Monday, April 25, 2016

Football, Scooby Doo and Deer Meat

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was pretty incredible! On Monday, we had the Moultrie Elders over for P-Day activities. We ended up playing a game of football in a field behind our apartment. The Sisters of course were the quarterbacks. But before the game even started, we were just tossing the ball around. I was going for a pass when I stumbled on a mound and down I went. Now, I am 6'5 and around 250 pounds. I don't go down soft. Going down, I kept my weight going and landed back on my feet with no injuries, thankfully. I should probably be more careful in the future...

After P-Day activities, we went with Bro. Hayes to teach James the Plan of Salvation. We had an absolutely awesome lesson with him. As we went through the lesson, it was plain to see that the Spirit was working on James. 

On Tuesday, we went to Moultrie for District Meeting and we were allowed to take the Sister's car since they had a ride up there. You really can appreciate being in a car when you are in a bike area, for sure. after lunch and seeing Elder Ray, my MTC companion, now Zone Leader in Tifton, we came back to Albany and enjoyed the trip. 

Wednesday was an interesting day. We biked over to Bro. Hall's to go over the ward roster and get a game-plan to visit some less-active people. About 30 minutes later, the Sisters called us and asked us to help one of their investigators move out/evacuate from her boyfriend's place in East Albany, which is a very rough part of town. We got that taken care of and we had a light lunch of Banana & Mayo sandwiches with Bro. Hall. We had a Book of Mormon class that night to finish the day and talked to Chris for a bit as well.

Thursday was Sister Walker's birthday so we helped her celebrate it. We met with Sister Walls and had dinner with her at a place called Gargano Villa, an Italian restaurant. There we all got pizza. Sis. Walls looked at me kinda funny when I ordered a pizza with sausage, ham, green peppers, onion, and jalapenos. And it was delicious! Bro. Anderson had taken us there and picked us up. We then stopped at Wal-Mart and he bought us milk and family pack of Oreos for each of us. We get back to the apartment and it is a little past 8 pm. Our plans had burnt out and we were thinking of something to do. I mentioned that we should see Maquez, who lives in our apartment complex and whom we have tried for a few weeks to get back in contact with. We knock on her door and she immediately invited us in. As we came to find out, she had questions about a few things, mainly fasting and how to go about doing it. We answered her questions and she invited us back for the next day, but she wasn't home when we went by.

On Friday, we were kept very busy. Bishop Tolma picked us up to go to Leesburg to help out at a Methodist Church put together food orders for needy people in the community. One thing I noticed and others helping was about 80 % of the food had a 'Deseret' label on it. The Church is certainly not excluding other churches for assistance with that kind of a need. And the need was certainly met. Bishop then swung us by his house and there we met Scooby. Not the cartoon, but Bishop's dog, a Great Dane, who looks just like Scooby Doo. He then took us to Cracker Barrel and the spoiling began. He then took us to TCBY (frozen yogurt) and got some stuff. After getting dropped off, and Maquez not being there, we talked with Ralph and the Sisters. WHAT A DAY!

Saturday was also busy. We went up in the morning with Ralph to Leesburg to help the Methodist Church again. We get back around noon and Chris calls us to see if we could help him mow his lawn so he doesn't get a fine from the city. He promised to feed us, so we jumped at the opportunity, naturally. As it turns out, his grass is almost up to my waist. No problem. Chris borrowed his neighbor's riding lawnmower and got to work. A couple hours later we finished and we have dinner. A dinner of Deer steak wrapped in Bacon with Tator Tots. I know, very redneck, but that's Chris! He then dropped us off at the church for Ward Correlation with Bro. Spiers.

Yesterday, after Church and doing other things, Bro.Spiers took us to his house for dinner. I also brought a tie I found in the apartment and the shirt I destroyed by mud in Gray, to burn. After dinner and the burning, I got a haircut by Sis. Spiers who is a hair-dresser. What a week!

Love y'all and have a good week!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, April 18, 2016

A doozy of a week

Dear Family & Friends,

It seems like I have an idea what I went to send in an email, but as I am about to put my thoughts down, I draw a blank. Let's see how this goes!

Last Monday evening, we had a lesson with a James Banks. He is a non-member and his wife is less-active. He had missionaries in the past teach him and his wife encouraged him to meet with us. On this particular visit, we read the Introduction page of the Book of Mormon and the first chapter of 1 Nephi. After stopping a few times to clarify and explain certain things, the Spirit was starting to teach James. The Scriptures are an incredible way for a Spirit to come into a lesson. Our next lesson is today at 6 and Bro. Hayes, the Executive Secretary, will join us.

On Tuesday, we went out with Barney, who is a counselor in the Bishopric. It was about 1 pm when he picked us up. We decided that we would get some lunch before we started seeing people. I was honestly expecting Barney to pull into a McDonald's or Taco Bell or any common lunch options. I was not expecting him to take us to Longhorn Steakhouse! He said as we sat down, "If you want a steak, get a steak". I ended up getting a flat iron steak, medium rare, of course. I ordered with it a 'loaded' Idaho bakes potato. As an Idahoan, it was not an Idaho potato or loaded in anyway, though it did have real bacon. I digress. my companion and I were both lethargic and not at all hungry for dinner. We just relaxed for our dinner break.

On Wednesday, the Moultrie Elders came down and had District Meeting. After the meeting, Elder Anderson and I rode our bikes to our lunch choice. We went to this sandwich shop called Firehouse Subs. As my family would know, my favorite sandwich is Italian. I ordered it and it was awesome! I don't recall there being any in Pocatello... Getting back on our bikes to meet the Elders at our apartment which was about 3.5 miles away, I heard a snap from my back tire. Luckily, the other Elders hadn't left yet and Elder Allen hopped out to help. We found out quickly that the cable which controls my rear break had snapped out of place. So, I rode that bike back to our apartment, without a rear break, in 14 minutes. PHEW! 
We finally got a fan which definitely helps when it gets warm.

Friday was weekly planning day and we were in the apartment for a good chunk of the day planning for the upcoming week. We ended a little before dinner to go to an appointment with the Wilsons. They moved recently from Salt Lake. Sis. Wilson was Baptized but not Confirmed due to her foot getting hurt. Her husband of 25 years was Baptized and Confirmed, however. We talked with them and we decided to go over the lessons until the Elders in Salt Lake sent their paperwork. With Brother Anderson there with us, we taught the Restoration. Some of the base principles that we taught, they were unfamiliar. it sounds like the other Elders who taught them may have missed a few things. We got those principles cleared up and had a very Spiritual lesson. Sis. Wilson expressed that she really wants to be Confirmed and to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We also have an appointment with them this evening.

After that, we were a little weary that no one had signed up to feed us even though Barney fed us, which we were very grateful. Shortly after we were dropped off, Ralph called us asked if we have had dinner yet. Long story short, he picked us up 15 minutes later to go get pizza at 'Brothers Pizza' which is NY style pizza that was so good. Ralph then took us to see one of his friends and we shared a message with her and gave her another Book of Mormon to replace the one that was given to her by missionaries in the past. Ralph was an answer to our prayers.

On Sunday, the Bishopric called a Missionary Meal Coordinator to help us get more dinner appointments, Sis. Ross. Within an hour, she started to mess with the 3 dinner appointment we have set this week. It was absolutely hectic. Bro. Spiers, our Ward Mission Leader, will get it sorted out. We also happened to be at the Spiers home. Bro. Spiers fixed my rear brake and gave me some ideas of how to get my bike to top condition. 

Well, this week ended up being a doozy for us. I'm looking forward to this week! Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, April 11, 2016

ZTM, Bowling, Interviews, and Halfway through the Transfer already?

Bowling with the Moultrie Elders on P-Day
Dear Family & Friends,

This week sure flew and it was an awesome one at that. Let's get into it!

So, last Monday, the Moultrie Elders (2 sets) came down for P-Day. We went to the bowling alley and had a great time. I got 2nd and Elder Allen (from Pocatello) got 1st.

On Wednesday, we had some Referral Management Time in the afternoon and hauled tail to get to the Hall's for dinner at 5:45. We got there at 5:30. It was a 3.5 mile bike ride which took us about 20 minutes. We got there and we waited another 20 minutes for Sis. Hall to get home and get ready. We then got in the car and I was wondering where we were going. I perked up as soon as we pulled into Longhorn Steakhouse. We walk in and the Isbergs were waiting. the occasion for us being there is that Brother Isberg, who is the Ward Clerk, had just received his citizenship (formerly Canadian) earlier that day. He wanted to make his first meal as an American something special. After a delicious meal, we caught the last 10 minutes of Book of Mormon class. 

On Tuesday and Thursday, we met with one of our investigators, Henry. He was a former investigator and he let us in. The first visit was great and the Spirit was strong in there. The 2nd visit, it went well, he had a few questions, but not as much as the first. He expressed some fear about coming to church since the shooting at another church a few months back. Here comes Saturday... We had an appointment with James Banks at 2 pm and he lives about 2-3 miles from our apartment. We got there and he asked us to reschedule for another day. We headed back to our apartment to weekly planning. As we got on our street, Elder Anderson suggested that we go see Henry again which is another 2 miles. I agreed and we peddled away. We get there and he answers. He essentially dropped us and that he will call us when he needs us. Elder Anderson said that he is bi-polar. A little tired and strained, we went to a nearby Dairy Queen and we both got an Orange Julius.

Back to Thursday... We had a Zone Training Meeting in Tifton. The training's were on diligence and locking your heart. We guessed that President Cottle got ANOTHER Wedding invitation of an Elder and Sister who served here in the GMM. In addition to the training's, there was a skit to illustrate that. The diligence skit was by Elders Godwin and Christensen. During an already funny skit, Elder Godwin said "Oh man, did you feed Sunbeam?" Out of nowhere, they put a box on the table and pull out a turtle. Yes, a real, live turtle. Only Elder Godwin could be that creative.

We also had a skit. Ours was Locking your heart. We primarily were chosen because there are 6 Elders and 2 Sisters in our District. Our skit was divided into 3 mini skits. One skit is Sister proposing to another Elder and another is Elder Allen serenading the Sisters and being promptly slapped by his companion with the White Handbook and carried off. The last one was the best. Elder Hales walks up to the Sisters and said "So, you wanna hold the Priesthood?" His companion, Elder Arterburn, decked in duct tape armor and a duct tape helmet, rushes in a tackles Elder Hales and lays him out. The whole Zone erupted in laughter and Elder Hales himself was also laughing. It was the funniest thing I've seen on my mission! Elder Anderson got it on film too!

Now it's Friday. we have interviews with President Cottle. We were asked ahead of time to have scriptures for the 42 Principles that we teach each investigator. Doing that really helped find scriptural support for the Principles and Doctrine we teach. I have really grown to love the scriptures. I regret that I wasn't as diligent in reading them before I came out. But the Atonement covers that too. I honestly and truly love the Scriptures and how it gives us guidance and answers to our everyday questions and problems. Between that and prayer and modern prophets, we get the whole picture and a perfect brightness of hope. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, April 4, 2016

Exchanges, General Conference & God's Money

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was another blur in my memory. 

We went on exchanges on Tuesday/Wednesday. I went to Moultrie with Elder Tanner Allen, who is also from Poky. We had a great exchange and worked hard. 

The weather was also fairly mild. Later in the week we were rained out on Friday. It did this last week too. Thunder and lightning was certainly interfering. We did hear the tornado sirens, but we mostly got thunder and lightning. 

On Friday, the 1st, I hit my year mark. It came quickly and it is now passed. So much I have learned in the last year, but the next 12 months will be a landmark. 

At a gathering before the Priesthood session, a member told us a story how he was interviewed by Elder Monson, yes, THAT Elder Monson. He asked him why he was on a mission and he started speaking about baptizing and teaching and basic answers most missionaries give when asked. During his shpeel, Elder Monson shook his head until he was done. He then told him "When the people are ready to receive the Gospel, the Lord will lead you to them. The purpose of a mission is to prepare ourselves for responsibilities we will have after". It was a direct quote, but the message was certainly received.

Can I just say I love General Conference!? I was looking forward to it all week. We watched the first two sessions at the Demings and had lunch and dinner with them. We also helped a buddy of Brother Demings move a washer and dryer in between sessions. Now, I'm not a great note-taker, but I wrote some things down that are either direct quotes or my summary of what was said:

Quoting Elder Holland- "You can have what you want or you can have something better". This illustrates that our will is not necessarily God's will or his plan for us. 

Elder Stevenson- Priesthood keys govern ordinances necessary for Salvation. A reminder of what we do in the temples and at Baptism.

President Nelson- Seek Priesthood Power as you would seek advancement in temporal affairs. This teaches me that we need to have our priorities in the right place and seek Heavenly Power.

Stephen W. Owen- "Jesus Christ was the greatest leader because he was the greatest follower". We follow Christ because he knows the path back to our Heavenly Father.

President Monson- "If we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice". Christ will never lead us astray and we can trust Him with our fiber of our being. 

A marvelous General Conference and I look forward to it every 6 months. 

One more thing before I close this. On Thursday, we were out tracting and we felt like we need to go to one particular house. We knocked and a sweet Korean woman answered. She was just going to make it short, but Elder Anderson interfered with that. We talked with her for nearly 45 minutes on her porch. At the end of the visit, she asked where our bikes were. We replied that we were walking because Elder Anderson's was out of commission. She then went back inside we thought to get us water. She came back with a folded up bill and Elder Anderson tried to refuse, but she wanted to give it to us. She said it was God's money and that she wanted to help. Walking away, Elder Anderson behind me, says "What the fetch!?" She gave us a $100 bill! We were awestruck the rest of the day. Elder Anderson's bike was fixed by Bro. Spiers, the Ward Mission Leader, but no money was used to do so. So, we will be talking to President Cottle about what to do with it. 

I cannot seem to find my Patriarchal Blessing or my line of Authority. I have looked everywhere in my bags and when I was in N. Augusta. At the very least, it is in a missionary apartment. My suit pants are taking a beating and I may just need another pair. There some weird reddish stains on the front.

That's all folks! Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner