Monday, September 26, 2016

The fruits of our Work!

Columbus Zone Training Meeting
Dear Family and Friends,
I slacked off a little this week in my journal but I shall do my best!

On Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Munn in his area (Ft. Mitchell). We had a pretty decent day. We did some service for the Otts and taught one of their investigators, Nicole. Another of their investigators, Bonnie, was hospitalized, so her Baptism had to be pushed back. She should be discharged in the next day or two. 

The next morning we exchanged back and did some RMT and we all had lunch at our apartment. Later on we tried a potential and it turned out to be a confused hung-over guy that kinda took us back since we were looking for a woman... Wednesday was relatively uneventful other than that. We really pushed trying to follow up with some potentials and less-actives. 

On Thursday we had ZTM in Columbus and the Graysons and the Finlinsons showed up to the meeting. Man, I hardly recognize anyone... Well, they ended up taking our car from us.... Sad day :( and since we took the other Elders, the Finlinsons took us back. On our way back they treated us to Popeye's and I love their biscuits!

Friday was primarily busy with weekly planning and getting a new couch from some members moving to Arizona. Bro. Bush helped us pick it up in his truck. 

We spent most of Saturday in Columbus working with the Red Cross installing free smoke alarms. We installed about 50 alarms in about 7 homes. Those people, well a good few, were receptive to hearing more of our message and we referred those people to the Zone Leaders who work in the area. It seemed to me that we were able to talk with them as we came with the Red Cross vests on. A really good day, probably the best day of the week! We later gave our old couch to the Sisters.

Sunday went by really fast. The highlight was the lesson in Elder's Quorum. AJ taught it and it was incredible to see the fruits of our work with him over a year ago now coming through. A lot of what he said are what we taught him. It brought me true joy to see that. Not too many missionaries get to see that, as Josten Cornett mentioned to me. Truly a blessing and a tender mercy.

The days are little by little cooling off. It is still in the 90s in the middle of the day but not quite as muggy as it was during the Summer. 
Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, September 19, 2016

I have been sent back, until my task is done"

Dear Friends and Family,

This week was certainly a good one despite me getting a head cold on Wednesday that I am still fighting as I type, but a lot of improvement has been made. Let's jump into it!
On Tuesday after P-Day, we had a lesson with Olivia, an investigator. Our discussion was taken up reading Mosiah 3 which talks a lot on faith and repentance. She was very receptive and she is starting to see that the Book of Mormon has a lot of importance. As the end of the lesson we asked her to offer a closing prayer as Elder Uceda had challenged us to do. We then followed up by asking if we could kneel and she replied with a "Of course!!" which was really awesome. She also has a little puppy that was running around during the lesson. That ended our night well!
On Wednesday we traveled to Tifton for a follow-up Podiatrist appointment. The result is that I am clear. My toes are doing what they should be doing which is a major relief for me. We then drove the 3 hours back to Phenix City, passing through Albany to do so. It's like I was just there or something... We then had supper at the Worthington's and Book of Mormon class to finish off the night.

The next day, after RMT, we met up with the other Elders, had lunch, and went with them to a lesson with their investigator Bonnie, who will be baptized this Saturday! The lesson was great and the Spirit testified to her of the things she has both felt and read. We also visited with Brother and Sister Newsome. After splitting, we had a good lesson with Stan on keeping the Word of Wisdom. After our discussion we asked him to pray, but he started to defer to us but we followed Elder Uceda's counsel to remain firm in those moments as Stan then offered a heartfelt prayer. A very good day for sure!

A lot of Friday was spent weekly planning and cleaning the Church in anticipation of the Sisters' investigator's baptism. 
Saturday morning we helped Bro. Bush and the other Elders do some yard work for a Sister in the Ward. My sneezing and sinuses certainly were not helpful during and after. Bro. Bush, before dropping us off sent us with some chicken noodle soup to eat that would help. It certainly did help and he instructed me to rest a little which I hadn't been doing... Oh well. What can I say, I'm stubborn. That evening was the Baptism and Bug performed the ordinance for Rebel, the investigator, now convert. The room was packed as well! On our way home I got some spicy food from Taco Bell to help clear me out. 
Church was great yesterday and we had another great lesson with Olivia. We also brought the sacrament to the Otts. We also visited with the Newsomes and they gave us ice cream and cake which was good! Our lesson with Olivia went very well and she had read part of her assignment which was great. She starting to make some progress as well as gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. 
This week was a solid week with a lot of credit to Zone Conference with Elder Uceda which still has me invigorated. I am really excited to find out why exactly I was sent back and I kinda feel like Gandalf in the Two Towers; "I have been sent back, until my task is done". 
Have a good week y'all!
Elder Alexander Kestner

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Seek the Spirit and the Lord will open your eyes

Dear Family and Friends,
Well, it's been pretty incredible being back in Sweet Home Alabama, aka Phenix City! A good portion of this week was spent getting reacquainted with the area and members. 

On Wednesday we did some service for Bro. and Sis. Otts. It was a little slow since I was instructed to wear sandals for my toes to get air. That night we had Book of Mormon class and re-introduced myself to Bishop Zeh and others at the church. We then had ward correlation meeting with Bro. Bush, the ward mission leader since Bro. Sullivan moved since I left along with a few other families I grew close to like the Howells and others. The meeting was good and the other missionaries in the District are Elder Munn(District Leader- 8 months out), Elder Glenn(2 months out and from the Idaho pan handle!), Sis. Farmer(12 months), Sis. Greenland(idk how long...) and of course Elder Buckley and I. And yes, I am the old man of the District with Sis. Farmer next. 

Well, on Wednesday evening, we got a call from president Grayson telling us that we would be given a car for temporary uses. I guess Sis. Finlinson (Mission Nurse) was behind that effort. So, we called up Carlos, a less-active, whom I am already acquainted with.He took us Thursday morning to the Mission Office in Macon to pick up the car. The AP's, Elder and Sister Jensen were there at the office along with the Grigsby's, the Missionary housing couple. We got it all worked out and we went to lunch with the AP's at Wendy's. It was good lunch for us, not so much for them where they had a weird looking blue-cheese salad. It looked pretty nasty... We then drove the two hours back in the Chevy Cruze to Phenix City. 
Skip ahead to Saturday, and we are heading to Stake Conference with Sam Jones, who has a mission call to Arizona. We were privileged to have all of the Columbus Stake Full-time missionaries (about 32) along with some YSA to sing two hymns for the Adult Session and guess who sat right in front of me! Elder Meurs, a recently called General Authority Seventy from Australia. Guess who was also in direct view of the camera when standing up... This guy! Kinda awkward, but a very enjoyable evening.  

The next day we heard from President and Sister Grayson and Elder and Sister Meurs. During the announcement of brethren who had advanced into the Melchizedek Priesthood and AJ's name was called and I talked with him and Malory after the conference and they were surprised to see me back in the area. It was a truly great day. We later had lunch with Bug and Lulu Eiland, when it began to dump rain on us. Thankfully we were in a car. We then had a church tour that no one showed up for except for Bro. Bush... We then visited with a Sister Brewer for a while. She has a mini schnauzer, Parker, that reminds of my own schnauzer, O'skar. It was a really good visit as well and the Spirit was strong. A generally good day!
A tank we fleetingly got a picture of on the road back from Macon on Thursday
The next morning we overslept, well, kinda. We set our alarm for 5:00 am so that we could carpool with the other Elders to Macon for a Mission Conference. We intended to leave by 5:45-6:00. We woke up to the other Elders ringing out doorbell at 5:35. We quickly got ready and left 15 minutes later and off we went. It was still dark! A sign that the seasons are about to change. We get to the Conference and we were privileged to hear from Elder Meurs and Elder Uceda of the Seventy.

I would like to share some thoughts and quotes from the Conference that have resonated with me...

President Grayson- "Seek the Spirit and the Lord will open your eyes"
Sister Meurs- Members are key to retention
Elder Meurs- We have the same calling and responsibility as the First Presidency, Quorum of the the Twelve, and General Authority Seventies. "Be a Full-time servant of Jesus Christ"
Elder Uceda- When we were set apart, it was as though the Lord did so in a very real sense. D & C 36:2 
and my favorite quote from the conference; "Talk less, and do more with your investigator"

It was a truly wonderful conference. We afterwards went to Chipotle and spent some time around the other missionaries that came for MLC (Mission Leadership Council). All of the other Elders I came out with were there, which was very cool.
Anyway, a fairly good week. Really looking forward to this week, despite other things like driving 3 hours to Tifton for a follow-up Doctor's appointment which will take most of the day...

Have a great week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sweet Home Alabama!

Transfer meeting! PCO Sister Dunagan
 Dear Friends and Family,
Well, this week has been a long and interesting one. A lot of anticipation for Transfers and working with our list of referrals. Let's jump in and I apologize if it's a wee bit skimpy...
On Monday we went up with Bro. Hall to the Sizemore's and fished for a while. Elder Bingham hooked a good sized Carp, but it got away. We then had a delicious supper of homemade fried chicken and Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert.
On Tuesday we went to contact a referral we had gotten a hold of the night before. His name is Marsella. Before we met with him, my tire started going flat, so we took it to the bike shop. While it was being repaired, we walked and talked with another referral, Pierre, who happens to be related to Marsella(they are both from Haiti). We had a good, but brief discussion with Pierre and invited him to come to church and read from the Book of Mormon. We then walked the mile and a half to Marsella's. As it turns out, he holds a small worship service in an apartment. He is only 18. He told us he has sought us out. He went onto and read up on our beliefs and he said our church had the most truth. He also said he would be willing to leave the church he led to join the Church. We committed him to Baptism right then and there. He is only 18 and very mature for his age. The Lord has truly prepared him. It seemed too good to be true. Surely the Lord prepares the hearts of his chosen people.
On Wednesday we went to Tifton and I got my toes worked on as I mentioned last week. They're doing great now as a matter of fact. No pain at all!
On Thursday I went on exchanges with Elder Bingham. We went out to Dawson and met with a 104-year old woman named Grace. She is really sweet and still so energetic! On our way back to Albany we stopped at a place called Mark's Melon Patch. There I got a Peach-Vanilla Swirl ice cream which tasted like Peach Cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Oh it was so good!
Peach Cobbler Ice Cream, of course!
While on exchanges, Elder Major and Elder Oldroyd put Marsella on date for October 8th! Awesome!

Friday went by quickly and nerves started acting up this close to Transfers. 
On Saturday, we had sports at the Church and Bro. Spiers helped me with getting my rear shift cable replaced and functioning. Before he got there, he totaled his truck. Let's just say he is lucky to have walked away from it. We then went with him and did service for him by cutting the grass... Well, Elder Oldroyd did. My service was grilling for everyone and it is certainly up to par now. Watch out Dad! We had a great evening with the Spiers, the other Elders, and the Sisters. We had Ward Correlation and went home for Transfer calls. Well, my name was called to pack up. I honestly saw it coming since I was there for 4 Transfers. 
The next two days were spent saying good bye and contemplating where I would be going next.
Sister Oldham

Brother Cartmell (Redneck Dad)

Earlier today, I was assigned to Elder Buckley and I asked him where we were going. He said "Phenix City!" Oh the joy that filled my soul... MY FIRST AREA!!! I am still in shock and Josten Cornett, who drove us was in shock.

With the Cornetts again headed to Phenix City, AL 
Boy I am on cloud nine!

Well, have a good week y'all as I am back in Sweet Home Alabama!
Elder Alexander Kestner