The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zone Leader in the San Blas Islands

Como están todos? Espero que se encuentren felicez y edificados después del dia de reposo ayer!

These are my last few days here in the office!  I have loved it here so much, and have been able to have so many unique experiences here.  It is bittersweet to be leaving.  I love what I did, but I want to get out and work hard in the field again. 

I learned an essential truth this week.  I don't know how I never realized it before, but I believe that it is crucial to our salvation.  Actually, I know it is. I learned that to gain salvation, we need to do more than just avoid committing sins and doing bad things. That alone will not be enough to merit salvation.  If we wish to achieve eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom, we need to avoid sin AND abound in good works, serving others and showing love for them.  This new understanding gave me a whole new outlook on my entire life.  It gave me a purpose, more than just idly passing time obeying commandments.  Judgment will be a review of ALL the works we have done in our lives, not just a review of all the sins we have committed and which we have repented of and which we have not. When I finally understood this principle, I gained a new excitement to dedicate myself more to the Lord and serve more with more love.

This week, we visited C, and he is still doubting.  He has received witness from the spirit that the church is true, but he doesn't think it is the ONLY true church.  I really think he knows, because he has felt the spirit so strongly, but he is still not willing to take that step of faith and be baptized. He is a dry Mormon!  Yesterday, he was explaining the Book of Mormon in the gospel principles class to the other investigators.  He told us that he KNOWS the church is true, but he can't support the doctrine that it is the ONLY true church, and for that reason he has not been baptized.  But, I know he will.  HE IS GOING TO GET BAPTIZED!

So, the moment you have all been waiting for.... Where is Elder Kipp going?????  I am headed out to the San Blas Islands as a Zone Leader!!!!!  I am super excited and happy!  It will be culture shock and a totally new experience.  My companion is Elder J, and he is a super awesome missionary!!!!!  I am more than excited to go there!  They don’t wear regular shoes there so I need to buy some Crocs and a leatherman tool.  I can get a ton of cool mola!  Speaking of mola, I got a SICK (which means awesome) mola tie last week from a hermana in the sisters ward that is in our district.  But yeah, I'm going to Blas so I will take lots of pictures.  We went to the Panana Canal today, but you're not going to believe me. It was closed.  But, I will be sure to get there and get some pictures before I come home! 

I was praying for you and mom this week, and the spirit told me,"They're in my hands" and that gave me peace to know that the Lord is taking care of both of you.  Well, that is about it for this week. I am so excited to start the Quantum adventures on Blas!!!   I love you all! Don't forget to prepare yourselves for General Conference this weekend!!!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, September 22, 2014

Panama Travels, Chickens and Lobsters

Hey family!

This last week was probably the busiest, but one of the coolest of my entire mission!  We had zone conferences this week, and Hermana Carmack wanted us to make Family Home Evening kits for the entire mission, but we weren't able to get the toner for the HP printer until Saturday.  So, we had to stay up late for four nights, printing and laminating almost 2,000 papers and burning 130 DVD's for all the missionaries.  It was super exhausting!  We had the conference on Wednesday, and it was great! We talked about four tips that Elder Nelson gave about "Preach My Gospel", and also how to find new investigators and goal-setting.  It was a great conference!

We asked President Carmack a couple weeks ago if my companion and I could go to the Zone Conference in David, so he gave us permission!  We drove out on Thursday afternoon with the AP's!  Before, we stopped at Rico Burrito and ate this burrito called the MataBurro, and it is a huge 18 inch burrito!!!  So that filled us up for about two days.  We got to David late, and stayed at a cool member's house with a bunch of missionaries that had traveled for the conference.  We had to run errands during the conference, so we didn't hear much of it.  Afterward, I had called the R family and K, my convert from Las Lomas, and we went to visit them! It was so good to see them!  The elders were taken out of that area two changes after I left.  There are still sisters there but a lot of things have gone downhill.  I told President to send me back if they put Elders there again!  It was really good to see the people from David! 

Saturday, we drove back to Panama City, and President gave my companion and I permission to go to Darien, in the middle of nowhere on the east side of Panama, so the AP's let us take the car to drive to my companion's birthday party with the members out there, and it is basically out in the middle of nowhere.  Before we left, one of the members let me kill a chicken, so he tied up the feet and hung it in the tree and let me cut the neck.  But, I ended up cutting the entire head off!  But it was cool, I killed my first chicken last week!

Yesterday, we talked with C at church, and he said he wants to get baptized, but his wife, who is still in Nicaragua, told him she doesn't want him to because she wants to "take that step with him together.”  So, he is having difficulty accepting her choice because he wants to get baptized.  We are going to try to get him baptized this weekend, but it will be really tough.  Pray that we can get him baptized soon!

I keep learning more and more about the Atonement.  It is something I need every day.  This week I learned that we cannot benefit from the mercy and love of the atonement until we love and show mercy towards other people, and we cannot be forgiven until we forgive others.  Humility is another thing I have tried to study and develop throughout my mission, because I have realized that I can be really prideful sometimes, when I go against the Father and do my own will instead of His.  I am so thankful for the Atonement and the ability to be forgiven.

So yeah,  I am leaving the office in a week and a half.  I very well could go out to Blas, but it isn't sure.  One of the ZL's is going home at the end of this transfer, so we will see.  But now it really doesn't matter to me. I am excited to get back to working in the field, wherever the Lord sends me.  Time is up.  I love you all so much!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

P.S.  We had another multi-zone sport activity today.  I put on sunscreen, and have come to the conclusion that the Panama sun is unblockable, because alas, I continue looking like a lobster.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Zone Conference in Cardenas

Hello everyone!

This last week was a pretty good one!   Zone conferences are coming up, and President Carmack has given us permission to go out to David to help at the zone conference!  I am stoked!  We are trying to print and laminate 1,800 Family Home Evening papers for Wednesday, so it has been a busy couple days and we still have a bit more to go, but it's ok. 

This last Thursday, we planned a dinner with a less active family, the Y Family. Back in the day, they were super active and even did baptisms in the temple! We shared with them the Easter video called "Because of Him" about the atonement, and the son just ended up randomly putting on a temple video that lasted for almost 45 minutes. When we were done, the lady said that she is retiring in two years, and that she wants to work to the point where she can work in the temple when she retires!  I hope we can get them there!

We also visited C on Thursday.  It was a really tough lesson, he has very interesting beliefs, and so it seemed like there was a bit of contention as we discussed the things we know to be true and as he testified of his beliefs as well.  We were direct with him about our purpose on earth, and we asked him lots of questions that made him really open up and share his beliefs with us.  We finally got to the core of C.  Toward the end, he said that he thought he and we were going to have to go our separate ways in the near future. We were sad, and talked that night that he hadn't progressed and we decided we would drop him for a little bit and see what happened.

On Sunday, he came up to us and told us that the lesson on Thursday impacted him so much, and that he was finally feeling with his heart and not thinking with his brain.  He said he was almost ready to tell us on Thursday to fill the font and baptize him, but he still has a few doubts.  He immediately asked us to help him this week, and we are working to get him baptized on the 20th of September, which will be a "White Night" for our entire zone, (where lots of investigators get baptized in one big service.) That was the biggest step C has taken in a long time, and I really hope we can get him baptized soon because I am leaving the office on the 1st of October!

I read a really good book about the Atonement this week called "The Peace Giver.”  I recommend that you read it.  It has given me a completely new look on the atonement, which has become one of my favorite things to study.  I am happy.  My companion is so great, we get along awesome and I am so happy living and serving the people of Panama right now!  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Anything Can Happen

Hey everyone!

How have you all been this week?  I am glad to hear that mom is getting the issues with the surgery worked out, and that dad is ok after the accident.  I have been praying for you guys a lot this week!

This last week was consejos, so we were pretty busy getting everything ready on Tuesday.  We had to get all the mail organized and things like that ready to go, and on Wednesday, we were able to listen to President Carmack talk about the importance of "Preach My Gospel". It was a great spiritual meeting.  He talked a lot about the importance of doing companionship study, and using “Preach My Gospel” and the Book of Mormon to find answers to our investigators' questions and doubts.  After the meeting, we ate Papa Johns and took tons of pictures.  Most of the Elders and Sisters that came to Panama with me were there, so it was fun to talk with them all and see how they are doing!

There is a gringo from Salt Lake living here, named R.  He is not a member, but grew up in Sandy, so he knows quite a bit about the church. The mission nurses, the M's, from St. George introduced him to us a couple weeks ago, and in Saturday, we invited him to a park by the coast to play some pick up basketball with some locals. We are really trying to open the door a little more before we start really teaching him the gospel, but we share a small message with him whenever we see him, a short scripture or a hymn, and he enjoys it, but just is not too interested in coming to church yet.  We will keep getting to know him and see what happens. 

We were able to meet with C's boss D this week.  C gave us his reference and we took him to the temple a couple weeks ago.  We met him in his office and taught him about the restoration.  We thought it was a bit of a shaky lesson, but at the end he said, "Well, it is hard for someone to accept the message of Joseph Smith right off the bat, but anything can happen!"  He definitely is curious to learn more and is reading the pamphlet and praying.  He says he wants a little bit of time before he comes to church, but I know that he will come around soon.  C is still a tough one.  He came out and told us of some more doubts he has, so we are studying hard to help him.  He has a hard time accepting the Bible, but says he believes the Book of Mormon, and we are working to help him find scriptures that will help him progress toward baptism.  He is a really intelligent man and I know that he will eventually realize that this is the only true church on the earth.  I want to help him so much it is not even funny!

It is good to hear that BYU started off the season running!  Beating Texas by that much is pretty crazy!  And the Titans too!  Let’s hope they can have a better season this year.  Speaking of sports, tell Lionel to write me so we can make some sushi and Mountain Dew bets! haha!  Well family, it is about time to hop off, it is mission wide cleaning day so we gotta get going to clean the house!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Learning and Progressing

Hello family!

This last week has been alright.  Trying to balance training in the office and working in the area is a bit difficult, but we are definitely trying to do our best! 

This last Tuesday, we had an appointment set with C.  We were in the office finishing some stuff before we went, and President Carmack was in the office late, so we asked him if he could come with us to teach him.  He said he was glad to.  We decided to teach C about the consequences of sin, and the necessity of the atonement.  It goes along with the creation and the fall.  President Carmack said he felt that we needed to read from 2 Nephi 2.  We got to C's house and began to teach him.  He opened up, and explained a lot of experiences that he has had that have helped him to gain a testimony that Jesus is his Savior.  We were able to discover some of his doubts as we read from 2 Nephi 2, some doubts that are now going to help us help him progress toward baptism.  The Book of Mormon is powerful.  C also told us that he has troubles with the Bible, but we testified to him that the Book of Mormon is what will help him clear up those doubts.  He reads it with G, his friend who he lives with and is a returned missionary of two years.  Ever since that lesson with President Carmack, C has been more open with us discussing his doubts and problems.  I know that he realized that the Gospel is what can help him find peace, and that he can turn his problems over to Jesus Christ to help relieve the weight of his burdens. C is awesome!

We also visited L and A this week, a couple we have been teaching for a couple months. They are not married and she is trying to finalize a divorce with her ex who lives in Colombia, so they can't get baptized until then. We watched a video called “Together Forever” that talks about eternal families. They really want to keep learning and progressing.  They have a one year old baby and family is really important to them. We are going to take them to the temple this Sunday night to talk more about eternal families with them. They will get baptized, the divorce just needs to get finalized so they can get married first! 

I'm glad that dad is ok after the crash.  That is a little scary; just glad that everything is alright with him and the other people who were in the accident.  I am so sad about dad's layoff and hope he can find a job soon.  Also, mom, I hope you can get everything worked out with your finger and the nerve test!  We will be praying here that everything can get figured out fast!

Well, time is running short.  We are going with our district to hit some golf balls at a golf course and then we have to go to the store to buy some things. Oh yeah! There is a store here called Riba Smith.  It is all imported stuff, and they sell Reese's! And gushers! The only store I have seen that carries lots of American goodies.    I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp