Monday, January 23, 2017

1-22-17 I need to be more grateful

Kumusta po family!
 First off, KALA'I! Happy birthday and congratulations on being BIIFS champs!! You have no idea how stoked I am for you and your crew! That's the sickest thing ever, I'm so proud of you. My biggest problem when it came to sports was fully committing, and because of that nothing really happened with me. I'm so glad that you were able to put your all into this sport, and now look where you are! Full-commitment is a huge attribute that will bless you as a missionary and throughout your life, not only now. Congratulations again! Your arms are huge by the way.

 Thank you too, dad, for the update on the missionary work you guys are doing! I'm super happy for you guys and will keep you guys in my prayers for sure. 

 Just like you guys, we had a great week as well! Elder Fernandez's birthday was on Tuesday so we were fed really well by the members and bought a cake later on that night to celebrate. On Wednesday our new companion arrived, Elder Doctolero! We both arrived in Bambang zone together but he was only there for one cycle before transferring out again. I was able to go on splits with him one time though while in Bambang and I really enjoyed it. Elder Doctolero has a really soft, humble personality which I enjoy. It's really easy to feel the Spirit with him at home and especially during lessons. Our companionship altogether, with him, me, and Elder Fernandez, is awesome. We're like the "triumphant tris-ome" haha.   

 Sorry, we're now on a new planner so I left my other planner at home and can't remember a lot of the things that happened last week :/ We did have a great week of work though. One person that comes to mind is sister Divine, who was a referral from the sister missionaries. She's originally from their area but now lives in ours. She's golden! She's so kind and has the desire to learn everything we have to share. Yesterday I visited her with some SA(single adult) members who were able to work. Divine said that the only reason she didn't attend church was because she doesn't have any dresses and was too ashamed to go in jeans. We explained that what we wear isn't important, as long as it is the best we have to show respect for the Lord in His house. What stood out to me in that lesson though actually came from the members' testimonies. They shared what their lives were like before being taught by the missionaries and receiving the gospel. One sister's family ate salt mixed with water and rice often because that's all they could afford. She talked about periods of time where they had to study in the dark because they didn't have electricity. Another member shared about how their father, who is now our Branch President, was once a drunkard, while their mother had a heart problem and they treated every night like it was her last, sometimes just crying together. That member is now an RM and the first is preparing to serve a mission as well. 

 It was heartbreaking for me to hear their testimonies since I have never had to face anything even close to those things they experienced. How ungrateful I am for the things I have! It was a wake-up call for me that I need to be more grateful for everything God has given me. It also shows clearly how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save people. It doesn't just bless us spiritually, but temporally as well, like the Lord says in Mosiah 2:41. There's no doubt in mind that we canÊ»t make it through life without the gospel.

 Sorry again for not being able to share too much, I'll do better next week. I love you guys!

Mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

I read a book full of quotes by Henry B. Eyring this past week and took pictures of the more powerful ones for me. I'll post a new one every now and then

Monday, January 16, 2017

1-15-2017 Jesus Christ knows exactly what we're going through.

Magandang hapon po family! And happy birthday mom and dad!

 Thanks dad for the update on mom's birthday and I'm glad it was a great day for her :) I hope today was a great one for you too (and aunty Star!). And I'm so happy for Yasmine & Ketter and also for Herbert them! 

 Alright! I have a bunch of things to report on and not much time to type since I spent time watching mormon messages on the computer haha. First off, this past week was yet another awesome one. It's been a little weird without Elder Frei, but still great. I enjoy having Elder Fernandez as my companion. Tomorrow we'll know who our new companion is since the AP's said we'll become a threesome again this cycle. 

 Although we didn't reach the high expectations I had for last week, I wouldn't consider it a failed week at all. We didn't have the most amount of lessons, but I feel that most of them were more powerful than usual. I had a cool experience with fasting this week and have found out how to be more effective as a missionary. Fasting is such a blessing and is something we should do when we're struggling with something or need to make a big decision in life. Sometimes we tend to forget the power of it. I love that you guys are working with the missionaries and trying to figure out as a family who you can share the gospel with. Just remember that there's always fasting to give that extra help in thinking of someone to reach out to. 

 We got a couple more new investigators last week and they seem pretty golden! The first was actually taught in the past by Elder Frei & his last companion but this brother left to Manila and only just got home a couple weeks ago. Brother Mika. He's awesome! He has a super strong desire to know the truth and is willing to make the changes necessary to do so. He wasn't at church yesterday unfortunately so we'll follow-up on that this week. The other golden investigator is Jenny, the mother of the 2 sisters we met and taught the other week. Jenny too was taught in the past but things kept her from being able to be baptized. Now it's possible to work through those things so we're trying to help her and her family. 

 My favorite lesson we had all week was with the Espante family yesterday. As of now it's only tatay and nanay Espante; their kids are away with their own families. Tatay and nanay have to be the most humble people I know, living in the most humble circumstances. Their home is where they work, which is just under a large, open pavilion filled with glass bottles. Their job is to clean the bottles well enough to be able to be reused. They work so hard, sometimes over 16 hours a day, every day. And in one week they only make 500 pesos which is just over 10 dollars. Yet despite this they are always smiling and so are excited when we share messages with them since their boss won't allow them to go to church sometimes. Yesterday we had some members work with us and one of them, an RM, quoted Matt: 11:28-30, "28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
 Jesus Christ knows exactly what we're going through. He promises that if we take His name upon ourselves and strive to be like Him, our own personal burdens will be lifted. You guys think you could get that song related to this that Uncle Keenan sang and send it to me? If can, that would be super cool. 

 Something my thoughts kept turning back to throughout this week was the word, "sacrifice".Everyone sacrifices at some point of their life, but sometimes we sacrifice for the wrong things. I don't have enough time to go too deep into that, but I want to share a little about the testimony of another member who worked with us in visiting a less-active member. This less-active says she knows the church is true but sacrifices herself and duties as a member so that her children can be successful. Sister Nonie, the one who worked with us, simply bore her testimony that she doesn't care where her kids are in life, as long as their lives are centered on Jesus Christ. That reminded me so much of mom. I'm not near being a parent yet, but I imagine that would be the absolute best feeling, to have all your children strong in the church and living Christ-centered lives. Our Gospel Principles teacher yesterday helped me to see it more clearly. What would you prefer: to be eating dinner on a nice table in a big house, but knowing you're not living according to God's will? or being in a more humble circumstance but knowing that God is proud of you? I'd easily pick the second. It helped me to see that absolutely nothing ever should come before God. 

 Thank you guys again for the emails! Happy birthday again to mom, dad, and aunty Star! :) I love you guys!

 Sa ulitin ulit,
Elder Ishibashi

After Zone Training Meeting

Elder Fernandez's "Akyat Challenge"

Hung out as a district earlier after playing volleyball with some members

Monday, January 9, 2017

1-8-17 Magandang hapon po family!

Magandang hapon po family! 

 Man, this past week was a crazy busy one! I don't know what it is about this area, it just seems like the work is doubled and the time is halved. Which I love. It just makes time fly by even quicker which I don't love so much haha. I just hit my 18 month mark yesterday! These next 6 months are going to be my "final sprint" and I'm excited to go harder and learn more than I ever have before. 

 We got a nice handful of more new investigators this past week and some of them are pretty golden. One, Sister Flor, said she'll attend church sometime before we even got to introduce ourselves haha. It shows that it's true what the White Handbook says, that people recognize us as missionaries before we even approach them. I imagine it's the same for members; it's usually pretty obvious or known when someone is an active member of the church. It's our responsibility as missionaries & members to live up to our standards at all times. We had a great lesson with Flor and her daughter, although they haven't made it to church yet. Another great, first lesson we had was yesterday with 2 sisters who have member cousins. We've been searching for them for like a month and finally found them yesterday, and had a powerful lesson teaching them about God's love for them and how the gospel will bless their own lives and their family as a whole. We'll see them and sister Flor again this week. We haven't been able to return to our other golden investigators this past week since it's been so busy, but we'll definitely visit them again next time.

 My highlight lesson of the week was with a recently baptized girl who's slowly becoming less-active because her parents are less-active and don't push her to go to church. We taught them about proxy baptisms and being sealed as a family in the temple. What's funny is I thought that was kind of a weird thing to teach to an 11 year old girl and her less-active mother, but Elder Frei pushed that we share it so we did. And everything turned out great! Her father just so happened to be home at that time and the Spirit helped us to share what I feel they needed to hear, and not just what we know about the temple. We focused specifically on how their family can be together forever IF they do what's necessary while here on earth. Brother & sister and their daughter took everything really well and understood that the joy we can feel in heaven with our family is different from the happiness we feel here on earth. Lately I've been thinking about that a lot and am so so grateful to be sealed with you guys forever, whether you like it or not haha. 

 Anyway we're on our way out. We also had a great MLC last Thursday and I got to see more mission friends again. Tomorrow is our Zone Training Meeting and I'll be teaching the zone leaders' portion alone since Elder Frei was just emergency transferred this morning. He didn't do anything wrong, he's just filling Elder Olsen's spot in another area since Elder Olsen was called to become the new assistant to President Hiatt. Crazy! Elder Olsen is my batch. But yup so it's been a pretty crazy night and morning. Elder Fernandez and I will be together until transfer day next week and then I might get another ZL companion, but we're not sure. It'll be weird working without Elder Frei since I have learned so much from him and have enjoyed being his companion for 5 weeks. I'm also excited to be in a normal companionship again though and have a feeling this week is going to be extra great. 

 Thank you guys for the emails! And good New Years Resolution, dad. I still haven't finished the whole D&C but I'm almost there. What's awesome is the Church History in the Fulness of Times book helps so much in understanding the sections in D&C. It kind of connects the dots between each section. I love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Ishibashi

Elder Saez, one of the greatest influences on me as a missionary. And then Elder Bice haha

Something that hasn't changed: Still love donuts

It's more "fun" in the Philippines

Earlier this morning

Monday, January 2, 2017

1-1-17 Kumusta po family! Maligayang Bagong Taon!

Kumusta po family! Maligayang Bagong Taon!

 Happy 2017! Sorry for not writing an email last week; we just ran out of time because of the whole skype failure. I super enjoyed seeing you guys again though! What's crazy is I can say I'll be home this year! Still super bittersweet haha. I hope you guys had a great New Years and all thought of ways you can improve and grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ this year. I have a feeling this year is going to be extra great! 

 Alright so I'll just tell you guys about the main things that's happened since the last time I wrote, since there's a lot to report on. A couple weeks ago we had a great Christmas Zone Conference in Cauayan and it was awesome seeing more familiar faces. President Hiatt also requested that each zone do a special musical number and we were assigned to sing Silent Night (hopefully you guys got to see it, they said they'd send the videos to our families). I'm slowly becoming more comfortable singing and look forward to singing with Kala'i them again. At the conference we watched a play (on CD) called "The Forgotten Carols" and it was so spiritually fulfilling and got me more hyped up about the Christmas season. Not gonna lie though while watching it that was the most I ever missed you guys so far haha. I'm stoked to be able to spend my next Christmas with my family. The highlight of the Conference was when President Hiatt sang a solo for all of us. He's really not the best singer haha, but that's what made it that much more powerful. I'm grateful to have such a cool, humble Mission President who doesn't let things like that keep him away from sharng the things we need to hear as his stewardship. Good example to learn from and follow. 

 Something else super awesome that happened was our branch actually adjusted the Branch Christmas Party so that we elders could attend. At first it was right at the time we would be at our conference but they pushed back the start time so we could make it before it finished. The day before a bunch of members worked with us and we went all over the place telling the other members that the time was changed. We (elders) were so grateful and appreciated how much the Branch supports and cares for us. 

 As for Christmas, we had a super great one! Unfortunately I didn't get my package in time to open Christmas morning, but a couple of our mission senior couples brought it to church and I got to open it afterwards :) Thank you and the other families who added to the package! We had a great day of work in sharing about Christmas and how we can try harder to be like Jesus Christ and then an example for others to follow. 

 Over the past couple weeks we have gotten a handful of golden investigators. An awesome family we've been teaching is the Lutrania family. We met brother & Sister Lutrania one night while we were just on our way to an appointment, then saw them sitting off to the side of the road and decided to get to know them. I honestly didn't think they were much different from anyone else we usually talk with, but we thought they were worth visiting at home. We got to visit their home for the first time last monday, and as soon as we entered I felt a different Spirit than I usually feel in other peoples homes. You can tell they are really close as a family and they were so humble and attentive as we shared about how their family can be together forever. We taught them again last week with a member who lives nearby as a fellowshipper, and it was another powerful lesson. All they need to do is go to church so they can feel the Spirit stronger! And know that the things we teach are true. 

 Another super golden person we met is Princess, who we just met yesterday. We visited the house she works at to teach someone else, but Princess was the only one there so we ended up teaching her. She took everything we shared so well! She soaked in everything we taught and even mentioned that she too feels like Jospeh Smith did, searching hard for the truth. The absolute coolest thing about our lesson with her was when Elder Fernandez invited her to be baptized when she finds out for herself that what we teach is true. Her answer was "100 percent, yes. If this is God's will for me, absoulutely yes." I've never seen anyone react so joyfully to the baptism invitation! and it just got me so excited for her since I know that she will know for herself that it's true. It's people like her that make all of our hardships as missionaries worth it.

 As for New Years, that was really fun too! Our curfew was 6 pm to be safe and we coudn't leave our property after that. We did stay up until 12 though and watch the fireworks right outside our door, which was super cool since our own neighbors had a bunch of those crazy fireworks that would be illegal in Hawaii haha. It was like the kind you see at Coconut Island, but right there in our neighborhood. I hope you guys had a great New Years too!

 Alright, we're heading out! Thank you so much for the pictures and emails! I love you guys! Have a great week

Mahal ko po kayo, 
Elder Ishibashi

Crisma's baptism on Christmas eve!

Thanks for everything you guys sent!

Happy New Year!