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

Monday, March 20, 2017

3-19-17 I'll make it a goal this week to take that extra step of faith everyday

Kumusta po Family!

 Thank you for your wonderful emails! I enjoyed mom's about helping youth to understand that we are all children of a Heavenly Father and King. I never doubted that I was, but times still come every now and then where I forget what that means. We're especially blessed as members of His church to have modern-day prophets and apostles who remind us of our duties and responsibilities as His children. Herbert, as our mission prep. teacher in the past, showed us a really cool talk called, "Why the 1820's", which I got a copy of here in the mission and listen to every now and then. The speaker, Hyrum Smith (not that one), shares facts and his testimony as to why he believes the Gospel wasn't restored until 1820, so many years after the Great Apostasy began. Towards the end he spoke to the audience and reminded them of their divine relationship with God. He said, "If you knew who you were before you came here, it'd scare you" and "we don't have the right to do all that dumb stuff" referring to the immoral & unclean problems that people face today. We're more important than we think! Imagine how God feels every time He sees us, having so much potential, give-in so easily to temptation. 

 I also love that story you shared, dad. Easily one of my favorites that you shared with us as kids. I also shared that a couple times here in the mission, whenever it felt right to share. Sorry, I should've asked your permission first. It is a sacred experience and it's the coolest thing to be a son of such a spiritual giant. I like that you pointed out the covenants that God makes with us. I forget more than often that the covenants He makes with His children will always stand as long as they keep their covenants with Him. I'll make it a goal this week to take that extra step of faith everyday. And I hope that that story is used to strengthen the testimonies of others and their desires to act on faith and attend the temple more regularly! 

 As for me and Elder Doctolero, we're doing really well. Did I tell you guys about how my anak, Elder Umpat was so quiet? Elder Doctolero is the same haha. He's not very shy, just not super confident when speaking. Sometimes I almost flip-out because I can't hear him, but other than that he's the best haha. I love working with and learning from him. He's easily one of the most humble companions I've had and teaches very sincerely. He's also on-time with literally everything which I'm hoping rubs off on me by the time we split.

 Our work here continues to move forward. We're finding new people and are figuring out who of them are and aren't ready to continue in learning about the gospel. One of our progressing investigators, Ryan, opened up to us in one of our lessons last week. He was really progressing a couple months ago, going to church every week, praying, reading, etc. But because of his Word of Wisdom problem he got shy and stopped asking us to teach him. The other day he told us that he still hasn't overcome his problem fully but realized that he won't be able to do so by distancing himself from God. I thought that was such a cool thing, and the true definition of a man. A real man will acknowledge his weaknesses yet stay close to the Lord and trust that He will help him to become better.

 Alright sorry, this computer is super slow and our time is up. One quick thing though. I met a nanay yesterday who had just returned home recently after spending 6 months in Hawai'i! They were in Kona but visited Hilo many times. It got me missing home pretty good haha. We also got to share with them (her and her sister & friends there) the gospel and our purpose as missionaries before leaving. Hopefully they'll continue to listen to us.

 I love you guys! Thank you again for the emails and for being so firm in the faith. I should be the one strengthening you guys but it always seems to be the other way around haha. Have a great week!

 Mahal na mahal ko po kayo,
Elder Ishibashi

Splits with the assistants 

Monday, March 13, 2017

3-12-17 13 new investigators

Kumusta po family!

 This past week also wasn't crazy eventful, but of course it was still great. Something that stood out to me throughout the week was that I'm actually really enjoying the work. I feel like knowing that I now have a plan for when I get home and seeing how much Heavenly Father has blessed me, I've just been happier and am trying even harder to make the best use of the few months I have left here. I realized that it's kind of the same with all of us knowing that there is more after this life. We are so blessed to know God's plan for us and what will happen when our life here on Earth comes to an end. We know that someday we will stand before God and account to what we did here. If we keep that in mind we will be motivated to make more right choices, and in turn be happier and use our time here on Earth more wisely.

 Elder Doctolero & I are still going strong on setting time each day to find new people to teach. One of our companionship goals is to get at least one new investigator each day. We've received some great blessings because of that goal! Last week we got a total of 13 new investigators, and a few of them have great potential to progress. Even if most of them lose interest, it feels good that E. Doctolero & I are doing our part in sharing the gospel with them and giving them the opportunity to use their own free agency. I'm so grateful for Elder Bednar and the things he shared about free agency. Since then I've been less afraid to be bold with people we teach. In order for someone to truly exercise free agency, they need to know the outcome for each choice they make. President Hiatt explained it with a 20 peso bill and a 1000 peso bill. He had one hand over each after mixing them up and told me to choose. The hand I chose had the 20 bill underneath. Most of us, he said, would think that's free agency because we chose. But that's not what free agency means. We as missionaries need to help people understand that this gospel, if accepted and lived, will save them, and that if not accepted or lived, they won't be saved. Now they can use their freedom to choose if they want to accept it or not. 

 The Jones came by this past week for a surprise apartment check. They left to Manila this morning :/ I'll miss them a lot. They dropped off grandma's letter though; tell her I said I got it and loved it please. And tell her I love her :) Also. stop sending money! But of course I appreciated it and will use it for good haha. 

 Oh another cool thing before we head out! I spoke with an Indian! Haha. There are a lot of them here in the Philippines but I haven't ever spoken with one before. While teaching this one nanay the other day one drove in on his motorcycle to do some business with nanay. She told him to come back later (he spoke Tagalog) but he just sat there and waited for us to finish haha. After finishing we got to talk about religion with him for a bit and then I brought out the things Elder Ishibashi (Fiji) taught me in Indian. He was right, the Indian this guy taught me was a little different because in Fiji it's kind of mixed. But it was pretty similar. Overall it was just a cool experience and made me miss Elder Ishibashi in Fiji. Not gonna lie though it'll make my life if he comes home with that accent. The best.

 Another cool thing I've been doing lately is reading from one of Gordon B. Hinckley's books, "Truth Restored". I think back in the day it was one of the Missionary Library books along with Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, etc., but not anymore. It talks about the history of the church like that other book I used to read from. I don't know why but I love reading about the history of the church! I wish I knew these things when I was with uncle Keenan them before entering the MTC. The next time I go to Utah it will be a whole different experience. The "mormon pioneers" went through so much to get the church to Salt Lake City. It's amazing the things they suffered, learned, the miracles that happened, etc. There's no reason they'd do all this, but the fact that this church is true.

 I love you guys! Have a great week!
Elder Ishibashi

Zone Picture

"J.R." & Riden, 2 investigators, went out rat-hunting in the bukid and got this!


I swear every insect is bigger in the Philippines.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

3-5-17 Charity is meant for all, and it "never faileth".

Kumusta po!

 Thank you for your emails and pictures sent! Has jogger pants suddenly become big in the US? I bought a few here as well haha. Diggin' Lehia's shoes. Pretty sure Kala'i's heavier than me now. Jeremias & Fia are the cutest. Herbert & Jazamins picture is literally the best hahaha. I miss you guys! Although the thought that I'll be home 4 months from yesterday is ridiculous. 

 This past week wasn't as "unforgettable" as the week before, but it was still another great one. We're on a new planner and I didn't bring my last one so I'll probably forget to mention some things in this email. Last Monday we learned that Elder Fernandez was leaving our tri-some and transferring to Santiago zone. On Tuesday we worked in Simimbaan since that was his favorite area and we had a pretty good day of work. He worked with Elder Claudio since E. Claudio's companion went home that morning (the missionaries on their way home will go to the mission office the day before transfer day and stay there until they leave), and E. Doctolero and I worked together. 

 An experience that stood out to me happened while we took some time to look for new people to teach. While walking we noticed a drunk tatay ahead of us who was struggling to stay up on his feet. We laughed and even filmed him for a while as he turned the corner and stumbled until he couldn't go any further, then decided to lie down right there on the dirt road. We almost left him to worry about himself, until a thought came to my mind that said, "What kind of missionary are you to not help him?" We returned to him, lifted him up, and walked with him. I realized as we spoke with him that I've met him before. We share messages with his wife every now and then who's a less-active member, and tatay himself is less-active as well. I immediately felt horrible that I treated him the way I did, to laugh at and almost not help him. And then I realized how picky I am when it comes to being kind. I learned from that experience and from something I read a couple days ago that charity is meant for all, and it "never faileth". Christ was never picky with those He served and loved. I'm trying hard to have good feelings towards everyone and not see them for their weaknesses or shortcomings. Christ doesn't see us for those things. How can we expect to return to/be like Him someday when we're not trying to do so here? 

 It was a bittersweet moment saying goodbye to Elder Fernandez on Wednesday, but I enjoy being in a normal companionship again. Things have gotten a little easier and less stressful haha. Not gonna lie though I miss Elder Fernandez's teaching and communication skills with everyone. Now E. Doctolero and I will have to bring that same excitement that he did everywhere. 

 We got a few new missionaries in our zone, including a Sister Pace from Utah who's fresh out of the MTC. She got sick while in Manila so we gave her a blessing and have gotten to know her over the past few days. She has a grandfather who was once in the first quorum of the Seventy. Another elder in our zone's grandfather was, back in the day, assistant to the 12 apostles! We have a powerful zone here and E. Doctolero and I are expecting some great things.

 On Thursday we had MLC, and this one was my favorite so far. Everything that was shared and will be taught by us to our zones are things that I have strong testimonies on. We'll be teaching about how we separate ourselves from God (but not His love) because of disobedience and how we can feel His love for us. A great scripture they shared is Rom. 8:35-39, which talks about how nothing can ever separate us from God's love. We'll also teach about "praying with faith/as an agent" which is something I've been putting much thought into lately and trying to apply to myself. I'm excited to share these things with our zone tomorrow!

 We had interviews with President & Sister Hiatt on Friday and that was really cool too as usual. They're both so great and inspired. 

 Alright we're on our way out. The last big thing that happened last week was the baptism of Nanay Teresita and Mariel! They have been taught for a long time now and finally entered the waters of baptism.

 Thank you guys again for the emails, keep them coming! 

 Love you guys!
 Elder Ishibashi


Mariel & Nanay Teresita :)

President & Sister Jones, probably my favorite senior couple of all time

Check out this butterfly! Elder Doctolero said they're pretty rare

Too beautiful to not share

Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.