Monday, December 28, 2015

12-27-15 It was sooo nice talking to you guys!

Kumusta po dad! 

 Man, it was sooo nice talking to you guys! I passed our time limit a bit and even that didn't feel like it was enough time. Everyone looks so good. Eh I forgot to tell you guys to thank grandma for me. Tell her I said thank you so much for the gift; it's super special to me. By the way, how was Christmas for you guys? Are all the other cousins home? How are they? 

 This past week was just full of Christmas programs and activities. Something I really enjoyed was going caroling as a zone (just the missionaries). We had District Meeting on Tuesday morning then went caroling afterwards. The first place we visited was a hospital in Bayombong. Our original plan was to spend a few hours there singing to our sickly church members. When we got there they said most of the people were sleeping and we ended up only being able to sing in one room. I'm not sure if these people were members. Just walking through the hospital though, it was super humbling. I never realized just how blessed we really are back at home, having all the resources we have. We made our way into a small room with about 4 patients and their visitors, and we softly sang one of the Christmas hymns. After that Sister Romano bore her testimony on the Savior and passed out a few cards we prepared with our testimonies on them. After singing at the hospital we tried thinking of other places we could go. Eventually we made the plan to visit a member in that area and have her take us around a certain place to carol to others. We went around and sang, and the last person we sang to was the Governor of Nueva Vizcaya! Not gonna lie I'm still not sure why it was a big deal, but apparently it was haha. She had some mean security outside her office which was pretty cool. 

 Anyway, that was just one of the many fun activities we did this past week. Today we had a zone activity since transfer day is on Wednesday. Guess who's transferring! Not me, haha. It's funny, a few weeks ago as I realized this cycle was coming to an end I was super sad that there was a high possibility of me transferring. But within this past week I thought about it and was excited to get hit with something new again. Our Branch President even asked me to speak yesterday since they thought that would be my last Sunday here. The ZLs read the list when they got it and it turns out that Elder Bice is the only Elder leaving our zone. Him and a few sisters. He was super stoked haha, his area right now is a hard one. I'll admit I was a little bitter at first haha, but how can I complain? I know it's God who wants me here, so all I can do is continue to work hard and put my all into this area until He sees fit for me to leave.

 I think that's about it! Work continues to go really well here in Lamut. No one really progressing yet, but we're working on it. Thank you guys again for the Christmas package and everything! Know that I miss you guys, but I don't really feel "home sick" here during these holidays. I thought it would be horrible not celebrating with you guys, but Christmas was actually great and I'm stoked for New Years. I hope you guys have a great New Years too and that everyone is safe! Tell the family I miss and love them! Eh by the way, what happened to mom? I'll be praying for her. Sige love you guys! 

Elder Ishibashi

1. District picture after District Meeting

2. Caroling to the Governor of Nueva Vizcaya!

3. Christmas morning! The little sandal key chain was given by a member in our branch.

Christmas in the Philippines haha. On Christmas eve I realized it wouldn't be Christmas without a tree so I taped 3 papers together and made my own haha. 

Okay that's all for today. Love you guys! Have a great week and New Years!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

12-20-15 Time is going by too fast talaga

Kumusta po family! 

 Man I can't believe it's almost Christmas already!! Time is going by too fast talaga. I can't wait to skype you guys!! This week is going to be another quick one, so many activities and stuff going on. There's also a high chance that this is my last full week in Lamut! Transfer day is on the 30th and we think Elder Capulac will be training next cycle since so many new missionaries are coming in. It's definitely bittersweet that I might be transferring; I've come to love this area so much! It'll be hard adjusting to a new area, companion, people, etc. But, this means another opportunity to learn and grow so for that I am excited. 

 This past week was great! I won't go too much into detail so there's more to talk about when we skype, but a lot of great things happened. My favorite was our Missionaries Christmas Devotional in Santiago. Four zones met up together and President and Sister Rahlf really broke down the Nativity Story for us to understand it better. After that we had lunch and a bunch of fun activities. Then we ended it all with a short testimony meeting. The spirit was so strong throughout the whole devotional. They also gave us CDs with christmas-related mormon messages. I was like tearing up while watching them at the apartment haha. 

 On Saturday we had a Solano District Christmas party. Each branch in the district had games and a presentation. Did I tell you guys that like all Filipinos are into dancing? Almost every branch had their youth do a dance routine for their presentation. It was the sickest thing! I should probably feel bad because they all danced to "Babylonian" music haha, but it was kind of refreshing. I so miss dancing. Ang galing ng mga bata dito!

 Anyway that's all I'll talk about for now. I can not wait to see you guys oh my goodness. I hope this week is a great one for you guys! I hope everything's not too stressful while you prepare for Christmas. Love you guys!!

See you soon!
Elder Ishibashi

Baptism for Bayombong sisters

Christmas Devotional

Monday, December 14, 2015

12-13-15 Magandang hapon po family!

Magandang hapon po family!

 Man I'm so excited to skype you guys too! I think I want to skype after Christmas if that's okay with you guys. Like maybe the 26th? Around 7 pm your time? If there's something going on on that day, please let me know. I just want to skype on the most convenient day for you guys. Also what's the skype name that I'm going to call? 
 As usual, this week was another great one. Did I tell you guys about Bro. Mark? The scientist from Britain? He's a strong atheist but is super welcoming and open to discussing the gospel with us. I won't lie and say that I think we're making progress with him, but it's definitely a huge blessing for me having visits with him. Bro. Mark has so many questions about the gospel and always has a way to counter our answers. The huge blessing that comes from it, is my personal studies are more meaningful. And along with that I'm constantly thinking about principles I would like to share with him and the best way to share that principle. Doing these things not only help me in our discussions with him, but in our other lessons as well. So many blessings because of an atheist, how's that haha. 
 One thing I was pretty bummed about this week: The Enejas didn't go to church! On Saturday they were busy with a project for school so all we could do was invite them to church. Maybe they were just busy working on it again yesterday, I'm not sure. I just really hope we can have a great lesson with them this week and get them back to church on Sunday! On a good note though, everything overall is still going great in our area. We're slowly finding new investigators and even more LAs. It's so crazy that there's a high chance I'll be transferring in a couple weeks! I want to leave my area with a bang, so we'll be picking up the pace this week for sure. 

 By the way, did you guys see the First Presidency Christmas Conference? We were able to go see it at the Solano chapel last night. The talks were so great and inspiring! My favorite part of the Conference was when Elder Bednar talked about Jesus Christ's returning to earth 3 days after his death. Those 3 days he was gone there was absolute darkness. Not even a candle could be lit. Then the first thing they see after those 3 days is Jesus Christ, who says, "I am the Light". I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is the only true light, and that only through him will we be able to live with Heavenly Father again. I love him so much for this knowledge. 

 I'll be praying for you mom as you work hard to accomplish all these tasks and jobs you have. Kaya nyo po iyan! Let everyone know I love them please. By the way, how's Kaulike? And Logan Prudholm? Hyrum Kim emailed me this past week and it got me thinking about these guys. If you see Hyrum anytime soon, tell him and his family I love them please! 

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Some pics from Banaue today! The hike was death again, but worth it haha.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

12-6-15 The best of all the days

Okayyy Kumusta mom! 

 I left my planner at the apartment so I can't remember everything we did this week, but it was a great one! Yesterday was by far the best of all the days. We had an LA family go to church! Man, that was the happiest I've felt so far in the field. It's weird because it's not like their attending church does anything for me, but I was just so happy to see them there because I know that that meant they're trying to come closer to our Father in Heaven. It was so awesome! I think I wrote about this family before: The mom and daughter are baptized but one son, Jong, hasn't been baptized yet. He's excited to be baptized though, we just need to go through all of the lessons first. I've been a little worried of him eventually getting baptized because his mom hasn't taken them to church since I don't know how long before I came, and we know that it doesn't end there at baptism. After baptism comes enduring to the end, which means going to church and doing all the other things that we know Heavenly Father wants to do. Knowing that, I was worried that he'd be baptized and stop going to church. I still am worried, but I have high hopes for Jong and his family. The spirit was so strong during sacrament & testimony meeting and sis. Eneja wasn't afraid to answer questions during class. And on top of that, all of the members treated her so kindly and Nanay Bayon sat with her during class. It was just such a cool experience for me. I'm grateful for Elder Capulac's diligence and boldness. We've scheduled to meet with the Enejas every Saturday and at the end of our lesson this past Saturday Elder Capulac invited them to church like 5 times haha. I just can't wait to see their progress. 

 As for lessons and all that, they're going really well too! Many people were busy this week which meant a few less lessons, but it also meant more time to do contacting. It's funny, I actually like contacting now. I'm being so blessed in the language! And with that comes more confidence. It's fun talking to new people and introducing ourselves. Elder Capulac is really laid back which means I'm the one who mostly goes to the house and does the "tao po". That's like the equivalent of "anyone home?" It always starts out scary and stressful, but always ends with a good feeling even if most of the time they're not interested. Man, the blessings are just flowing. And this month is going to be another great one!  I can't believe I make 5 months on a mission tomorrow! Time really is going ridiculously fast. 

Anyway that's about it for the week I think! So many awesome things and experiences happened this week, but those are the main ones. We have a bunch of LAs, invesitgators, and referrals that we're planning to meet this week which I'm so stoked for. How are you guys mom? How's everyone preparing for Christmas? And was Fia really in a movie? Haha that is so cool! Love you guys! 
Tell U'i I said thanks for the videos and pictures!

Mahal na mahal ko kayo (by the way, if you want to say "We love you", it's mahal ka namin:) )
Elder Ishibashi

The missionaries in our district (2 districts in our zone)

District activity! The Sister Training Leaders are also a part of our district

Took pictures last night at a place in Bagabag (ZLs area). Here they usual have carnivals and stuff, but last night it was just us missionaries and a few other people walking around.

Monday, November 30, 2015

11-29-15 "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ"

Kumusta dad!

 Thank you for the scripture! Romans 1:16 is a pretty powerful one. I love how it says "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ". I never thought of myself as "ashamed" of the gospel of Christ, but maybe that's exactly what it is that's keeping me from spreading it. I think this is something I have to stop thinking so much about and just do it or "charge um" as I would say haha. I read from "Adjusting to Missionary Life" a few weeks ago. It says that when you're out working/proselyting just think "What's the worst that could happen?". And that's so true. I tend to be so scared of rejection, but if that's the worst that could happen, I really have no excuse in being worried. The cons come nowhere near the pros of missionary work. I just need to charge it! 

 As for the week, it was another great one. I had a pretty "fun" experience of Elder Capulac and I not getting along for a couple days. It's amazing how different lessons feel when the companionship isn't getting along. We realized the importance of the spirit in our lessons and fixed things, and our companionship is now better than ever. Our amount of lessons per week is pretty much the same as usual, but the feeling is better. I'm learning so much from Elder Capulac! We're back in a good net shop so I'll send some pictures today. 

 Sorry dad, this email is kind of short. We're going to meet the ZL's at another net shop so I might write a little more, but that is pretty much it for this week. But before I go I want to copy and paste a story aunty Kapua shared with me and her testimony (I hope it's okay with her):

There were 2 families living on an island. 1 family lived up in the mountains and the other on the shoreline. One day the family on the mountain could see a tsunami forming from far far away, but they knew that they didn't have enough time to run down to the shore to warn that family. So they decided to light their home on fire, knowing that the shoreline family would rush up the mountain to help them. Sure enough, the shoreline family did just that ...thinking that they were running up the mountain to save a family, but realizing after that they were saved themselves.  

I couldn't help but tear up thinking of Kana...he went on a mission focused on doing the Lords errand, bringing others to the fold...helping them to find the gospel, but in just a few short weeks...he's saved himself, strengthened his testimony, learned to love others so deeply & became more obedient than he could ever understand possible.

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi 

Monday, November 23, 2015

11-22-15 I love being a missionary!

Kumusta po mom!

 Everything here is going great! I'm trying my best to be healthy haha. We eat so much sometimes and I don't have time to exercise! It's hard finding the time when there's just so much to do. The work is going really well. Elder Capulac likes to throw the "I don't know this area" card a lot so I'm always leading even when we get to a place that I haven't been to before haha. It's actually a huge blessing though. For the past few weeks I've been annoyed with myself because I learn so much during PS and meetings and stuff, which brings me to a kind of "spiritual high", but when it comes time to work I'm too shy to talk to people. There's so much joy I receive from this gospel and I'm keeping that from so many people because of my fear of man. Because of that I've been praying hard to Heavenly Father, asking Him to give me strength and confidence in my work. The past few days we committed about an hour each day to contact (tract). You guys know how much I disliked tracting with the elders at home haha. But the Lord answered my prayers for sure. It's hard to explain the difference, but I know that through my efforts, Heavenly Father has given me confidence. Even when it's a person who has no interest in what we have to say, it's a great feeling knowing that I did what I could. Yesterday we were looking for the house of someone we met through contacting a few weeks ago. It was a good reason for me to talk to people and ask if they knew where his house was. He wasn't home when we found the house but a sister (neighbor - same lot but separate houses) was out taking her clothes off the lines. We talked to her through the fence and then she let us come into the property. Her daughter brought out chairs for all of us and we talked as we waited for brother Arial to come home. This is when Elder Capulac did pretty much all of the talking haha. I understand most of what people say but it's hard to speak quickly in conversation. He's really good at talking with people and discerning their needs. Eventually brother Arial came home and we spent another while talking and getting to know each other. We weren't able to teach a lesson but Elder Capulac did a great job in preparing them for our next visit; they were more than willing to let us return and share our message. We had a lot more good experiences this week but I left my planner at the apartment so I can't remember everything haha. I just know that it felt really good, especially the last few days. 
 Sorry mom, no pictures this week. I took a bunch and was excited to send them, but we're in a different net shop this time and the computer can't read my camera. Next week na lang. But I love this place so much and still can't get over how beautiful it is! I'm constantly seeing new things. Today our district along with the zone leaders went on a hike. It was hot but a really cool experience. We even crossed a really shallow river (knee-height) which felt so great. It was pretty hard resisting the temptation to "fall" haha. We're also going back to Banaue in a few weeks! I'm stoked. 
 Man, I almost tear up every time I read that you guys are doing well haha. As a missionary all I want is for people to have the blessings of Heavenly Father. It's such a testimony builder knowing that my family is doing their part in obtaining those blessings. Every day I think about how different my life would be if I didn't have such a strong, gospel-centered family. Even though I "let go" of the iron rod countless times throughout my life, you & dad have always been there to guide me back to it. Words can't describe how grateful I am for that. I know that this gospel is true. I've reached the point where I couldn't deny it if I wanted to. I want so badly to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I feel myself getting there as I search, ponder, pray, and obey. These things have become a source of great joy to me. Man, I love being a missionary! 

Love you guys! Have a great week!
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, November 16, 2015

11-15-15 Naimbag a malem!

Naimbag a malem! At Maligayang bati Pretty Girl!
 That means "Good afternoon" in Ilokano! I ordered an Ilokano objectives booklet from the mission home and I've learned so much already! Just like Tagalog, Ilokano is a beautiful language. About this week though, it was another great one! I think we're really getting somewhere with some of our investigators. One hard thing about our area is some people just don't want to go to church because it's malayo (far). Our chapel is in Bagabag which is about 10 km from Lamut, 13 pesos a person on jeepney. For Americans it doesn't seem like much at all, but for many people here that's a lot of money. It's understandable, but not the best excuse haha. My goal is to help them realize that Heavenly Father will bless and help them if they just exercise faith by pagsisimba (attending church). We really thought one of our LAs were going to go to church yesterday but I guess she changed her mind at the last minute. It was a little heart-breaking, but it happens. We'll see her again this week and try to commit her again to magsimba. It is really hard for me to express everything and explain the importance of the things we talk about because of the language barrier, but I love what mom shared in her email last week about language. She shared with me a part of one of Sister Magalei's emails to her family. I loved what she said about having one true language that everyone knows: The language of the pure love of Christ. It's so important to know that no matter how well we speak or teach, the main thing is that we do so with the power of the Spirit. Only through that will hearts be opened and they will feel the truthfulness of the things we share. I have a strong testimony that that's true, as I have felt the difference between teaching with the Spirit and teaching without it. Sorry, no really "WOW!" moments this week haha. I have a feeling this week is gonna be a great one though!

 Thank you so much for your emails and pictures! Happy birthday again Hali'a!! U'i sent a picture of Hali'a from Thursday. Her hair is getting so long! And she's still pretty as ever. I can't wait to see you guys on Christmas! I'm so stoked that Lehia was converted to surfing! Haha. I can't wait to learn all over again from him when I get home. Hahaha yeee Kala'i. No pain, no gain! I'm legitly worried about Ohu haha. Be safe ah! Don't be dumb and drive like me (or U'i....especially U'i). And it's so good to hear you and mom are doing well too. Thank you for being such a great example of a father and husband, dad. How's Herbert doing? Eh Elder Teikauea knows a couple of his Fijian friends! Since Tuvalu is so close to Fiji he did school and rugby there for a bit. It's good fun talking to him about Fiji and sharing the things I learned from Herbert. By the way I think that's super sick that Ronda finally lost haha. She was pretty cocky. And knocked out! Shaaame haha. 

 Man that's awesome to hear about the ward missionary plan! Hastening the work! I want to work with the missionaries as often as can when I get home before heading out to college. Oh I also got a DearElder from sister Ray this past week! I didn't see her email address on it so I just wanted to thank her on here. I really enjoyed what she said about one of the prayers that was given at General Conference. The words "enjoy to the end" was used rather than "endure to the end". I love that we don't have to see it as pushing through trials until the end. Trials will come, but for me it's such a nice thought that we can just accept them and let them pass by, continuing to have a bright attitude. That's probably the biggest thing I learned from grandpa, always be positive.

 Alright, I think that's about it for the week. I'm going to reply to mom's email now then head out. But before I go, I have a question for you dad. Do you have any good object lessons that I can use? They're really helpful. Just whenever you have time, it would be greatly appreciated. Okay that's it I think. I love you guys! Hope everyone has a great week! Ohu, be safe! Haha. Ingat!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Elder Capulac standing in the blue. He continues to be a great companion and example to me!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

11-8-15 We had a great week!

Kumusta po family!

Another ayos na linggo dito sa Pilipinas! I hope that was grammatically correct haha. 

We had a great week! The biggest thing that happened was transfer day. My new companion is super cool! His name is Elder Capulac. He's suuuch a good missionary; has the spirit with him for sure. 

The last couple days with Elder Rebojo went really quickly. On Tuesday we had two members willing to work with us so they went with Elder Rebojo and I got to work with Elder Bice! This past cycle was his tatay's (trainer) last cycle so he left Tuesday morning to Cauayan. Since transfer day was on Wednesday Elder Bice spent the day with us. Man it was awesome being his companion again! It was super cool seeing how much both of us have grown in the language and as missionaries since being companions in the MTC. Awesome experience talaga. 

We slept over the ZLs that night so we could all travel to Solano together for transfer day. It was a little hard saying goodbye to Elder Rebojo. I learned so much from him the past 10 weeks, and I especially know I wouldn't have grown so much in the language if it wasn't for him. 

Elder Capulac is really good in English so it's a little harder for me to force myself to speak Tagalog. But his spirit is so strong and the people here just like him right off the bat because he's so friendly. Through him it's easy for people to see that missionaries are people too haha. 

As for the work, it went really well too. I think my favorite lesson this week was actually an unplanned one. We went to visit N---- C-----. When we got to her house her daughter (our back-up plan) was washing clothes. She said that she was busy and N---- wasn't home, but J---- wasn't doing anything and we could go teach him. Elder Rebojo and I met J----- B------ through contacting a few weeks ago. When we first met him he seemed a little off and when he said we could come back to teach him I thought he just didn't wanna be rude and say no. Because of that attitude I was really reluctant to visit him, but we did go. When we got there he was just finishing his shower and told us to sit down and wait real quick while he finished and got changed. When he came out and we had our lesson, it was totally different from what I expected it would be like. He has a really strong spirit! He said that his wife had been reading the pamphlet Elder Rebojo gave him. During the lesson when Elder Capulac asked him a question, he actually took the time to really think about it and try his best to answer it. That doesn't happen a lot when it comes to investigators. I think his true desire to learn more is what brought the spirit into our lesson. Unfortunately his wife wasn't there, but he said we could come back so hopefully she'll be there next time. We had many other great lessons this week but I don't have time to share all of them haha. 

I gained a strong testimony on having a positive attitude though this week. Too often I complain in my head and even blame Heavenly Father for the trials that I go through. In PS, I was reading in Alma 26 and verse 29 was really powerful for me. The sons of Mosiah went through so much persecution while doing missionary work. They were beat, spit upon, mocked, bound with chords, cast into prison, etc. But at the end of the verse Ammon says that through God they were delivered. After all of these things he's grateful that Heavenly Father helped them, not mad that He allowed them to go through those things. I can't say that I have that kind of attitude yet, but it's something that I sincerely strive for.

Anyway that's about it for the week I think. It really was a great one. We met a lot of people through contacting and we're going to try to visit them this week. I hope you guys had a great week. I continue to thank Heavenly Father so much for watching over you guys. The greatest blessing for me is to know that you guys are okay and progressing in everything. It's awesome that you and Ohu go on splits with the missionaries dad! When I get home I'm excited to be able to work with them and share the gospel with the people around us. I love you guys! 

Mahal mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

Elder Rebojo's last FHE in our area. Us and the zone leaders at the Bayon family's home.

Transfer day! Just before E. Rebojo and S. Heve (mission mom...still don't understand how that works) left to their new areas. 

Today we had a zone activity since it's S. Palemene's birthday! I forgot to take a picture with Elder Capulac. I'll try to do that this week and send it next week.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

11-1-15 It felt super great being able to get back to work

Kumusta po family!

 Man, this past week was a refreshing one. It felt super great being able to get back to work. A few of our investigators are really progressing! And we got to meet with Tatay Rafael (less-active) for the first time. We met him last month but never did get to have a lesson with him because there are so many people in his area that we visit and he's only free on Saturdays and Sundays. Since the first couple people we planned to visit weren't home, we finally were able to see him. Tatay Rafael is blind and lives on his own, but he said close friends and family visit pretty often to help him get the things that he needs. What I loved about our visit was that the spirit was there because of his strong & humble testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us. He spoke English really well (most of the old timers are really good in English since it was once the main language in the Philippines) so I understood most of what he said and I was able to express my feelings more. He knows that the church is true and he continues to pray and do things that are pleasing unto Heavenly Father. It'll be hard getting him to church eventually because of his disabilities, but I think we can do it. 

 Meeting Elder and Sister Schwitzer was suuuper cool! Before they spoke we all got to shake their hands. And at the end Elder Schwitzer wanted to know our thoughts about what he said which gave me the chance to speak to him and express my thoughts and gratitude for the things he taught us. So many of the things he shared were exact things that I needed to hear. A lot of the time I tend to think about myself and the language too much, and forget why I'm here. He shared a story of an elder who served in Russia. He said you would see this elder every week at church talking to as many people as he could and building relationships with them, even though he was one of the worst Russian speakers ever haha. He would be doing this while his companion would be sitting on the side studying the language. Elder Schwitzer said that although the first elder was horrible in the language, he was the true missionary. As of right now, I know I'm the elder sitting on the side. I choose not to talk to many people because of my worry of not knowing what to say next. This story was a big eye-opener for me, and although it's hard to do right off the bat, I have a goal to be like the other, true missionary. But hopefully I will eventually be really good in the language haha. The conference really did motivate me though and gave me more confidence in our lessons for the week.

 Oh yeah, this cycle ends on Wednesday. That means transfers. We gathered as a zone this morning to wait for the zone leaders to get the transfer list. It finally came in after what seemed like hours of waiting. Long story short, I'm getting a new companion on Wednesday! Elder Rebojo along with a few others are leaving our zone. It's definitely a bittersweet feeling losing Elder Rebojo haha. I learned so much from him and enjoyed working with him, and now I'm excited to learn more from a different perspective.

 Overall, today was just a great week here in the mission. Oh, I hope you guys had a great Halloween! I loved seeing all the pictures U'i sent of her family on Halloween. Send some of you guys if can please! They don't really celebrate Halloween here in the Philippines. I forget what they call it, but on the night of Halloween many people go to the graveyard and kind of just party there all night haha. They actually sleep over and all. Ask Uncle BJ about it, I could be wrong. Besides that though, Halloween felt like any other day here. No one dresses up or goes trick-or-treating. I think Christmas is a big deal though! I'm so excited to skype you guys!

 I hope you guys had a great week! Love you guys!

Elder Ishibashi

p.s. Mom & dad, are you guys familiar with any Hafokas in Laie? The other elder from Hawaii is actually from Laie! I don't know why I thought he was from Kona. E. Rebojo, he, E. Paea (taga Tonga) and I slept over the ZL's last night. They slept over since they were going to Banaue today to teach the single adults. Elder Rebojo and I slept over since we were getting together today. It was super cool being able to talk story with another Hawaiian haha, especially one from Laie! He's adopted by the Hafokas (Tongans). Sister Hafoka's maiden name is Ofahengaue or something like that. Her first name is Lucy. Does that sound familiar to you guys at all? He also said something about an Aunty Gay that works at PCC. What's sad is he returns home at the end of December so I'm not sure if I'll see him again. But I loved being able to speak pidgin again and talking about Hawaii. It was super refreshing haha. Okay that's it. Elder Rebojo and I are gonna try check out another computer shop since these computers can't read our flash drives. I was able to send one picture now but I'll try to send more if we find a good shop. Love you guys!


Monday, October 26, 2015

10-25-15 I was sick this week

Kumusta dad and everyone else!

Man, I was sick this week too haha. Monday night my fever started and then it just got worse by Tuesday morning. We spent the day resting and got back to work on Wednesday. Thursday I felt worse than I did on Tuesday, so I couldn't work then either. Also on Thursday 2 elders got into a pretty bad tricey accident. Their driver actually passed away in the hospital. What a blessing that they didn't suffer anything fatal like that. It took Elder Reynolds only a day or two to be able to walk again.

The next couple days after that kind of just flew by. I've learned a few things about missionary work and about myself this past week. I now see the reality that just because your first lesson with someone goes exceptionally great and the spirit is super strong, that doesn't mean they're eventually gonna get baptized haha. Sometimes that one lesson is all you get, and they lose interest by the next one. As for myself, I now know how it feels to go so long without work. I'll admit we had a few moments this past week where we could've put in a couple more hours of work, but somehow convinced ourselves that it was okay to stay inside. It's not a good feeling at all when you realize how little trying to be a good missionary. Nonetheless, I know for a fact that this week will be better. It excites me to think that we both have the strength to work hard and effective everyday! Especially since this might be Elder Rebojo's last full week here in Lamut! Transfers are next Wednesday. 
But anyway, that's about it for the past week. My highlight was the package! Thank you guys soooo much! I got it Tuesday night which made me feel really good after a long day of just sitting around. The hat is super sick! And I was so so excited to see all of my favorite candies and snacks haha. My favorite part was the letters though. 

Man I was so sad when I reached the end of the last letter haha. I'll reply to them real quick on here.

Thank you so much for your letter Ohu! Your letters are always so fun to read. I loved reading about your experience seeing Herb in Laie and your feelings about BYUH. I know exactly what you mean, it just feels right to go there. The amazing thing about this gospel is that as long as you stay close to Heavenly Father, everything else will fall into place. In Mosiah 2:41 (I think?) the Lord promises us spiritual AND physical blessings as long as we obey the commandments and stay close to Him. How cool is that! It's super funny that Hyrum told the world about what happens in AP Camp hahah. I'm sure the spirit was strong though and made a lot of young men consider going to the next one. It's so good to hear that you're going to mission prep, institute, and even temple prep class! Man you're going to appreciate the temple sooo much more when the time comes to receive your endowments. Tell the Baileys I miss them please! And I'm so grateful for knowledge I received through their teachings. Also Sister Bailey's syrup is sooobrang masarap haha. Man I can't believe you sang the Star Spangled Banner in front of a whole school! I'm convinced that you're meant to do big things in the future. Huuuge props! Eh and while you're at it write me a wedding song too yeeee. Joke lang I shouldn't be thinking about that right now haha. Elder Teikauea is a mean jammer so we play guitar and sing a lot when we go over to their apartment. As for me and Elder Rebojo, everything is awesome haha. It'll be such a weird feeling having a new comp in less than 2 weeks. Man I'm just so excited for you to have the mission experience! Email me as soon as your papers are in! And read your patriarchal blessing often if you got it already! Thanks again so much for the letter Ohu! Love you bro!

