Monday, April 27, 2015

Upcoming Baptism!! Nailed it!!

Hi Family!
Another week down!
I am getting the swing of things for sure and I am really learning a lot. The weather is getting warmer every day, but today is nice. The humidity and heat is not like the Idaho dry heat. 

The first couple of days in the field I wasn't sleeping as well. I have decided to take a shower when we get home for the night which has done wonders. I feel myself getting healthier. I have cut back on soda and I only have it when we are at a restaurant, which isn't that often...I do not actively get soda from the store, but if it is at a restaurant I will treat myself.

I working up to doing 3 sets of 30 crunches each morning. I want my belly gone!! I have been drinking tons of water. I can tolerate it if it has been through the pitcher which has a filter in it. My companion is a bit health conscious and that took some getting used to. We bought some Great Value lemonade and fruit punch packets that make a quart and that definitely helps. I wouldn't mind some Mio now that you reminded me. 

We did have dinner last week with some members. One of the older sisters in the ward made tacos with homemade tortillas! It felt like your cooking!

We actually have a Baptism this Friday evening. My companion is doing the Baptism and I am conferring the Holy Ghost to him. He is our golden investigator right now. He works for the Sheriff's Dept. and was in the Marines. His unit in Afghanistan was on standby if the SEALS failed getting Bin Laden. A lot of military in the ward for sure. 

I will definitely take pictures at the Baptism. I believe I can upload pictures and send them but I just keep forgetting to bring my camera to the library.

A lot of military in the ward for sure. 

I did make Hamburger Helper for Saturday's dinner and I nailed it. 

We biked this last Wednesday and I about died. I had forgotten that to get back home we had to go for a mile uphill. My legs were on fire. The bike was good, but I was just out of shape and it was warm. Apparently it gets a lot hotter. It reached the mid 80s last week, but it felt hotter.
New climate, different culture, and interesting food. The adventure of the mission field.

We will be driving to Macon on Friday for a conference with Elder Zwick, which should be great!

I will be sending a bunch of pics of the baptism, the MTC, the field and the Provo Temple of course.

I have been told I can skype home on Mothers Day. I am not sure if you have skype, but I would definitely set one up. Make sure you are all there when I skype home!  

I would not mind an extra short-sleeved shirt or two. I haven't even touched the long-sleeved ones since I got to the field on April 13th. 

All in all, I am doing well and learning tons. Looking forward to hear from you.

Love you lots!
Elder Kestner

Monday, April 20, 2015

Alabama, Investigators and Nasty Water

We are excited to have these 10 new missionaries join us here on April 13, 2015. They are prepared and ready to get to work here in the mission field.

Dear Family,
Finally out in the field!My trainer is Elder Stewart who is from Nampa. He is the same age as me and has been in the field for 21 months. We have similar traits such as humor and characteristics.
I don't if you heard, but I am actually in Phenix City, Alabama. Yep, this is my first area. It's been different for sure. The members are great. A lot of military members since Ft. Benning is not far. The Ward Mission Leader is a 1st Lieutenant and the Bishop is an Air Traffic Controller at Ft. Benning as well. I think I've had friends train there...
I am getting used to the humidity at this point. Lots of rain in the past couple days as well as overcast. There was actually a tornado touchdown in Ft. Mitchell that caused some damage. I haven't seen any damage from it since it's outside of my area. But we are safe and sound as well as the other Elders in my District that cover that area.
Like I said, the members are great and we have 3 investigators on date for Baptisms. They completely white-washed our area (ask dad). One of them is named AJ and he works for the Sheriff's Department and he is dating a returned Sister Missionary and she introduced him to the Elders before us. So, we are pretty much picking up where they left off. There is another investigator named Pam who is a grandmother. She has shown a lot of interest and we are always happy to see her. We also see a young woman by the name of Laquita. She lives in a certain part of town. She is struggling with some things like church attendance, but we remain hopeful.The ghettos in Pocatello are not the same here in Alabama. The people are usually humble and nice to missionaries and at other times not so much. I have learned not to judge someone because of where they live.We were tracting yesterday, and yes, we do go out on Sunday evenings. We met a Pagan, a Baptist woman, and a Minister. All on the same street! Lots of diversity for sure.
My anxiety is calming now. Thanks to my music. I wish I had more to listen to, truthfully. But I am thankful for what I have.
Another thing.We are allowed, in our free-time, such as evenings, meals, and P-Day, I can watch Church produced films. We have 3 short films that I have watched thus far. "Finding Faith in Christ", "The Restoration", and "Joy to The World". I have asked about 2 others that we can watch but we don't have. "Meet The Mormons" and "The Prophet of The Restoration". I don't know how to get these, but perhaps you might be able to :)
I was also wondering if you could send me some recipes that you have like chicken and rice casserole and any others that I like but can't remember at this time. I am trying my best to avoid the Top Ramen in the cupboard of our apartment. I can officially say the water here is not to my liking. Lots of sulfur in it which just about makes uneasy. That's why I will be making lemonades and fruit punch (Great Value) that we get at Wal-Mart. I sure miss Idaho water, but I can make do.
My daily exercise comprises of 2 sets of 20 crunches in the morning with a set of 10 or more push-ups in between. I won't have access to a treadmill, even though there is one right next to our apartment building, but those are mission rules.
Thanks for the Starbursts! I love getting treats like that in packages!
I seem to have run into a dilemma. I think I am short one or two of my short-sleeved shirts. I have checked everywhere in our apartment which leads me to guess that I may have left one at the Mission Home. No need to worry about it, I will take care of it. If I can't find the missing shirt(s), I will let you know next week.
All in all, I am doing and adapting well here. I feel my relationship with the Savior strengthening each day. Today's personal study was in Alma 57, which talks about the Stripling Warriors. I would invite the whole family to read it and it definitely relates to missionary work.I love you all and I look forward to hearing from you!
Elder Kestner

Thursday, April 9, 2015

12 Days in the MTC

Thursday, April 2nd: 
I am so far enjoying the MTC and I am being fed well. My P Day in the MTC will be on Tuesday. My companion, Elder Ray is from Twin Falls and and and one of my other roommates is from Idaho Falls. I was just called to be the District Leader today. I have learned so much in just 2 days and have been taught deep doctrine and missionary skills. All in all, I am surrounded by amazing teachers and fellow missionaries. Anyways, I am well taken care of. Love you all!

Tuesday, April 7th:

Everything is going well here! It is day 5 here in the MTC. I was able to go to the temple this morning and do an Endowment Session which was amazing. When I got to the Celestial Room I had a powerful experience. A strong presence came over me and I knew that it was Grandpa Kestner. I knew that he is proud of me for serving a mission. It brought me to tears. It testified to me that those who have passed on are still with us in this life, especially family. I feel a strong connection to Grandpa. 

The other day I ran into someone from Pocatello... Elder Gavin Page! I did a double take when I saw him. It was so good to see a familiar face here.

I am enjoying my snacks btw haha. We will be flying out of SLC on Monday at 8:05 am. So that means I will be up at 1:30. We will be flying with Delta, I believe. The hardest thing for me the first few days was sleep. The first 3 nights were brutal. It took forever for me to fall asleep. But now I am doing much better and falling asleep faster. I just put on my SEAHAWK beanie and just lay down.

I love the DearElder the other day. That is the only way I can get mail outside of P Day.

My companion and I had our first TRC yesterday. He reminded me like Peter Wells or his dad. He was a little rugged, but very experienced in working hard. I got the feeling afterword that he was a member because of the things he was saying. He was a bit of a hard case and he confused my comp and I. Our lesson was the Plan of Salvation and he said he couldn't grasp the basic concepts. But we have refined what we will do tomorrow when we visit him again. I will draw a picture of the Plan of Salvation that Zach and Ben have learned in Seminary.

I love each of you and think about all of you everyday. My testimony has been tried and strengthened in my few days here so far, but I know it is for my good once I get to the field. I know this Gospel is true and I am grateful for Christ and his Atonement. I would ask that you would pray for me and my fellow missionaries all over the world. I can't wait to hear from you guys!

Saturday, April 11th:

I am able to email since I am washing laundry. I have to tell you something. Wednesday night I started having pains in my lower legs. I went to the MTC Doctor yesterday to get it checked out. What he basically said was this. The combination of sitting in class, high calorie meals, and minimal gym time contributed to the problem. Well, I failed my promise. I have gained 10 pounds. I am not happy with that fact at all. And it is know important to me that I try my hardest to lose that weight and then some. My goal is to get down to 215-20. It will be difficult but I know with the Lord's help I can do it.

I am not proud of that fact, but I am working to get it off. I am so anxious to get to Georgia and a little nervous about the flight. I'll just follow your instructions about how to pack effectively. Another thing. I am also anxious because of the no music in the Residence Hall rule. You know me. If I can't hear some Howard Shore or John Williams, it affects a part of me. We sing a LOT of Hymns, but I digress. It is somewhat likely I will be able to listen Monday night to ease my musical nerves. Everything else is fine. My companion is from outside of Twin and we definitely have differences in terms of upbringing and personality.

My comp and I's TRC is amazing. He had so many questions today and he said he would come to church after we gave him two pamphlets. The Plan of Salvation and Preparing to Enter the Temple. Such a huge difference from Monday. I cannot wait to hear from him in the weeks and months to come. Well, I have been sleeping better than the first few nights, but I still get tired quickly mid-morning. Once I hit about 3 pm, I am good to go.

I love and miss you, but I am where I need to be. People like my TRC, Arnold, make me excited to teach the good people of Georgia. I know that this Work is true and that we all should share the Gospel with those the Lord sends our way. I look forward to calling home and make sure everyone is awake for my call. Talk to you soon!

Elder Kestner