Monday, June 27, 2016

6-26-16 IT'S AMAZING

Kumusta pamilyak! Naimbag a malem!

 Alright, so many things happened this past week, it'll probably be another scrambled email. First off I'll tell you guys a little about my new area. IT'S AMAZING. I'll explain a little more soon haha. On Tuesday night President Rahlf called and told me I'd be a zone leader in my next area. I think he sped things up a bit so President Hiatt (our new Mission President by June 30) won't have to stress right off the bat with calling missionaries to leadership positions. Elder Rebojo has been called to be a zone leader as well, and so has Elder Bice! It's such a cool thing that Elder Bice & I have grown together from the very start. From meeting in the Kona Hawai'i Temple, to becoming companions in the MTC, to becoming district leaders and then zone leaders, both at the same time. I don't know why or how it happened this way, but it reminds me that Heavenly Father knows and loves me personally. I've also come to see that He loves me enough to not only bless me with the things I need, but even with things I don't even think about! Which leads me back to my new area.

 My new area is Bambang, which is actually touching Solano zone where I was born! Pretty far from Lamut itself though. My companion is Elder Labrador, who was my zone leader in Alicia for 2 cycles! When I found out he'd be my companion I was crazy stoked since I already knew he's a great missionary. He's also Ilocano so I'm making use of that. I was also super happy for Elder Umpat and our ward in Alicia since Elder Umpat's follow-up is Elder Olsen from my batch, who's also a great missionary! I know they'll do well and only lift the work there in Alicia. In Cauayan (we meet there on transfer days) I got to see Elder Bice, Elder Rebojo and a bunch of other familiar faces again which was nice. Everyone I talked to who knew about my apartment in Bambang told me it was the nicest apartment in the mission, which I had a hard time believing since our apartment in Alicia was so nice already. But they were right. They were so right. This apartment is ridiculous! Three stories, beautiful view, 2 working showers, water heater, air con, walk-in closet, clothes washer, everything. For a good half hour I just couldn't stop saying "wow". And not only is the apartment beautiful, but so is the area itself, and most importantly, the work. Like Lamut, this area is filled with mountains and bukids (rice fields) which is something I really missed in Alicia. And again, the work is super great too. We even have bikes here! They're owned by members but they allow us to use them on days we work in the farther areas. 

 Like I said earlier, Elder Labrador is such a great missionary. We haven't even been together a week yet but I have learned so many things. You guys know about my problem with talking to random people. That is one of Elder Labrador's strengths. He's not afraid to share the gospel with anyone! Because of him we already found a bunch of people who are willing to learn more. I'll share one awesome experience we had on Saturday. On Saturday we had a "beast mode" day which meant working from 8 in the morning all the way until returning home at 9 (we still had our meals, don't worry). I've never done it before and I don't think they did it often before I got here, but Elder Labrador suggested it since the work for the week was a little low because of transfer day. We had a great day! I want to focus on one lesson we had though. While biking Elder Labrador saw an older man sitting down by the street so he stopped and asked if we could get to know him. His name is tatay Reynaldo. Tatay told us that he stopped believing in God & Jesus Christ because of the many hardships in his life, one of them being his wife's death while giving birth to their first child. For some reason though, he allowed us to share a message with him. We felt prompted to teach him about the Plan of Salvation and Atonement. We bore testimony that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, even if we don't believe it. We also promised that he can see his wife again. He committed to read the pamphlet and we're excited to visit him again and see how he's doing.

 Alright I'll end there since we're heading out soon. I am so happy to be here in Bambang! Everything is so great. The Lord is blessing me so much, almost too much haha. The blessings really are overflowing. And It's so good to hear that you guys are doing well too! I love you guys and am so proud of my siblings. Ingat! 

Love you guys,
Elder Ishibashi

Last picture with Elder Umpat before heading to Bambang

View from the 3rd story of our apartment!

bukids (rice fields)

My new companion Elder Labrador

Just one of the many beautiful spots in our area

Monday, June 20, 2016

6-19-16 Happy Father's Day!

Kumusta po family! Happy Father's Day!

 Man, this past week was a craaaazy crazy busy one, but also a crazy great one. I guess the first thing I'd like to mention is that the baptism was a success! Thank you guys so much for praying for tatay! Lee & Michael were married on Saturday morning and were immediately baptized afterwards, along with tatay Danilo and Michaelangelo. Tatay cried of happiness at both the wedding and baptism, and expressed his gratitude & excitement multiple times throughout. What a cool experience and testimony builder for me. 

 One of our jobs as District Leaders is to do companion exchanges with other elders in our district to know how they're doing, how we can help them, etc. I'm guilty of pushing that off to the side for a really long time, but President Rahlf strongly suggested that I do splits with the Paddad elders this past week. It was a pretty cool experience working with an elder who will be on his way home in just a couple days. I learned a lot of things I can apply to myself, and also some things I probably shouldn't haha. Overall it left me seeing the importance of being obedient and enthusiastic about the work throughout the whole mission. One of President Rahlf's departing counsels to us was, "Finish stronger than you started". There's a huge (and obvious) difference between one missionary who works hard until the end and one who doesn't. I was filled with gratitude again this week for Herbert, being a returned missionary. If I didn't see the change in his life because of his mission, I don't know how seriously I'd take it. Because of him and dad I know what a returned missionary should be like, and knowing that keeps me motivated to keep going and working hard.

 On Friday we had a specialized training meeting in Cauayan. This was our final meeting with President & Sister Rahlf before they go home at the end of this month. Just like every other meeting with them, the spirit was so strong. They chose to give their final message on the Atonement. They both gave such powerful talks on how deep & amazing the Atonement really is. My testimony has been strengthened so much on Jesus Christ & Heavenly Father and their love for me. I know that the Atonement is infinite. It is for all worlds and all things. It hurts knowing that Jesus Christ had to suffer alone, but I love Him for it. It's amazing that no matter what our weaknesses or shortcomings are, the Atonement balances everything out. Because of the Atonement we are able to return to our Father in Heaven. After sharing about the Atonement they gave us some departing counsel and then we had some time to take pictures before heading back to our areas. It was great seeing Elder Rebojo again! This was Elder Umpat's first time meeting his lolo (grandpa). We had a great time catching up on things and had lunch together nearby before splitting up again. 

 On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference which was great as well. I love hearing from the leaders of our church; they tend to be the most powerful for me. Through those talks I received some personal revelation on how I can improve myself as a missionary. That's pretty much it for the week though! Sorry if some things seem a little scrambled again, so many things to talk about in such little time. I learned that it's also a curse to have a good camera. I now have like 50 pictures that people want me to send and print haha. Also, I am transferring this coming Wednesday :/ I was almost certain I'd be Elder Umpat's follow-up as well, but I guess that's not what the Lord has planned for me. Although it's a little sad & I'll miss Alicia like crazy, I'm pretty excited to get hit with something new! So I'll be in a new area by my next email. Thank you guys for the emails! Sorry I can't reply to everything you guys talked about. I love you guys so much, and have a great week! :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi  

On Wednesday we had a CSP (Community Service Project) at an elementary school. You know the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for"? I testify that it's true. I was like "I want the hardest job". Next minute I'm painting the school rooftop under a nice, bright sun. I don't think I've been that hot in my life haha. Be careful what you wish for!

Just before the baptism :)

Still working on smiling in pictures :p

3 generations

Monday, June 13, 2016

6-12-16 What a great example of faith

Kumusta po family!

 Alright I should have enough time today! The past couple weeks have been great ones. So far the biggest thing right now is our baptism this coming Saturday! Our 2 investigators, Michael & Lee, will be married in the morning and go straight to the baptismal font to be baptized. Yesterday Lee told me that she quit the job she just got since it forces her to work on Sundays. She didn't even find another job yet but knew that she needed to leave that job if she wanted to be a faithful member. How cool is that! What a great example of faith. It reminds me of what Christ said in 3 Nephi 13:31-33, that our Father in Heaven knows our concerns and needs. He says not to worry about what we'll eat, drink, or wear; If we search for the kingdom of God first, all of these things will be added unto us. I know that obedience to the commandments doesn't only bring blessings to us spiritually, but temporally as well. Lee's nephew will be baptized along with them and hooopefully her father as well. Because of his sickness he has a really hard time understanding some things and remembering other things, but his desire to follow Christ by being baptized is totally there. If it's okay, please add him into your prayers that he'll be able to be baptized this Saturday

 I like what you said about invitations, dad. That's something I've been thinking about lately too. You're probably familiar with the story of Aaron and the Father of King Lamoni. This king believed the gospel as soon as he heard it, and asked what he needed to do in order to receive a remission of sins. Aaron gave the invitation to kneel down and repent. If Aaron didn't invite him to do that, how would he have become cleansed and fully converted? Most of the people we teach here don't exactly ask how they can become closer to the Lord, but the principle is the same. If we don't invite, they won't even have the option to choose. This week we had a great lesson with the Pataray family. Brother Pataray was converted many years ago and even became first counselor in the branch presidency at one point. Sister Pataray was raised in the church. A few years ago they moved to Paddad (a nearby area) and there got offended and stopped going to church. Apparently they've been back here in Alicia for a long time now but we only heard their names a few weeks ago and visited them shortly after. This past week we had our second lesson with them. We taught about the sacrament and at the end I felt the strong urge to invite them to push everything off to the side on Sunday and go to church. Elder Umpat & I were so stoked to see them there yesterday! And again, our ward members did such a great job at welcoming them back and befriending them. Some people who know them well said they're returned for good. Such a blessing!

 Besides these things, everything else continues to go so well. Still loving my companion and learning so much from him. By my next email I'll know if I'm transferring or not! I'm hoping I don't, but I'm kind of excited at the same time to get hit with something new again and meet new people. We'll see. This week is going to be another great one! Oh and happy birthday Fia! I meant to mention that last week but ran out of time. Thanks U'i for the pictures and videos :) I love you guys!

Hanggang sa susunod,
Elder Ishibashi

 This is Elder Swensen from Sandy, Utah. He'll be going home at the end of this cycle! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

6-5-16 I am so happy for 'Ohu!!

Kumusta po family!

 Man, my mind is just filled with thoughts right now so sorry if this email is a little scrambled. I am so happy for 'Ohu!! I don't know why but I got a little sad on Thursday when I realized he was officially gone from home and on his way into the MTC haha. But it was so great reading his first email from the MTC! I'm so stoked for him and the blessings he's already receiving. 

 This week was another great one! We didn't hit the numbers we hit last week, but it was still a week filled with blessings and tender mercies. Most of our lessons were with less-active members and families which was really nice. President Rahlf explained to me while in my last area how important it is to focus on these people. He said that it's great to have baptisms & bring new people into the church, but what's the point if they won't stay? It's like filling a pool with an opened drain, not much is gonna happen if the water you're filling it with isn't being kept in the pool. It was awesome finding LA's we haven't met yet and being able to share messages with them. It's actually a pretty big difference between teaching LA's and investigators. With less-actives you know they've felt the spirit before or else they wouldn't have been baptized. It's a little easier to be build with them because most of them, although they haven't been to church in years, still believe it's true. It's our job as missionaries to help them remember their baptismal covenants & the blessings of enduring to the end.

 Alright, sorry guys. We were in another computer shop but they closed really early today for some reason. We still have a lot to do before working at 6 so I need to end my email here. Know that everything's great though! I love Kala'is experience by the way, thanks for sharing that with me. I love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Ishibashi


Zone Activty (the others left already)