Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My 1st week in Arizona

So this week has been a lot to take in! So I left the MTC on Tuesday morning and flew into Phoenix and then we drove to Gilbert where we had a few orientations and such. Well the next day I received my companion, Elder Ralph! So my zone is right in Gilbert and we are covering two wards.We live in what we call the Honeysuckle Crib. It is like a true apartment area in the corner of probably a million dollar home (i kid you not) It is really nice. We share our apartment with another set of elders who have a car because they cover the singles ward in the area. So we do have access to a car for groceries and things like that. So right now we are in a biking section and it has been pretty fun so far. The hottest it has been so far is like 105 degrees but its not as bad as its sounds, i know its going take some getting used to, but i love it already! 

Oh and for more excitement my companion and I are "white washing" the area. This means that Elder Ralph and I have been sent to an area that we both have not served in, so that means that we kind of have to start from the bottom and go through all the records so we can find all the people who were previously meeting with the missionaries. So we are starting to build up the lists of people to teach! Elder Ralph is a stud though i know that we'll be able to build up our area and it will be awesome! Its all so new but the work is so great! We have been able to find some people to teach this past week though and some are looking really promising! Being in the field is so awesome. 

So yesterday we went to greet everybody at church to get to know the members around here. Members are so important in missionary work they have the "in" in all the wards and neighborhoods. There is some work to do here and i cant wait to find those people! The members feed us dinner every night, so they are so awesome and supportive of us! One of the highlights of the week was going to Freestone Park on Sunday night just to talk to people. Freestone Park is like a big complex with volleyball courts a skate park, soccer fields, baseball fields, and basketball courts. So everybody hangs out around there at night because everything is lit up. Anyways so my comp and I went over to some guys playing basketball on one of the courts and we starting play some "proselyting ball". So we got a game going with some of this guys and it was a pretty cool experience. Elder Ralph's team won but it was all good. After the game we talked to them about how important families are in the gospel. It was a unique experience and i am really looking forward to the rest of the mission. 
"Elder Kestner shared a great message with us and bore his testimony of eternal families" Bishop & Sister Turley
Anyways I love being here in Arizona. I know this is where i am supposed to be and it truly is a blessing to me. The Gospel is real and it can change us if we want it to and if we act in faith. I love you all and hope that all is well! 
Elder Kestner

Friday, August 26, 2016

God Speed the Right!

The District
So its the Final Countdown! 
This past week has been so awesome! Starting with today, being P day, we started by going to an early morning temple session. I always look forward to going every week here there is just something so relaxing and calming about going. I just makes you feel like you are home for a little bit haha. So let me tell ya a little bit about my District. There are 7 Elders and 4 Sisters and they are my family here. We spend more than 14 hours a day together so i feel like i have known them forever. Our district leader Elder Wilkerson (in the pictures) is so awesome he is like my brother from another mother! My companion is Elder Campbell and he seems to be pretty alright. It takes some getting used to when you have someone by your side 24 hours a day but we are just about used to it now. The sisters in are districts are rock solid. They are not called to serve missions like the Elders so because they are here you know that they are here to help others come unto Christ. We all came from different ways of life before coming out but because we all have a purpose in being here it is so worth it all of us, and we cant wait to get out to field. One of the Elders in my District is actually from Gilbert Arizona, so he has been giving me the low down on some of the local spots, which is super cool. 

One scripture that keeps on coming up this week is Helaman 5:12 It talks about how if we set a firm foundation based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its teachings we can withstand anything. It is such a blessing to have a roots that is so strong in the Gospel that we can not be moved if we stay faithful. We have investigators here and it is something so unique to be able to hear someone who has zero to no faith in Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ and just after one week they can pray and rely on the Lord to answer there questions, because thats what he wants us to. It has been such an amazing experience and such a testimony builder to see progress like that. On the other hand there has been some almost approved rumors that Elder Holland will be speaking at our devotional tonight!! I dont know if its true yet or not, but i will definitely keep you all posted on that. 

Overall a wonderful week with both highs and lows. The highs are way more memorable than the lows and i love it and its truly has changed the way that i think and do things. I leave next Tuesday to Arizona and im so excited for everything except the heat haha. I would also love some dear elders for the last week here at the MTC :) 
I love you all and God speed the right! 
Elder Kestner
Elder Wilkerson & I

Photo Bomb

Missionary Arrival

Dear Missionary Parents,
Your wonderful missionary arrived here in Gilbert Arizona this morning – and we love them already! We have 28 wonderful new missionaries. We had to borrow the mission van from the Scottsdale and Tempe Missions plus we used our van to haul all these missionaries. They arrived a little hot but excited to be in our mission. We had them take turns getting their pictures taken with the mission president and his wife and for the group pictures. I’ll be sending you a picture of your missionary with President and Sister Wheeler in the next few days.
Their day began early morning at the MTC, so they had an early start and were worn out by afternoon. Sister Zollinger prepared a lovely luncheon for them which they really enjoyed. Our senior missionary couples oriented them on bikes, cars, referrals, housing, and the office. Each of them will have an opportunity to meet and interview with President Wheeler. Elder Ashton will introduce them to their bicycles, and by evening they will all be looking forward to a good night’s rest. They will be housed in a host member’s home tonight; then Wednesday they receive more training, meet their new companion, attend Transfer Meeting, and then head to their assigned areas of service. We have attached a photo of group. They are going to be great missionaries. All the other missionaries in our mission are very excited to have the opportunity to get to know them. 
We are happy to have each one of them, and we will do all we can to support and encourage them while they are here. Thank you for sharing your missionary with us. They will have an opportunity to email you on Monday, Preparation Day. Contact us anytime if you have any questions.

Travel Plans

Hey momma 
so i know that its early but i have some time to do laundry and email before i head out tomorrow. First off I will be leaving the MTC around 620 a.m. and my flight is sometime around 1120 or so. I will make an effort to call while i am at the airport, but i did not buy any calling cards or anything so i hope some good mormon family would be so kind to let me use their phone :) My flight says its only 36 minutes but with the time change i think it an hour and a half. I am also flying into the Phoenix airport where i will meet my Mission President. Anyways those are what my plans are looking like and life is so good right now. 
I am excited to get to the field but i will miss my district, they have been so awesome these past few weeks and we dont call ourselves a district anymore because we are family. So my comp is going to AZ and then we have 2 Elders going to Witchita Kansas, 3 Elders going to Ft. Collins Colorado (jealous haha), 2 sisters going to kansas, and 2 sisters going to Independence Missouri. So i dont have that much time to write a big group email but here are some pictures i took at the temple. The ones of us jumping i was with Elder Mohler and the group one im hugging elder Wilkerson! Oh yeah so the one where elder Mohler is is my arms i had jumped and he jumped into my arms while i was in air so that was exciting! 
But in all reality i am so excited to get out of the MTC my comp is driving me bonkers! SO i just cant wait to be in the mission field. I have loved it here but its time to leave the nest. the mtc food is meh at best so its been doing me a number on the toilet. I have been craving Kraft Mac and Cheese and McChickens! Oh and guess who I saw today? Elder Tanner Pearson! Hey and send me pictures of you guys i would love to see you as well! 
i love you and i will email you next from AZ!
Elder Kestner

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Week 1 in the MTC!

Hello Everyone! 
So i have been in the MTC for 6 days now and it has been a rollercoaster! There are so many firsts for me like having a companion 24/7, studying like 14 hours a day, and having my scriptures open more than they are closed! It is all so fun here though, i know that i have so much more that i need to learn about this church and its gospel! The district i am in is so awesome i feel like i have know them my whole lives! Maybe that's because we all have the same goals in mind haha. Unfortunately last week we had an Elder in our district that went home, he has been struggling with some anxiety and depression for a while and thought that by going on a mission he could overcome it but he ended up getting sent home in an honorable way. Before he left our district he bore is testimony to us and i know that he might not be a missionary wearing name tag but he will definitely help others no matter where he goes or what he does. 

So some really fun things that we have done so far is playing basketball during our exercise time and i look forward to it every day! There are some elders who have some mad ball skills here but it so much fun and is a great way for us all to act like normal people for an hour haha. During one of our classes we were doing "stress management" and part of that was doing wall sits, well Sister Taylor in our district broke our teachers all time record by doing a wall sit for 8 minutes! (keep in mind we are in our church attire) It was so nuts! So right after that we were going to run around our building a few times (still in church attire) but i told the teacher that if i piggy backed Elder Wilkerson, our District Leader, around the building once that we would only have to walk around once. Let me paint a picture of Elder
Wilkerson, he is as tall as me and weighs 230lbs, hes a stud haha. So he hopped on and i took off walking around the building we came to the conclusion that the distance around the building was about 1/4 mile, but with some determination and encouragement I was able to make a full lap around the building! I was so exhausted but hey we're making memories here!!! The MTC can be a fun place if you want it to be, from the studying, to the guys in our residence hall walking up and down the hallways listening the follow the prophet on repeat, and the time that we are given to get to know each other better! 

Beside all of that my testimony has grown more in the last few days then i thought possible! Sunday was a spiritual freight train coming right at me! We had the opportunity to hear from President Mathew Holland who is the President of UVU and he is the son of Elder Holland. He told us about the story of Joseph Smiths life and i can remember a few things about his actually story, which is so inspirational, but the main thing that i remember from that was that Joseph Smith WAS called of God to restore this as the true church and he stood for what was right! Another great chance i had was to watch a video from Elder Bednar and he talked about how Christ will always turn outwards to help people when we turn in to look at ourselves. It was eye opening and he made me think about charity and the pure love of Christ. I know that if we want to be like Christ we need to look out for others instead of looking at ourselves. 

So that's my first week on a mission and i have been loving it! I know this is where i am supposed to be and i cant wait to see where this will take me! I love you all and i would love to hear from you! 
Elder Kestner