Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Goodbye to President & Sister Cottle and another Kestner has been Called to Serve!!

Elder Kestner, President  & Sister Cottle
Dear Family and Friends,

Last Tuesday we met with President and Sister Cottle for the last time. He addressed us in the Tifton West Zone. It is sad to see him go and he has made a tremendous impact on my mission and life so far. But we will be welcoming President and Sister Grayson this week on Friday. It is indeed a different feeling that President and Sister Cottle are leaving, but they served with honor and they will be missed dearly.

As the other part of the title suggests, there is another Kestner called to serve. My younger brother Ben, was called to serve in the Arizona Gilbert Mission. He reports August 3rd. It's a whole other thing that he will be serving in the Lord's vineyard along with me. I am about to hit 15 months and will miss him by 8 months when he leaves. I have utmost confidence in him as he prepares to leave.

This week had a few ups and downs. My bike was 'misbehaving' on Tuesday. I was able to clean the chain and lubricate it pretty good to get the grinding noise to lower. In addition to that, the wire that controls my large gears frayed and I had to get it replaced. Chris came over Tuesday night to take a look at it. One of the maintenance guys, Andy was out and he took a look at it as well. It was beyond our skills and know-how to fix. So, Chris picked us up the next morning and took us to the bike shop to get it fixed. Chris then dropped us off at the library for some referral management time. After that we walked home for lunch. We then spent the day trying some referrals. We then headed to try Tracy, who was a referral that requested a Bible. We were able to meet her just as we were walking away from her door! We had a brief visit on her front porch. She had recently moved to Albany and felt alone from her previous church and was looking for a new one. She told us that she felt she had to go to Albany for something. We gave her a Restoration pamphlet, a Bible, and a Book of Mormon. She told us she wants to learn more. It then got close to where Ralph would take us to dinner with the Gaugs. After dinner we had Book of Mormon class.

Now Thursday and sore. We walked for a couple hours and people kept asking us where our bikes were. Which tells us that we are being noticed. I mean, who else bikes in a Georgia Summer with slacks and a white shirt and tie. Elders do!! We tried some more referrals without much success. By about mid-afternoon our legs were stiff and sore. We were almost praying to get back on our bikes but mine was still in the shop. After a few hours we were back in the general vicinity near our apartment when we called the bike shop to check on my bike. It was done! I was overjoyed! We called Chris up and he picked us up shortly after and took us to the bike shop. Before that, he got his trunk door looked at since it jammed the other day. We then got to the bike shop and they only charged $14.23 for everything! I was pretty shocked and they will continue to have missionaries as their customers.
We got back in time to bike over to our dinner appointment with Sis. Walls at Casa Tapatio, a Mexican Restaurant. It was particularly hot that day, but we were glad to be on bikes again. We got home and neither of us felt too good. 

On Friday we went to an appointment with Tracy and we brought Bro. Anderson along with us. Tracy's friend was there and they received the Restoration lesson well and invited both of them to church on Sunday. Tracy accepted but she did not have a ride. Sis. Isberg would end up taking her. We tagged along with Bro. Anderson for a while and he got us each a Little Caesar's Pizza and took us home. A long day!

Saturday flew by. We helped the Sisters' investigator, Monica move. The Isbergs rented a U-Haul trailer and hauled it to Atlanta. There were some thunderstorms in the evening which slowed us down a bit. 

Sunday came and it was great! Tracy came to Church and enjoyed it! Oddly enough, Sunday School and Relief Society, as the Sisters told it, touched on Heavenly Mother and the Plan of Salvation..... Jumping the gun a wee bit. Tracy will be out of town this week and should be at Church on Sunday. We had dinner with the Daniels family, a recent move-in. We're starting to get more dinners now which is fantastic! There were storms and thunder throughout the evening which did not help.

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

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, June 20, 2016

Exploring Albany

Dear Family and Friends,

Another week in Albany, Georgia! This week was a long one and we had a few things going on. Transfers are done and over and we have a new Sister in Albany, Sister McCulloch. 

We did a lot of work with referrals this week which meant we were exploring a good chunk of Albany trying to find these people. Some were interested and others weren't. A good side is that this weekend was a little cooler than earlier in the week. It's kinda sad that we thought it was cool when it's 80 degrees outside. well, it is Georgia. 

We had a lesson with Enoch on Friday which went well. He still has some reservations due to the fact he wants to learn every piece of doctrine the Church has. I'm still trying to learn, but he persists still. We asked him towards the end of the lesson what he would do if he didn't get baptized. It seemed to catch him off guard, which can be hard to do. He seems to want to learn more but unsure to what extent. We're there to help him with that and with anything he needs that we can help with. 

On Saturday, we went to Leesburg with Ralph and Brother Isberg to help the Leesburg Methodist church with a food pantry service project. It was good to help them. A lady there found a a shell of cicada which was pretty cool. We stopped at Hardee's for lunch and headed home. Later that night we had ward Correlation with Bro. Spiers. After the meeting we took a look at my bike where the front brake was acting up. Long story short, we fixed the brake but the valve of the tube of my front tire broke. We went to K-Mart and got a new tube. As it turned out, it was the wrong size for the valve to fit into the frame. 

Sunday evening, Tamerat invited us to go to church with him at Sherwood Baptist. They produced the movies "Courageous", and "Facing the Giants". We get there with the Sisters and Tamerat and the security there searched our bags. Interesting for sure. The service itself was interesting. It felt like being at a band concert. LOTS of singing and random prayers with background music to it. Very odd to me. A neat experience for sure.
This is how we fix our bike..Tape & Super glue!

This morning we borrowed the Sisters' car and returned the tube for a refund and then went over to Cycle World and bought a new tube for a $1 less and they installed it. 

A good week and we definitely worked hard, but it was hard to measure it. Some things we just can't measure. But, this week isn't getting me down. I remain optimistic for the coming weeks and this Transfer. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, June 13, 2016

Where do they find these turtles?

Christmas Tree Jump Rope
Dear Family and Friends,

Another Transfer has gone by and I am still in Albany with Elder Callison! This is good news in the sense I don't have to pack and I get to continue working with the members and investigators here. For an FYI note, the Moultrie '4-pad' is being cut in half and Sister Danible here in Albany is getting transferred. Sister Danible and I came out over a year ago with me and it's been pretty awesome. And if you haven't heard, it's getting warm here in Southwest Georgia!

Monday was a bit of a blur, but on Tuesday we had a good day. We had a lesson with Enoch which went well, but he isn't quite ready for baptism. We then biked across town to the bike shop and took a break at DQ with smoothies. We then went to the Hall's for a Hispanic spaghetti which was delicious. Nancy Hall is from Brazil which explains the different spaghetti. We finished the night contacting referrals.

Wednesday night we had Book of Mormon class and we mainly worked on referrals that day as well, but with little luck.

On Thursday was our ZTM in Tifton. The meeting was great and the lessons were inspiring. They gave us some info since President and Sister Cottle will soon be released. They will be having a string good-bye mini zone conference this week and next week. At the very end of the meeting, Elder Godwin and Elder Christensen put on another skit mainly illustrating how to pack since Elder Christensen is going (now) home. They then put a suitcase on the table and pulled out a good size tortuous and a small snapping turtle. I have one question: Where do they find these turtles?! We then went and had lunch at Chili's. We get back to Albany and Ralph picks us up so we could go give someone a blessing. We then go help a buddy of his get rid of a couch. We then gave it to Enoch as a gift since he doesn't have furniture 

Thursday night we got a text from Enoch saying that he wants to hold off on his baptism due to some disagreement on his part with some points of doctrine he has not yet clarified. We then set up an appointment for the next day at Bro. Hall's at 3 pm. The next day we planned and headed to meet with Enoch. He didn't show up and we just talked with Bro. Hall. We were significantly let down. He got back to us later, though. He worked later than planned.

Sister Danible, Sister Walker, Me, Elder Callison & Ralph
Saturday was very busy!  We had sports in the morning and we had a chance to talk with Enoch about his questions and concerns. We were able to address a few things, but he seems to be getting there somewhat. After sports we raced home to shower and change. Brother Anderson picked us up and took us to Wal-Mart for some snacks during our 'blitz' of Blakely. We met with a less-active, Clifton and we went on splits. I was with Bro. Anderson. Before we headed to Jakin to see people, I listened in on the transfer conference call. Luckily my name was not called as I mentioned earlier. We went out and were able to contact 2 people out of a dozen. It was a very long day. 

Church was good as well the next day. In the evening we went to Cher's for a 'going away party' for Sister Danible. It was a good time and this week took a lot out of me. 

Looking forward to another transfer here in Albany and serving the Lord in this portion of the Lord's vineyard. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fleas, Referrals & Weird Feelings

Tifton West Zone Conference May 17th, 2016
Dear Friends and Family,
This has been another interesting week. I was on exchanges on Tuesday here in Albany with Elder Mahan. After coming back from District Meeting that day, we didn't have much time after emailing, but we had a lesson with Enoch that evening after dinner. Wednesday was even more filled. We got a ride to Moultrie to exchange back with Bro. Anderson. We got back a little after Dinner and we visited a few people.

On Thursday, we went did some RMT in the afternoon and tried a few referrals in the area before going home for dinner. We had a lesson with Enoch that evening as well. We had a few uneventful days. 

On Friday, we planned for next week for a good portion of the day. At about 4, Ralph picked us up to go help Cher with something. What we ended up doing was going under her mom's portion of the house to fix a pipe where fleas were getting into the bathtub. Ralph went in first, then Elder Callison, then myself. We were all of course bug sprayed and wearing face masks to protect ourselves. With Ralph in the lead, he attempted to seal the pipe with some foam but it ended up getting all over him and not on the desired location. He also got a mess of fleas on him. Poor Ralph. We got out of there and it was my turn to get in there with some spray to kill the fleas or at least deter them. I almost went as deep as Ralph did, but it got hard for me due to my stature, but I got the job done. We left there, got some drinks to re-hydrate and showered all of the gunk off.

Saturday was pretty productive. We helped Bro. Isberg in the morning with some yard work and he got us breakfast. We then went to sports day at the church and played chair soccer with enoch, Tamerat, the Sisters, and some Vietnamese people. It was quite fun! We get home and shower and get ready for the rest of our day. We then went out to contact some referrals. We had about 6 to contact and there was some good biking involved not to mention that it was a very warm day. Our efforts paid off and we have a few more potential investigators to see later. We biked home for dinner and the Sisters brought us Sonic drinks! YES! After dinner we biked out to Enoch's for a lesson. At that point we started our fast so that he could know the Book of Mormon to be true. We listened to 'Safety for the Soul' by Elder Holland which really helped him. The Spirit became tangible in that discussion and he told us he knew it to be true and that talk reinforced what he had read and been taught. I was lighter than air after that. We walked out with smiles and the possibility of him being baptized next Saturday. As we bike away to try some more referrals, we come across a guy who wanted ANOTHER Book of Mormon. Perhaps it was the same guy I gave one to several weeks ago. While Elder Callison talked to him, a shirtless guy asked me for a pamphlet, so I gave him a Restoration pamphlet and explained certain things he asked about. Interesting to say the least...

Sunday morning was Ward Council and the regular meetings. Everything was going good. Brother Flores was now the Gospel Principles teacher and enoch was at Church. It started getting odd in Elder's Quorum when Enoch questioned the Elders Quorum President about his career. He was quite intrusive, but President Carter was very graceful with his questions. It certainly put me and Elder Callison to thinking that something feels off. Church ended and we had hoped Enoch would stay for a baptism of an 8-year old boy. After Church however, he sat in the chapel and didn't talk to anyone. He then came up to us and said he had to go. Another weird feeling. That stuck with me for the rest of the day. We know have the feeling he may not be as ready as we think he is. But we will continue to work with him. Maybe it was selfish of me to get him to Baptism, I do not know. It will all work out in the end. 

I cannot believe Transfer calls are next Saturday and ZTM is on Thursday.  I have a feeling I might leave. It's been raining since this morning. We are also going to Blakely to contact some people with some members. Should be a busy day! Any who, looking forward to this week and a few more people to start teaching!

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner