Monday, July 10, 2017



This is the father of Elder Ishibashi.  I have maintained this post for the past 2 years simply posting his letters home.  Elder Ishibashi completed his 2 year mission and returned home with honor 3 days ago.  We are so glad to have him home and be able to enjoy our sonÊ»s company for a few weeks before he heads to BYU-Hawaii. 

Here is a clip of his homecoming in Hilo Hawaii:

7-2-17 Great, great lesson to end my mission with.

Kumusta po family!
 Alright it's late and I'm doing my emails here at the mission office, so this is going to be quick. I'll just update you guys on the bigger things that happened during my last week in the field. 

 For one thing, Jackie's baptism didn't happen. We had her baptismal interview on Wednesday and one last problem was found. One of the mission rules is that an investigator needs to follow the Word of Wisdom for at least 4 weeks before being baptized. We only taught Jackie the Word of Wisdom 2 weeks ago. The thing about Jackie is she keeps commitments immediately and never looks back. She made the commitment to abstain from drinking coffee and tea and hasn't had a problem since, but because of the fact that it wasn't yet 4 weeks she couldn't be baptized on Saturday. Not gonna lie I was pretty bitter haha. I was heartbroken & bummed for a few minutes, until another thought came to mind. I asked myself, "How would pouting about this affect your last few days & going home?" I imagined how dumb it would be to have had the best 2 years of my life, and then to come home with a bad attitude because I didn't see one of my favorite investigators be baptized. Again, my heart was softened and I realized how selfish I was being by acting that way. I realized that although the Lord has a good sense of humor, I've pretty much always gotten what I asked from Him. This experience strengthened my testimony that no matter how badly we may want something, even if it's good, we cannot force God's will to align with ours. 

 My leaving was and is until now so hard, but also so awesome. The members did great things for me and sent me off feeling satisfied with the things I've done in Gamu. Yesterday I had the best last lesson you could ask for as a missionary. We taught one sister for the first time, sister Zeni, who's actually been to church 3 times but we just haven't been able to teach because she's so busy. We had a few fellowshippers work with us, including sis. Jackie! Jackie shared her experience with taking lessons from us and bore her testimony. It was so powerful! One blessing I noticed there is she'll now be able to say she worked with missionaries before being baptized, which is something not very many people can say. And what was great is sis. Zeni has a great desire to learn more about this church. She's entered many churches in the past and have always wanted to try entering the LDS church, but never was able to until a few weeks ago. She expressed her great desire to learn more about Joseph Smith. We taught a little bit then used that, explaining that once she knows Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God, it must mean that this is God's restored church on the earth today. We then connected that to baptism and she accepted the baptism invitation in a heartbeat. I think this was perfect for Jackie because she was able to feel what we feel every time we teach her. It was the coolest thing. Great, great lesson to end my mission with. 

 Alright for the rest of the things I'll just tell you guys in person! I love you guys so much! Thank you for the emails and pictures and everything throughout my entire mission. I love you guys so much and look forward to seeing you in a few days. 

For the last time,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, June 26, 2017

6-25-17 This is the miracle I've been working and praying so hard for

Magandang hapon po family!

 Thanks for the email dad! I'm so happy to hear about the progress of the ward! And those notes you took are so great and I know are inspired. It's a little heartbreaking that the Aloisios are leaving, but I'm happy at the same time for Macmillan. Also I hope I can make it before baby comes! 

 Man, this past week was a memorable one for sure. And this week will be one too. I'll try to get through the smaller things before telling you guys about the miracle that happened. 

 For one thing, Elder Marquez has now hit "legend" status in my book haha. He's just too good. We're teaching nanay Sofia(progressing investigator)'s mother who lives a few houses away from them. The other day we went to her house to teach and found her smoking while washing dishes. This nanay is about 83 years old. Elder got on her immediately about how smoking is bad and how it does not give us strength, explaining that he knows because he's tried it too. He said that candy would be better for her and had me pull out the candy from my bag meant for kids. He asked for the cigarette, chucked it, and had me give my candy to nanay. Everything happened so quick I don't think nanay had time to think about it until after we left hahaha. We gave her more candy this morning. Yesterday he invited a member to do missionary work with us on Sundays instead of actual work (tricey driving). It's so fun just watching him sometimes haha. Never had a boring day yet with this guy.

 On Wednesday we had a great, great zone conference. We talked about the urgency of the work we do as missionaries. We also discussed a lot about talking with people and bringing up the Restoration through a boy prophet every first time we meet or teach someone. My favorite thing we learned about though was about quiet dignity. Elder Evan A. Schmutz said, "Irreverence is a sign of disobedience". This is something I've been thinking about lately as well. This gospel is so fun and should be seen as a fun thing, but there are times to be professional. When we're recognized as representatives of Jesus Christ - which applies to all church members and not just missionaries - we have a responsibility to be good. Everyone has weaknesses, but we can constantly evaluate ourselves and find ways to improve and keep ourselves worthy to hold upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. 
 Alright I gotta tell you guys about the miracle haha. We had the zone leaders meet Jackie on Wednesday because she had some things she wanted to confess just to make sure that she can be baptized feeling free & clean. I didn't think it'd be something to keep her from being baptized this coming Saturday, but we planned for them to meet a week in advance just to be sure. Elder Palacio came out to us after meeting with her and said something I was not expecting at all. Jackie has been to church 3 weeks in a row but hasn't once stayed for the whole 3 hours because of work. I know working on Sundays goes against keeping the Sabbath Day holy, but we justified, convincing ourselves that there was no way to get her out of that. We spoke with the APs who spoke with President Hiatt, who said that we should praise sister for her faith and diligence in seeking the truth, but that she could not be baptized as long as she works on Sundays. Even just working after church was not good enough; she needed to have the entire day off. I was heartbroken and even a little bitter. Jackie has acted upon every single invitation we've given immediately and hasn't fallen to temptation once since doing so. In my mind it wasn't fair that she couldn't be baptized because of one small thing. While teaching her though after the zone leaders left I had a wake-up call. We taught about the Sabbath Day and how God has given us 6 days to do "all" of our work, and only asks for 1 day from us to rest and focus on Him. While teaching I thought, "Why are you sad? This is a commandment!" I know that commandments are not meant to limit us, but are meant to make us happy. My attitude changed and I became so grateful that Elder Palacio was more worried about what God thought rather than what we thought. If Jackie was to be baptized thinking it's okay to work on Sundays that could've been the start to many other problems. We urged her to find a way to have the day off, and she promised to do her best. Since that lesson I prayed harder than I ever have before and did some other things that I know provide special help. On Friday she called and asked if we could teach her since she'd be busy on Saturday. When we got there she said she had great news. SHE'S OFF ON SUNDAYS! She had to ask her boss and switch schedules with a workmate, but it happened. She stayed the whole 3 hours yesterday and we taught her later on that day about tithing which she's happy to follow. Right after the lesson the zone leaders called and said that the baptism, if she really did get the day off and stayed the whole 3 hours in church, was a go! So she'll still be baptized this Saturday!! And I'm blessed to be the one to baptize her. This is the miracle I've been working and praying so hard for these past 2 cycles. 

