Monday, September 26, 2016

9-25-16 This past week was the best

Kumusta po Family!

 Thank you guys for the great emails! Thanks for sharing more cool experiences, dad. I'm kinda jealous that I don't have crazy experiences like that yet, but it's cool knowing that things like that still happen, in & out of the mission field. Maybe I just need to improve on some things before being able to have cool experiences like that. It was really nice reading about the support that brother La'a had at his funeral service. You already know he was a great person to have that many people show up. It's also heart-breaking to know that Lilly passed away. Most of the dogs here are so grouchy, I constantly think about going home and being able to just sit and hang out with Lilly & 'Ihe again haha. Lilly's in a better place now though so it's all good. Congratulations Herb! I'm happy for you guys :) Too good Lehia & Mikel! Ang laki laki ng eel! Although I don't believe the story you guys told U'i haha. And it's good to know that the others are doing well too, thanks for the updates mom & dad!

 We had another super great week as well! A lot of things I'm excited to share with you guys. For one, Ayesha passed her interview and will be baptized this coming Saturday! Her parents are away and not even members, so I'm super grateful for her cousins who take her to church every Sunday and will be able to support her throughout the years. Her parents know about the baptism though and are totally fine with it. Elder Labrador and I are excited. 

 Vinalyn will be baptized next week. Her interview will be this week sometime and, unless there's something she hasn't told us about yet, will pass with flying colors. We're not worried about her one bit either. A huge tender mercy actually happened with her these past few days. Around the middle of the week she told us that she had a fish bone stuck in her throat and that it was super painful. We suggested that she get it checked but she worried about the money it'd cost and didn't want to be confined and not be able to help out at home. She decided to just endure it and pray for a miracle. She texted us on Saturday night saying that it was too painful (to the point of coughing out blood) and that she wouldn't be able to go to church the following day. We were sad but understanding, and prayed for her. The next day we were super surprised and happy that she ended up going to church anyway, even though the fish bone was still there! The tender mercy came later on when we visited her at home to teach. The fish bone was completely gone! She said everything was good and back to normal. It's true what it says in Ether 12 :6 that the miracle only comes after the trial of our faith. Vinalyn continues to be a great example of faith and is so ready to be baptized. We also have a handful of other people who accepted the invitation to be baptized, but have a few things to overcome before we can settle on a certain date. 

 On Wednesday the Dupax Del Sur elders called and said they needed to sleep over our apartment that night since they had to go to Cauayan on Thursday, so we decided to do splits with them. We all worked here in Bambang and I got to work with Elder Kearl again. Elder Kearl's going to progress crazy quick in the mission if he keeps up with what he's doing. His greatest strengths are probably my greatest weaknesses, so it was great working with him again and seeing what changes I can make to become a better missionary. Something powerful happened towards the end of the day in our last lesson. We shared with a brother who we thought was just less-active, but he told us that he's actually excommunicated and needs to be rebaptized. He did one dumb thing and is now afraid to return to church. What's weird though is that he knows the church is still true and has a strong desire to return, especially for the sake of his kids. He's an RM and still knows the Book of Mormon well. We shared a message with him and then he asked for a Priesthood blessing. I don't remember what was said again, but I felt that the Spirit was there and that the blessings promised was not coming from us. As soon as he overcomes his fear, I can see him becoming a strong member again and leader in the church. 

 Alright I'll go over the other things briefly so this email isn't ridiculously long. Last week was actually Family Week so we had a nice "Family Day" District activity at the chapel on Saturday. All the branches in Bambang District attended. We played some games, had lunch, and spent some time getting to know other members and investigators from other branches. It was a pretty fun day & seemed to be a great way to help nonmembers feel comfortable with the church. 

 Yesterday we did splits with some members in our branch and I got to work with bro. Joker Igna again. He taught me more awesome things that I'm excited to try in my teaching. Another cool experience we had happened towards the end of the day. We tried all the houses we know in one spot and they were either not home or busy. While thinking of where we could go next, we were passing this one super nice house and Joker was like, "Aw, we gotta contact this one." There were people sitting right outside the door but I was ready to just keep walking. But Joker was determined, and we made a quick deal that he'd go up and say hi and then I'd take over the conversation and introduce us. The sister who owns the house let us enter through the gate and we sat down and got to know her and her sister. Turns out they actually have some member friends and family, and that their youngest sister, Princess, was taught by missionaries in the past! She apparently was really deep into the lessons, but it all stopped suddenly when she got a job. We shared a message with Ela (owner of the house) about the Restoration and then set a plan to return tonight so that we can meet Princess. This experience also reminded me of Ether 12:6. Sometimes the blessing comes after a while like in Vinalyn's case, sometimes immediately like in our case, but the promise is that it will come.

 And now for the last thing I'd like to share: I ate chocolate meat. It actually was pretty good, but still not necessarily a "go to" yet haha. That's it though. This past week was the best I had work-wise in my whole mission so far, and maybe even spirit-wise. Overall it was just a great, great one. Thank you guys for your prayers, letters, and emails! Have a great week :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Had a brown-out on Tuesday so did studies upstairs. Elder Labrador doesn't know about this picture yet haha.

Family Week/Day

It's hard to see this picture and not wonder what Heaven must look like.

Monday, September 19, 2016

9-17-16 Hello po Family!

Hello po Family!

 This past week was another great one! Something that already made this week good from the start was a surprise visit from the Assistants, Elder Antenorcruz & Elder Saez. Elder Labrador and I were studying upstairs when someone just walked right into our room and scared the heck out of me haha. We didn't lock the door downstairs so they crept in without us knowing. Good thing we weren't sleeping...haha joke lang. I always enjoy seeing the assistants since they're, in my opinion, the best of the best. I always take advantage to hang out with them and learn as much as I can. They just visited us to attend our District Meeting and then headed back to Cauayan (about 3-4 hours north) aftwerwards. Elder Pangilinan is a great District Leader and the AP's had a bunch of additional things to say which was awesome. 

 Another great thing that happened was Transfer Day! Obviously not saying goodbye to those leaving the zone, but what we did while waiting for the new ones to come in. Usually on transfer days we'll just wait there at the chapel for the new missionaries to arrive. We'll use that time to read, go shopping, hang out, play card games, etc. It's fun, but it is a waste of time. While at the chapel the Solano Zone Leaders asked if we wanted to just work with them until the missionaries came in. I was stoked! 
 I worked with Elder Cloma (Solano ZL) & Elder Andaya (Elder Kane's last companion, waiting for his new one to arrive) and Elder Labrador worked with Elder Hilbun, my batch-mate & Elder Cloma's companion. We went over first to their apartment in Bagabag which I spent so much time in as a new missionary. We planned for a bit then I asked if we could visit the Bayatan family just a few houses away. This was the family that fed us dinner on my very first day in the Cauayan mission. You guys have no idea how great it was to see nanay Bayatan again haha. We caught up on things for a few minutes then headed out to work, and nanay told us to return for lunch. We only had time for one appointment before lunch time, and that appointment was at a house I've also been to before while on splits with Elder Petersen (my first cycle in the field was his last). We went to Fernando's house, a member who worked with me & Elder Rebojo quite often in Lamut, but the plan was to teach his brother who hasn't been baptized yet. Unfortunately his brother wasn't home, but he was! It was awesome seeing him again too and catching up on things. We had a good lesson and he was happy I've gotten a little better at the language haha. He was a huge help back in the day with my Tagalog. 

 After that lesson we returned to the Bayatans' home for lunch. Nanay's kids who are still in school came home for lunch as well so I got to see almost everyone again! It was so nice to be with them again, especially now that I could actually communicate easier and express my gratitude for them. After visiting them I've decided that I really really want to return to the Philippines after my mission. Even if just a week or so.  After work and doing some other things we returned to the chapel in Solano to wait for those coming in. We have some awesome new missionaries in our zone! I'm excited to get to know each of them better, including our greenie, "baby", Elder Waite. Bambang zone as a whole continues to be a solid one. 

 The days where we were able to focus straight on work went really well too. Vinalyn continues to progress so well in the gospel. She reminds me of the "many are called, but few are chosen" scripture. We went over one of the more serious lessons yesterday and she said most of the people in their area have problems with that certain thing that we shared, but she herself has never done anything like it, even though she has been tempted in the past. She even tries to help others not get trapped by committing those kinds of things. Vinalyn is awesome! We try to visit her everyday in preparation for her baptism in October. 

 Ayesha is going strong too. Sometimes it's hard to believe that she's only 8 years old haha. Her questions are so deep! Things that people my age don't even think about yet haha. What's cool is sometimes a question she'll ask will open a door of ideas in my mind. We don't answer any questions we don't know for sure, but her questions give me more things to ponder about which I enjoy. She too will be baptized in October, hopefully on the 1st. 

 Our other investigators are doing really well too, but those are the most-progressing. I also really enjoy teaching active & less-active members since in those lessons we'll usually share and expand scripture verses or stories. It's fun for me to see how others understand certain scriptures and how they are applied personally to different people. It gets my mind working more in those kinds of lessons than lessons where we just teach from the pamphlets. The spirit also tends to be stronger in those kinds of lessons. One scripture verse we shared this week with some active members was 2 Nephi 9:39, or the "SMILE" scripture. This scripture was actually taught to me by Elder Ngatuvai who served in our ward a little before I left. The last 5 words in the scripture reads, "Spiritually minded is life eternal." If you take the first letter of each of those words you get "Smile". I know that if we keep our thoughts, words, and actions clean at all times, we will be worthy to have the Spirit with us, and we will be guided throughout our lives, even unto eternal life. Always remember to smile :) That's how Elder Ngatuvai would close the lesson when sharing that verse haha. 

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

Surprise visit by the Assistants

Something I love about the people here: They're great at making things out of nothing

Bayatan Family :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

9-11-16 I received some great personal revelation

Magandang araw po family! 

 Man, today really is a beautiful one! I just got an email from my anak, Elder Umpat, letting me know that he'll be training one of the new elders coming in this week!! I'm soooo stoked to finally have my first actual apo (grandchild) in the mission. He's also becoming a District Leader as well which is crazy awesome! I'm so proud of Elder Umpat for being worthy to become a trainer & leader so soon. Today we found out who of each zone is transferring out and President Hiatt called those who will be training or getting a new Leadership position. Elder Kane is becoming a Zone Leader! As for Elder Labrador, he's actually not transferring yet. It's funny since he kind of said goodbye to pretty much everyone hahah. Luckily he's a great elder so they'll be happy he's still here, and so am I. Another blessing from that is this means that I'm here for at least 2 more cycles, so I'm happy. I love this area and some great, great things are happening.

 One crazy, unexpected blessing is that Vinalyn came back! I forgot to mention last week that Vinalyn, our most-progressing investigtor, decided to go to work in Baguio which is a different mission. She expected to be there until at least Christmas time, so we were really sad that we'd be gone by the time she got home and wouldn't be able to see her be baptized. Yesterday while speaking with some members at church we learned that Vinalyn was back, and that she was actually there inside! We were so happy to see her again and are super excited to get back to teaching her until she can be baptized. Hopefully everything will work out well. We also have another great investigator named Ayesha. She's only 8 years old, but is super smart and enjoys being taught by us. Something great about her is that she's not afraid to ask questions so we can tell that she's understanding the things we share. Her guardian who sits in on the lessons is also coming to church with her so we're hoping that eventually she'll have the desire to be baptized as well. 

 Do you guys remember nanay & tatay Corpuz, the couple I mentioned last week? Elder Kane & I did splits this week and we visited them. I kind of expected them to say something about being at church for 3 hours (since church is only 1 hour at the Catholic church), but when I asked about their experience there nanay said, "It's actually really beautiful there!" She said they're excited to return to church again! Elder Kane and I had a great lesson with them and I have high hopes for nanay & tatay Corpuz. Unfortunately they weren't able to go to church yesterday but said they'll go this coming Sunday. Oh yeah! I also hit my 14 month mark this week! Craaazy. 

 Another great blessing this past week was District Conference on Saturday and Sunday. I received some great personal revelation that has taken effect immediately. I feel that this is something that will help me a lot as a missionary and leader. I really enjoyed listening to President & Sister Hiatt speak at the General Session yesterday. Elder & Sister Pajaro also gave really great talks. They all seemed to focus on the importance of raising the next generation in the gospel. It's so important that we do all that we can now to show the rising generation how to stay on the right path. If you think about it, it really is up to us if they'll make it or not. The speakers stressed on reading the scriptures individually and as families. Elder Pajaro is a master at breaking down and expanding scripture verses; I want to know the scriptures as well as he does. 

 So many other great things happened this past week that I just can't remember right now. I haven't written in my journal in like 2 weeks :/ So busy making a zone tshirt and some other things. I'll get back to it tonight hopefully. I love you guys though! You guys are looking super good! Have a great week!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Our Branch Mission Leader & soon-to-be Elder Labitoria. He's been assigned to labor in Davao, a southern part of the Philippines where foreigners can't be assigned to.

Sometimes we throw leaves at each other to keep the companionship healthy. I'm grateful to have a patient, long-suffering companion haha

Monday, September 5, 2016

9-4-16 Living a gospel-centered life brings true happiness.

Magandang hapon po!

 First off, I'm so glad to hear you guys are all okay! I actually didn't hear anything about a storm hitting Hawaii until your email...maybe the Lord knew I wouldn't be able to focus if I did. I'm so happy & grateful to know that it was so minimum. We really do live in Paradise! 

I enjoyed reading your emails and Elder Ishibashi's blog from Fiji. It's impossible to deny that living a gospel-centered life brings true happiness. I can bear testimony of that with power because I see it happening with you guys at home & with Elder Ishibashi. And it for sure has been happening with me. I had a dream the other night where I was talking with Brandon Meyers somewhere and I asked him how it is being an RM. He said it was alright, kind of used to it by now. I told him I don't wanna go home and actually began to cry because I knew it was coming up soon haha. In the morning I thought about the dream and thought, "Why is it that I don't want to go home?" Our house in Hawaii is nicer, my family's there, the food isn't as exotic, there's no language barrier, it's okay to watch movies, surf, listen to different kinds of music, and so many other reasons why home could seem better than here. Later on in church I realized why. I realized that it's because of living a more gospel-centered life than I did at home. Never before did I read from scriptures or books written by prophets for an hour each day. Never did I pray so many times throughout each day. Never did I actually look forward to teaching how we can return to our Father in Heaven. Because of these things I have felt the true joy that was promised in my Patriarchal blessing. I concluded that it's not that I don't want to go home, I just don't want to stop being a missionary haha. It'll be hard keeping up with these habits when there will be so many other things to think & worry about. Don't get me wrong though, I'll probably cry when I see you guys again haha. 

 I have so many other things to go over since I wasn't able to send a good email last week. So the splits I had with Elder Kearl & Elder Abubo went really well. Elder Labrador & I feel that they'll both excel really quickly in the mission. Elder Kearl has a gift of being optimistic and friendly with everyone. When I went over for splits that was his first time leading the area, and he took it like a champ. Although a few lessons fell through he just saw it as an opportunity to find others to teach. Elder Abubo came over to our area for splits so I lead, but it was a good experience too. He's a very bold & confident teacher, and enjoys addressing the needs of those he teaches. 

This past week was a great one filled with more blessings. We had MLC this past Thursday and I enjoyed listening again to our leaders in the mission. I'm excited to relay their messages to our zone tomorrow. After the MLC I got some letters. Tell mom I said thanks for the card :) And thank you to Uncle Herbie them for their letters! I enjoyed reading every one. And to grandma, thank you for the small gift haha. Love you :) 

 Another great thing that happened this past week was having a couple come to church. We met nanay Ayda through contacting about a month ago but never got to return to her home to teach her. Last week an older man got onto the jeepney we were on and Elder Labrador decided to talk with him. Eventually we learned that he's nanay Ayda's husband! We got out of the jeepney and into a tricey with him (just so happened we were going to work near their home). After trying a few houses but being punted we walked over to their house. The first thing nanay Ayda said to me was, "How's my child from Hawaii?" She calls everyone her child haha. I thought it was interesting though that she remembered where I was from even though we haven't seen her for a long time and even that first time was only a couple minutes. It told me that she really did mean it when she said she was interested & that we could return on another day to teach her about the gospel. She even scolded us for not visiting sooner haha. We had a great lesson with them and answered nanay's questions the best we could. Nanay them go to church at the Catholic church near our chapel but promised that after mass they'd visit. She was even excited to do so since she's been wanting to see what it's like in our chapel. Elder Labrador & I were so stoked to actually see them yesterday morning! They even had one of their grandchildren with them, Kurt. I'm excited to ask them how it was this week and continue teaching them. 

 Alright, that's actually pretty much it for the week I guess. Something I love about the Philippines is they start celebrating Christmas in September, so Merry Christmas! I'm expecting a lot of Christmas songs to start playing this week. I love that they spend 4 whole months remembering Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course we should be thinking about him everyday, but it's still a good feeling. Besides, how often do we actually think about his birth & childhood? As for me, probably not enough. On Sunday our teacher kept repeating, "You know me, but you don't KNOW me". It's easy to say that we know Jesus Christ, but do we actually KNOW him? It reminds me of the story dad told me a while back with the 3 men who died and met someone at the gate in Heaven. I don't have enough time to write it out so you'll have to ask him for it. 

 Sorry for the long email. I love being here in Bambang and serving with Elder Labrador. We'll know by my next email if he's transferring or not. Again I'm so happy to know you guys are all safe and healthy. So many blessings going on. I love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Ishibashi

Elder Navarro, going home next week! 

Elder Teikauea, also going home next week. He'll be in Fiji for a bit before returning to Tuvalu so he says he'll keep an eye out for Elder Ishibashi! He's also planning on going to BYUH so he'll look for Herbert as well.

Pretty funny but also humbling to see this. We tend to forget sometimes how much we really do have. Count your blessings!

Another CSP doing some painting at an elementary school. The guy in the middle is our President over Bambang District, President Cadueste

This picture was taken last week. What's funny is some people were actually calling dibs on the head haha. Last night I ate pig intestines for the first time. It was chewy and the after taste was a little weird, but overall not too bad.