Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas in South Carolina..one of my favorite Christmases!!

Elder Jordan & Elder Kestner picking up Christmas packages
Dear family and Friends,

This last Christmas has been a first for me. I usually don't expect it to be 80 degrees on Christmas morning. Meanwhile, it's freezer temperature back in Pocatello. Well, that's Georgia/South Carolina for y'all. This first Christmas away from home most certainly felt weird, it's supposed to. The last 19 Christmases I've had before were with immediate and quite frequently extended family. On Christmas morning, Elder Jordan and I woke up at 6:30 and got ready for the day and we had our studies from 8 to 10. We then opened the gifts and cards from family and friends back home. This went down as one of my favorite Christmases of my life. We had the gifts and everything else to go with it ( i.e. chocolate and other goodies ). We were able to more fully understand how important it is to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas may be over, but the Spirit of Christmas endures through the year. It's up to us to invite it back after the 25th of December.

Our week was pretty slow and busy. A lot of things called for our attention. We spent Christmas Eve with a less-active member and his non-member wife. They are both in the Army and they are fun to be around. They loved having us over, in part to their kids being with their biological dad in North Carolina. We had an amazing Turkey, mashed potatoes (YES!), stuffing, among other things I can't quite remember. That very evening, a thunderstorm blew in. A thunderstorm? In December? I am definitely not in Kansas (Idaho) anymore.

The members here spoiled us by giving us gifts and invitations into their homes. Due to time we could only see a few. We spent the latter part of the evening on Christmas Day with the Plocha's. Brother Plocha, a non-member, made Italian Meringues which were really good. After a good conversation, we left with a scripture, a prayer, and went home.

Despite it being the week of Christmas, not a lot happened other than being treated to Costco where the members bought us $140 worth of food which will last us months. The North Augusta Ward has done so much for us, and we just want to do what we can to reciprocate that generosity by our work and testimonies. It has been an incredible two weeks already. It feels weird for me as I start my first calendar year out. We will be on lockdown on Thursday, New Year's Eve from 6 pm on. And no, we won't be staying up until midnight. We have work to do on Friday!

I wish all of you a Happy New Year and try to remember your New Year's resolution beyond January 4th! Love y'all and be safe wherever you may be!


Elder Alexander Kestner 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Dear Family & Friends,

Well, the first week of the Transfer is done and I have been assigned to  North Augusta, South Carolina! I have now officially been assigned to an area in each of the three States that the Georgia Macon Mission touches (Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama). 

Here I am the District Leader and my companion is Elder Jordan from Layton, Utah. We get along well. Elder Jordan comes from a less active family. He has a sincere testimony. He is here to prove who he is. He is out here to serve. He is teaching me humility and patience that I am sure he does not know that he is. My last few companions have been from Utah, except for Elder Stewart and Elder Thornton, of course. I am excited to be here in this area and I hope to stay here for a while, at least 6 months. One can only hope, right? I fell in love with this area almost immediately. The members are amazing and they take care of us missionaries. The youth and young adults are enthusiastic about Missionary Work, and a few of them hope to go on Missions soon.

To start, it was a 2 and a half hour drive to get here from Macon. Compared to Savannah to Macon, which is 3 hours. We met a few members that first day and ate with a young couple. CafĂ© Rio style sweet pork tacos and Mexican rice. YUM! A family that we met was the Plochas. They are older retired couple who love the missionaries. Brother Plocha, who is a non-member, while his wife is. Except for a Word of Wisdom issue, he is a dry Mormon, so to speak. He is a bit, abnormal, and at times loud, but he has a good heart and a very good sense of humor.

I received your Christmas box. I opened the box on Tuesday. I will record myself unwrapping to give you a laugh or two. Becky, from Thomson is hopefully seeing us on Wednesday. An older couple in the ward is taking us to Augusta, Georgia tomorrow at 1 to Costco. They wanted to buy us groceries as their Christmas gift to us. They saw that the meal calendar was somewhat empty and wanted to help. I love this area!

There is not much else to talk about except for the fact that it is 4 days until Christmas! We will be spending some time with the Dunagans, which Brother Dunagan is the High Priest Group Leader. There we will be Skyping home on Christmas Day after 5 pm. We will be seeing some other members and investigators on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is sure different being away from home at this time of year. But I feel privileged to be serving a mission during this important Holiday. When it gets down to it, Christmas is about giving and doing what Christ would and follow His perfect example. I would invite y'all to read Helaman 15 and 3 Nephi 1 which give an account of the sign of Christ's birth and that prophecy coming to pass. Christ truly is the reason we celebrate this season. Though it is being more commercialized, I exhort all of you to always remember the true meaning of Christmas. He is the greatest Gift ever given from God and through him all mankind may be redeemed from our imperfections.

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Power of the Scriptures!!

Beautiful Savannah..Good-bye

Dear Family & Friends,
This week has flown by. I have tried to grasp a few things to write about this week, but some things I will leave out to talk about through my Skype call home on Christmas Day. After that my Mom may share those things.

Saturday was a busy day, as it usually is. Around lunch time, we picked up some Chic-fil-a and headed to Brother Carino's with Sean. After a good meal and conversation, we went back out to work. Let me tell you a little about Sean... He is 20 years old and was Baptized last June. He is the Pioneer of his family, being the only member. Since his Baptism and since I've been in Savannah, Sean has had a strong desire to serve a mission. He has called us up multiple times of the week asking when he can come out with us. We certainly love having him out with us and he has repeatedly shared his testimony with investigators which breaks the ice better than we could. He has such a desire to serve that will make him a great full-time missionary. If he goes to Idaho, as I tell him, he will not be disappointed. haha.Read more on this story HERE!

 After trying to see a few people with Sean, we decided to drop by to see a referral. The lady who we intended to see was not there, but her sister, Lois, was. We had briefly talked to her before, but she had us come in and talk. We immediately started talking about the Gospel. She has some questions and concerns that are good and honest. We had a very incredible discussion about The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and Prophets. It seems like we were led to her through her sister's request for a Bible. Lois is very active in her church and is very much the Matriarch of her family. She does her best to keep her children and grandchildren in church and safe at home. Throughout the entire discussion the Spirit was so strong that you can cut it with a knife, so to speak. She bore testimony many times of the importance of family unity, prayer, church attendance, and being a true Christian every day. As we departed, we left her with a commitment to read the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to pray about it. She gave us a hug, and we departed feeling uplifted after the long and dreary day we had been having.

Earlier in the week, in fact last Tuesday, we met a guy named Rob. He let us in right away and told us he was taught by missionaries 20 years ago in Kentucky! He had some good questions and relayed some experiences with the paranormal he has had. He has a questions about the Church that we answered, but we left with a prayer and an appointment for earlier this morning. We went this morning and talked to him about any questions he may have. He had a few that came up from the pamphlet we left with him as well as those that came up through is life that had just come to his remembrance. We had the intention to stay for 45 minutes or so, but we left after talking for only 20 minutes. We didn't feel rushed, but we asked him to read the first chapter of 1 Nephi. 

Yesterday, I finished my second reading of the Book of Mormon with the focus on marking the Doctrines of Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gisft of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). My testimony of the Book of Mormon has strengthened since the last time I read it through and every page I read this time. I know that it is true. I know that Joseph Smith translated it through the Gift and Power of God. The messages in it have deepened my love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love it and I long to add more copies of the Book of Mormon to my bookshelf for years to come. As I have finished the Book of Mormon, I have challenged myself to read all the Standard Works before I return home. The next one to read is the Bible, starting in the book of Genesis. In the Old Testament I will be marking scriptures relating to Prophecies of Jesus Christ, Laws and Customs, and Power Scriptures. After that, towards the end of my mission I hope to read and finish the Doctrine and Covenants along with The Pearl of Great Price. I have developed a love for the scriptures that I wish I had more of when I was back home. As they say, better late than never. 

I just wanted to share on last thing. I checked my email and the Monday before every Transfer meeting there is an email from the APs ( Assistants to the President ).
In this email, I have been selected to be the District Leader in my next area. I look forward to being in my next area and I know I will love it! 


Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, December 7, 2015

You Mormons?

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has flown by, indeed. As we are now in December, I can't help but feel the spirit of Christmas. People here in Georgia are starting to feel it too as their hearts begin to soften. Though, it may not always be ideal for them to hear our message. The Work goes on regardless!

The beginning of the week was slow at first but started to pick up later. On Thursday we were out tracting near our apartment. We knocked on a door and a man stepped out and listened and said he wouldn't mind if we came back by. A few doors down, a man comes to the door and cracks it open just a little. We introduce ourselves and offer to shake his hand. He said hi and asked if there was anything he can do. By not wanting to shake our hands, we saw this spiraling down. We then decided to walk away when the opportunity arose to get out of that awkwardness that was not conducive to the Spirit. Trying to shake that off we walk past another house when another man came out going to his car. He shouted "You Mormons?". We replied that we were. He then said "So, you going around and telling people they are going to Hell?". I was thinking ''geez, another one?". He grabbed something from his truck and came with small pamphlets. He said "Man, I feel bad that you haven't found the truth". He said for us to take his pamphlets. Elder Bingham spoke up and said we would take his if he would take ours. He reluctantly agreed. He then said he is a Baptist Minister. Walking away, he said again "I feel bad that y'all haven't found the truth". That street left a bad taste in our mouths. 

 Now approaching Dinner time, we go back to the apartment to wait for Brother Cribbs. We had asked him to take us to Buffalo Wild Wings for discount boneless wings since the Sisters were borrowing our car. He picks us up and takes us there. We go inside to the take out line. We are about to order when Brother Cribb's says "Don't worry fellas, I got it". Refusing to let him pay for us, we said we got it and he did enough by getting us there. He then replied, "You can't make me not pay for you". Not wanting to stop him, we thanked Brother Cribbs for his generosity and kindness. We soon got our wings and left. We stopped by his place, he gave us Root Beer and we went home to eat. That had certainly perked our day up as we ate and went about our evening with renewed confidence.

Now Saturday, we go 'blitzing' with the Sisters. We take one side of the street, they take the other. The first door we approach, a man opened and shook our hands. We broke the ice rather quickly and we started talking. He told us that he is a Deacon in his church and wouldn't mind if we came back by to share more. We were talking him close to 20 minutes. The Sisters had knocked half the street when we finished talking. We moved on down the street and met a 16 year old who talked to us about the same amount of time. He told us that he wanted to learn more and he wanted to get back into church. This street definitely perked our spirits. 

Last night, the Sisters had to borrow our car to go to an appointment. We tracted another street near the one on Thursday. We ran into a Former Investigator who really enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon but has since lost it. He was very friendly and wanted us to come back by. Down the street, we met a man in his 20s who showed a good amount of interest as he wants to have his kids grow up in a church. 

After all of that, we got the car back and drove to meet with Brother Becker. We met him at a parking lot, and he took us to his house which is on base on Hunter Army Airfield. He being a Colonel, had a really nice house. We had chili and ice cream for dessert. The Becker's also had a big, but very friendly Brown Lab. 

This week had its ups and downs, but that is to be expected. Elder Bingham and I are getting along great. I am sad that I will be leaving Savannah so soon. But I have enjoyed it greatly. Next week should be my last Monday in Savannah. God Bless all of you and Merry CHRISTmas!

Elder Alexander Kestner

P.S.I sent the SD card on Saturday, it should be there in a day or two. I wish I could reply to everyone individually, but due to time constraints I could only get that big one out. I am really looking forward to Skyping in about 2 weeks!

Monday, November 30, 2015

No Turkey on Thanksgiving??

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has flown by in anticipation of Thanksgiving. It seemed the whole talk of the Zone was how we will be able to work with full bellies when everyone else will be napping soon after eating. Such is not the case for missionaries. We had work to do! 
Elder Bingham & Elder Kestner 

Thanksgiving Dinner (Campout) w/ the Elam's

Thanksgiving morning we we went to a Turkey Bowl hosted by the Elders Quorum. It was a good turnout as we split in two teams. Essentially, it was flag football, but some of the Army Rangers in the Ward wanted to do Tackle. It was tackle football for a few plays haha. Some awesome plays were made. I actually caught a short pass for a few yards before getting my flag pulled. We had an amazing time and walked away quite sore, my companion and I. From there we drove to the Carino's for breakfast. They are a Hispanic couple. Brother Carino is from Puerto Rico and Sister Carino is from Ecuador. After breakfast we drove home to get showered and dressed in proselyting clothes. 
We then drover to Skidaway Island to meet with the Elam's for lunch, or better yet, dinner. The Elam's were camping out for a few days. So, our dinner was Dutch Oven Ham among other delicious food. I also had my first taste of Pecan Pie. I must say that it is delicious. My taste buds are changing for sure. Due to the title of this email, the Elam's made turkey, but they were cooking it in the ground among hot coals. So, in the end, no turkey for us. But it is okay, everything else was delicious. 

That night after visiting a few people, we headed in. I got in the shower due to us smelling like smoke. As soon as I get out, we are then called by a member in Alma to go to Memorial Hospital here in Savannah to see a member who had just gotten in a bad car accident where his fiance and 6 year old son were killed. He was himself, in rough shape. We weren't able to see Jared, the member that night. But were able to talk to his father and aunt and give them comfort. Around midnight, they asked us to come back in the morning to give Jared a blessing. Tired, we went home, our hearts heavy.  The next morning, we go to the hospital around 10. We met up with Jared's aunt and father who had stayed the night. We were led to Jared's room in the MSI wing to give him a blessing. He was somewhat responsive to us being there and acknowledged us and greeted us as best as he could. We performed the blessing, and Jared muffled a thank you as we rejoined the family to console them. We left the hospital knowing that he would be okay and would be comforted. 
Elder Kestner has become a fan of  Sister Carino's Sweet Potato Pie

We went home and weekly planned and went about our day. That night we finally had turkey with the Carino's for dinner to end the day. 
Saturday was very busy for us. Around 2:30, we picked up Sean, who got baptized back in June and who has the desire to serve a mission. We tried seeing a few people and were called on once again to see a member who was admitted to the hospital. This member was from Pooler, I believe. We gave her a blessing and she was very grateful for us coming. It was a very busy 3 days. We ate some dinner and took Sean home. 

My my, what a busy end to our week. As we are starting into this Christmas season, we are passing out cards for christmas.mormon.org and on it is a video about the true meaning of Christmas. I invite everyone to watch it as well as another video about what this world would be like without a Savior to redeem us. 
Elder Bingham's mom sent a Christmas tree!
Hard to believe Christmas is coming up in about 3 weeks. 
Being a missionary at this time of year puts the true meaning of Christmas into perspective due to me being away from home. I realized that I can give two Christmas' to the Lord away from my family. The Savior has been a great strength to me in the last 8 months I've been out. It is remarkable how not having to worry about things that most people have to worry about and focusing on the Work of Salvation. I love being a missionary and I promise that the Lord will help each of you to reach out to those seeking the Gospel light. 

Have a blessed week everyone and Merry Christmas!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Flooding in Savannah, GA

Monday, November 23, 2015

A long and Difficult Week

Dear Family,
This weekly email will be a little different. I do not want any of this on the Blog. So, here it goes.
First off, I am no longer in Rincon and Elder Kobbah is no longer my companion. I feel like I need to update y'all on the events of last week. 
Last Monday, after P-Day, we were going about our evening. After the last stop, we were on our way back, when Elder Kobbah said, "We need to hurry and pack so we can get to Savannah tonight to stay with the ZL's". I ask why do we have to stay in Savannah the day before every meeting we have in Savannah. He shot down my question with something snarky. I stayed quiet just trying to bring the Spirit back as Elder Kobbah played his unapproved music in the car. We get back to the apartment and gathering some courage and I said "Elder, you shouldn't be doing things that are against mission rules". He replied in mocking, and the Spirit left the room immediately. I said, summoning what courage I had left, "Elder, we have been set apart missionaries and we need to act as such". He responded with more mocking and laughing. Not wanting to say anything more and Elder Kobbah proving my point, I stay quiet all the way to Savannah. The entire drive there Elder Kobbah has his music turned up way too loud. I said numerous prayers all the way there. We get there and I mention to one of the zone Leaders, Elder Bingham, that we are having problems. The next day, I go on exchanges after District Meeting with Elder Weigle and explain the situation so far. We go through the day answering questions so that Elder Weigle can get a better picture of the situation. That night, Elder Weigle counsels me to call President Cottle to seek his counsel. I told President Cottle what was going on and my suspicions concerning Elder Kobbah. He asked me to talk to Elder Kobbah about it as well as informing Elder Kobbah that he needs to turn in his iPod touch which is not allowed. 
On to Wednesday. we exchange back and Elder Kobbah and I don't say too much, like usual. That morning at least, he wasn't blasting his music. Through the day, the ZL's called to check up on me. As we got into the evening, Elder Kobbah starts playing his music again. I asked 3 times if we could listen to something else. He, of course ignored me on every attempt to bring the Spirit back between us. As we got out of the car to visit someone, Elder Kobbah accused me of slamming the door, which I wasn't. He told me to change my attitude in a snarky manner. I told him again that I don't like the music he is playing. The last song that was playing was a Christian rock band singoing about Jesus but was way too heavy. Elder Kobbah asked, "Do you know what that song is about?'' I replied, "It doesn't matter, I don't like it." Things were starting to get intense...
We get back to the apartment and go over our day and make plans for Thursday. After that, I said "We need to talk". He said, " You know Elder, you are really starting to piss me off". Using his own words. I told him that President knows about his music and his iPod and how things are. He said he doesn't care and got up in my face. I told him that President Cottle is going to get a phone call from one of us and Elder Kobbah needs to decide who. He starting saying, "What are you going to do about it? Huh, what are you going to do big man. Stand up!" I stay sat down, not wanting to sink to his level. I try to remain calm and not look him in the eyes. Inside, I was terrified. Suddenly, he flipped my chair, with me in it. I stand back and he kept tapping me in the chest. I grabbed the phone in an attempt to call the Zone Leaders. he said '' Go ahead, make the call ". Now outside, the first attempt to call the ZL's goes to voice mail. I then walk over to the Kirkland's, member neighbors door. Before I get over there, Elder Kobbah, now back outside, pushes me hard with my back turned. He then snatches the phone and goes back in the apartment and tells me to stay outside. Not having any of this, I go into the apartment quickly and grabbed my planner, which had the ZL's and President Cottle's  numbers in it. I had written them down the night before in the even something like this happened. I go back outside and knock on the Kirkland's door and ask if I can come in. I go in and I immediately break down. I was then able to call President Cottle on their phone and explain the situation. I was there from about 9:30 to about 11. The first phone call to President Cottle, he told me that he will makes some calls to find a solution quickly. The Kirkland's really helped me through the whole thing. I may be sounding like a total wimp, but I was so distraught by Elder Kobbah's lack of sympathy. The Zone Leaders get to the apartment and stay with us. Elder Kobbah is still mad, so I and Elder Bingham sleep on the twin couch recliners. The next morning President Cottle calls us. Prior to that, the ZL's asked for all of us to give an account of what happened. Elder Weigle gives his and then I give mine. During my take on the whole event the night before, Elder Kobbah kept insulting me and giving me a stare that I actively avoided. The decision at the end of it all by President Cottle is that he will do an Emergency Transfer as a precaution from it happening again. So, I was put with Elder Bingham in Savannah and Elder Kobbah is with Elder Weigle in Rincon. They will be whitewashing Rincon to protect the Ward and the Mission from any fallout effects. 
Naturally, word is spreading and the whole of the Savannah East Zone now knows what happened. I feel like this whole thing is preparatory to something else. I want to continue from this with my head up because I know I did nothing wrong. The latter part of the week felt like a blur. But I know that the Lord is looking out for me as I strive to do what is right and to be as obedient as I can. I have seen that blessings flow from obedience to the commandments and guidelines of the Mission. This was my little spiel on this week. I will try to get a better email for this week ready next Monday. Love you all and have a Happy Thanksgiving. Ben, eat a turkey leg for me!

Elder Alexander Kestner 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life in the Savannah East Zone

4th transfer & 5th companion, Elder Kobbah
Dear Family & Friends,

Well Transfers are over and I have been assigned to Rincon, GA, just northwest of Savannah. the Ward is great and I feel very hopeful about this area. This is the same area that Elder Wells and Elder Sutton have served in previously. I am with Elder Kobbah, from San Antonio, Texas. He is 20 months out and this is his 2nd Transfer in Rincon

Most of this week was filled with me being introduced to the Ward and investigators. an older couple, the Roark's. They are a sweet couple in their mid to late 80s. We visited them a few times last week because they love having us over and sharing a Spiritual thought with them. They can't come to church as often as they would like due to health, but Sister Roark tries to go as often as she is able and to at least pay her tithing. They are really sweet and their door is always open to us coming by for a short while. Before we leave, Sister Roark always asks us if we want to take a drink and a snack with us haha. I love them.

On Wednesday, we traveled to spend the night with the Zone Leaders in Savannah as to avoid the rush of getting to ZTM on time. We left Savannah at 7:30, Thursday morning and traveled for almost an hour to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. We had a good a ZTM that lasted to about 2 pm. We then went to go get lunch. We stopped at a place called Fiesta Fresh in Hilton Head. I of course, got nachos. Can you blame me? After an hour and a half for lunch, we drove the hour back to Savannah, picked up our car at the ZL's apartment and got caught in traffic at around 5. It took us nearly an hour to get home in that traffic. We all know that Portland traffic can delay so much longer than an hour. By the time we got back to Rincon it was 6:15 and well after dark. We went immediately to the home of the Fernandez family for dinner. As it turns out, Brother Fernandez is a bit of a history buff that was influenced by his service in the Navy and Army. It was refreshing to discuss such historical events such as WWI and the Gulf War, etc. After a long day on the road, we stopped at the Roark's for a few minutes and finally got back home, planned for the next day, and crashed. 

Yesterday, we went on splits with two Priests in the Ward. I went with Nathan and Elder Kobbah went with Josh Fernandez. Nathan and I tracted a street and found some potential investigators. We taught a few door step lessons and handed out Restoration pamphlets. As we got to the end of the street, we met two boys about 13 years old playing catch with a football. We decided to stop and play with them for a few minutes. As it turns out, one of the boys is a Seahawks fan! Woohoo! We then got their information and we look forward to sharing the message of the Restoration with their families.

 For only being here since Tuesday, it has been a long week. Every 1st week of every Transfer always goes slowly. I am excited to serve here in Rincon and preach and teach the gospel to all who will listen. Have a great week every body and God Bless!


Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, November 9, 2015

Onto Transfer #4..A willing heart & a positive attitude

Dear Family,

This week went by really quick. The weather is cooling off quite drastically. I actually busted out a long sleeve white shirt today. This may be the 2nd time I've worn it. 

Anyway, we were pretty busy this week. We had a few appointments with which members came with us. One of those appointments was with Scott F. Scott has been investigating the church for around 13 years now and is in his late 60s, early 70s. He claims this as his church and pops in every once and a while. Whenever we visit, the Spirit is strong. This last visit with him we had Bishop Floyd with us. Bishop Floyd is very knowledgeable of the Gospel and is really in tune with the Spirit. Every time we visit, Scott asks us questions that most people usually don't such as the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, Authority, and how the Church runs in comparison to other churches. From what we could tell, his only holdup from getting Baptized is that he drinks coffee. He used to drink 2 pots a day. But since he's been meeting with members and missionaries, he had brought it down to one cup in the morning. That is it. He has shown that he can give things up to follow Jesus Christ. Bishop Floyd has said that Scott has walked into church in a suit and everyone thought that he was a member. He is so close to Baptism, he just needs to commit.

As y'all have probably heard, I am getting transferred out of Gray. I was only here 6 weeks and I am pretty bummed out right now. This area is absolutely incredible with great investigators and members that look out for us and feed us pretty often and at times out of the blue. In addition to my leaving, my companion, Elder Palmer, is as well. In other words, they are white washing part of Gray. Elder Palmer has also been asked to train a new missionary. He has been out for only 4 and a half months. I wish him luck. I did not quite anticipate going into my 4th Area so soon, but I recognize that President Cottle has been called to preside over this part of the Lord's vineyard and he receives inspiration as to where he needs each missionary to serve. The next time you hear from me will be in my new area.

On Saturday, we helped out at a community event at the Civic Center honoring Veterans at the request of Brother Eadie, who is a Marine Corps Veteran. I was asked to go around on a golf cart to assist anyone in the parking lot to the building and did that most of the day. We, as missionaries were exposed to the public and many recognized us as Mormons and missionaries. When the event ended, we were all very tired. Saturday was quite busy and we worked hard. 
Had a blast being the shuttle driver for the Veteran's 
Gray, GA Veteran's Celebration
I have learned very quickly that the best thing you can have while on a mission is a willing heart and a positive attitude. If those two are there, everything else falls into place. Through this Transfer I have had to rely heavily on the Lord through prayer and scripture study to get me through the yuck of dealing with a demanding companion and other missionaries that don't quite get me. The latter is okay, not everyone is going to understand how I do things. 

This Transfer may have been the toughest one thus far. I have hope that I will have companions like Elder Thornton who gets me and who I can get along with. Those who have been on missions in my family understand this. Missionary life isn't easy, in fact it is the hardest thing I have had to do, but it is so worth it if I am just willing to do what is asked of me and teach & preach the Gospel to the people in Georgia. 

 Thanks y'all for all of the prayers of love and support you send my way. I hope that each of you finds peace as I have through the sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God Bless!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gray is Catching Fire!

The Fall Festival in Gray, GA..Yabba Dabba Doo!
Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a very short one. I could've sworn that I was just emailing just yesterday. Next thing I'll know is that Christmas is next week. I thought I should let you know that Sister Tillman has signed up to have us over on Thanksgiving with her two brothers. Before that, the England's signed up to have us over for Christmas dinner. The England's have done a lot for us. 

This last Friday night we had the Fall Festival for the Ward. The 4 of us Elders and Brother England were assigned to set up the movie for the kids outside. We got it tied between two trees. It worked out quite well. We had invited a lot of people to the Fall Festival. Our investigator, Deanna, Tawsha, (her roommate and member), and their friend. We had invited them the day before as we helped Deanna's friends move in. The Fall Festival was really fun and they played Hotel Transylvania. After the movie, we started taking things down as the kids went to the other side of the parking lot to go Trunk or Treating. We got everything put away and Brother England told us to meet him at Dairy Queen. We met him a couple minutes later and he treated us. I got a burger because the hot dogs did not do much for me that were at the Festival. I am constantly having my heart softened by the generosity of Brother England as well as the Eadie's and Sister Tillman. They and the investigators we are working with is the reason I really want to stay for Christmas. I am stressed because there are 11 more Sisters coming into the Mission and 3 Elder's areas are turning into bike areas, since Sisters can't ride bikes as per policy. Riding my bike is getting easier the more I ride it. My calves are getting pretty big as well as my thighs haha. 

Yesterday, we went with Brother Eadie after church to 2 appointments. The first one was to see Sister Mock. She has been less-active for 8 years. The reason being that her husband is not a member and wants both of them to go to church together. During our visit, we realized that she has a strong testimony and she really wants to come back to church. We hope to visit with her again, hoping that her husband will join the discussion. The second appointment we went to was with Evelyn. She is a sweet lady who manages an apartment complex across town from our apartment. She has been visiting with us for over a month and has a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and feels and recognizes the Spirit. It seems surreal. There is one thing that is holding her back. Her church and pastor. Though she has a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, she is having trouble with recognizing Priesthood Authority. Her pastor tells his congregation that he prays every morning and receives vision of angels and Jesus Christ. I feel uneasiness when she spoke of her pastor's experiences. I know that we are all entitled to revelation through the Light of Christ, but it comes down to what are the fruits and does it go anywhere? Evelyn loves the Gospel and teaches out of the Book of Mormon to her Sunday school class. I have asked our district for counsel and President Cottle as well. Though our discussions with Evelyn have been great and the Spirit is there, we leave immediately knowing she hasn't understood that Priesthood Authority came back to the earth through Joseph Smith and passed it on to others who were willing and worthy to receive it. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only place where Priesthood Authority can be found. I still have hope for Evelyn and I pray for her. 

With everything going on, it causes me to reflect on how much time has gone by and what changes have been made on me. I know now more than ever that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He is the head of this Church. He has been preparing souls for us to find. As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants,"The field is white and ready to harvest". That passage is so true here in Gray. We are meeting more people each week and as a District have Baptisms in the near future. I hope that I may be capable and obedient to be worthy of the charge I have been given which is "To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End"

I love you all and have a blessed week!

Your son,

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, October 26, 2015

A lot of crazy things happening!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a weird week full of success. 

On Thursday, our car broke down. We were not too happy about it. We guessed that the car would be in the shop for several weeks. What we didn't expect is what happened later on Thursday...

Later that day we were able to have 3 lessons with a member present at each! 

When the car broke down that morning, Elder Palmer and I swiftly rode our bikes the 2 miles to the other elder's apartment to get them a bike to use since Elder Palmer's bike is in the shop and he was using Elder Bartholomew's bike. We get to their place and Brother Griswold met us there to pick us up and give the car a jump; which was stranded at the nearby high school track. We get a ride with Brother Griswold and we are able to get to the car. We get it going and we go with Brother Griswold to go help him with his garden and lawn. The other two Elders went to Macon and got the car in the shop. At around 3:30, we were done and Brother Griswold dropped us off at our apartment. We didn't have time to shower, but we got dressed into pros and walked quickly to the church for our 2nd member present lesson that day. We had an awesome lesson and the Spirit was burning during the whole lesson. The lesson was with Bobby, the boyfriend of Bishop's returned-missionary daughter.  Afterwards, they then dropped us off at the other Elder's place to get my bike and hopefully Elder Bartholomew's bike. At the time I wasn't too happy of Elder Palmer's insistence of going there instead of going down to the apartment of Evelyn, our next appointment, which was on the opposite end of town. We came to find that Elder Bartholomew and Elder Rodriguez were not at their apartment and only my bike was there. So, we left in haste with me on my bike and Elder Palmer running. We get to the main road when we run into the other Elders and it took some insistence from myself and Elder Bartholomew to borrow Elder Bartholomew's bike and get to the appointment as quickly as possible. We got there 10 minutes late. As soon as we rode into the apartment complex, we received a text from Evelyn, the investigator telling us she got stuck in the office of that very apartment complex by one of her bosses. A little deflated we went back up the hill to the main part of town. There we decided to get shaved ice/ice cream at a little stand like the ones they had at N.O.P park back in Pocatello. Rejuvenated, we bike home for dinner. 

A lot of crazy things happened on Thursday and we saw much success the next day too where we had 6 new investigators! We did not have a lazy day at all this week. 

Back to Wednesday,.. after ward correlation, Brother England, the then Ward Mission Leader, treated us at Brickhouse. I had a delicious bacon cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. It was so good and tasty. I highly recommend it, and it also brought my appetite back since I was not feeling well from the Indian food Sunday night. 

We found out this morning that the car is ready to be picked up in Macon and we will have the car this week! 

I just got off the phone with Brother England, who was released as WML and put on the High Council, and he is treating us to pizza at Chevy's Pizza nearby. The Pizza is great there. Bro. England likes feeding us out of the blue. He's taken us to Chevy's Pizza, Brickhouse, and a Mexican Restaurant called Agave Azul. The members spoil us here. haha. We are on bikes, but we'll make the trip to meet him for lunch. 

It seems like just around the corner when we will be able to Skype for Christmas. I am sure excited for it. Mother's Day seems like a lifetime ago...I will take some more pictures and  I will be updating my mormon.org profile weekly from now on.

Love you mom!

Your son,
Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dinner with the Tillman's

Dinner with the Tillman's on Wednesday October 14th, 2015
Dinner with the Tillman's
Sister Tillman made her son's favorite dish..Macaroni Goulash
HI Mom!
Emergency Preparedness Expo Saturday October 17th, 2015 
The Elder's were the most important part of our Emergency Preparedness Expo. They reminded us to be spiritually prepared in all things! -Sister Eadie

Ready for the doors to open so the can begin teaching.

Gray, GA loves their missionaries!!
The "Mafia" look

Time for clean up! 
I think Elder Kestner is supervising.


The Missionaries were the most important part of the Emergency Expo on Tuesday October 17th. They reminded us all to be spiritually prepared in all things. -Sister Eadie
Dear Family & Friends,

This last week was good. The weather is cooling off and I am grateful for it. Being from Idaho, I do not like this Georgia heat. The trees are turning red and brown as we speed through October. September and October have gone by so fast! I love feeling that crispy air when we go home at night. Two things I am looking forward to as Fall continues; Skyping home and egg nog!

This week was a long one. We worked hard and met many of our goals that we set during weekly planning. We met some of our potential investigators and a few of them are starting to pan out. One of them is Melissa. We first met her when we were biking past here house when she called out "Missionaries!" We promptly turned around and introduced ourselves. She told us that she sees us all the time at her work. She is a manager at Little Caesar's in Milledgville, GA. The reason to that is that there are members in Macon and around Augusta that will give missionaries free food if they come into their stores. I took advantage of that when I was in Thomson and last Tuesday when we had District Meeting in Milledgville. Anyway, we talked to her and she would like us to come back by to talk. We tried a couple times a week after that but couldn't meet with her until lat this last week. We had a great porch lesson on the Book of Mormon. We read with her the Introduction page and she said it makes sense. She then told us that what she has heard about our church makes the most sense to her. She had an issue with her Baptist church passing the tithing tray around and then again when the pastor didn't see enough money in there. She likes how we pay our tithing. The Spirit was there and we saw it confirm to her that what we taught her is true. When my companion and I got back in the car, we were excited about how ready she is to hear the Gospel. We have an appointment with her this evening. 

Another potential that we met up with is Reese. Reese was a music major and football player. My kind of guy! When we knocked on his door the first time, he came out and started talking to us about Christ and that he has seen us ride our bikes all the time. He told us his dad is a pastor up in Atlanta and that he loves talking about Christ with people. We left him with a pamphlet of The Restoration. We met up with him briefly this last week. He told us he had looked over the pamphlet briefly and he liked what he saw. We also have an appointment with him this evening.

My emails may seem skimpy at times, but I learn something or experience new things each week. One thing I experienced yesterday was Indian food. The members, the Weyands, who fed us,were amazing. Sister Weyand is from Trinidad. Later in the day after seeing some less-actives with Brother Griswold, we went back home. Let's just say that neither myself nor my companion felt too good. Elder Palmer had been sick anyway with the flu. The food was good but did not quite sit well with me nor does it even now as I type. 

I see better weeks ahead in this area. I hope and pray for a long  stay here in Gray at least through Christmas. The Eadie's (ward mission leaders) and Sister Tillman have been looking out for us and are so willing to help us out. I feel so blessed to be in this area with these wonderful people I am growing to love. 

This area hasn't had a baptism in 3 years. That was when Brother Griswold got baptized. Brother Griswold is a chiropractor and gives us adjustments when we come in, free of charge. We also go to his home and help him with his garden. After working, he and his wife will feed us lunch. He then will go get fresh milk from one of his clients and he gives us a gallon. That is some good milk!

A member just came into the library and will take us to lunch when we are done. I just love it here!

Thank you for everything . 

Love you mom, and have a great week!

Love, your son,

Elder Alexander Kestner