Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Keep us in y'alls prayers

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, Transfer calls have come and gone. We got a call Thursday night from Elder Bingham (Assistant to the President) informing me that I have been assigned to train a new missionary. I didn't quite know what to say or to react other than saying I would be glad to. We went to a meeting in Macon on Saturday at the Mission Home to receive instruction. About 40 missionaries were there, about half of which are training. We crammed into the living room to hear from President Grayson and the APs. Now, Moultrie detoured, picked us up, and took us to Macon. The Zone Leaders were there since Elder Ray was 'training'. They were asked to take us back home, or so we thought. We waited for a good hour after the meeting and lunch had ended. We had a good conversation with Sister Grayson and the APs while President Grayson was doing Temple Recommend Interviews with missionaries about to go home on Monday (today). Then everyone left except for us, the APs, and the Zone Leaders. Elder Sorenson and Elder Ray brought their car around to 'pick us up'. Elder Ray started to unload his bags indicating quite obviously that he was asked to be the new AP. Mind blown! We then left with Elder Sorenson. He will be staying with us until tomorrow. In the meantime we have had access to the car we came back with, which has been awesome.

Another note.. On Thursday Pres. Grayson asked how many referrals we had and the Grigsbys called and asked if we could fit another set of Elders in our apartment temporarily. We said we could and they came down later that day with a pair of mattresses, box springs, frames, and study chairs. They then took us to Applebee's for supper. So, we are getting another set of Elders in Albany! The good news is that another car is coming as well. Bad news is that the new set is getting it and Albany will not be a car-share area. Let the biking and 8 months to fitness continue!!

A lot is going to be happening in the near future. I am anxious when I meet my Greenie and I pray that we will get along and that I can teach him what he needs to know about being a missionary. Keep us in y'alls prayers please! I must admit that yesterday I felt inadequate to train a new missionary. I know it's the adversary telling me that, but it is difficult nonetheless. Gotta keep pushing forward!

This week was a very interesting one. we struggled to teach much. I remain optimistic for the future. My motto as of late has been "Keep looking forward!" Indeed it is the only thing we can do at times. With prayer and faith all things are possible!

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, July 18, 2016

A gnarly storm!

Dear Family and Friends,

Once again, this week has flown by. Last Monday we helped a new family move in on the Marine Base here in Albany. The Perez family. Barney and Bro. Hall were there as well and I was trying my best to not overdo do it and it was clear when my back started to tense up again... We then went to Steak n Shake for lunch afterwards which was delicious!

On Tuesday, I made some white chicken chili and we brought it to Sis. Oldham who lives in a care facility and Ralph came as well. It really made her day and her week. Her new roommate enjoyed some as well. She claimed it was the first home-cooked meal she has had in a long time. I give credit to my mom who passed on the recipe to me.  

On Wednesday we went out to try some referrals in western Albany. We were out for a few hours  and we took a break at a gas station and 'Poweraded' up and continued on. Later that day we met up with the Dunns at the church and had pizza with them for supper. We then had Book of Mormon class and had a great discussion about Prophets and distinguishing those with authority and those who claim authority by knowledge of scriptures and/or 'visions'. It really cleared the air when Enoch brought up that question. The Spirit was strong in that gathering. We were lingering for a little bit and we met up with Bishop Tolman. We loaded our bikes into a trailer he was hauling and asked if we were hungry. I had a little supper with the Dunns so I said yes. a quick drive-thru at McDonalds and we were back home very much worn out from the day.

On Thursday we weekly planned for a little bit and we tried some potentials from a while ago. We were able to meet up with Michelle once again and she wants us to come back this week in the evening which is quite exciting. Not too much else...

On Friday we went to Tifton for ZTM and Interviews with President Grayson. The meeting was great and it gave me a lot to think about. It gave me a lot of encouragement to work even harder so I can fulfill my purpose. After lunch, Bro. Anderson picked us up and we started for home. As we were driving, a gnarly storm blew in that we went through. With the thunder and lightning came a literal sheet of rain so that we couldn't see more than 20 ft ahead of us. Kinda scary. All we could really see was a tow truck in front of us with its lights on. Really eerie... 

On Saturday, I worked on my bike more since Bro. Spiers looked at it on Thursday and the front brake was giving me a resistance workout. I removed the disc brake and it vastly improved. We visited with Bro. Hall for a good portion of the morning. We then headed home for lunch. We then went back out and we biked to a list of referrals and potentials in a part of town we hadn't seen on our bikes. We were able to make contact with Sis. Wilson after a good long while and try Bro. Hayes, though only his son was there to let us know. Before we knew it, it was getting late and were hungry. On our way home, we stopped at a Subway and got some sandwiches and headed home for a late supper. 

Church was good yesterday and there was a really good turnout in Sacrament meeting, which was unusual. A less-active referral and her non-member husband showed up which was really awesome! We will be setting up an appointment today. In Priesthood, we discussed family history and the Temple. These two principles go hand-in-hand. They go back to Malachi's prophecy in the Old Testament; Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

It has been a quick week and it blows my mind that this is the last week of the Transfer. I get a feeling I'm transferring out. Whatever happens, it's for the best. Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, July 11, 2016

The gnats have come out to play!

Meeting the new Mission President!!

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, Summer is in full swing and it is quite warm down here in Albany! The gnats have also come out to play!

Fireworks with Ralph & the Sisters
As y'all know, last Monday was Independence Day! We weren't able to celebrate it, but we had the chance to meet with one of our investigators, Cher, the Sisters, and Ralph to light off some fireworks. She got a ton of fireworks and they were the big aerial kinds that no one can get back home and set off legally. The night was awesome and others joined in on some fireworks.

On Wednesday morning, we went to Tifton to meet President and Sister Grayson. Both Tifton Zones were there and we were  glad to meet him. He is very softspoken as compared to President Cottle who was very outspoken. After the conference, a few of the missionaries went to go eat lunch at Ranchero's, a southwest grill. A little later, after Book of Mormon class, we were about to bike home when I discovered my tire was going flat. I filled up with my pump that's on my bike and we biked home without trouble. A little earlier we were on our way to the Church to eat supper when we were stopped by a woman who turned out to be one of our referrals we had been trying to contact. We set an appointment for 11 am the next day.

The next morning, my tire was still flat. We were busy with some other things and my tire held on. Before we left for our appointment, I had the distinct impression we would teach the Plan of Salvation. I didn't know why. We knock on her door and she let us in while she was taking a phone call. She came back in the room a few minutes later and informed us her mother had just passed. We immediately talked about our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. It was brief but she invited us back and that she would invite some friends next time as well. Awesome!

 We went over to Cher's to help with some yard work that evening. It was about 9 pm when we were fixing to leave. Guess what, my tire was going flat again. I tried filling it up and the darned valve busted and it lost all air pressure. Frustrated, I tried my best to keep my cool. I took a deep breath and we called Ralph for a pickup. 

The next morning we borrowed the Sister's car to get a new tube. We got the tube and came to the apartment. We weekly planned for a while and I was in the process of installing the tube when we both realized the tube was the wrong size too big. Brother Anderson took us to get an exchange shortly after that. we got back and the tube has worked fine since. I just can't seem to shake the bike problems, but oh well!

The next day was a doozy. After sports being cancelled, we biked over to East Albany. We tried some referrals and stopped at a convenience store to cool down. It was a good 8 mile ride out there. After downing a Gatorade and a Snickers, we were good to go. We then biked out to Chris Cartmell's house to visit. We knocked but it seemed they were asleep or something. We biked a half mile when Chris called and we biked back. We visited with Chris, Felicia his wife, and Andy his son. we downed some more fluids and Chris took us home. We then got picked up by Sis. Ross' son-in-law and grandson and we had a good supper at Zaxby's. 

Sunday was a blur. Some thunder and lightning slowed us down, but we were able to see Mary to finish the night. 

Another week in the books and Summer is just getting started. Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hey Normans!

The fishing hole
Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a long one. It has been plenty warm down here in Albany!

On Monday, we were biking to go to an appointment with Enoch when we were stopped by a guy who called out "Hey Normans!". We came back and his name turned out to be Tony. He was cool enough guy. We then helped him move some couches for a buddy of his. As it turns out he's a pastor at a church in town. He did not look it, but he has been through a lot to get where he is. He said he would like to meet up again sometime to have a Bible study with him. We then parted and went to our lesson with Enoch which went well itself. 
Not sure what is going on here??? Funny faces??

On Tuesday, we had District Meeting here in Albany and after lunch we went on exchanges. Elder Godinez came to Albany with me for the day. It was quite warm and we had some success. Toward supper, we biked over to the Isbergs for our dinner appointment. Bro. Isberg then took us to Golden Corral. And after dinner, the temperature reading in his van read 100 degrees! Phew! 

On Wednesday after exchanging back, we tried some more referrals with little success. We came back a little past 2 and did some more studying for our lesson with Enoch that would end up getting cancelled. We then changed and biked over to Cher's to help her with some firewood. Right as we're about to leave, it started pouring. We biked back home and arrived soaked. We then showered and changed quickly to meet with Bishop Tolman at the church for supper. We ended up going to Cracker Barrel! After that we had Book of Mormon class to end the night. 

Fishing with Sister Walker & Elder Callison
On Thursday morning, we went fishing with Cher and the Sisters. We drove the Sister's car which was a nice change of pace. We went over a bit long than I would have liked. It was nice and relaxing to fish for a while. I didn't catch anything unfortunately. We got back, had some lunch and had some RMT. We then went to see about 10ish referrals around the area. One was interested and the others not so much. Apparently the Bibles I was carrying got soaked from a loose lid water bottle I had. We then had a late supper. 

Friday was a long day. We helped some people who know Bro. Anderson move into an apartment. They were really good, Christian people. It was a woman who just divorced and her adult Army-vet son moving. His back was bad, so it was Elder Callison and I doing the heavy lifting. I ended up hurting my back too... But it was good opportunity to share the Gospel. They had some good questions. they wanted to meet up again for supper sometime. We then weekly planned for the remainder of the night.

Saturday flew by and Sunday was interesting. Sister Ross, the meal calendar coordinator came into Priesthood Opening Exercises and chewed out the brethren for not feeding, which wasn't entirely true. She then said we need to be fed no matter what, which is also not true. We clarified that when she left. Later that day we had supper at with the Marburys and they paid me a compliment that I have lost weight since I've been here. I don't quite know about that...

As a last note, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! May we remember and honor those who have fought for and defended our freedoms we enjoy. And for the privilege we have to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! God Bless America!

Have a good week y'all!!

Elder Alexander Kestner    

PS. President Grayson is now the new Georgia Macon Mission President!