Bueno, it is a little weird being this close to the end. I don't think it will truly hit me until I get on that plane on Thursday, but it started to hit a little when I had to start saying goodbye to people.
These last few days have been good ones. I had to go to Nargana to be with Elder M because Elder M, who is a counselor in the district presidency, came to our branch to do district business. I was there from Friday to today, and it was a great experience! I got to see two baptisms my last week in the mission, which was great, because they were two teenage girls we found and taught when I was there last time on divisions. Elder M is an awesome Elder, and we really tried to work hard. I wanted to go out with a bang! haha!
Today, before I came back to my island, Elder M and I got to go fishing in the ocean with a member named J. We left at five in the morning in a big canoe with a motor, and went out a couple miles from the island to fish. Here, they don't use poles, they just use the line and they tie a piece of rebar on the end and hook a couple hooks up, and use sardines as bait. You just toss it in, hold it in your hand, and wait for the fish to bite! It was really good fishing, we caught about forty! They were all between six to ten inches long, but we did get a BIIIG red fish on a thicker line we threw out! It was an awesome experience to be able to fish in the Caribbean Sea, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!!
Well, as time comes to a close, I have done a lot of reflecting on the last two years. They have been the best two years of my life. They have also been the hardest two years of my life. I would have never been able to push through all the challenges and difficulties if I didn't KNOW that this church was true. I KNOW for a surety that Joseph Smith restored it in its fullness again to the earth.
Perhaps the greatest blessing of my mission is the relationship that I have gained with my Savior. He is so much more real in my life now than He ever was before. I know that he lives and loves me, and that He died for each one of us. That is the testimony that has helped me push through the hard times, and find happiness in the last two years. I feel good about how I have served. I can always do better and improve, but I know that I accomplished in small measure the plan for God's children here in Panama. I love these people more than I ever thought I could, and it will be the hardest thing to leave them, maybe even harder than leaving home…but I am excited to start a new adventure and the next phase of my life!!! I am scared outta my mind without having work or anything ready, but I know that the Lord will bless me for my service. I am confident that He will lead and guide me in the next steps of life.
I am so excited to see you all in three days! I can't wait to sit back and relax with the family for a few days, and play lots of games! I also have a lot of movies that I need to catch up on!!! I love you all so much! I can't thank you enough for the love and support you all have shown me over the last two years. It means more than you will ever know. I'll see you in three days!
Elder Austin Michael Kipp
P.S. I get to go see Ciudad Bolivar tomorrow!!!!!
P.S.S. I will try to make to the Panama Canal on Wednesday!!!