 This week is going to be another great, great one. We're gonna go extra hard and make sure the area is well prepared for Elder Marquez's next companion. Love you guys! I'll be able to email next Monday but I think they said it'll be a little later in the afternoon. But have a great week!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Nanay Sofia & Nathaniel (son) sitting down, and a few other investigators. Nanay Sofia went to church again yesterday! She participated in the classes and is making a lot of new friends! She'll be baptized on July 15 if all continues to go well :) 

Monday, June 19, 2017

6-18-17 Magandang hapon po family!

Magandang hapon po family!

 I'm excited to tell you guys about our week! But first, thank you, dad, for sharing what Elder Holland said about this Dispensation. We really are so blessed to be living in this day! Great motivation to keep going and stay faithful. It's also interesting that you shared the Standard of Truth. I've only heard that for the first time here in Gamu. One of our housemates has it memorized and recites it every now and then as well. I'll try to get that memorized before I get home.

 Our District Meeting topic was on boldly giving commitments. One of my favorite stories is when Aaron teaches the father of King Lamoni and he develops a great desire to receive this "great joy" that Aaron taught about. He was even willing to give up his entire kingdom - including every worldly thing he owned - to receive eternal life. Aaron told him to kneel down and call upon the Lord. It was after that that he was forgiven of his sins and felt the joy he was looking for. If Aaron didn't invite him to do that, he wouldn't have felt that joy. We've made it a goal to be more bold in our teaching and stop worrying so much about what others think. Elder Pulley (AP) attended the meeting and the Spirit was powerful as he testified on the importance of being bold and clear so that those we teach can have the chance to exercise their own free agency. Elder Pulley's actually a legend haha, known for his boldness.

 Jackie is still progressing like crazy. She's reading the Book of Mormon daily and applies everything we teach immediately. Our fellowshippers are constantly following-up on things with her and staying close which I'm so grateful for. She's excited for her baptism and is happy to share the blessings that are coming as she continues on this path. We're so excited for her! We taught her about the Word of Wisdom and she said until then she's been drinking coffee pretty normally. But she accepted it immediately as something coming from God and said she'll swap it with milk. She is just so ready! 

 NANAY SOFIA WENT TO CHURCH YESTERDAY! She texted us on Saturday morning saying she wasn't at home (we usually visit her on Saturdays) but that we'd see her at church on Sunday. We planned for a member to pass by Sunday morning and go to church with her, but this member had something happen at the last minute and wasn't able to attend church. Yesterday we waited and waited until church started, but nanay didn't show. We went inside happy that 3 other investigators including Jackie were there, but so so bummed because Nanay's promised for about 4 weeks in a row that she'd go. When the sacrament hymn started I got up to close the doors and just before closing one I noticed her on the very back row! And with her was her one niece we're also teaching and then some other little kids! I was so happy it's hard to explain. The talks were great and they stayed for the classes but had to go home just a little early because one of the kids was tired and fussy. But we visited nanay today and she said it was a great experience and she'll attend again this coming Sunday! She's also now reading in Mosiah 13! Whenever she's not busy, she reads from the Book of Mormon. 

 We have a handful of other investigators who are slowly progressing as well! The work is going so well here it's crazy. That's it though for the main things! I love you guys! Next week may be my last time to email! I'm not sure if we'll have time to email on my last monday here. Have a great week, love you guys!

 Elder Ishibashi

ps. Thanks for the picture! Good job Kala'i and Lehia!

Gamu chapel

Monday, June 12, 2017

6-11-17 I traded seats with a woman

Magandang hapon po na naman family!

 I forgot my planner at our District Center yesterday so I probably won't be able to remember everything that happened last week, sorry. Everything continues to go well though! Our District Meeting last week was about service. Elder Palacio, the zone leader who attended our meeting, shared an experience he had in his last area. He went out of his way to serve their next door neighbor by getting up extra early just to help her pump water, and through that she treated them more nicely and gained respect for them. I thought that was a cool story and committed my district to go out of their way this past week to serve someone. I had a pretty cool experience the next day after our meeting in Cauayan for our going-home batch. On the jeep I traded seats with a woman so that she could sit more comfortably. It was a little awkward since we were already moving and jeeps get so cramped up, but I remembered what Elder Palacio did and asked the lady if she wanted to switch. We found our way around each other and even though it was a little awkward, it felt good to go out of my way to do something nice. She even thanked me using "elder" which means that she did recognize me as a representative of Christ and the church. Like what Sis. Housman mentioned in her email, we don't know how great one act of kindness can affect one person. 

 Our going-home meeting in Cauayan was really good and it was cool being together as a batch again. We learned about setting goals and plans, but mostly about the importance of doing these things in a way that is in accordance to God's will. Something I liked that was shared was that even God has an ultimate goal and a perfect plan in order to accomplish that goal. His goal is " bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man", and his plan is called the Plan of Salvation. If we will follow this plan exactly, there's no way we can't receive the blessings Heavenly Father wants so bad to give us. After the meeting I also ran into some members from Alicia! It was super nice seeing them again and catching up real quick. 

 Before I end this I wanna give a quick update on our progressing investigators. Jackie is doing so so well! We felt like we needed to jump over to teaching her about the Law of Chastity before moving on to lesson 2. We hesitated a little but really felt like it was the right thing to do so we went with it. The Spirit guided that lesson again and we got to teach her very boldly, yet in a way where she could feel the concern that we have for her and that we, especially the Lord, only want her to be happy and protected. She texted us that night and thanked us for the lesson. She's reading through 2 Nephi now and is just soaking in everything we teach her.

 Nanay Sofia is reading the Book of Mormon as well and will stop what she's doing at any time to listen to us. She invited another friend to listen to us today while we taught her, and she was happy to tell her friend that her baptism is coming up! Once she can get to the point of steadily going to church, she'll be baptized. Unfortunately I won't be here to witness it, but I'm so so stoked for the email and picture confirming that everything went through. Her husband sat in as well earlier as we taught about the Plan of Salvation, and he seemed very interested. Hopefully that will push him to overcome his vices and have the desire to follow this great plan as well, because I know that that's nanay's greatest desire, for her family to be together forever. 

 Alright we're a little overtime again. I love you guys! Thank you for the pictures and updates. Have a great week!

 Elder Ishibashi 

Elder Tuwai from Fiji! He doesn't know any Ishibahis, but he knows the one Fijian kid coming out to the Cauayan Mission. This elder fell out of a coconut tree a few weeks ago so is in Cauayan while he heals haha. 


Some of our great YSA fellowshippers

Monday, June 5, 2017

6-4-17 True wisdom means putting the Lord before ourselves.

Magandang hapon po family!

 Alright almost my whole computer time doing things in preparation for our homecoming, so this email is going to be fairly short. Thank you for the email though and the awesome updates! What a cool activity! I've read so much about the pioneers since I've been out here; I don't think any of us could comprehend the things they went through. It's so humbling and amazing that they did the things they did out of pure love for the Lord and hope for the following generations. I wish I could've attended the activity myself, but I'm super happy to see that Kaukahi them got to attend. The boys are so tall! I had to laugh at what Kaukahi did hahaha, such a Kaukahi thing to do. I super enjoyed reading about Kala'i's experience, asking for help from grandpa. It's actually a really cool thing that you understand the closeness we have to those on the other side of the veil. That's something I didn't understand too well until just before serving my mission. Keep it up and always keep yourself worthy to exercise your Priesthood power at any time!

 Alright I can't go too deep into the many things that happened this past week, but it was another super great one. I just love working with Elder Marquez and it continues to amaze me how great a missionary he already is. He's so diligent and never let's hardships bring him down. We're continuing to find and teach great people who seem so ready. Sis. Jackie is still progressing so well! She got to 1 Nephi 15 within a week! She's highlighting verses that stand out to her and even posting verses on Facebook! Her parents are still against her becoming a member, but she feels that this is the right thing to do so she's pushing through with it. She went to church again on Sunday and she'll be adjusting her work schedule just so we can teach her more often. 

 Before I go I just want to share a quick verse I thought was cool during Personal Study. This week I decided to read Job's story in the Bible. It's actually a pretty interesting story: Satan is given permission to test this good man who serves others and has so many worldly blessings. I'm only on like chapter 33 so I don't know the whole story yet, but the cool thing is that no matter how hard these trials are for Job - and he makes it obvious that they are extremely difficult to handle - he never forgets the Lord's power. He says that these trials are almost too much to bear, but he never blames it on the Lord. Anyway, I thought Job 28:28 was really cool: And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. 

 True wisdom means putting the Lord before ourselves. One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is Jacob 4:10, which testifies of the same thing. And if we truly understand the reason God gives commandments, we will follow them, keeping ourselves as far away from evil as possible. This is a great formula to follow. Thanks again for the emails and have a great week! 

 Love you guys! 
Elder Ishibashi

 p.s. Kita-kita po tayo sa isang buwan mula ngayon!

Elder Marquez

Service project painting school desks


Check out this cloud we saw the other day! First time I've seen something like that

Monday, May 29, 2017

5-28-17 That's like gold for missionaries

Hello po Family!

 Man, this computer won't recognize my camera so I won't be able to send pictures again. Sorry! A member sent a picture though so I'll just forward that to you guys. My camera's also messed up now and won't work. It just won't turn at all anymore no matter how long I let it rest or charge it. The "on" light will turn on then off and that's it. 

 Elder Marquez and I had a great week! We're on a new planner though so I'll have to share our experiences based on memory today. We're finding so many new people! Elder Marquez is just ridiculous when it comes to work and seems to never get tired of it. Because of him it's so easy for me to keep going hard and being excited about the work. We worked in a couple spots we've never been to before and found people with pretty high potential. For the sake of time though I'll just talk about our most progressing investigator right now, sister Jackie. She was a referral from a couple fellowshippers who work with us at least 2x a week. She's pretty busy so we didn't get to teach her until Saturday 2weeks ago. This is what's awesome about her though: she has entered many churches already and has so many unanswered questions.That's like gold for missionaries. She got comfortable with us really easily thanks to the fellowshippers and asked us many questions that we were able to help her with. This past Saturday we taught her for the second time and this was one of my favorite lessons of all time. I've had only a handful of lessons where I felt the spirit just take over and guide the topic to what the person needed to hear or learn, and this was one of those times. Everything flowed so well and Jackie confessed that she gets a different feeling when she listens to us. She asked a great question: How can I feel the Spirit of God at all times? We took that as the opportunity to teach about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how it's preceded by Baptism by someone with authority. She accepted the invitation to be baptized on July 1. Please pray for her! She mentioned being a little afraid because if she follows through with this she'll be the only member in her family and is worried how they'd take it. Luckily one fellowshipper has the same problem so shared how he's been able to deal with it and why he continues to be strong in the church.  What made this experience better, was that she made it to church yesterday! She had to leave early for work but we were so stoked to see her and she said she'll go back next week. She was the only investigator in church yesterday.

 We have this other great, great investigator, sister Sofia. She's been wanting to go to church lately, things just keep coming up. Last week she had to help out with a funeral. She said that yesterday she was super set on going to church and even invited her niece to go with her, but in the morning she woke up to 2 boils on her leg. Because of that she wasn't able to walk well and I think boils bring headaches as well. Her niece got changed and everything! Just couldn't go because of Sofia's boils. Satan is working very hard to keep people from keeping commitments. But Sister Sofia promised that she's going this Sunday with her niece, Jezabelle :) 

 Alright that's pretty much all I can remember right now! I want to thank Anjo though for that great Eagle Scout project you did. That one must have been inspired. Thank you. As for mom, thank you for getting everything set up! Not gonna lie though I'm pretty nervous now haha. Tell Hamblin I love him and will see him soon! Also, Kala'i, you're voice is ridiculous. That song you wrote for Makana was beautiful and I'm stoked to get home and just hear you sing when we jam again. Oh and tell Makana I love him and said congratulations!! I meant to say that in my last email...sorry. 

 Love you guys! 
Elder Ishibashi


Monday, May 22, 2017

5-21-17 "ah, just charge um".

Magandang hapon po Family! Maligayang Kaarawan Herbert!

 I'm super grateful to be able to report to you guys every week because I haven't written in my journal in almost a month... At least I'll have something in the future to remind me of the great things that happened on my mission. I'm excited to tell you guys about the past two weeks! 

 The biggest highlight from 2 weeks ago was my splits with Elder Searancke, my Zone Leader from New Zealand. He said he ran into an Elder Meyers from Hawai`i once! I happily told him that he's been one of my best friends since childhood days. Our splits was super fun and I learned so many things from Elder Searancke. The first thing that stood out came while we were on our way to their area. We took a jeepney there and on the way a man and his little daughter, probably like 6, got on. I saw the way that Elder looked at the girl. It was as if he knew her for a long time, and was just so happy to see that she was happy. Before him I've never seen someone show such love for someone they don't even know. Since then I've been trying to truly see people the way that Heavenly Father sees them, seeing them not for what they are now, but for what they could become through the gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Another thing that stood out to me was how crazy humble he is. I won't share everything for his sake, but I learned a lot from his example. Pride is a real thing. It was cool to see someone who has so much to brag about, but doesn't. Needless to say it was a great day of learning and the Spirit was felt all day. I also learned to listen more and not think so much about what to say.

 Last week we had splits with the Mabini elders. I worked in Mabini with Elder Idorot while his companion worked in Gamu with Elder Marquez. I had a great day with Elder Idorot as well and got to know him better. He knows exactly why he's here in the field and has a strong desire to be obedient and do his best. I was super proud of Elder Marquez when he told me about his experience with the splits. He stood his ground when his companion suggested that they do something not allowed. I know I can trust Elder Marquez with this area and his new companion once I go. This week we enter our last transfer, which means that by Thursday we'll officially be the oldest missionaries in the mission! Crazy.

 One highlight is we got philly cheese steak sandwiches yesterday. So good holy smokes. We actually have one American in our Branch who was a professional cook once. He feeds the missionaries every zone conference. I miss sandwiches so big that your mouth seems small. 

As for our investigators, none came to church yesterday. It's a little hard because we have so many who are so willing to listen and say that they want to be with their families forever and receive salvation, but almost none act upon our commitments. We still have high hopes for many of them though. This morning we visited this small group of girls for our third lesson. Last time we taught about praying, especially as families, since they wanted to know more about how they can help their families. There are 4 of them and 3 have parents who are either split up or in jeopardy of separating. Two was happy to report that they've been praying together since that lesson! Not yet as a whole family, but working on it. They even said they're willing to change and do whatever it takes to follow Christ once they know for themselves that this message is true. 
 Elder Marquez and I had a pretty cool experience last night as well. Our curfew on Sunday nights is 7. We spent a really long time with a less-active family yesterday just trying to build a relationship with them since this was our first time meeting them and the first impression is so important. We tried to find out why they stopped going to church and spent a lot of time talking with George, one of the sons, about the gospel and how he as a Priesthood holder is needed at church. Once we left it was almost 7 already so we we decided to just visit an investigator family and set a schedule with them before returning home. On our way Elder Marquez remembered that they wouldn't be home around that time. Right there we noticed a dirt road to our right and decided to just contact one or 2 houses before heading home. I had a strong feeling though, and I told Elder, that the first house we hit will let us in. After some walking we found the first house to be huge and super intimidating haha. We almost walked past (typically people in big houses like that won't even talk to us), but I figured, "If not now, probably never" or like I used to say, "ah, just charge um". We walked down their small hill and tao po'd. Some people saw us and hid and the dog was going wild. We got a little discouraged and almost turned around after a minute or 2, when finally the mother came out and invited us into their terrace. We got to talk with her for a bit and it turns out she loves Mormons and sees how the church has blessed the lives of some of her family members! We set an appointment with her this coming Wednesday. She's interested to know what makes us different and how it made her uncle so happy. We're praying hard for her and are excited to see her again. 

 Alright that's it though. I love you guys! It was super good to see you guys. Thanks for the pictures and videos U'i! Ingat po kayo lagi :)

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi


Monday, May 15, 2017

5-7-17 Kumusta po na naman family!

*This email was written last week but Elder Ishibashi mistakenly sent it only to his brother in the Philipines.  In our skype session tonight we told him that we got no email and he was able to resend.  

Kumusta po na naman family!

 These weeks are just flying by like crazy di ba? Today I hit 22 months since entering the MTC...nuts. We had another super great week though! 

 Last week was pretty much just ridiculous great all week haha. Saturday was slightly hard, but it got better again yesterday (so much better!). We found many people and almost all of them accepted the invitation to be baptized in the first lesson! I gotta tell you guys about James though. This is one of the coolest things that's happened so far in my mission. After District Meeting on Tuesday we visited the home of a less-active family with the intent to share a message with them. They weren't home but this brother who's just renting a part of their home came out. He seemed a little annoyed at first since all of their dogs were barking and we kept "tao po"-ing which is like the "anybody home?" here. We just decided to introduce ourselves and I was gonna say we'll return on another day when the family is home. What's interesting is he told us his name and I remembered an investigator we had with the same last name in my first area, Lamut. This investigator never really progressed but I never forgot him for some reason. I asked if he knows him and he said they're first cousins! I think it was at that point we got a little more comfortable with each other. Out of nowhere it began to rain. This is the only time it rained hard all week last week. Just before it got hard he told us to just come undercover for a while and wait for the rain to settle down. We talked with him a little more about our purpose and asked if we could teach him about the restoration. The rain was really rough so we were kind of yelling the whole lesson (haha), but the spirit was so strong. We taught the first lesson super simply, putting emphasis on Christ's perfect church being lost then restored in its fullness through the prophet Joseph Smith. Throughout the lesson we asked if he had any questions and his responses kept surprising us. He went from, "Nope, I just want to try attending your church so I can hear more" to "no, I just really want to keep learning more about what you guys have to say". That never happens. We invited him to be baptized and he thought about it for a bit since he's been baptized before, but accepted it after we taught a little more about the Priesthood. He was very interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon. At this point we were on our very last copy, but told him that if he promises to actually read we'll be more than happy to give it to him. He was like, "I'll read the whole thing". We acted on faith and was given 2 more copies by our zone leaders the next day. We had many investigators promise this past week that they'll go to church on Sunday (yesterday) but only one actually came. Brother James. It was testimony Sunday which was perfect, the classes were great and something that kept coming up throughout the 3 hours was the truth of the Book of Mormon. We asked throughout the day if he had any questions and he was just like, "No, I'll just keep listening and reading and ask later." He returned home in the mountain province after church but will back at the family's house on Wednesday so Elder Marquez them will visit him then (we'll have splits with the zone leaders). Sorry for the long story, but this guy is one of those investigators that just makes everything worth it. 

 Nanay Cauilan is doing super great as well. I think she couldn't make it to church yesterday because one of her daughters, Karen, will give birth any day now so she's watching over her. Her RM daughter, Kat, bore testimony yesterday though and said that while she was getting ready for church nanay Cauilan out of nowhere said, "I don't know why, but I really want to get baptized!" Kat said she also heard her mom and Karen that morning reading the assignment we left with them about the Book of Mormon. 

 As for Mitzi, we're not super sure about her. Her cousin dropped us which was heartbreaking. I feel like they may be pushing Mitzi to stay with them and not listen to us anymore. We're praying that she'll find the strength to do the right thing even though it may be hard and uncomfortable. I like President Monson's saying "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong."

 We'll try to find out this week why the others who promised to go to church weren't able to do so and how we can help them do that. Elder Marquez is still super awesome and fun to be with. I learn so much from him and am humbled because he continues to sustain me as the senior companion and listens to me even though he's already better than me at everything haha. He applies the things I say immediately and just keeps seeking ways to improve in every way possible. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll witness miracles throughout his mission. I'm stoked that he'll be here to meet the soon-to-be Elder Koyamaibole! Congratulations to him! He's gonna love this mission so much.

 Thank you guys for the emails and pictures! Glad to know everyone's safe and healthy. As for the Mother's Day call, I guess I'll call around 12 here which will be like 6 there. Is that okay? We'll be using our neighbor's computers along with the zone leaders so hopefully everything will work out. I'm excited to see you guys though! I forgot my cord this week so still can't send pictures...sorry. I'll just forward one that a member sent for today. Have a great week!

 Mahal ko po kayo. Kita-kita po tayo sa Mother's Day!
Elder Ishibashi


Monday, May 1, 2017

4-30-17 Being humble means pleasing God

Magandang hapon po Family!

 Before I talk about our week I want to thank the Primary girls for their wonderful letters! A sister sent me some of them through email last week and I forgot to mention that. Thank you! Every little bit of support helps and keeps me going :) also nice haircut pretty girl! Herb's awesome. And happy birthday to Jeremias! :) 

 This computer also won't allow me to send pictures...sorry. We had a great week though! Elder Marquez continues to be such a great missionary and anak. He's super funny and kind of just keeps everyone alive and positive at home. He's a great teacher and is constantly asking how he can improve. It's funny, I kind of expected that the Lord would give me a hard companion to really test me in my last 2 cycles, but Elder Marquez so far has only been great. He's actually one of my favorite companions already. 

 On Tuesday we had a great Zone Conference in Ilagan. There were 2 main topics we discussed during the conference: Pride, and the Book of Mormon. We watched a General Conference talk called "Beware of Pride", written by Ezra Taft Benson but read by President Hinckley. It was such an inspiring message and something I needed to hear. I realized I still have so much pride and that I need to stop comparing myself with others so much. One of the bigger things that stood out to me was that being humble means pleasing God, and not man. I'm grateful that through this talk I can now be more aware of my pride and repent quickly and effectively.  I also loved talking about the Book of Mormon. Since I've been out here I have developed such a love for the Book of Mormon. It's so interesting! And there are so many lessons we can learn and apply to ourselves from each verse if we seek deep enough. The Zone Conference overall was a success and we applied many things we learned into our teaching immediately. 

 We're finding some golden people! On Saturday we met nanay Cauilan, whose daughter actually just came home from her mission a couple weeks ago. Apparently nanay was taught by missionaries in the past but never went to church yet. We taught her about prophets since that's one thing she remembered being taught but forgot why they're important. By the end she realized how important they are and we kind of guided that to the baptism invitation. She said that she was willing to follow the prophet, no matter how rough or uncomfortable it'd be, because she knows that by doing so she'd be following the Lord Himself. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted! And we were even more happy to see her in church yesterday with her daughter! Her daughter was also one of the sacrament speakers which was perfect. After church we worked around her house again and met another nanay. While speaking with this nanay, we noticed nanay Caulian coming through to go somewhere. Before continuing on she stopped by us and told this nanay that she should take lessons from us and they could go to church together next Sunday! We didn't even invite nanay Cauilan to return yet but she has it set that she will. How awesome is that!

 We met another golden person this morning. We visited a family for the second time who seem to be pretty interested and willing to act upon commitments. Brother, Julius, couldn't make it to church yesterday because of his leg, affected by diabetes. His daughter, Jalen, attended a funeral the night before and slept in yesterday morning. They'll try to go this week though and they also have accepted the invitation to be baptized on June 17! While teaching them one of their cousins, Mitzi, just walked over and sat down. She listened very intently and asked when we'd come back to teach. She said she wants to keep listening to us! When we gave the invitation to be baptized she gave the most certain "Yes" out of the three of them, almost as if she's been waiting for it. It was almost like that time in Roxas with Princess if you guys remember. She said she'll prepare herself to be baptized and will do all the things we invite her to do to know for herself that these things are true. It was such a cool thing! What's even more great is that their uncle is President Daggao, our Branch President. I'll keep you guys up to date with them.

 Everything is just going so well and Elder Marquez & I are growing and learning so much. Today was already great and I have a feeling the rest of this week will be very fruitful as well. Thank you guys for your continued support and prayers. Sorry again for not being able to send pictures, hopefully next week! 

 Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, April 24, 2017

4-23-17 It's not fair that because of our sins He had to suffer.

Kumusta po family!

 Thank you for the emails! That's actually pretty awesome that an article was written about Herbert & Jazamin, brought back many memories. Herb's a stud! I hope jogger pants is still a thing when I get home because I bought like 6 and can't go back now haha. Congratulations too to everyone else!

 This computer's a little weird so I may not be able to send pictures this time. But Elder Marquez and I had another great week!  On Wednesday I attended a New Leaders Training meeting in Cauayan where President & Sister Hiatt and the Assistants taught us our responsibilities as new District, Zone, and Sister Training Leaders. Something President Hiatt said that stood out to me was having "simple faith". Sometimes we think too much about what to do or how to act. If we can just simply be obedient and do what we know is right, things will end out okay. This is what he said about simple faith/obedience, "It's easy, and it's safe. You'll never go wrong." I'm trying to implement that better in my own life since there are many times when we think one thing is more important than a "simple" mission rule.

 Did I tell you guys there was a Hawaiian here? Brother Ken Arima, a member from O'ahu, owns a company here in our area! What's super cool is he only visits the Philippines for about a week, about 3 times a year, and I just so happened to be here when he visited! It's cool since there aren't any other Hawaiian missionaries here. What are the odds? It was actually a testimony builder for me that God does have perfect plans for everyone. Brother Ken said he doesn't come here to make money, but to help people. He's known in that whole area as someone who just gives and gives and gives. He'll look for those in need and help them in any way possible. I heard he's even given houses to people. From what I understand he also played a big role in the building of a chapel in our area. He's a great example of someone who has charity, which is the pure love of Christ. Something funny I realized while speaking with him (side note) is that I now speak English like a white person. I thought I was out here learning Tagalog, but I guess I learned English too haha. Not gonna lie though missed the pidgin and will love hearing it every day again. Brother Ken gave a great talk yesterday on the Atonement. It's not fair that Christ died for us. It's not fair that because of our sins He had to suffer. It hurts every time I think about the Atonement and remember that He felt and paid for every single dumb thing I've done and will do. But I love Him for that. I hope the branch understood his talk and made changes or will now make changes in their lives.

 Another sister gave a great talk as well on complaining. She said, "The more we complain, the harder life is gonna get." There's this pattern I've noticed about myself where I'll always fall back into an attitude of complaint every now and then. On Saturday I was hit, for the first time, with the thought that someday I won't be remembered here. I'm now one of the older missionaries and members tend to care more about welcoming and helping the newer ones. I can imagine that being one of the reasons those going home tend to stop caring; because it seems like others stop caring about them. What's sad is it's almost normal for older missionaries to become disobedient just before going home, so the members kind of just expect it sometimes. It makes it a little harder to have the desire to keep going hard, but it'd be dumber to give in so that's not an option haha. Anyway I complained about that pretty good to the Lord but thanks to Him and that talk given by the sister I was lifted again.  

 Later on we'll be looking for less-active families we haven't met yet. The verse we're planning to share is Moroni 4:3, where the sacrament prayer is found. I dug deep into that verse earlier so I can teach it clearly, and I learned some really cool things. We recognize Heavenly Father as the father of everything, being the most powerful. We converse with Him in the name of Jesus Christ since Christ is the key/ the only way to get to Him. He sanctifies the bread and water we partake of as a symbol of Christ's life and Atonement. We promise Heavenly Father that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and endure to the end. And He promises in return to bless us with the Spirit always. If we're not feeling the Spirit at all times, we should evaluate ourselves and see if we really are staying true to our promises. I know what I need to work on and will do that this week. 

 I love you guys! Thank you again for the emails! Oh also, what time do you guys wanna skype? Let me know :)

Mahal ko po kayo, 
 Elder Ishibashi

Elder Marquez, me, brother Ken, Elder Tabucol, Elder Wadsworth

Monday, April 17, 2017

4-16-17 the Lord was preparing me

Hello po family!

 Alright I lost track of time and now only have like 15 minutes to write haha. Everything has been pretty amazing though so far. Last week was pretty much a blur. I had a great last couple of days in Roxas and was still able to get a lot of work done while packing. 

 Transfer day was awesome and we got to meet our anaks! My new companion is Elder Marquez and he's just ridiculous awesome. Right from the start he was asking about the mission and is just so excited to go out and work. I realized this week that the Lord really was preparing me for this assignment by getting me excited to contact. I've developed a strong testimony this past week on what it says in Ether 12:27, that our weaknesses can become strengths if we will rely on our Heavenly Father and do our best to overcome those weaknesses. For the longest time my ultimate weakness as a missionary has been finding people. I was horrified at the thought of going to peoples homes and asking if we can share something with them that they've never heard of before. God really helped me in Roxas to get over that weakness and turn it into one of my "strengths".

 Sorry, I'll tell you guys more about my area and companion next week. A batch mate came into the net shop and we spoke for like 10 minutes haha. I love you guys though and congratulations on everything! Have a great week! :)

 Elder Ishibashi

Saying goodbyes in Roxas. What's funny is we could actually have P-Days in Roxas since it's so close, but I'm afraid I'll see someone I know and have to say goodbye all over again haha.

Brother Mika - Investigator who will no doubt be baptized someday 

Branch President Munoz and his family - They're awesome.

Nanay Trinidad - Suuuper funny

Sister Ana & Geian - The ones I mentioned last week :) 

Transfer Day

Didn't get a picture with Elder Marquez yet but our area is beautiful

Monday, April 10, 2017

4-9-17 I'm so stoked with whats happening

Family! Kumusta po!
 Oh my goodness some amazing things have happened this past week! Awesome, awesome things. I'll just go over the bigger parts first. As you guys probably know, we didn't get to watch General Conference until this past weekend. So something we did last week was prepare people for General Conference by sharing Mosiah 2:9 with them, where King Benjamin has his people gathered together to hear him speak for the last time. He encourages them to not "trifle" or play around with his words, but to take them seriously, and open their ears, hearts, and minds that they may understand. Although I'm not sure how much it helped those we taught, sharing and diving deep into this verse definitely helped me to understand and know how to prepare myself spiritually to receive and understand anything that the Spirit wanted me to know when the time came to listen to our beloved prophet and leaders of the church. Because of that preparation I received so many answers and ideas that will help me to improve as a person and missionary. 

 On Thursday we had a great MLC and learned so many great things that will be shared at Zone Training Meetings this coming Thursday. Of all the things though the greatest thing that stood out to me was something Sister Hiatt did. She had an impromptu role practice with one of the elders and taught him about the Sabbath Day. She broke down the scripture verse in such a clear and simple way that I learned so many new things, even though I've used that verse countless times throughout my mission. I realized then how important it is not to just use the scriptures in teaching, but breaking it down, sometimes even word by word, and asking inspired questions, so that the person being taught can, in a sense, teach him/herself. Another great thing we learned at MLC was how to correct people in a loving manner, which proved helpful that night when we had to invite a member family, where both parents have callings in the branch, to stop selling alcohol at their home. 

 We found more people to teach this past week and a few of them have high potential. One sticks out more than the others though, sister Ana. We actually met Ana a few weeks ago, in that small compound where we met the man who thinks we can't live together as families in the next life. Ana was the first person we met in that compound but was kind of busy and seemed really shy, so we kept her in mind but didn't think too much about it afterwards. This past Tuesday we made time to visit that compound again and we caught Ana at a good time. Turns out she was actually wondering when we'd come back to visit her! We had a great lesson then and invited her to General Conference on Saturday and Sunday. We visited her again on Saturday and said we missed her at Conference then taught another lesson on prophets. Something you guys should know about Ana is that she really isn't a "people person". She's one of the sweetest women I've met but rarely ever leaves their compound, so isn't very comfortable around large groups of people. They also live quite a distance from the church which means they'd have to take a tricey to church. They live in a small, humble home and her husband works as a conductor for jeepneys. Something we shared with her on Saturday is that this gospel is a gospel of action. This is something that President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared in the latest Liahona. It's wonderful to pray and listen to the missionaries, but that is not enough. We explained that we need to step out of our comfort zones sometimes and show the Lord that we're ready to follow Him. You guys have no idea how crazy excited we were to see her and her daughter Geian (5 yrs. old) get out of the tricey in front of the church on Sunday morning! Not only did they come, but they stayed through both sessions! Something sad I've noticed here is that less than 10 people (not exaggerating) will attend the Saturday sessions, the Sunday morning session will packed up to the back stage, then the afternoon session will go back down to like less than 30 people. But sister Ana stayed and her daughter was such a good girl the entire time. I feel that they are the miracle I've been praying and working for the past couple weeks. I'm so bummed that I won't be teaching them anymore though after tomorrow!
 Yup, I'm transferring again. Craziest thing though, and I'm so stoked with what's happening. I've discussed with my past couple companions what's gonna happen with me towards the end of the mission: where will I die (end my mission)? will I still be a zone leader? will I train again? etc. I said there were 2 things I don't want to do: train again or open an area. And those are the 2 exact things that will be happening these last 2 cycles I have haha. We just barely got home from work last night when President Hiatt called. He said I'll be training a new missionary and opening area in Gamu, Burgos zone (right next door to Roxas). I'll be a District Leader now. It was pretty much the exact feeling I had when I opened my mission call. You guys remember that? One place I didn't want to serve a mission and that's exactly where the Lord sent me. But, just like that time, I'm so excited now. A few days ago I prayed that I may have many challenges at the closing of my mission so that I could learn and grow more and quicker than ever. I told God I was ready and prayed that He would trust me to handle anything that He would throw at me. I didn't expect Him to throw a bus(haha), but I'm so grateful that He answered that prayer. I know how important training is and am excited to teach another elder how a missionary should be. I'm not sure why the Lord wants me to open an area but I'm excited to find out. Overall I'm just filled with so much gratitude that I can end my mission "with a bang".

 Alright those are the main things. It was such a fulfilling and wonderful last week here in Roxas. I'll miss this place and the people like crazy, but I'm ready and excited to get hit with something new. Thank you guys for your emails and pictures every week! You look good dad! It's pretty set in my mind that Lehia's the coolest person I know haha. I'm super proud of Kala'i for being a kind person. Continue to be kind to everyone, even those in church. I was thinking about that this past week and almost tear up now when I remember how rude and mean I was to my fellow young men, especially the non-locals. Don't be the reason that someone feels uncomfortable or unloved, especially at church. And for Sister Ray, I got your letter, thank you :) You can rely on "DearElder". I do remember aunty Malia and will keep her family in my prayers. I love you guys! Have a great week!

 Ingat po, sa ulitin ulit,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, April 3, 2017

4-2-17 I love that we have a living prophet today

Kumusta po Family!

 Thank you for your emails! I love seeing how the family is doing, although I feel horrible that Kala'i's in such good shape haha. Good motivation though to keep finding time to exercise. Funny how things turn out, now Kala'i's my motivation to get fit haha. Hali'a is so pretty! Lehia is still good at everything. U'i them sent pics and videos as well and I'm so happy to see my nephew and niece doing well too. This past week I had a couple days where I just felt down for some reason. I felt like I wasn't making much progress in my teaching skills, felt that there wasn't enough time to accomplish all the responsibilities I have and the other side things that I enjoy doing, etc. I thought of ways to get out of that depression and remembered Herbert's invitation to me a long time ago to make a "blessings list". I've done it once but forgot about it quickly. This past week I started a new one and obviously put my family at the top of the list. I then wrote small bullet points that I admire about each person in our family. Through that I realized that I have so many blessings it's ridiculous. And then I just had to laugh that of all the problems I could be having, I allow myself to get down for not being able to read the scriptures as often as I'd like to. I realized that I complain to the Lord for such little things when I should be thanking Him for the countless blessings that I already have. Thank you guys for being such blessings to me. 

