Monday, March 28, 2016

A cause for Reflection..1 year down and feeling pretty good!

Elder Anderson (Gilbert, AZ) and Elder Kestner. A new companionship in Albany, GA
Dear Family & Friends,

Well, Transfers have come and gone and I have been assigned to serve in Albany, GA in the Tifton West Zone. This also marks that I have served in each of the Stakes the Georgia Macon Mission covers. 

This week, on Friday, I will hit my year mark. This causes some time to reflect where I've been. I started my mission in Phenix City, AL, which I was honored to serve for 4.5 months with my Trainer Elder Stewart and Elder Sutton. I then moved on to Thomson where I served with Elder Thornton. After serving there for only a month and a half, I was transferred to Gray with Elder Palmer and stayed there for only a transfer. I served for a brief time in Rincon and then I moved on to Savannah and served with Elder Bingham. I then moved to N. Augusta and served with Elder Jordan for two transfers. My companion now is Elder Anderson from Gilbert, AZ. Albany is a bike area and is my chance to lose some of the weight I've gained on my mission. I have already noticed a difference. This ought to be great!

Since this is only my first week in this new area, I will be all over the place and somewhat brief. To start, the High Priest Group Leader, Bro. Marbury, was the Pocatello Idaho Mission President from 1978-81. We had Easter dinner with them last night and we were able to relate their experience in Pocatello. 

For 3 days this week, we were helping an investigator's mother, Dana, move from her small house down the street to an addition owned by her daughter, Cher. It was some good hard work as we moved 2 couches, a bed among other things. We were glad to help and they fed us lunch. Oh, and the Sisters helped too. Coming into this area, we are teaching a guy from Ethiopia, Tomrad. He shows a lot of promise and I look forward to teaching him. Elder Anderson told me that this area gets the most referrals in the mission! as evidence, the APs (Elder Holt and Elder Bingham) and the Tifton West ZLs came down about a month ago to 'blitz' the area to contact all of those referrals. We've got a lot of work to do!

I feel pretty good about this area and there is certainly work to do here. Sorry for the brief update, it has been a blur of a week. 

Hope y'all had a joyful and Happy Easter! 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, March 21, 2016

And the Winner for the N. Augusta Ward Chili Cook-Off is.....

1st Place Winner in the N. Augusta Chili Cook-Off

Dear Family & Friends, 

This was a fast-paced week. A few things before I go through the week, which will be short due to time constraints. I am getting transferred from N. Augusta and I have been relieved of District Leader responsibilities. I am saddened that I am leaving and it certainly wasn't expected. We were just starting to turn this area around finding new investigators. I have grown close to many of the members and investigators here. So, we will be travelling to Macon tomorrow morning, intending on being there at 10 am, a 2 hour drive. It is going to be a short night and a long day... Woody will be taking us, as usual.

The good parts of our week were on Tuesday and this weekend. Tuesday, we had a great lesson with Barbara and Jason on the Plan of Salvation. It was a great lesson and great questions were asked. Barbara has been prepared to hear the Gospel message and we have felt that.

Thursday, we went to Plum Branch with Woody and we taught Brenda the Plan of Salvation. Some parts of the lesson went very well, and others not so much, but the Spirit was felt throughout. At the end of the lesson, we invited her to come to church and to be baptized. She accepted both, but was not able to attend church due to another commitment elsewhere. We then stopped to see Brother and Sister White. We had a great visit and it is apparent to me now and when we first met them, that I will miss them dearly.

Saturday morning, Sister Edgington and Sister Hale had a Baptism! Rosa, their investigator was baptized by Brother Jensen, who had just recently been released as 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. It was a great service and good turn out to support Rosa. She will do great as a new member.

Shortly after the Baptism, we had the N. Augusta Ward Chili Cook-Off. I entered it, with my mom's White Chicken Chili recipe. There were 3 other White Chicken Chili entries and about 4 other chili entries. A lot of good chili. Sis. Gonzalez had lent me a larger Crockpot. I was shocked when I won the whole thing! Apparently a lot of people loved it and it was only my 2nd time cooking it! There were other good chili entries, but this was an awesome way to leave N. Augusta.

This week had a lot of stuff going on, but it was a good last week here in North Augusta. I look forward to emailing y'all with an update on where I am next week. 

Have good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner 
North Augusta Zone pictures at ZTM!
Zone Leaders Elders Allen and Haines along with Elder Murphy
North Augusta Zone pictures at ZTM!
Zone Leaders Elders Allen and Haines along with Elder Murphy

Elder Jordan, Amanda, Donovan(EQ Pres.), Seth Williams & I

The Jensen Family
Elder Jordan, Brother Ferraro & I

Our Investigator, Jason

Gonzalez family and Giovanni Ivy (Amber, Carlina, Tina)

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Taco Bell Challenge & Priesthood Blessings

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has been good and it has warmed up drastically. It is in the 80s most days and gets in the low 60s at night. Warm at all times of the day! We haven't turned the heater on at all last week and we may not at all until next Winter. 

This coming Saturday is Transfer Calls and then we will back to the 6 week Transfers, where this Transfer and last Transfer were 7 weeks to accommodate around Christmas and in the change of the MTC keeping missionaries for 3 weeks if they speak their native language. On into the week!

On Monday, after emailing and shopping at Wal-Mart, we ran into a Sister in the parking lot, Sister Kipphut. She asked us, through her window, if we had lunch yet. We replied that we hadn't and she then told us to follow her to Sonic across the street. She went first in the drive thru and paid for our lunch and we expressed our gratitude. Later that night, we went to the McClellans for dinner. What was apparently a mistake, Bro. McClellan, who is not a member, wanted to do a Taco Bell challenge. A 12 pack of soft tacos each. I backed out due to an already upset stomach. Elder Jordan and Bro. McClellan did the challenge. Bro. McClellan won, by the encouragement of Sis. McClellan. He soon regretted his decision and he was headed up to bed by the time we got to the door to leave after saying good-bye. I had 4 tacos and that was more than enough for me.

On Tuesday, we had another lesson with Jason, but his neighbor Barbara joined us. We re-taught the Restoration due to Barbara not making the last discussion. We had a great lesson and Barbara, at the end, asked for a Priesthood Blessing, which we were honored to give. We then met with Jason on Thursday as well. We had another great discussion with him on the Plan of Salvation and were able to clear up some things which significantly helped Jason. At Church on Sunday, he had a great experience in the classes and Sacrament Meeting. He then met with Bishop Smith to get the ball rolling towards re-baptism.

Fast forward to Sunday. After Jason met with Bishop Smith, Bishop asked us to join him in giving Jason a blessing, which really made Jason feel the Spirit. A little later in the day, we were called up to give a less-active member a blessing as well. After we gave that Brother a blessing, we stopped at the Dunagans. Before we left there, Bro. Dunagan asked us to give him a blessing since he was feeling under the weather. We certainly had a day full of ministering to those who have requested us. I love being able to bless the lives of others.

Allergies are good right now, even though there is a fresh layer of pollen on our car every morning.

We still haven't been able to meet with Garret yet, but we just found out that CK is back from Nepal. We will be dropping by this week one evening.

This week had some successes and some shortcomings, but there will always be weeks like this. Even the best of missionaries do.
Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, March 7, 2016

A very busy week..and I LOVED it!!

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was very busy and I loved it! We found some new investigators and two of which are really solid. To start, on Monday we visited the Plochas, a part-member couple. Sister Plocha being the member. Brother Plocha hurt his back and is in a lot of pain. I pray that he gets better and the procedure they will perform will relieve his back.

On Tuesday we followed up on a referral from Bro. McClain. We stopped by and visited with Lyn. She opened her door to us and wanted to hear our message. We were going through the Restoration and she asked great questions and discussed each section in depth. I just love it when people have sincere questions! We got about halfway through the lesson when we had to take off. She loved our message and
wants to learn more. She also wants to come to church. We left with a word of prayer and we tried seeing her again on Thursday with Grant, but she was ill...

Skipping to Thursday, we met up with a referral from the Sister Missionaries, Jason. Jason is an excommunicated member and returned-missionary, who, through our visit has a strong desire to come back to the Church to be re-baptized. How the Sisters met him was interesting. They were tracting his apartment complex and they knocked on his neighbor's door, Barbara. She then mentioned that Jason went to our church . Barbara also wants to take the discussions to learn more. She is in her 60s. We had a great first lesson with Jason. He was very receptive and the Spirit was strong, almost burning. He asked at the end our lesson to give him a blessing and to bless his home. he expressed he has a lot of family who are strong members of the church living in Utah and that his son is serving a mission in New York. It was an eventful and powerful visit. On Sunday, Jason called us afterwards expressing that he really enjoyed Church and that he had missed it dearly.

Friday, we visited Bro. Grice, as per usual. We then came home and ate lunch and did some weekly planning. Just before 2:00, we were picked up by Woody and he took us to Plum Branch, SC. We were finally able to set up an appointment with Brenda, whom we had delivered a Bible to about 2 months ago. We got there at 3:00 and we started into the Restoration. The lesson went a few different ways and Woody's comments and testimony was influential. We got about halfway through the Restoration when she asked questions about Tithing and Fast Offerings and the Word of Wisdom. We then curved back into the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. We left her with a Book of Mormon with an assignment to read Moroni 10: 3-5. We then visited with Bro. and Sis. white, who are campground hosts at Modoc Campground. After a good visit and empty bellies, Woody took us to Hardee's for dinner where Elder Jordan and I both got Monster Burgers. Delicious! We then headed home.

A lot to take in this week, but I love weeks like this. The Work has truly been picking up in the last 2 weeks and we are going to increase our stride this week. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner