Monday, February 29, 2016

2-28-16 Kumusta family, naimbag a malem!

Kumusta family, naimbag a malem!

 This past week was another great one! The work and everything is going so well. We have a few investigators who are on their way to entering the waters of baptism! The 2 main ones that are progressing are Lee and Ruth. Sister Lee just needs to marry her boyfriend (member) before she can be baptized, which she's totally willing to do. They're just trying to figure everything out and stuff. She has such a great understanding of the gospel and is continually searching to learn more. We asked her what she understood about Joseph Smith and his role in the Restoration the other day. I was amazed at how well she knew him and the first vision. I'm not sure when she and brother will get married, but I know that she'll be baptized soon after they do! Last Sunday while I was with Elder Clarite, Elder Flores and Elder Baclea-an went to their Alicia 1st sacrament meeting. That's where they met Ruth. Her asawa is a member, so I'm not sure how long she's been investigating the church. They got to know her and taught her later on that day. I was able to return there with Elder Flores yesterday after church and studies. Sister Ruth is also not afraid to share her thoughts and ask questions, which we love. The spirit is so much stronger in lessons when the one we're teaching opens up. I've come to realize that those who ask questions are the ones who will most likely progress. A lot of the time though these people are just too shy to ask themselves, so as a missionary and teacher I'm seeing the importance of stopping every now and then throughout the lesson to ask if they're understanding the things we're sharing. 

 After that lesson we had kind of an emergency splits. Elder Baclea-an goes home this Wednesday, so for the rest of the cycle (4 weeks left) we'll be in a tri-some. That means we'll be working in both areas! The next four weeks are gonna be crazy busy! Which we're so excited for. That's why we had splits yesterday, to become a little familiar with their area. I worked with Elder Clarite and 2 fellowshippers while Elder Flores worked with Elder Baclea-an and one fellowshipper. I love working with other missionaries and observing different ways of teaching. Elder Clarite is a great missionary. Definitely one of the "hastening" ones, which I'm sad to say there aren't a whole bunch that I've met. He even wanted to teach a quick lesson before we came here to do emails haha. That's why I'm so stoked to work with him for the rest of the cycle! I know it'll be a great help for Elder Flores too since he's still young and doesn't fully understand the deep importance of some things yet. But he is willing to work, which I'm so grateful for. And he's a huge help with the language! I'm learning so much! It's almost like an overload sometimes haha. 

 Alright we're heading out now, sorry for the short email. Know that everything continues to be great. I'm loving it here! No bad days. I hope you guys are doing well too, especially mom. Please keep Elder Clarite in your prayers too. He's doing really well but he'll be going into the hospital tomorrow for an operation. Okay love you guys! 

Ingat kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Last picture with Elder Capulac on transfer day

Elder Flores and a sister who just came home from the Cagayan de Oro mission that night.

Splits yesterday

Zone Conference. Elder Baclea-an, Elder Clarite, and tatay!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2-22-16 Exactly Obedient

Alriiight kumusta!

 I just finished my other emails real quick so I could use the rest of the time to write this one. I have a lot to talk about! So many things happened last week. The first thing was Zone Conference! Man, I so wish we had Zone Conference more often, like at the very least every other month. The spirit is always sooo strong. Of all the things I learned, the 2 main things that stood out to me was the importance of contacting, and bringing investigators to church. I think I talked about contacting before right? It's pretty much just tracting, but here we call it contacting. For it to count as a contact we need to get the person's information and give them a commitment (return appointment, read pamphlet, read BoM, etc). The Zone Conference got me pumped to go out and talk to people! As for bringing people to church, they pointed out a lot of things I don't normally think about. We as missionaries need to realize that most of these people have no idea what to expect when they think about going to church. So it's important to explain every little thing that will happen beforehand. They also pointed out that we shouldn't pay for their rides when they need to catch a jeepney or bus or something, because that kind of takes away their opportunity to show faith. I don't know why that stood out to me, but it did haha. Just thought that's something we can do even at home if we have a friend we'd like to invite to church or something. For Zone Conference President also picks a story and breaks it down for us. This time it was the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. I'm so glad I saw the cartoon we used to watch as kids haha, helped me to visualize everything as President Rahlf explained. President Rahlf is a great teacher! I learned so much and the spirit was strong as always. We ended with a quick testimony meeting again. I love hearing the testimonies of others. Overall zone conference was a huge success as usual. Oh and Elder Rebojo was there too! We talked for a long time and got caught up with everything. I miss that guy! He seems to be doing really great. 

 After zone conference I spent the next few days in Jones, our District Leaders area. He, Elder Reyes, went to Alicia and worked with Elder Flores and I worked with Elder Kane over there. Elder Kane is from Salt Lake City and came into the field one cycle after me. So working was pretty interesting since we're both not yet fluent in the language. But Heavenly Father helped us both big time and blessed us with the gift of tongues in our lessons. I feel a little bad saying this, but those few days were a few of the best I've had in the mission. It's not at all because he's another American, it's because Elder Kane is exactly obedient. Because of that the Spirit is so strong with him. I learned so much from him and have been able to apply those things into my life. The work went so well those few days I was there, and we know it was because of our desire to be obedient and serve our brothers and sisters there. I'll share one cool experience we had there. On Thursday morning I think Elder Kane mentioned another name during planning, so we planned to meet this nanay. Later on when it came time to visit her, her daughter came out and told us nanay wasn't there. We got to know her daughter and she invited us in to sit down, before we even brought up the gospel. This daughter's name is Mona Lisa by the way, probably around 40 years old. We sat down and brought up the gospel and our purpose as missionaries. We asked if we could share a message with her and she said we could. The lesson went so well it was crazy. Evey time my mind went blank, Elder Kane had something to say, and every time he finished speaking I had something to say. Mona Lisa was understanding everything too well and quickly that we didn't know where to stop! Haha. Usually we'll share a couple or even just one principle from the Restoration pamphlet on the first lesson, but with her we went through 4. Elder Kane even invited her to be baptized if she found out for herself that the things we shared were true. She said yes so quickly we were wondering if she understood the question haha. How's that! On our way to our next appointment Elder Kane said that they had actually "dropped" nanay already (decided not to visit her anymore since she wasn't progressing). But that morning her name popped up in his mind and he felt that we should visit her. That's one of the many amazing blessings that come from obedience, the Lords guidance and trust. 

 We returned to our own areas on Friday morning. It was nice coming home to our shower haha. It was also nice being reunited with my companion and working with him again. The work has been going great in Alicia. We're finding people and have high hopes for many of them. Okay, so about the hospital thing. On Sunday I went to the hospital with Elder Clarite since his companion had to give a talk in their ward so he was gone with Elder Flores. The Rahlfs picked us up and we went to a hospital in Isabela. They had a friend with them too, Sister Stookey or something like that. On the way we talked story and the Rahlfs mentioned visiting Hawaii! They go home in June and their children told them that they have to visit Hawaii on their way. We talked about how cool it'd be if they even visited you guys! They didn't say anything for sure, but I told them it'd be super cool and you guys would love to meet them. Sorry if that puts any stress on you guys haha. We got to the hospital, they helped us sign in, and then Elder Clarite and I were led to our room. Our room was super nice! Almost like a hotel haha. Comfortable couch, fridge, cabinets, TV (had a USB port so we watched Elder Clarite's mormon messages on it), and even a warm shower! The only thing was, it was soooo boooring haha. I brought a lot of things to study while waiting with Elder, but I couldn't do it all day long. The Rahlfs checked up on us a few times throughout our stay and brought food and things to sleep with. They also allowed those in the hospital to watch Narnia! I watched Narnia 1 on Monday then they gave me Narnia 2 yesterday. It's actually cool how easy it is to connect those movies to the Gospel, like the atonement and restoration. It was nice watching movies again haha, but I'm glad it was just one a day. I don't think I could've sat through both in one day. While there in the hospital, Elder Clarite seemed totally fine! It seemed really serious back at home, but I think because of prayers and his receiving a blessing, he got better super quick. President Rahlf was wondering if he even needed to go to the hospital in the first place haha. Finally we were freed from the hospital around 6:20. President drove us to the mission home where I sent the quick email last night. He also gave us some money to go over next door and eat dinner. After that we returned to the mission home, said goodnight to those that were there, then left.

 I'll just share this last experience before we head out. We left the mission home and waited nearby for a bus that would take us to Alicia. While waiting Elder Clarite contacted this nice lady selling things on the sidewalk. Eventually a bus came and she told us it would pass through Alicia so we jumped on. We found seats across from each other in the aisle. I felt like I should talk to the guy next to me but he yawned a few times so I figured he was too tired. He then put earphones in so I kind of used that as an excuse to not have to talk to him. After like 5 minutes of being in the bus, he started to cry. I could tell he was trying to hold it in, but sometimes he just couldn't. I felt more horrible not talking to him but I didn't want to disturb him. He wouldn't stop crying. I decided to pray. I originally was going to ask Heavenly Father if I should talk to him, but I found myself asking if I shouldn't, saying that if He doesn't tell me not to, I was gonna do it. I then asked for the gift of tongues and for guidance as I spoke to him. I was still hesitant to open my mouth, but he wouldn't stop crying. I finally tapped his arm and he pulled out his earphones and we talked. His name is Anthony Navarro. He told me that his brother is dying, and they 2 are the only kids in the family. His brother also has 2 kids. I wasn't sure how I could comfort or connect with his situation, but I continued to talk with him. I brought up our beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and he said his daughter is actually a member. We talked a little more and when I realized we were getting near Alicia, I pulled out my Aklat ni Mormon and gave it to him. I had it with me for language study in the hospital; normally I don't carry that with me. I promised him that it would help and bore my testimony about Heavenly Father and His love for all of us. He thanked me and we got off the bus. 

 Sometimes it's awkward for me sharing experiences like that because I don't want those reading to think that I think I'm so in tune with the spirit or something haha. But I do know that that is what comes from obedience and a desire to do God's work. It was so humbling for me to know that Heavenly Father put his trust in me and allowed me to be the one who (hopefully) helped this brother. There's no doubt that He helped me. It was just a huge testimony builder for me. I know that this work is the Lord's work, and so it just makes sense that He is willing and wants to help us in it. Our responsibility as missionaries and members of the church is to be obedient first, and then to ask for that help. 

 Alright, sorry for writing so much! I wrote even more than I thought I would. Just know that everything here is going so great, and things are just getting better and better. Thank you for your emails! I'll keep that in mind, dad. And I agree with you that everything we teach in the church should always lead back to the Savior. It's so nice to hear mom's doing better and that everyone's working together to keep mom comfortable. Thank you guys for continuing to do good! Have a great week!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Last zone picture in Solano. We took a zone picture at zone conference but it hasn't been uploaded to the blog yet

The other pictures are taking too long to load so I'll try to send them next week. Love you guys!

Monday, February 22, 2016

2-22-16 helping an ill Elder

Hey dad! Sorry for emailing so late tonight. Yesterday while Elder Flores and I were in church we got a text from another elder in our apartment, Elder Clarite. He asked us to return home after sacrament and give him a blessing. His companion, Elder Baclea-an, was assigned to speak in their ward after ours but Elder Clarite wasn't feeling well enough to go to church, so Elder Flores and Elder Baclea-an left and I stayed home with Elder Clarite. While there Sister Rahlf called and after talking to some other people she said it was time for Elder Clarite to go to the hospital. Since Elder Baclea-an was gone I volunteered to be his companion while in the hospital. So long story short, that's where we were all today. President brought us to the mission home so we could inform you guys real quick then we're returning to Alicia. He said we can do our shopping and emails tomorrow since we weren't able to today. And don't worry about Elder Clarite, he's fine :) Back to normal already. Okay love you guys! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

2-14-16 In love with this area already

Hey mom! 

 How are you guys! It feels like I haven't emailed in so long haha. So much has happened the past couple weeks so I'll just go over the main things. First off, my new area is in Alicia and my companion is Elder Flores. I'm actually his follow-up trainer! So this is only his 3rd cycle in the field. I forget the name of the place he's from but his first language is Illocano! So he's been helping me with that along with Tagalog. Such a blessing. I'm also helping him with his English.

