Monday, November 28, 2016

Smoked Turkey & Transfers

The Goertzen's new Husky Puppy
Dear Family and Friends,

Well, the last week of the Transfer had gone by and I am staying in Phenix City for another Transfer which will last through Christmas! 

On Monday, we were driving out of Wal-Mart and we saw a homeless guy on the side of the road. Now, we had a a few dollars given to us by a member. We decided he needed it more. Elder Glenn rolled the window down and called him over. He gave him the money and we offered him a Bible. We then pulled into a parking spot and talked to him for a little bit. His story touched all of us, and he told us his name was Johnathon. Elder Buckley and Elder Glenn suddenly offered him one of their socks. He was a little taken back, but he humbly accepted. He also accepted a Book of Mormon and we left him with a word of prayer. A very sobering experience for me, personally. Later that day, we were able to meet up with a potential investigator, Georgia, from Jamaica. A fairly interesting day...

On Tuesday, we had District Meeting and the Zone Leaders joined us as well. After getting dropped off, we biked down and talked with Wesley for a little bit. We then tried the Rivers without much luck. We then tracted their street and met a 94 year-old Jehovah's Witness. She was nice, but not interested. The next house we approached, some lady popped out from the side door and angrily asked us what we were doing. we of course said we were sharing a special message about Christ. She then said angrily "Not interested". That was kinda weird for both of us, but we shrugged it off. A little later, we were able to follow-up with Stan. He's doing a little better, which is good. We're really hoping to get him a sold date for Baptism this week. We then delayed supper to meet with Sis. Stevens. We then nearly froze biking back to our apartment. It was pitch black and not even 7 pm! After a well-deserved meal, we went out to contact some less-actives nearby, without too much luck. We were in our sweaters by this point as well. We were able to, however, contact a promising referral, or rather, her husband. We delivered the Bible they requested and he accepted a Book of Mormon. Not a bad night!

The next day we did some service for the Otts for a few hours. We later met with Bro. Bush to introduce the new method of introducing the Book of Mormon. It went well. We then had supper with Sis. Brewer, and visited the Owens to finish the night. We watched a film illustrating the life of Joseph Smith and his vital role of the Restoration. 

Thursday morning, Dustin McClure picked us up and we played football for a few hours. I was switching between Tight End and O-Line and DB on Defense. It was a very good turn out. The Woods, Clarks, all four Elders, Bro. McClure, and Bug were there. Man, Bug had my number all game! He's in his 50's and he's keeping all of us on our toes! After getting back, we changed, showered, and studied. Ft. Mitchell came over and Bro. Goertzen then took us to their place for a Thanksgiving feast. It was all so delicious as we chowed down on smoked turkey! We were all pretty sore from all of the football we played that day!

Friday,we weekly planned, had a good lesson with Brad and Teresa along with Bro. Bush. we then tried some street contacting and visiting some less-actives. A relatively uneventful evening, but I was still paying for the football from the day before. 

Saturday went by quickly. On our way down Summerville, some guys in a car began cussing up a storm at us. One of them even threw a nearly full bottle of Sprite. He missed of course. I kinda felt like Samuel the Lamanite on the wall preaching. It didn't really phase us much. We were able to teach Jimmy the Book of Mormon using the new method minus the visual aid. It went very well and he wants to find out for himself. We later visited Greg and Melissa and introduced the Christmas Initiative that the Church is putting on. We then visited the 'other' McClures and check up on them. We then biked home to get picked up by Bro. Whitmore for supper. On our way through the parking lot, my chain snapped! I was not a happy camper then! We had a a great meal with the Whitmores, we then met Bro. Bush at Stan and Nikki's but the house was dark. Maybe they were out watching the Iron Bowl? Roll Tide Roll!! Bro. Bush then dropped us off and we then got picked up by Ft. Mitchell and visited with Sis. Hearn before going back for Transfer calls. It was shocking to me that I 'm staying another Transfer when I was near certain I was leaving. The Lord has something else in mind for me to do here still. Elder Buckley, however, is getting Transferred. No one else in the District is either. 
Pecan Pie
Sunday, after Church was spent with Elder Buckley saying goodbye and getting pictures. It was a pretty fast-paced weekend!

Well, this Transfer is certain to be filled with surprises with Christmas and a new companion! 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

PS. Check out #LIGHTtheWORLD on to make this Christmas season even more meaningful. 
Elder Buckley in truck

Monday, November 21, 2016

An Invitation to be thankful

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, the Holiday season is upon us and the air growing colder and colder. It is a lot drier than it has been due to no real rainfall since I've been back in Phenix City. 
Car inspections..with no car
On Monday, we were at the church playing a good amount of football and I must say, I was getting pretty sore from everything we did. At 6, we had supper with the Phillips and had delicious tacos to eat! They are just like how my mom makes them. They were so tasty! I was able to eat 10 and Elder Buckley got 12 down. We then had small chocolate chip cookies for desert. Brother and Sister Phillips then took us home and we went out to street contact. We were able to talk to Jimmy in the parking lot at Piggly Wiggly. We hadn't been able to talk to him much, so this was golden! We got back to our apartment exhausted! 

The next day we had a mini District Meeting and helped Sister Lewis celebrate her 20th birthday. Later in the day, we pulled in to talk to Wesley and Jimmy, but we ended up talking to Wesley and Shane, their neighbor. Shane is a really cool guy. He loves Christ and he asked us some really good questions. He said we could come back and he has some good potential! That evening, after supper with the Woods, we went with Pres. Woods (Elders Quorum President) and his nephew Logan to contact some active and less-active members. We first visited with Dustin McClure and his family. We had a brief but short visit. We then visited the Thompson and reconnected with them. It was really good to see them and feel of their spirit. It was a real solid day.
The Columbus District takes a Selfie

On Wednesday, Elder Darrington, a new missionary came with me on exchanges. We went out trying to contact some new referrals and such. We in total biked about 15 miles, which doesn't sound like much, but a lot of it was hills. That wore me out, let alone Elder Darrington who doesn't bike as much as we do. That was a pretty busy part of our day. We were able to contact one, but he wasn't interested and another who moved. We then had supper with the Whitmore's and had Book of Mormon class to end the day. PHEW!!

The next day, we exchanged back after studies and we biked in the northern part of our area near Sis. Hearn and where Bro. Sullivan used to live. We tried contacting a member family but with no luck. We then went to the western part of our area. We were able to meet Sharon and get a good time from her to come back. We then got to a potential's apartment, Eric. We were about to knock on the door when a maintenance guy told us "No soliciting" even though we were clearly not selling anything. That really irked us for the next few hours. We then were able to talk with Nikki briefly about the Plan of Salvation since her sister had just passed from cancer. We then visited Sis. Stevens before meeting Bro. Goertzen at our apartment for a drop-off of Supper. All four of us Elders then formally said goodbye to the Cornetts. It was a good visit and we relayed some memories and thoughts from our time with them. 
Walking, Talking & doing the Dab w/ Logan Woods
Early Friday morning, Josten came and gave us haircuts before Zone Conference. The meeting went very well and it was quite cool when we got to the church building in Columbus. One of the training(s) was on introducing the Book of Mormon in 10 minutes plainly and sparking interest . The 2nd part would be to mark a copy with certain verses and passages circled. The whole purpose is to read it in 90 minutes and grasp the basic concept of the Book of Mormon and asking Heavenly Father in prayer if it is true. A very new concept to me, but I have faith it will work with the Lord's help and the Spirit guiding us. I really enjoyed the conference and I am looking to apply those principles taught. 
Saturday morning, after a great interview with President Grayson, we helped the Cornetts load up the moving truck for a few hours. Towards the end, we dove into Josten's supply of MRE's (Meal Ready to Eat). After changing, we visited Bonnie and shared the new method of introducing the Book of Mormon and she loved it! We then, all four of us, had supper with Sis. Brewer. Bro. Bush then picked us up and we had a lesson with Stan and Nikki. We had planned to teach the Plan of Salvation, but we were prompted to talk about the Word of Wisdom as well. The Spirit was really working on Stan and a lot is on him to help him and Nikki quit smoking. He even said that his co-workers notice a difference when he reads the Book of Mormon on his breaks. Absolutely no coincidence. There is a power that comes from the Book of Mormon that brings peace and guidance. We challenged Stan not to buy cigarettes this week and come to church to help quit smoking. It was such an incredible lesson and Bro. Bush gave some wonderful insights.

On Sunday, Stan didn't make it to church, which was very disappointing, but we can't govern his agency. We continued having a good day. We had lunch at the Bush's, visited Sis. Brewer, the Otts, the Newsomes, and Betty Rivers. It was a really good day!
Rectum Ripper Hot Sauce
Another cool thing or odd thing occurred this week. On Thursday, while we were eating supper at our desks, we saw a dark shape run into the kitchen. Elder Buckley and I just looked at each other with a stare and he asked me "What are we going to name this one?". We named him Ivan. So, Alberto has a Russian cousin, Ivan. Let the battle begin! He has evaded us so far, but he won't live too much longer with our efforts and traps. 

Since this week is Thanksgiving, I would like to invite everyone who reads this to think of something or someone you're grateful for and then tell that person. I'll start. I am grateful for this opportunity to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for my companion, Elder Buckley. I am grateful for my wonderful parents and siblings who show so much support while I am away in the Lord's vineyard for 2 short years. I am grateful for my brother, Ben, who is out serving a mission in the Arizona Gilbert Mission. I am most grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that allows me to grow, learn, and develop those attributes so that I cane better serve my Savior. 

God Bless and have a great week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

PS. We will be eating with the Goertzens on Thanksgiving and we will be digging into a smoked turkey and a fried turkey as well. YUM!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Special Witnesses of Christ

A beautiful Georgia Peach Sunset
Dear Friends and Family,

This week has certainly flown by and a few things in particular occurred this week.

On Monday, we played football at the church with all 6 of us in preparation of the Turkey Bowl, Thanksgiving morning. We then had supper with the Longerbeams. As Bro. Longerbeam was taking us home, we found a bird sitting precariously on the road. It was really weird and kinda eerie looking. I'm glad I got a picture of it. We later pulled over and used his high-powered binoculars and searched the clear night we had. We were able to see the craters on the moon in spite of the lights coming from Columbus. We talked for a while, contemplating what we were seeing. That was our night. 
A weird bird

Tuesday morning we tried visiting a few potentials and formers without much luck. We were able to talk to Savoy briefly and he referred his neighbor to us as he came out of his house. We did that immediately but he wasn't too interested. He told us he was born in Germany and his accent certainly proved that. Savoy made mention of the Election and we went on our way back to have our lunch break. Ft. Mitchell came by later and picked us up so we could help them teach a particularly difficult lesson in a somewhat hazardous environment. That lesson ended up falling through anyways. We then tried Connie Eiland, a relative of Bug's. We then got dropped off on Sandfort Rd and we biked to the people we had planned to see. Most of the people weren't there and my chain was still giving me grief. We were able to see Sis. Stevens for a while and she gave us some delicious, home-made strawberry lemonade. We then biked home for supper. Our evening for the most part fell through but we were able to visit with Sis. Morgan and she gave us three bags of Ramen. After we dropped off the bags, we were biking out of our complex and some teenage/college looking guys called out "Why you going out this time of the night?" as we just rode past them. We had places to be and people to see! We then visited Sis. Hearn. We knocked on her door and rang the doorbell. About to go to Plan B, we checked the garage and her car wasn't there. Right as we were about leave, we saw a pair of headlights coming down the street. Elder Buckley said "Watch, that will be Sis. Hearn". Sure enough, it was! PERFECT TIMING on both parts! It was a good way to end the day. It was quite cool to boot.
Bubba, the American Bull Dog (across from Sister Stevens house)

Wednesday went by fast, but in the morning we walked down to the library for RMT. Ft. Mitchell then gave us a ride back for lunch. A little later, Carlos picked us up and took us over to Columbus to get our bikes looked at. One of the owners rode mine to figure out what was wrong and found that my front middle gear was completely worn down. He then replaced it. FOR FREE!! He also replaced the rear cassette gears. Now my bike is basically like new! It came to $34.56 for everything. A very good deal, considering it could have been a lot more. I was very grateful! Elder Buckley left his bike to get worked on. On our way back, Carlos got us some very good Frozen yogurt. After getting dropped off, we walked to meet Ft. Mitchell at CVS, trying to street contact on the way. We then met them and met Sis. Brewer and the Sisters at waffle House. One of the servers reminded me of one of my friends, Montana, at ISU. We then finished the night at Book of Mormon class. 
The speed limit in Sister Hearns neighborhood

