Monday, December 19, 2016

12-18-16 Kumusta po Pamilya! Maligayang Pasko!!

Kumusta po Pamilya! Maligayang Pasko!!

 I can't believe Christmas is already coming up so soon! I'm pretty stoked about this week; we have a feeling it's going to be a really great one. I know this past week was. But first off congratulations again to Herbert & Jazamin! Super happy for you guys :) And thanks dad for the updates on the others. That's crazy to hear about Darren! Tell him I said congratulations too! 

 Alright, I'm excited to tell you guys about my week; this past week was a pretty amazing one. We had such great things happen! It already started off on a good week by getting a new investigator on Monday night, Sister Chelsea. She's super golden and accepted an invitation to be baptized in January! And we got a few other investigators who are just like her throughout the week. We're also super excited for a baptism coming up this Saturday! For Crisma Manuel. Tomorrow is her actual baptismal interview but we already had a practice interview last week, and it went really well. I usually like to ask at the very end of each baptismal interview: Why do you want to be baptized? She shared a beautiful testimony that she feels at home at church and knows that she's as happy as she is because of it. Just the night before our lesson with her she was offered alcohol and then teased when she refused. But because of her strength one of her friends asked her about the church and seems to have a desire to take the discussions as well. Crisma said she'll follow up on that first and we'll ask how she's doing tomorrow at the interview. We're excited for her! Especially since it's Christmas Eve, and also her birthday!

 The absolute highlight though of the week for me was on Saturday. On Saturday and yesterday we had District Conference. Since the very first session was the Priesthood session and we weren't going to attend since we didn't have any investigators to take with us, Sister Hiatt asked if she could work with us while President Hiatt attended the meeting. It was such a cool thing working with Sister Hiatt! In our first lesson she boldly told the father of the girl we teach that he needs to go to church and set a good example for his kids. Something she shared that was really cool was about Joseph Smith's first vision. She pointed out that Heavenly Father knew Joseph Smith, even by name. I don't know how many times I've taught that experience, yet never had the thought to use that in teaching that Heavenly Father loves and knows us so well, even down to our very names. I noticed that Sister Hiatt is very good at making people feel important and loved.

 After that first lesson we were walking at the highway, looking for a good spot to cross the road. I noticed a man sitting down at a small waiting place on our side of the road, but didn't think much of it. Then Sister Hiatt suggested that we contact him. And this turned out to be the coolest thing I got to be a part of so far on my mission. The first thing this brother, Enrico, said was that he's been wondering how to become a member of this church. That never happens. He said that every time he passes the church he feels a strong want to be among the members. He even inquired about the church on the internet and was replied to by church services. The only thing that didn't come, he said, was actually people to share the gospel with him. What's awesome too is he's very good at English so we communicated in English for Sister Hiatt (although we found out later she's also really good at Tagalog). She was prompted and told us to share a lesson with him right there on the side of the highway, so we did. The Spirit was so strong as we taught him about the restored gospel, and he was soaking everything in. Sister Hiatt showed him a quick Restoration video on her iPad and he said he feels exactly how Joseph Smith felt, truly seeking for the truth. We gave him a pamphlet and Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies that the things we shared are true. I left feeling so amazed and grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of something like that. It was the neatest thing. 

 Thanks to Siater Hiatt a member who hasn't been to church in years and her husband was also there at the District Conference yesterday! Elder Frei was super surprised since he knows her a little better than Elder Fernandez and I do. Overall though it was such a cool experience working with Sister Hiatt and I can easily sustain her and President Hiatt fully as our Mission President and wife. 

 Sorry I can't go too much into the other things that happened! We're out of time now. Know that we're continuing to do really well here and I love my companions. I hope you guys have a great week and a Merry Merry Christmas! 

 Mahal ko po kayong lahat!
Elder Ishibashi


Sister Hiatt

Brother Enrico!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12-11-16 Let's focus on being better and serving others

Kumusta po dad!

 Alright I got a few random emails out of nowhere this week so this email will be a little quick again. But thank you guys for the emails! I'm a little bummed you and mom can't have full lunches together all the time anymore, but I'm happy that she's enjoying her job and is taking everything in so quickly and well. I also enjoyed the updates for Herbert & Jazamin's wedding! I love that there will be Filipino foods as well haha. Also, good job to Kala'i! You're huge! This new apartment doesn't have weights either...I'm getting so skinny. Good job on winning the race though and keep me updated on that!

 As for me, this past week was a super great one! It was pretty hectic towards the beginning due to transfer day and saying goodbyes, but it ended up mellowing out and becoming awesome. I'm going to miss Bambang for sure, since it was definitely one of my favorite areas. Elder Gatus told me they've been switched to the other branch though, so if I stayed I wouldn't be working where I got so used to. Kind of sad, but I guess a blessing as well on my part. This new place is awesome though!

 I met Elder Frei & Elder Fernandez at the mission home in Cauayan before coming here to Roxas. Our area is beautiful! And so is our house. For some reason the Lord keeps blessing me with beautiful houses. This one doesn't have a heater, washing machine, or working shower, but it has a bunch of closets and someone who washes our clothes! And honestly I kind of missed the bucket showers anyway haha. And being companions with Elders Frei & Fernandez makes it all the more awesome. Elder Frei is a great person and is super funny. His voice also sounds exactly like Mikels so it's easy being comfortable with him haha. He's also very musical which is fun. Something that really stands out about him though is that he seems to always have the Spirit with him, even when he's joking around. He's a great example of someone who strives to be Christlike. Elder Fernandez is also a great companion. He's always positive and is such a great teacher! He's a master at making up examples/object-lessons so that those we teach can understand more clearly the things we're teaching. We're still trying to figure some things out as to how to do things as a tri-some companionship, but it's fun and we're enjoying it so far. 

 Alright we're heading out, but I just want to leave a quick testimony again since I don't bear my testimony very often here. This Church is true. There's only one way to know and feel what true happiness is, and Jesus Christ is that way. I love Him and am so grateful that He died for me. I'm so far from perfect, but the gospel gives me hope that I can always change and become better. I love that God's love for us will never leave no matter how bad we fall sometimes. His arms are extended always. Let's focus on being better and serving others, especially now during this Christmas season.

Mahal ko po kayo!
Elder Ishibashi

Saying goodbyes:
Telan Family

Sister Maria

Ballesteros Family

Mendoza Family

Butay Family (Branch President)

Got to see Elder Labrador one last time before they left for their homes!

Elder Frei & Elder Fernandez. Elder Fernandez's face is like that because we ran out of rice haha

FHE last night

Monday, December 5, 2016

12-4-16 "slap-in-the-face" moments

Magandang hapon po family! Maligayang Pasko!

 Woo December na! I'm so excited for this month and to feel the Christmas Spirit again. So far December has been pretty interesting; this past week was a crazy one. Probably one of the more stressful weeks I've had haha, but like Elder Kane likes to say, "I didn't sign up for an easy mission". We had a really good MLC in Cauayan and learned more about our responsibilities as leaders of the mission. Because of transfers I think we only had one day to prepare for our Zone Training Meeting which was on Thursday. That went well too though; we're so blessed to have a great zone. Or to have had I guess I should say. I'll be transferring on Wednesday :/ 

 Besides the MLC & ZTM a few other things came up throughout the week that kept us from working as long as we're usually able to. The work that we did have went well though. One of my favorite lessons we had was with Germalyn, our investigator who wants to be baptized but can't since she and her spouse aren't officially married. If you guys don't know, there's no such thing as divorcement here in the Philippines. It's against the law to divorce. So that means once you're married and something happens to your relationship, you can't marry anyone else until your last companion dies or there's a really good reason that you guys are separated. Germalyn's spouse, Felipe, was once married. Germalyn has a strong testimony of the church and is so faithful, but can't be baptized yet because of the marriage thing. We shared 1 Nephi 9:6 with her and testified that God knows everything and will help her if she continues to trust in Him. Sister Germalyn, no job (Felipe looking for a job himself), lives in a humble home in the midst of rice fields a couple miles from the church. Yet she finds a way to get to church every Sunday, even if it means walking in the sun sometimes. She told us in the lesson that she does feel like giving up sometimes, but trusts with everything that the Lord will help her eventually. These are the kinds of people who deserve so much more than some of us. 

 I really enjoyed reading your emails as well as Elder Ishibashi's (Fiji) email last week about being grateful. I had one of those "slap-in-the-face" moments this morning as well haha. I read Nephi's experience on the ship in 1 Nephi 18. You guys can read the story from verses 9-16. Nephi is the type of person where all he wants to do is the right thing. He's always so diligent in following the Lord. Here in 18 Laman & Lemuel get mad at him again, and bind him with cords, again. Now imagine the cords they used, probably super rough and coarse. Imagine Nephi being tied, by his own brothers, to a post by his wrists and ankles in front of everyone, his wife and children included. A terrible storm came and lasted for 4 days. Imagine the cords rubbing against his skin for 4 straight days and him watching his family and parents tossed around because of the storm. Nephi doesn't complain, but mentions that this affliction was "exceedingly sore". I imagine Nephi had a hard time moving because of pain when the bands were finally loosed by his brothers. The greatest thing about this story was what he said in 16, that despite everything that happened, "I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions".

 The past couple days I've been kind of beating myself up and thinking more about the things not going so well with the work. But after reading this story again, I had to laugh at how little my problems are compared to Nephis, yet how quickly I complain and murmur! I'm glad I got to read that before getting the transfer list and finding out that I'm leaving, because I so didn't want to. We have a lot of great things happening here and I was going to be the one to baptize Lloyd this coming Saturday, but that's a pretty dumb reason to complain haha. Like you guys and Elder Ishibashi have been doing I too am trying not to focus on the bad things, but on the good. Like Nephi, it's possible to find good in absolutely any situation. 

 We'll find out where I'm transferring to tomorrow night and I'll let you guys know how it is in my next email. I love you guys! The Christmas tree looks really good! And you guys are looking really good too. Have a great week!

 Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Sister Lanie. She works where we eat lunch every now and then