 How was General Conference? I'm super excited for it this coming weekend! I love that we have a living prophet today who can communicate with our Heavenly Father and tell us exactly what He wants us to know at this specific time. What a blessing to know that God still speaks with His children today! 

 Elder Doctolero and I are doing super super well. I continue to learn so much from him. We had a cool experience this past week where I saw how powerful Elder Doctolero really is. On Thursday we got crazy punted and didn't get to teach one person we planned to teach that day. We decided to improvise and use some time to go contacting and then work in a different area. While contacting we entered a small compound of houses that we've only passed by in the past. Outside one of the houses we found a man, brother Noli, just sitting in his chair. We greeted him and asked him some questions but he wouldn't answer us. We tried to introduce ourselves but he completely ignored us and pretended that no one was there. I gave up pretty quickly and was ready to move on to the next house, but Elder Doctolero stayed and kept trying. After just a couple more tries, he responded to Elder. He then answered our questions and we got to get to know him a bit. He's entered a few churches in the past but eventually returned to the one he grew up in. He hasn't tried entering the "Mormon" church yet though. He allowed us to share (and put a shirt on before we did which I thought was nice and respectful) and we got to teach him about our beliefs and the restored gospel. At the end he was hesitant to pray out-loud when we invited him to give the closing prayer, but after some explaining he did it and gave a great prayer. It was perfect too since this past week our District Meeting was on prayer and getting investigators to give prayers. About 75% of the people here aren't comfortable praying out-loud. But Noli did great. We're going to visit him later on today which I'm excited for. This experience taught me that I still have a lot to work on when it comes to being humble and patient. And it showed me that Elder Doctolero has a gift in bringing people to open up.

 Alright we're on our way out. But thank you again for your emails! And thank you dad for sharing your goals for the boys. I'm excited to help you out with that when I get home.  

 I love you guys!
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, March 27, 2017

3-26-17 D&C 4:2

Kumusta po Family!

 Alright I have only a little time to talk about my week since I replied to other emails and stuff first. I also spent some time writing to Makana. Something I love about testimonies, and this is what a prophet said before, is that your testimony itself grows every time you bear it. I realized while emailing Makana that my life has changed even more than I thought, because of my decision to serve Heavenly Father on a full-time basis. If there is anyone reading my emails who is thinking about serving a mission, and is fully capable and worthy, please do it. Something that comes to mind is what a missionary said in one of the "The District" videos. He said, "If there's anyone who's capable and worthy to serve a mission, and chooses not to, you're making the biggest mistake of your life." And I know for myself that that's true. The Lord needs us to serve missions. He doesn't just suggest it or is happy when we do it, he needs us to serve missions. If we don't go out and teach all those that the Lord has prepared for us, who will? Please act by faith and do it. I can't think of a better way to earn His trust and to know what His will/plan is for our own individual lives.  

 This past week was awesome. We had a great zone conference on Wednesday that got me more inspired and excited to work hard. Two Filipino RM's that just returned home recently also attended, one of them being Elder Antenorcruz! One of my favorite past APs. Our work with Elder Doctolero is going really, really well. Like I said in my last email, I've made it a goal to take that extra step of faith everyday. I've realized this week that faith and fear can never co-exist. They can never work at the same time. If we fear, we lack faith, and if we have faith, we will not fear to act. Elder and I are striving to speak with more people and we're setting higher goals for ourselves and for the work. For some reason the number of investigators in church have gone down since we've been working harder than ever, but that's okay. It gives us a good opportunity to keep exercising faith that something great will happen eventually. I made a new goal to read from the Book of Mormon but really focus on the principle of faith.

 One cool experience that I can't get out of my head for some reason is actually something that just happened earlier this morning. We decided to work 2 hours this morning and will work one more hour after emails before doing the rest of our P-day duties. We spent some time contacting or "tracting" in the states. We came across this small compound of about 4 houses and introduced ourselves to the people there. We met one man who had a question about marriage. We speak with him for a little bit before sharing a message to understand his beliefs as a member of a different church. He said that once we go to heaven we won't have families anymore. Our parents won't be our parents, children, wife, husband, etc. We won't love anyone the way we love them here. It was then that I realized how many people must have that same belief, and that that's why it is so important that missionaries preach the gospel to all nations. The thought that people are living with the belief, and being okay with it, that we can't love people or be with our families forever, almost hurts. It's such a sad thought that someone can accept that. I know that it's not true. We can and will live forever with our families if we and they do our part and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 I also learned the importance this past week of listening to the Spirit. And not just the importance of it, but how to do it. As zone leaders we do surprise apartment checks on the elders in our zone to make sure they're doing what they should at all times. We checked one companionship where both elders don't exactly have the best reputation. I prayed in the jeep on our way there that I might know what scripture verse the Lord would have me share with them. Usually after I pray I'll wait for a little while for an answer, but then leave and stop thinking about the things I prayed for, kind of just expecting that somehow an answer will break through all the other every-day-thoughts I have. But this time in the jeep I kept my mind blank, waiting for something to come. Then after a short while D&C 4:2 came to mind. Besides that my mind was still blank. I took that as the answer especially since I still haven't yet memorized D&C section 4, so that couldn't have come based off of my own knowledge of the scriptures. We found the elders not doing what they should have been, but had a great accounting session and tried to motivate them to give their all, especially since they both only have a few months left. The D&C verse fit perfectly with what we wanted to get across to them. I learned that when we ask for guidance from the Spirit, we need to focus on that thing and give space in our mind so that the Spirit can speak to us. 

 Alright, I've now gone overtime and Elder Doctolero is waiting for me. Thank you guys again for the emails and updates! I love you guys!

Elder Ishibashi

Bro. Antenorcruz