Monday, February 29, 2016

The Gardener, Small Cakes & Cloud 9

Cupcakes from Small Cakes!
Dear Family & Friends, 
This last week flew by, like the others. At the beginning of the week, I went on exchanges to Evans with Elder Haines. I learned, or re-learned some things. We went tracting in one neighborhood before dinner. We met one lady, who husband is a Baptist Minister, but she has found herself Spiritually 'stuck'. She had seen missionaries around before and she wanted to know ho she can find her faith. Elder Haines jumped in before I could speak and said we could help get her unstuck. We often, as members and non-members find ourselves in a rut of sorts. We may feel like why is Lord letting this happen to me? Visiting with her, I referred to the parable of the gardener in the Book of Mormon. The gardener is the Lord. We are the flower bush. It may not be a direct reference, but it works nonetheless. The gardener sees the bush and it may be in bloom and after the season of blooming, the gardener sees that he must prune it in order for it to bloom even more the next year. Just with us, the Lord seems to be cutting us down or holding us back. But in reality he is pruning and halting us from making a terrible mistake. We had a lot of success on those few homes we knocked on. 

When we exchanged back, we reviewed the exchange and Elder Jordan and Elder Allen had been doing a lot of work as well. They had been tracting with Grant, who will soon have his papers in for his mission. They found some potential investigators which boosted us to keep moving forward. On Thursday, we went tracting on the same street as Brother Ferraro. We started knocking away and we came up to one in particular. The door was open and the lady inside introduced herself as Lisa. She said that she has a Book of Mormon and was taught by Missionaries in the past! She said she would like to have the lessons and to learn more. Elder Jordan and I walked away from that one smiling. A couple doors down, we knocked on another one. We knocked twice and I was about to slide a pas-along card into the door-frame. Elder Jordan said to wait, then the door opened. A young woman, in her twenties, answered. We introduced ourselves, and she replied she had to go pick her sister up from school, but she would like to hear our message. Man, I was walking on cloud nine! 

German Food & Small Cakes!
Thursday my companion and I were treated to dinner by the McClellan's at a German Restaurant called Augsburg Haus in Evans, Georgia. I had the Schweinbraten and potato salad. The German food was amazing. The German Potato Salad is incredible! Right next door to the restaurant was "Small Cakes" 

We haven't been able to meet with Garret for a while due to scheduling conflicts. But we remain hopeful.
I am not sure if I told you, but I have set a goal to read the entire Standard Works before I come home. I've read the Book of Mormon, and now I'm going through the Bible. I am now in Joshua. Yeah, I'm hoping to finish the bible by September. Then I will read the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. 

With the vigor from last week, I am transferring into next week. I really love how much we can really do when we push ourselves and go out there and preach the gospel to all who will listen to our message. This was definitely one of the best weeks of my time in North Augusta. 

Have a good week y'all!
Elder Kestner

Monday, February 22, 2016

'Burn Up' North Augusta!

Elder Wells and I at Zone Conference
Old Phenix City reunuion!
-Elder Wells, myself, Elder Sutton, Elder Woolley

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has been a pretty decent week. I have felt a lot more vigor for the Work this particular week. I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, President Cottle gave a training in Zone Conference about extending invitations to be Baptism more frequently, thus fulfilling our purpose by inviting others to come unto Christ and be Baptized. It has stuck with me all week and I am really excited to work extra hard this week to find new investigators and increase our teaching pool. This is area has been bogged down in the past even though great missionaries like Elder Godwin and Elder Ray have been through. I really want to 'burn up' North Augusta! Before we went home last night, Brother Dunagan gave us some less-actives and part-member families to reach out to. We will be focusing more on those individuals this week.

On Saturday, we went out tracting near Garret's house. We tracted into one lady who opened the door and said "Super-duper Catholic, but I'll take what y'all hand out". She then told us of a few of her neighbors and she then talked about a young couple around the corner, on the left in the middle-ish house. After talking to her, we realized that she was referring to Garret and his wife. Interesting... We then moved to another street and knocked on two more. We had originally wanted to do just two more, but after the first two with no success, we knocked on a third. A man opened and he was somewhat interested. I say that because he didn't stop us from talking. We did the usual introduction about who we are and what our message is, in this case we told him that God has once again called a Prophet to speak for Him. We asked him what he liked about his church and replied "I like the things the preacher says and the social gathering" . We then asked him if he has heard about the Church before and he had very minimally. After talking about the Book of Mormon and Prophets, he said he wouldn't be interested. A little disheartening, but we gave him the opportunity for us to teach him and his family and sometimes that is all we can do.

