Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Last Email!!...Signing Off!

River walk along the Chattahoochee!
Dear Friends and Family,

So, this week was a blur and I cannot believe this is my last weekly email! This one will be brief since I want to do some other things for my last P-Day.

Monday after Zone Conference we went with the 'new' Bushes in the ward. We then got caught up on our studies and that was basically our day! 

Tuesday was pretty legit. We went on the River Walk and took some pretty great pictures. There was also a guy with a drone filming a group that was white water rafting. Definitely got a lot of sun! We went out with Bro. Stapley in the evening after P-Day to work in our area. We tried a few potentials, formers, and a referral. We go up to this one house of a former. No one at home, Bro. Stapley starts walking over to the neighbor and we strike up a conversation. There we met Jackie. She asked us two questions about practicing what we preach and the Church's stance on gay marriage. We answered her questions and introduced the Book of Mormon. Bro. Stapley was a champ! It was a great contact in every regard. She has a ton of potential that we fell blessed to find! 
Wednesday we had Book of Mormon class and did some work near our apartment. Quick day!

Thursday after lunch, we did RMT and then had a lesson with Roger. We weren't able to teach what we planned, but we did commit him to watch a session of General Conference with us! We later on visited with Sis. Stevens and had a late supper. 

Friday we did some pain-staking weekly planning. More so to ensure that everything transitions well to Elder Jole taking over the area when I leave, like getting addresses from my GPS and such which took quite a while! 
Flea Market with the District!
Saturday was a long day! That morning we went to the Flea Market in Smiths Station until about noon. It was pretty awesome and we handed out a ton of pass-along card and the Sisters found a new investigator in one of the neighboring vendors. We then went to Waffle House for lunch and then changed into service clothes and we helped the Woods move their furniture up the street into a home that is owned by members that have since moved and are now trying to sell the house. The Hussey's came to help, more so AJ since Malory is very pregnant and AJ made us laugh a ton! Bro. Hill, Bro. Goertzen, Bro. Leach, and Bro. Smith(Sr) also helped out. We were there about two hours and then we went home to do our studies and then we had supper with the McGwins that evening. 

Sunday, as I promised, I made White Chicken Chili for the Eiland/Bush/McGwin clan's Sunday lunch. It was quite a success! It felt weird that it was my last normal-ish Sunday in the ward. It was quite solemn at times for me. We visited with the Newomes and the Ft. Mitchell Elders' recent convert, Courtney and her new husband to finish off the evening. 
Cube Steak w/ fried Egg & Homemade Salsa Verde..Yumm
I am not sure if I have mentioned it in a while, but I have been reading the New Testament due to my goal of reading the Standard Works on my mission. I finished 1 Peter last night and I will be finishing up the remaining portion this evening and reading the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price for the rest of the week. 

Well, this is quite weird for me... Two years have gone by so fast. I have enjoyed my mission and I have come to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. For one last time, have a good week y'all! I'll be on Facebook adding a bunch of y'all when I can and my email is kestalex@isu.edu

Elder Alexander Kestner signing off...

Down & Out and Right Back In!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, this week was a little interesting. It picked up later in the week but these weeks tend to happen.

Monday morning I woke up not feeling well at all and my stomach was in absolute turmoil. We shopped and emailed and came back to the apartment where I collapsed in bed. I spent most of the day there...

The next two days were not good for me and I was not getting better. Even though we had supper with the Longerbeams, I could only eat toast and a few bites of rice and that was it for me. We then had Book of Mormon class and then I went on exchanges with Elder Strong.
Elder Chipman ( a Spanish Elder in Auburn)
 The next day I was well enough to eat some oatmeal with good results. Later at lunch, I had some Rice-a-Roni and all was well! We then had RT and then headed to Ft. Mitchell to do service for the Culpeppers. It wasn't strenuous, but I felt slight fatigue two hours in, oh well. Apparently my appetite was improving, because the Culpeppers fed us a supper of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. I didn't eat too much and since then I haven't been able to eat more than one plate. On our way back through, we stopped and got a few pictures in a cotton field. We then visited the Newsomes and they insisted on giving us some caramel cake. They gave two plates to Elder Strong who then gave me the larger slice... I wasn't too happy, to be honest. BUT, I ate what I could. The cake took up most of the plate! We then visited Nicole and exchanged back. 

I was feeling a lot better the next day. Most of our plans fell through, but we had a wonderful meal with Sis. Brewer who made homemade Jambalaya, fried okra, and peach pie with vanilla ice cream. YUM!! She's such a wonderful cook, it was so delicious! We took leftovers home, which is another blessing haha!
Elder Ashton (Lanett)
Saturday we spent contacting some potentials. We were biking up to one and we noticed that there was something in the cul-de-sac. We pick it up and it was one of those USPS tracker scanner thingies. We then saw the mail car go past, so we chased it down and we got it back to the mail woman. That probably made her day and saved her paycheck! We then tried the potential and then stopped at Walgreens and bought a 32 GB micro SD card for $10. Killer Deal! We then visited with Bro. Johnson before biking back to change into suits and getting picked up by the Ft. Mitchell Elders to meet Sam Jones at the church to go to Opelika for a Baptism. The Baptism was for Robert, who was taught by the Ft. Mitchell Elders before he moved up to Auburn. What was also incredible was that AJ Hussey baptized him! It seems like it all came full circle. I had seen AJ baptized by my Trainer and in turn he baptized Robert. I broke me up a little, in a good way. We mingled a little before heading out. On our way back, Sam stopped at a gas station he had been talking about that had good fried chicken. We got some and they turned out to be pretty good! We get back home and we ate and then went to bed. It had been a long day! 
My Boy, Elder Anderson!
Sunday was good . I had the opportunity to teach Gospel Doctrine which happened to be 'The Field is White Already to Harvest'. With a few potato references, the lesson went quite well. After church we went with Bro. Bush to his home before the traditional Sunday lunch. We had lunch and then we got dropped off. We had our studies and then got picked up by Bro. Bush to go to a class/lesson that Bonnie had organized at Bro. Leach's home. The lesson was great. It was us, Sis. Polanco, Bro. Bush, Bro. Leach, and Bonnie. We talked mostly about Church Organization and Priesthood Line of Authority, which was great to discuss. That finished our night and week on a positive note! 

This week had its ups and downs, but all ended well. As much as I don't want to admit it, but next week will be my last weekly email. The Monday after I will be heading home. Thanks for putting up with my craziness! Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cooling down..

Sonic & Trunky Papers
Dear Family and Friends,

Well, this week has been interesting to say the least. The weather cooling off is a welcome sight!

Monday, after P-Day, the Bush's, a new couple in the ward, took us to Zeb's seafood and Chicken for supper. We then met back with the Ft. Mitchell Elders and we helped out Sis. Brewer with moving some boxes and putting a tarp on her belongings in the carport. We also had a good visit with her and before we left she asked me what I would like her to cook before I go home. We got it figured out and she'll be making Jambalaya and fried okra. She is from Louisiana so you know it'll be delicious!

Tuesday we tried having some RMT, but the internet was not cooperating. We tried a few people plus a referral that may or may not even existed. Oh well... Before we headed up for a late supper, we tried to visit with Shirley and Anthony. We sit in their home when one of their kids comes down, telling us that they have to go to the hospital and visit a family member. They told us to come back, however. Btw, Shirley is William Rivers' sister. We bike up to our apartment and as we're eating, I start hearing a noise from the stove vent. We look outside and sure enough, it's pouring rain! Timed that just right!

Wednesday we did Windows of Heaven and it was a good experience. At the start, we walked past a house where there was some scurrying in the garage. We paused for a moment, deciding on what to do. But before we could turn back, a man shouted from the garage if we could use some water. We said yes and we got to talking to Leo. He told us he appreciated what we do, but he wouldn't be converting. At least he was nice though! He also gave us some referrals for his neighbors, which we followed up with, without much luck. We continued one and we were walking past another house and the driver of the car pulling out rolled his window down and shook our hands saying, "I wasn't planning on hitting ya" which we chuckled to. He drove off and we put a pass-along card on his door. We kept going and we met a guy named Charlie. He had talked to missionaries before and said we could come back and talk to him. We kept going and just a few doors later we talked to another guy who was just visiting his in-laws and we got the general area of where he lived. He was pretty friendly! We then walked to the end of the street and we saw a Mustang pull into a driveway. In an attempt to avert the awkwardness, we knocked on a few doors. But as soon as we knocked on three, the guy was back outside with his two year-old son. We introduced ourselves and started talking. He wasn't too communicative, but his wife/girlfriend came out and we started talking to her. She was more receptive and we talked about the Plan of Salvation with her. She, Sarah, said we could come back and we gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We then made another loop around with luck and that ran our time up. We then biked down to visit the Longerbeams  who were outside enjoying the sunshine. We visited for a bit and Bro. Longerbeam offered to take us and our bikes to the church where our supper was and where Book of Mormon class would be. Here's something funny... So, our supper was in the fridge and that's all they told us. We ate the chili and cornbread in there. No problem and quite delicious. Later that night, we find out that one container, which was a yogurt container, was meant for each companionship (us and the other Elders). Oops!! There wasn't a whole lot in there, but it was quite funny, actually. 

Thursday we went to Auburn for ZTM which happens to be my very last one... The training's were good and insightful. We then had lunch at Chick-fil-a afterwards. We get back and almost immediately we get picked up by Bro. Goertzen for supper. we ate homemade fried chicken strips and instant pasta salad. YUM! It was a good night for sure!

A few things fell through on Friday, but we were able to get some things done to make it better.

Saturday was interesting, to say the least. We checked mail and we see an envelope with the Church stamp on it. Well, it was only a matter of time.. it was my trunky papers. So, we then walked over to Sonic for Happy Hour to drown my sorrows. We get back and get picked up by the McCoy's for supper at Sis. Morris' home. It was really good and we came home with some of the leftover homemade fried chicken. 

Sunday was good as well. Services were great and insightful. Now that I had my itinerary, I needed to ask someone for a ride to the Mission Home. I asked around and got a commitment from the Woods to take me. They are so awesome! After church, Bug and Lulu took us to their home before the usual Sunday lunch. We ate and later got dropped off by Bug at our place. The Ft. Mitchell Elders later picked us up and we visited Carlos to end the night. It had been a good day! 

Well, a lot of things happened this week and the Lord's hand in it was very much evident. 

Have a good week y'all!!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kindness, Generosity, and the Plan of Salvation

The jalapeno, onion, caribou deliciousness!!
Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been pretty solid. The weather was warm and has since taken a cool dip which I do not mind in the slightest! 

Monday was P-Day, which tends to go by fast and it was enjoyable. We got stranded at the church for a little bit since the Ft. Mitchell Elders had a dinner appointment. Bro. Worthington picked us up and took us home and we had a pretty good evening in the end.

Tuesday morning we had District Meeting and the Zone Leaders came as well.  The meeting was good and afterwards we went to Subway for lunch. Elder Strong then went on exchanges with Elder Allen in Auburn and they dropped us off at our apartment on the way out. They also took one of our cakes we had been given with them haha. we then had some companionship study and tried a few people. We then got picked up by the Craddocks later on for supper at their home. During dinner and after Bro. Craddock almost fell a few times and we helped him keep his balance. We had a good meal of vegetable soup that was quite delicious and lemon meringue pie for dessert, YUM! It had certainly been a long day!

Wednesday morning we tidied up our place and had some companionship study and then lunch. We then tried a few potentials. From our efforts we were able to receive a time to come back and see one, Cynthia. We then cooled off at Walgreens and while we were there some lady came up to us and complimented us for what we do in spreading the Gospel. She also complimented us on biking in all sorts of weather and heat. That was nice and very refreshing to me personally. We then biked to a street we had planned to tract. We knocked on two doors... and nothing. The third one opened and a white guy in his 60's came outside in nothing but a lava-lava and kinda smelled like weed. The first thing he asked us was how long we had been out and then focused on me and what I would be doing after the mission. He clearly knew who we were. He then told us he had just converted to a Methodist church, previously being a Catholic just five years previous. He was a pretty interesting guy and we talked to him for about 20 minutes surprisingly. We left and then two doors later we met Cherelle. We talked to her about the Plan of Salvation and she said it was something she would like to hear more of and said we could come back! We gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and got her info. We then tried her neighbor across the street. He was in rush, but he gave us a time to come back. We knocked on a few more and nothing came of those homes. Sometimes that's just what happens! We then biked to Piggly Wiggly and picked up some fresh onions and jalapenos for our supper. We then made a delicious Cheesy Ranch Burger Helper with onion and jalapeno, giving it some flavor and warmth! We also used Caribou burger that Bro. Triplett gave us. It was very good and it was a team effort! Bro. Bush then picked us up for Book of Mormon class. We were reading the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and the persecution from their brethren, the Lamanites, who had come upon them and killed many of them. But not one of the People of Ammon, as they were killed, broke their covenant to never again take up their weapons of war. What a wonderful example they set, staying true to the covenants they made! A question was posed by Sister DeMann which was, "What can we do to become like the people of Ammon?" and ponder that. It was great day and it ended great. The reference is in Chapters 25 & 26 of Alma.

Thursday morning we had companionship study and lunch before going to the library for RMT. We then went to a lesson with Todd and he related some experiences, but we were not quite able to teach much of a lesson. We were however able to shared with him a Book of Mormon and a passage to read before our next visit. We then hightailed it up Summerville to meet Sis. Woods who had brought us our supper, pizza! We ate and then had a rather uneventful evening. Well, I lied. We found out that half price shakes after 8 pm at Sonic are back. So, naturally, we hit that up!

Friday we weekly planned and like previous weeks took a good chunk of our time. Sis. Herting brought us a feast from KFC and we thanked her for her generosity. We then had a good visit with the Owens to end the night. 

Saturday morning we got picked up by the Ft. Mitchell Elders to help them setup for the Baptism of their investigator, Courtney. We helped set up chairs and such. When we had a moment, we ran across the street and I got a quick haircut. I was done in like 5 minutes and it cost only $8! Plus, I liked it! We then return and get everything ready. The Baptism went through without a hitch! We cleaned up and talked to the Whitmores who had decided to let their kids run around on the filed behind the church. Needless to say, we were quite wiped when we got home that night!

Sunday was a little different. We were picked up by the Petersens since Bro. Bush was sick. Services were great and I took the opportunity to bear my testimony for the last time in front of the Ward. After church, we were dropped off by the Petersens. We then had studies and then got picked up by Bro. Petersen for supper with him and his wife. It was very nice of them and the meal was delicious. Our evening after supper was good. We tried a less-active and the potentials from Wednesday but no answer. We then followed up with Tommy, whom Elder Taylor and I met a few weeks ago. We confirmed his phone number and said he and his wife both read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we gave them. Tommy said he would have some questions for us when we set our next appointment. It was pretty awesome to see his preparation and his willingness to learn! That got us both excited! 

