The Best Two Years

The Best Two Years

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bautismo Nika

Hello Family!

First things first.  Bautismo nika means "We had a baptism!!!" in Kuna.
This last Saturday, we got back from the zone conference in Nargana,
and Hermano U's daughter-in-law still needed her baptism
interview.  So, we called the elders and we did it over skype! That is
the new thing we have to do for interviews now, so we don't waste so
much time and money travelling to do interviews.  Well, she passed with
flying colors!  She really prepared herself for baptism, we were just
guiding her in what to do to get prepared.  She loves the Book of
Mormon and singing hymns.  She is sixteen and is already married, which
is pretty common for Kunas.  Her husband is Hermano U's son, and
we are still working on him so they can go to the temple someday.
We had the baptism after church yesterday.  It was just us, our
branch president, and Mrs. U.  It made me sad because her husband was
going to come, but didn't want to wait for our branch president, so he
left to go play soccer instead.  But, it was an AWESOME service!  Our
branch president baptized her, and the spirit was really strong.  I
have been so blessed to see so many people enter the waters of baptism
here in San Blas.

We had a pretty good zone conference!  On Tuesday, everyone showed up
to Nargana in the morning, and we had a member cook for all fourteen
missionaries.  Afterwards, we did the conference.  We started off doing
sister and elder training meetings separate, and it gave us a good
chance to really see what the missionaries have a tough time with.
Then, we were able to hear from the District Leaders about how to find
happiness in the work, and how to properly use Preach My Gospel. This
zone we are in is one of the tightest knit zones I have been in, and
all the missionaries are really well prepared to be here. I feel very
humbled to be their leader.

We were able to hear from Elder Duncan on Wednesday.  What a neat
experience it is to hear from a General Authority!  The biggest thing I
got out of the meeting was that as missionaries, to reach our full
potential, we really need to have a better testimony of the Atonement.  It
is what allows us to develop love and charity, the motives for
missionary work.  He opened our minds to the type of numbers we could
be achieving.  I know numbers aren't important, but behind every number
is a name of one of God's children.  Elder Duncan showed us the video
"Because of Him" about Christ.  Even though we couldn't really see the
video very well over skype, I had seen it before, and during the
video, I really strongly felt the love that Christ has for me, and for
each one of us.  He truly suffered for us so that we do not have to
suffer.  He knows how we feel in every moment of sorrow and trial, and
he knows exactly how to help us overcome them.  He sends us His spirit
to lead and guide us, and to let us know that he has forgiven us and
to cleanse us when we repent.  I feel like I have gotten to know Him
much more personally on my mission, something promised in my
patriarchal blessing.  He is not just a distant person I want to be
there anymore, He has become so real in my life, and He can become
real in all our lives if we open up our hearts and let Him in.

We went to the monte today and my shoulders are suuuuper sore from
carrying some HUUGE logs up and down the hills for a guy who is
building a new house. But, despite how tired I am, I felt great to
give service!

This wouldn't be a missionary letter if I didn't leave you all with
an invitation.  I invite you all to watch the video "Because of Him"
and really meditate Christ's atonement.  Meditate upon the fact that he
suffered for EACH ONE of your sins and struggles personally, because
he loves you. It is what can give us infinite happiness in our lives.  I love you all!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

April 30th is the Day

Hello everyone!

I didn't have a chance to write yesterday because we had five other elders in our area that needed to write as well.  We traveled to Nargana today to have our Zone Conference, so I am writing from the chapel here. 

This week Elder Duncan from the Seventy is coming to Panama, and for our zone conference, we are going to do a skype call with him and all the other missionaries.  I am super excited to see what counsel he gives us!

This last week, we decided to do extended divisions with the elders in Nargana.  My companion came to Nargana, and Elder M came to my island with me for five days. Elder M and I realized we seriously have EVERYTHING in common.  It was actually kind of freaky.  I actually know where he lives in Kamas.  We always pass his house on the way to the B's cabin. This last week was great, we were able to work really hard in the area and we had some really spiritual experiences.  Hermano U is really helping us out a lot by finding new people for us to teach.  We bought him a copy of Preach My Gospel, and he reads up on his job as branch mission leader and is super excited magnify his calling.  We are going to be in Nargana until Saturday, and he is going to visit all our investigators for us while we are out. 

So, I have had a hard time deciding on what day I am going to come home.  In my interview with President Carmack, he said that he is fine either way and that the Lord is letting me decide.  I know the most sensible option for school and work is to come home in April, so I can have more time to work and save up some money for school.  So, I have decided to come home in April.  April 30th will be the exact day.  So be ready!

Well family, I am super short on time. I am sorry for the short email, but we have to get our zone conference up and running today!

Happy birthday Courtney!  Happy Valentine's day everyone!


Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Monday, February 9, 2015

Concrete Jungle

Dear Family.

Well, this last week was an interesting one!   On Tuesday, we loaded up on the plane and went into the city to buy all the stuff for changes.  We got there at about eight in the morning, and went right to the office to get the money.  Changes are always super busy, and the secretaries weren't there until the afternoon, so we waited in a restaurant downstairs.  When they finally got there, we learned that our check couldn't be cashed until Friday, so we basically ended up spending a few days in the city literally doing nothing but sitting in the assistant’s house, studying, and I finally learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube.  It was a little frustrating, but we couldn't do anything we needed to do without the money.

We DID get to have interviews with President Carmack, and I asked him about extending.  He said that the choice is completely up to me, and honestly I am not quite sure yet.  I think I know what to do, but I still have to pray about it a little more, so I will probably let you know next Monday for sure.  It was a great interview, and President gave me some great counsel.

On Friday, we got the money, and we ran to PriceSmart (Costco in Panama) with three of the sisters from the zone, and ran around like madmen trying to find everything for the seven islands before they closed.  Friday was just filled with running around in the truck buying things until about one in the morning, and then the next day we had to wake up at four to get in the car and go to the dock.  Then, from there it was a four hour boat ride to our island. The moment I hit my hammock, I was OUT for the count! But, the good news is that I DID get my package!  Thanks mom and dad!  It was the best!

One night, we did eat dinner with a really wealthy family from Canada.  They bought pizza, nachos, lasagna, cookies, soda and a ton of other stuff.  The sisters invited us to go there with them on Thursday night.  How do I do my laundry on the island?   We heat up water on the stove and put it in a bucket with bleach, soap and fabric softener. Then we let the clothes soak, rinse with clean water, and hang the clothes on a rope to dry.  This last week, I got a lot of good study time, and really felt the companionship of the spirit really strong in my life.  I know that the scriptures contain the word of God, and that if we follow the precepts in the scriptures, we will feel of God's love more in our lives, and we will become more like Him.  Well, I am about out of time.  I love you all!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Name Game

Hello family!

This last week was alright, we did have two baptisms, which was the highlight! Two of Hermano U's sons were baptized, A, who is 17, and A, who is 14. The Hermano baptized both of them, so it was really cool.  He has two more older sons that aren't baptized still, so we are working with them.  We have had so much success through his family!  I think he might be the guy from my dream, but in the dream, the place I am in doesn't look anything it does here.  But I think it could be him.

So, the new fad on the island is to name things Kipp or Kippcito, which means little Kipp.  I officially have two dogs, a chicken, a bird, a squirrel, a monkey, and now a baby named after me.  It is Hermano U's new game to name things Kippcito!  It is pretty dang funny!

We were sick a couple of days this last week, and that kept is cooped up for a little while, so we didn't get to do as much as we had planned.  We did have mission leadership council this week.  We do it over Skype with all the other zone leaders and sister leaders in the mission.  President Carmack is really starting to crack down on some things, and I have been waiting to see those changes for my whole mission!  It is going to help the mission baptize more.

Well, I am about out of time today.  I am sick today, so I want to go sack out for a bit before we make our trek into the city tomorrow to buy the things for changes. And oh, I do not have changes, so I get to stay out here one more transfer!!!

I love you all so much!

Elder Austin Michael Kipp