Sunday, December 3, 2017

12-3-2017 District Leadership

Kaise hei parivaar!!

Maika'i no, makuakane! Pehea 'oukou? 

Man, I'm so happy that Makana's finally out there! Too bad it'll be a solid 2 and a half years before I see him again, but I'm glad that he's granting my final request to him (don't be at my homecoming, be on a mission). Makana is gonna be a KILLER missionary in the DR, can't wait to hear his Spanish when he gets home. Glad yous returned home in safety! And thank you so much for the pictures, it's super nice to see everyone's faces! I love that picture of all the siblings together, it looks like such a sweet and humble reunion. I just realized it's winter there, maqe it must have been cold there aye?
Anyways, awesome to know yous had a great week!

SO yeah! Last week was transfer week and a very humbling one. 
So the Nadroga disctrict, of which I've been a part of for the last four and a half months, consists of five companionships (ten missionaries), making it the largest district in the mission.
All but one companionship in our district remained the same. I'm still here in Nadi with Elder Tui'one, which was a huge shock to both of us because trainers seldom follow-up their trainee. I've never been in an area for more than three transfers, so this will be my first six month area! 

So the Nadroga district was called so because the district leader, Elder Jackson, was stationed in Sigatoka in the Nadroga province. The area the district leader serves in determines the name of the district. Elder Jackson was transferred to Suva, and the Nadroga district became the Nadi district when the leadership position was passed on to me. 

I've held this position for about five days now, and man, it's tough haha. There's a lot more responsibility involved than I'm accustomed to; a lot more phone calls, setting time apart for exchanges with my district elders, and a lot of receiving and passing on instructions. I'm really grateful for the opportunity because it certainly does allow me to be more involved with my district members and help them on a broader scale. I actually really love my district members. I often catch myself doubting my ability to lead such an incredible group of missionaries, and my district members seem to catch the same vibe. They've only been super supportive and seem excited to be under my leadership, so I'm excited to lead and help them in any aspect of the work that I can. Tomorrow, I'll be conducting my first district meeting and going over all that district business I've only ever had to report in. I'm a little nervous but so excited at the same time, we're looking at a good transfer!

Looking at the upcoming weeks, Elder Tui'one and I have a really busy transfer ahead of us, too! 

This week, the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant will come to Fiji and there will be a huge festival held in Nadi. When I first got to Nadi, there was a huge fair going on and Elder Kioa arranged with a member for us to be able to have a booth set up. We had stacks on stacks of Book of Mormons and pamphlets for people to take freely and we were able to find a lot of people interested in the gospel. We'll be doing the same thing at the pageant festival, so I'm stoked for that. We also have a Missionary Christmas Cantata coming up for the stake, which I have a part in. Sister Harper (who's in charge of arranging the cantata) asked me to do a solo when she heard me sing for a musical number at a ward baptism. I couldn't promise anything until transfers were set and we knew I'd be staying. We were both about 90% sure I'd be leaving, so she gave the part to an elder that just came into the zone who she was about 90% sure would stay. He left. I stayed, and I have to sing With Wondering Awe in a key that's sliiightly too high for me, but I can hit the notes if I belt them. She's more willing for my voice to crack in front of the stake than to transpose the song to a lower key. We practice before qito today, we'll see how that goes haha. We have musical numbers and cultural items we need to practice as a district for our Christmas zone conference in a few weeks. 

OH also, I may be coming home speaking better Fijian than I initially anticipated! I found out that as a district leader, I don't NEED to pick up Fijian fluently, but it helps significantly when conducting baptismal interviews with people that don't have super good English and when a translator isn't available. Next week, I'm heading up into a village called Nasivikoso in the Sigatoka area to conduct a baptismal interview with someone that doesn't speak a single word of English (or Hindi, obviously). Not only that, but apparently a vast majority of the people in Nasivikoso don't even speak or understand vosa vakabau (the universal dialect). They have and speak only their village dialect, vosa vakanasivikoso. Elder Dempsey assures me that I'll have a translator there to assist me, but it'll definitely be interesting!

Anyways, that's what's coming up, and there's a lot more! Heaps of finding opportunities, I'm juiced. The last week was good, a lot of visiting families I told we would come by to say where I was being transferred and to say goodbye, only to tell them I'd see them on Sunday. We were able to see and meet with a lot of people. We're seeing a lot of referrals coming in from the members, which is awesome! WAY useful, if yous have friends that need/ that you reckon might accept the restored gospel, refer them to the missionaries!!

I woke up early this morning to be able to see Sister Otea and Sister Nawaiya off at the airport. I can't believe they're finished, I remember the first day we all met in the classroom in the MTC. Their English was wayyy limited and I could rarely understand what they were trying to say. It was pretty sweet being able to converse with them in perfect English before they boarded their plane back home to Kiribati. They've grown so much and come so far, I'm way proud of them.

President Higgins, to show the Hindi program that he cares about us and acknowledges our efforts, has arranged for every Hindi area to be able to hold a conference skype call every Wednesday. We hook up with the Nausori stake president, President Goundar, who trains us on the language and teaching methods for one hour. Last week's conference call was really cool, I'm excited for the next one! 

This next week is looking promising, we're about to find HEAPS of people. 

Herb, I met some of your friends in church yesterday! They said they were going back home to graduate before they came back to Fiji, so if I needed anything that I'd be able to ask you and you could send it back with them. Mom and dad, if you haven't already sent the package, I think you can send it with them. If yous have though and if it's possible, Herb, could you just send some more size 15 white shirts? Sorry I forgot to say that last week, mom, but I think that's all I really need. Vinaka sara vakalevu na tuakaqu wananavu, kemuni sa raica oti na yaloyalo o koya na nomu itokani a sendtaki vei kemuni? Vosoti au, au se bera ni matai na vosa vakaviti, sa vuli tiko ia! Kua ni leqa, kedaru na veitalanoa sara ena gauna ni noqu lesu tale mai. Au lomani kemuni vakalevu, loloma sara yani vei na matavuvale!

We're heading out now, have another incredible and blessed week! 
Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hei, yaad karo: iis susumachaar sachei, himaat karo khali. Jab hamlog Ishu Masih ke vishwaas karo tab tagat milega taki hamlog sakta khoichiij kare. Bahut mushkil hei iila kam, aur dhir taklif hei, lekin ham iis saab chiij bahut julum lage. Dhanyavaad aaplogke saabchiij ke wastin, firse ham aaplogke bahut pyaar kare, khyaal rakna!

Elder Ishibashi 

The is the only picture I could manage for now. Sister Patane said that her family is really close to the Snows in Utah! I'm also not the only Hawaiian in the mission anymore! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

11-26-17 Last week was good!

Kasie hei??

Dad, thank you so much for your letter, I really liked it! SO glad to know the family is back together for the first time in so long and that everybody's enjoying each others' company. It was small kine mosi hearing about the food but it's alright, we had our own thanksgiving feast this week haha.

I'm SOOO happy that the church opened its arms and doors for Uncle Juney and Uncle Dan at this critical time in Uncle Juney's life. I'm even happier that because of this act of charity and love, Uncle Juney would again embrace the gospel. Though Uncle Dan's death certainly wasn't a good thing, I think it's such a great blessing that Uncle Juney was at least able to find a good man with a background in the gospel and through his partner's faith was able to have a stronger grounding in the church at his passing. Please continue to give my aloha to the family and Uncle Juney, especially. Also give my aloha to the Aloisio's, if can! SO sick that you were able to see them! 

I always heard about the live sessions in Utah and everybody who's attended one says they're really interesting. I'm way keen on attending one myself, some day! It's pretty weird but actually really cool to see pictures of yous in front of the Salt Lake Temple! STILL pretty salty that they didn't let me go to Temple Square when I was in the MTC because both my companion and I were both Americans, but I'm glad you were able to visit your old proselyting area, dad! How cool is that? Also liking the goatee, I haven't seen that in years haha. 

Does any of your siblings speak Samoan, mom? How much Samoan do you understand? I'm really looking forward to learning Samoan when I get home. At this point (after three Tongan companions in a row), I know more Tongan than Samoan haha. Still learning, though. 

Anyways, this last week was good! 
It was Elder Tui'one's week 11, which means that he was the senior companion for the last week. He lead every discussion, set every appointment, OYM'd every person, and made almost every phone call. I'm actually really proud of him for the way he handled and lead the work beautifully, and I have no doubt that he'll make a great leader in the mission some day. I was able to see his full potential and efforts as a senior missionary. I never had my week 11 due to my stubbornness as a junior companion and unwillingness to take responsibility over the companionship/area. I remember having really sour feelings toward my companions because they never let me teach or disregarded every idea I had concerning the work. I tried really hard to make sure I always gave Elder Tui'one opportunities to grow and mature so that when I time came for him to take initiative, it'd be something he was used to. He's a MUCH more humble and ready missionary right now than I was at that stage, and I only have the Lord to thank for giving me someone with such a drive and love of the restored gospel as him.
A big part of the training process is watching The District. As a trainee, I didn't like The District. As I watched, one of the only things running through my head was "We can't do that in Fiji, the people wouldn't react well to that", or "We can't apply that to our ward, things work differently here". Now, I LOVE the district. I've been glued to it for the last 11 weeks, studying and re-watching episode after episode and doing my best to apply the teachings. No, we can't apply a lot of the precise things they do and say in The District here in Fiji, but the principle is the same everywhere. As we've applied these principles, Elder Tui'one and I have been able to see a lot of success in the work! 

Elder Tui'one and I were blessed to witness the baptism of Charmaine yesterday! It was a really special experience because Charmaine was able to be baptized by her father, who hasn't been able to attend church in over a year. He received permission to baptize her, and my hope is that he and the rest of the family will be able to and have the courage to come back to church regularly again. It was a beautiful service, and I'll be happy if I leave the area with that having been my final baptism in Nadi.

This week is transfer week, so either Elder Tui'one or I will be emailing from a different area next week. Transfers within the Hindi program were pretty easy to predict before, but President Higgins does things a different way so I have NO clue where we could go. Something tells me that precisely because I don't want to train again, President mayyy feel inspired to have me do exactly that.

Very much like 'Io, I want so badly to finish my mission stronger than I've ever been. I'm praying very sincerely for Heavenly Father to give me a companion that can help me to become better and who is willing to support me in my efforts to finish strong spiritually, mentally, and physically as I near the conclusion of my full-time service. Six months is a long time but not enough. I'm more desperate than ever to herd in as many of His sheep as I can while in this service. 

We're heading out now, I'm glad everything/everyone is going well! 
Continue to be safe, I love you all so much! Have a blessed week! 

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

11-19-17 Happiness greater than I ever thought possible


Sorry the letter's so late today! For P-day today, we hit up a beach in Sigatoka called Natadola. I'm trying to get somebody else's camera for pictures, it was heaps of fun and sooo beautiful! 

This last week was pretty awesome too. We had zone conference on Thursday. One thing that stuck out to me particularly was a training given by President Higgins at the opening of zone conference. He talked about how he and Sister Higgins were invited by the Korovou zone leaders to accompany them on a P-day hike up Mount korobaba a few weeks ago.When they agreed, they expected the hike to have a nice pathway winding up the side of the mountain and to be able to enjoy the cool breeze in the Fijian heat of the day, looking over Korovou from the face of Korobaba. When they gathered at the foot of the trail, however, they found that the reality of the hike would be something different than they initially anticipated. It had rained the day before, so the dirt trail had turned into ankle-deep mud that seeped and settles between the tree roots, leaving a frame of roots about six-inches off the ground all along the way. In addition, the entire hike up was wayyy steep and through thick jungle. There came a point where the entire zone had abandoned President and Sister Higgins (the west zone would never do that, President) and they fell behind on the trail. They talked about giving up and heading back down the mountain and just waiting for the zone to come back down, but decided to go up just a little higher before deciding again. They went higher and higher bit by bit until they heard the voices of the missionaries not far off. When they reached the peak and were reunited with the zone, they were able to witness the "fruit of their labors". The view from the peak of mount Korobaba, as well as the company of the missionaries, was incredible and very much "well worth the strenuous effort". He related it to the mission. Reflecting back on how I viewed the mission before I came out, I honestly thought the biggest obstacle that lay ahead would be casting devils out or being attacked by something/someone. I thought I had the confidence to talk to anybody I wanted to comfortably by the time I left, and that I'd be able to get along with any companion the mission put me with. Every trail has an ingrown root you may trip over, but that's just how trails are. I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park, and I knew there would be heavy rain. However, I didn't anticipate the lightning, the hail, and the flooding. The mission is hard. People won't always want to hear the message or care that you have feelings too. I've had companions that pressed buttons I never knew I had and tested my patience in ways I've never been tested before. I've only ever wanted to come home once, but on the more difficult days, I catch myself just wishing the time I do have left would fly by. President's training reiterated something very important and relevant to me, and I know that it's true. When I reach the end of my mission and look back at the last two years of strenuous effort, I'll be able to do so and say "It was all worth it." Over the last 17 months, I've wallowed in what must have been among the deepest depths I've descended to in my life, but on the other hand, I've experienced happiness greater than I ever thought possible, for myself and for other people. A lot can happen in six months, so I'm interested to see what the Lord has in store for me as I progress through the remainder of the mission. It'll be hard, but it'll be worth it. 

The rest of conference was also really edifying, a lot of good insights about how to strengthen our relationship with and gain a relationship of trust with the ward counsel. We haven't been able to meet with our ward mission leader for about three months, so I was a little salty as we went about the insights on how important the ward mission leader is in the work, but I got a humbling little smack in the maka when I found out on Sunday that he holds three other callings in the ward. We're working on strengthening our relationship with the members. 

Tomorrow, Charmaine (James's sister) will be interviewed by Elder Jackson before her baptism on Sunday! We've been able to meet with the family three times a week, which has been wayy helpful. Charmaine is definitely opening up to us, which is really nice, and she seemed to have heaps of fun with the kids at church yesterday. I'm stoked for her baptism! 

We were able to find a good handful of people last week that I look forward to following up with this week. It's Elder Tui'one's week 11, which means that he's the senior companion! I'm excited to have this breather and to see him in action as a senior. It'll be a good week!

In other news, I goofed again. I forgot about thanksgiving for the second year in a row, but thanks for the reminder, dad! Man, I'll be missing yous too, but that's a cool opportunity for Nina to be able to fly over to Utah! Is that the youngest any of us have traveled to the mainland? Please give my love to Uncle Juney, I didn't even know if Uncle Dan was sick or anything. I only veeery very vaguely remember meeting Uncle Juney once, but it's so nice that he has that desire for all the siblings to be reunited for the first time in how-many years. You guys have safe travels and have a good time in Utah! Just a side note, I've been receiving some light promptings (that I've lowkey been trying to ignore) that I need to settle in Utah. Eat lots of Chick-fil-a and Krispy Kremes for me while yous are there, those are two very particular things from Utah that I miss a lot.

I'm SO happy to hear about the boys' passion for paddling and their progression! I'm so stoked to see my YAKKED little brothers. I'm seriously just trying to come home buff so I can blend in with the rest of my brothers for the first time ever. I've gained a lot of weight over the last few weeks due to kind members and stress-ice cream. We also found out that they recently made a rule where missionaries can't work out at the gym in the morning anymore, so we haven't been going. Know I'll definitely be hitting those push-ups and cinder-block dumbbells hard for the next six months, though. WAY sick that you're a stroker, though, Lehia! I didn't have the stamina for that, it takes a lot to stroke the crew, and how sick that you're in the same wa'a as Hoku! La'i, it's funny how something you love can motivate you to do something you're a little less-than excited about. Honestly, paddling is the only thing that motivated me to get good grades in school. Here's the problem, though: I did terrible in school, so I'm REALLY scared how my schooling is gonna go from here on out haha. Do well in school so you can be confident that you'll find a good place in life after your mission. What seat are you, btw?
I do highly recommend Judo as a follow-up sport for the season, though. SOO much fun and a really good sport to learn discipline and respect for your opponents. 

