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