Monday, October 26, 2015

A lot of crazy things happening!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a weird week full of success. 

On Thursday, our car broke down. We were not too happy about it. We guessed that the car would be in the shop for several weeks. What we didn't expect is what happened later on Thursday...

Later that day we were able to have 3 lessons with a member present at each! 

When the car broke down that morning, Elder Palmer and I swiftly rode our bikes the 2 miles to the other elder's apartment to get them a bike to use since Elder Palmer's bike is in the shop and he was using Elder Bartholomew's bike. We get to their place and Brother Griswold met us there to pick us up and give the car a jump; which was stranded at the nearby high school track. We get a ride with Brother Griswold and we are able to get to the car. We get it going and we go with Brother Griswold to go help him with his garden and lawn. The other two Elders went to Macon and got the car in the shop. At around 3:30, we were done and Brother Griswold dropped us off at our apartment. We didn't have time to shower, but we got dressed into pros and walked quickly to the church for our 2nd member present lesson that day. We had an awesome lesson and the Spirit was burning during the whole lesson. The lesson was with Bobby, the boyfriend of Bishop's returned-missionary daughter.  Afterwards, they then dropped us off at the other Elder's place to get my bike and hopefully Elder Bartholomew's bike. At the time I wasn't too happy of Elder Palmer's insistence of going there instead of going down to the apartment of Evelyn, our next appointment, which was on the opposite end of town. We came to find that Elder Bartholomew and Elder Rodriguez were not at their apartment and only my bike was there. So, we left in haste with me on my bike and Elder Palmer running. We get to the main road when we run into the other Elders and it took some insistence from myself and Elder Bartholomew to borrow Elder Bartholomew's bike and get to the appointment as quickly as possible. We got there 10 minutes late. As soon as we rode into the apartment complex, we received a text from Evelyn, the investigator telling us she got stuck in the office of that very apartment complex by one of her bosses. A little deflated we went back up the hill to the main part of town. There we decided to get shaved ice/ice cream at a little stand like the ones they had at N.O.P park back in Pocatello. Rejuvenated, we bike home for dinner. 

A lot of crazy things happened on Thursday and we saw much success the next day too where we had 6 new investigators! We did not have a lazy day at all this week. 

Back to Wednesday,.. after ward correlation, Brother England, the then Ward Mission Leader, treated us at Brickhouse. I had a delicious bacon cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. It was so good and tasty. I highly recommend it, and it also brought my appetite back since I was not feeling well from the Indian food Sunday night. 

We found out this morning that the car is ready to be picked up in Macon and we will have the car this week! 

I just got off the phone with Brother England, who was released as WML and put on the High Council, and he is treating us to pizza at Chevy's Pizza nearby. The Pizza is great there. Bro. England likes feeding us out of the blue. He's taken us to Chevy's Pizza, Brickhouse, and a Mexican Restaurant called Agave Azul. The members spoil us here. haha. We are on bikes, but we'll make the trip to meet him for lunch. 

It seems like just around the corner when we will be able to Skype for Christmas. I am sure excited for it. Mother's Day seems like a lifetime ago...I will take some more pictures and  I will be updating my profile weekly from now on.

Love you mom!

Your son,
Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dinner with the Tillman's

Dinner with the Tillman's on Wednesday October 14th, 2015
Dinner with the Tillman's
Sister Tillman made her son's favorite dish..Macaroni Goulash
HI Mom!
Emergency Preparedness Expo Saturday October 17th, 2015 
The Elder's were the most important part of our Emergency Preparedness Expo. They reminded us to be spiritually prepared in all things! -Sister Eadie

Ready for the doors to open so the can begin teaching.

Gray, GA loves their missionaries!!
The "Mafia" look

Time for clean up! 
I think Elder Kestner is supervising.


The Missionaries were the most important part of the Emergency Expo on Tuesday October 17th. They reminded us all to be spiritually prepared in all things. -Sister Eadie
Dear Family & Friends,

This last week was good. The weather is cooling off and I am grateful for it. Being from Idaho, I do not like this Georgia heat. The trees are turning red and brown as we speed through October. September and October have gone by so fast! I love feeling that crispy air when we go home at night. Two things I am looking forward to as Fall continues; Skyping home and egg nog!

This week was a long one. We worked hard and met many of our goals that we set during weekly planning. We met some of our potential investigators and a few of them are starting to pan out. One of them is Melissa. We first met her when we were biking past here house when she called out "Missionaries!" We promptly turned around and introduced ourselves. She told us that she sees us all the time at her work. She is a manager at Little Caesar's in Milledgville, GA. The reason to that is that there are members in Macon and around Augusta that will give missionaries free food if they come into their stores. I took advantage of that when I was in Thomson and last Tuesday when we had District Meeting in Milledgville. Anyway, we talked to her and she would like us to come back by to talk. We tried a couple times a week after that but couldn't meet with her until lat this last week. We had a great porch lesson on the Book of Mormon. We read with her the Introduction page and she said it makes sense. She then told us that what she has heard about our church makes the most sense to her. She had an issue with her Baptist church passing the tithing tray around and then again when the pastor didn't see enough money in there. She likes how we pay our tithing. The Spirit was there and we saw it confirm to her that what we taught her is true. When my companion and I got back in the car, we were excited about how ready she is to hear the Gospel. We have an appointment with her this evening. 

Another potential that we met up with is Reese. Reese was a music major and football player. My kind of guy! When we knocked on his door the first time, he came out and started talking to us about Christ and that he has seen us ride our bikes all the time. He told us his dad is a pastor up in Atlanta and that he loves talking about Christ with people. We left him with a pamphlet of The Restoration. We met up with him briefly this last week. He told us he had looked over the pamphlet briefly and he liked what he saw. We also have an appointment with him this evening.

My emails may seem skimpy at times, but I learn something or experience new things each week. One thing I experienced yesterday was Indian food. The members, the Weyands, who fed us,were amazing. Sister Weyand is from Trinidad. Later in the day after seeing some less-actives with Brother Griswold, we went back home. Let's just say that neither myself nor my companion felt too good. Elder Palmer had been sick anyway with the flu. The food was good but did not quite sit well with me nor does it even now as I type. 

I see better weeks ahead in this area. I hope and pray for a long  stay here in Gray at least through Christmas. The Eadie's (ward mission leaders) and Sister Tillman have been looking out for us and are so willing to help us out. I feel so blessed to be in this area with these wonderful people I am growing to love. 

This area hasn't had a baptism in 3 years. That was when Brother Griswold got baptized. Brother Griswold is a chiropractor and gives us adjustments when we come in, free of charge. We also go to his home and help him with his garden. After working, he and his wife will feed us lunch. He then will go get fresh milk from one of his clients and he gives us a gallon. That is some good milk!

A member just came into the library and will take us to lunch when we are done. I just love it here!

Thank you for everything . 

Love you mom, and have a great week!

Love, your son,

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Work of Salvation and Struggles

Dear Family & Friends, 

This week was a long one. Being in a car share area, we don't have the car some weeks. This was the week that we were biking. My thighs and calves were killer this week. Some days we biked 12 and others 10. Uphill and downhill. At least it wasn't  Phenix City where there are a lot of hills and everything is spread out from our apartment. 

I gave a talk on Sunday. My topic was the Work of Salvation. Fitting, right? I focused mainly on how members and missionaries can work together to help change the lives of those investigating the church. Like the song 'Glorious', we all have a part to play. Performing this work is not a 2 year contract and it's over. It is a life time of reaching out those who need the Gospel in their lives. We as members and missionaries are the means by which investigators are brought into the true Church of Jesus Christ. Elder Bednar said it best and I will paraphrase his words. He said that the whole purpose of bring people into the Church is to get them to the Temple to receive their endowment and be Sealed as a family for Time and Eternity. That could not prove to be more true being out in the field. The temple is one of the key Gospel principles that we bring to the table in this flurry of religions. The others are the Book of Mormon, living Prophets and restored Priesthood Authority, and that Jesus Christ leads this Church through His Prophets. The end goal for each convert needs to be the Temple and the ordinances performed there. 

I have realized this week how much I truly lack yet. I am struggling right now to understand my companion's needs and what I need to learn from him and what he can learn from me. He and I don't have much in common. He was home schooled and was a wrestler when he went to high school part time. I consider myself a geek and in many regards, he does not enjoy what I do. We don't talk about much. He has a little 'greenie arrogance'. I am fresh in the area but I am still trying to break down some walls so that I can feel a part of the companionship. I am trying to help him realize that I also know what I am doing as a missionary. This companionship is very humbling and at times frustrating. I want to make it better but I am struggling to find something we can talk about. He knows how to work hard and I know he is impatient with me, especially when we are on bikes and he is in much better shape than I am. At times I do feel insufficient. There are Elders nearby that do see my struggle as well as Elder Palmer's. The District Leader, Elder Bartholomew, and his companion Elder Rodriguez, are both leaving for home this December. I want to learn from them while they are here in Gray. 

That said, I do love this area and I love being a missionary. This must be where I learn something important. Sorry to end on a sour note, but I needed to get that off my chest. Love you all and have a great week!

Your son,
Elder Alexander Kestner

Macon Zone Training Meeting

October 8th, 2015 
Macon Zone Training Meeting
Pictures taken by the Eadie's

He won one of the Cadbury caramel chocolate bars. He was thrilled!

Monday, October 5, 2015

I really hope y'all did too!

Dear Family & Friends,
I am in Gray, Georgia in the Macon Zone. This is the closest area to the Mission HQ thus far. My companion's name is Elder Palmer, from Utah. This area is a car share area, which means they get the car every other week and vice versa. That set of Elders not far from us. The church is literally 2 minutes away from our apartment. The apartment itself is great, it being a townhouse. I love this new area and I know that I am supposed to be here. My goal for this transfer is to help Elder Palmer as much as I can by 'Greenie Busting' him. This week was quite long and we biked a good portion of it. We met some great people. When Elder Palmer came in 3 months ago, there was almost no one to teach. Since then they have developed a small teaching pool. The area of Gray itself is small compared to Phenix City and Thomson, which are both large areas. We are looking to find and teach those who need to hear the Gospel. The few members I have met have a missionary zeal as the ward has 3 missionaries serving missions as well. 

The few days we were biking made for a good cardio workout. I may lag behind, but I soldier on! haha. I am definitely getting stronger in my legs the more I bike and I feel that since we are biking and do not have the car, I hope to start losing some weight I have gained in the last 6 months.  

The week was topped off beautifully with General Conference as I was able to watch each session of it and loved each one! I felt so blessed to raise my hand and sustain the three new Apostles; Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund. I know that these men are called of God to lead and guide us in these latter days. What a great opportunity for us to hear them share their testimonies with the whole Church. Fun fact: Elder Stevenson is only 56! He will be in the quorum for a good long while! I know I'm not the only one that felt moved when Elder Bednar of the Apostolic ministries of those that have passed on since he has been an Apostle. I loved President Monson's last address. I had some concern when President Monson started to struggle physically, but the Lord sustained him as he delivered his message. As it was said earlier in the Conference, the apostles are not exempt from frailties from age and illness. But the Lord knows His servants needs and will support them in their addresses. 

Nephi says this perfectly, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." 

I know that the Lord helps and supports His servants. General Conference is truly a blessing! It gives us time for us to truly become the student and learn from our leaders what the Lord wants us to know. I really hope y'all did too! I love each of you and I hope that you find strength in the Gospel and in the Atonement as I have.

Your Son
Elder A. Kestner

Thursday, October 1, 2015

6 months today

A IM recieved on FB:

Hi Sister Kestner, My name is Sarah Cornett, and your son served in my ward (phenix city) about a month and a half ago. I saw you were friends with someone in my ward and I recognized your last name from your son and thought I'd send you some pictures we got while your son served here. Your son was a great missionary in our ward and worked hard. We enjoyed having him in our home frequently. Our son Josten especially loved him (he's 2 and called him "Elduh Keshnuh"). Thank you for raising a good young man who works selflessly to bring the joy of the gospel to others!