I hope you all had as great a week as we had here in Panama! This last week was a happy week. Sometimes, I get down on myself and get sad because there are things we aren't able to do, or things we do that maybe we shouldn't do, just like all missionaries fall every day in some things. I’m sad when people do things they shouldn’t. I have to try to help people, but I also have to let them make their own choices. But, this week, I have been trying to focus more on all the good that I have been able to do, and not on the sad things. It has made so much difference in my life and in our companionship and in the lives of the people we are teaching!
There was mission leadership council this last Wednesday with the Zone Leaders so we had a lot to prepare for. That always means one late night before, but it is a good opportunity for us to serve and help out. In the conference, President and Hermana Carmack talked about obedience with exactness. Before, this mission was recognized as one of the most disobedient. Other mission presidents would say they didn't want their missions to be like the Panama Mission because of the level of disobedience. That has changed. There has never been a time in this mission where the missionaries have been as obedient as they are right now. It is tough, because the mission had the least baptizing month in July. So, President Carmack talked about how we need to be obedient with exactness. We talked about how do we get the desire to be obedient? We have to try the Lord's promise that he will give us the spirit when we obey, and that the presence of the spirit in our lives will make us happy; therefore ,making us to want to be more obedient always. It was a great conference.
We have found some great people to teach! Especially C, he is the one I talked about last week who moved here with his Nicaraguan friend and they are renting the house from F. We had a great lesson with him this last week about the Plan of Salvation, and invited him to be baptized on September 1. He said that if he gets an answer to his prayer to be baptized, then he will be baptized that day! Pray for him that he can get his answer! He will be an amazing leader in the church!! We took him to the temple last night with President Carmack, and he was AMAZED at the feelings he felt there. As we talked about saving ordinances for the dead, I was able to share the experience about doing Grandpa Max's temple work , and how I didn't feel that he had accepted it until the end of the endowment session, and I knew for a surety that de did accept it. It was a great experience to be able to feel of the spirit outside the temple. I hope to go again soon, I haven't been for a while!
This is a really happy time in my life. It makes me real happy to hear that dad is doing good with his exercise and fitness goals! You'll be skinnier than me when I come back! I can't wait to go biking, fishing, play baseball, and basketball again with you, dad! And mom, I am glad to hear that your recovery is going so well! We have been praying hard for these problems to recover quickly. We have "put ourselves to much prayer and fasting" and have noticed the difference. Fasting once a week is a great blessing.
Well, I feel like I have so much to say but no time to say it all! I am happier than I have ever been! I love you all so much!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp