Monday, June 29, 2015

Will it be like this for my whole mission?

Hello Friends & Family!

This last week was hard for us. We didn't reach any of our set weekly goals. The few good things I took from this week was that we had our two investigators, Kester and Vanessa come to church. They had meeting with  Bishop Chris Zeh and talked about their marriage plans. It went well and they will continue to meet so they may get married, and soon after, get baptized. 

This week felt like a blur to me. They just keep picking up speed. Will it be like this for my whole mission? 

Last Monday evening, we met with one of our investigators, Terry. He is in his late 40s and has asked quite a few questions. Elder Stewart and I could tell that he reads a lot of anti material. We met with him that evening, prepared to address those questions. He never brought them up. We taught a great Restoration lesson and the Spirit was definitely present. We are still anticipating him asking questions about the Doctrine of the church and Temple Ordinances.

Well, next week, Elder Stewart will be flying back home to Nampa ID. I am hoping I will stay in the area. But I will go where the Lord wants me to go. This Saturday, as everyone may know, is Independence Day. That evening, at 7 pm, we will be going into a lockdown. The reason I have drawn up is this... Alabama  + American Holiday + fireworks & firarms = A loud night indeed haha. We will be in our apartment from that time to the next morning. 

A learning week for us as a companionship. I am slowly getting acclimated to this heat and humidity and how blessed we are to have a car to drive. It is now a fact of life for me that I will sweat each and every day and so far that has happened each day. I drink as much as water as I can and rehydrate with water and powerade when we return to the apartment each night. 

I love being out here and I hope to stay here longer. 

I love you and everyone else reading this,

Elder A. Kestner

Monday, June 22, 2015

Things are heating up around here!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was great for us with investigators and lessons. We taught 12 lessons and had 4 new investigators. Two of our progressing investigators, Kester and Vanessa, have been coming to church and are meeting with Bishop Zeh on Sunday to discuss their wedding. They have accepted to live the Word of Wisdom which I was worried about how they would react to the invitation. They responded perfectly and Kester had an impression that morning (Thursday), that he doesn't feel like he needs to buy more cigarettes or alcohol. I was relieved and we dumped what little alcohol what was left in the house into the sink. The Lord truly does prepare people for us to teach and bring into the waters of Baptism. 

This week was pretty hot and I will definitely not complain about the hot Idaho weather again. At least the humidity level is much lower there haha. I am trying every day to stay hydrated and when we get home each night I down what water/Powerade is in the fridge. I pick up Powerade to drink every P-Day at Wal-Mart for 80 cents each for a 32 oz. I get about 4 or 5 at a time. They definitely help me re-hydrate after long, hot days of tracting. I never knew I could sweat so much in so short amount of time. My shirts have so far have been stain free. I thank my deodorant for that.. haha. 

This transfer is starting to wind down as we go into Week 5. Elder Stewart will be going home in two weeks time. My hope is that I will stay in the area with who will be my future companion. I'm slowly moving to the realization that yes, we do have some differences and opposing viewpoints and personalities, but that shouldn't interfere with the Work. 

This last week was a glimpse into what one member put it as an "Indian Summer". Which does concern me because it's been in the high 90s most days. It will inevitably get hotter and more muggy. 

That was the main thing I got from last week. As the Work gets better, the weather get hotter. As Elder Holland put in a talk we listened to on Tuesday in District Meeting. I paraphrase; "It has to be at 9:00 pm. It has to be when you're hungry and tired. It has to be the whole street before someone talks to you. It has to be when you're sweating and the car is so close for you to just say "Let's go home". I love how Elder Holland tells it like it is and how this Work is important and surely not easy. But we are all capable of doing great thing when we set our minds to what needs to be done.

I hope for an even better week and to improve myself continually.

Love you and hope you have a great week as well.

Your son,

Elder A. Kestner 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fixin to beat the Heat

First Zone Training Meeting with Brother & Sister Cole
Hello Friends & Family!

Phew! The days are getting hotter here. I don't think I've ever sweat so much, including doing marching band in the heat. At least then I was in shorts and a t-shirt, and not to mention in Idaho. We had Zone Conference last week and it was great. Elder Cole, the vehicle coordinator, gave a training and showed us a news clip from Atlanta. It was about the 2 Sister Missionaries that got into a car accident and how one of them died on impact. We had just the day before been eating dinner with Brother and Sister Phillips, who work in the Atlanta Temple often tell us that the other Sister that had survived the crash had succumbed to her injuries. It was heartbreaking at Zone Conference how some didn't know that she had passed away as well.

Anyway, onto brighter things. We got two of our investigators to church! Vanessa and her boyfriend Kester. I did a double take when he said his name.. haha. They both came and their 5 and 3 old boys loved it too. Vanessa said "I might have to make this my church" and I was so pumped and excited that she had that desire. We teach them about twice a week and I have seen changes in them. They love having us over and are humble people. 

We faced a few challenges this week. Two of our promising investigators dropped us because they didn't feel ready to live like Christ. We are still trying to get a hold of them, but to no avail. I was heartbroken and I had to pick myself up and move on. We had tracted into a 19-year old whose boyfriend is a member and she has expressed some interest in the church, as well as knowing AJ, our recent convert. We hope to bring AJ with us when he comes back from Utah to visit his girlfriend, who is a returned missionary, and the family. We also ran into a contact from my first day. We were walking in a government housing block when we met him and gave him a Bible and a Restoration pamphlet. So, we tracted into his home and he wants us to come by and talk to him about the church and scriptures as well.

Days are picking up now as we are getting into the full swing of summer. I am trying a few things to beat the heat such as drinking lots of water with Powerade and take cold showers before bed to help me sleep better. I will  be glad to share that I can make breakfast for myself. I managed to make bacon and eggs this morning. The bacon was given to us by an elderly member couple whom we visit every other week and also struggle due to health and age (he is is 92, she is 88). I learn a few things here and there and hope to improve my 'cooking' skills. I am eating well, but mainly I feel like I am getting stronger. I haven't lost much weight but I do not go hungry. We got a car exchange....again. We are now in a brand new 2015 Toyota Corolla. The same car as our first in my first transfer and I like driving it. 

There is quite a bit of slang down here. A lot of people say "fixin' to" which means "I want to..." 
Another is one that some missionaries have for some particular reason... We see a lot of, shall I say, beater cars? It is common on those cars to put shiny expensive rims. We as missionaries call them G-sleds or Ghetto sleds haha. I honestly see close to a dozen everyday, especially since I am the designated driver in my companionship. 

I need to contact the mission nurse about getting the second dose of Hep A. Hopefully she will let me get it now that there have been cases of it being reported in the States. We actually met a member who has Hep A. Go figure.

All is well here. I do sometimes butt heads with my companion. I feel he may be feeling a little 'trunky'. He seems to like telling me to do something instead of asking me nicely and politely. I try to do my own thing to avoid friction, but it doesn't make a difference much. If I haven't mentioned before, he has not ever trained before. Perhaps I will have a companion that best fits my personality and understands my needs and habits. He leaves in a couple weeks (July 5th). No one ever said I would get along with every companion. 

I love you and hope you had a great birthday last week Mom. I love emailing you each week. Give everyone my love and that my mission is going great!

Elder A. Kestner

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Blessings of Fasting & Sweating

Dear Family & Friends,


My week was great! We had a few new investigators and got 2 on date for baptism for the 20th, but had to push it back since he wasn't able to get to church yesterday. We did however have one of our investigators come to church with her sister and 2 sons. We are hoping her husband will come soon. He loves God and has a bit of alcohol & tobacco problem. Should be fun when we talk about the Word of Wisdom.

Yesterday, we were tracting down the road from our apartment. We knocked on a few homes and only 2 wanted to talk. The first home was one where a woman not much older than I, answered and said her boyfriend was LDS and has talked to her about the Gospel and the Book of Mormon. She was raised Baptist but stopped going to church when her parents divorced. She said she has some interest about the Gospel and says she wants to come to church next week. The second home was actually one of my first street contacts from my first full day in Phenix City. We had left him with a Bible and a pamphlet. Anyway, he answered and he was busy but would like for us to come by and talk to him.

The days are getting warmer and warmer here in Phenix City. I sweat so much every day and it was quite hard for me on Saturday/Sunday. I started my fast at 2pm and we tracted part of a neighborhood and I was sweating buckets. It was hard and I started to get really dehydrated. Nevertheless, I endured to the end of the fast. It was worth it. We had several great lessons, new investigators, and one came to church. The power of fasting amazes me.

In a couple of weeks my trainer, Elder Stewart, is 'dying', or going home. 8 weeks sure do go by quickly and they've generally been good weeks. My allergies haven't been acting up, oddly enough. I am getting acclimated to this area but that does not stop me sweating profusely most days. We are still in contact with the Howells and we see them every week. 

About everyday last week we had a dinner appointment with members. Whether they bring us something or we eat there, I just love it. President Cottle has challenged us to bear our testimonies when we eat in a member's home. We have done our best to do so and we invite the Spirit into that home and what I want to bring to that home is that we are representatives of Jesus Christ. And what a title it is! 

We have a great Work to do here in Georgia and Alabama. I love the people, though some may not like us too much or don't want to hear anything we have to say, I want to teach and preach to those that are ready, though they may be few.   I strive to learn new things and meet new people everyday I go out. It can be a struggle here. A lot of people are religious and have a faith in Christ, but seem to not want to talk to us when we bring up that we would like to share a message about Christ. Many times now, we have been mistaken as Jehovah's Witness and Insurance salesmen. It must be the shirt and tie. 


Elder Kestner

Monday, June 1, 2015

No regrets!

Dear Friends & Family,

Another week gone by. As they say, days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. I am still in the 'week' portion. I love it here. 

I struggled quite a bit last week with just about everything. I was grumpy, irritable, and generally not happy. At length, I decided enough was enough. I knelt in honest prayer and asked for strength from the Lord to guide me in everything that I do. I instantly saw the good in everything, including my companion. I remembered that if I stay unhappy for long, I will see a portion of my mission go by and I have regrets. I don't want to have regrets. I do not want to live each day and week of my mission unsatisfied. What I mean is this: I want to do my best everyday and strive to do better everyday. At the end of my mission and when it is all said and done, I want to ask the Lord that He will accept the work that I have done. I strive to live worthy of my calling that the Lord has given me. It may be hard at times, but is not impossible and the Lord doesn't send His servants blindly out to teach. I have definitely felt the Lord's hand in the work that we do.

This last week was good overall. The first part of the week was slow and unproductive. It picked up towards the weekend where we found 2 new investigators who were receptive to our message and I could tell that they felt the Spirit. They are a husband and wife with a couple of kids and we look forward to teaching them the Gospel and that their family can be Sealed together for Time and all Eternity. I see the Work is picking up here in Phenix City. Though it does break my heart a little when we have to drop some investigators since they won't keep commitments. We taught a less-active family on Friday and it went really well. They are struggling with some things but they want to get to the Temple. One major obstacle for them is the Word of Wisdom. The father especially struggles with it. We taught in this recent lesson the importance of keeping the Word of Wisdom and how it truly blesses us when we keep it and how the blessings it brings more than makes up for what we give up to follow that counsel. For two weeks now they have promised to be at church, but have failed to come whatever may be holding them is unknown to me. I pray that they find the way and the light that comes when we attend church and partake of the Sacrament and renew our Baptismal Covenants.

I was recently assigned as the designated driver in our companionship. The car we drive is a 2014 Chevy Cruze which is certainly an upgrade from what I last drove back home, which was my 1990 Honda Accord. I love driving and is a stress-reliever, to me at least. that assignment was made last week due to my trainer having knee and legs pains from old injuries which worsens when he drives. Anyway, I love driving. 
I just burned some Prince of Egypt and Piano Guys the other Elders in my district have onto my CDs. I will eventually have a mission music collection. I thought about another album to perhaps, add to the list for me: Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Master and Commander. Not too worried and I have plenty to keep myself happy and sane haha.  I talked to a member of the ward who visited Idaho. One thing he loved was FRY SAUCE. If there is any way to send fry sauce for him as well as me, that would be awesome. Anyway, just a funny thing 

All is well now and I love hearing from people back home and how everyone is doing and what they're up to. I love P-Day which is when I email, do laundry, go grocery shopping, and generally just relax from last week and prepare for the upcoming week. 

Love you all and hope all is well. As it certainly is well here.

Elder A. Kestner