Kala'i! What's your grade in English? Haha, you're a really good writer. I so enjoyed reading your letter about being the "Alpha" and stuff hahah. I'm proud of you for winning both wrestling matches, but I'm more proud of you for being humble about it. Being humble after something like that is super hard for so many people, me included. Don't worry though I'll be humble when I still lick you after my mission ;) Hahah joke lang joke lang, you're right, I probably won't be in the fighting mood right after my mission. You'd guarantee win though, no worries. But yeah, thanks for being a great example along with MaQ by staying humble. People will look up to you for that. I can't wait to hear about your sports and stuff! You always were a natural at sports; the coaches are gonna love you. And that's so sick that Herb won a sector 9 board! Maybe he'll just save it for me yeee haha. On a serious note, thanks so much for your letter Kala'i. It's so good to hear that you're doing well and just improving in so much. Keep up the good work! I can't wait to see you on Christmas! Love you Kala'i!

Thanks for your letter bro! Spot on your drawing hahah. Joke lang, it's sick though. I hope the surfing and dancing continues to go well. Love you bro! Send pics when can!

Hi pretty girl! Thank you so much for your letters and gold plate! I wish you could've been here for my 20th birthday too. It's almost your birthday though! Almost 7 years old! Are you excited? Love you pretty girl!
Okay my time is up so I need to go. Thank you guys again so much for your letters though! They made my week. Mikel's drawing had me buuuss laughing. Ohu "The winner" hahaha. Thanks for your letter too Mikel! I hope the lifting and everything is going well. I'm stoked to lift with you again after my mission. And thank you mom and dad for your uplifting, inspiring letters. Oh and you mentioned Gregory A. Schwitzer, mom. He's coming over to speak to us this coming Thursday! We're so excited! I'll let you guys know how it went next week. 

I love all of you guys so much. And I'm so glad you're doing better, dad. I'll keep you guys in my prayers. Love you guys!

Mahal mahal kita
Elder Ishibashi

PS mom I need a new journal (the same kind as my last one if can). I'm almost out of pages. If you find, can you buy like 2 and send them? Use my money please. I have a backup "record book" I bought here so no rush. I just prefer the kind I've always used.

Love you guys! Have a great week!



Monday, October 19, 2015

10-18-15 A great blessing

Kumusta dad! 

  We're all okay here in our area! What a great blessing from Heavenly Father. I heard some other areas weren't so lucky. We slept over the ZLs apartment the night of the storm since I wanted to go over there for my birthday. We worked in Lamut (our area) and had dinner at the Balubals home, and then went to the ZLs. That night Elder Rebojo and I had a really hard time sleeping since the wind outside was so strong and loud. I was a little worried about us, but I couldn't help but think about the members in our Branch whose homes aren't that strong. When we looked outside in the morning, we saw that there were a lot of leaves and some small branches on the ground, but no serious damage at all. We still had church yesterday, but only sacrament meeting. They didn't say anything about any families or people who need help because of the storm, so I'm assuming they didn't go through anything serious either. What a blessing! Today the wind is still pretty strong at some points, but nothing serious.

 The rest of our week went well too! Our plans were constantly changing because of the storm and other things, but we were able to get some great lessons in. We met with a part member family where the mom was baptized a long time ago, but since then has become less active. She has a son who just turned 9 on the same day as my birthday who hasn't been baptized yet, and an 11 year old daughter who was baptized at 8 I think. Jong, the 9 year old, seems really excited to learn more and eventually be baptized! I'm thinking of how we can get his mom more excited about it though, I'm not sure why she isn't right now. It'll be hard for her son to come to church if she doesn't want to take him. We'll just keep trying. It's awesome that we finally have the opportunity to teach them though! We've been going to their house once or twice a week ever since I came here but they were never home until we finally caught them last week. The plan is to meet with them at least once a week to prepare Jong for baptism. 

  Thank you for the update on everyone dad! I loved reading this email from you guys! Man Herbert must be crazy stoked hahah. I gotta see a picture! That's so exciting that Ohu's papers are almost in!! What an awesome time it must be right now for the Hilo Stake, so many people leaving on missions! I know Petter must be stoked too haha, he always talked about how he feels more white than Filipino. And man, Kala'i is such a stud! Mad props for having the guts to ask so many girls to dance; that's something I still wouldn't be able to do. And poor Lehia for inheriting the Ishibashi curse hahah. How's the surfing coming along though? Has he ditched the bodyboard for good yet? It's so good to hear that Hali'a is still the same fun, pretty girl she always was. I'm so grateful for her email! I'll reply to it after this. Eh and thank you guys so much for the video! I wasn't able to hear, but I watched it and just heard it in my head. It was great seeing you guys again! Thank you! On my birthday President & Sister Rahlf called me and sang happy birthday to me too haha. I love them! I also got a text from the Shorters who work with them, and a few calls from other missionaries. Oh and on Thursday I got a letter from grandma and the Heinzens. The next time you see them tell them I really appreciated it and was motivated from it please. And tell grandma to stop sending me money haha, too much. 

 Anyway, I think that's about it for the week! I really hope you guys weren't stressing out about my safety the past few days. If it ever happens again just know that I'm 100% okay, so don't worry about me. We're at a different computer shop right now and it can't read my camera, so I can't send any pictures today. I didn't take a lot this week anyway. Oh but real quick before I go, I have a request. If possible, can you try to send some songs to me? Like Musical Truth, Poly, mission appropriate songs? It's fine if no can though. Okay love you guys! Thanks for the email!

Mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, October 12, 2015

10-11-15 Kumusta po mom! Maraming salamat!

Kumusta po mom! Maraming salamat!

 Man, I received so many emails today of people wishing me a happy birthday and telling me about how they're doing back at home. So if there are people reading this that I haven't been able to reply to, thank you so much! It was sooo nice getting letters from Aunty Kapua, aunty Lorry Iurika, and others who took time out of their days to email me. Not gonna lie I had to rethink when my birthday was haha, I wasn't expecting birthday wishes until next week. But again, thank you to everyone!

 We had a pretty good week this week! General Conference was suuuuper good. Like you figured, we were able to watch it this past Saturday and Sunday. I'm so glad it was in English, because I wouldn't have learned as much as I did if it wasn't. This was the first time ever that I watched General Conference and heard things that I truly felt the Lord wanted me to hear, like they addressed my thoughts to the T. It was amazing. There's no doubt in my mind that these men and women are called of God, and that God knows and loves every one of us personally. The rest of my week was pretty great too. The first few days were really busy because of transfers. The elder who replaced Elder Petersen is Elder Teikauea taga (from) Tuvalu! Do you know anyone from there mom? He's suuuper cool; it's awesome having another poly elder in the zone. Sobrang magaling siya. Elder Rebojo and I had some great lessons towards the end of the week. We met a mother who really desires her 13 year old son to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, so we were able to meet with him. It's crazy how mature he is for a 13 year old. I think she's only concerned about him because he doesn't pray as often as he should haha, nothing super serious really. He said he's excited to hear more about our message, so the next time we go over our goal is to teach them as a family. Yesterday we visited nanay Isabilita who was converted a long time ago, but is now searching again for the truth. We tried our best to bear testimony on how we know this church is true, but we weren't sure exactly what to say. When we got home and did our 12 Weeks Training, we watched a couple videos on "Conversion through the Book of Mormon" from The District. If anyone reading this is preparing for their mission or knows someone who is, The District is amazing. It shows you pretty much exactly what happens in the field and helps soooo much if you're trying to figure out how to present/share something about a certain topic. It's awesome how these videos were filmed years ago, but through watching it you can feel the same spirit that they feel at that time. But anyway, through those videos I realized that we need to talk about the Book of Mormon with nanay Isabilita. If the Book of Mormon is true, then every single thing we teach must be true, and this must be the true church. I now know realize the huge significance of the Book of Mormon. Man, it's just so cool how much things stand out to you and how much you learn having the mindset of a missionary. 

 As for food and things like that, wala pa haha (none yet). For lunch today though we ate at a little side restaurant and there was a niiice big load of fat mixed with my meat. I'm not sure yet if I am becoming more open-minded or if I am just hungry, but I was able to scoff it down without making a weird face I think haha. At one point I considered eating balut, but then I saw Elder Rebojo eat it. The half-desire to try it left just like that haha. I know I'll have to try it someday though haha. 

 Thanks for the update on the family mom! It's so good to hear that everyone is well and happy. Grabe (my goodness) I miss the babies so much. Tell Kala'i I love him please. And I hope he's enjoying my clothes because he only has 21 months left haha. Man I can't wait to hear about Ohu's call! Aunty Kapua told me about Kana! Sooo exciting!! The Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission sounds like a crazy sick mission. Oh and I bought a hard drive so if you send pictures I can download them now! I don't know about videos though. 

 Anyway, I think that's about it for this week. Thank you again for the birthday wishes! What you said about me and Lehia is pretty cool haha. Now I know the secret to having such good, well-behaved kids ;) as you can see I'm still working on being humble haha. And you don't have to send anything mom, so expensive. Nonetheless, thank you haha. I'll let you know next week if I got it or not. Last thing before I go, a sister in our zone said something about applying to BYUH while out here in the mission. Do you know anything about that? I would love to be able to head out to BYUH as soon as can once I get home. After a couple months of being with you guys of course haha. I love you mom! Thank you again for the email. I hope you guys have a great week!

Mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, October 5, 2015

10-4-15 We had another awesome week

Magandang hapon po mom! Or for you guys, magandang gabi!

 Man we had another awesome week this week! I can't say we're 100% exactly obedient yet, but I've definitely received so many blessings from trying. This week I was able to go on splits twice. The first time was with Elder Petersen on Saturday. He returns home this Thursday! He leaves tomorrow morning for Cauayan and then to Manila on Wednesday I think. That meant that this was his last time going on splits, so I was so blessed and honored to be the last for him. I learned sooo much from him that day and since the day we came into the field. Great, great missionary po siya. The next time was yesterday. We had 4 members who wanted to work with us, so Elder Rebojo took two and I took the other two. The two members I worked with were bro. Dulnuan and sis. Bayatan (those are their last names). What's awesome is Bro. Dulnuan just got home from serving a voluntary 3 month mission. He lives in Lamut and wanted to serve so bad that he did that and is now leaving this Friday for his actual mission in Quezon City. How cool is that! He was a huge help in our lessons, such a good missionary already. 

  Although I enjoyed and learned so much from splits, the lesson that stood out to me was on Friday with Elder Rebojo. On our way back from a house, we saw a trail that Elder Rebojo has never been on before. So we followed it for the first time and it lead to a big neighborhood. The first nanay we met spoke really good English and said that she hasn't seen missionaries for 5 years! She also said that she has a relative who's married to an Ishibashi haha. What are the odds? She was busy then but said that we can share a message with her another day if she's not busy. The next house was where we met sis. Mariam a.k.a. Marina. I could tell she was very reluctant to let us share a message with her, but she let us anyway. Before we taught she seemed to have a problem with our beliefs. I felt like the best thing to do was to teach her about Jesus Christ's ministry on the earth, and Elder Rebojo must've felt the same because everything we said complimented each other perfectly. She also shared her thoughts and beliefs during our lesson which I love when people do because it makes it easier for us to know what to share. The spirit was very strong when we invited her to read the pamphlet and pray to know if it's true. When I went to check on her yesterday with bro. Dulnuan and sis. Bayatan, she was busy so we couldn't teach another lesson. But I'm really hoping she'll do those things if she hasn't already and we can visit her again soon. 

  Now on to a not-so-spiritual but also fun experience this week. After a lesson we went to a members house. I don't know why they texted us to come over for, but it turned into sis. Jing making me a small plate of chicken intestines! I might've mentioned eating intestines once before, but that was just a small piece. This time it was a spoonful...which I guess really isn't that much either haha. And honestly, it was actually pretty good. The after taste was weird but it went away after a while. I still have yet to eat something really scary haha.

  Man we weren't able to watch General Conference yet! I think we'll be able to this week (hopefully in English for some of us). I'm really looking forward to this one! It sounds like it was a really great one. I think about that a lot too, how sad it is that some people choose not to "partake of the fruit". But it reminds me of how truly blessed I am for having the gospel in my life, and how important it is for me as a person and missionary to constantly strive to be an example and bring those people unto Christ. I love being here on a mission! It's so exciting to share what I know to be true with others. Alam ko po na sobrang mahalaga ang missionary work. 

  It's great to hear that you're doing well too mom. I miss you guys, but I know that the Lord is watching over you and I'm soooso grateful for that. I hope you guys have a great week too! Love you!

Mahal kita, 
Elder Ishibashi

This was a day to gather with "batch mates" and companions for additional training and counsel.

Chicken Intestines! It was pretty good!

Branch President Bumatay in the yellow. We had dinner at their house last night.

Oh and bro. Brian, our branch mission leader, designed zone shirts for us! We had a zone activity this morning since Elder Petersen is leaving and 2 sisters are being transferred on Wednesday. We played some super funny games and ate adobo and bikol express that Elder Petersen and Elder Rebojo cooked before hand with rice that the sisters cooked.

Oh and I got to touch a kalabaw the other day too! I was super scared but did it for the thrill haha. I also love riding on the back of jeepneys and stuff. Don't worry mom, it's really not that dangerous haha. Keeps me sane I think. Love you guys! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

9-27-15 The Lord really is taking such good care of me.

Kumusta mom!

  Yeah, as you were asking "mabuhay" means "welcome!" This language is really hard sometimes, but it's so fun! 

  I'm doing great! Yesterday was the first time I actually thought I was getting sick, but today I feel good again. Maybe it's because I had more candy than usual; I bought some candy for my lesson yesterday with the 9-11 year old primary class and ate a lot of the leftovers haha. We had a great week though! We met a lot of nice and interesting people haha. One of which is bro M. They call the brothers and sisters here by bro/sis and then their first name rather than their last. Anyway, bro M is a scientist from Britain and is an atheist. The main reason is because there's "no proof" that Heavenly Father exists. He's very fact oriented. But he said that he can't prove that there isn't a God, so he couldn't say that there is no God; he just doesn't believe in one. He was actually really nice and meeting with him motivates me to study harder and be more worthy for the guidance of the Spirit at all times. 

 We watch "The District" a lot and I learn so much from those elders and sisters, such great examples. A big goal that Elder Rebojo and I have from now on is to try harder to be exactly obedient. On Wednesday all of the new missionaries and our trainers went back to Cauayan for another Orientation kind of thing since we didn't have much time the day we came in. It was awesome seeing my batch mates again! They all seemed to be doing really well in their areas. In the orientation we learned a lot about obedience and keeping a good relationship with your companion. While President Rahlf spoke, he brought up emails. He told us that live chatting (emailing, recieving a reply, then replying back) is not allowed. So I won't be able to do that anymore, sorry mom. If you want to make it easier for me, just don't reply until tomorrow or something haha. 
  Anyway, throughout the week we also met a number of people who once took lessons from missionaries but haven't seen them for a long time until we spoke to them. We even met one sister while trying to find the house of someone else. I thought we were going the right way, and didn't realize it was the wrong way until we hit a dead end haha. On our way back Elder Rebojo decided to do contacting and we met sis Rubinette. She hasn't seen elders for a year and a half. Like almost everyone here, she's Catholic. But she let us teach her a part of the first lesson and she was really engaged in it. It's so awesome how the Lord leads us to some people. By the way, dad, you remember any Pearts or Reynolds from Ogden? There's just an elder Reynolds and sister Peart in our zone from Ogden. 

  Man, the Lord really is taking such good care of me. And I'm sooo grateful that He continues to take care of you guys. Sounds like everyone had a lot of fun this week! Tell Lehia send pictures of Kala'i them too if can. I can't wait to see the video though. Tell Hali'a I'm happy for her! And I love her. And it's nice to hear that Ohu still has time to hang out with his friends. How's he doing with the mission stuff? I think about him daily and am so excited that he'll be out serving soon too. And I'm so stoked for Hyrum! What a sick call! When does he report to the MTC? And which one? I hope everything works out for Petter. And man, I'm so happy that Kana made the decision to serve. Such a great example to the other members that graduated school with him. 

  Alright the pictures take a really long time to send so I'll end this email and send some. Thank you for the email though! Oh and tell grandma guys I got their letters this week and said thank you so much!! They made my day. I'll try to reply to them as soon as I have time. And thank you for the pictures of today dad! Everyone looks great! Tell Uncle Riley I love him! And it's so good to hear that we have hardworking elders in our ward. I hope to have that influence on our Branch by the time I transfer out. And thank you again mom and dad for being spiritual giants for me to follow. I love you guys so much! 

Mahal mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

I forgot to mention this part. I was just about to go to sleep a couple nights ago until I saw this in the corner of my eye. I've never seen a spider so big in my life! I was warned about big spiders here, but I didn't think much of it. When I saw this spider I freaked out haha. 
My weapon upgraded from a hanger to a broom as I scared it into the kitchen and finally caught it between a cup and cutting board. Then I took it to the door and let it go. Crazy experience haha.