Monday, December 19, 2016

12-18-16 Kumusta po Pamilya! Maligayang Pasko!!

Kumusta po Pamilya! Maligayang Pasko!!

 I can't believe Christmas is already coming up so soon! I'm pretty stoked about this week; we have a feeling it's going to be a really great one. I know this past week was. But first off congratulations again to Herbert & Jazamin! Super happy for you guys :) And thanks dad for the updates on the others. That's crazy to hear about Darren! Tell him I said congratulations too! 

 Alright, I'm excited to tell you guys about my week; this past week was a pretty amazing one. We had such great things happen! It already started off on a good week by getting a new investigator on Monday night, Sister Chelsea. She's super golden and accepted an invitation to be baptized in January! And we got a few other investigators who are just like her throughout the week. We're also super excited for a baptism coming up this Saturday! For Crisma Manuel. Tomorrow is her actual baptismal interview but we already had a practice interview last week, and it went really well. I usually like to ask at the very end of each baptismal interview: Why do you want to be baptized? She shared a beautiful testimony that she feels at home at church and knows that she's as happy as she is because of it. Just the night before our lesson with her she was offered alcohol and then teased when she refused. But because of her strength one of her friends asked her about the church and seems to have a desire to take the discussions as well. Crisma said she'll follow up on that first and we'll ask how she's doing tomorrow at the interview. We're excited for her! Especially since it's Christmas Eve, and also her birthday!

 The absolute highlight though of the week for me was on Saturday. On Saturday and yesterday we had District Conference. Since the very first session was the Priesthood session and we weren't going to attend since we didn't have any investigators to take with us, Sister Hiatt asked if she could work with us while President Hiatt attended the meeting. It was such a cool thing working with Sister Hiatt! In our first lesson she boldly told the father of the girl we teach that he needs to go to church and set a good example for his kids. Something she shared that was really cool was about Joseph Smith's first vision. She pointed out that Heavenly Father knew Joseph Smith, even by name. I don't know how many times I've taught that experience, yet never had the thought to use that in teaching that Heavenly Father loves and knows us so well, even down to our very names. I noticed that Sister Hiatt is very good at making people feel important and loved.

 After that first lesson we were walking at the highway, looking for a good spot to cross the road. I noticed a man sitting down at a small waiting place on our side of the road, but didn't think much of it. Then Sister Hiatt suggested that we contact him. And this turned out to be the coolest thing I got to be a part of so far on my mission. The first thing this brother, Enrico, said was that he's been wondering how to become a member of this church. That never happens. He said that every time he passes the church he feels a strong want to be among the members. He even inquired about the church on the internet and was replied to by church services. The only thing that didn't come, he said, was actually people to share the gospel with him. What's awesome too is he's very good at English so we communicated in English for Sister Hiatt (although we found out later she's also really good at Tagalog). She was prompted and told us to share a lesson with him right there on the side of the highway, so we did. The Spirit was so strong as we taught him about the restored gospel, and he was soaking everything in. Sister Hiatt showed him a quick Restoration video on her iPad and he said he feels exactly how Joseph Smith felt, truly seeking for the truth. We gave him a pamphlet and Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies that the things we shared are true. I left feeling so amazed and grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of something like that. It was the neatest thing. 

 Thanks to Siater Hiatt a member who hasn't been to church in years and her husband was also there at the District Conference yesterday! Elder Frei was super surprised since he knows her a little better than Elder Fernandez and I do. Overall though it was such a cool experience working with Sister Hiatt and I can easily sustain her and President Hiatt fully as our Mission President and wife. 

 Sorry I can't go too much into the other things that happened! We're out of time now. Know that we're continuing to do really well here and I love my companions. I hope you guys have a great week and a Merry Merry Christmas! 

 Mahal ko po kayong lahat!
Elder Ishibashi

Nakakamiss

Sister Hiatt

Brother Enrico!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12-11-16 Let's focus on being better and serving others

Kumusta po dad!

 Alright I got a few random emails out of nowhere this week so this email will be a little quick again. But thank you guys for the emails! I'm a little bummed you and mom can't have full lunches together all the time anymore, but I'm happy that she's enjoying her job and is taking everything in so quickly and well. I also enjoyed the updates for Herbert & Jazamin's wedding! I love that there will be Filipino foods as well haha. Also, good job to Kala'i! You're huge! This new apartment doesn't have weights either...I'm getting so skinny. Good job on winning the race though and keep me updated on that!

 As for me, this past week was a super great one! It was pretty hectic towards the beginning due to transfer day and saying goodbyes, but it ended up mellowing out and becoming awesome. I'm going to miss Bambang for sure, since it was definitely one of my favorite areas. Elder Gatus told me they've been switched to the other branch though, so if I stayed I wouldn't be working where I got so used to. Kind of sad, but I guess a blessing as well on my part. This new place is awesome though!

 I met Elder Frei & Elder Fernandez at the mission home in Cauayan before coming here to Roxas. Our area is beautiful! And so is our house. For some reason the Lord keeps blessing me with beautiful houses. This one doesn't have a heater, washing machine, or working shower, but it has a bunch of closets and someone who washes our clothes! And honestly I kind of missed the bucket showers anyway haha. And being companions with Elders Frei & Fernandez makes it all the more awesome. Elder Frei is a great person and is super funny. His voice also sounds exactly like Mikels so it's easy being comfortable with him haha. He's also very musical which is fun. Something that really stands out about him though is that he seems to always have the Spirit with him, even when he's joking around. He's a great example of someone who strives to be Christlike. Elder Fernandez is also a great companion. He's always positive and is such a great teacher! He's a master at making up examples/object-lessons so that those we teach can understand more clearly the things we're teaching. We're still trying to figure some things out as to how to do things as a tri-some companionship, but it's fun and we're enjoying it so far. 

 Alright we're heading out, but I just want to leave a quick testimony again since I don't bear my testimony very often here. This Church is true. There's only one way to know and feel what true happiness is, and Jesus Christ is that way. I love Him and am so grateful that He died for me. I'm so far from perfect, but the gospel gives me hope that I can always change and become better. I love that God's love for us will never leave no matter how bad we fall sometimes. His arms are extended always. Let's focus on being better and serving others, especially now during this Christmas season.

Mahal ko po kayo!
Elder Ishibashi

Saying goodbyes:
Telan Family

Sister Maria

Ballesteros Family

Mendoza Family

Butay Family (Branch President)

Got to see Elder Labrador one last time before they left for their homes!

Elder Frei & Elder Fernandez. Elder Fernandez's face is like that because we ran out of rice haha

FHE last night













Monday, December 5, 2016

12-4-16 "slap-in-the-face" moments

Magandang hapon po family! Maligayang Pasko!

 Woo December na! I'm so excited for this month and to feel the Christmas Spirit again. So far December has been pretty interesting; this past week was a crazy one. Probably one of the more stressful weeks I've had haha, but like Elder Kane likes to say, "I didn't sign up for an easy mission". We had a really good MLC in Cauayan and learned more about our responsibilities as leaders of the mission. Because of transfers I think we only had one day to prepare for our Zone Training Meeting which was on Thursday. That went well too though; we're so blessed to have a great zone. Or to have had I guess I should say. I'll be transferring on Wednesday :/ 

 Besides the MLC & ZTM a few other things came up throughout the week that kept us from working as long as we're usually able to. The work that we did have went well though. One of my favorite lessons we had was with Germalyn, our investigator who wants to be baptized but can't since she and her spouse aren't officially married. If you guys don't know, there's no such thing as divorcement here in the Philippines. It's against the law to divorce. So that means once you're married and something happens to your relationship, you can't marry anyone else until your last companion dies or there's a really good reason that you guys are separated. Germalyn's spouse, Felipe, was once married. Germalyn has a strong testimony of the church and is so faithful, but can't be baptized yet because of the marriage thing. We shared 1 Nephi 9:6 with her and testified that God knows everything and will help her if she continues to trust in Him. Sister Germalyn, no job (Felipe looking for a job himself), lives in a humble home in the midst of rice fields a couple miles from the church. Yet she finds a way to get to church every Sunday, even if it means walking in the sun sometimes. She told us in the lesson that she does feel like giving up sometimes, but trusts with everything that the Lord will help her eventually. These are the kinds of people who deserve so much more than some of us. 

 I really enjoyed reading your emails as well as Elder Ishibashi's (Fiji) email last week about being grateful. I had one of those "slap-in-the-face" moments this morning as well haha. I read Nephi's experience on the ship in 1 Nephi 18. You guys can read the story from verses 9-16. Nephi is the type of person where all he wants to do is the right thing. He's always so diligent in following the Lord. Here in 18 Laman & Lemuel get mad at him again, and bind him with cords, again. Now imagine the cords they used, probably super rough and coarse. Imagine Nephi being tied, by his own brothers, to a post by his wrists and ankles in front of everyone, his wife and children included. A terrible storm came and lasted for 4 days. Imagine the cords rubbing against his skin for 4 straight days and him watching his family and parents tossed around because of the storm. Nephi doesn't complain, but mentions that this affliction was "exceedingly sore". I imagine Nephi had a hard time moving because of pain when the bands were finally loosed by his brothers. The greatest thing about this story was what he said in 16, that despite everything that happened, "I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions".

 The past couple days I've been kind of beating myself up and thinking more about the things not going so well with the work. But after reading this story again, I had to laugh at how little my problems are compared to Nephis, yet how quickly I complain and murmur! I'm glad I got to read that before getting the transfer list and finding out that I'm leaving, because I so didn't want to. We have a lot of great things happening here and I was going to be the one to baptize Lloyd this coming Saturday, but that's a pretty dumb reason to complain haha. Like you guys and Elder Ishibashi have been doing I too am trying not to focus on the bad things, but on the good. Like Nephi, it's possible to find good in absolutely any situation. 

 We'll find out where I'm transferring to tomorrow night and I'll let you guys know how it is in my next email. I love you guys! The Christmas tree looks really good! And you guys are looking really good too. Have a great week!

 Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Sister Lanie. She works where we eat lunch every now and then





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11-27-16 We had another great week!

Magandang hapon po family!

 We had another great week! Like I mentioned last year, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here so I forgot to mention it last week. Good to know you guys had a great Thanksgiving though and that the family continues to be safe! I'm especially happy to hear about aunty Roxie's recovery. Another huge thing that stood out to me in your email was where you mentioned that grandpa would name every single person in our family in his prayers. It makes me more grateful & proud to have had him as the head & example of our family. 

 As for the skype, that sounds perfect! The only thing is, wouldn't you guys be at grandma's house at that time? You sure you don't just prefer one of the following days? I'm not sure about the Fiji Mission President, but I think we're allowed to skype any day within a week of Christmas. Also you think 'Ohu would want some personal time with you guys before I sign on? It might be a nice thing to just focus on him for like 30-45 minutes before I get on since this will be his first skype and he'll probably be excited to share a bunch of things with you guys. Ask him then let me know.

 Alright so for our week! This week Elder Gatus and I really focused on finding new & potential people to teach. We've improved drastically when it comes to talking with strangers, and it is becoming a fun thing! We've already had some pretty crazy/cool things happen since we decided to overcome our fears and speak with others. This week we'll try to return to the homes of those who seemed a little interested and hopefully will be able to share a message with them. I'm excited! We're gonna go really hard this week since it's the last full one of the cycle. I'll know by my next email if I'm transferring! Still hoping I'm not haha.

 A cool thing we were able to do this past week was work with Elder Pangilinan & Elder Waite, the Almaguer elders. We worked one day in their area then the next day in ours. They're both really good missionaries and I learned many things from both of them. They have one really progressing investigator whose baptism interview is this coming Sunday. I got to teach her with Elder Pangilinan and I feel like she's more than ready to be baptized. 

 Yesterday we had a great day in church. Our lesson in Gospel Principles class was on charity which is, to me, more important than anything. Jesus Christ says in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." When that scripture was brought up I remembered a story that Elder Gatus told me of an elder that was once assigned here in the PCM (Philippines Cauayan Mission) named Elder Bautista. Elder Bautista also had a twin brother on a mission and out of nowhere this twin had a kidney failure. President Rahlf called Elder Bautista into his office and told him what had happened. President asked, "Elder, are you willing to give your brother one of your kidneys?" Elder Bautista thought really hard about it for a few minutes, but eventually said yes. Pres. Rahlf commended him for his bravery and said that he'd be given time to recover from the surgery. Now this part was what got me. Elder Bautista was surprised when Pres. Rahlf said that he'd recover. He thought by giving his kidney to his twin brother, that he himself would die. How crazy is that? That story still gets me teared up whenever I think about it haha. It's hard to love others the way that Jesus Christ loves us sometimes, but it can and should be done. And when we learn to love others more our love for Heavenly Father increases, and vice versa, and the more we'll feel His love for us. 

 This week is going to be a really busy one. Thank you guys for the updates and I hope you guys have a great week as well! Love you guys!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Elders

"Album Cover Pose" at a CSP we had last Saturday

Kanina (earlier)






Monday, November 21, 2016

11-20-16 Kumusta po Family!

Kumusta po Family!

 Congratulations on the permanent job mom! That's super awesome and I still love the fact that you and dad are able to have lunch together often. That's definitely a huge blessing. And congratulations again Hali'a! You're getting so big and pretty! I miss that smirk of yours haha. Thanks for sending the pictures dad. I'm excited to skype you guys next month!!

 We had a great week this past week! So many blessings and progress going on. After my email last week we had a great Family Home Evening with that family where the brother came home early from his mission. His parents aren't members and his mom is usually too shy to speak with us when we visit. For some reason though she was very comfortable at the FHE and even shared some thoughts about our lesson! We haven't been able to visit them since then because of the distance of their house, but we'll check on them again this week. From Tuesday to Thursday we had some more great days of work and got a couple new investigators who already accepted the invitation to be baptized! One of them, Angel, is already progressing really quickly and is excited to be baptized on December 10. Only thing is the next transfer day is December 7 so there's a big chance that I'll transfer and not be able to witness her baptism along with Lloyds. Hopefully I can stay though! I have feeling the next few months are are going to be amazing. Also I'd like to spend Christmas with people I know haha. 

 The highlight of my week was definitely working with the Assistants. We went to Cauayan early Friday morning and spent the day with them. I got to work with Elder Saez. It was the coolest thing! Elder Saez is such a great missionary and after working with him it's even easier to sustain him as an assistant to the Mission President. Once we got to work we hit it hard. Through him I got a feeling of excitement to speak with strangers and share the gospel with everyone. And that feeling lasted throughout the whole day. Our lessons went really well and I learned & observed many things that I've already been able to apply to myself. Thanks to the Assistants Elder Gatus & I are more motivated than ever to overcome our fear of men and share the gospel with as many people as possible. We're both striving our very best to be exactly obedient and because of that it's so easy to feel the Spirit. We're expecting some miracles to happen for the rest of our time together. 

 Another thing that was really cool this week was a talk given by our Mission President's second counselor, President Capitulo. He gave an awesome talk in sacrament about upgrading ourselves. He connected it to the Nokia cellphone and the Samsung & Apple cellphones. 10 years ago Nokia was the most popular cellphone in the world. But because they didn't upgrade, Samsung & Apple surfaced past it, and now it's rare for anyone to have a Nokia now days. He said that being a member of the church isn't about going to church and doing the things we're supposed to. It's about doing more. Think about where you were five years ago. Were you only attending sacrament meeting? Only reading the scriptures once a week? How are you doing now? There are 4 types of members in the church he said: inactive members, less-active members, active members, and faithful members. Have we become better than we were 5 years ago? We shoud never be "steady" in the church. Something I liked that he said was that we can't be fully perfect while here on the earth, but we can be perfect at some things. We can be perfect in getting to church on time every Sunday, in reading the scriptures daily, etc. I was reading in 1 Nephi 15 today and the word "blindness" stood out to me in verse 24. I realized that Satan doesn't just blind us through justification of sin, but in making us think that we're doing enough as members. Let's evaluate ourselves, see what we can do better, then do it. 

 Know that everything is going so well here in Bambang. Our companionship only gets better and better and we're seeing more and more great things happen here. I love you guys! Have a great week :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Ballesteros family! They'll definitely be one of the hardest families to say goodbye to when the time comes

Monday, November 14, 2016

11-13-16 Magandang hapon po!

Magandang hapon po!

 Alright I have a good amount of time to write today. Like I mentioned before, we had the crazy cool privilege of having Elder & Sister Schmutz visit our mission a couple weeks ago. What's awesome is they taught us in our MLC so the zone leaders & sister training leaders got to spend a little more time with them than the other missionaries. The following day we had a meeting where about 5 zones met up and we got to hear again from Sister & Elder Schmutz. Elder Gatus & I conducted the meeting which was a really neat experience. Elder Schmutz is probably the best example I know of D&C 84:85, which promises that we'll know what to say when the time comes, as long as we effectively read & ponder the scriptures. He taught by the Spirit and supported things the missionaries said with scripture verses! It was the coolest thing and it motivated me to get better at "unpacking" scripture verses, and then to rely more on the Spirit while teaching. That was pretty much the biggest thing that happened the other week. 

 This past week was another great one as usual. We had a good zone training meeting on Tuesday (my 16 month mark...) where we relayed Elder Schmutz message about foreordination to the zone. Among the many scriptures we discussed Abraham 3:22-26 where Abraham learns about foreordination. This topic was really cool too. I love the fact that I was chosen to serve here in the Philippines way before I even received my mission call, and that goes for every other missionary in the world. It kind of solidifies my testimony that everything happens for a reason. And it's very motivating too knowing that we already promised beforehand that we'd serve honorably and fully. An elder had a great question to which Elder Schmutz gave such a simple answer. The question was: How can I know that I'm fully fulfilling my foreordination? or achieving everything God wants me to achieve? The answer was: simply obey. Through obedience we'll receive and accomplish everything God intends for us in our lives. If we're truly obedient, nothing can hold us back. 

 We had some really good work this past week as well. We set some time specifically for finding new people to teach and less-active members we haven't met yet. We were also able to spend some time working with a brother who came home from his mission because of home sickness. He's actually a really good teacher, so we're hoping he can overcome that and head out to the field again within the next couple months. Our most-progressing investigator right now is Lloyd, who was actually a referral from his member neighbors. He was really shy when we first got to know him but is really opening up now. He's living the things we teach and we're seeing the change in his life. Lloyd is excited to be baptized and even has a desire to serve a mission! I actually really hope I don't get transferred this next cycle so I can witness Lloyd's baptism on December 10. 
 
 Yesterday we were so excited to see bro. Marvin, sis. Susan's husband, in church! And even their one daughter who was afraid of going to church in pants since she doesn't like dresses. This was their first time going to church as a whole family in many years, such a cool thing to see. Unfortunately we didn't get a picture with them after church. 

 But anyway that's pretty much it! Everything's running smooth with Elder Gatus and I'm actually learning so much from him language-wise! He's not afraid to correct me with my language which I appreciate. I also continue to learn great things from him as a missionary. Thank you guys for the updates, and congratulations again U'i & Mikel! I'm stoked! Love you guys! :)

Elder Ishibashi
  

Elder & Sister Schmutz

Since I got the package after my birthday we just partied it up Tuesday night in celebration of my 16 month mark. Elder Gatus also made graham cakes for us which is one of the best desserts ever. Uncle BJ should know what that is.

We had a fun district activity this morning and 4 of our district mates are now new members of the buga-buga club. I'll explain that when I get home


Monday, November 7, 2016

11-6-16 I'm so so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers.

Kumusta po family! 

 Thank you for the update, dad. It had me tearing up picturing Aunty Roxie & Kirei and the accident. I'm so so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers. Let them know I'm praying for them please. 

 Sorry, this email is actually going to be super quick since I spent too much time finding videos on lds.org and now we're overtime. I spent some time reading Elder Ishibashi's (Fiji) email and really enjoyed what he said about reading the Book of Mormon. It really is so important, guys. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and proof that this is the fulness of the gospel. I've developed such a love for the Book of Mormon and it only continues to grow. One suggestion I have for reading is to not read quick, but deep. Use the footnotes and take out everything you can from each verse. Elder Schmutz calls it "unpacking a verse". We had the super great privilege of having Elder & Sister Schmutz visit our mission this past week. I'll have to tell you guys more about it next week.

 Before I go, I wanna wish Pretty girl a happy happy birthday this coming Saturday! And I'm so excited that you'll be baptized and officially become a member of this great church! Please send pictures!

 Sorry again, I promise to manage my time a lot better next week. I love you guys!

Elder Ishibashi

Elder Umpat & his anak, Elder Eriksson! It was super cool hanging out with my anak again and getting to know my apo (grandson). He's awesome and I can tell he'll do great things here in the mission. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

10-30-16 My testimony on the power of the Priesthood was strengthened

Kumusta po mom! 

 I'll just reply to your email today. Thanks to you and dad for all the updates! That was a really cool topic that dad shared in church; I'm sure it went really well. His topic is something I was reminded of just a few days ago as well, how studying the gospel will create good habits better than studying good habits will create good habits. It may sound a little confusing at first, but it really is so simple. Living & learning the gospel goes beyond becoming a good person, it leads to becoming the best person we can be, even unto being like Jesus Christ. The more we learn about Christ the more we will love and desire to serve Him, and others. Elder Gatus (I'll talk more about him later) showed me 2 talks from his jump drive this past week: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/brad-wilcox_his-grace-is-sufficient/ & https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/todd-b-parker_true-doctrine-understood-changes-attitudes-behavior/. They're both pretty long, but so powerful! Please try to find time to listen to them this week. "His Grace is Sufficient" was especially powerful for me personally and greatly changed my point of view on some things. I'm not gonna spoil it though; you guys will have to watch it yourselves haha. 

 As for this past week, it was a great one! I finally got my birthday package; thank you guys so much! You don't know how stoked I was about the clothes haha. The snacks are perfect and I so enjoyed reading your letters again and going through the pictures. Along with that I also received a bundle of small green letters from other members, which I also greatly appreciated. Thank you guys! They're very motivating and makes me more grateful and excited to be out here in the Philippines. 

 Now as for Elder Gatus. He's my new companion here in Bambang, and we already have a pretty awesome companionship haha. I was a little worried of him becoming my companion since he's really good in English and I thought I wouldn't be speaking Tagalog a whole lot with him, but he's nice and speaks Tagalog with me anyway so I can practice. We've only been together for a few days but I feel like we're gonna have a great cycle. He's kind of just like a brother and we already tease each other all the time and joke around, which I enjoy. I also noticed that he's a great teacher and missionary overall. I'm pretty stoked about this cycle, assuming I'll transfer by the next one. 

 The biggest event last week, besides transfer day, was Mae Pearl's baptism! It was a pretty memorial day for me even from the beginning. We started our day with a CSP at some members' home in the sisters area. The elders' job was to take the pile of wood stumps and branches that they had and cut them up so they could be used as fire wood. Obviously, being hard-headed, I went for the thicker pieces of wood and left the thinner ones for the others. After 30 minutes or so of chopping my back was suddenly struck with pain. I couldn't even walk over to take a seat for a minute, it was so sore. Eventually I worked my way over to a small bench and after some rest got few more branches done before leaving their home. I was supposed to baptize Mae Pearl but asked Elder Gatus to do it instead because of my back. Luckily Mae Pearl was really cool about it. We were also wondering if I'd even be able to work after the baptism. Once the baptism was over Elder Gatus asked if I wanted a Priesthood blessing and I said yes, and was kind of surprised that the thought of asking for a blessing didn't even cross my mind. This was my first time getting a Priesthood blessing since leaving the MTC. My testimony on the power of the Priesthood was strengthened all over again through Elder Gatus's blessing. As soon as he closed I jumped out of my seat and my back felt great! It's still not fully back to normal but it was more than enough to get through work comfortably. It actually was a miracle the way I see it. And the baptism overall went really well :) Our other investigator, Maria, attended and has a strong desire to be baptized as well. The only obstacle right now is that she and her "husband" aren't yet married. She almost lost hope and decided to not follow through with the baptism thing but changed her mind again after our lesson with her yesterday. She's great and I have high hopes that she'll be baptized by December.  

 Alright, those are the main things that happened this past week! The quantity of lessons wasn't so high this time, but the quality was right on I think. Like Elder Ishibashi (Fiji) said, it's not about the numbers. But it is nice to have a lot of lessons too haha. This week will be a great one! I'm excited for it. I love you guys and hope you have a great week as well!

Ingat po kayong lahat,
Elder Ishibashi
 
Last picture with Elder Labrador before he got on the bus. Transfers were a little different this time; he traveled alone and I waited with other elders here until Elder Gatus arrived. 

He so didn't want to leave hahah

Biggest grasshopper I ever seen in my life! And Elder Gatus tried to eat it...good story for when I get home

CSP

Baptism ni Mae Pearl! Did I mention she's the firstborn of Sis. Susan, our recently returned LA member? They're doing great things! Next step, family sealing :)






Monday, October 24, 2016

10-23-16 The power of prayer is so strong,

Kumusta po family!

 Phew, I'm finally caught up with replying to the emails from last week and can now spend some time on this one. I told this to mom already, but thank you guys so much for the prayers! Unfortunately a few zones were hit really hard by the second typhoon that came in, but nothing major happened at all down here in Bambang. It was nothing short of a miracle, especially considering that this would've been the biggest typhoon in the world, not just the Philippines. The power of prayer is so strong, especially when we do it with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Our topic yesterday in Gospel Principles class was on Sacrifice, and that's what they said the Lord needs from us. He doesn't require burnt offerings or things like that anymore like what they did in the Bible and Book of Mormon, but our sacrifice is to have a broken heart and contrite Spirit. Ultimately it means to give every thing that we have to the Lord, even up to our lives. Some great examples of that are the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, Mormon, Joseph Smith, etc., with the best being Jesus Christ. He gave everything and obeyed the will of the Father until the very end. I've made it a goal to give more of myself to the work and stop worrying so much about my own weaknesses. 

 This past week was another great one! I forgot my planner so I can't remember everything I wanted to talk about, but I'll try to go over the main things. I got to work with 3 different elders this past week: Elder Kearl, Elder Abubo, and Elder Gabelo. I had a great time working with each of them and learning different things from each as well. I really enjoy taking the good things I see from others and applying them to myself. It's like taking the shiny pieces of their armor and adding it to mine if that makes sense. I think the best thing I learned from all the splits is the importance of helping others feel loved, whether coming from you or from our Heavenly Father through teaching or prayer. Even if they're not yet ready or willing to hear the restored gospel, we should always make them feel loved and important.

 Another great thing that happened last week was Mae Pearl passing her baptismal interview! She'll be baptized this coming Saturday! :) We're super excited for her, especially since in the beginning we really didn't think she had much of a desire to be taught. She's doing so well though and said that she has a strong desire to serve a mission in a few years! I imagine that would be the coolest thing as an RM, to hear someone you baptized is now preparing others to be baptized as well. We're excited!

 Those are pretty much the main things that happened this past week. This morning we got the list of those who are transferring out of Bambang zone, and Elder Labrador is actually the only elder leaving. The whole transfers thing was affected because of the storm. I'm sad for sure since he's my favorite companion so far, but I'm excited as well to learn from and work with a new companion. We'll know who our new companions are by tomorrow. That's pretty much it though! I love you guys and hope you have a great week!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Zone Picture from last week (Banaue)

Mosiah 28:3

3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

This picture's a joke, but that's actually a really powerful scripture.

Friday, October 21, 2016

10-20-16 Typhoon update

Dear family and priesthood leaders, of course the typhoon came through an did quite a bit of damage.

All our missionaries are safe.
Though these disasters are unfortunate it brings good opportunities to bless lives both temporally and spirituality.

Thank you for preparing hardworking and faithful missionaries to bless our life and many others in the Cauayan mission. 

Love, 
President and Sister Hiatt 

President C. Russell Hiatt
Philippines Cauayan Mission

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

10-18-16 A message from the mission home

Dear Family, Friends, and Priesthood Leaders of Cauayan Missionaries:

As you may or may not be aware, typhoon Haima, currently a cat 4 super typhoon is nearing our mission and will cross our northern mission boundaries on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  I am writing to let you know that all missionaries in the path of the typhoon in our mission are moving to safer areas in the South well ahead of the storm.  

The health and safety of our missionaries is our number one priority and you can rest assured that we are always doing everything possible to make sure that your missionary is cared for in the best way possible.

During events like this, Mission Presidents are updated regularly by the Area Office and we are in constant contact with our missionaries to make sure they are not in harms way.  We also make sure that all missionaries have 72 hour kits that contain food, water, and any other necessary supplies that are needed during emergencies.  


After the storm passes, we will send out a second email letting you know the current status and that all is well.

 

It is such a privilege to be able to serve with these missionaries and we treasure our time with each one of them. They are incredible servants of the Lord and you can be proud of the service they are rendering to the those who reside within the boundaries of the Philippines Cauayan Mission.

 

We will send out another 

May the Lord bless each of you and your families in all that you do.

Much love,
President and Sister Hiatt

 

 

President C. Russell Hiatt

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, October 17, 2016

10-17-16 I have been so blessed today

Kumusta po family!

 Man, thank you guys so much for the birthday wishes! Today was actually such a super great day. It just so happened that we planned to go to Banaue on this day! It was pretty crazy and stressful planning the trip because of the storm and a group of other missionaries coming along with us, but it all worked out and was all worth it. We got up this morning and had a great breakfast at McDonalds in Solano, where Elder Labrador treated me. Some from the other group of missionaries were there waiting and they greeted me with "Happy birthday!". They even surprised me with a nice tie they bought! The ride to and from Banaue was great since most of the other group are my closer friends outside of Bambang zone. And Banaue itself, of course, was awesome! The clouds were passing through the terraces the whole time we were there so the view wasn't as clear as usual, but it kept the weather cold which was perfect since the hike was death. Like even worse than the past few times. Still worth it though haha. I figured this was my last time ever visiting Banaue so I probably blew like 2000 pesos on souvenirs and things haha, I'm stoked. Before heading back to Bambang we had lunch in Solano and they surprised me with a birthday cake! What's crazy too is some members made me and Elder Labrador our own little personal cakes a couple days ago, and on our way back to Bambang today another texted us and said to drop by their house later on to pick up a cake they bought for me. We also have a dinner later on...I'm actually hoping there's no cake haha. I told Elder Labrador I wanted a simple birthday but somehow a bunch of people found out and did so much to make sure I had a good day. And I did. And your emails just made it that much better. Know that I have been so blessed today; this actually may have been my best birthday so far. I love you guys!

 As for the storm this past weekend, it really wasn't too bad :) The power went out on Saturday night and the winds and rain got crazy strong, too loud for us to be able to sleep. We were super blessed to have nothing dangerous at all happen to our missionaries here, although some homes were destroyed because of the storm. Our electricity was back on by the time we got home today, which we were really grateful for. I actually hope the members see what happened as a learning opportunity and humble themselves in being more obedient to the Lord in all things. Hopefully we'll also have some opportunities to do service this week. We also received a text earlier today that another, bigger storm is coming in this week. It will hit the more northern part of the mission, but we may be affected by it as well because of it's strength. Please pray for us and especially them!

 Sorry, the connection is really slow so I won't be able to send any pictures. We also got back a lot later than usual today so this email is just a quick one. Sorry to those who wrote me, I'll reply next week for sure! Elder Labrador & I continue to have a strong, healthy companionship and many, many great things are happening. We're slowly finding more people to teach and getting blessed with more progressing investigators! I can't believe that it's transfer day already next week! By my next email I'll know if Elder Labrador is transferring out or if I am. President Hiatt is super unpredictable so we have no idea haha, it's fun though. I love you guys! Have a great week, and thank you again so much for the birthday wishes!

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Sweet one picture was able to load. Love you guys!

Monday, October 10, 2016

10-9-16 Naimbag a malem!

Naimbag a malem!

 Thanks for the email dad! I couldn't help but laugh at what happened with Lehia haha. What a soldier! Only he would stick his hand in sketchy places to catch a single fish. That'll be a crazy good skill when applied to missionary work: not being afraid to go through sketchy situations to save even just one soul. That's the mentality the sons of Mosiah had, and they're blessings overflowed. I got a letter this week from a couple in my second area giving thanks for helping them enter the waters of baptism and some other things. It really was the coolest, most edifying feeling. I also admire Lehia big time for his decision to not continue reading that book. Great example of President Monson's "Dare to Stand Alone" talk. Keep it up Lehia! I know Kala'i them are doing great too and I'm so grateful for their examples as well. It's so weird that there's only 3 of them at home now haha. 

 Elder Labrador & I had another memorial week! Vinalyn was finally baptized! I bumped her head while baptizing her so she'll always remember that about her baptism...but there's nothing to be done now haha. She forgave me easily and just teases me about it. Of the whole week we only had the equivalent of about 2 and a half days of work here in Bambang, but we made the most of it. On Tuesday we had a couple hours of work before heading over to sleep over in Bagabag! The plan given by the Assistants was to sleep over in Bagabag and then Elder Hilbun & I would take a bus early Wednesday morning to Cauayan to get our Philippines Driver's License. It was pretty cool being in Bagabag again, but I don't like sleeping there anymore haha. 

 Plans changed when we were already there and Elder Hilbun & I were told to just head over after studies and lunch. We got to the mission home and just went on splits with the office elders. I got to work with Elder Warren again which was pretty cool. I really enjoyed our first lesson, which was with an American! Brother Jack, from Kansas. He believes in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father but really wants to be able to say that he "knows" they exist. He has strong faith and a huge willingness to do whatever it takes to have a personal relationship with God. He was excited to watch General Conference this past weekend, so I hope he made it and was touched by the Spirit.

 Elder Hilbun & I ended up getting our Driver's License Thursday morning before MLC. What's funny is we didn't even drive and Elder Hilbun's American license was expired but we passed anyway haha. MLC was super awesome and uplifting as well. We're super excited for the Mission Tour coming up next week with Elder Schmutz, who actually spoke in the Sunday Afternoon Session!

General Conference was probably the highlight of the week (aside from Vinalyn's baptism). I learned so many great things! I have a firm testimony that everyone who spoke in General Conference are called of God and were inspired to share everything that they did. Something that made this General Conference really memorable was actually something that happened before the Sunday MorningSession even started. It's a long story, but it was exactly what I needed to be prepared spiritually to listen to our leaders speak in Conference. I learned that I still have a lot to work on when it comes to humility, and that through humility we can become more Christlike.

 Overall everything continues to be really great! I realized this week how much I enjoy working with Elder Labrador. He's a great, great missionary & companion. I hope you guys continue to progress in everything, especially the gospel. Love you guys!

Elder Ishibashi

Baptism ni Vinalyn

Sister Susan (green) returned and even brought her friend Maria (stripes)!

District Activity this morning


I don't even know sometimes haha

Thought Lehia would appreciate this one






Monday, October 3, 2016

10-02-16 Kumusta po family!

Kumusta po family!

 First off, my heart is so full of gratitude for what happened to Herb. I tear up a little imagining the car rolling and getting just 10 feet from the edge. And to imagine that this happened to Herb, someone so kind and innocent. It makes me think of the Savior, the greatest, kindest, most innocent person having to suffer the worst pain. I hope this doesn't make Herb feel uncomfortable haha, but thank you. His experience makes me more grateful for the Atonement. It also strengthens my testimony that there is a God and that He knows and loves us all so much. And hey congratulations on being enagaged! I'm super stoked for you guys and will write down the date on my calendar at home. As for the others, you guys are looking good! Keep it up with exercising and stuff! Lehia, you're probably the coolest person I know haha. And miss you pretty girl :) Also good luck to Kala'i in getting back into Kamehameha! 

 Elder Labrador & I had a super great week as well. We actually got more lessons than we did last week! It's a cool feeling, but I will admit sometimes I focused a little more on getting a lesson than actually inviting someone to come unto Christ. I'll be more aware of working with the Spirit this week. A lot of things will be going on this week as well so hopefully we'll still have some good work. 

 You guys remember me mentioning Princess last week? We visted her that night and she's awesome! The only stumbling block right now is that Monday is her only day-off, which means she wouldn't be able to go to church even if she wanted to. We'll visit her later on today and hopefully find a way for her to be able to progress. Two other great investigators we have with stumbling blocks are tatay Tony and Julicell (Vinalyn's older sister). Tatay also works too often to be able to make it to church and Julicell isn't yet married. We're trying to find ways to help them overcome these things, but maybe it's just not yet the right timing of the Lord. Hopefully soon though! Haha.

  As for Ayesha, everything worked out and she was baptized this past Saturday! I had the privilege of performing the baptism and Elder Labrador confirmed her the next day. She's awesome and we're excited. Vinalyn will follow and be baptized this coming Saturday! We'll also watch General Conference this coming Saturdayand Sunday which I'm crazy excited for. 

 Alright sorry, we really don't have much time today. Of all the week I'd have to say the best thing that happened was S. Susan coming to church yesterday! We have been working so hard with this sister for a while now and I knew that her desire to return to church was there, but she just could not get over the fear of what others might think. What also doesn't help is having a less-active husband who seems to not care at all how important the gospel is. They haven't been to church long enough for even their firstborn, Mae Pearl, to be baptized. She's now 15 and we've been teaching her for a while as well. Last Sunday s. Susan promised to go to church but at church Mae Pearl said that her mom said she's not yet ready.On Friday I worked with Elder Andaya and we visited her and those who were home listened as well. We shared Alma 34:32-33 with her and explained the importance of making the decision NOW. If not now, when? We never know when we'll leave this world, and if we'll wait it out until that time comes, it'll be too late. I also shared that experience at Hapuna where I almost died, which is an experience I share a lot. At that moment the absolute first thing I did was repent haha. There's no such thing as death-bed repentance, God doesn't work that way. But yup so s. Susan was actually at the church already when we got there and I almost cried of happiness. My face hurt later on because my smile was so dumb and big haha. She finally made that huge step of coming back to church, and now it'll just get easier and easier and they'll be more blessed! This Goespel is the best.

 I love you guys so much! And thanks for sending 'Ohu's email dad. Not gonna lie I'm pretty nervous now since this Wednesday I'll be going to Cauayan to get a Driver's License haha. I'll be super careful and pray hard that everything will be okay. I hope you guys have another great, blessing-filled week! And be more safe!

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi


Splits with Elder Oredson. Took this picture right at the back of Vinalyn's little compound of houses! 

Baptism ni Ayesha. She's a character too haha

Went back up to the cross this morning