I have felt recently, completely immersed in the work I am doing. I now vaguely remember what it is like to not get up at 6:30 and in bed at 10:30 among other things. But I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing and is the most important thing I can be doing. I love this Work and this Gospel and the joy it has brought to me. It has brought me through some really tough times, but I do not despair. The Gospel can do that for everyone that is willing to listen, both member and non-member.

Garret is still interested in discussions. We should be meeting with him in a day or two. He has been caught up in taxes and such. Transfers is March 22. I feel like I will stay here at least for another. If that happens, I will have been here as long as I was back in Phenix City.

Today we have some cleaning to do and some shopping as well. P-Days can be busy or relaxing. We have fun either way.

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Kestner 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Birthday Week, Super Bowl Hype & Deep Questions

The Birthday Missionary! Happy 21st Elder Kestner

Dear Family,

Another week gone by. A lot of hype about the Super Bowl and such was heard here. There will undoubtedly be some groaning due to the outcome I was just told. Sounds like it was a WEST vs. EAST kind of game. The first time I haven't been able to watch the Super Bowl. At least the Seahawks weren't playing. That would have been tougher for me. The weather has been going up and down for a few days now. One day it's in the 30s and in the 60s the next. It would be hard to shake off an illness if I had one at the present time.

To start, we visited with Garret on Monday. It was another good visit with him and he asked many good questions. But they were the kind of questions that not too many people ask us. He asked some really deep questions like "How do you know if you know the Book of Mormon is true?". We then flipped open to Moroni 10: 3-5 which reads "Behold, I would exhort you when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts." "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things". This simple promise by Moroni ensures that anyone who reads the Book of Mormon, God will surely answer their prayers and manifest the truth to them.

I have really been enjoying this area. The members have been so willing to help and assist in any way that they can. We were able  to go with Woody to Plum Branch, SC to contact some referrals and see member couple. We nearly struck out, but we did not dismay. We pressed forward with a positive attitude. Attitude. It means everything. If you are positive, the Spirit is more likely to be felt. I have kept it my goal to be positive no matter what comes.

I appreciate all of the Birthday wishes that y'all have sent my way. I really had an enjoyable Birthday. 

Next one will be when I turn 22 and I will be at 22 months out, incidentally. 

Love y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Someone got spoiled for his birthday! Is that Mtn Dew? 

Cutting the Birthday Cake

A southern meal
This meal is legit! 

Do we have to sing?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Double Digits and Stayin' in SC!

Dear Family & Friends,

To start, Saturday at 9 pm, we had our Transfer Conference call. Elder Jordan and I are very glad to hear that neither of us will be Transferring out. We both surely thought that Elder Jordan would transfer out and I would stay. But this worked out perfectly! Another note, my previous companion, Elder Bingham, just made AP (Assistant to the President). A very good Transfer call in my book. It is the first time in nearly 6 months that I have not had to pack! Which is most definitely a positive thing! Another great thing is that I can really get to know the area better and continue to work with our investigators more. 

Last Monday, after emailing, we had lunch with one of my investigators from Thomson, Becky! Also known as Grandma to over 2 dozen missionaries. She treated us to Hardee's and it was very good visit with her. I have a Mission Mom (Sis. Howells) and I also have a Mission Grandma (Becky). I just love the people that I come into contact with!

As most of y'all know I am at 10 months today! Double digits! It is indeed a reminder that time slows for no one, even missionaries, but that makes the time I have precious and memorable.

 On Thursday, we helped a member, Bro. Berry, move his retired Methodist Minister friend move. We helped from about 1pm to 5pm. We were only able to load one U-Haul van, but we got a lot accomplished. After unloading the van at their new house, they invited us to dinner. Bro. Berry had to leave to get home to his wife, but said we should have dinner with them. We did. They treated us to Waffle House and we had a very pleasant Gospel Discussion. They asked us questions about why we're serving a mission and what some of the guidelines are and such. After eating, and by the way, I had my first taste of Grits. It was pretty tasty, especially with butter, salt, and pepper. After parting we went back home and showered up.

Last night, we were invited over to the Plocha's for dinner. This was different because Elder Jordan and I made it. We had Chicken fried Steak on a Waffle with gravy. Delicious! I made the waffles and I just might have to challenge my dad to a waffle making contest when I get home.

It was a good week that definitely brought me to think about the upcoming Transfer, the resolution of where I would be, is a weight off my shoulders. It has been warming up slowly over the last few days but does get cold at night. I probably won't wear my jacket today due to weather.

It has been a good week and I am very hopeful for this new Transfer. I long to make it last and to work my hardest.

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner