Monday, August 31, 2015

Better make it GREAT!

Elder Thornton, Austin & Elder Kestner at Austin's Baptism
Dear Family & Friends,

Phew. 5 months sure does creep on people. Man, I have 19 months to go. Better make it great.

Great week here in Tomson, GA. We had a baptism this last Thursday. His name is Austin and loves being part of the youth program and has been for the last 7 months. He is a great young man. He was confirmed yesterday in Sacrament Meeting by Bishop Mitchell. He was then ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood in the office of Priest by his friends in the Priest's quorum. It was a testament to the love of his friends and fellow priesthood holders to ordain him. Austin's parents are not members but have definitely seen a change in their son as he has been immersed in the Gospel. My hope and prayer that he will be a light and a missionary to his parents that they may see the Gospel as he does. 

Yesterday, we visited with an investigator named Becky. She is such a sweet lady in her 60s. Her husband passed away 2 weeks ago. They were together for 45 years. Her outlook on the death of her husband is one of hope and faith in the Lord. She has been meeting with missionaries for a year now. She loves missionaries and stays in contact with many of them. She reminds me of my grandmothers. Her home is nostalgic in the way that it reminds me of my own Grandma Becky's home in Longview, WA. We also brought a recent convert with us, Sister Pine. She and Becky hit it off. I see that Becky has started a new chapter in her life as she looks to eventually get baptized. I love her dearly and many of the missionaries call her grandma. I have no problem with that.

Myself and Elder Thornton are really hitting it off. We have many things in common. We have a similar sense of humor and outlooks on life. He has been out for a year and loves it. I may have mentioned before that he is also a District Leader. Which means I go on a lot of exchanges with other Elders as well. I will be going to Augusta tomorrow for exchanges with the Zone Leaders. It will be busy for me for the rest of the transfer with exchanges. 

So, I am still working on getting my bike to full functionality. Wal-Mart did not have the right parts for my tires, so I will be looking in Augusta for a bike shop. Even with an 1,100 allotment of miles, we are still over for the month. When my bike is fixed and we hope to save more miles for other things. 

I got your package and I loved it. 

 I believe I have an in-grown toenail. It is sensitive and reddish. I will wait to see if I get transferred out of the area to determine where I get treatment. I will let the new Mission Nurse know soon. 

Anyways, have a great week mom and hope to hear from you soon!

Your son,

Elder A. Kestner

Monday, August 24, 2015

New area, New companion, and Jon Schmidt (Piano Guys) !‏

Dear Family & Friends,

This last Tuesday was transfer meeting in Macon. 74% of the mission companionship's changed in some way. I was transferred to Thomson, GA in the Augusta Zone. My new companion is Elder Conner Thornton. Elder Thornton was in the same Zone (Columbus) when I was being trained by Elder Stewart. I knew of him from Zone Conferences and Transfer meetings. I am getting along well with him. He is motivated and energetic about the Work. I look forward to working with him.

At the Transfer meeting, President Cottle said he had a treat for all of us. A musical guest came and performed a song on the piano. His name is Jon Schmidt. He is the piano player of The Piano Guys. Much shock and amusement went through each missionary present. He played a song of his own composition, "All of Me". Let me just say it was amazing and mind-blowing. The reason of his visit was that his daughter had just finished her mission and he came to Macon to pick her up and perform for most of the Georgia Macon Mission. This was such a treat because I have definitely developed into a fan while I have been on my mission.

A few things have been going on since I arrived in Thomson. We met with Austin, who will be baptized this coming Thursday. The 2nd Baptism I have been part of. I hope all goes well and that Austin will be able to withstand the adversary who will undoubtedly try to stop him from entering the waters of Baptism. I pray that all goes well and that he will keep the faith. 

We met another investigator on Saturday, Becky. She is 64 and her husband just passed away last week. She is such a sweet lady and I already love her. She has gone through several sets of missionaries in the past year. She is Baptist, but has attended our church and has loved the people there. 

That's about all I've got. Wait... When I got to Macon, I found that my tires were cut in a way that indicated that they were slashed. That was not good at all. I'm still looking about how to get it fixed. Another thing, Thomson is a bike area, yet we have a car and 1100 miles a month. We cover 5 counties! 

Anyways, love you and have a great week!

Elder A. Kestner

Monday, August 17, 2015

I will go and do

AJ & his new bride at their wedding 
Dear Family & Friends,

Well, my time in Phenix City is coming to a close and I am a little sad to leave this wonderful place. I had anticipated that I would get transferred out. I have been here since April 14th. I have been here for 4 months and I have loved it.

 This week went by so quickly and I trying to grasp parts of it. We went to the Thompson's on Tuesday and we had a great discussion on the preexistence. We talked about how the Savior was Divinely chosen to be our Savior knowing that we would need Redemption from the Fall that would happen. Where we are now is a result of our choice of following God's plan for us and accepting Christ as the Savior of All. All who have walked this earth accepted this. As missionaries, we go out to, in reality, help people remember their pre-earth life decision to come down and gain a body that we may become like our Father, who has a perfected body of flesh and bones. This is what Christ was sent here for. To make it possible to live with God again. Members of the Church, including myself, take this as a great comfort of our individual Divine potential of being joint-heirs with Christ. It is wonderful that the Father has this plan for His children and Christ makes it possible for each of us to be cleansed from sin. 

This is the Newsomes. Calvin and Mary 'Blue'

The Thompson family, Yes i have antlers!
On Saturday night was the transfer call. My name was called to basically pack my bags and travel to Macon Tuesday morning. I will miss this place. But such is the life of a missionary. Like Nephi said, "I will go and do". I am excited for what my next area of service will be and who my companion will be when I get to Macon tomorrow. Since the transfer call, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to see those I have grown close to in my 4 months here. Along with pictures with several people already, I have asked a few of them to sign my t-book that will serve a purpose as a reminder of the people I have met here and will continue to do so for years to come. In the whole scheme of things, my mission is short compared to the rest of my life. 

I look forward to serving the people in each of my areas that I have yet to serve in. I know this work won't be easy but it will be so worthwhile. 

Well, I've got packing to go do and people to see today. I love you all and have a great week!

Your son, 

Elder A. Kestner

Monday, August 10, 2015

A bomb dropped, but the work continues..

Dear Family & Friends,

We had interviews this week with President Cottle. To the interview, we were asked to bring a 4 generation chart and a filled out "My Family" booklet. I had a lot of fun finding and researching my family history. Going into the interview, I did not expect what President Cottle would say to me. He said something has been long on his mind that many missionaries have been lax with what they listen to. He then counseled me that he will now ban music from movies and video games. I did not know what to say. I just sat there and listened. I promised that I would be obedient. Leaving the Stake Center, where the interviews were held in my Zone, I couldn't quite comprehend what I needed to do, let alone how I should feel. You know that music has been a blessing in my life and that it helps me. I thought I came out with good music, but President Cottle knows what is best for this Mission. My first thought when we returned to the apartment was what I can't listen to and I needed to put that music away. As much as it killed me on the inside, I put my iPod into a small ziploc and then doubled it. I have not listened to it ever since the morning before interviews. 

We had a good week with missionary work. We had a lesson with Shirley, our progressing investigator, last night. We had been praying & discussing as a companionship what to teach her next for quite some time. It then felt right when we decided to teach her the Word of Wisdom. We taught her using the pamphlet and mid-way through the lesson Shirley said, "It's weird that we are talking about this because I have been wanting to fast to see how long I could go without smoking a cigarette". I was so glad that the Lord had been preparing Shirley for us to teach her. She then committed to living the Word of Wisdom and would teach her fiance in return the Word of Wisdom and help him to overcome his addiction to dipping. I am hopeful that they will rely on the Savior and His Atonement so that they may come into the waters of baptism. 

I have pondered this week about how I may make my mission here memorable. I felt a little 'trunky' when I knew that Dallin went home from his mission in Utah. His example has inspired me to make every day a good one and find the good in everything and everyone. I want to strive to work my hardest that I may eventually stand before the Lord and that He may say, ''Well done thou faithful servant''. This mission has given me an opportunity to serve others and put my life on hold and give my 2 to the Lord. There is a lyric of a song that I have about missionaries. It says,   ''Two years to the Lord is worth a million of mine''. That line is so true. I know I made the right choice to serve. I look forward to meeting many amazing people with the time the Lord has given me. 

I love you and everyone back home. Have a great week!

Love, your son,

Elder Kestner

Friday, August 7, 2015

4th month out..I made Beer Bread! Is that legal?

Lyna Howells and Elder Kestner

Celebrating the 4th month out in the Mission Field with the Howells! Made Beer Bread and worked on a little Family History!


The finished product! Yummm!
Family History w/ Elder Sutton
Excited to find out his Great Grandfather was born in Alabama!

Monday, August 3, 2015

A week of Miracles!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a vast improvement from the past few weeks. I have seen a few miracles this last week. On Monday of last week we had 3 lessons and had the chance to go give a premature baby a blessing at the request of a member in the ward. The father of the baby was grateful that we came and did that for his child. I recall last Sunday when we were sitting in Sacrament meeting that a child calling out to his father as he passed the sacrament. The simple love of this toddler's love for his Father nearly brought me to tears. It reminded me of the relationship of my father. I have been out 4 months and I see the difference of being away from the comfort of being home with my family. I now realize that I have left my earthly parents to serve my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I have developed a strong love of the work that I am doing. This feeling I get when I serve others is one that I have never before felt. Feelings of a knowing that I work to bring souls unto Christ bring me a great joy. I need to remind myself everyday of my calling as a representative of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be. I will strive to serve diligently and lovingly in each area of my mission. I have a feeling that I will soon leave the Phenix City area to another. I am okay with that.

 Thursday morning we went to an older sister in the ward who is less-active and did some yard work for her. Elder Stewart and I started the project of cutting out the sod in her front yard and putting paver stones down and pea pebbles. The sister, sister Godwin, likes doing gardening when it's cool outside so this path would be very helpful to her. We finished last Thursday and I felt a sense of accomplishment. I will send a picture soon of the finished project. I love being able to help out Sister Godwin with that project as well as doing yard work, like watering her plants and pulling vines out of her fence. I feel good whenever I help out with any kind of service. 

Saturday was our miracle day. We had a referral from Church Headquarters to deliver a copy of Finding Faith in Christ. We went to the address given and what happened next was not expected. We went inside and taught briefly who we are, who Mormons are, and what the Book of Mormon is. WHOA!! The 4 of them in the home all asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked us to come back. This blew my mind and got me re-energized about finding new investigators. I am now more convinced the Lord prepares those who are ready to receive the Restored Gospel. I look forward to teaching them soon...

What a week! We finished it off last night by teaching Shirley and Anthony. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). With us was William and Nadia Rivers. Nadia is a recent convert since January and she is married to William, who is a convert of a few years who greatly helped the Gospel reach the other members of his family. Having them there was so key to the whole atmosphere of the lesson. It is so much better to have members teach with us, especially a recent convert. Man, I love when a lesson goes so well!

With a great week under my belt, I want to make this one even better. I love you and everyone back home. I hope all goes well. If you see Dallin, let him know that I love him and I am proud of his faithful service to the Lord.

Love, your son,

Elder A. Kestner

P.S..Elder Sutton sure can cook. He made a delicious Asian chicken and a pasta with peanut butter in it. YUM! Could you send Fry Sauce please?