Well, a lot of great things are starting to happen here in good ol' Phenix City! And they can only get better! Well, peace out and....

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

P.S. Will try harder to get more pictures taken this week! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Carpenter Bees, Fishing & Homelessness

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been pretty good with Elder Jole. He and I are getting along great and we have quite a lot in common! 

On Monday, while I was with the Ft. Mitchell Elders, we went to the Petersen's Apartment Complex man-made lake to fish. We didn't have much luck... The Petersen's, by the way are the Ward Missionaries. The rest of the day was pretty good hanging with Elder Darrington and Elder Strong.
Fishing on P-Day!
Tuesday morning, Bro. Bush picked me up and we went to Macon and picked up Elder Jole. It was kinda weird. I was basically saying goodbye to quite a few people since that was the last time I would be at Transfers. I met up with Woody from the North Augusta Ward and Chris, my redneck dad from the Albany Ward. Anyway, before we hit the road, Bro. Bush treated us to McDonald's for lunch and drove back. We got Elder Jole settled in and Ft. Mitchell picked us up to go get groceries. We got rained out a little but we got to know each other.

So, Wednesday morning was pretty interesting. We were out store contacting and we met a homeless woman, Miss Harrison, who was sitting outside Piggly Wiggly. We talked to her and she asked for two quarters to catch a bus to Columbus. I gave her two and offered a Pass-along card, mostly due to the picture of Christ appearing to the Nephites. She refused and said, "I won't need that, I gave up on Him yesterday" and that melted my heart. I started to understand what Christ said repeatedly, especially with the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. She told us how she had been wandering all night in the rain from place to place before getting asked to leave. I looked down and her socks were grocery bags and her shoes were open-toe slippers that were very worn. She then motioned back to a Patrol Car and said they were there for her. Three officers then showed up and asked her to leave due to a request from the P.W. Management. We started to walk away and we saw her struggling to her feet with an old metal walker as her only support. We then solemnly walked back to our apartment for lunch. What I saw was just not right and no one was at fault. It was just bad circumstance for her and when we got back we earnestly prayed for her that someone who had the means would stop and help her. I won't forget this experience anytime soon. Later on, we emailed and in the evening had supper with the Petersen's and had Book of Mormon class. 

Thursday morning we had a lesson with Roger, whom we taught the Restoration about a month back. The lesson plan was basically abandoned as he had quite a few questions for us, but he did say he would work to come to the Book of Mormon class the following week. That was pretty cool. We then had lunch at Subway and then tried a few people in the area. We were able to visit with Sis. Stevens on her porch. Suddenly, one Carpenter Bee after another started flying around us. Sis. Stevens went for a fly swatter and got a few with it. I then took a crack at them and got about 10 solid hits, knocking them out of the air. That was pretty fun haha! we then went to Dollar General to cool-off and get some Powerade. We then tried Tela, coming to find out she moved!! We were able to talk to her neighbor, Joseph for a little bit. He then strangely gave Elder Jole a used tire, thinking Elder Jole had worn through his tread (He hadn't, but it was cool of him though!). We then biked home to meet the Goertzen's who brought our supper. We finished the night chatting with Sis. Morgan and street contacting. 

On Friday, we weekly planned, as usual. We had Supper with the Smiths in the evening, who are recently moved back into the ward. We had a great meal with them. We then introduced Elder Jole to the Owens and had a good visit with them. 

The next morning, Ft. Mitchell picked us up and we went to do some yard work for Sis. Hearn. It took about an hour or so. Sis. Hearn is so sweet! She fed us some strawberry short cake that was very tasty! She also sent us away with sandwich meat and a goodie bag. She also gave us pizza money for lunch, bless her heart! We then had lunch and changed. Bro. Triplett, a little later dropped off our supper, since he had family in town and couldn't have us over. We decided to have supper later and so we went out to the south part of the area and tried a few people. We tried Marion, but we talked to her husband for a few minutes instead. We were also able to set an appointment with Rebecca for the next evening. We then biked up Summerville in the dark, at this point. We stopped at Sonic and got some sundaes and then ate the burgers Bro. Triplett dropped off. What a busy day!

Sunday went well. Bro. Bush gave a talk on Member Missionary work that was very much on point! We then helped out Sis. Culpepper in her Primary class, as I wrapped a red blanket around my neck, pretending to be King Benjamin. That was pretty fun. We then went to Gospel Principles. After that, we filled in for Bug and Sis. Eiland for their Valiant 10-11 class. We taught them the Restoration of the Priesthood and with the help of Malory Hussey getting the kids top be quiet, it went well, despite their short attention span. Church ended and Ft. Mitchell left with Bro. McCoy to go teach on Ft. Benning. We went with Bro. Bush to his house and we studied until lunch. We had lunch, and by this point Ft. Mitchell came back. We then brought the Sacrament to the Otts and then we got dropped off. We then waited a few minutes for Bro. Bush to take us to our lesson with Rebecca. It ended up falling through, sadly. We tried Bro. Johnson as a back-up and then called it. We then walked around looking for someone to talk to in our complex, but to no avail. That ended our night quite nicely.

