Sunday, February 18, 2018

2-18-2018 I love you all heaps

Kaise hei parivaar!

Not a lot of time today, we're in Savusavu right now for a combined-district P-day! 
The Labasa and Tukavesi districts are here and we're gonna qito at a nearby beach before we head back to the area in a few hours.

Sidenote: Savusavu is one of the more beautiful places I've seen on my mission. It's all lush, green valleys, mountains, and crystal blue waters on white sand. I'll try to catch some pictures for next week!

This last week was a bit of a slower one, nothing significant to report. 

In fact, the last week was pretty particular to sour (growing) experiences. An unusually heavy amount of people chastised us for taking the message of Jesus Christ to people of Hindu and Muslim backgrounds and "forcing" their families to change their beliefs. I've been presented with many opportunities to share our true purpose with people, and though none were interested, I was at least able to reiterate to myself my purpose of being a missionary and the important work I have the opportunity to carry out.

It's the last week of the transfer. Nothing really worked out for the district companionships in their areas concerning the transfer goal. One companionship's baptismal candidate broke into the flat and stole all their money the week I was supposed to interview him, another's investigators have stopped showing interest completely and has been "busy" for the last four weeks, and the others' moved to a different area. 

For us, Eta's court case has been moved and Shayal's residence has been moved. Shayal and her husband moved to a different area due to complications with the neighbors. They're still in our area boundaries, but given that a) she's pregnant, b) her husband isn't super supportive of her coming to church, and c) their financial situation is a bit sticky, their chances of coming to church have dropped considerably. However, we're working with them closely still and searching for more potentials for next transfer.

Despite nothing really working out as anticipated, however, Elder Tavake and I are still in high spirits and look forward to another transfer of success and growth.

That'll be all for this week, this coming week is gonna be a really interesting one!
I love you all heaps, safe travels dad! Have a great and blessed week, baut pyaar!

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2-11-18 Take advantage of the Book of Mormon

Kaise hei parivaar!

It's been a blessed week! 

Zone Conference was amazing, a great reiteration of the importance of focusing on the Book of Mormon when teaching and helping our investigators along their path of conversion. I've always had a bad habit of kinda dodging the Book of Mormon and not putting all that much focus on it (because it takes a while to even begin teaching the restored gospel to people who don't even know who Jesus is), but I was reminded of what 'Io taught me while on his mission: If you can gain a sure testimony of the Book of Mormon, then everything else falls into place. If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a true prophet who did restore the gospel of Jesus Christ in this last dispensation the world will ever see, and all revelation received by him and every prophet to have followed was given of God our heavenly father. The Book of Mormon is becoming a huge focus to me now. I've been able to gain a greater testimony that you learn something new every time you read through the Book of Mormon, or a scripture you've read before will have a new significance the next time around. This mission-wide Book of Mormon read has been a great blessing to me, and I can see how it's influencing the members of my district. Take advantage of the Book of Mormon. Read it, ponder it, learn from it, and live its teachings. 

The rest of the week was kind of shot, we're seeing the effects of Gita coming in, but for now it's nothing more than a bunch of rain and subtle thunder storms. The more productive part of this rainy, rainy week was visiting our investigators. 

Our most progressing investigator, Shayal, is the cousin of a member family and has been taking the lessons. Shayal was brought up Hindu, married a muslim man, but has recently discovered and found interest in Christianity. Over this last week, Shayal closed our lesson in a prayer for the first time (BEAUTIFUL prayer, and so unusually specific and genuine for someone doing it for the first time out loud) and came to church for the first time yesterday! WAY happy for her and excited to continue the lessons with her. Sister Higgins said something I really like during one of the workshops at conference, "It's not about the baptisms, it's about conversion." I'm a big believer in not pushing anything or baptizing anyone before they're ready for the sake of reaching a transfer goal, so though we'll definitely try to get her baptized in this transfer period (because it is nicccce to reach the transfer goal), we'll follow the spirit as to when we should set the date for her baptism. 

Another investigator, Eta, had her divorce court case on Thursday and we were asked to attend in support. She and her kids are living with her boyfriend, so she can't be baptized until either they get married or she moves out, but the missionaries before me baptized her kids. Her plan was to finalize her divorce with her husband, immediately marry her boyfriend, and immediately thereafter be baptized. However (welcome to Fiji), the judge didn't show up to work, so the court case was moved to March 29th. This put a bit of a damper on the work for us, but it's okay because we do have work beyond that. We do have a lot of people we still need to go see, so that'll happen this coming week. 
Work is going well, and Elder Tavake and I are in great health and spirits. 

Glad to know everything is going well back home! U'i, thank you SO much for the pictures! Cannot WAIT to actually see and hold your fat little girl and play with your kids again. I feel like it hasn't been very long, but at the same time I feel like I've been gone forever because SO much has happened since I've been away. I'm so excited to see and meet everyone for myself. 

Funny, I had Elder Hunkin and Elder Green over this week for zone conference. The morning of zone conference, I was laying down studying when Elder Green jumped on me and said I JUST GOT THE CALL! About five minutes later, the mission office called and one of the office workers asked where my final destination would be. Ten minutes later, I got a call from Elder Hunkin (who'd gone out for breakfast) saying he got the call. When we met up at the chapel, Elder Green excitedly exclaimed "We only have two transfers left!"

Elder Hunkin: "Umm, we technically still have three."
Elder Green: "No, this transfer's done." 
*the AP from the intake is the most trunky*

Anyways, ALMOST HOME but who's keeping track, right?

Honestly just trying to finish strong, and Elder Tavake is doing an excellent job at assuring that I do.
Dad, I'm sure you're fulfilling your calling as a scoutmaster beautifully. If you can't tell, I honestly thought scouting was a huge waste of time as well and really only attended because of the company and camping trips, but I did learn a lot of really great things in scouts. Scouting, while there definitely may be more effective ways to strengthen our relationship with God, is an excellent program that has helped me exponentially throughout my life.

Give my love to grandma and the rest of the family!

MOM I'll send you the answers to the essay questions I have so far and I'll try to come by throughout the week to work on the others.

I'll be heading out soon, but everyone have an incredible and blessed week! I love you all heaps!
Baut pyaar aaplogke!
Khyaal rakna, 

Elder Ishibashi 

Monday, February 5, 2018

2-3-2018 This last week was an awesome week,

This last week was an awesome week,

A few great experiences I won't soon forget! 

We had exchanges with the Nakawakawa elders on Tuesday, but much like Sigatoka in the Nadi district, the area is (way) to far away to split the companionship, travel out, then have to travel all the way back in to switch back, then back out. So, the Nakawakawa elders took us into their area first thing Tuesday morning. I was really excited because Nakawakawa is notoriously the most bush area in the entire mission (beside Nasivikoso). After a BEAUtiful three hour drive over mountains, through valleys, across rivers, and through forests, we found the Nakawakawa koro. Nice, humble little village located at the opposite end of Vanualevu. Work in that area is a bit rough because proselyting in many of the neighboring koros is tabu (forbidden), so most of their work comes from service and referrals. Much like Nasivikoso, rarely anybody spoke English, but fortunately almost everybody spoke Bau. In fact, a lot of the Fijians spoke Hindi as well! Sick thing about Labasa: Almost everybody in Labasa speaks English, Fijian, AND Hindi, no matter what they are. Anyways, I was able to practice my Bau as well as speak Hindi on those exchanges. I feel way blessed to have been able to serve as a district leader in the two districts with the two most bush areas in the mission. Before my mission, I wanted a bush mission. I wanted for every meal to be soaked in coconut milk and to have to collect my drinking water from the river and have to boil the germs out and sleep in a tree and all that. Seeing the struggle of the elders living in such conditions, and seeing their trucker mindsets just going along with it happily, I've gained SO much respect for those missionaries (but I'm happy to be a pampered, well-sheltered Hindi elder haha). It was a really productive, fun, and successful exchange. It just kind of blew that it had to end at four in the morning when the elders dropped us off at the village bus stand (a log on the side of the road) to wait for the 4:15am 7 hour long bus ride back to Labasa. Worst bus ride I've been on, easily, but again, beautiful view. 

We got back at around 11am, had our studies, and visited a few families. Walking to our last appointment, Elder Tavake and I had a talk. We both realized that we're HORRIBLE at finding and have a very, very weak drive to do so. We both know how important it is and that it's our calling to knock on doors and extend the gospel, but we both didn't quite know how to amp ourselves up for it. We tried to come up with ways to make finding fun. Elder Tavake came up with the idea that we challenge the sisters to a finding game. Between 1pm and 6pm the next day, for whichever companionship OYM'd and got into more houses, the other would shout soft serves. We extended the invitation to them, and they accepted. 

The next day, I actually went harder at finding than I have in a long time, but after the first few houses, I'd forgotten about the game. Truly, the first house is ALWAYS the hardest. It honestly does become so much easier after that, and it did, and honestly did just become a matter of trying to share with as many people as we could before the sun went down. We ended up winning, getting ice cream, and going home. When I went to bed that night and my legs were sore and my shoulders were weak from carrying my bag full of teaching materials all day, I felt really good. In was one of those days where I just felt really successful. We talked to and found a lot of new people that day, and I was happy. In addition to my sore legs and weak shoulders, however, my head hurt way bad and my stomach was killing me so I koncked out at 9. 

When I woke up Friday morning, I felt like an 80 year old man. I was so weak and my joints hurt so bad that I literally could not muster the strength to get out of bed. My mouth felt like it was full of cotton, my head felt like it was full of lead, and my stomach felt like it was full of cement. As I was able to eventually get up and get moving, because we had important appointments scheduled, I started feeling a little better. We were only able to visit two people before I had to go back home to rest for the remainder of the day. 

NOW, I feel a lot better and I'm up and about. 

Yesterday was awesome, we were asked on Saturday by a member of our ward to attend an outlying unit in our area rather than the Labasa branch on Sunday. The unit suffers from a significant lack of priesthood holders, so much so that the unit hasn't taken the sacrament in over three months (and that's IF more than three people come). He asked us to help him in administering the sacrament to the Naduna unit. It was about a ten minute drive outside of Labasa down, into the forest and up a hill. The taxi dropped us at the trail head that lead up to the chapel, a humble little open wood shack sitting on top of a hill. The one man sitting there was so grateful for our being there, and was even more grateful seeing how many more people came that day knowing the sacrament would be administered. As I sat there on the top of that hill, just at the edge of the wooden platform that was the floor of the chapel, sweating and getting bitten my mosquitoes, I felt the spirit so strongly. I'm quite accustomed to AC chapels with nice pews and carpeted floors and a microphone on the podium, but this was such a simple place for testimonies to be born on the first of the month, and there was such a sense of love in the air. It reminded me of the scripture in which Christ says that wherever two or more should come together in His name, there should He be also. It doesn't matter where we meet, we're meeting in the name of Christ, and He was most definitely there. 

It's been a great and humbling week, and we're looking at another awesome and really busy week with zone conference tomorrow! I'm so excited, I'll be SURE to bring my notes next week! 

OH, the fact that yous are reading the Book of Mormon regularly again is great! Just Saturday, we started a Mission-wide Book of Mormon read that'll go from February 3 to April 8. President Higgins has invited us all to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon and mark down every reference to Jesus Christ, as well as every time THUS SAITH THE LORD is read. At the end of the challenge, during the week of April 8, every elder and sister will pray and ask Heavenly Father for confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. This challenge was extended that everyone might gain a greater testimony of its origin, contents, and truthfulness. I'm really excited to go about this read, and I've honestly already learned so much from what little I've read. Little things will stick out to you and have a different significance to you every time, and I love that about the Book of Mormon. 

I'll try downloading and printing out that essay now, but I love you and and hope you have a great and blessed week! 

Baut pyaar aaplogke!

Khyaal rakna,
Elder Ishibashi 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

1-28-18 This last week was a very interesting one!

Kaise hei!

Maika'i no au, mahalo nui! 

This last week was a very interesting one! 

We had our normal visits with our normal investigators and members, all good. 
Our flat has been horrific because of all the missionaries that stayed over the last few weeks and the landlord has been getting on our case daily, so we dedicated a full day to cleaning the flat from top to bottom. Thursday, we stayed home all day and cleaned. We cleaned from 10am to 7:30pm straight, and it's SO clean and organized now. SUCH an improvement. It was so pleasing to walk around the clean house without feeling rice under my feet in the kitchen or slime in the shower. The zone leaders came over the next morning and are determined to help us keep it clean when we have 22 elders over next week haha. 

We went on exchanges with the zone leaders on Friday, Elder Tavake gave me some addresses to people we haven't been able to meet yet, so I took Elder Worden to those people. Met a lot of awesome, new people! I met Urmila two weeks ago, but she was too busy at the time to sit down with us, so we scheduled a return appointment. She was free when Elder Worden and I stopped by, so we had a nice lesson with her. She had already taken all the lessons, been to church the required amount of times, reads the Book of Mormon, and has been extended multiple baptismal dates. Her most recent was extended in early January. She is a recent widow, and given that that was the first holiday season she spent without her husband, she kind of broke away for a bit and shut down, but she seems fine now. We shared the message of family sealings,  and she seemed to appreciate it. We also gave her Mosiah 2 as a reading assignment, which explains how she can find joy and happiness in her life at this critical time. Afterwards, we met with several other investigators and less-active members who referred us to their non-member families. We're looking at a great next few weeks of following up with those people! 

We switched back Saturday morning and Elder Tavake had a full day of finding. We had no success, nobody really wanted to hear what we had to see, but it's okay. There are other ponds that need fishing from. 

Yesterday was great, despite none of our investigators showing up to church. Elder Tavake and I were asked to teach Sunday school, but nobody knew what the lesson was so we decided to teach something that even I didn't know enough about: the Millenium. We went through the plan of salvation and focused particularly on the time between our ressurection and final judgement. It reminded me of the fact that Satan is working extra hard now to take as many people down with him as possible before he's bound for a thousand years. I also learned that the Millenium will be the final opportunity for missionary work to take place, and that by the end of those thousand years/ by the time we reach our final judgement, there will not be a soul in existance that will be able to say they never had the opportunity to accept the gospel because it will have been extended to everyone. I can't wait for that time of peace, joy, and work with my family and those I love.

 We had a great district meeting afterwards. A guy from Rabi came to our branch yesterday and recognized my name (of course). However, Brother Teke shared with me how he served around Herbert here in the mission. Herb, Brother Tekenimatang sends his loloma.

Elder Tavake is excellent, he's doing a great job at keeping me in check by making sure I write in my journal regularly and get out of bed as soon as I roll back over after my morning prayer. He's a great companion and missionary, I feel blessed to have him.

Anyways, honestly not much an an eventful week but a great one! We're looking at heaps of good work over the next coming weeks. I'm SO grateful for the coutnless blessings I'm seeing right now as I race for the finish line. 

I'm glad everyone is doing really well, glad to see Lehia's putting in work in the water haha.
I couldn't help but crack up at your story about Brother Matthews, but that's so cool that you got to meet someone from (a family from) your mission! 

Alright I have a few letters I have to respond to, so I'll be off. 
I love you guys so much, have an incredible week! 

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi 

-Big hill of the (hot, hot, hot) day

-Unfortunately: It's hard to stay awake during the 20 minute Fijian talks because I don't understand 99% of what's going on.
Forunately: I have a pillow built into my neck 
("six months to sexy" is out the window. At this point it's more like "four months to fine")

-Elder Tavake got a "district package" a few days ago