Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Warmer & Warmer

At the Tolman's making burgers... YUM

The final result

 Dear Family and Friends,
This week went by quickly and it was a tiring week. The days are getting warmer and warmer. which can be difficult when we're all over town on our bikes. This week was fixing to be a very successful week in terms of having lessons and appointments. A lot of those fell through, however, which can be discouraging at times. Despite the lack of many lessons, we had a good week nonetheless. 

In the past few weeks, we have received a lot of media referrals who have requested items ( Bibles, Book of Mormon copies, etc.). We received permission to do two sessions of Referral Management Time (RMT) to keep track of it. Between us and the Sisters, we have well over 150 referrals to contact as soon as possible. Note that not all of them were received recently. On Thursday, we biked to another library that was open in the morning. It was past the church and and about 2.5 miles to get there. After we finished, we went to drop off some sheet music for Bro. Coston a couple miles up the road. We then looped around onto Gillioville Rd and went home for lunch. Four hours into the day and we were already worn out. 

On Friday, Bro. Hall invited us to dinner with his golfing buddy, whose wife had just passed away, yes the same one that Elder Callison played the bagpipes at. We chuckled inside as we pulled into Longhorn steakhouse. Hey, I'm not complaining since I got a Flat-Iron steak. DELICIOUS! Thanks Bro. Hall!

Saturday was a LONG day for Elder Callison and I. We started the day by being picked up by Bishop Tolman, who had breakfast for us, and we went to go help a new family in the Ward move in, the Daniels. After only an hour of unloading a 30 foot trailer, we went with Ralph to help Barney and Bro. Isberg clean the Church. after that we had lunch at Hot Dog King, which was very good! We then went with Ralph again to help Cher, an investigator, with yard work. We essentially cut down a small forest on her property using clippers. There was a lot of vines, bugs, and bush. We helped out until about 5:30, and we ate a little at Taco Bell for supper.

So, since it's Tuesday, I'll give an update about yesterday. Since the library was closed, we were picked up by Bishop Tolman and we went out to his property to help him. We worked for several hours doing things like pulling out weeds around Pecan trees, moving several dozen paver stones, and laying pine straw. At about 2:30, we went in for a late lunch. I offered immediately when Bishop asked who would like to make the hamburger patties. I made them thick and added season salt, garlic salt, and chopped onion. I must say it was delicious! Bishop then gave us a bunch of the leftovers. He then dropped us off at the Isbergs to help them in their yard. We finally got home at 7 completely drained of all energy. 

Well, this week will be one to look forward to and I am optimistic for how it will turn out! Enoch is still doing good as well!

Happy Memorial Day! 
A big thank you to all of the Veterans who have served or are serving!

Have a good week y'all!!

Elder Alexander Kestner 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cooking with the Cartmell's, Interesting Beverages & Awkward Moments

Studying at Wednesday's Book of Mormon class
Dear Family and Friends,

This was another long week! We had a lot going on, so let's get started!

Monday didn't feel much like a P-Day. We went out briefly with Bro. Anderson after emailing and lunch. He took us to Walmart but we had to make it quick since he had to make a delivery to Thomasville, which is outside the Mission boundaries. We then shortly after getting home had to bike out to our dinner appointment with a less-active couple, the Marshalls. We biked the 4 and a half miles out there and had a great meal with them and a good visit too. That was basically our day..

Reunited with Elder Thornton!!
 Tuesday was zone Conference in Tifton. Bro. Clark gave us a ride and picked us up from it. The Conference, which included both Tifton Zones. In addition to the training by the Mission Presidency and the installation of a system to track the driving of missionaries in each Mission car. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that since we bike! We also got new phones since the Missionary Department changed contracts. I also got to meet up with a previous companion...Elder Thornton! 

Wednesday, we had referral management time this morning and we had a lesson with Enoch. We got through some of the Baptismal Interview Questions to prep him for his eventual interview with Elder Mahan, the District Leader. What we covered, there were no objections on his part. We later had a Book of Mormon class and Chris took us home.

Thursday was interesting. We tracted a little that morning with minimal success. We went back, had lunch, and visited with Mary. We then dropped by Cassandra's and she asked us to come back later. Ralph then picks us up and we go see Sis. Oldham. We then come back for Supper, eat, and walk to Cassandra's. Almost at her house, she rolls up and said she has to run to the store. We then tried Ricky, who lives nearby, but he was busy too.we then went back and grabbed our bikes and headed to the neighborhood next to the library to see some potentials. Biking past a particular house, a woman calls out "Hello!" and we promptly turn around. We quickly realized it was Mama Pat, who we met a few weeks back. We had a good visit with her and it was pretty hard to understand her. Right as we started to chat, she gave us something really strange to drink. Water with honey... It was a very odd taste, but we drank it anyway. It gave me a ''rumbly in my tumbly''. She then sent us away with V8. as we got back to our apartment and we opened up the cans of V8. The first words to come out of both of our mouths were ''salty tomato soup''. The Sisters came over and tasted it too. We then dumped it. Nasty...

Friday we Weekly Planned for most of the day. In the evening, Chris called us up and asked if we had dinner plans. We didn't. He picked us up an hour later. We get to his house and we help clear his carport (we're now in service clothes). After that he threw some halved chickens on a charcoal grill. It started smelling good up on in there! We then visited for a bit while it cooked and Chris fried some tator tots. YUM! We ate the delicious food and his dogs, like mine, were begging for a scrap. After eating that, we busted out the Peach Cobbler Felicia, Chris' wife, made. And it was DELICIOUS! 

Saturday was a quick day. We had sports that morning with Enoch, Tamerat, and the Sisters and we played chair soccer. Members came later towards the end and made it even more interesting. After chair soccer and showering/changing, we went to our appointment with Enoch. We finished the Baptismal Interview questions and went over the organization and leadership of the Church. A good discussion! Walking out of his house, some older guy walked up to us and somewhat rudely asked for us to help him. We said okay and after Enoch, I guess asked him not to take advantage of us helping him. We walk with him over to a ghetto convenience store and get him some honey buns and and a watermelon Arizona. We got it to him and thanked us and parted. A little awkward.. On the way over, Elder Callison noticed he had a flat tire. We fixed it up somewhat and biked down the street but we had to stop at a FamilyDollar to grab a few things and we were later picked up by Ralph since Elder Callison's bike was out of commission. we ended the night at the Spiers with dinner and Ward Correlation. 

Enoch came to Church on Sunday! We had a meeting with Sis. Ross to get the meal calendar straightened out, which it really was not resolved. 

A long week, but a good one at that. I am anxious for this upcoming week. Have a good one y'all!!

Elder Alexander Kestner 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Snakes, Bagpipes & Investigators

The rattles from a Snake!
Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been pretty eventful! We've been working with Enoch and had several lessons with him along with Ralph and Bro. Hayes. We taught him the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and read from Joseph Smith History concerning the events leading up to the First Vision. I continue to be amazed as Enoch accepts each commitment and his readiness. He informed us after those commitments, that he had left all of those things years ago and has devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge and Spiritual Growth. His knowledge and testimony of the Book of Mormon is showing through already. On Sunday, there was a large congregation and Enoch was sitting next to us before the meeting started. He then got up to talk to someone and Elder Callison said "That moment when your investigator becomes a fellow-shipper".He continued as he astonished us in Gospel Principles and Elders Quorum with his comments and insight. The visitors and the EQ President was shocked too. Plainly, Enoch is doing great and progressing rapidly to Baptism on June 4th!

On Wednesday, Brother Sorenson, the Young Men's President, pulled us aside and told us that there is two brothers that want to be taught and Baptized! We followed him to the gym and introduced to one of the brothers. He, JJ, is 14 years old. And it so happens that Daylen Hayes (Bro. Hayes' nephew) lives near their house and so he will be a help us teach them and set up appointments. It seems like Albany is burning up!

On Thursday, we had ZTM and finally got my camera charger. I can now take pictures! The training that was done was on the topic of reach further to get more Baptism and renew our zeal. We'll see how it goes. Once again in a skit by Elder Godwin and Elder Christensen, they brought a turtle (Sunbeam Jr.) and told how another missionary drowned Sunbeam and how they saved him. It was a very enjoyable ZTM to say the least. 

Elder Callison
On Saturday, we were invited by Bro. Hall to go to a funeral for the purpose of Elder Callison playing the bagpipes. It went very well and he played very well. We then watched the short funeral service. There was a lot of emotion expressed from the people there. Bro. Hall said a few words and shared his testimony of the Plan of Salvation and quoted scripture from the Book of Mormon and Bible in an attempt to ease the crowd of the passing of the woman. As the people got up, we stood out of the way and I found myself looking into the eyes of the people leaving. The words 'shell-shocked', 'confused', and 'wonder' entered my mind. Even though Bro. Hall bore a strong testimony, those in attendance, all non-members (except us) left with questions unanswered about where their loved one had gone and why she left. I realized that as Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have those answers. A loving God has revealed His Plan to His children through Modern and Ancient Prophets. The Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Christ is our message and we have an obligation to share that knowledge with others. 

Dead Snake! Yuck
Later that night, we had Ward Correlation with Bro. Spiers at his home. After the meeting, Bro. Spiers was taking us home, when we saw something on the side of the road. We realized that it was a snake and we quickly turned around to confirm that. Bro. Spiers then raced back home and grabbed some cutters in the hope of getting the rattles. We get back and pull over and move quickly. With me holding the light, Bro. Spiers moves to the snake, it's head flattened. As he tries to remove the rattle, THE SNAKE MOVED! With instinct, he placed his foot on the butchered head to protect himself. I snapped a picture showing this. We then hauled tail, no pun intended, to avoid the wrath of a possible shotgun armed homeowner curious of who might be on the edge of his property. Quite a night!!

Well, that's all folks! Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New Companion & Staying in Albany, GA

Dear Family and Friends,

Transfers have come and gone and I remain in Albany. My new companion is Elder Callison from Cedar City, UT. Another Utah companion! He has been out about 18 months and goes home with Elder Bingham. He also served with Elder Kobbah, so we have a lot to talk about. We have similar personalities which is already evident and it's looking to be a good Transfer!

As everybody knows, yesterday was Mother's Day and I had the opportunity to Skype home. It's always refreshing to talk to my family. I realized that the next time I Skype will be next Christmas and I will at that point be out 20 months out. Anyway, I would like to thank all of the mothers out there and everything they do. I would like to thank my own Mother for everything that she does for me and how much she means to me. I didn't fully realize the effect she has had on me until I went on a Mission. I would also like to thank my Grandmothers and all of my Aunts that have made an impact on me and their support on my behalf. 

This week was an adjustment week and we had to really set the tone for the Transfer. The highlight of the week was the lessons we had with Enoch. I mentioned him last week and how we met him. Here's an update:

On Thursday, we met with him and Ralph came with us. The lesson centered on the Book of Mormon and clarifying the purpose of it. With the lessons on the past, we did not feel prompted to invite him to be baptized, but we remained patient. We had a great lesson with him and Ralph really added to the lesson. It was just a great environment for the Spirit to teach him. We then set up an appointment for that next Saturday. 

Saturday rolls around and we bike to his house, which we had not been to since we had been teaching him in his sister's apartment. We get there and a guy calls us out and asks for something to read. So, we gave him a Bible and a Book of Mormon. Getting to Enoch's, we go in and start the discussion. Our lesson was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a topic that is often confusing down here in the Bible Belt. The key points were Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Reception of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. During the lesson we seemed to insert added emphasis on Baptism and the Holy Ghost. As we were wrapping up, the Spirit completely flooded the room and we invited him to be baptized. His answer was short and immediate. He said "I don't see why not!" With the progression he has already made we know that he has had experiences that have prepared him to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. he has such a sincere desire to learn and has expressed that his mind is like a sponge and he wants as much knowledge as he can get, especially about Spiritual matters. We put him on date for June 4th. 

We are really excited for the progress that Enoch has already made and what he will continue to make. This Transfer has already started off great and it will be a good one for sure. Elder Callison and I are looking forward to serving together. On another note, ZTM is this week and Zone Conference is next week on Tuesday. God Bless and have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, May 2, 2016

Into the Heat & Staying in Albany

Taco Bell Burning Down
Cookin' Bacon

Dear Family and Friends,
On Saturday night, we had our usual Transfer calls. As a result, I am staying here in Albany, but Elder Anderson will be moving on. I have really enjoyed serving with him. Now that I am staying in the area, I am grateful that I don't have to pack. That is usually the hardest thing I go through when I get Transferred, but oh well. Let's look at the awesome week we had!

On Monday, after emailing, we went to Bro. Demings' for lunch. As we were about to cut through an apartment complex, two guys in a truck stopped us and asked if we could talk. We obliged and he parked his truck. He informed us that he had seen us biking all over and had wanted to know why we do that. We explained and then he told us of the troubles and guilt over the years. Note, he is 20. We got his information and we biked on. Later that day, when the Moultrie Elders came down, we played Ultimate Frisbee on a field behind our apartment complex. We soon realized that it was hot and humid. Not fun at all. But after we got a little fatigued and our hopes raised as we saw clouds roll in. All 8 of us are walking back and a lady in a car waved at us and we walk over to her. she recognized us, but we didn't recognize her right away. So, we rolled with it. She asked us a variety of questions and we cleared up some misconceptions. She told us of her brother would also be interested in learning. She also asked for a Book of Mormon which we always love to hear. We came back a copy and talked to her, Rachel, and her brother, Enoch. An absolutely awesome day. Enoch came to Book of Mormon class on Wednesday night and sports on Saturday. The lessons we were able to have with Enoch were really good. The first one was over what the Book of Mormon is and read the first chapter. The 2nd lesson, the next day was over the Restoration. After both discussions, we always ask to leave with a word of prayer. What caught me off guard was when he asked a follow-up question of ''who will start'' and ''who will end". I was all sorts of confused. One of us prayed and then Enoch continued after we said Amen. OH WELL...

So, I will be in Albany for Mother's Day and we will most likely Skype through Brother Spiers tablet. 
It is hard to believe that this is the last Mother's Day of my mission. Then it will be Christmas and then I'll be home and we will then Skype Ben. It's weird to think about it...

I am going to have to cut this email short due to time, but I hope that y'all have a great week and stay awesome!

Elder Kestner