Well, it's been a good week and I am looking forward to this one!

Have a good week y'all, alright?!!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Down on the Banks of the Chattahoochee...

Bye Elder Taylor!

Dear Friends and Family, 
This week was pretty momentous as this was Elder' Taylor's last week and is currently back home. Some changes have come, but that is the nature of the beast!

On Monday, after P-Day we had supper with the McGwins and got up on a few things close to home.

Tuesday we had District Meeting and it was also Elder Taylor's 'funeral'. I gave the eulogy of his Mission which I thought was pretty cool and we all got some laughs from it. We then had Zaxby's for lunch at Elder Taylor's request, since there aren't any in Idaho... YET!! We later on had a lesson with a guy named Todd, who was a media referral and we were able to teach him half of the Restoration. He was really courteous and sincere with his desire to come closer to Christ. He's been through a lot but he understands that coming closer to Christ means that a mighty change can occur according to his faith. We then went to banks of the Chattahoochee to wait for the Ft. Mitchell Elders to pick us up for supper at the Cammacks'. Afterwards, Elder Darrington went on exchanges with me.
After District Meeting
The next day was good as we went out to visit some people. For supper, we had it with Sis. Brewer, who made a Southern meal of chicken-fried pork chops, collard greens, and mashed potatoes, with Pecan Pie for dessert! YUM!!!! We then had Book of Mormon class. 

Thursday morning we helped a less-active member move with the other missionaries in the District. We then had lunch at our place and had RMT. I also got a head start on a program called MyPlan that I'll explain at a later time. We then visited with Sis. Stevens for a little bit and hustled up to receive our supper from Bro. Goertzen. That evening, before we came in, Elder Taylor needed to buy a battery but had some issues swiping his card. He moved to the back of the line and before he got back up to the front, a man in front of him and behind me, paid for his battery (for the scale in our apartment) and made a bee-line for the door. We met him outside and it turns out he did that because he knew we talked to people about Christ. He said he was a police officer and we gave him a pass-along card. He also told us he once read half of the Book of Mormon! What an interesting way to end the night!

The next day I planned for this week and Elder Taylor got a lot of packing done, which took a good chunk out of our day. We then had dinner and visited with the Owens. 

Saturday morning, we went with Bro. Harsh to the Flea Market in Smiths Station. It was really cool and there was a lot of really intriguing stuff there to buy! We left after Bro. Harsh bought me an Alabama beanie and Elder Taylor a Confederate flag beanie. It was pretty cool and nice of him! We then had lunch at Chick-fil-a at his treat. He then dropped us off and listened to Transferr calls with the Sisters who were in the area. We found out that I am staying Phenix City for my last Transfer!! I am so pumped!! I am basically a staple of Phenix City! Afterwards, Bro. Bush took us to Columbus and Elder Taylor sold his bike. The Owens then came in clutch again and took us to meet the other Elders at the Newsomes'. 

The next day was Sunday and we had Church and Elder Taylor said goodbye to the members. We later had lunch at the McGwins and Bro. Harsh came to pick Elder TAylor up and take him to the Mission Home. We took some pictures and said goodbye. He then drove off. I then stayed with the Ft. Mitchell Elders for the remainder of the day and the next. 

Well, like I said, changes have happened and I am currently serving with an Elder Jole. He and I get along great and I are looking forward to serving together for my last transfer. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Best 2 years!

Another Intruder!
Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been pretty decent and quick like previous weeks and Elder Taylor going home soon is getting me anxious! well, let's dive right in!

On Tuesday, for P-Day we all hung out at the Woods' home and watched "The Best Two Years" since that is now on the 'Approved' list of movies we can watch. When we left the Woods' it was pouring rain and when we got home we discovered a cockroach and that threw us into a cleaning frenzy which was definitely needed!

The next day we were out walking when we ran into Bro. Staley and he mentioned that he needed some help moving some thins to storage in the next day or two. We offered our help and later on he called to confirm that. We then had Book of Mormon class that evening and afterwards went to Bruster's to celebrate Sis. DeMann's birthday. We also got a call from President Grayson telling me of something going on back home. I think it's safe to say that missionaries are usually instantly worried when your Mission President calls randomly. 

Thursday went quickly! we had RMT in the afternoon, tried some people, and hauled up Stadium Dr to our apartment to meet Bro. McClure for supper. We had some delicious fried tacos with them! 

Friday we weekly planned and later went with Ft. Mitchell to a lesson, which fell through. We then showed them 'Suicide Hill' and Edler Strong said he wants to bike up it. Well, okay then! Elder Taylor then shipped two big boxes home so he doesn't have to lug those to the Mission Home. We then all had supper with the Worthingtons which is always delicious! Afterwards, Bro. Worthington dropped us off and that was basically our night! 

On Saturday, we were visited by two GMM RM's, (Elder) Hafen and (Elder) Schiers, who treated us to Ed's Bar-be-que for lunch and had some good laughs. Another thing worth noting; both of them and Elder Taylor were trained by the same missionary, Elder Poti. They got some pictures and reminisced. We then had a great visit with the Owens and talked about the Plan of Salvation. Later on, a member who had accidentally signed up to feed us, ordered us pizza and we found out that it was a carry-out order and the pizza place was across town. So, we made some calls and the Owens came in clutch and helped us out by picking it up for us! We owe them BIG TIME! It had been an odd day!

Sunday was great, like always. Church was good and afterwards, all 6 of us missionaries rehearsed a musical number with Sis. Cammack we will be performing next Sunday. We stayed around the church and got picked up by Bro. Creech to go to a lesson with a woman named Katie and her husband, Dennis. We get over there and it fell through. We then tried a few more potentials and those fell through as well. At least we remained diligent and that Bro. Creech is a champ for helping us out! We then had our studies before Bro. Bush picked us up for Supper, since we weren't able to come earlier. I absolutely love the Bush's! After a good meal, we went over and gave the Sacrament to the Otts. We visited for a little and then Bro. Bush dropped us off at the Newsome's home, where Ft. Mitchell was visiting. We had a good visit with them and then headed to our apartment to meet the Sisters and (Elder) Price, who Greenie-busted Elder Taylor and 2nd half trained Elder Strong. He pulled up and he had (Elder) Memmott with him as well. We hjad a good chat and we noticed a rat in our breezeway and we watched it smell out our neighbor's trash. It then went on our porch and we were able to scare it away. That sucker was big! 

Anywho, this is Elder Taylor's last full week and transfer calls are coming up next Saturday. My last Transfer call! At least, one that concerns me haha.

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

P.S. Sorry for only one picture, I will take MORE!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Zone Conference & Birthday

Alabama Sunset
Dear Family and Friends,

This week was pretty decent. We had a few things happen and a lot that didn't happen in one way or another. If my mission has taught me anything it is that even if things don't go through as planned, that does not mean you're a failure or that God has abandoned you, and the latter is quite the opposite! 

On Tuesday we had Interviews with President Grayson and we got some awesome news that we can watch LDS movies like 17 Miracles and Ephraim's Rescue! That was pretty awesome to hear! We then hit up half price Traditional Wings at B-DUBS on our way back for lunch and I down 15 delicious wings that got my mouth on fire! It filled me up for sure! Later on we had District Meeting and we went  over the Ward Roster as well. On our way to District meeting, the four of us picked up some $1 pint ice cream at Piggly Wiggly. Totally Worth It!! 

The next day we went with Bro. Bush to see some less-active members and we were able to visit with Bro. Staley for a while and try some other folks as well. Our visit went well with Bro. Staley and he has some questions we will be studying up to answer for him! We then had Book of Mormon class to finish the evening. 
At the Newsome's. Dog love me!
Thursday was little rough. We biked around to see some people and we didn't have much success. Elder Taylor later insisted on going to Captain D's for supper since he had a gift card. So...that's what we had for supper! We then tried one of our investigators, Marilyn, but her neighbor told us she had just left for work. We then headed towards Walgreens and we were able to contact one of the cashiers and then sent Ft. Mitchell the referral with her info. We then biked home in the dark as it was getting pretty chilly. It sure beats the heat though!

Friday we weekly planned and saw the Owens in the evening. Fridays are pretty tough for us... Our visit with the Owens was good, as usual.

Saturday was Stake Conference and we sang in the choir for the Adult Session. It went well and Elder Taylor was able to meet up with a member in the La Grange Branch, Brother Hafen, who were companions and he had since moved back to his former area. The session was good as President and Sister Grayson both spoke in addition to local members. Afterwards there was some refreshments and there was No-Bake Cookies that I took advantage of and then subsequently downed! Btw, earlier in the day we all went over to the Newsome's and wished sis. Newsome a happy 90th Birthday! 

The Sunday session was good as well but it was a little harder to stay focused since there was a kid next to us playing a game on a computer and there was also a word search on the program. The talks were focused more on the Atonement and Redemption through faith in Jesus Christ and it was quite inspiring! we then stuck with Ft. Mitchell for most of the day as we went to see Sis. Brewer and have lunch with the Bushes and Eilands. We made some other visits and we all met at the church to finish going over the Ward roster. 
Yesterday was Zone Conference and the trainings were inspired and focused on our adjustment of the new schedule and keeping a clean area as well as introducing the new Housing Senior  Couple and our new Mission Nurse since the Finlinsons went on to another mission in Nauvoo! 
My zone singing Happy Birthday to me!
Yesterday was also my birthday and the secret was not kept from the two zone (thanks Sis. Lewis haha). So, Ft. Mitchell wasn't able to come to supper at the Woods, so Bro. Harsh picked us up and on our way picked up some ice cream that he had us pick out. So, the Harsh's, Malory Hussey, another member whose name escapes me, as well as President and Sis. Woods. Sis. Woods went all out! Delicious nachos and homemade salsa! She also made me a chocolate cake and it was delicious! A big thanks to them! It ended well for me and it made for a good 22nd birthday! I certainly feel old in comparison to other missionaries. For example, Elder Strong, our District Leader, is almost 4 years younger than I. Well, that was to be expected when I came out! 