Thursday was mostly spent in Auburn for ZTM. The training given really resonated with me, inspiring me to make my last few months richer. The AP's came to the meeting as well to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Our Zone Leaders are now Elder Walker and Elder Allen, the latter from Pocatello! We also had supper with the Creech's that evening. It was getting a little late, but we decided to visit some investigators who lived in the area. None of them were home and we were startled by two dogs, one of them with eyes glowing in the dark. Kinda creepy. No one was out and it was kinda chilly. Bro. Creech a little later picked us up and took us home. 

On Friday we weekly planned and also planned extensively for lessons with Brad and Teresa and the Owens. The ZL's stopped by on their way back from exchanges to say hi and use our bathroom. Bro. Bush came with us to teach Brad and Teresa and it went very well. Later that day, Sis. Rowe dropped off some El Vaquero for our supper and it was very good! We then had our lessons with the Owens and watched the "Special Witnesses of Christ" DVD and asked them the importance of having modern day Prophets and Apostles. The lesson went very well and it does stir the soul to wonder that our Heavenly Father still reaches out to us by sending Prophets. Amos tells us "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets". We are truly blessed to have a modern Moses or Elijah in our day. It is evidence of a loving Heavenly Father reach out to His children in the latter days. 

Saturday was spent primarily helping the Creech's install metal roofing. It was a beautiful, breezy, cool day. We got home around mid-afternoon utterly spent. Bro. Whitmore picked us up for supper and we had a good time. We were also priviledged to help give their kids a blessing since they weren't feeling too well. It was a very long and very tiring day for both of us. 

Sunday after church we had lunch at the Eiland's home. We then visited with Sis. Brewer for a while. We then had supper with AJ and Malory Hussey. It was a very fun time! After eating and aJ showing us some card tricks, we dropped in on the Ashcrafts, changed a precariosuly positioed lightbulb on the ceiling, above the stairs. Sis. Ashcraft mentioned that she was going to get it fixed when Bro. Ashcraft got back from Africa. It was more than coincidence. We then finished the night with Rebel, who was baptized about a month ago. He showed us his knife collection as well which was very cool! 

Man, this Transfer is cruising right along and it is already Week 5! Well, this week is going to be great with Zone Conference and Interviews. 

I almost forgot to mentiothat I will be starting the D & C Challenge tomorrow (Tuesday). I will be reading a section a day my last 138 days in the field. I would like to invite you to do this challenge with me. I will be starting in Section 1 of the Doctrine & Covenants. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, November 7, 2016

"Be Blessed"

Elders with an Investigator
Dear Friends and Family!

Well, it is officially November! October seemed to have just disappeared! November has a lot in store. It's supposed to stay in the 70s this week and I am just fine with that! Let's jump right in!

Monday evening, after P-Day stuff, we went on lock-down due to it being Halloween. Hard to believe I was in Gray this time last year. Time has sure flown by! In case y'all didn't know, I have a Mission-itis list to do. It is: To read the Standard Works before returning home. For the lock-down and crunched through Psalms and started Proverbs in Old Testament. I plan to finish the Old Testament by New Years. Next week, on Tuesday, I will began to do the D&C Challenge, which is to read a section of the Doctrine and Covenants each day for the last 138 days. I am able to keep track of that thanks to my mom haha. The New Testament will be read as well. The Book of Mormon of course, will be incorporated into my studies as it has been. This list is certainly keeping me on track and motivated. 

On Tuesday, after District Meeting, I went on exchanges with Elder Glenn in Ft. Mitchell. It was a really good exchange, despite the allergy flare up that has plagued me for the last week. We were able to teach one of their investigators and answer some of her questions. We had supper with the Clarks and talked with their neighbor, Sandie. Overall, a good day.

The one and only Carlos!
Wednesday morning we taught Nicole, which went well. We then met with Bro. Whitmore and we taught another one of their investigators. We exchanged back and I was not feeling too well at this point. My sinuses were keeping me up  the night before. We also got a call from Elder Ray to get my bike fixed and another call from Sis. Finlinson saying that Dr. Nickel (missionary doctor) ordered another prescription of antibiotics for my toes that are acting up again. So, we went with Carlos to drop my bike off at a shop in Columbus called '' Ride On Bikes ". Just looking at my bike, the guy said he's surprised I'm still riding, because my chain was in sore need of being replaced. He also said my front derailleur was completely shot. My original intent was to get my alignment and brakes fixed so I'm not riding my brakes without applying them. That kinda stressed me out...
The new & improved bike!
 Thursday morning on the way to RMT, we met a guy named Eric. Elder Buckley gave him a pass-along card and he told us that his father had recently passed. We shared a little of the Plan of Salvation and gave him a Book of Mormon. We also got his info so we could stop by and share more. We continued on and Elder Buckley continued to find pennies and other small coins on the street and he looked at me and with the biggest grin related the correlation between finding change and talking with people and how that can 'change' people's lives. It certainly is a different perspective on that. We need to have that same excitement for finding these children of our Heavenly Father. After RMT, we went with Ft. Mitchell to study the Book of Mormon with the McClure's (older couple). We then walked around trying to contact some people. We then went to CVS to pick up my prescription. As we were leaving, the cashier wrote me a ''love note" on my receipt saying "Be Blessed". We thought that was pretty nice of her. We continued on and we ended up meeting Grady. We shared some of what we believe with him and he likes to visit other churches. So, naturally, we invited to attend with us sometime. We kinda chuckled together at that. We offered a prayer and he started, then looked at Elder Buckley to continue. He did, then Grady finished. A very interesting contact. People do pray a lot differently down here... We then started heading back up to our apartment to meet Bro. Goertzen for supper. My legs and feet were completely sore and felt like tempered steel!

On Friday, we did some weekly planning, had a lesson with Brad and Teresa with the Worthingtons. There they told us that they were now committed to quit smoking. Woohoo! We also taught about temples and that very much applied to the Word of Wisdom. We then got dropped off and Carlos picked us up to go to Columbus to pick up my bike. As it turned out, it ended up being $25 less than what was expected. We got back and I rode it around and it was so smooth!!! New chain, new derailleur, new brakes. Gotta love it!! We then had a quick supper and visited the Owens and watched '' Finding Faith in Christ ". 
Mormon Hill
Saturday afternoon we rode out to visit people. So glad my bike is fixed. Only problem is that my chain is a little 'sticky' and needs to be greased a little to smooth it out. Any-who, we were able to talk with BJ, the Rivers' nephew for a while. We then got a call from Sis. Brewer asking us if we could help her move some boxes. We then biked back home and left with her and her grandson. Ft. Mitchell came to help as well. We got it done pretty quickly and I talked with Sis. Brewer's son-in-law about his experience in the military. We then had supper with the Worthington's. Afterwards we visited Nicole. We get back, set our clocks back an hour and we were completely wiped. 

Sunday went by fast! Church was really good. William and Nadia bore their testimonies, as we challenged them to. Sis. Foster(Bro. McClure's wife) bore hers as well. It was the first time she was at church since her stroke about 2 months ago. No lunch at the Bush's since Sis. Bush is still recovering from her surgery. We instead visited Carlos. we beat him there, so we did some tracting. We met a guy in his 20's by the looks of it. We gave him a pamphlet and taught him most of the Restoration. He said he would look into it. Maybe it'll go somewhere. We had a great visit with Carlos, then Sis. Brewer, the Newsomes, and the McClures( same as mentioned before). Phew! It's been a jam-packed week! 

Well, the weeks are running together and soon it will be Thanksgiving and seemingly right after, Christmas. Someone needs to tell Father Time to chill out!  I fully intend to use next summer to lose this mission weight. I might just sweat grits and fried okra for the first few weeks haha. We'll see who looks better come August. The Sibling Rivalry is back haha. Thanksgiving Plans..The Goertzens are having all the missionaries over and we are having smoked turkey! 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner