Monday, August 29, 2016

8-28-16 Magandang hapon po family! Kumusta!

Magandang hapon po family! Kumusta!
 The net here is really slow and other elders are waiting so this email is going to be super quick :/ Just know that this week was a super great one and the work & blessings continue to flow. This picture attached was taken at the house of one of our members. This was the sickest thing ever! Closest I've gotten to surfing so far haha. I was also able to work with the 2 new elders in our zone, and they're both great. I'll go a little more into detail next week. I loved reading 'Ohu's email! That's crazy! Alright people are gonna get impatient haha. I love you guys! I'll send a better email next week :)

Mahal ko po kayo!
Elder Ishibashi

This was the sickest thing ever! Closest I've gotten to surfing so far 

Sunsets here never get old

Monday, August 22, 2016

8-21-16 Alright kumusta po family!

Alright kumusta po family!

 So many great things has happened this past week! I doubt I'll be able to cover everything. I guess the first thing is that for most of the week we've had Elder Pangilinan, Elder Warren's companion, with us here in Bambang. Elder Warren wasn't feeling well again on Wednesday so was taken to Manila. We were really worried, figuring that this was probably the last chance to keep him in the field. I'm happy to report that President Hiatt emailed us today and said that Elder Warren's doing great, and will return either tomorrow or on Wednesday :) such a blessing! And it's been a huge blessing working with Elder Pangilinan, especially for me. Elder Pangilinan has a super quiet voice, but one of his greatest strengths is talking to people. He's the type of missionary who enjoys talking with people and bringing up the gospel. Thanks to his and Elder Labrador's great examples I'm getting a lot more comfortable and confident in speaking with others. 

 This might have been the best week we had work-wise since I've been here. We're still a little short of hitting the standards of excellence in every category, but it's a great feeling seeing the numbers go up. We taught about tithing a couple more times this week and my testimony and excitement to do it continues to grow. I often share Aunty Roxie's tithing experience. I remember her telling me that at one time she set a goal to visit the Laie temple once a month and did so for a while. One month she found that if she were to pay her tithing, she wouldn't have enough travel money for the temple. What would you choose there? the temple? or tithing? I remember aunty saying that she chose tithing and trusted that the Lord would still provide a way for her to be able to accomplish her goal in getting to the temple. She said that some time later an unexpected envelop came in the mail, and inside it was the exact amount she needed to go to the Laie temple. This experience shows that the Lord's promise in Malachi 3:10 is true, and it helps those I share it with see the importance of paying an honest tithing.

 My favorite lesson of the week was on Saturday. I worked with an RM, brother Joker Igna, while E. Labrador & E. Pangilinan worked together. Bro. Igna & I visited the Ballesteros family, who haven't been to church in years. The original plan was to just focus on teaching their daughter who is an investigator. But when we got there we noticed that the whole family was together for the first time, so we took advantage of that and decided to change what we'd teach. I had a scripture verse in mind but just after the opening prayer was finished I felt that it'd be best to share the first 2 principles in the Restoration pamphlet: a loving Father in Heaven and families. Some of the things I shared I have never taught before, but bro. Igna was happy to add on to those things and give his own insights on the effect of the gospel on families. The Spirit was powerful as he bore his testimony and boldly invited the family to return to church. We talked about the experience afterwards while walking to our next destination, and we both agreed that that lesson was lead by the Spirit. What's cool too is I had an extra Aklat ni Mormon in hand that I intended to give to another investigator earlier that day, but he wasn't home. I ended up giving it to this family and Sis. Ballesteros told us how she would love reading the Book of Mormon back in the day, but they haven't had one to read in a long time. Everything just turned out perfectly!

 We were sad to not see brother & sister Ballesteros in church yesterday, but their daughter said that they were called at the very last minute to work. But she said they were willing and ready to go to church when they were called, so we found comfort in that. Hopefully next week! They have the potential of being a great example for other less-active member families and for the nonmembers who live around them. Keep them in your prayers please!

 Alright so many other great things happened this week but I'm already over time, so we need to leave. I love you guys! Thank you for the updates and for being great examples of how members should be! Thank you mom for your desire to share the gospel with others; we just had a lesson earlier where the sister said she was a little shy to say openly that she's a member. We should be happy to pronounce and make it known to everyone that we are members of the true church of Jesus Christ! There is no shame in that. Sincere prayer and diligent scripture study can help us to come over that fear or shame. Have a great week!

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Got punted for a little while so made a new friend. He was so chill as we each got on his back to take pictures haha

The elders in our zone met together and hiked up to a cross at the top of one of the many hills here. It was pretty awesome! Beauuutiful view

Bambang zone elders


Monday, August 15, 2016

8-14-16 I love being a missionary

Kumusta po family, magandang hapon!

 I so enjoyed reading your emails! What a cool job mom! Although I can't help but feel like it's a dangerous one if the building is so secured haha. I'm so happy for you though and love the thought that you and dad are able to have lunch together every day! Such a blessing. Not that it matters, but does this mean I'll come home a rich man? Haha joke lang. For people here absolutely any one from America is automatically rich. They're like "Libre mo kami!" which is like "treat us somewhere!" and I'm just like, "you can have this rock." Honestly though since I've been out here my "love" for money has died down so much. I read a talk a little while back about paying tithing and fast offering. I don't even remember what was said, but since then it's almost become a joy to pay fast offering (since we don't pay tithing as missionaries). A thought that comes to mind frequently is to think of paying these things as investing in your mansion in the next life. Sometimes I just wanna give everything haha, but then I wouldn't be able to eat. All things must be done in order I guess. I'm excited to pay my tithing again when I get home though, because I believe full-heartedly that it's true. I feel bad for not paying an honest tithing for most of my younger life before coming out here. 

 Thank you dad for sharing that experience. You don't know how cool it is for a missionary to have a father experiencing those kinds of things. The other day I began reading "Church History in the Fulness of Times" during my free time and I'm hooked. Here it goes into depth about Joseph Smith, his family, the coming and translating of the Book of Mormon, and I think it'll go all the way until the end of his life. It is so interesting! It's crazy how many miracles happened during these times, there are already so many things I read that I never knew before. The Spirit is so strong every time I read and I feel it testifying that these things are true. I love the knowledge that God will never cease to be a God of miracles like it says in Mormon 9:19-20. I love that's it's so possible to have experiences like Joseph Smith and like you, dad. We just need to keep ourselves truly worthy, faithful, and willing at all times. What cool doctrine! 

 As for me and Elder Labrador, we're doing super well. I enjoy having him as my companion and continue to learn so much from & with him. We had a great week overall this past week. Venalyn continues to absorb everything we teach and is keeping commitments. I thought it was interesting that we didn't even finish the first 3 lessons but Elder Labrador said we should teach her the Word of Wisdom. I'm glad we did, because there we found out she has a slight coffee problem. She wasn't able to attend church yesterday for some reason, so we'll visit her soon and ask how that's going. We also got a handful of new investigators, and I have high hopes for most of them! Some just don't seem super ready to accept the Gospel yet. But I have a good feeling that at least half of them will progress. A couple of them already came to church for the first time yesterday! I think the coolest thing though is that one of our progressing investigators. Germalyn, finally got her husband to attend church as well! We had a CSP at April Dangilan's house again and Germalyn's husband, Filipe, jumped right in and helped a bunch. While helping he got to know the leaders of our branch who were there. This strengthened my testimony of the power of service. It really is a great way to build relationships with others and gain their trust! It makes it a lot more comfortable for others to attend church when they know they already have friends there. 

 Alright, those are the main things that happened this week. I love being a missionary and having been given 2 years to focus 100 percent on the gospel. I know that this gospel is true and that the fulness of it was restored through Joseph Smith. The more I read about him the more I know that it's true. We are so blessed to have the Book of Mormon which contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel. And we are so blessed to know God's plan for us & how we can return to Him. Something we've been emphasizing this week is the principle of enduring to the end. Elder Labrador says that there are 3 steps that we need to do if we want to be able to endure to the end: pray, read the scriptures, and go to church. And to do those things always. What of those things are we not doing as often as we should? I know that if we can honestly say we're doing those 3 things always, we will always be on the right path. 

I love you guys! Have a great week!
Elder Ishibashi

 Zone picture. We have 2 greenies in our zone, Elder Abubo & Elder Kearl. They're both awesome and excited to be missionaries!

Adding to the Dangilans' home, no expenses! We have such a great & supportive branch!
The one in the black tank-top above is brother Filipe

Monday, August 8, 2016

8-7-16 This past week was another great one!

Kumusta po dad!

 Thank you for your email! It is such a cool thing to hear about you & mom striving to get healthier and healthier. I'm excited to go surfing with you when I get home! Also huge props to Lehia for keeping up with his Book of Mormon reading! It's crazy how he's mastered the art of time management already, and he's only 14! Too good. Thank you for the updates on everyone. Thank Mikel for me for being such an awesome brother. He's part Hispanic right? There's an elder in Solano zone who's also Hispanic and grew up in Florida. He has a lot of similarities with Mikel, even looks-wise kind of. I almost got home sick from spending so much time with him this past Wednesday haha. 

 This past week was another great one! On Wednesday we spent most of the day in Solano and waited for the new Bambang & Solano missionaries to come in. Elder Palacio, the Cuban elder, was there waiting for his new companion. While in the Solano chapel Elder Labrador & I learned that Elder Warren was in the hospital nearby. This wasn't his first time going to the hospital while in the field so I figured it wasn't too serious. After a while we got a text from him, asking for a Priesthood blessing. It was when we got there that I realized how serious his condition was. The nurses said he had pneumonia. He was trying to almost sip any bit of air he could get into his lungs, but it wasn't enough. He could barely speak because of his inability to breathe. It was super hard seeing him like this, especially being one of his closer friends since the MTC days. We gave him a Priesthood blessing, and I don't remember what was said, but Heavenly Father honored it. Within a few hours Elder Warren was laughing with us, sitting up, eating, etc. He still had a hard time breathing but it was a miracle that he got that well so quickly. It was a huge testimony builder for me of the power of the Priesthood. I was so glad to have been worthy to exercise my Priesthood power in helping a fellow missionary get better. I have a testimony that holding the Priesthood isn't just a privilege, it's a responsibility. The day will come when we'll have to use it to accomplish a big task, and if we're not living up to it, it won't work. We as Priesthood holders need to choose to do what's necessary to always be worthy of the Spirit & God's trust. 

 On Thursday we went to Cauayan for MLC again. There are a bunch of things being changed in the mission! It'll be a little hard for all the missionaries to accept these changes, but if they really sustain President Hiatt as their Mission President they'll follow them anyway. Eventually we'll get used to these things and probably learn to enjoy them. 

 Sorry, we're on our way out now. Know that everything continues to go super well here in Bambang. I still enjoy being Elder Labradors companion and we're experiencing great, great things in the work. We should have some baptisms coming up pretty soon! Thanks again for the updates dad. I love you guys! And happy birthday again U'i!! Love you :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Attended a fireside/farewell get-together for these 3. They all left to the Manila MTC on Thursday night. I've had the privilege of working with all of them, so I know they'll be great missionaries! The guy on the left, bro. Jomar, just jumped in to be in the picture haha. You remember Tyler Haws, the professional basketball player with a mormon message video? They became companions in the field!

One of our RC's had an eel that they probably ate by now, but we got to play with it first

Elder Labrador's birthday was also on Wednesday! After the get-together a family treated us to Jollibee and surprised Elder with a cake! I'm kind of worried to have a birthday here now haha.

Chillest goat I ever met

Monday, August 1, 2016

7-31-16 Naimbag a malem!

Naimbag a malem!

 Alright before I get to my week, congratulations Ka'ai!! I had no idea he wasn't baptized yet either haha. But I am so ridiculously happy for him, especially since it was all his decision. All that's left is enduring to the end, which is the hardest, but most rewarding step of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful that there are hard-working & worthy elders assigned in Kea'au Ward who were able to help Ka'ai on the path to entering the waters of baptism. And then for Chase and Isaiah them for being great examples and fellowshippers for Ka'ai. Keep me updated on that please! I'm excited to hear about how this will help the family. 

 We had a great week! More splits, a few CSPs, and more great things happening in the work. Have I told you guys about Vinalyn yet? She's the younger sister of April Dangilan, our recent convert. About a month ago April invited her to church and she decided to go. We were happy to see a new face in church, but we had no idea she'd receive the gospel as well as she has been! At first we thought her house was in the sisters' area so they started teaching her the lessons, but eventually we found out by the members that her area is actually in our boundaries. Vinalyn was a little sad at first since she got close with the sisters really quickly, but she continues to be taught and fully takes it all in! She was just given a Book of Mormon 2 weeks ago and yesterday was already asking questions about Lehi's Dream in 1 Nephi 8! We are so excited to see that she's progressing. Our goal for her baptism is August 27. She also brought a friend to church yesterday, so we're excited to teach her some time this week as well. Vinalyn's uncle also sat in on our last lesson and says he has a strong desire to quit drinking and smoking. He wanted to go to church yesterday but had to work at the last minute. Hopefully this week!

 Something I learned to really appreciate about Elder Labrador this week is his skill in building relationships with people. It's because of him that Vinalyn is getting more comfortable with us. After our last lesson with her we visited a less-active member nearby who had a friend over. This member is usually really shy and her friend kind of scared me at first haha, but they opened up so quickly thanks to Elder! I realized that there's a way higher chance of getting someone to return to church if you become their friend first, rather than a missionary who's obviously just trying to get them back to church. I'm also happy to report that we got the transfer list this morning, and Elder Labrador is not transferring! But I heard that Elder Umpat them in my last area are getting pulled out because of our shortening supply of missionaries :/ Sayang.

 On Friday I was able to work with Elder Golde in Aritao. I'm glad I got to work with him this once, since his name is on the transfer list. We were pretty surprised since he's only been here for one cycle, but it's not President Hiatt who chooses. I had a great time working with him! He's only about 8 months in the mission so far, but such a great missionary. Something I noticed he does that most missionaries don't, is that with everyone he speaks to, even if it's only 20 seconds, he ends it off by inviting them to church. That's an essential part in knowing if the gospel is true. I also know he and Elder Oredson are hard workers in Aritao because they have some great investigators! We only visited 3 of them on Friday, but in my opinion those 3 will most-likely be baptized, and soon. 

 A few weeks ago I started re-reading the Book of Mormon and realized that the story of Moses is referred to pretty frequently. I told myself that if I want to develop a deeper testimony of the Book of Mormon, I should probably know the full story of Moses too. So I'm now reading his story in Exodus, and it's crazy interesting! So different from the "Prince of Egypt" cartoon we used to watch as kids haha. It's amazing how much God did for the children of Israel. It's crazy how hard-headed the Pharaoh was even after so many signs that there is a God. How many times are we like him? Especially as members, we know that there is a God. With that knowledge, let's not murmur or forget Him so quickly, but submit to His will by trying our absolute best in keeping His commandments. If we do that He will, like with the children of Israel, guide us day and night. 

 Mahal ko po kayo!
Elder Ishibashi
Dutuerte kids' Baptism by the Dupax Del Norte elders. The water pump at their chapel broke, so we went to a resort kind of nearby and they were baptized in a pool! 

Had some down time during a CSP