Monday, July 27, 2015

Overcoming my Shyness

Dear Family & Friends,
This week was a bit slow in some regards. It was a blur for me personally. We 'received' two new investigators when they came to church and a third when we taught one of them. We met Shirley and Anthony. Most of Shirley's family are members and she wants to transfer from her old church to this church. She said her old church was like a 'fashion show' and how the congregation compared themselves to each other. Anyways... We met with them on Thursday and Sunday. Anthony is her long-time boyfriend/fiancee. We had a great Restoration lesson on Thursday and a good Plan of Salvation lesson on Sunday. I saw another example of how the Lord prepares people for us to teach. Some days we need to dig deep to find investigators aka 'tracting'. And there are other times where the Lord gives us people that need the Gospel and are ready to receive it. There is an often unbalance of the two, but that is what helps us grow and learn. Now that I am at the end of my 3rd month and nearly my 4th, I am growing to be more comfortable teaching and at times when it may not be convenient. I see now that I always need to be prepared to talk about the Gospel and invite people to keep commitments. I cannot be shy in this Work. You know that I was quite shy for a long time. This mission I am serving is bringing me out of my shell. I am grateful for the change. There are so many applications to post-mission life that I am now learning. For example, living with someone, talking to random people on the streets, and budgeting monthly. I see how fast time has gone and I am happy I am just getting started. 
Love, your son,
Elder A. Kestner 

Monday, July 20, 2015

A sick week..

Elder Sutton & I at the Howells
Dear Family & Friends,

 I was sick for most of last week. Last Monday, a member gave us money to go to a Mexican restaurant near our apartment. When we finished, we went back to the apartment for the night. I felt a small, icky kind of feeling, indicating I wasn't feeling well. The next morning, I knew why. I woke up with a headache, congestion, and no appetite. I got to maybe 8 o' clock before I said to my companion that I need to go back to bed. I did and I slept off and on until the evening rolled around. The next day, my fever got worse. We went to the Howells and Sister Howells gave me some meds and oils to help me fight off my fever. At the end of the night, my fever was bad and nearly collapsed when we got home. My sleep that night wasn't good at all. I felt like my head was straining to do something. I felt like I was sleeping on bricks and felt like I had a bag of them on my head. I really didn't get a good night's rest until Friday. 

We didn't do much in terms of proselyting the whole week. All that is left from last week is a chest cold and constant coughing and a runny nose. My fever broke last week, thankfully. I am hopeful for a more productive week.The Thompson's came to church again yesterday. That makes 2 weeks in a row. We also received multiple referrals and 2 new investigators in the past 3 days alone. The Lord gave us a boost to a trying week.

Not much else happened that is worth noting. My email next week ought to be better as I hope to get back to full productivity.

I have seen tender mercies by the Lord this week and this week was one of learning and reflection of what I want to be as a missionary. Elder Sutton is a good companion with a weird and at times, inappropriate sense of humor. His trainer did not stress the importance of the schedule and the White Handbook. His music is also that of which a missionary should not be listening to. He also tends to oversleep most mornings and won't wake up unless I tell him to. I do forget sometimes. Looking back, quite a contrast to Elder Stewart. Elder Stewart was obedient in nearly every way and kept the white handbook close. I guess there is something to learn from Elder Sutton. It may be that I will have to be the example. These are just my observations as of now...I love you and hope you have a great day.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Elder A. Kestner

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Companion & being a Sheppard

Elder Kestner & Elder Sutton
Dear Family & Friends,

This week was an adjustment week. I now have a new companion, Elder Sean Sutton from SLC. Classic, right? haha. We are already hitting it off. He is 22 and older than most missionaries. He has been out 6 months, so he is not too far ahead of me. He has told me that his training experience was poor and how mine went really well. I really didn't notice how important all the little things of training make all the difference in a new missionary's life. I really appreciate Elder Stewart now. I am excited to continue this companionship and I look forward to learn from him.
The Thompson's

On Tuesday last week, we went to the Thompson's. They are a less-active family in the ward.You may have heard me talk about them in my previous emails. They haven't come to church in a long time because they felt like they weren't worthy to come back. Anyway, on Tuesday we taught them from Mosiah 4. I would invite everyone who reads this to read Mosiah 4, it is powerful. When we finished reading, Brother Thompson looked over at me and asked why we shared that with them. I replied that I felt impressed to share it. Brother Thompson looked at me and said "Nothing has hit me like this since the birth of my kids". "I will tell you how I feel on Sunday". The Spirit was so strong it nearly brought me to tears and brought Brother Thompson to tears. The Lord works in mysterious ways and I was an instrument in this case though I did not realize I was until the end. This taught me that missionaries not only look for new people to baptize, but to help Sheppard the flock which is the Church. I love these experiences and they outweigh the bad experiences with people not wanting to talk and plans falling through. This keeps me going. This is why I am out here.

I got the box at the transfer meeting. I loved it! I have barely scratched the surface of the goodies inside. Btw, did you get the fry sauce? haha. It feels weird not having it in the South. The work goes on here.  We love visiting the Howells. They feel like my family away from home. 

 I love this area of Phenix City, AL. I love the people, my companion, my District, my Zone, and the Lord. I love being here. This is where I am meant to be. I love being here. It seemed so long ago that I was back home in Pocatello. Time sure flies..

Your son,
Elder A. Kestner  

Monday, July 6, 2015

12 weeks

Enjoying some chicken chili from Sister Howells
Hello Family & Friends,

Well, I have officially completed my missionary training. Elder Stewart will be home in a couple of hours MST. I am currently with Elders Peterson and Wells who serve in the Ft. Mitchell area, but live in Phenix City. I will be with them until tomorrow when I meet my new companion. Elder Peterson, our District Leader, is transferring out while Elder Wells and I stay.

This week was the best week, weather wise. I don't believe it ever broke 100 degrees and stayed mostly in the lower 90s. I just love the 'cooler' weather. haha

Our investigators, Kester and Vanessa, are planning on getting married somewhere before Christmas. Me personally, I want it to be sooner. I just may be selfish in that regard. They come from an impoverished part of Phenix City. They are humble people and love God and Jesus Christ. Their love of this Gospel increases each Sunday as they attend. At times it proves to be challenging due to them not having a car so we organize a ride for them each week. They have come for the last 5 weeks straight. 

Hard to believe we are already in July. The Lord has been merciful in keeping us safe and healthy. Recently, we have been eating well at our dinner appointments. The members here love feeding the missionaries and members, like Sister Howells, calls us over for a great meal and we enjoy that. I don't complain, but it does make losing weight quite difficult. Haha.. Southern hospitality indeed.

I am so excited to continue working here in Phenix City. I want to continue meeting more people and bringing them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My testimony continues to grow though they are difficulties that face me. I know, through and by the Savior's help, I will overcome them. I know that I serve and work my hardest for the next 21 months that this mission will mold me into the man God wants me to be. In District Meeting last week, we talked about what the Apostles did after the Savior left. They went back to fishing instead of serving the Lord with all of their might, mind, and strength. Christ humbled Peter and taught him that there is a huge difference between the Peter; Peter knows and the Peter the Lord knows. This relates to missionaries I have known. I see them changed drastically. Refined. This mission will undoubtedly mold me into the man that God wants me to be. All I have to do serve and let Him change me. 

I love all the support each and every week. Have a great week and I hope to hear from you soon.


Elder A. Kestner