First off, Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you have a great day playing with Riley! Tell him hi for me, by the way. Your birthday letter will be sent pronto, I am still waiting on a part of it. So, the great spring swamp cooler fiasco finally started, eh? That thing has gotta be on its last legs by now. I thought it was going to spontaneously combust when I was back home.
The weather here is cooling off, it is pretty cool today. It started raining at about eleven last night and into the morning. We woke up at six and went to a park on the coast with a basketball court and a volleyball court to play with the ZL's and the assistants. We got there and it started pouring, so we hid in this tiny shack and watched the lightning strike out over the ocean. Some of it was striking pretty close! But, it stopped raining, so we went and played volleyball in the sand with big puddles and then got in some basketball action. It was good to get out and get some exercise! I wish I had a bike to practice so that when I got home I could keep up with dad!!
So, changes. We started on Tuesday, when the new missionaries got here. They were in the MTC in Guatemala with J, and they said he was the most famous gringo there and that they loved talking with him! There were 12 Latin elders that came, and one Canadian elder, who is a genius. He got perfect scores on the ACT and SAT and has basically already graduated from college at age 19! We trained them on the basic functions of the mission, ate some epic Papa John’s, and we stayed at the guest house next to the temple that night with them. On Wednesday, all the trainers came in to take a training class with President Carmack. Elder B who was in the MTC with me is training and opening an area at the same time in Colon, so it was good to see him! Wednesday night, all the missionaries that were going home stayed at the temple, and we did too. I got to see Elder C and Elder P before they went home. It was good to be able to reminisce with them! All day Wednesday we were receiving calls from missionaries who didn’t know how to get to their areas or find their new companions, so it was a bit crazy! Without the changes meeting, the companions don't meet up at the temple anymore! One of the best parts of changes week is that we get to go to the temple usually twice. I missed it while I was out in David, and notice the difference in my life when I can attend. I hope to work in the temple when I get back from the mission.
Yesterday, we had a meeting with our Bishop to try and get things going with the members in our ward. We are trying to set up dinners with the members, and do family nights in their house and have them invite the investigators, so they can start opening their mouth to teach the gospel, and so that we can get more investigators. We have a standard every week in the mission of 15 lessons with a member, seven referrals received and seven contacted, three investigators progressing, and 5 less active families visited. We made a deal with Elder P that if Elder O and I reach the standard, he is going to buy us Benihana’s (he wants to have a going away party there before he finishes the mission.)
Well, not much more to report, we are just trying to get things going with these members, because without the members, there is no missionary work. One of my favorite scriptures is Moroni 9:6 and it talks about the commandment to be diligent in laboring to preach the gospel. It is the responsibility of every single member to preach the gospel, not just the full-time missionaries.
I love you all, and hope that you have a great week! Happy birthday mom!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp