The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Fire of Baptism in their Eyes, Cats and Monkeys

Hey everyone!

It was great being able to talk to you on Christmas!  Even though you kept asking me what I want to do when I GET HOME and telling me NOT TO BE TRUNKY at the same time... haha! it was great.

So, I don't know why the cats here have such a fascination with coming over to our house, climbing on our roof, and fighting in the middle of the night. The leaves of the roof really amplify the sounds.  So, our branch president officially declared it hunting season for cats and started carrying around my slingshot and rocks in his pockets so he could be ready. Nothing yet, though. 

This week was pretty good for the work.  We are finding new investigators like crazy, mostly youth, but it is good because a lot of the youth left the island and moved to the city.  And the ones that stayed aren't very animated or excited right now, so we are hoping we can get a better youth program going here in the branch.

The Christmas baptism was awesome!  We had been waiting for a couple weeks, and had to postpone the baptism because R's family drinks coffee and he would drink it in the morning.  But, he finally was able to leave it behind.  It is so awesome to see the change in the lives of people when they accept and live the gospel.  Today, we were walking in the street with Shark and there were some kids who were kind of laughing at us, saying that we are weird for not drinking coffee, so Shark said that we should go talk with them.  Right as we started to talk to them about coffee, who shows up?  None other than R! We asked him why we don't drink coffee and he explained to them, and after that, they said they would read the pamphlet we gave to them.  Member missionary work is so awesome, especially when you have recent converts who still have the fire of baptism in their eyes! 

Tomorrow, we get to go on divisions to another island, with two of my favorite elders, Elder M and Elder M.  I love serving other missionaries and helping them to reach their potential, but I am pretty sure I learn way more from them than they do from me.  We are going to spend three days there so we can do quality divisions and get our money’s worth out of the boat rides.  It will be so fun!

I am truly blessed to be serving out here.  We get to see so many results of our labors, and harvest so many of the seeds we plant.  I am learning so many things that I never imagined that I would learn in my mission, most importantly, I am growing in my personal strength and testimony of the Gospel.  Thanks for all your love and support. I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

P.S.  I saw a sweet monkey this week.  It has a mohawk, and they named it Kipp.  It is one of our investigator’s
pets.  I will send some pictures.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Feliz Navidad from the San Blas Islands


It is pretty crazy that it is already time for Christmas again!  I can't believe it, this last year went by so fast! This last week was good, a little hard, but good.  We had another baptism!  A 15 year old kid named S got baptized!  It has been a blessing to be able to see so many results of our work out here. 

Our branch President, T, is a boss. He has been passing through a ton of trials and problems, but he is super faithful.  This last week, their dog bit this really old lady and they had to pay her $100, which for them is a TON of money, and all her hospital bills, and they had to send the dog to another island.  He was telling us how last year, his daughter lost the $1,000 he had worked 8 years to earn, and how this year, they were going to start a business, but with the dog fiasco, he has to wait a little while longer to start it. But, one thing I admire about the people on Blas is that they understand that it isn't money that brings happiness.  T always says that he knows that he Lord is just testing him and that he knows it will all end soon and he will be blessed.  He is a great example to me, when I complain or think little inconveniences are hard, I look at him and get strength to endure. 

My new companion is cool, he is from Arizona.  He has almost the same time in the mission as me, so we will see how long we will be companions for.  He wants to work hard, so that is the most important thing. We are still seeing lots of miracles for our work, so I am happy right now.  I was able to do divisions with Elder T this week, one of our district leaders in the zone.  I was in the office when he came to the mission.  He is the really big blonde kid that is in that picture with me at the soccer tournament.  He is a boss, and I learned a ton from him!  We have gotten along well since he got here, so the divisions were super fun, but constructive as well!  I respect the missionaries in this zone, we have one of the nicer areas in the zone, and the other areas are really hard.  The missionaries that get sent here are pretty strong.

So, about skype, three o'clock my time should be fine!  I am super stoked to be able to talk with you all! This will be my last call home in the mission! (super crazy) We are just going to pass Christmas pretty tranquil here on the island, and set up the Christmas devotional so the branch can watch it on Thursday night. We will have a turkey dinner with the members so it should be nice. 

Well family, that is about all I have time for right now. I can't wait to skype with you guys on Thursday!  I will not be able to call beforehand, I have no phone to do so, so you will just have to be ready at the computer around three (one your time). I love you all!

Remember, the true spirit of the season is felt when we remember not just the birth of Christ, but his earthly mission, and also, when we look forward to His second coming with faith. Espero que tengan una muy feliz navidad, y que sientan el verdadero espĂ­ritu de la Navidad. 

Con amor,

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Baptism of the Chief

Hello everyone!

We were not able to write on Monday because the internet in our church went out, so we came today to write real quick so you all know that we are OK!

This last Saturday, we were able to have a baptism!  We baptized the syla, (island chief) Syla G, and it was awesome!  You could tell he really felt the spirit, and now he is excited to go out and help us teach his friends!  We are going to get him to take us to the third syla's house, and if we baptize him, all the sylas will be members! 

Elder J got called to be a new AP, now there are four, and so I got a new companion.  His name is Elder O.  He has one transfer less than I do in the mission. He really wanted to come out to San Blas for his entire mission so he is excited and happy! 

Well, I am about out of time.  I am sorry I can't write more today.  We have to go do some visits right now, but I love you all and hope that you have a great week!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

P.S.  Mom, I will answer all your questions next week… I have to run.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Zone Conference at the Orphanage

Hello family!

This last week has been an interesting one.  We had a bunch of hours of service in the monte and we got super exhausted! And on Friday, our whole zone traveled into Panama City for the Christmas Zone Conference and to get stuff for changes.  I still do not know who my new companion is, but I know it has to be a gringo, so I am pretty excited to find out who it is!  I must say that it was NOT me in the Santa suit, it was a kid named Elder B, and he was a pretty legit Santa.  But, we do have a Santa suit in our chapel on the island so I totally want to sport it on Christmas. 

For the zone conference, we went to an orphanage and sang some songs and hung out with all the kids.   It reminded me of Silver Rush at Riverton, and how the whole town just banded together to help others.  Those were the times that I truly felt the spirit of Christmas more than any other time, and I am so grateful that I will be able to serve others during this Christmas season, and share with them the best gift of Christmas, a knowledge of their Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

The trip to the city was good, we all got in safe and sound, it just took us like seven hours! But, we DID get to hit up the new Little Caesars! And it was AWESOME!!!  Brought me back to my childhood... haha! 

So, the Christmas party was pretty epic because Hermana Carmack cooked like 36 pounds of REAL BACON!  WE just about cried.  It was a Christmas miracle!  The Christmas devotional yesterday was great!  I really enjoyed Elder Christofferson's talk, and also how the talks were centered around the family. After all, Christmas is the birthday of our older brother!  I am really excited to serve others and bring them the joy of knowing that Christ is the greatest gift God has ever given us this Christmas.

My brain is scattered, this is going to be a short email.  Not a lot happens when we come to the city...  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Service is the Way to Open Hearts

Hey everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

Truth is, in Panama almost no one celebrates Thanksgiving, and even less so on an island.  So, we just worked normal that day, and for dinner we ate some pasta.  It was different than last Thanksgiving, but I still really tried to reflect on all that the Lord has given me, and realized that I am really so blessed.

This last week, we tried to work really hard again, after seeing all the success we had last week.  It was a little tough this week, because a lot of our investigators we had planned throughout the week weren't home, or didn't want to listen to us. We really tried to give it our best effort, and at the end of the week we did have success!  Our baptism didn't go through, but we did baptize an 8 year old from a
member family that we had been teaching, so it was great to see another of God's children enter the waters of baptism and make sacred covenants.

Hermano U has progressed a ton!  He gave a talk in church yesterday about overcoming weaknesses. He used to be a drug addict, and he loves sharing his story with people about how the gospel has changed his life.  He is a big help to us, because a lot of the people out here drink or do drugs, and it is a blessing to have someone who has overcome those things through the atonement.

We got to use our machetes this last week, so that was awesome!  I have come to learn that service is the way to open peoples' hearts to the gospel.  Like when Ammon went to King Lamoni and offered to be his servant first, then after the king saw the power and influence he had, he allowed Ammon to preach to him.  That is definitely a good way to find investigators here, because everyone works in the mountains and always needs help.

I will be getting a new companion this Saturday.  President told us that Elder J will have changes. It is sad, because we have seen a lot of success together and worked really hard, but he did his job here. My new companion has to be a gringo, because the Sylas here don't like Latins and won't them live on the island, so I am pretty excited to see who it is!  I am also a little nervous though, I just hope my new companion will be as obedient as Elder Jensen was!  I know the Lord will send the island and I exactly who we need to grow.

On Friday we are officially starting Operation Christmas:  SectorCity, when we go into the city for the Christmas zone conference. We will commence phase: Little Caesars on Friday night, because the first
Little Caesars in the country just got finished!  It is gonna be quantum!

Well, I don't have much more time.  I am glad you all had a good thanksgiving! Have a great week!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp