Sunday, November 12, 2017

11-12-17 HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINA!!

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 




Sunday, November 5, 2017

11-5-17 the Plan of Salvation

Kaise hei hamaar julum parivaar! 

Short on time again today, so I'll be brief! 

It was a really good last week. On Tuesday we blitzed the area with Sigatoka again and found heaps of people! It was a humbling day because I went with Elder Dempsey while Elder Tui'one went with Elder Jackson. We had been rejected by about seven houses when we decided to stop at a store for an escape from the sun and a drink. Elder Dempsey and I were pretty discouraged when we got a call from the other elders that they were ready to meet up. When they heard what happened to us, and when we heard that they'd just gotten 7 new investigators in the last hour, Elder Jackson decided to take me for one more OYM before we moved onto a different area. We were able to get into a house and have an awesome lesson with a really sweet family. That, to me, was a lesson of perseverance; you never know what the next house will hold, despite a day full of rejections. That last lesson was a really nice refresher and motivator, we were able to move onto the next area with a new drive and found more people. 

On Friday night, we got a pretty late call from our bishop's second counselor. Though obviously a bit shaken over the phone and in need of assistance, I was not at all expecting to hear what he needed us to do. He and his wife had just delivered their still-born baby, and he needed help digging the grave the next morning for the service in the afternoon. For such a request, he actually seemed really strong. He seemed more uncomfortably just asking us for the assistance, but of course we were more than willing to help. I know it happens often, but I can't imagine the emotional scarring that would have on someone; especially the mother. When we met with Brother Singh at the grave site the next morning, as always, he was smiling and ready to tend to OUR needs as we dug. It was hard, digging such a small grave, and especially watching them pull the tiny casket out of the back of the van. Both he and his wife looked like they were holding up really well at the burial service. Though a bit broken, it spoke huge volumes to me how strong their testimony of the Plan of Salvation is. There was another service that night at their home, and I was asked to share a bit about the Plan of Salvation. I talked about eternal families and was able to share my testimony of the God's great plan for us in Hindi to non-member family members who were present. It was an excellent opportunity to teach, and afterwards, Brother Singh gave some excellent closing remarks. He talked about how blessed he was to know that his son was able to pass onto the next life without any temptation and imperfection, and how blessed we are as saints to know without doubt that he is in the highest degree of glory with our father in heaven. He went on to say that he and Sister Singh decided that their new solemn responsibility was to keep themselves faithful and worthy to reach the same degree of glory as their son that they might achieve eternity with him. To most people, death is probably one of the hardest things anybody can go through. It's incredible how blessed we as saints are to know God's plan for us, and that death is, by no means whatsoever, the end of family. Throughout my mission, I've seen people I've come close to pass on, I've been able to dress a body, and dig/ be a part of the dedication of a grave. As I prayed about all these things, I received a bit of a prompting that the Lord is preparing me to do a lot of work for those who have passed on. 

Okay everybody else is out of time, so I'll close here. I love this gospel so much and I love you all sooo much! Glad everything back home is going well, I love yous! Have a great and blessed week! 

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi 

10-29-17 Keep being that light and example of Christ's love

Kaise hei hamaar julum pariwaar!

This last week was awesome! Able to meet with a lot of people we met last week and find heaps as well. I'm guilty of a pretty bad habit missionaries tend to get into over the last few weeks: When they have a few solid baptisms coming up, they tend to slack a bit and put an excessive amount of focus on those baptismal candidates rather than finding new investigators. Though we were able to find a good handful of people, we could have done better, and none of them really progressed so we were left after the baptism with a shallow teaching pool. Over the last week, we've been able to find a lot people with very good potential, I'd say. We're looking at another really good week ahead!

The internet just went out for about an hour and we have some zone Christmas fireside practice after qito today so we have to be there early so we can have as much qito time as possible. 

Dad, I'm already having second thoughts about being a pilot to be honest haha. Though my vision is a bit clearer as to what the future may hold for me, I'm open to what the Lord is ready to prepare me for. I can't wait to actually be able to speak Hindi in front of yous! Where is Sister Dalton right now? If possible, I'd looove for her to be home when I return! I want to maintain my Hindi until I'm able to get to school or something, where it'll be easier. I'm also eager to try my Kiribati on Aunty Mere Shute or something, do we have any Kiribati in our ward??

That sounds exciting, giving a religious message to military veterans! I mean, it sounds exciting to me. I honestly don't reckon I'd have been near excited for something like that before the mission haha BUT every opportunity to share the word of God and lift our brothers and sisters is an opportunity to offer and receive blessings. It may be uncomfortable, and missionary work often is, but those veterans probably need a pick-me-up so dearly. I know that yous will touch the hearts of a lot of people there, they will appreciate your time and effort SO much, and yous will receive great blessings for your ministering to the needing. 

I'm so glad everything is going well back home, MAN I can't wait to see yous all on Christmas in two months! I love that dress, Nina! And Pierce is looking happy, healthy, and strong.

Sorry this one actually was way short, but I love you all so much! When I was in Nasinu, I was reading through the ensign and really liked the closing line of one of the addresses. I cut it out and taped it to the back of my Hindi badge. It reads "We are surrounded by strangers with wounded hearts who need a kind word of encouragement and who need to know what we as Latter-day Saints know." It's so true, keep being that light and example of Christ's love to everybody around yous. Missionary work extends far beyond  knocking on doors and ministering on the street. Stated very simply by King Benjamin, when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are in the service of your God. From cutting grass to giving a needing man your extra burger; assuring/reminding veterans of war that there is a God who loves them, is aware of their physical/mental/social/familiar/spiritual struggles, and is ALWAYS there for them as they allow him to help. 

I love you all so much, have a blessed week! Aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hei! 
Khyaal rakna,

Elder Ishibashi 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

10-22-17 Kaise hei everyone!

Kaise hei everyone! 

MAN I'm so full of joy today. For one, today is Elder Tui'one's birthday, so we're looking at a good day with the zone. Also, I was able to baptize the first people I ever found AND taught to the point of baptism yesterday! That was wayyy exciting for me, I'll talk more about it later.

This last week was transfer week, as I shared last week(?), and this last transfer was THE craziest, unpredictable transfer I've ever seen in my mission. A LOT of things happened that have never been seen in the mission before, especially in the Hindi program! 

For the first time in the mission, THREE Hindi elders were welcomed into the program from the same intake (at the same time). One Hindi elder finished (I was able to see Elder Hariprasad off at the airport, that was nice), one went Zone Leader, and the last got his dying wish and was transferred to Rabi where he'll be finishing his mission. THAT made me really happy, because allegedly, this elder had a difficult time in the Hindi program his entire mission. He finally "made it out", and he gets to finish his mission in an area where he can teach in his mother tongue, Kiribati (Rabians speak Kiribati, which is cool because any elder assigned to serve there gets assigned to learn and speak it). Also, all three new Hindis were more than okay with their new assignment! Aside from all that, for the first time ever, a Hindi went senior companion STRAIGHT OUT of training! Elder Morgan received Elder Tavake, his own MTC companion, in Labasa to be his follow-up trainer. That means: he has a great drive, and his Hindi must be more than good enough to teach. Really happy for him as well! Throughout the rest of the mission there are a lot of intake-vatas together and new areas opened. Excited to meet the trainees in the zone at qito today! 

We spent a lot of time with the YSA this week, received heaps of calls for counsel and assistance in reactivating inactive / teaching non-member family members. It's a great blessing because we're meeting a lot of new people and getting heaps of referrals! We're looking forward to teaching a lot of people over the next week with the help of the YSA. 

Our YSA is awesome, there was a YSA activity after church last week. During church, Aggie never leaves Nasau's side to go to class or anything. She doesn't go anywhere or talk to anyone without Nasau, but the STLs were able to pry her away last week and take her to class. After church, Aggie was invited to the activity and decided to go. We got a call on Monday from Nasau saying how appreciative she was of the sisters and the YSA for making Aggie feel so welcome and for the awesome time she had. When we went over for their baptismal interviews on Tuesday, Nasau shared with us how overwhelmed she was to see Aggie so happy, and why. Nasau and Aggie are sisters by the same mother. When their mother passed away a few years ago, Aggie shut herself out and didn't associate with anybody of her age group. When Nasau saw what good a time Aggie had with friends, she wanted to cry and said she wished their mom was alive to see it. Since then, I've seen a huge change in Aggie. She's more willing to take part in the lessons and talks and smiles more. I think I've said it before, but there really is nothing like watching people's lives change as you teach them the restored gospel, and listening to them testify of its blessings as they live its teachings. Their baptism on Saturday was absolutely beautiful, and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Nasau and her family will remain strong in the gospel for a very, very long time. I had the privilege of baptizing Nasau and Tusi, and Elder Tui'one was able to perform his first baptisms in the mission with Aggie and Vuki. They kind of gave us a scare when they weren't at church when church started, but they made it JUST in time to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost. We'll be seeing them again on Wednesday, way excited to follow-up on their baptism! 

Glad everything is going well back home! My love to each and every single one of yous, take care and work hard in everything yous are doing! One thing I've gained an unbreakable testimony of: Diligence spawns blessings, and hard work pays off in the end; no matter what.

It just occurred to me that Mother's Day next year is on May 13th, which is a week before my return. That'll be an interesting call haha, but until then, I CAN'T WAIT to see you all in December! Hopefully I'll be in an area with good connection, I feel really strongly that I'll finish my mission in the North, on Vanualevu. We'll see. Anyways, I have a few more emails I need to respond to before we head out to Elder Tui'one's birthday lunch. He LOVES McDonalds, he was overjoyed when he found out there was a McDonalds in our area. When he was being bussed through Utah on their way to Temple Square (I'm still salty I didn't get to go), rather than gawking at all the big buildings and structures, his eye was on the McDonalds on every corner. So, we're getting him McDonalds haha.
I love you all SO much, have an incredible and blessed week! 
Khyaal rakna! 

Elder Ishibashi 

OH please let grandma know I received her letter this last week, and that I love her! 
I don't think I received an update on Ketter and Kaimi's progress in the police academy, how's that going?


-We hit up the gym in the mornings, Elder Tui'one is very supportive of my six-months-to-sexy goal.


-Happy Diwali!


-Baptism


-Waiting for the gym to open this morning (it didn't)

Monday, October 16, 2017

10-15-17 NI BULA VINAKA NA VURAVURA OQO, O PIERCE!!

Keeping this one short as well because we had a late start to the day, and today is Elder Jackson's birthday so we're going out to lunch before qito. 

The last week was awesome! A really bittersweet one, I'll say. Basically a lot of good things happened, especially over the last few days, and one really bad thing. 

We just did a lot of finding over the week and found a nice handful of people I reckon have good potential. 
Every Wednesday night we have dinner with the Stake President. President Kaumatotoya's son, Tukai, is a really close friend and a pilot student. He always talks about the flight tests and exams they take and how flying is so fun and this and that. I always thought Uncle Stan's job was way sick growing up, but I never thought of actually pursuing a career in aviation until I talked to Tukai about it and listened to him share his passion of it. It honestly hit me like a wall Wednesday night, and I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I think the spirit was telling me I needed to be a pilot. I've been absolutely lost since I graduated high school as to what I want to pursue in my life, except for those little "maybes" like a teacher or a therapist or a graphic designer or something. My vision has never been clearer than it is now, and I feel oddly strongly that the spirit confirmed that that's what I need to do. It's like a light came on in my head that I didn't know was there but it's so bright and helpful. There are several particular reasons why this hit me so hard I think. One, according to Tukai, the need for pilots in America will spike next year, so it'll be a liiittle easier than it initially would have been. And look at that, I come home to America next year! Where pilots will be needed! 

Another reason is that apparently, pilots are some of the highest payed people in any given nation. If I can pull this off, the airlines will pay for my house and I'll be able to support for my family nicely. Also, mom finally gets those flight benefits she always wanted! All this in addition to the fact that I and my family gets to travel for way as cheap. Flying also seems like sooo much fun, and I hear it's way easy. Of all the reasons, however, one stuck out to me particularly. I JUST looked up what I was about to say and I'm significantly less excited about it now, but here's what I found out anyway: To back track a bit, a thought as come into my head recently. I found out recently that I am the 2nd shortest Elder in the entire Fiji, Suva Mission, second only to Elder Albert (whom I served with in Suva). Don't get me wrong, I don't mean this in a hexing way at all, but the thought came into my head: Why did God make me short? Again, I'm absolutely positive that God did make me short for a reason and it can't be a bad reason, so I'm trying to figure out how being my height can/will benefit me as I pursue a career. This was my initial discovery: Short people make the best pilots because of the limited cockpit space and they tend to handle G-maneuvers better. However I just found out that short people make the best FIGHTER pilots because of the limited cockpit space and they tend to handle G-maneuvers better; plus they fill the cabin less and thus creates a lesser chance of a round from an enemy anti-aircraft weapon (or an enemy aircraft) actually hitting you. I'm not down to be a fighter pilot, but I don't think it's impossible for me to be a commercial pilot because of my height. It's definitely a course that requires a lot of money and attention, so on the downside of pursuing a career at the airlines: my social life goes down the drain as well as my need to attend BYU as they don't offer aviation courses, so I'll have to school at an aviation academy near Hickam Field. ANYWAYS this is the highest possibility for me right now, and I'm really excited! 

Nasau and her family came to church yesterday and are scheduled to be baptized on Saturday, WAY excited! Aggie, Nasau's sister, has always been a bit more shy and never really says anything during the lessons, but apparently she attended a YSA activity yesterday where she opened up to the members and questions about the gospel were answered for her. These will be the first people I found AND baptized in my mission, and I can't express how excited I am to be able to assist them into the waters of salvation on Saturday!

Those were my highlights for the week, looking at another great one! I might as well share the one really bad thing that happened before I go into the awesome things happening back home: my bag is broken right now, like the top has a gaping hole in it, and I think my camera fell out of it when my bag fell off the seat because the bus rammed a curb. Mom, I'm sooooo sorry. I am grateful that I was able to send yous the nicest pictures on that camera, but the camera really isn't lolo-proof. One of the YSA in the ward offered to give me his camera from his mission as he has a phone now and thus no use for a normal camera. My old SD works and I still have heaps of space on it, so I should be able to send pictures next week just maybe lower quality (depending on his camera). Still, sorry! 

In other news, CONGRATULATIONS HERB AND JAZ!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!!

It's actually pretty funny because I was in church yesterday when I received a call from an unfamiliar number. When I answered, it was a member from my last ward, Suva 3rd, saying "Congratulations, bro!" When I expressed my confusion, he explained that my brother's wife had their baby two hours previous. So I found out about Pierce yesterday haha and was WAYYY excited to see his pictures and find out his name! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PICTURES, HE LOOKS SO SKUXX!! Au lomani kemudrau sara valevu, kei au sa misstaki kemudou kece saraga! Au sega ni wawa rawa meu raici na luvemudrau vou ka totoka, o koya sa rairai vinaka saraga! Solia na noqu loloma vei na matavuvale, au na soti kemudou ena siga voleka! Loloma yani vei na tuakaqu wananavu, vinaka sara valevu na nomuni example vinaka, SOTA TALE! OI au na vosa vei kemudou i rua na vula, SA au sega ni wawa rawa meu raici kemudou kece taleiga!

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY 'IO!!! Have a wayyy as sick one, It's soooo crazy to me that I'll be able to hear your voice for the first time in almost two years in two months. Man, you don't even know how much I miss you. I can't wait to see you again, but anyways HAVE AN AWESOME BIRTHDAY, MAHAL NA MAHAL KITA KUYA, INGAT KAYO!

Glad everything else is going well back home, I love you all so much! Have an incredible and blessed week, ham aaplogke BAHUT pyaar karta hei! Khali jano ki ham abhi bahut kushii lage, iis kam nadi me julum chale. Hamaar sathii julum hei, iis kam bahut mushkil hei lekin uu hamme madat kare rojrojke saabchiij ki sange. Firse bahut dhanyavaad iis saabchiij aaplog hamar liye kare, ham abhi dhir ashivaad dekta hei aapan kam me. Ham aaplogke pyaar karta aur se ham sakta bole, khyaal rakna!!

Elder Ishibashi