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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Phenix City won't ever get rid of Me!

See!, I can make an Omelette!!
Dear Family and Friends,

Well, Transfers have come around and the result is that I am staying in Phenix City for another Transfer and I will be 'killing' Elder Taylor, or sending him home. There must be some record out there for staying in an area. I will have been in Phenix City for at least 7 Transfers, or about 10 and a half months. There is also a good possibility of staying here for my last Transfer as well. Who knows!?

On Tuesday, after emailing, we went to a hole in the wall Bar-Be-Que place off the main road for lunch. We were talked into ribs and the owner claimed it was "the best ribs in town" and they were absolutely delicious! We tried a few more people that afternoon without much luck, though we were able to talk to Craig and Melissa before heading back for supper. After that, we tried a less-active member and we walked there and back. 

On Wednesday, we had District Meeting and I made my mom's White Chicken Chili, although it was challenged for not being white by some, so I kinda renamed it Southwest Chili to please some certain missionaries... After District Meeting and lunch, we met Bro. Bush at our apartment and we went on a less-active rescue mission. we were able to visit Bro. Staley and another Brother. We then got dropped off at the Neighborhood Market Wal-Mart, got some 88 cent drinks, and went with Ft. Mitchell to see their Investigator, Nicole, and read Isaiah. Due to lack of time, we weren't able to make a proper meal, so we hit up Wendy's and ate quickly before Book of Mormon class. After class, we went to Wal-Mart to get some last minute Birthday stuff for Bro. Bush. I also picked up some chain cleaner for my bike as well as a real bike pump. 

The next day we contacted Nikki and as we were about to bike away, a guy called out "Y'all Mormons?". Long story short, we met Scotty and he had seen missionaries around, but did not get to hear our message. We got his info and set a time on Saturday to meet with him. We then visited with Sis. Stevens and then biked to Taco Bell for a little supper. We then got picked up by Ft. Mitchell and we and the Sisters drove over to the Bush's house to surprise Bro. Bush on his 81st Birthday. We celebrated with him, had some apple pie, and talked.
Happy Birthday Bro Bush!
Friday was quite wet and cold! Almost miserable! We Weekly Planned most of the day since our appointments and plans were cancelled due to freezing rain downpours. 
Wet & Cold
Saturday was better as we were able to talk with Jimmy inside his house, which rarely happens on my mission. We then visited the Rivers, and a little later, we met Bro. Bush at Scotty's apartment. Scotty was expecting us, which surprised us, for sure! In there, we also met his fiancee, Sherry, who had talked to missionaries in the past. We had a good discussion on the Restoration. Scotty listened attentively and it seemed our words resonated with him. We gave him and Sherry a marked Book of Mormon to read before our next appointment on Saturday. We put our bikes in Bro. Bush's truck, went to our appointment with Stan and Nikki, but they weren't home. We tried Marilyn, but she was busy and didn't have time to meet. Later on, we listened to Transfer calls. Elder Glenn and Sister Greenland are getting transferred with myself, Elder Taylor, Sister Lewis, and Elder Darrington staying. 

Sunday was spent with Ft. Mitchell with Elder Glenn saying good-byes and such. It was a short day, relatively. We had dinner that night with the Cammacks and we had delicious baked potatoes! we also had cherry cobbler and ice cream to finish it off. I also got a scoop on how my Seattle Seahawks are doing, which is always a boost haha. 
Huge Potato at the Cammacks (my hand for size reference)
I am a little astonished that I have stayed in Phenix City this long. Brother Wesberry joked that I should just have my records transferred here. Bishop Zeh and others mentioned how Phenix City won't ever get rid of me. Maybe I should just remain here after I get released? Who knows?! It's been a good, but tough transfer. I am grateful that I get to continue serving with Elder Taylor before he returns to good ol' Poky. Well, here's to Transfer Number 16!

Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!

Bro time with Bunny
 Dear Family and Friends,

This week has had a few ups and downs and I didn't do too well in journal writing this week, so bare with me. Any-who, Happy New Year y'all! 2017 is here and I am trying not to freak out with the time I have left to serve in the good ol' GMM!

Tuesday was a little rough for us. We emailed since the library was closed the day before and didn't have much success in the evening or afternoon. We picked ourselves up by going to Taco Bell using gift cards (Thanks family!). Before we turned in for the night, we found Dwayne who used to be taught by missionaries and wants us to come by to teach him. He seems pretty legit!

The next day we did some service for Bro. Bush raking leaves with all 6 missionaries in our District. Afterwards, I went on exchanges with Elder Glenn in his area. Cool story from exchanges; we go to contact a referral and there was a lady talking to some people in a car. We kinda stood there awkwardly for a moment and then approached the car. The guy in the passenger front seat commented on my height compared to Elder Glenn and told me not to steal Elder Glenn's food haha. The rest of the day was okay. We had a late District Meeting and a few interesting things happened that I'll have to tell at a later time. Hehe

After exchanging back the next day, we went with Bro. Bush to visit less-active members on a ''rescue mission''. We were able to get some additional information on a few people and contact one man in particular. We talked with him and he seems very open and wants us to come back to help him answer his questions he has since he's been gone from Church which has been for almost 15-20ish years! It was a good visit and we are certain to go back soon. 

Friday was a little rough. Both of us weren't feeling well at all and that prevented us from doing much. We were able to plan out the upcoming week in a good, productive way, however. Later on, Bro. Worthington dropped off some chili, chips, and cheese that they had made for us, but we seeing how we weren't feeling well. they brought it to us. It was delicious and we were very grateful for it. 

Holding a kid (1 month old)
Grande Tacino & Pequeno Tacino

The next day we felt a good bit better. We went to interviews with President Grayson in Columbus in the morning. After that, we went over to the Mall food court and I got me some Chick-fil-a! We came back and the Sisters met us and we all had District 'Warm Fuzzies' which was interesting and brought us closer as a District. A little later, we were able to talk with Tela for a little bit and get her a marked up copy of the Book of Mormon. The other Elders then picked us up and then we met Bro. Goertzen at our apartment for dinner. Dinner was great and we had a good time. They got some new animals, saw some tocino' A.K.A as pigs, or BACON! That was our day, so to speak. We then went in at 7 and got in PJ's, broke out some drinks, and played some games. It was quite an enjoyable evening! 
Lock down time!
Church was good on Sunday . A few things fell through afterwards, but we were able to see Sis. Stevens and a few others.

A brief thing about yesterday, while all 6 of us were at the Church, it started to rain and thunder. We then got a text from a member in the Flat Rock Ward, telling us that there was a Tornado Watch in effect in our area and a Warning in two other counties. We ended up ducking in at the Ft. Mitchell apartment in the evening with Elders Glenn and Darrington. It was really weird. All turned out okay, though. Roads were bad but we were able to make it back alright. Definitely an interesting P-Day!

Well, 2017 is now here, which I saw hoping it wouldn't come, but time is relentless. I have a few resolutions for this year to put into effect that will be different than last year's, for obvious reasons. Anyway, have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Merry Christmas from Down South!

Christmas Conference with our new t-shirts

Dear Family and Friends,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Not a lot of time to send my mass email out, but I'll cover some of the highlights of the week...

On Tuesday we were in Macon all day for Christmas Conference. The training's that were given were inspired and motivating. Elder Ballard gave some additional training on Windows of Heaven. As a treat from the Graysons, we got to watch "The Errand of Angels" a movie about a Sister Missionary serving in Austria. We had a white Elephant gift exchange and I came away with ear muffs that did not fit as I found out later. On our way home, our District stopped at Moe's for dinner. It was a very long and tiring day. It was a pretty fun road trip both ways. 

On Thursday, on exchanges with Elder Darrington, we were able to teach Tela, who had been taught by missionaries in Cusseta last summer. She is very receptive and recalled a lot of what she had been taught. 

Prime Rib for Christmas Eve dinner w/ the Ashcrafts
On Friday we had supper with the Ashcrafts and they invited us back over for Christmas Eve Dinner. It was really nice of them to invite us! After eating with the Ashcrafts, we went to the Harsh's Christmas Party. A little after we got there, we got a surprise from Josten and Sarah Cornett! we then had a White elephant gift exchange and I came with $5 that Elder Taylor put in as a last minute Christmas gift. It was a very enjoyable evening!

Surprise visit from the Cornetts!!

Saturday morning, Bug picked us up and we went and played flag football. It was a great time and I didn't hurt myself this go-round. After the game, we were dropped off, showered and dressed, and then went to IHOP and picked up some gifts from Bishop Zeh and the Young Women in the Ward. We then had lunch as a District and a good time at that! 

Christmas stockings form my family!
Sunday was awesome as it was Christmas Day! Church was short and we opened gifts after everyone left. We then had lunch with the Bush/Eiland clan plus a lot from Brother Bush's side of the family. We then visited Sis. Brewer for a while and had a good time. We then had a wonderful Christmas Dinner with the Cammacks, who are all Seahawks fans as a bonus! We ate, laughed, and then went to do the best thing missionaries can do on Christmas; Skype Home!! It was great seeing my family as well as my brother serving in the Arizona Gilbert Mission. We took care of some business and really enjoyed the time we had to Skype. This was my last time Skyping before returning home. Quite coincidentally, this was the first time my brother, Ben has Skyped home. It was awesome and refreshing to Elder Taylor and I. 
Well, my 21 month mark is just around the corner on Monday, January 1st. Things are starting to get more real for me. The things I've learned recently I wished I learned sooner, but that is just how it goes sometimes.I feel I have grown a lot and learned as much since I've been out. I guess the mission is preparing me to be different, but still me at the same time.  Any-who, have a Happy New Year Y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner