Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11-27-16 We had another great week!

Magandang hapon po family!

 We had another great week! Like I mentioned last year, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here so I forgot to mention it last week. Good to know you guys had a great Thanksgiving though and that the family continues to be safe! I'm especially happy to hear about aunty Roxie's recovery. Another huge thing that stood out to me in your email was where you mentioned that grandpa would name every single person in our family in his prayers. It makes me more grateful & proud to have had him as the head & example of our family. 

 As for the skype, that sounds perfect! The only thing is, wouldn't you guys be at grandma's house at that time? You sure you don't just prefer one of the following days? I'm not sure about the Fiji Mission President, but I think we're allowed to skype any day within a week of Christmas. Also you think 'Ohu would want some personal time with you guys before I sign on? It might be a nice thing to just focus on him for like 30-45 minutes before I get on since this will be his first skype and he'll probably be excited to share a bunch of things with you guys. Ask him then let me know.

 Alright so for our week! This week Elder Gatus and I really focused on finding new & potential people to teach. We've improved drastically when it comes to talking with strangers, and it is becoming a fun thing! We've already had some pretty crazy/cool things happen since we decided to overcome our fears and speak with others. This week we'll try to return to the homes of those who seemed a little interested and hopefully will be able to share a message with them. I'm excited! We're gonna go really hard this week since it's the last full one of the cycle. I'll know by my next email if I'm transferring! Still hoping I'm not haha.

 A cool thing we were able to do this past week was work with Elder Pangilinan & Elder Waite, the Almaguer elders. We worked one day in their area then the next day in ours. They're both really good missionaries and I learned many things from both of them. They have one really progressing investigator whose baptism interview is this coming Sunday. I got to teach her with Elder Pangilinan and I feel like she's more than ready to be baptized. 

 Yesterday we had a great day in church. Our lesson in Gospel Principles class was on charity which is, to me, more important than anything. Jesus Christ says in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." When that scripture was brought up I remembered a story that Elder Gatus told me of an elder that was once assigned here in the PCM (Philippines Cauayan Mission) named Elder Bautista. Elder Bautista also had a twin brother on a mission and out of nowhere this twin had a kidney failure. President Rahlf called Elder Bautista into his office and told him what had happened. President asked, "Elder, are you willing to give your brother one of your kidneys?" Elder Bautista thought really hard about it for a few minutes, but eventually said yes. Pres. Rahlf commended him for his bravery and said that he'd be given time to recover from the surgery. Now this part was what got me. Elder Bautista was surprised when Pres. Rahlf said that he'd recover. He thought by giving his kidney to his twin brother, that he himself would die. How crazy is that? That story still gets me teared up whenever I think about it haha. It's hard to love others the way that Jesus Christ loves us sometimes, but it can and should be done. And when we learn to love others more our love for Heavenly Father increases, and vice versa, and the more we'll feel His love for us. 

 This week is going to be a really busy one. Thank you guys for the updates and I hope you guys have a great week as well! Love you guys!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi


"Album Cover Pose" at a CSP we had last Saturday

Kanina (earlier)

Monday, November 21, 2016

11-20-16 Kumusta po Family!

Kumusta po Family!

 Congratulations on the permanent job mom! That's super awesome and I still love the fact that you and dad are able to have lunch together often. That's definitely a huge blessing. And congratulations again Hali'a! You're getting so big and pretty! I miss that smirk of yours haha. Thanks for sending the pictures dad. I'm excited to skype you guys next month!!

 We had a great week this past week! So many blessings and progress going on. After my email last week we had a great Family Home Evening with that family where the brother came home early from his mission. His parents aren't members and his mom is usually too shy to speak with us when we visit. For some reason though she was very comfortable at the FHE and even shared some thoughts about our lesson! We haven't been able to visit them since then because of the distance of their house, but we'll check on them again this week. From Tuesday to Thursday we had some more great days of work and got a couple new investigators who already accepted the invitation to be baptized! One of them, Angel, is already progressing really quickly and is excited to be baptized on December 10. Only thing is the next transfer day is December 7 so there's a big chance that I'll transfer and not be able to witness her baptism along with Lloyds. Hopefully I can stay though! I have feeling the next few months are are going to be amazing. Also I'd like to spend Christmas with people I know haha. 

 The highlight of my week was definitely working with the Assistants. We went to Cauayan early Friday morning and spent the day with them. I got to work with Elder Saez. It was the coolest thing! Elder Saez is such a great missionary and after working with him it's even easier to sustain him as an assistant to the Mission President. Once we got to work we hit it hard. Through him I got a feeling of excitement to speak with strangers and share the gospel with everyone. And that feeling lasted throughout the whole day. Our lessons went really well and I learned & observed many things that I've already been able to apply to myself. Thanks to the Assistants Elder Gatus & I are more motivated than ever to overcome our fear of men and share the gospel with as many people as possible. We're both striving our very best to be exactly obedient and because of that it's so easy to feel the Spirit. We're expecting some miracles to happen for the rest of our time together. 

 Another thing that was really cool this week was a talk given by our Mission President's second counselor, President Capitulo. He gave an awesome talk in sacrament about upgrading ourselves. He connected it to the Nokia cellphone and the Samsung & Apple cellphones. 10 years ago Nokia was the most popular cellphone in the world. But because they didn't upgrade, Samsung & Apple surfaced past it, and now it's rare for anyone to have a Nokia now days. He said that being a member of the church isn't about going to church and doing the things we're supposed to. It's about doing more. Think about where you were five years ago. Were you only attending sacrament meeting? Only reading the scriptures once a week? How are you doing now? There are 4 types of members in the church he said: inactive members, less-active members, active members, and faithful members. Have we become better than we were 5 years ago? We shoud never be "steady" in the church. Something I liked that he said was that we can't be fully perfect while here on the earth, but we can be perfect at some things. We can be perfect in getting to church on time every Sunday, in reading the scriptures daily, etc. I was reading in 1 Nephi 15 today and the word "blindness" stood out to me in verse 24. I realized that Satan doesn't just blind us through justification of sin, but in making us think that we're doing enough as members. Let's evaluate ourselves, see what we can do better, then do it. 

 Know that everything is going so well here in Bambang. Our companionship only gets better and better and we're seeing more and more great things happen here. I love you guys! Have a great week :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Ballesteros family! They'll definitely be one of the hardest families to say goodbye to when the time comes

Monday, November 14, 2016

11-13-16 Magandang hapon po!

Magandang hapon po!

 Alright I have a good amount of time to write today. Like I mentioned before, we had the crazy cool privilege of having Elder & Sister Schmutz visit our mission a couple weeks ago. What's awesome is they taught us in our MLC so the zone leaders & sister training leaders got to spend a little more time with them than the other missionaries. The following day we had a meeting where about 5 zones met up and we got to hear again from Sister & Elder Schmutz. Elder Gatus & I conducted the meeting which was a really neat experience. Elder Schmutz is probably the best example I know of D&C 84:85, which promises that we'll know what to say when the time comes, as long as we effectively read & ponder the scriptures. He taught by the Spirit and supported things the missionaries said with scripture verses! It was the coolest thing and it motivated me to get better at "unpacking" scripture verses, and then to rely more on the Spirit while teaching. That was pretty much the biggest thing that happened the other week. 

 This past week was another great one as usual. We had a good zone training meeting on Tuesday (my 16 month mark...) where we relayed Elder Schmutz message about foreordination to the zone. Among the many scriptures we discussed Abraham 3:22-26 where Abraham learns about foreordination. This topic was really cool too. I love the fact that I was chosen to serve here in the Philippines way before I even received my mission call, and that goes for every other missionary in the world. It kind of solidifies my testimony that everything happens for a reason. And it's very motivating too knowing that we already promised beforehand that we'd serve honorably and fully. An elder had a great question to which Elder Schmutz gave such a simple answer. The question was: How can I know that I'm fully fulfilling my foreordination? or achieving everything God wants me to achieve? The answer was: simply obey. Through obedience we'll receive and accomplish everything God intends for us in our lives. If we're truly obedient, nothing can hold us back. 

 We had some really good work this past week as well. We set some time specifically for finding new people to teach and less-active members we haven't met yet. We were also able to spend some time working with a brother who came home from his mission because of home sickness. He's actually a really good teacher, so we're hoping he can overcome that and head out to the field again within the next couple months. Our most-progressing investigator right now is Lloyd, who was actually a referral from his member neighbors. He was really shy when we first got to know him but is really opening up now. He's living the things we teach and we're seeing the change in his life. Lloyd is excited to be baptized and even has a desire to serve a mission! I actually really hope I don't get transferred this next cycle so I can witness Lloyd's baptism on December 10. 
 Yesterday we were so excited to see bro. Marvin, sis. Susan's husband, in church! And even their one daughter who was afraid of going to church in pants since she doesn't like dresses. This was their first time going to church as a whole family in many years, such a cool thing to see. Unfortunately we didn't get a picture with them after church. 

 But anyway that's pretty much it! Everything's running smooth with Elder Gatus and I'm actually learning so much from him language-wise! He's not afraid to correct me with my language which I appreciate. I also continue to learn great things from him as a missionary. Thank you guys for the updates, and congratulations again U'i & Mikel! I'm stoked! Love you guys! :)

Elder Ishibashi

Elder & Sister Schmutz

Since I got the package after my birthday we just partied it up Tuesday night in celebration of my 16 month mark. Elder Gatus also made graham cakes for us which is one of the best desserts ever. Uncle BJ should know what that is.

We had a fun district activity this morning and 4 of our district mates are now new members of the buga-buga club. I'll explain that when I get home

Monday, November 7, 2016

11-6-16 I'm so so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers.

Kumusta po family! 

 Thank you for the update, dad. It had me tearing up picturing Aunty Roxie & Kirei and the accident. I'm so so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers. Let them know I'm praying for them please. 

 Sorry, this email is actually going to be super quick since I spent too much time finding videos on lds.org and now we're overtime. I spent some time reading Elder Ishibashi's (Fiji) email and really enjoyed what he said about reading the Book of Mormon. It really is so important, guys. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and proof that this is the fulness of the gospel. I've developed such a love for the Book of Mormon and it only continues to grow. One suggestion I have for reading is to not read quick, but deep. Use the footnotes and take out everything you can from each verse. Elder Schmutz calls it "unpacking a verse". We had the super great privilege of having Elder & Sister Schmutz visit our mission this past week. I'll have to tell you guys more about it next week.

 Before I go, I wanna wish Pretty girl a happy happy birthday this coming Saturday! And I'm so excited that you'll be baptized and officially become a member of this great church! Please send pictures!

 Sorry again, I promise to manage my time a lot better next week. I love you guys!

Elder Ishibashi

Elder Umpat & his anak, Elder Eriksson! It was super cool hanging out with my anak again and getting to know my apo (grandson). He's awesome and I can tell he'll do great things here in the mission.