Have a good week y'all and try to survive the weather for those of you in Idaho!

Elder Alexander Kestner
Elder Taylor got his trunky papers

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Policy Changes and FIRE!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, a short-ish week this time around but a few changes from the Missionary Department came through on the Broadcast on Wednesday. We're also starting to make some progress with one of our investigator! 

Monday after emailing we went shopping at Walmart and on our way out some guy named Clarence asked us if we were Mormons and if he could have a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet. We run out to the car and grab our bags and go back in a talk to him a little bit and exchanged information. We then did P-Day stuff at the church and then the four of us had supper with Sis. Brewer and had delicious homemade mac n' cheese and kielbasa sausage. YUM! 

The next day was on the rough side but we were able to contact at Idle Hour park. Elder Taylor also got a REAL expensive 'meh' haircut at a place called Bladez near our apartment. He wasn't too psyched about his hair cut as the guy shaved his widow's peak. Oh well, each haircut can't be perfect. The Worthingtons also dropped of some chicken and rice for supper, which was awesome and very appreciated. 

Wednesday morning we had the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast that we watched from the church. We received training from the Missionary Executive Council about a few things as well as two Missionary Policy changes that were made. I will explain briefly and attach two pictures to illustrate. The first changes were to our schedules. P-Day now starts at 8 am, previously at 10am. Our regular morning schedule is now flexible and not in any particular order, except for the usual 6:30 wake up time. We also no longer plan in the evening and that is now done in the morning, with Companionship study moved to later in the day. The other change is that our key indicators have shrunk from 9 to 4. These allowed us to track our work but now these four, (Baptized/Confirmed, On Date, @ Sacrament, New Investigators), helps us focus our efforts. Big changes so late in my mission!
Thursday was pretty good. We had RMT, had supper with the Longerbeams, and had to reschedule our appointment with Rebecca. While we talked to her, we invited her to church, but she said we could talk about her going next week at our rescheduled time on Sunday evening. She seems quite solid!

Friday we weekly planned for a while and took care of some things. Later on, Bro. Creech picked us up and we drove to Bro. Triplett's for an Elder Quorum Bonfire Activity. We get there and it ends up being the three of us, Bro. Triplett, and his next door neighbor, who is a member. It was a lot of fun and you know we poured two cycle gasoline (half oil, half gasoline) on that bad boy! We also enjoyed some very delicious deer burgers that had a combination of deer burger and deer sausage. It was so good!! Bro. Triplett shot the deer himself and made the burgers. He made twenty but his silver lab got into it and ate 7. YIKES! It was definitely a fun night!

Saturday, we went tracting and we found a guy named Tommy who seems pretty interested. His wife had been talking about going to church especially since they have a brand new baby. We gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and got his info to set up a time to come back and teach him and his family. It was really neat and refreshing! We then visited with a less-active nearby and when we were biking home, some guy in the passenger seat of a low rider yelled us to get off the road. Not phased at all, we caught up to him at the light and he was just staring us down. We then saluted him in a pretty sarcastic manner and we didn't even realize we both saluted until after we got back. It was pretty funny! We then met with the Owens to finish off the night.

Church was good on Sunday. Bro. Triplett, in his very funny way, told everyone how fun the bonfire was and how they all missed out. After church we ate over at the Bush's. Sis. Brewer couldn't meet and all 6 of us read Isaiah with Nicole, Ft. Mitchell's investigator. They then dropped us off and we went with Bro. Creech to our lesson with Rebecca. It went great! She is totally prepared! She read through the Plan of Salvation pamphlet again and knows it to be true. We also shared the message of the Restoration with her and she was very receptive. We gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to be Baptized and she accepted! PHEW! What a great lesson! Bro. Creech was critical in that lesson and it also helps that he got off his mission just under two years ago. I was on cloud nine and the Spirit was very strong in that setting with Rebecca. She is certainly a woman of faith!

A very odd kind of a week but it's not the first and certainly not the last either! Hard to believe next Monday will be my 22nd birthday! Where does the time go??

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Missionaries are Safe!

Dear Parents,

This is just a quick note advising you that all of our missionaries are safe from the storms that passed through the Georgia Macon Mission this weekend. Some missionaries were relocated to ground level apartments and all were to stay in until the storm advisories passed.

Sister Jensen


Batten down the hatches!!

Near our apartment before the weekend storm

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been pretty up and down with a few things. 

On Tuesday, we followed up with a referral from the Sisters and set an appointment with Rebecca. A little later we met up with Bro. Flowers and shortly after Carlos drove by and stopped to say hi. We then went to visit Sis. Stevens. We then had a late dinner at Hartz Chicken, a buffet chicken place, at Bro. Flowers treat. It was alright. 

The next day we went with Bro. Bush to visit some less-actives and had some success confirming addresses. We had Book of Mormon class a little later to finish up our night. 

On Thursday, we called Rebecca to confirm our appointment but it got pushed back. She had already read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet the Sisters gave her and she knows it's true! We then rescheduled for Sunday. We then had lunch at Taco Bell then had RMT so Elder Taylor could do MyPlan, for about-to-go-home missionaries. We are also able to set appointments with Anthony and Scotty for appointments on Saturday and Sunday. We also had another mouse sighting and gave it a gender-neutral name of Peanut!
Alabama Headstone we found! People here are real "die-hard" about Bama!
The next morning, we caught Peanut! We weekly planned mostly and had a lesson with the Owens in the evening. Before we left, Bro. Owens told us the possibility of a major storm coming. Batten down the hatches!

Saturday morning was pretty gnarly with weather. We stepped outside and wall after wall of water came through our complex. We were on lock-down for a little bit and little did we know that a tornado touched down at Smiths Station High School! Freaky... Way too close for comfort! The weather was really unpredictable and we remained on Tornado Watch for a good portion of the day. A rather interesting day!

We had ward Council Sunday morning and the classes were great. We watched Elder Meurs talk about improving our experience with the Sacrament in 5 steps. 
1. Prepare in Advance 
2. Arrive Early 
3. Sing and Learn from the Words of the Sacrament Hymn 
4. Spiritually Participate in the Sacrament Prayers 
5. Ponder and Remember Him as the Sacrament Emblems Are Passed
 The discussion with each step really helped to learn how to have uplifting experiences beyond the taking of it. That is one thing my mission has helped to understand. 

Sorry this week's email is a little skimpy, but it has been a learning experience of a week for sure. 

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Springtime in January & Legal Advice

An adventure near our apartment..felt like Joseph Smith
Dear Family and Friends,

This week, like others, has gone by fast! Weather has been pretty warm this week, comparatively. I'm just hoping we have some cool days ahead! 

On Tuesday, we went to see Stan, but his son told us to come back in about an hour. We then go see Sis. Stevens for a while and had a good visit. We then go back to Stan's, and we knock on his door. we then see a Police Patrol Car pull up. Now, we have seen them pretty often here in the Projects. A cop then gets out and starts walking towards us. I mutter, only for Elder Taylor and perhaps Stan, who had just got to the door, "He better not come over here..." which of course he does. He says we shouldn't be there and this and that. He walks off and Stan says something we found amusing about the officer, but that's beside the point. We resume talking to Stan when we hear "Hey, you have to go NOW!" from the first officer's partner. We walk over to the officer and he says we can't proselyte here, which is true, but we can see someone specific (i.e. Stan). We asked him if that was alright, and he said it wasn't and that he could issue us citations. I'm just thinking, "You've got to be kidding me. We've been in here many many times and nothing has come of it". He tells us to leave and talk to the Property Manager to get permission to tract the property, which wasn't our intention at all. We go over to the property office and talk to the manager and she said it was fine if we were seeing someone specific and not going door-to-door. This got me up in a fuss for the rest of the day. We went back to see Stan right quick and set an appointment for the following Sunday evening with Bro. Bush. We then biked to Zaxby's at the Worthington's treat since they haven't been feeling well. That meal got my mind off things... PHEW!
Wednesday, we received a referral from Sis. Jensen at the Mission Office to visit a man who wanted to learn about Family History. We go over there immediately, and meet Roger. He's not too into Family History, but his late wife was. we talk to him and come to find out he's talked with missionaries in the past and went to church with a buddy when he was in the Army. He had some great questions about the Book of Mormon and the Church in general. He seems pretty solid and he wants to meet with us again soon! Later on we had supper with the Creech's and had Book of Mormon class. 
Elder Anderson!!
Thursday, we went to Auburn for ZTM, which is always good. And guess who makes an appearance during our post-ZTM lunch?? My boy Elder Anderson from my early Albany days! He and Elder Mortensen are the other Columbus Zone Leaders and they brought us a new phone and a smoke detector. We get back home and we have supper with the Longerbeams. What a day!

Friday we weekly planned for most of the day and had a lesson with the Owens in the evening. Not much else to report...
A cool bird we found..
Saturday, we visited Wesley and met his neighbor Joe from New Jersey. We then biked to meet Bro. Bush to have a lesson with Scotty and Sherry. We get there and Bro. Bush said Scotty had to cancel, but Bro. Bush committed him to come to church and that we would pick him up.Bro. Bush is a champ! We then tried a few more people with Bro. Bush and located a referral we had received a day or two previous. 

Sunday after church, we talked to the Hussey's about getting thrown out of the Projects. They said they would look into and handle it. Sis. Hussey gave us her card (she is the Assistant District Attorney). Sister Hussey also told us our rights as missionaries, which was quite comforting haha. 

Yesterday, we had P-Day and we went shopping with the other Elders and afterwards we hung out at our apartment and played Catan. It was a pretty fun P-Day! Sis. Phillips called us earlier and invited us to dinner that night. We had tacos, as per tradition. I struggled eating 10 while Elder Taylor downed 17! 
Ice cream truck came through our apt complex
PHEW, WHAT AN INTERESTING WEEK!!!! A very memorable week from both sides of the spectrum. 

Well, have a good week y'all is all that I can say!

Elder Alexander Kestner