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!