The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Monday, July 28, 2014

Looking Back

Hello everyone!

It is always great to hear from you on Monday and see how you are all doing!

This last week has been a productive one!  My companion and I were going through a rough spot, but we were able to talk it out and talk about what we both want to accomplish in our missions and here in this area.  We have both changed a lot this week.  One thing we talked about is that we want to seek out more the will of the Lord and do His will instead of our own. We have had some great experiences this week because we were able to have the spirit with us more. 

There is a returned missionary that just moved here from Nicaragua two weeks ago with a friend named C. C has been a "friend of the church" for ten years, he has never received the missionary lessons but has attended a lot and he only looks for work with members of the church. G (the returned missionary guy) and C were looking for an economic place to live, and so we told them that we would keep our eyes open and tell them if we saw anything. Yesterday, after church, we went to see a recent convert, F, and she told us that she is renting three rooms!  When we went to our lunch appointment, C and G were there because the members had invited them to get to know them, and so we told them about the rooms for rent.  After lunch, we took them to F's house, and showed them the rooms.  She made them a great offer, and they said they were going to think about it. We went on with the rest of the day, and as we were on our way to dinner, we got a call from C thanking us and telling us that they were going to take the deal with Fermina! It was an answer to prayers, the house is close to the chapel, and C will be living close to two strong members, so we hope now he will feel the desire to get baptized! He accepts everything, he just says he has not received the answer to get baptized, but when he does, he will.

There is a kid going on his mission next week in our ward, and he gave his talk yesterday.  He is going to St. George.  It made me remember when I gave my farewell talk, and it also made me look back on my mission and realize how much I have been able to change.  I realized that I still have about ten more  months to go, and that I can change so much more and progress and learn even more than what I already have.  I am so thankful that I chose to serve and that I can have the experiences I am having and learn the things I am learning, because I couldn't do it anywhere else or at any other time in my life.  The mission is the best two years of my life, and the best two years FOR my life.

Well, that is about all for this week. I will send some pictures home today!  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Colombian Investigators and Defenders of the Mount

Hey family!

How is everyone doing?  Is it blistering hot up there in Utah yet?  It is basically hot here all the time.  Now it is just more humid and a lot rainier, and it will be that way until about October/November time.  Once a day, a HUGE rainstorm passes through, and can last anywhere from ten minutes to a couple of hours, so sometimes we get stuck in peoples' houses waiting out the tempests.  But, it is a good excuse for people to let us in to their houses!  The storms here have huge lightning strikes and super loud thunder so it is pretty sweet!

Yesterday, there were two baptisms of some teenagers that the other two office elders have been teaching for a while. They are the cousins of a recent convert who was baptized in November. It was great to be there as they were washed of their sins, and feel of the spirit. It made me excited to go out and teach more people!

This last Tuesday, we were eating at the burger truck by our house and two Colombian guys called us over and offered to buy our food, and said they wanted to talk to us. They knew we were missionaries. They said that they appreciated the work we did, and that they had found God already.  We started to explain about the Book of Mormon, and one of them started to preach to us about something else, and his friend cut him off and said, "We may have lots of knowledge about God, but we need to hear what these guys have to say to us." so, we gave them a Book of Mormon, and we have a lesson planned with them this week at a member's house to see how it went with their reading.  It was a good lesson and the spirit was strong.  And we got free burgers.

Every Saturday with the AP's we do a thing in the office called "Defenders of the Mount", HaHa!  It is where we do a study with the six of us and talk about problems with investigators, and we do practices to help us all be better missionaries, to help us "defend the mount".  This week we talked about a talk called "The Fourth Missionary" and we talked about what kind of missionaries and men we want to become, and the actions we can take to get there.  It was a great meeting; our AP's are awesome examples for us to follow.  After, we cleaned the office and went to Subway. That is the big thing we eat in the office, tons of Subway, because they have a points system, and right now they have a four dollar BBQ chicken foot long.  I am officially a Subway Platinum Member, which means I get free bacon or free extra cheese on all my sandwiches.  It's pretty legit.

Well, that is about all the excitement for this week.  It was a good week, looking forward and thinking about what I want to accomplish in these next short months before I finish my mission, and making plans to achieve those desires.   I love you all so much!

Elder Austin Kipp

P.S.  The package got here! Thanks! And the new tie is sick!

The Three Kingdoms

Buen dia familia,

So, as you well know, in Latin America, the world cup is huge. So yesterday, we saw bits and pieces of the game because everyone and their dog had their TV’s outside and had the whole family over to watch the game.  And Germany won!  I wanted them to win, because people here think I am from Germany, so it was pretty funny to see what some of the people said. 

This week was a pretty interesting one.  It was changes week, so on Tuesday, we headed to the airport to pick up the new missionaries, two gringos and four Latin’s.  There was another gringo that was supposed to fly in on Tuesday night, but he missed his plane, so he didn't get in until Wednesday, but the reason he missed his flight is because he met a person in Atlanta at the airport and started teaching her, and a member saw him and came over to talk to him. Well, that member just so happened to be none other than David Archuleta! So, he taught a lesson with David Archuleta, and missed his plane.  Pretty cool first mission experience!

On Thursday, we took all the people going home to the airport early in the morning.  We all said bye to Elder P, we had a group of six or seven elders that were really tight in the Panama Zone, so it was good to see him off.  He wrote me and he is doing well.  Also, it is crazy that D is home already too.   It means that my time is dwindling here in Panama; I only have about ten months left to serve.

Changing the subject... It has been a little busy with transfers, so it has been some long days in the office. But, we did get some good lessons taught in our area.  We are trying to get another couple married, and we are trying to introduce them to the members right now.  Members make such a huge difference in missionary work. We are trying to get this couple married too, the wife is working on finalizing a divorce, which should be done this week, and then we can have a baptism.  It has been a while since I had a baptism, and I feel that I have been working well and trying to be more obedient, so I know that we will be blessed.

There was an activity in our stake on Saturday night about the Plan of Salvation. Each room in the Stake Center was decorated to look like a different part of the Plan, and a pair of missionaries was assigned to teach a different part.  I got put with Elder M, the new office guy, in the Terrestrial Kingdom.  I had never really learned before the difference between the kingdoms, I just knew that the Celestial was the best and where God lived, but it was a good experience to study in the scriptures and learn more about life after death.  It makes me want to try that much harder to make it to the celestial kingdom.

Well, that is about all the news from Panama for this week. That is crazy that mom met President Carmack's Aunt!  I hope you are recovering well mom, and that dad is taking good care of you! I love you all!

Con Amor,

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Hiking The Sleeping Indian

Hey family!

This last week has been pretty good, it was a little busy with some things trying to get ready for the Zone Leader training meeting, and we had seven missionaries go home a week before the transfer.  Four of the elders that went home were in the office too, so they came to our house and stayed for a couple nights which was cool.  It was just weird to hear them all talking about going home!  On Thursday in the morning, we had to get up and go to the airport because my companion had to pay for all the overweight baggage fees, so we got to see them all off.  This week seventeen more elders including Elder P go home, so it will be a little bit of a crazy week.  The new missionaries also come in tomorrow, so we have to prepare training meetings and lunches for them as well.  Yesterday was a good Sunday! We had four investigators in church and two less active people that we invited.  One of them has come the last three weeks, so we are hoping for a complete reactivation pretty soon.  We are finally seeing some results after some good work for three transfers.  It has been awhile since I have had a baptism, but we are close with a few. We are just waiting for a divorce to finalize so we can get two people married, and then we should have a couple baptisms coming up! Even though we haven't had a ton of success in baptisms, we are helping people and planting seeds.

After church, my companion and I had interviews with President Carmack.  In my interview, he told me about some of the transfers coming up, and it looks like I will be in the office at least two, maybe three more transfers, we will just have to see. He is starting to keep missionaries a lot longer in their areas because he says that the third, fourth and fifth transfers are really when you know the area and the members well enough to put forth a full effort.  If I stay in two more transfers, I will have five here in Cincuentenario (Panama Viejo), but I am alright with that.  I definitely feel like there is a lot more for me to do here.  We also talked about some other things, some questions about doctrine and I have come to discover that President Carmack is a genius.  It was a good interview. After that, Elder P and I loaded up in the truck and drove out to his area in Arraijan, and did some visits, then on to Ciudad Bolivar.  We got out really late, and didn't get to Ciudad Bolivar until 8:00 at night, so we went to visit Hermano F and Hermana M, and their son M who is a member and just got his call to Guatemala. They are some of my favorite people I have met in Panama. When we entered Ciudad Bolivar it just felt like home and that I had never left. We taught them a little lesson, and ended up staying for a couple hours talking and eating dinner!  It was a great experience for Price to be able to say goodbye to his investigators and members.  We also took a fridge to some Elders late at night and we kinda got lost in the jungle but we got the fridge delivered and home safe.

Today for Preparation Day, we went out to the middle of Panama with the AP's and hiked a mountain called The Sleeping Indian. It was cool to be able to see the middle of the country where the mountains are because I had only been through at night. We got there and it took us about 45 minutes to hike it, it was pretty easy, just really rocky and slippery on the mountains. It was nice and cool up there, and the view was awesome!  We came back down, drove home, and now we are getting ready to go teach a lady that is planning on going through the temple next week.  It was a good P-Day!  Well, I will keep praying that the surgery will go well. We did a mission fast yesterday and that was one of the things I fasted for.  I am glad to hear that everything back home is normal. Dad, take good care of mom so she can get better quick!   I love you all so much!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp