Monday, September 18, 2017

9-16-17 Mission tour was awesome

That was fast! Won't be too long, we had more stuff to do in town this morning (mostly replacing Elder Tui'one's stolen property). But the last few days were awesome! 

Unfortunately, I done goofed and left my notes back home so I can't share anything from mission tour or stake conference in as great detail as I'd like, but I'll try! 

Mission tour was awesome, we were accompanied by Elder Haleck of the Area Presidency who presided over both mission tour and the conference sessions. We received a lot of trainings based on treating our investigators as people with struggles, strengths, and weaknesses, rather than numbers on a record. We learned how to address their strengths and weaknesses and how to teach them accordingly. I can't remember any particularly strong impressions I received but I know there were heaps, we left mission tour edified and refreshed after a hectic last few days haha. The Saturday session of stake conference was excellent as well, and a big focus of the conference was missionary work. I feel like every insight was so vital and helpful for the members to see the importance of this great work, and I feel strongly that the member support will blast up after that session. The Sunday session was actually really interesting. I'll be completely honest and say I don't remember what a majority of it was about. When Elder Tu'ione and I showed up, the Hindi Elders in Lautoka asked us to help in translating the talks into Hindi as they're given. We were all given headsets and others were given out to people who'd rather hear the messages in Hindi. There was a classroom where several people were stationed with headsets and microphones to translate the talks into Hindi as they were being given,and everyone on the same station would be listening in on the translation. Our job was to listen in and evaluate the translation; to see if they were correct and simple. Because most the translators were speaking pure Hindi, I couldn't even understand half of the conference and decided to tune out. Elder Fonua (the other senior Hindi elder) and I, along with an Indian youth, decided to just translate amongst ourselves. I was honestly able to learn so much more as we discussed vocabulary and listened to the young boy translate the talks more simply. What I collected at the end, as Sister Higgins addressed the congregation, is that patience is such an important Christlike attribute that people often overlook; whether we're trying to develop the attributes ourselves or wanting others to develop them. When we have that earnest and patient heart, the storms have less power over us as we can be assured the storm will settle as we endure it well. We're also sure that when the storm does settle, we'll walk out stronger and appreciate the peace that comes with holding fast and strong to our faith in Christ.

I've also been humbled in a very different way. Like I said, we have no neighbors, and thus nobody to bother with noise. We had two other sets of missionaries over Friday night so travel into Lautoka for conference would be easier. We got a little over excited over several rounds of trump-10. Mom, remember when I got a little over excited at a wa'a regatta on Saturday and forgot I had a musical number the next day, so I woke up Sunday morning sounding like I'd been smoking for the last 60 years? That's where I'm at now. I haven't had to speak a lot since conference, but I'm really hoping my voice is better by our appointment tonight, and that by some miracle I can project the message confidently without wheezing or squeaking. I've gained a stronger testimony of the importance of reverence even when people aren't around. I see it as a tender mercy that this didn't happen the night before a full proselyting day, but this definitely won't be happening again. 

Dad, thank you so much for the scriptures. What you said applies to me directly, I feel horrible about the way we senior missionaries reacted to the game on Friday night in front of our trainees. However, I'm very aware that THAT was indeed my fault, but I'm trying to humble myself and I'll be putting extra effort into showing Elder Tui'one how to appropriately represent the Lord as his servant in public as well as in private. Training is stressful already, but my faith is in the Lord that he'll consecrate my works and my efforts as an example to a young missionary as I go about his ministry in humility, reverence, and genuine love for the people who surround us. 

I'm so glad everything is going well back home! 

OKAY I have to go, I love you guys! Have a blessed week!
Khyaal rakna,

Elder Ishibashi 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

9-13-17 Iʻm a Dad!!!

So this is it! And I have almost no time because we were out in town getting haircuts and whatnot, but I'll try to get in as much of the hype of the last week as possible! 

First off, I'M A FATHER! Last week, Elder Kioa was reassigned to serve in Nasinu, and I was assigned to train a new missionary! I rode into Suva on Wednesday, and Thursday morning, I met my son. I always looked forward to the day I'd be able to train a new missionary in the Hindi program for one particular reason: to witness their reaction. Everybody said that the newly-called Hindi elder's reaction is the funniest thing on earth, so I was way keen to see it. When my poor son opened his call, it wasn't so much funny as it was just sad. He looked like his whole world just collapsed and threw the letter haha. All I could do is hug him and take him aside. The look of fear in his eyes when he saw the indistinguishable squiggles on my name badge was pretty funny though.

Elder Tui'one was brought up in Auckland, New Zealand, but his family lives in Tonga now. His parents are President and Sister Tui'one, mission president and wife of the Tonga, Nukualofa Mission. He's the absolute man! Wayy humble, such a pleasure to be around and so ready to work hard. His love for the work, our investigators, and this gospel is so evident as he testifies of its truthfulness. I feel so blessed to have such a great example of readiness and diligence of a trainee. Right off the bat, he said he doesn't really mind and that he loves the language already. That's what I did for about six months while in my heart, I carried a sucks attitude about the language and the work that comes with having to speak it. Whether he's genuine about his comfort in the Hindi program or not, I'm trying my best to convert him to the light side of it. Right now, he has an awesome attitude about everything, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for that. 

This last week has been really hectic but extremely humbling. 

On Monday, our flat got broken into and a lot of things were stolen, particular those of Elder Tui'one's. I'm sorry to report that this is the second time in the last month that our flat's been robbed, the last incident was on the 22nd of August. I didn't tell you guys because I didn't want yous to worry. I'm telling yous now because these things are happening frequently and for a reason. The first time, they took some clothes (of mine, only running shoes and a pair of shorts, not too much), Elder Kioa's hair clippers and polaroid camera and all of our food. They must have needed food above all else, because that was honestly our biggest loss. We don't know their situation, but we hope they needed the food more than we did. This last time, we had no food for them to take (haha) so they took almost all of Elder Tui'one's clothes, his hair clippers, and my broken olympus. At first, and to no surprise, he was pretty heated. After four days in Nadi, he had heaps of stuff stolen. He cooled down quickly and accepted that there is indeed a reason for everything, and that trials are given lovingly by our father in heaven for our progression. 

We've been living with the Nawaka elders over the last few days. Tuesday was mostly consistent of a service project and making calls to ensure the upped security of our flat before we moved back in. I was absolutely adamant against moving back into that flat, because it's obviously marked (it has a history of break-ins and intrusions actually, just two since I've been here), but the mission is making a great effort to find new affordable flats in the area. We've been assured that the windows were again barred up firmly and that a double-bolt deadlock was installed, requiring a key to enter and a different key to leave. I trust that it's safe, so we'll be moving back in tonight. Through all of this, Elder Tui'one has been so patient and willing to help in any way possible. He's an awesome kid, taking everything in and seeing it all as memories for the books.

Yesterday, we met up with Nasau again. Oh, she came to church on Sunday! Nasau is probably the most golden and ready soul I've met yet on my mission. Nasau brought her sister to church with her,  the lesson in the second block really struck them both to the core. The lesson was about how each and every single one of us is so special to God; how we're so much more significant than we sometimes think. Nasau's explanation of how it touched her reminded me of President Uchtdorf's quote from his 2011 general conference address You Matter to him

"Compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God."

And another address from President Uchtdorf in 2009 titled The Love of God:

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken”
The lesson with Nasau was beautiful, and she's already seen the blessings in her life since we've started visiting her. She committed to making the journey up to Lautoka for stake conference on Sunday, and I have all confidence that I'll see her at the stake center. 

I feel bad because this last week has been so weird for my son, so studies and the daily schedule's been a bit funky. REALLY looking forward to mission tour tomorrow and then stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. Monday, I'll have some hot new vuku to drop on yous. Hopefully by next week everything will be back to normal. 

Dad, I'm way glad the fireside went well! I've gained such an appreciation for my kupuna and the example they set in following Christ as I've served. I have no clue what legacy I'll leave in Fiji, and I'm sure the missionaries that brought the gospel to Keaka knew just as much. This is the work of God and we are his servants, purposed to bring the gospel to his beloved children so they might have the opportunity to return to our heavenly home. I also know with all my heart that that's true, obedience=blessings. I'll be one hundred percent honest, there were points earlier on in my mission when I was less-than-exactly obedient, and though it may be fun to deviate from the rules for a moment, it is NOT worth it. As simple as that formula is, another is just as simple: disobedience will cast the spirit away. Without the spirit, the work of the lord can/will not carry out. On the contrary, I have a testimony of the missionary principle "Obedience brings blessings;exact obedience brings miracles."

CONGRATULATIONS to Shon! I've heard there is an oddly large number of Indians in Logan, tell Shon I can hook him up with some vocab if he wants to impress some aunti on the street. It'd be a great OYM technique, I reckon. Let me know first thing when Siaosi receives his! My guess is Tonga. 

I'M OUT OF TIME, I love you all so much, have an incredible/blessed week! 
Hope you like the pictures!! Love yous! 
Khyaal rakna, 

Elder Ishibashi






Selections from drive from Suva to Nadi

-Seeing off the Australians finishing their missions (E. Kumar and S.Tuivai)

-Seeing off the pops

-The Tongan gene skips a generation

-Oldest Hindi Elders in Fiji with the youngest 

-Caught our ward clerk passed out after priesthood. When he woke up to me taking a picture:
"... Amen."

-Everybody that had anything to do with my upbringing in the FSM is dying. Soon, I won't know anybody out here. Moce to Sister Tupaea

-Na moko

-Literally me having absolutely no clue where we are

-"Everything the light touches is our kingdom..."

-Now feat. Elder Jessee

-Feat. Na luvequ

-Last night, sending Sister Teitiaki home to Kritimati. There were heaps of people from Hawai'i there because the Honolulu flight stops in Kritimati, but I was too shy to talk to anyone. I know, shame...

Monday, September 11, 2017

9-10-17 Don't be alarmed!

P-day was moved to Thursday due to travel complications within the zone, so my full letter will be sent then! My companion and I were given special permission to email briefly because he lost his wallet and needs to tell his parents to cancel his personal card. All is well, this week has definitely been interesting to say the least! Can't wait to share everything in a few days. I love you all, I'll wait till Thursday to read your emails as well. Just to let you know though, mom, I've received my camera! Yous are in for a treat.

I love yous, be back with more in a few days! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

9-3-17 I figured out that the west is so hot because it's overheating from working so hard

Maika'i no au, makuakane! Pehea 'oukou, ku'u ohana??

Not very much time today at all! The computers are extra trippy today so half aren't allowing myldsmail to work. The shop is also extra full because the whole zone in in Nadi right now for qito, so I'm writing my letter quickly then letting Elder Kioa on this one so he can write President and his family. Too bad, because this last week was sooo great and there's so much to talk about! 

Our color war was wayyy fun, I'll definitely try to attach pictures. I got Elder Eberspacher, my zone leader, pretty good with red dye. Unfortunately, because he's blond, the red actually dyed his hair pretty nicely and his looks ginger now. It's pretty funny. 

On Wednesday we met up with a family we met last week, the mom's name is Nasau. Normally when we set appointments, the family doesn't remember. When we rock up to the follow-up appointment, the family usually just happens to be home so they're like Oh, yeah sure come in. As we approached Nasau's house about ten minutes later than we planned for the appointment to be, Nasau's son shouted "Mom, they're here!" When we got in the house, Nasau said that when 4:30 rolled up and we weren't home, she thought we weren't coming. Then, three other women walked into the house that Nasau invited to hear our message. We held an awesome lesson with the family! When we returned on Saturday, they accepted the invitation to be baptized if they came to know the message was true. Nasau expressed that it was definitely something new and interesting and something she'd never heard before, but something told me that it made sense to her. As I sat there with them, I thought... the relief society would love you. Your kids are way cheeky, just like our youth. They'd get along great. We'll be working closely with them as well, they have excellent potential!

Yesterday, we were privileged to witness the baptism of Afroz! It was an absolutely beautiful service. To top it all off, even though Afroz was too shy to bear his testimony, Shaehana got up during fast and testimony meeting and bore her testimony! She shared with the congregation the blessings she's since since they've started taking the discussions. She talked about the changes she's seen in her husband and their marriage since they started reading from the Book of Mormon together. It's definitely just a matter of time before she follows Afroz into the waters of baptism, and I'm sure that the desire to do so will grow as we prepare Afroz for the temple and teach him the significance of the priesthood he'll be receiving. They're awesome, so stoked to work with them over my time here in Nadi!

It's transfer week, so IF Elder Kioa leaves, we find out where on Tuesday. 

Oh yeah! It was also during fast and testimony meeting that Aunty Bale got up on the stand and told the congregation "He doesn't know this, but I've known Elder Ishibashi since he was this tall." *puts her hand at waist level* My reaction must have been pretty funny because she got half the chapel giggling. It was nice though, she's waayy sweet and funny. Please give her my aloha! 

I'll be heading out now, the zone is getting together at Wailoaloa beach nearby for qito today. We also have to go and collect the shirts that Elder Kioa and I designed for the district from the embroidery place. We have an awesome week lined up! Know that Elder Kioa and I are in great health and spirits! Elder Kioa is seriously awesome, his drive and love of the work is inspiring to me as his senior companion. The work is going really well here right now, dropping-off and picking-up at a good, consistent rate.

Dad, thank you so much for sending me your address for the fireside! I remember hearing those stories growing up, but only ever separately. Now that they've all been placed together and chronologically, I have a greater understanding of the significance of the work my forefathers did and the faith in the priesthood that they had. I see a lot of Indians out here making similar changes in their lives. Hinduism could have been in the family for thousands on thousands of years, so it's obviously a pretty drastic and heavy transition from such to Christianity. Like Keaka decided to follow Christ rather than the traditions of his family, blessings are seen in every instance. The gospel of Christ can and will help everyone that desires to know of its truthfulness and seeks it out just as diligently. I testify of that.

Mom, I reckon I'll definitely be seeing a lot more people especially here. Because Nadi is where the airport is, we have heaps of visitors every week, so it's nice to be able to meet a lot of new people every Sunday. I'm eating really well mom haha, don't worry at all! I'm actually pretty glad that my goal (of getting black and skinny) is getting closer! We just do a lot of walking here and it's wayyy hot. I feel 'Io's pain, except probably not because we have two really good fans in the flat. But yeah, I'm eating well and consistently; we never go without dinner. I haven't received my camera yet, but I should get it either during this week or next week. It's not that It's lost, packages just aren't very usually brought over from the mission office to zones outside of Suva. I did see the deposit though, and thank you so much! Elder Kioa and I ended up taking another pair of missionaries out to dinner on Tuesday night because one of their birthdays was on Sunday and the other's on Monday. I also want to take Elder Kioa out before he gets transfered, he's paid for my bus fare countless times and basically paid the entire district shirt fee. 

I love you all so much, sooo glad everything is going well! You all have an incredible and blessed week, aloha nui! 
Khyaal rakna! 

Elder Ishibashi