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