Thanks for all the pictures of the babies, glad everything is going well back home! I don't have much time left and I have heaps of emails I need to respond to, so I'll leave off here. I love you guys so much, have an incredible, blessed and SAFE week! 
Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hei!

Khyaal rakna,
Elder Ishibashi 

-Natadola P-day!


-Nadroga district 

-team Fa'asamoa (feat. two Tongans)

-Lautoka Zone Conference

-Matthew, the sisters' investigator, got baptized yesterday!

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Kaise hei parivaar!

First things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINA!! MAN It's actually really crazy to me thinking that it's been a year since you turned 8 and was baptized. Looking back, SO much has happened since I've been away... but isa, I hope you have an AWESOME day, Penina! I love and miss you so much, malama pono!

Dad, thank you for that story about Kaimi, that's actually sooo cool. I feel like that's missionary work at its finest, haha. Those have got to be the three luckiest young men in the Philippines. He payed them a small fee to hear and be involved in the gospel, and look at the blessings that came with that how-many pesos. Three lives were changed in one day, and as a result, countless more have been saved for eternity. This work is God's work, and I love it with every fiber of my being. 

This last week was a good one! Elder Tui'one and I were sick for the greater part of the beginning of the week, so we weren't able to get as much work done as we would've wanted. On Wednesday, we got a call from the Nawaka elders (the airport elders, who are responsible for transportation of packages and missionaries between Nadi, Suva, and overseas) saying they needed us to be with them for part of the day. There needs to be an odd number of elders and sisters in a car, and the Nawaka elders were told by the mission office to collect two sisters going home early for medical reasons from the airport, so we needed to be present. When we got to the airport, I was surprised and saddened to see Sister Pea and Sister Taetae. Sister pea was supposed to go home with my outtake, but she contracted a virus that required that she go home to recover. Being with them on their last day in Fiji and their seeing bittersweet attitudes, I couldn't help but get a liiiittle trunky haha. Don't worry, I've since recovered, but it was sad to see them off before we head into the appointments we had set for the day. After a few good lessons, we head into Sigatoka to blitz it with the elders. I was able to meet with and teach one of their recent investigating families, an Indian family. It was nice for them because the Ajii (grandma) doesn't speak a word of English, so I was able to explain to her what the elders are teaching her grandchildren, and it was good practice for me. Sigatoka is SOOO beautiful, it almost made me upset. There are heaps of Indians there as well, so I might kerekere President Higgins to consider opening a Hindi area there (and let me die opening it). When Elder Jackson gets to the internet cafe, I'll send you pictures. Saturday was busy. we were able to find and teach heaps of people! Unfortauntely, we weren't able to meet with Alisha at all, so we may have to postpone her baptism, which sucks because I'm most likely leaving in two weeks and I'd miss it. However, one of our YSA referred us to his 9 year old sister who hasn't been baptized yet. She's waayy keen and attended church regularly when the family lived in Suva, but since they moved to Nadi, the parents' work schedules don't allow them to go to church. The new bus system also makes transportation a lot more difficult for the family so the kids stay home with the grandma while James goes to church. She's set to be baptized on November 26th, all we really have to do with her is review the lessons and assure that she comes to church, which will be easy. She's really quiet and shy right now, but that's how all kids start. The point comes where they get so comfortable with the missionaries that they get annoying. I'm excited for that haha. 

As I approach the last quarter of my mission and likely my last area, I haven't been able to help but think a lot about home. A part of me wants the time to fly, but another screams that these last 18 months have gone by too ridiculously fast. I've started a little book, for when times get rough and I get a little trunky, called WHY. In it, I'm writing all the significant events that happened throughout my mission preparation and my mission that have shaped who I am today and have made me realize why I'm out on a mission. As I've gone about this process, I've become so appreciative of my God-given trials and how they shape us into the men and women God needs us to be. 

We're looking at another great week ahead! 

We'll be heading out now, glad everything is all well at home! Have an incredible and blessed week, I love yous so much!

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi 

BTW I heard Mali got her mission call!
Where's she going??

-When you have heaps of solid return appointments set for the coming week 

-When every single one falls through

-Up on the hills

-Sigatoka made me upset