Monday, September 28, 2015

Goodbye Thomson..Onto Area #3

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a long one. On Monday, P-Day, we went as a District to Ft. Gordon and bowled. We had a lot of fun and I could use some improvement in bowling. 

On Tuesday, I was with Elder Lowe in Harlem, a green missionary from Las Vegas. He is 18 and very enthusiastic about missionary work. We taught a few people and tracted a neighborhood. We walk down this dirt road and we two men sitting and talking. We approached them and introduced ourselves as missionaries. One of them asked, ''What have y'all got for us today?''. Without hesitation, I said, "Our message is that God has called Prophets today just like Abraham and Moses in the Bible". They sat up straight and paid attention as we taught an amazing Restoration lesson with that principle in mind. I have found that being bold and direct with contacting proves fruitful if we lose our fear about rejection. It is a fact that I have had doors slammed in my face. I strive to have a positive attitude even though I may have the temptation to be sad or angry or judgmental. I hope to keep my attitude like that my whole mission.  

A couple days ago, Elder Thornton and I were tracting. We had some luck with one lady who invited us back. We knocked on a few more with no success. We then approached a door with Alabama, "Roll Tide" porch decorations. I knew how we could break the ice since Alabama was my last area. We knocked and a man came to the door and I broke the ice by saying, "I see you're the only Alabama on this street while everyone else are Georgia fans". He laughed and he told us that he knows Becky, one of our investigators. Before we left we asked if we could come by and he accepted. Another example of why I don't need to be nervous when I'm out tracting. 

On Thursday, a funny thing happened. We were coming back from RMT at the library. We were almost home when Elder Thornton noticed that the driver of a red van was waving at us. We were confused and a little concerned at first. As it turned out, it was Becky! She followed us back to our apartment and asked us if we have had lunch yet. We hadn't yet, but she said she was hungry and doesn't like eating by herself. So, long story short, we met her at Taco Bell 15 minutes later. We had a good meal and a good visit about how she is doing and how the rest of her family is. After our visit and meal, went back out to do missionary work. 

Elder Kestner & Jeremy
Later that evening we went to visit Jeremy and Jamesta, two of our investigators. We were there for about 15 minutes when Jamesta asked us, "Be honest know, have y'all had dinner yet?" We hadn't, so we were fed for the 2nd time that day. They picked up some Pizza Hut and it was good!

On Wednesday, we were in Lincolnton. We got there and biked around. We visited Barbara, an investigator and talked to her about Joseph Smith. After that visit we biked around to see what the area looked like. We got chased by some dogs, which is pretty funny and entertaining for us.We were coming back down a hill when we saw a van pulling out of a driveway. I noticed on the front driver side that the tire was flat. We stopped and offered assistance. The driver of the mini van, Teresa, who is from Mexico, was happy to see us. 20 minutes later we had the flat tire off and replaced it with the spare. We got her information and she wanted to see us again. This was such a rich experience that I hope to remember. 

On Saturday, we helped our Ward Mission Leader, Bro. Carlsen, clean the church before our weekly Ward Mission Meeting. During our cleaning, we listened to the transfer call over a conference call. They made some announcements and read off the names of missionaries that are being transferred. My name was called, much to my dismay. I was shocked I was leaving after only being here for 6 weeks. After our cleaning and meeting, Bro. Carlsen treated us to Subway and took us home. That put a damper on my day. That evening we visited and had dinner with the Klekotka family. The dad, Rick, is the only member and they all love us and have similar interests and hobbies as I do! After dinner and some visiting, we took some pictures. I love this family and will be sure to visit them when I go on my mission tour after my 2 years as a missionary. 

Yesterday, we went to church and broke the news to the
Elder Kestner, Bryant Koschene & Annabelle
members. I took some pictures with some members and we had dinner with the Koschenes. Fun fact about them. They have had Tillamook cheese and they agree it is the best cheese and ice cream! The Koschenes have their oldest son serving his mission in Seattle, WA. Small world! We got a couple pictures of them and we went home. 

When we got back we visited Jeremy and Jamesta and said goodbye, talked a little football, and got a picture with Jeremy. 

Austin & Elder Kestner..see ya later!
After church we taught Austin, a recent convert and his mom, a non-member. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and Stacy, Austin's mom had some good questions. My hope is that she will want to join the church and receive the blessings of the Gospel. She then sent us off with a picture, a bag of homemade cookies and 2 space bags. I have been spoiled this week!

The last 6 weeks here in Thomson have been amazing. I have grown to love the members and investigators here. They are all great! I will miss this area, but I am excited for my next area. I am hopeful that my next area will be the one I will stay in for Christmas. Thank you for everything and I look forward to this week of changes!

Your son,

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, September 21, 2015

Exchanges, Seminary & Extreme Couponing!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week went by quickly. We went on exchanges twice this week, since Elder Thornton is the District Leader. My first exchange was with Elder Hunsicker. Elder Hunsicker is training Elder Lowe and will be going home at the end of next Transfer. Elder Lowe and I were in the same boat with trainers... anyway, most of our exchange was made up of biking... A LOT! We biked up hills, coasted down hills, out ran small dogs looking for something to chase. All part of a fun time! At the end of the day my legs felt like steel and I was exhausted. The next day we exchanged back. on Thursday we had another exchange. I stayed in Thomson with Elder Wells whose area is Grovetown, GA. We had a good exchange and we visited Becky and others.
That morning we had a chance to teach a Seminary class. The class is held at the church and we taught the Juniors and Seniors, which is different than Idaho Seminary. We were in Genesis chapters 20 and 21. The story was about Abraham and Sarah going to the kingdom of Abimelech. Abimelech takes Sarah, since he thought she was only a sister to Abraham. Close enough, though, Sarah is actually the daughter of Abraham's brother. Weird stuff in the Old Testament. As the story goes, the Lord warns Abimelech that he will be struck down unless he returns Sarah to Abraham. Abimelech heeds the counsel and returns her to her husband. The focus of the lesson was that the Lord will send us warnings to help keep us safe from spiritual and temporal harm. As President Packer said that each member of the Church will always be warned of danger by the Holy Ghost. It us up to us to heed the guidance of the Holy Ghost. 

Augusta Zone Conference September 11th, 2015
This weekend was the Augusta Stake Conference. It went well and I learned how to have a meaningful Sabbath Day. Other talks were on Religious Liberty as well as family unity. On Saturday we went and did service for the food pantry in Appling. We were there for 2 hours and we loved being able to help out those who help hundreds of families. After that we went straight to a wedding of two members in the ward. It was a short, simple wedding. We got back to the apartment and I was not feeling well. After my little snooze we went to Stake Conference. 

Yesterday we taught Austin, who was recently baptized a couple weeks ago. His mom made us cookies and apple cinnamon bread and also joined in on the discussion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the lesson she said that she is an extreme couponer and buys a lot of bulk. She then said for us to take some of her stuff home with us. We couldn't stop thanking her as she sent us off with laundry detergent, shampoo, body wash, shaving supplies, toothpaste, toilet paper, and paper towels. We are set with that stuff for several months. All we need to buy next month is food when we get more money. 

It was a good week overall. Transfer calls are next Saturday and I will let you know if I stay or go. Most likely I'll stay. Have a great week and I hope to hear from you soon! Love you all!

Your son, 

Elder Alexander Kestner 

Monday, September 14, 2015

This week was pretty AWESOME!

Dear Family & Friends,

Phew. What a week! This week was pretty awesome. It has been in the 70s and low 80s all week and it is starting to look like Fall. The leaves are falling and there is a crispness in the air, but not like Idaho. 

We did some biking this week now that my bike is repaired.  As we bike more I will burn off the extra pounds I've gained and eat less at breakfast. We taught a potential while we were out on bikes. We taught a young man, Quintavious, the Restoration and he understood it. He has shown interest in learning more about the Gospel. He is a Christian himself, as are most people down here. He was working on his Charger which was a great object lesson with the Restoration. We left with a good feeling and we discussed what we could do to do better in the future. We were able to analyze our teaching and learn from it so we can be better. 

On Thursday we left for Augusta which is about 32 miles west of Thomson. We got stuck in heavy traffic, but not Portland level traffic. It slowed us down as we made our way to the Augusta Ward building to teach President and Sister Cottle. We got there 10 minutes late, but the Sisters got there early and went in before us. When it came to be our turn we went in and talked and then prayed to start the role play lesson. We taught them the principle of the Book of Mormon and it went really well. We had been counseled by Elder Zwick of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy a couple months ago to '' Simplify and Intensify ". We followed that and had a good role play with the Cottles. They then looked at our Area Book to check the progress of our investigators and asked us about them. They then counseled us to see a former investigator who was about to be baptized who was stopped by her daughter who thinks we are a cult. That even happened with Elder Thornton last transfer. We will be seeing that former investigator, Bonnie, tomorrow and replenish the supplies that her daughter destroyed and set up an appointment with her at a member's home to be taught. President and Sister Cottle gave us good counsel and encouragement. We left happy and high-fived to the car. We stopped at Sonic on our way back to Thomson haha.

The next day we had Zone Conference back in Augusta. The meeting was great and it had an emphasis on Sabbath Day observance. It was a great Conference and it is getting me excited for this upcoming General Conference as well as Stake Conference this weekend. At the end, President Cottle had the outgoing missionaries bare their testimonies to us.Their testimonies were beautiful and I could tell that the 3 Elders and 2 Sisters have enjoyed their Missionary life. When I get to that mark in the future, I want to be able to say that I wish my mission would last longer and that I have seen the biggest change in myself. 

With another week down in this Transfer, we go into week 5. I will be a few days off of my 6 month mark. It doesn't feel like it's been almost 6 months since I've entered into the mission field. Time flies. I will find a cheap tie to burn.. haha. 

We have an investigator, Becky, who would love to talk to you. She is in her 60s and she is really sweet. You and her would get along great. Sister Childers is in the Ward and has fed us twice already!

Thank you so much for the love and support from back home. 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures on the SD card I sent as well as the videos. Have a great week Mom and have a great day at work. Love you!

Your son, 

Elder Alex Kestner

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Into the "BERS"

Dear Family & Friends,
This week was long and it is hard to believe that it is September already. As the Summer winds down I am called to reflect on my mission thus far. I have been just over 5 months. I have had experiences that cannot be experienced elsewhere. I have felt genuine love for other people and that causes my heart to burn with a desire to bring souls unto Christ. I feel honored to be a part of this Work.

This last week we visited with Becky, one of our investigators. We visited and talked about the story of Ammon and Lamoni. She loved that passage of scripture as did we and the member who came with us. At the end of our reading, Becky wanted a blessing of comfort since she is still trying to adapt to the loss of her husband just a few weeks ago. She asked me to seal the anointing and giver her a blessing. The room was burning with the Spirit and I felt a strong male presence in the circle, unseen. Becky's husband was there to comfort her as well. This was one of the most memorable moments I've had while on my mission. Becky then came to church for the first time since the death of her husband. She was welcomed with open arms and smiling faces as we had an amazing Fast and Testimony Meeting. 

This weekend, during our fast, President Cottle asked to fast to find new investigators and teach them the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ended our fast Sunday at 5 when we went to the home of a member family, Jansens. We had meatball subs and homemade sweet potato fries. YUM! We did not see much during our fast until last night. We were out tracting around our apartment and knocked on a couple of doors with no success. With the light going down, we started for home. Elder Thornton wanted us to stop at one more door before we turned in. We knocked and a man by name of Jerome, answered and invited us in. We talked about who we are and what he does for a living. We broke the ice with 5 minutes. The Spirit entered that home and we felt good. We then proceeded to teach him The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was engaged and understood the message and wanted us to come back on Saturday to teach him and his wife. I have found that if you pray to find and teach, the Lord will put someone in your path that needs to hear the Gospel. We went home happy and ecstatic. 

I love being a missionary for Jesus Christ. I love His Gospel and the blessing that flow from it. I know that this Work is the Work of Salvation and bringing souls unto Christ. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Have a great week to you and all who read this. May you all find missionary opportunities as I have. 

Elder Alex Kestner