Thanks for all your letters this week, they really helped me out! This last week was a pretty good one. I was able to do divisions with Elder T in Ukupa, the smallest area in the zone. It is on the Panama coast, it is not actually an island. I was there for two nights, and we were able to visit Aidirgandi, another town on the coast. There are less than two hundred people there and after visiting, I am convinced that all those people are totally prepared for the gospel!
We took the branch president and another member who is preparing for his mission with us to do divisions and get more work done. We were able to talk with the syla (chief), and some other families, and we were able to put eleven new baptismal dates! Oh, this pueblo is an hour and a half walk from Ukupa, the nearest church. So, to get baptized, these people have to walk a total of three hours every Sunday to go to church and back home. We were completely confident that they would come. And lo and behold, twelve people walked all the way there Sunday morning to go to church! It was a miracle.
When I got back to my island, I figured out that there are a lot of problems in our island with drugs right now. It seems like the island has completely changed in a matter of days, and it has been a little difficult for the work. But, I am trying to keep up the faith. I know that the Lord is just giving me this experience to stretch me and push me so I can learn and progress. Every time we are faced with a decision in our lives, it means that the Lord is giving us an opportunity to develop, in small measure, His attributes, or do the exact opposite and develop the attributes of the Adversary. We are trying to make all the right decisions through these trials so we can have the spirit and know how the Lord wants us to handle the work here in Playón Chico.
I read something that hit me in "True to the Faith." It talks about teaching the POWER of prayer, not just the PRINCIPLE of prayer. Something I have tried to do that has made my prayers more powerful is to pray for the guidance of the spirit to make my prayers more meaningful. I know what God has prepared for me to do and I can ask for His help. He knows me better than I know myself and can tell me what to ask for that will help me be stronger and happier. Prayer truly is one of the greatest blessings we have been given, and it is the way that I have been able to grow so close to my Savior. One of the greatest blessings of my mission is the relationship I have developed with my Savior. I know God hears our prayers. It is up to us to prepare to receive our answers, because I know he answers our prayers.
Glad to hear that Grandpa is doing better. I bet he is pretty glad to be eating something more than ice chips now! I will keep praying for a good speedy recovery!
I love you all!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp