am ready to get out and bautizar!!!
I love you all so much! There should be a few letters coming in the mail!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, April 7, 2014

Elder Egg Head's Panamanian Birthday

Hey everyone!

So, this weekend was great, because we got to watch conference!  I was super excited, because I enjoyed last conference so much!  I was actually really surprised that they didn't announce any new temples!  It is hard to pick a favorite talk.  I found a common theme of courage and standing up for what is right.  If I had to pick one talk, it would probably be the talk given by Elder Nelson. He talked about how we can tie ourselves back to Christ. It was cool because I had listened to a talk by President Hinckley a couple days before about seeking the kingdom of God, and I was praying to know how I would better be able to do that. His talk was an answer to that prayer. Lots of talks were an answer to that prayer. I also enjoyed President Packer's talk. One thing he said really struck me. He said that Heavenly Father CHOSE to be called by the title of "father". I think that is because he wanted us to know where we could turn to peace in time of trial. He could have chosen another title, but he chose to be called father, so we would know that He loves us. I had never heard that before, and it interested me.

President Carmack invited the office elders and the assistants over to his house for the afternoon session on Sunday, and Hermana Carmack made us a typical Sunday roast beef and potatoes with homemade bread for lunch and tres leches cake for dessert!  President took us up to the roof of their building to see the swimming pool, and then their daughter played cello for us.  Apparently she was the best cello player for her level in the US?!?!?  It is a great experience to get to spend time with President and learn from him.

So, the first birthday in the mission was good!  I actually forgot it was by birthday.  Elder O and I had to go to a store to pick something up (I know, on Sunday... L) but I saw a box of toaster strudel and remembered it was my birthday!  We went to conference in the chapel next to the temple, and the sisters from my district bought me a tie, and gave me firecrackers for my birthday!  I guess some of my crazy pre-mission pyrotechnic stories have spread around the mission... haha! 

The best birthday memory came at about two o clock last night, when the Assistants, Elder P and his companion, and the two other office elders came into the house, started making a ton of noise to wake us up, then started singing happy birthday. So, I wake up and walk out to see what is going on, and before I could even get a grip on things, they smashed a bazillion eggs over my head, caked me in a ton of flour, and took a million pictures!  I think I was too tired to be angry, so we just laughed about it, and then I made them clean it up while I showered. Luckily we have hot water to melt all the goop off my head!  It is a mission tradition, and Elder O is next! haha !

That is crazy that the Mariners are in first place!  I have been able to look up some of the scores here and they are doing really well!  Good to hear that Utah is still well represented on the soccer scene as well!  The two most famous teams in the world are Real Madrid, and Barcelona, and everyone always asks me who my favorite is, so of course I say Real..... SALT LAKE! 

Well, there is not much more to report. I loved this last weekend!  And this is my last week of recovery (hopefully) before I can start walking like normal again!  I am excited to get out and work!  C told the other elders yesterday that he will get baptized, he just wants to and needs to get married first!  So, we should have a baptism in the next couple of weeks!

Well, I love you all so much! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp