Monday, May 30, 2016

5-29-16. This was the best week I've had work-wise so far!

Kumusta po dad!

  Yup, another great week! This was the best week I've had work-wise so far! We hit it hard from the start and tried our best to keep the momentum going until the end of the week. There were a couple days where we got crazy punted and only had like 2 or 3 lessons, but for the most part everything was just awesome. One of the first things that made this week a great one was a text from one of our investigators, Michael. He & his girlfriend Lee have been investigating the church for about a year now. Lee's siblings were baptized a little less than a year ago. The only reason they themselves haven't been baptized yet is because they have a child and live together, but aren't married. Besides that they're basically like any other member; they even pay their tithing! Since I've been here in Alicia I've been asking often about how their marriage plans are going, expressing how much I'd love to be here when they get baptized. So you can imagine how crazy stoked I was when we saw their text during District Meeting that it's finally happening! They're getting married!! The plan is to be married on June 18 and then be baptized immediately afterwards. I'm so excited, since there's a chance that that will be my last Saturday here in Alicia (transfer day is on June 22). Hopefully it's not though! Haha. I love it here in Alicia so much.

  Like I said earlier, work this week was awesome. We were able to get at least one new investigator each day of the week! We also found a number of less-active members we've been looking for for a long time. They all have their different reasons why they're not going to church right now, but I saw strong potential that they'll all return some day. We're going to try to visit them all again this week, so I'll let you guys know how they're doing next week. Same with our new investigators. We have one certain investigating family though that is just golden. You remember how the Echague sisters had a baptism on May 7? I'm pretty sure I mentioned that the father of the family that was baptized, Bong, took us to his friend's house in our area and introduced us. His friend, Oses, was more than willing to hear our message, but for a few weeks he's either been too busy or they weren't complete as a family at home so he asked that we visit at another time. Yesterday we were finally able to visit him and share with his family. They are amazing! The kids didn't seem crazy into the lesson, but Oses was so attentive. He told us that Bong told him how helpful the gospel has been for him & his family, and how much they've changed for the better, so Oses said he was interested to know more. He also mentioned that he read in the bible about how, as important it is to feed our bodies, it's just as important to feed our spirits by learning about our Savior and His doctrine. I was so happy to hear this, since it means that when he prays to knows if these things are true he will do it with real intent, meaning he'll receive an answer. I have such a strong feeling that as long as Elder Umpat & I keep ourselves worthy & ready for the promptings of the Spirit, this family will be baptized, and soon. 

  Like last week, Sunday was my favorite day of this past one. We didn't have as many LA's or investigators go to church this time, but it was still a great 3 hours of learning. I was so happy to see tatay Porras there again, along with nanay. If tatay can go to church just 2 more times in a row, he will be able to be baptized along with his daughter Lee & her soon-to-be husband, Michael. After church & a ward council meeting, we had lunch at the house of a member couple, Jhonny & Debi. They're both returned missionaries and told us some mission stories as we ate. It turns out that Jhonny knows Kia Aquin from our stake in Hawaii! They weren't companions but lived in the same house for a little while in the mission! He said that even in the mission Kia was a great missionary and fun person to be around. Did you guys know he even became AP? Too good, Kia. 

  After lunch Jhonny worked with us. Brian Encarnacion, another RM in our ward and good friend of Jhonny (they're the same age & grew up together in the church), also promised to work with us yesterday so we walked over to his house from Jhonnys. Man, it was such an awesome experience working with 2 returned missionaries. I learned so much! I thought it was super interesting how different their styles of teaching was, but how equally strong the spirit was that illuminated from them. They're the kind of people where you just know they were great missionaries in the field by the way they act now, just like Herbert & dad. I've made it a goal to be that kind of missionary.

  Anyway, that's about it for the past week. I can't believe 'Ohu will be in the MTC in just a few days! I'm so excited for you 'Ohu! I can't tell you enough how you have no idea how amazing the mission is. Keep the positive, fearless attitude as you enter the MTC and throughout your mission! You will experience miracles. I have such a strong testimony that this work is true. In Doctrine & Covenants the Lord says multiple times that this is the last time, the last chance that we have to share the gospel before He comes again. So go hard! I love how Hamblyn put it when he said, "I'm gonna punch the mission right in it's face!" haha. As best as you can, hit the field running. Hasten the Lord's work in Fiji. You can do it! We didn't take any pictures this week but this picture I sent may be helpful some day. I saw it in the mission office and it hit me pretty hard. We are so blessed to have been given this opportunity to share the gospel; don't let it go to waste! I love you 'Ohu! And all of you guys. Have a great week!

Elder Ishibashi

Monday, May 23, 2016

5-22-16 This past week was amazing!

Alright kumusta po family!

 This past week was amazing! So many great experiences and tender mercies. It's still a little stressful being a District Leader, but I'm learning to love it more and more. This week I decided to teach about my favorite section in the Missionary White Handbook, about being an example as a leader. Although it specifically addresses those with leadership positions, everything said can & should be applied to us even before we receive such a calling. Just as Elder Umpat & I was about to go to work Monday night it started to rain and thunder again. Because of that we decided to just stay in and continue studying. In that time I was able to research more in depth each bullet point in the "EXAMPLE" section and learn more for myself. Thanks to that extra time given for us to study, the lesson went really well at District Meeting the next day. I was also super grateful that the AP's visited our zone that day and Elder Antenorcruz sat in on our lesson. Because of him and thoughts & additional comments of those in our district, I learned even more. My testimony on being a good missionary in every way was strengthened and I think we were all spiritually edified. 

 Something else I studied a little more in depth this past week was the Restoration. It's just amazing how everything worked out, how precise and perfect God's works are. Do you guys know the talk "Why the 1820's"? I've been trying to find and download it somehow. Herbert should know where to find it. 

 On Friday we had the privilege of going on splits with the zone leaders. I worked with Elder Cantero in Echague while Elder Hamp worked with Elder Umpat here in Alicia. We did splits so I could interview their baptismal candidate and one of them could interview ours, sister Charlyn. It was such a cool experiences working with Elder Cantero; he's a GREAT missionary! The first people we contacted, I thought were members already haha. He just saw a few people sitting on a bench near the road and was like "Hey! Nanay!" and cheerfully shook their hands and spoke to them. I only realized he didn't even know them when he was like, "May we introduce ourselves?" haha. He told me that when you talk to someone for the first time, just pretend you know them already so they can feel comfortable right off the bat. It was awesome to see him put his words into action and see how effective it really is. I also learned a lot from the way he teaches. Something I remember Herbert repeating a lot in Mission Prep was how we need to give people the milk before the meat, or one slice of cake first instead of just shoving a whole cake in their face haha. This means that when teaching investigators we need to teach simply and use terms that they can understand before going into the deep doctrine and stuff like that. Elder Cantero also mastered that concept. He introduced the Book of Mormon to one of their investigators in such a detailed, yet simple way. He even used the pictures in the beginning of the Book of Mormon to explain Jesus Christ's going to America and Moroni's promise, which I thought was awesome. Overall splits was great, and Elder Umpat said working with Elder Hamp was great too. 

 Saturday was the baptism of Charlyn Bucatora! It was such a sweet experience seeing our investigator finally enter the waters of baptism. The sister missionaries in our ward also had an investigator baptized along with Charlyn, and then a sister in our ward, Keith, who's been 8 for a while but only now was being baptized. Her dad is less-active right now, so she asked me to be the one to baptize her. I was honored and excited to do it. One of our fellowshippers, Jonathan Castro, baptized Charlyn. And our ward clerk, Brian Encarnacion, baptized the sisters' investigator, sister RoseMarie. 

 Yesterday (Sunday) was the highlight of my week. It was great hearing Charlyn be confirmed a member of the church and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. On top of that though, we had 2 investigators, 2 potential investigators, and 4 less-active members attend church(one of them being the father of Keith)! I almost teared up haha; I was so happy. I was especially happy to see tatay Porras, the investigator who's been wanting to go to church but hasn't been able to because he can't yet walk on his own. He still can't walk without help, but he promised to attend church (for the first time) and so I was sooo happy to see that he kept his promise. This was one of those 1 Nep. 3:7 things. I know that no matter what it is, Heavenly Father will always provide a way for us to keep his commandments. We just need to exercise our faith in him by going & doing it. Tatay is amazing!

  Everything is just amazing here so far. I love my companion, the area, the work, everything. I'm actually really hoping to be Elder's follow-up trainer too so I can be here for at least one more cycle! Transfer day is coming up so quickly. I can't believe this is Ohu's last full week at home! It's a sad thought for sure, but that also means this is your last full week before becoming a full-time missionary! I can't tell you how much you'll love being a missionary Ohu. Thank you again so much for your help at home and for the experience you shared with me about knowing that this is the right time for you. I believe that this is the right time for you too. I'm crazy stoked to get a letter from you at the MTC! You better email me haha. Love you Ohu! 

 We actually went a little overtime here in the computer shop so I need to head out now. I love you guys! Have a great week! :)

Elder Ishibashi

Keith and Charlyn

Alicia 3rd Ward Missionaries

Monday, May 16, 2016

5-15-16 Maika'i loa wau!

Kumusta po dad!

 Maika'i loa wau! We had a great couple of weeks. They went by so quickly though, I'm not sure what to tell you guys about haha. Everything is just going so well here in Alicia. I guess one big thing that happened since my last email was baptisms! They weren't our investigators but the sister missionaries who taught them are in my district, so I was able to interview them in preparation for baptism. This was my first time doing a baptismal interview, and I did it 4 times in one day haha. One was with 2 little kids and the other 3 were with another family. There are 4 of them in the family but the sisters decided that the younger sibling wasn't yet ready to be baptized. So I interviewed the mom, son, then father. They were all so ready! I asked them to share their conversion story with me and it was awesome. They've been searching for the right church for a really long time and brother eventually asked his member friend to send some missionaries over to his house. The rest is history. They had a coffee mill but so easily gave it up when they learned about the Word of Wisdom. They were so willing to change and follow everything taught to them. After the interview this brother drove us back to our area, but first took us to a friend's house here and introduced us. He invited this friend to allow us to teach him about the Gospel and he accepted! We tried frequently last week to get a hold of him and finally caught him yesterday. He was a little busy but said we can return this coming Sunday and share a message! I'll let you guys know how it went next week.

 On the topic of baptism, we have one this coming Saturday! Sister Charlyn Bucatora. Not gonna lie I was a little worried last week when we kept asking questions and she just couldn't remember some things even after learning it multiple times. I was even more bummed when we got to church yesterday and I didn't see her. I was so happy to see her in our gospel principles class though! And we were blessed that the topic was on Tithing and Fast-Offerings since that's something we haven't taught her yet. When we visited her later on after church she remembered everything from class and said she read the pamphlets we gave her the day before. She even said that she actually got to church at 6! She was the very first person at church. I felt bad that she had to wait so long for the gates to open (around 8-8:15), but I was amazed at how faithful she is! She comes to church on her own since her parents aren't members. There are so many members right around the church who still get there late. Charlyn is just so ready to be baptized; I'm so excited to see it finally happen this Saturday. 

 Overall, I'm just loving it here. Elder Umpat is such a great missionary and companion. I feel bad sometimes that he got stuck with me as his first companion haha. I'm learning so much from him and want to be a better missionary because of him. We're finding more people to teach and I feel the members' trust in us building. Sorry, no crazy stories these past couple of weeks. Just know that everything is great and the blessings never cease to flow. Oh also, happy birthday in advance Herbert! Love you! Love you guys :) 

Elder Ishibashi

Alicia District

Lot of lightning the past few days

May 7, 2016

District Activity

Monday, May 2, 2016

5-1-16- the Book of Mormon

Naimbag nga aldaw!

 Yup, another great week! So many great things happened this past week. On Tuesday we had a zone conference in Cauayan. Again, I love zone conferences so much. This was also the last zone conference for President and Sister Rahlf since they'll be going home in June :/ They're amazing! The spirit was so strong as they shared about the Book of Mormon and bore their testimonies on it. At the end of every zone conference they give some time to the missionaries to bear their testimony. I thought about going up this time but it ended up going over time because so many missionaries wanted to bear their testimonies. If it's okay I'd like to bear my testimony right now on the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is so true. It's helped me more than I thought it could in my own life, and by using it I've been able to help others in theirs. I know that the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ, that He is, and that He wants what's best for us. If you think about it, there's really no way that the Book of Mormon could be fake. Joseph Smith could never have written by his own knowledge, and even if he did, I can't think of anyone who would be willing to die for a book they wrote. The more you research the Book of Mormon, the more you'll find of it's truthfulness. Because I took on the challenge to do the "power read", my testimony and love for the Book of Mormon has increased so much. I'm excited to read through it again. Knowing the Book of Mormon is true, I can also say that I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and did restore the fulness of His Gospel to the earth. I know that Jesus lives, and that He knows and loves us more than we can comprehend. How blessed we are as members to know these things! 

 On Wednesday we returned to Cauayan for the new missionaries & trainers meeting. The other companions seem to be doing really great too! For some reason though the meeting made me even more grateful for Elder Umpat. The other greenies seem cool, but Elder Umpat's the best haha. After that meeting we went straight to work when we got back to Alicia and was able to visit Nanay Margarita Cristobal. She says her husband actually has family in Hawai`i, from Maui. It's pretty cool, a lot of people here actually have family in Hawai`i. They also love Kolohe Kai haha, they just finished a playlist of like 5 of their songs since I've been here in the net shop. Oh by the way, we saw the pictures & names of those arriving next week, and there's a Sister Escalante coming in! Could be family with those in our ward. 

 The other days of work went really well. Rodel worked with us again on Thursday. He has a really strong spirit; I enjoy working with him. On our way to dinner that night it suddenly started to rain after like a week or 2 without any rain, and it came hard all at once. Tatay Arenas (ward mission leader) picked us up in his tricey but we had to stop under cover somewhere since it was so strong. He decided to take us nearby to his siblings' house and we ate there. I'll attach a picture of us undercover and then some kids at the house. 

 Sunday was just one of those days where you see the results of your efforts. We saw a handful of LA's in church! I was mostly excited to see Adela, who hasn't been to church probably the longest out of them all. We also visited her later on at home and she just seems to be getting happier. It reminds me of the scripture verse 2 Nep. 5:27. We probably won't receive everything we want for following the Lord, but Nephi simply said that because of their diligence in keeping the commandments, they "lived after the manner of happiness". I know that only through obedience to the Lord's commandments can we experience true happiness. 

 Alright that's pretty much it! We still need to rush over to do some grocery shopping before work. Thank you guys for the package!! And tell the Alamedas I got their package as well and am so grateful! But mom, the jam broke in the box hahah. Everything was covered in jam when I opened it. You must've been inspired to extra-wrap the journals, which I love so much! They're still in great shape :) but I wasn't able to read pretty girls letter :/ some of it was saved but the rest is just colors. I'll send a picture of that too. But, know that I am so grateful! Thank you guys so much. And tell Jeremias I said happy birthday! Alright, love you guys! So stoked for next week!!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

New Missionaries & Trainers Meeting

Rodel Bautista

I don't know, these kids got it down haha