 Man I'm like in love with this area already haha. Our apartment is huge compared to my last one! It's also really sick - 3 rooms, weights, big space to lift and stuff, a flushing toilet, and even a working shower! I love not having to bucket shower anymore haha. There are actually 4 of us in this apartment. The other two elders are Elder Baclea-an & Elder Clarite. They're in Alicia 1st ward and we're in Alicia 3rd, so different working areas. Both of our wards have sister missionaries too. Elder Baclea-an goes home in a couple weeks and Elder Clarite is in the same batch as Elder Flores. I was actually kind of worried when Elder Flores told me there were 4 of us in the apartment since I thought it'd be hard to focus and stuff. But it's awesome; they're both really hard working and obedient. The next transfer day is on March 30th but Elder Baclea-an is going home a little sooner, so for the few weeks that he's gone the three of us will be working together until Elder Clarite gets another companion on transfer day. I'm stoked since that means we'll get to work in their area too for that little while and have more work!

 Another thing I love about this area is the people. They are so nice! And our members here are so faithful. Yesterday we had 4 men preparing for missions work with us! We were able to go on splits and have an awesome, successful day of work. Our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Arenas, is super masipag too. They said we have missionary coordination meetings every week to discuss our work and they give us more names to find and teach. Apparently Elder Flores's last companion wasn't the beeest worker which is sad. Because of that bro. Arenas didn't care much for the elders. So our first plan when I got here was to gain his trust again and the trust of the members in our ward. We were blessed to have a csp (community service project) on Saturday and through that those who were there, including bro. Arenas, began to see that we're ready to work! That night at the coordination meeting he and bro. Encarnacion (ward clerk) gave us a bunch of names to find! It was awesome. So on Sunday our plan was to visit them while on splits. Since I'm new to the area the 2 fellowshippers who worked with me lead the area. We found a couple of the people we were told to find and even met a couple others on the way who said we can teach them this week. Man, the work is just sooo great here! The blessings are overflowing. 

 Before I move on to the other emails I just want to share an experience I had. On transfer days everyone being transferred goes to Cauayan then leaves from there to their next area. Our area isn't very far from Cauayan so Elder Flores them were actually waiting for us there at the Cauayan chapel, right next door to the mission home. Some of them needed to get reimbursements but those in charge of reimbursements were busy helping the new missionaries and their trainers next door. So we decided to eat lunch close by at KFC while waiting for them to finish. This is like the only KFC in the mission I heard so I was stoked haha. Anyway, so in KFC this American guy comes up to us while we're eating. It's me, Elder Flores, and Elder Carrington at the table. I guess he spoke to Elder Carrington first but then came to us and scolded him for not bringing up the gospel to him haha. Turns out this guy is a member, and he tells us about his mission and stuff. The thing that stood out to me the most was what he said about love. If we really love these people around us and see them as our literal brothers and sisters, we shouldn't be afraid to share the gospel. Then he's like "Look at this, you guys are sitting next to this beautiful young lady and you haven't brought up the gospel yet!" Keep in mind, he's standing behind us and is speaking loud enough for everyone there to hear. After a few seconds of silence, he turns to the girl sitting next to me but at a higher table and starts talking to her about the gospel. Then he tells her about us, missionaries, and says that we'll give her a number to call if she wants to know more about the gospel. He tells us to give her a number and then goes and sits down with his wife. I was really hesitant, but I did talk to the sister for a bit and testify that the things she heard were true. Since we don't know who the missionaries in her area were we just gave her the number to the mission home. Now I'm not sure how effective that experience was for her, but it had a big impact on me. What the brother said about love was true. I've made it a goal to reach more out of my comfort zone here and what he said helps a lot. When we love these people the way that Heavenly Father loves them, work doesn't just become important, it becomes a desire. 

 Overall, everything is super great here. Our zone is composed of 28 missionaries! Twice as much as Solano zone. And everyone is super cool. Tomorrow we'll have zone conference so it'll be us and a couple other zones meeting in Santiago. That means I'll see Elder Rebojo again! By the way, Elder Bice is training! How's that! Ang galing niya. I was able to talk to him for just a few seconds while in Cauayan. They were still busy with the new trainers and missionaries meeting. Too bad his zone is far from us so I won't see him again for a while probably. That's pretty much it for the big events this past week though. How are you guys? Eh how's Kaiawe? And Hyrum told me about Vaea's mission call! So sick! Ohu must be even more stoked right now, it seems like everyone is leaving the country! It's also so good to hear about you mom, that you're doing better. My testimony of prayer and the gospel in general only continues to grow out here. Hope you guys are doing well and have a great week!

Love you guys! 
Elder Ishibashi

 Sorry, this computer can't read my camera so I can't send any pictures today. This picture was saved with my draft from last week. Intestines really aren't bad anymore, actually kind of good haha. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2-8-16 Hey mom!

Hey mom! We started emailing yesterday then the power went out -_- sorry. Luckily my draft was saved but I'll just finish it next Monday, the Zone Leaders gave me permission to email real quick to let you guys know why you didn't get an email yesterday. Tomorrow I'll be in a new area! Alright, love you guys! :)

Elder Ishibashi

Monday, February 1, 2016

1-31-16 Marami akong himala na tinanggap ko.

Kumusta po dad!
 Hahaha the google translate is a fail, but I understood what you were trying to say. Sobrang saya ang linggo ko! Marami akong himala na tinanggap ko. 

 Work has been going really great so far. We didn't have as many lessons as I wanted to have this week, but the ones we did went really well. On Friday I was a little bummed because we went to Salamague where we met a handful of people (last week) that said we can teach them this past week, but when we went pretty much none of them were home. The Basilios were home but this time nanay just asked that we share some other time since they were just super busy when we got there. Elder Capulac spent a while talking story with tatay before we headed out. Tatay is really opening up! We thought he was kind of a masungit kind of person, but once he got comfortable with Elder they had a fun talk about work and fishing and stuff haha. Elder Capulac is a seaman by the way. Did I ever mention too that his dad was a Patriarch? He's passed away now. Pero kaya ang lakas ng espiritu ni Elder! But anyway, so after that we tried a few houses and they weren't home. We did get to share with one investigator though before heading home. She said she'll pray to know if totoo ang mga ibinabahagi namin. I hope she remembered/remembers to ask if these things are true! Because I know that Heavenly Father will answer her. 

 Of all the days though, Saturday and Sunday were the best. On Saturday we only had one lesson, kay nanay Solita (LA). We originally wanted to visit her on Friday but she was feeling sick. It worked out perfectly though, because we only had time for one lesson before heading out to other areas for baptismal interviews, and nanay Solita is the closest house to us that we teach. Luckily she was feeling better in the morning so she said we could come by. With her we shared Alma 5:16, 
"I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?"

I can't even imagine how good that must feel, to hear those words coming from the mouth of the Lord after everything we've been through here on earth. Elder Capulac did a great job at connecting that to returning to church. It's been years since the last time nanay Solita has been to church. She's said many times that she will magsimba, but never has. And that's what made Sunday so great. NAGSIMBA SI NANAY SOLITA!! I was sooo stoked to see her at church! And not only her, but another nanay who hasn't been to church in a few months! Her case is different though, she's just been really sick lately and couldn't find the strength to magsimba. Her faith and testimony is still super strong and she reads from her Aklat ni Mormon every day. She's even reading through the Index haha. But I was so happy to see that she had the strength to go to church, even if it was just for sacrament lang. And it doesn't end there! There was a new face at church. Elder Acosta talked to him first and he said he lives in our area so I talked to him. Turns out he's a member too who hasn't been to church in a while! We found his brother's name in our Area Book but haven't been able to visit them yet. He said that we can visit them this coming Saturday! They have work and school throughout the week. Man yesterday was just an amazing day though haha. The lessons after church went great too! Heavenly Father is blessing us so much as we work harder to share the truth with his children in our area. 

 As for food, we did have dinner at the Galicia's house again but sister said they forgot to get something exotic for us to eat. I was sooo happy oh my gosh haha. I just need to endure one more dinner with them before transfer day haha. Transfer day is next Wednesday! And I make 7 months as a missionary next Monday. Time is going be sooo quiiickk. Elder Capulac said President Rahlf doesn't keep missionaries in their first areas for more than 4 cycles, so ayon sa kanya, I'll for sure be transferring. Again, it's a bittersweet feeling haha. By my next email I'll know for sure!

 Thank you so much dad and Ohu guys for watching over mom. I just read her email. Thank you mom for being so strong! Know that I pray for you guys everyday. And it's good to know that Ohu's getting better at driving hahah. And man I'm soooo stoked to hear that his papers are almost in!! You have nooo idea how amazing the mission is Ohu. Thank you for preparing yourself the right way to serve! 

 Alright we need to go. Sorry to those I wasn't able to reply to today, but thank you for the emails! Love you guys! Hope you guys have a great week too :)

Elder Ishibashi