Monday, February 20, 2017

2-19-17 This past week was a great one!

Kumusta po family!
 This letter you sent got me so hyped! So many great, great things happening back at home! What a blessing on my part, since that truly is one of the greatest gifts I can receive as a missionary: knowing that my family is safe and blessed. I'm stoked to hear how much our ward is progressing. Not gonna lie I'm pretty excited to return to a ward where it seems everyone knows the importance of their calling and is anxiously engaged in fulfilling it. 

 You already know I'm down for fish every day haha, especially poke. I had a dream a few days ago of Lehia and Kahili surfing, and they were ripping it! It felt crazy good to see waves and the ocean again haha. Still one of those things I'm excited to return to. 

 Congratulations Ketter & Yasmine on the new baby! And to Herbert & Jazamine for the one on its way!! You guys can't see how stoked I am for them and to meet U'i thems' baby girl, but I am so stoked. The more I see babies here the more I look forward to seeing all of my nephews and nieces. It's a weird feeling. I'm not excited to leave the Philippines and not at all to be released as a full-time missionary, but at the same time I'm also really excited to be a part of the great things going on at home, and then to go off into college and get hit with more experiences and opportunities to grow. In 2 weeks I'll only have 4 months left. But anyway!

 This past week was a great one! I love our new key indicators. They have changed my view of missionary work and have given me a new desire to not just "sustain the church", but to "grow the church". Before the new key indicators we kind of just went out and hit as many lessons we could hit, not really keeping in mind how the church would be affected by us. But because of these inspired indicators we have put a greater focus on helping investigators become converted and then enter the waters of baptism. Speaking of being "converted", I learned some great things about becoming truly converted this past week. We were given many David A. Bednar talks to read in preparation for his visit here this coming Friday, and each talk so far has truly been life-changing. In this one he addresses the difference between having a testimony, and experiencing conversion. It's not hard to gain a testimony that this church is true. I have a powerful testimony that this is the only true church on the face of the earth, and that no matter what I do in life or where I end up, I could never bring myself to deny the truthfulness of this church. I have had too many experiences and received too many blessings to say that this isn't Christ's church and kingdom on the earth. But that doesn't mean I'm "converted". Just like faith without works is dead, so it is with having a testimony. Being converted means that we live what we know. It's a growing process that accompanies enduring to the end. We can say that we're experiencing conversion when our actions reflect how we feel about Christ and his church. 

 One family that I see experiencing conversion right now is the Imasa family. I can't get over how amazing and prepared they are. I walked out of our last lesson almost not believing that we could have been blessed to meet people with such a strong desire to change and please the Lord. I'll just post my report on them to my letter to President Hiatt for the week since I'm out of time:
The Imasa family attended church again yesterday, looking better than ever! They were in their nicest polos and dress that they have. I'm super happy for them too since we taught a lesson that had the potential of offending them. One night last week I had the feeling that we needed to teach them about the Word of Wisdom, but then forgot about it after a while. While planning for our day on Saturday Elder Doctolero suggested that we teach them the Word of Wisdom as well, so I felt that it was really the right thing to teach them at that time. And they took it in so well! They all do at least one or two things that the Word of Wisdom mentions is bawal(not allowed), but they said that they'll overcome these things because they believe it'll help them come closer to God . Something sister said that was really cool was, "These things aren't rooted in us. If you really have the desire, you can quit doing these things".

Please pray for them that they'll continue to progress and be able to enter the waters of baptism by the set date! Besides them we also have a handful of other great investigators who are progressing as well. But this family stands out. They so easily out God first. I was even more humbled yesterday since it was raining really hard all day on Saturday and then in the morning on Sunday. They live in our furthest area and only have 2 single motors as way of transportation. They could have easily used the familiar "Ai sorry elders, it rained" excuse for not coming to church. But they came. Such examples of putting the Lord first. It's inspiring for me who has so many blessings and yet has a hard time giving back to the Lord sometimes. 

 I love you guys! Thanks for the emails and continuing to stay close to the Lord! Patuloy lang po!
 Elder Ishibashi

District Activity earlier in celebration of Elder Doctolero's birthday

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