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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

9-20-15 Another great week dito sa Philippines!

Kumusta po family! 

 Man, another great week dito sa Philippines! So many awesome things happened. First of which was zone conference! It was comprised of 2 zones, so I got to see 2 of my Provo batch mates again! The zone conference itself was amazing. President and sister Rahlf did most of the speaking, and their spirits are so strong. We also did a few workshops and some games. Every workshop and message shared was so inspiring for me. I don't remember a lot of what was said, but remember the feeling. Every time the leaders (President, his wife, couple missionaries, APs, etc) speak, it's revelation to me again that I am meant to be here. We had a testimony meeting at the end of zone conference and I was able to go up and express my thanks for them and for all of the blessings that Heavenly Father has given me so far. I can't even imagine what kinds of blessings and miracles I'll see in the 21 months I have left here. 

 Two days after zone conference, Elder Bice & Elder Eudela came over to do splits. At first the plan was for me to go back to their area with Elder Eudela, but things changed and we all just stayed here in Lamut, but took different spots. The main person I wanted to see with Elder Eudela was A.W. [name abbreviated for confidentiality]. We met him the day before and he had really bitter feelings toward the Church. He was converted in 2000, but went through many challenges dealing with the Church afterwards. In the end, his family left him. He wanted to know why we as missionaries teach that the gospel brings happiness and joy to families, but he still went through something like this. The next day Elder Eudela and I shared a message with him about faith and having a testimony. What's so good is that he still knows the Church is true. He understood that what happened to him in Cavite (where he used to live/was converted) was the doing of man, not the Church  He still has a strong desire to serve the Lord and be happy, even though his heart is broken. Elder Eudela really brought the Spirit into the lesson and handled everything perfectly. Elder Rebojo and I gave him an Aklat ni Mormon the next day and hoped so badly that he would show up to Church yesterday, but he didn't. Hopefully we'll see him this week and find out why. I really think he'll progress and return to Church someday though. 

 Saturday was a fun day haha. We had a CSP (Community Service Project) at the Valdez's house and the project was to cut down a tree. Man, the ants here are huge compared to the ones in Hawai'i! And they bite. And there were sooo many of them oh my goodness. The good thing though was once you wipe them off of you the sting goes away. But man there were so many haha. Anyway, after about an hour in, Elder Rebojo cut his leg. It looked like just a tap, but it soon began to bleed really bad. He tried aiding it and getting back to work, but the bleeding was too much. They re-wrapped it and bro. Balubal drove us to a health clinic place close to the ZLs' apartment. Turns out he needed stitches haha (4 total). After that he was still able to walk and stuff, but not too much. Bro. Balubal took us to his house for lunch and then we went to our apartment. He rested for a bit and we went out to work. That night we had dinner at the Pragata family's house. The parents are a little less-active, but their kids are active. We shared a message on keeping the Sabbath day holy, and they all came to church the next day! But after our message during dinner, I was kind of peer pressured into eating a suuuuper hot pepper. Elder Petersen and I did it. Man the back of my throat was on fire and I had a pretty bad stomachache for a little while afterwards. Never will I do that again haha. But good experience. 

 Now for the last big thing that happened since last week: Banaue today! Man it's soooo beautiful. The hike was death though hahah. Worst than any leg day. The steps are really close together and I swear like half of them were 2 feet high. How the Filipinos do it everyday, I have no idea haha. Mad respect. What's worse though is I'll probably do it again haha. We had the option to just stay at the view point, but the beauty of the hike is worth it. It's so beautiful. And I got Lehia a rock from there! I'll try to send it later on, but if anything I'll hold it until I come home. But anyway, it was so awesome to finally go to Banaue. I lost my hat on the way; we sat on top the jeepney and it wasn't secure and flew off of my lap. I was devastated at first but convinced myself that it made some little kid's day, so that comforts me haha. 
Anywayyy, I think that's about it for the past week. Such a great week overall! Heavenly Father continues to bless me in learning the language quickly. And it's also a huge blessing to see the ZLs so often so I can ask Elder Petersen about things that I can't find in books regarding the language. I'm just being flooded with blessings haha. I love being a missionary! And it's so comforting to know that you guys are doing well too. I love you guys so much!

Mahal mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

Provo batch mates!

Zone Conference

Heading for a wonderful experience

Panoramic view of beautiful Banaue!

Banaue's Rice Terraces

Monday, September 14, 2015

9-13-15 Magandang hapon mom!

Kumusta dad!

Man I almost teared up when I read of how everyone's doing haha. It's sooo comforting to know that everyone is doing great, especially mom. Thank you so much for the pictures! I'm so glad everyone else is doing great too. The selfie would include ohu and u'i hahah. Tell grandma and everyone else I love them so much please! I wrote my long letter to mom, so you  can read that to everyone. Oh and I forgot to mention, our zone is going to the Banaue Rice Terraces next Monday! I'm crazy stoked! I just hope we still have time to do emails afterwards. We have zone conference tomorrow, banaue next week, and then our Provo batch goes back to the mission home a few days later on Thursday! The next couple weeks are going to be awesome. And it's been so great here so far.

Let me know when Herb has a girlfriend and send a picture! I have to approve before they get married haha. I'm so glad that everyone is progressing in everything. Kala'i is gonna be huge by the time I come home! Tell him I'll be a changed man though so we can't fight haha. But keep it up! I miss the temple. I'm excited to come back to one. Thank you for your emails dad! And thank you so much for being the best father in the world and keeping us all on the right path. My testimony of families have strengthened so much while being out here and it only continues to grow. Many people ask about my family and I almost feel bad talking about you guys because I feel like I'm bragging haha. I'm so grateful for you guys. Thank you dad!

Mahal mahal ko po kayo
Elder Ishibashi
Magandang hapon mom!

Everything here is going great! It seems like every day is an adventure; always seeing something new. I think I can actually send pictures today! So you guys can finally see how beautiful this area is. 

Here tracting is called "contacting" and I still have a hard time with that. I have the desire to talk to these people, but I'm just too scared to start the conversation and then not know how to reply to what they're saying haha. I'm able to understand a lot more now! It's just difficult for me to speak. But this week we had a great experience while contacting. Every appointment on Saturday fell through so we decided to contact people. We saw an old man sitting outside of his house and it looked like he was pondering about something. I was ready to walk past him but Elder Rebojo suggested that we talk to him and that I be the one to start the conversation. I was a little reluctant, but the night before a member in our branch showed me a few short motivational videos and so I've really been wanting to do better after watching them. So we walked up to him and I introduced us. I didn't know what to say after that so Elder Rebojo took it from there haha. But we talked to him for a bit and he had time for us to share a 15 min. message with him. While we taught and spoke with him, he expressed to us his love for his family and how they just had a miracle recently. His daughter was in the hospital for many different health issues and she was finally home. He was teary-eyed as he shared this with us, so I knew how important family is to him. We emphasized families in our lesson and lucky for me he understood English so I was able to share my thoughts and feelings better. Elder Rebojo is a great teacher too; the spirit was really strong. After our message he gave us a referral of an inactive member I think, and lead us out to the front gate (we came in from the back of his property). When we walked out the gate I saw a sign that said something like "A happy Methodist family is living here". I know that if we came in through the front and I saw that sign, I wouldn't have had the confidence I had in our lesson and everything would have been different. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways haha. His tender mercies are real. 

 As for the eating, everything is great haha. Elder Rebojo continues to cook great food and enough to make both of us full. I cook the rice yeee haha. I want to learn a thing or two from him before we split. Members in the branch talk to me about balut and things like that and I just tell them I refuse to eat it yet haha. Don't worry they don't get offended by it; they just laugh. The water is good too. Our sink has a filter for drinking water and we have a fridge to keep it cold. Our pad is also really nice. It's small and hot, but I know that we have more than many people here, so I'm grateful for it. 

 Man that's awesome! I'm glad everything at the dance was a success! Lehia told me about his dance battle with Kekuahiwi haha. And it's awesome that you guys actually did modern-day music haha. That's so cool that you had a whole band! And it must've sounded even more sick with Bruce singing. 

 It's so good to hear that everyone is doing well. Herbert also makes time to email me which I'm so grateful for. I'm excited that there's so many people I can talk to in Tagalog when I come home! Did I tell you guys about the languages here? It's actually 3 languages: Tagalog, Ilocano, and Ifugao. Many many people speak Ilocano but they understand Tagalog, so as of right now I'm just focusing on that. Tell Ohu he gotta learn some Japanese too! Haha, that's super cool that he's learning Spanish though. I can't wait to hear about his call when it comes in! 

 Man, let everyone know that I love them please. I'm going to reply to the other emails now. I love you guys!

Mahal mahal kita,
Elder Ishibashi

We also had a baptism on Saturday! Brother Celedonio Peter Barriga. What's funny is he was actually Elder Rebojo's investigator, but wanted to be baptized by Elder Petersen because he's American haha. He also said it's because they both have Peter in their names haha. If I didn't mention earlier, Elder Petersen and Elder Acosta are our zone leaders. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

9-6-15 I'm good!

Kumusta dad!

Sorry for not replying to your email last week. I read it and forgot to reply. But I did take a few pictures in Japan, and I have some yen to take home. How's Lehia and Kala'i with the surfing? Does Ohu every go with them? How's Hali'a? How's mom and grandma? Oh speaking of the boys, tell them look up "Oh My Father" by Paul Feletoa Tuaone. I think they could do it.

As for me, I'm good! This place is sooo beautiful. I'm so sorry...I still can't load pictures. I left my chord in the apartment so they let me use a card reader, but it still won't work. I'll send choke pictures when it finally works. Hooopefully next week. But anyway, things here are great! 

This past week actually flew by really quickly. We do get a dinner appointment every now and then, and we have one tonight at the Balubals' home. They invited us and the zone leaders over for FHE and we're teaching the lesson. The Balubals actually have a furniture business and a page on facebook, maybe one of you guys can find it and give it a like haha. 

As for the language, it's coming along slowly. I can understand a lot of what's being said, but I still struggle in speaking. Luckily the youth and primary kids in our branch are really nice and help me with Tagalog. I only know a few words in Ilocano so far though haha. 

Hahaha wooowww mom. Was it at least night time when it happened? [editor's note: he is responding to news that my wife accidently hit and killed our sheep "Jaime"] That's so sad but funny haha [editor's note: he was severely teased by the family last year for doing the same thing to another of our sheep]. 

Last night we slept over the ZLs' so we didn't have to wake up extra early to run over again and play basketball. When we went over, they showed us that they caught a mouse and were trying to figure out how to kill it. Elder Petersen finally decided to drown it and gave it a proper burial as well including a ring of flowers, small cross, and a "God be with you til we meet again" solo haha. 

I have so much already, thanks dad. I hope whoever you needed to give a blessing to is okay. Love you too dad! Let everyone know I love them!

Elder Ishibashi