Sunday, December 25, 2016



This one will be short, given that I've only just spoken to you folks a few days ago, but I just wanted to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I actually can't believe how fast this year has gone by, it's crazy. It feels like last week I was walking off the football field following my graduation ceremony. I can already see that 2017 holds such awesome events! Herbert begins his first year as a married man, maybe even pop out a keiki, I don't know. U'i definitely pops out a keiki soon, as well as Ketter. 'IO COMES HOME! I hit my year mark here in Fiji. Kala'i begins his upperclassmen year in high school and brings our paddling team to championships (again). Lehia starts, woah. Holy smokes. Lehia starts high school. I'm actually dumbfounded right now, how crazy is that??? You're starting the four most painful, stressful, nervous-wrecking, awesome years of your teenage life!! It doesn't have to be that, of course, and it won't be for you because you're a good student. Anyways, WOW! Penina gets another year older, healthier, stronger, sassier, and more talented in everything she does. What would this be, fourth grade?? Holy smokes!
What great things this new year has in store for all of us, and what great blessings these things are! 

Welp, it's transfer week! I don't know that that means anything for Elder Hariprasad and I, but we have several missionaries dying within my zones, which is sad. Curious to see what next transfer has for us! Hope I get to meet Elder Lee Chip Sao soon as well!

Last night we were able to spend a wonderful night with the Singh family, who'd never celebrated Christmas before! It was waay nice being able to spend time with them, enjoy their company and share a small game and message about the true meaning of Christmas. It was such a special feeling! We were also able to spend Saturday night with the Maiwiriwiri family, man I love them. Apparently, this is the first Christmas in over 20 years that they had no kids, which I imagine is pretty sad. Mom, Aunty Sia said that you were a smart women to have all your kids pretty well-spaced out so you didn't lose them all at once. You have at least another 10 years before Nina goes off to college or something, and by then you'll have heaps of grandbabies to keep you company (because we will all visit more regularly than you might actually be comfortable with, the way you raised us). Anyways, my Christmas weekend was really special thanks to the incredible families in our wards. 

SHUCKS, something I forgot to ask of yous on Thursday. If yous are going to Grandma's house today, PLEASE take and send me a picture of the whole family! If not, don't worry about it, just let them all know that I love them all SOO much! Also, don't forget to set some New Years resolutions! 

Okay I'm gonna respond to some Christmas emails I got then head out now. I hope yous all had a WONDERFUL Christmas, I know Herbert had an incredible and beautiful sealing session and wedding reception, SO HAPPY FOR YOUS!
Yous have a wonderful week, it was sooo nice to see everyone's face and hear everyone's voice again! Can't wait for mother's day already, haha! 

I love you all so much, thank you for everything. Have a blessed week, a Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!! 
Au lomani kemudou sara vakalevu,
ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hai,
aloha kakou!
Dou moce, a hui hou kakou, aur fir mileo!

Elder Ishibashi

Monday, December 19, 2016

12-18-16 What an interesting, uplifting, and WET week

Namaste hamaar bahut julum pariwaar!

MAN, what an interesting, uplifting, and WET week it has been. 

Monday was a good day, like any other P-day except it was raining HEAPS. It was also way cold and I didn't feel like getting sick so my district pretty much spent that qito period in the chapel talking story, singing and playing music. 

We didn't have district meeting on Tuesday, because Zone conference takes its place in the week when we have it. Tuesday was spent in Baulevu seeing several families and inviting them to invite people to church on Sunday. 

Wednesday was WAYY onst, holy smokes. This year's Christmas combined zone conference took place in Raiwaqa. It's actually pretty incredible how the whole spirit of the room just changes, almost thickens, when President and Sister Layton walk in. We were first addressed by the new missionaries in the zones, those who have come in over the last two transfers. Afterwards we were addressed by the dying missionaries, those who will be going home in the next two transfers (zone conference happens every three transfers). One of the departing testimonies that really stuck out to me was given by Elder Lemusu, who dies next week. He shared his pre-mission experience with returned missionaries. He never wanted to serve a mission, and always doubted when the returned missionaries said 'It was the best thing I've ever done, best two years of my life, it changed me.' 

"I served a mission to prove them wrong. I came out, I served the people, I worked hard, and I proved myself wrong." 
-Elder Lemusu

After several trainings, we were treated with an amazing lunch, and then we were privileged to hear from President Layton. President gave an incredible training on the undeniable love of our brother and savior Jesus the Christ. He talked about Jesus in Gethsemane, and how He asked our Heavenly Father if it were at all possible that this pain could be lifted. He asked Heavenly Father if there were any other way that this price could be paid, BUT as much unbearable pain as he was in, he was still willing and able to drink from that bitter cup. He went through such horrible pain, even to death, to save a world full of saints and sinners. What a testament that God loves EVERYone. No matter where you are, what you're doing, how big or small your wrongdoings are, you have a loving Father in Heaven who gave His beloved son to the Earth to die for you. A question arises at this time of the year during the Christmas season for us: What is the greatest gift that God has given mankind? Heaps of various answers come up. Families, this Earth, our lives. Yesterday, I received my favorite answer as I approached a family with this question, and one I couldn't agree with more.
"His son, Jesus Christ."
President Layton also talked to us about how Heaven must have felt on that day that our brother Jehovah would come down to Earth to be born as a human child, beginning the atonement process. All of us in the spirit world, who wouldn't receive our physical bodies for another two thousand years, but knowing that we would be born in the age of resurrection. Knowing that the gates of heaven would be open and waiting for us at the end of our Earthly lives. 
We think of Christmas as a time to remember Jesus Christ for his Earthly birth, which ultimately lead to his atonement, which was truly the greatest sacrifice that ever took place on Earth. However, we don't often think about the sacrifice that took place in Heaven on Christmas Eve. 
I think about my leaving on my mission, The tears that were shed and the words that were said before I left my home and family to serve the Lord for two years. My last embrace with mom and dad before I boarded that plane to O'ahu. 
Then I think about the final embrace of Jehovah and our Heavenly Father before He would go down to be born of Mary. Both new exactly what was going to happen. Jesus would be born. Jesus would establish His father's church. Jesus would suffer. Jesus would die. Then he came down so it could all happen. 
Mom and dad, you gave me to Fiji for two years to the possibility of dog bites and tape worms. God His son to the Earth for 30 to the inevitability of cruelty and death. 
Words cannot be said to express the gratitude I have for the sacrifice of my Father in Heaven and my Brother, Lord, savior and redeemer Jesus Christ. 

After President Layton's incredible training, we watched Finding Dory! I thought it was wayy funny, but also wayy sad at times. My district loves the beluga whale and it's become a thing to just touch our heads and go WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO when we can't find something (we're all black belts in misplacing important things).

Anyways, zone conference was outstanding and honestly gave me an entirely different view of Christmas. 

On Thursday, our zone had interviews with President Layton which was accompanied by a storm. My interview went really well, and President Layton expressed to me that I would be entering senior companionship soon! After Thursday, the rain did not stop. In fact, it got worse and worse. Because of the heavy rain and lack of taxi and bus availability, we were homebound from Thursday to Saturday. Something incredible happened on Sunday morningthough.

We've been housing several companionships at our flat because theirs got flooded out. Yesterday morning as I got ready for church, I heard Elder Mckee say, almost fearfully "What the heck is that??" pointing out the window. We all looked out the window and saw something we hadn't seen in what seemed like ages. The sun. Patches of blue sky. It really was pretty miraculous. We walked to church without a drop of rain touching us, and enjoyed a good twenty minute sacrament meeting before heading out to work. Sacrament yesterday was really short and pretty much consisted of the sacrament only, because of the flooding in the homes and everyone (of the ten people that showed up) needed to go back and tend to their homes and families. Not a drop of rain fell until Elder Hairprasad and I had finished seeing everyone we needed to and went home. It really is like God just put his hand over waila and caught the rain in his cupped hand.
However, as soon as we got home, God seemed to have turned his hand over. Our road, within an hour or two, flooded with about two feet of water. Last night, the water flooded into our property and reached our house porch. We could literally take a boat from our front door to the cafe we're in front now. It's craaazy flooded right now, worse than I've ever seen. Small streams have turned into raging rivers and rugby fields have turned into lakes. 

Definitely an interesting experience, but that was my week! Now to address the letters: 

Glad everyone is doing well and getting married or preparing to get married and whatnot! I expect to come home to meet just heaps of new little babies of people I was in the YSA branch with. So glad to know that the missionaries in the ward are working hard and being successful in their work! Wow, seven families!! That's super impressive, I'm actually way interested to come home and know the details of the Hawaii, Honolulu mission. There's so much more behind missions than I even thought about before I came out. Please give my aloha to the current missionaries in baked-goods form, like brownies or cinnamon rolls or something. Christmas time is hard for missionaries, as I've so rudely learned lately haha. 

MAN, those fishes look good! And so do the babies, Fia is looking bigger and cuter every picture that comes in! Keep em coming! 

Welp, we're heading out now. I've come to the assumption that the problem must be my camera, because this computer will not allow me to send the video. Instead, I'll send a little part and ask that you read it to Herb and Jazmine.

PLEASE GET BACK TO ME ABOUT THE SKYPE DETAILS ASAP! I'll check in every now and again before Saturday. Sorry I had to do it the day before your Christmas eve.

I love yous so much, and thank you for everything! Have an incredible week, and if everything plays out right, I'll see you folks on Saturday!!! Or Friday I guess. 
Ham aaplog bahut pyaar karta hai, aur marautaka na kerisimasi!

Aaplogke larkaa/bhaiya,
Elder Ishibashi

Monday, December 12, 2016

12-11-16 Awesome visits and incredible people.

Namaste, hamar pyaari aur bahut julum pariwaar!!

This last week has been a pretty average week, not much to recap on to be completely honest, but there were definitely some highlights!

Actually, let me skip back to several weeks ago, something happened that I decided to share. Two transfers ago, Elder Mong Yen and I attended a dinner appointment with a family in the Nausori North zone. There was a bit of uneasiness and contention within the part-member family while we were present, so it was honestly a bit difficult to feel the spirit as we shared a quick scripture and thought before we left. The family consists of an active and faithful member (whom I had never seen/met prior), their inactive spouse and several adult non-member kids. Because of the unpleasantness of that visit, I felt a bit uncomfortable about returning to that home again any time soon. Days and weeks went by and we never saw the family again. They didn't sign up to feed us after that, so we never really felt obligated to go and they left our minds. A few weeks ago after a fall-through appointment, Elder Hariprasad and I were walking down the hill when the family popped into my head out of nowhere. It occurred to me that they lived nearby, and I haven't seen them since, meaning they might need some encouragement of some type to go back to church. Though I'd been in that particular area once before, I was easily able to find the house, like something was guiding exactly to where I needed to go. When we arrived, we were greeted by the member. Everyone else in the family was sleeping or not present, so we were able to share something with the member alone. In this time, the member expressed to us the countless trials and tribulations they face every single day. They expressed the difficulty of surviving in a part-member family, especially with a testimony so strong as theirs. Then, they shared their testimony. I have a very strong testimony that the Lord does visit us in our afflictions, and their testimony definitely strengthened mine. I have an amazing life, the few "curve balls" I've been chucked throughout my life and throughout my mission have been nothing compared to the challenges this faithful servant of God faces every day. Her faith and testimony built my faith and testimony in that visit, and I can hardly express my appreciation to the Holy Spirit for guiding me to that home that day. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Spirit lead us to that house, not only because she needed us to visit her, but because we needed to visit her. This is my little testimony insert, that missionary work is impossible without the guidance and presence of the Spirit  To be honest, it's not even difficult to teach and convert without the Spirit It's IMPOSSIBLE. We human beings do not convert people, no matter how long or hard we try. The Spirit is the only force in existence that can manifest the truthfulness of the gospel to those lost sheep of the fold. We, not only missionaries but all children/servants of our loving heavenly father, are simply vessels for this Spirit  The Spirit is not just important, the Spirit is essential. The Spirit is everything, and we are so enormously blessed to have been able to obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost when we were baptized and confirmed members of God's one true church. 

Several days ago, we visited a couple of young women whom we haven't been able to visit in a while. One of them is a bit lacking in English, which is way good for me as I attempt to teach her in as much Hindi as my tongue will allow. We plan on inviting her to be baptized very soon, as she continues to soak up the doctrine we feed her. The other had just expressed to us a desire to serve a mission, and has asked us to come by regularly to teach about mission preparation! Given that this stake does not provide a mission-prep class (not to my knowledge, anyway), that's something I'll definitely try to pitch to the stake presidency. We've just had about four young men and women leave this stake to serve missions, and I think a mission preparation class would be really good for those planning on heading out next! It was a huge help aid to me. Anyways, we look forward to visiting them next week and conducting an actual lesson haha. Last time, since neither of them have really met Elder Hariprasad, we just played "two truths and a lie" to get to know one another better and played a game related to a gospel principle. I'll explain the game after this letter, it's pretty good fun.

On a side note, games are an EXCELLENT way to teach kids, I've noticed. I looove using all these different gospel-related games and tricks on kids. For one, it keeps the kids engaged the whole time. Also, kids tend to learn best by seeing and doing rather than by listening. When they see the game and play the game, THEN we relate it to a gospel principle, it makes this principle physical and optical, and thus easier to understand. 

Other than that, this week was pretty chill, pretty normal. Awesome visits and incredible people. Oh, Friday was Elder Hariprasad's birthday! We spent that day proselyting, because Elder Hariprasad is the man and doesn't slack for no one or no day. I baked boooss as brownies that night. Mom, I don't know if you're still planning on opening your bakery any time soon but this is my resume for application:

I baked good brownies without your help. In a microwave. In Fiji. With five ingredients. 
(I am resourceful)
I'm also your son and I need money. Please hire me. I love you. 

ANYWAYS I think I'll go and get my hair cut today before I go play with my missionary friends, as well as reply to some emails. Our zone in the MTC was so close, we still keep in contact with each other regularly. Two weeks ago, a mass email was sent out to our MTC zone by Elder Satuala (shout out to my brothers and sisters in the Nukualofa, Tonga mission) congratulating everyone on a successful and well-worked six months! Traditionally missionaries burn a tie on their six month mark and a shirt on their year mark, but I'm on the hunt for ties so I wasn't about that. One of my shirts are filthy so I'll just hold onto it until June. 

NOW, to address the letters:

Mom, the Lord does visit those in their afflictions, haha. That does sound tough, with the doubled work load and lack of ability to see dad for lunch anymore. IF ever the work load and/or stress might seem overwhelming, just remember that eternal truth: You have these tough responsibilities because the Lord knows you can handle them, AND because the Lord knows how you as an individual and our family can benefit from these responsibilities. It might take some time to adjust, and it might even be frustrating at times, but perseverance and faithfulness in this time of hardship will bring forth such sweet and fulfilling blessings. I love you mom! 

Dad, I'm doing well physically and spiritually! The work is running smoothly, we've had several people accept the baptismal invitation over the past few weeks, so we look forward to following up on those people! Also, please give the Bourne 'ohana my aroha!

Kala'i better be winning my school's races with those arms, otherwise waste. I'm SUUUPER proud of him though, holy smokes. Isn't paddling the most surreal feeling? Being out on the water and just being kahi me ka moana? My paddling days will be days I honestly will never forget, SOAK it up. Paddling really built my testimony that hard work and perseverance brings forth such rich and fulfilling rewards. There really is no feeling like finishing a race hard and strong, after months of ruthless training, and knowing that you were the first to cross that line out of a dozen other wa'a. That burst of joy in well earned victory is incomparable. One of my favorite things about paddling is also that it's a group effort. No one person on the crew is ever credited for having won the race. The wa'a is one unit, every paddler doing their part to accomplish one goal. The paddler doesn't win, the wa'a wins. The teams wins. 

Continue to train ruthlessly, build your body AND YOUR MIND stronger and faster every day. Listen to coach Grant and coach Anna. They're brilliant, they work really really hard for you folks, and they love you heaps. Tell them I love them please! 

You're a smart boy, you know what they say. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! (Tell Makana I love him too)
I'm glad Lehia is still always on the prowl for i'a and adventure, haha. Yous are making me miss the ocean so much more!

Penina, you're so big! And SO beautiful! Goodness gracious, you've grown like crazy since I've left! You're looking less like a little girl and more like a young woman every time I see a new picture of you! Love you gorgeous girl!

OKAY, so with the skype thing. I personally would really like to see 'Io, but I also really want 'Io to have his personal time with yous. If possible, maybe we could do it this way: I skype yous for however long, and maybe 'Io can jump in before I leave, then yous can have your personal time with him. Just a suggestion, but just know that Elder Hariprasad and I have agreed that 4pm is a god time for us t skype. Apparently, Banglore, India is in the same time zone as the Philippines. But yeah, I'm not entirely sure what to do, I'm totally open to anything you's come up with. My primary focus now is trying to figure out WHERE we'll skype, as finding a computer to skype with will be difficult at that time. Please let me know the details of everything and we'll finalize details next week! 

OH, one thing. I will be sending my video for Herb next week Monday, and I think 'Io will be sending one as well. Completely up to yous whether you want to show it in the slideshow or to Herb personally, as long as he sees it haha. 

Okay I'm out of time, I love you all so much and I'm so glad everyone is doing well!
Have an awesome week, my awesome family!
Ham aaplogke bahut bahut pyaar karta hai, au lomani kemudou sara vakalevu, ke aloha no au ia kakou!

Aaplogke vinaka duadua larkaa,
Elder Ishibashi

Microwave brownie recipe (takes 15 minutes to make, for the kids when they're sad and home because ALL their appointments fell through and it's raining too hard to proselyte) 

4 eggs
1 cup melted butter (I saw better results substituting margarine for better, but up to you)
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa 
2 cups sugar 

Maybe even chuck some chocolate or peanut butter chips in there. It just occurred to me that Fijian sugar is different from American sugar, so it might not turn out the same but go for it anyway. 

Mix the eggs and butter well, add dry ingredients and mix well. Chuck in the microwave for 6-7 minutes. 

Elder Mong Yen called this game "black magic", but I'm trying to come up with something a little more kid-friendly like "pens". 
So this is how you play Pens. You tell the Indian child "Too aaj, humlog kali maangta raha ek game kele. Tumlogke paas chaar pens hai?" The Indian child will excitedly run off somewhere and return with four pens. You take the four pens and arrange them in four different random as ways, explaining that each arrangement of the pens represents numbers one through four. As you're explaining, you'll tap group/table next to the pens with the number of fingers that that arrangement represents. For example: You can arrange the pens like an E, tap the ground with one finger and say "This is one." You can rearrange them into the letter W, tap the ground with two fingers and say "This is two." You can rearrange them into two other shapes of your choice, saying those other two represent three and four. How you arrange them does not matter at all. After explaining the game and making sure they understand, you arrange the pens in a way that you didn't before. Then, you tap the ground next to the pen arrangement with any number of fingers and ask them what number that particular arrangement represents. Whatever number of fingers with which you tap the surface, THAT is the number that the formation represents. The arrangement of the pens never matter at all. Sometimes, I like to pick all four pens up and just drop them so they're oddly spread out, then ask "What's this?" Make sure you're sly with the taps, don't make it too obvious. I love the look on the kids' faces when they catch on, when that light clicks on and they start laughing their heads off. I like to relate this to recognizing the spirit. Every day is faced with new choices and new challenges. Sometimes, when we come across these challenges, we get lost and don't know what to do. Now the Holy Ghost doesn't yell at us. The holy ghost is calm and comforting, so we have to look for it and listen to closely to it. The reason the game is a bit difficult to catch onto is because the player is looking a the wrong thing. They're looking at what's right in front of them, what's in plain sight, but not at the small things that really matter. When they look for the small things, they learn how to play. When we seek for the spirit and listen for it, it will speak to us and we'll know how to "play" this game of life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

12-4-16 Oh what a week!

What an incredibly uplifting week it has been! 

This last Friday we had mission tour, which is basically like combined zone conference where we're addressed by a member of the seventy. This mission tour, we were addressed by Elder Craig A. Cardon, a member of the Pacific Area presidency! EXCELLENT trainings by Elder Cardon and President Layton were given that day in the Suva 1st ward chapel. Lately, President Layton has been stressing the use of a bible technique he invented, called the "Use their bible" technique. The trainings were about how to begin a first lesson by applying the "Use their bible" technique and how to most effectively carry out your message following the application of said method. Elder Cardon and President Layton are such giant examples of stern but loving teaching. Just to explain the technique a bit, the "Use their bible" technique is when you go into a house with an individual or family, get to know them a bit, begin with a prayer, and share something out of THEIR bible. I've used this technique several times, and each time it was executed successfully. It's so heartwarming, the look of excitement and sometimes shock and you ask to share something from a Christian's personal bible and they say "My bible? You won't share something out of yours?" It really is a genius approach, too. Right off the bat, the use of this method tells the person we're talking to several things about us LDS missionaries. One, that we are Christians, and that we also study out of the King James version of the Holy Bible. When they know that, they know that we share at least some of the same general beliefs. It's especially effective against strong Christians, because we're using something they're very familiar with and something that means a lot to them personally, and we're teaching them new doctrine from a book they've studied thoroughly for years. There are several directions we can go at this point. We can turn to John 3:5 and teach about what it means to be "born of water AND of the spirit". From their we can relate Acts 19, where the apostle Paul directs the Corinthians that they must be baptized again to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Or, we can head straight into Matthew 16:19 where Jesus gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. It expresses that Peter is given the power to bind things on Earth, and the thing will be bound in Heaven also, and whatsoever is loosed on earth is likewise loosed in Heaven. We can then relate families, why we have them and what a blessing it would be for us to be able to bind ourselves as families here on earth, and thus be bound in Heaven for eternity. We could turn to Amos 3:7 about the Lord God revealing his secrets to His prophets. If it was important for us to have a prophet back then to lead us and guide us back to our Heavenly Father, and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, wouldn't it be important for us to have a prophet in these days to lead us and guide us as well? There are heaps of different ways that we could apply this method, but they all have the same aim, and that is to confirm two eternal truths to the people we use this approach on: That we have a loving Father in Heaven who wants for us to return to him, and that we can achieve that eternal life and happiness in Heaven with him AND our families by following the example of Jesus Christ and being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. THAT is our ultimate goal with these people, to bring unto Christ by testifying, through the Spirit, of the truthfulness of this Church. 

I used to make a joke about this technique. We seldom find Christian Indians, as most in our area are Hindu or Muslim. Whereas the Fijian missionaries (a vast number of Fijians being Christian to some degree) can freely use the "Use their bible" techinque, we Hindi Elders instead have to apply the "Use their quran" technique. 

On a bit of a side note, I was listening to a talk Elder Hariprasad had on his USB yesterday. Not really a talk, it's the conversion story of a man named Bill Carpenter. He was a very staunch-in-his-faith Jesuit priest student, and also fairly young, when he was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The hardships and trials he faced in his conversion process are incredible, and I recommend listening to his story. It's pretty lengthy, but it actually kept me engaged the entire time because it's pretty funny as well. When you have time, definitely check it out! 

Just realized I skipped the whole week, but it was pretty awesome! We're teaching a new family who lives in a humble little tin-roof shack in our area. They have such a wonderful Spirit and they seem to have strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and a loving God. I say seem because they just speak lightning Hindi the whole time, them and Elder Hariprasad. I get lost a lot during the discussions, but the spirit is definitely there. We look forward to visiting them often and seeing how they progress! 

Not very much out of the ordinary happened this week except mission tour. Speaking of which, I was able to see some of my intake vata (missionaries I came out with) there! Mission tour was shared amongst four zones: Suva, Suva North, Nausori North and Nausori South. Elder Tiafala and Sister Nawaia are currently serving in the Suva zone, and Sister Otea is serving in Suva North, so I was able to see and hang out with all of them! Some exciting news for Elder Tiafala: He's going to Tuvalu! WAY stoked for him! On Tuesday, he's switching places with a missionary finishing his six-month period on Tuvalu. He's way excited as well, won't see him for another six months but I know he'll have the best time and get some good work done there. 

So yeah, that was pretty much my week! Now, to address the letters:

WOW! What a way to follow a year where we didn't have a tree at all!! It looks so beautiful, especially when surrounded by the kids decorating it! I miss those babies sooo much, I can't wait to wrap them up again one day. Man, I mean it would have been better that the centipede didn't bite anyone at all, but what a blessing that it never bit Fia. Thank you so much for the relation, mom! And also, GOOD LUCK WITH THE NEW POSITION! Not that you need it, you're you, but still! Know I'll be praying for you to be able to perform at your best. 

Both mom and dad referenced that Elder Bautista part in 'Io's letter last week, so I took a look at it (also realizing that I don't read 'Io's letters enough). How incredible is that? How absolutely selfless, what an absolutely tremendous act of Christlike love Elder Bautista performed for his twin brother? I honestly almost teared up in this internet shop, what a monumental example. Thank you for that story, 'Io!

Okay I'm gonna end it here, I have to move to another computer to send pictures because I got a dumb one again. I love yous all so much and I'm glad everyone's doing well! Have an awesome week, give my aloha to my future sister-in-law for me please!
Ham aaplogke bahut BAHUT pyaar karta hai! Moce!!

Elder Ishibashi 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

11-27-16 my slap-in-the-face BE GRATEFUL day.

 NAMASTE hamar bahut bahut julum priwaar!

MAN what a great and especially humbling week it has been. Recap of the week!

Monday was an awesome P-day, nice meeting all the new trainees in the zone! They all seem way onst and adjusting well to Fiji, Suva missionary life. One missionary, Elder Billings, recognized my last name and asked if my brother attended BYUH. He told me he skyped Herb in the MTC for TRC! Said Herb was wayy nice and chill, and wants so bad to reach the level of ease at which Herb pronounces his words correctly at lightning speed. But yeah! The zone seems way good. Elder Hariprasad and I decided that we'd switch off zones for P-days every week. Last week, we wrote and qito'd in Nausori South. Today, we're writing and qito'ing with the Nausori North missionaries in their zone. 

Tuesday was pretty chill too, caught the wrong bus into the wrong area for district meeting (the Toga bus does NOT go to Toga apparently, it goes to Navatuyaba. The LOKIA bus goes to Toga. Why? Life is full of unanswerable questions) and ended up having to boat across a river into the next area. District meeting was awesome, set some high (and reachable) goals for ourselves this transfer. Seems promising! 

Wednesday was a way good work day, and my slap-in-the-face BE GRATEFUL day. 
On a quick side note, yesterday in church the second counselor in Nausori ward (attended BYUH for a few years and moved back home after getting married just recently) asked me if I missed my family extra hard this week. I said... not especially, why?
... because of thanksgiving? You do something big for thanksgiving?
So for the last week, I actually forgot that thanksgiving was a holiday.

ANYWAYS, the work on Wednesday was awesome. Then night came. We had dinner with a family that lives in Kuku, a house to which I've been once. With Mong Yen. Like ten weeks ago. Only other time I've been in the area as well. I didn't know which bus went there or what time it left or even exactly how to get there, all I knew was that the number the family left on the dinner list was not working, it was 6:30pm and dinner was at 7pm. We get on a bus we know is going in the general direction of the area, and we turn before kuku. We get off the bus just in time for the kuku bus to come by, and we get on that one. About 20 minutes later, the bus reaches the end of its route and parks for the night. I realize we passed the house about ten minutes before. Elder Hariprasad and I leave the bus and walk back the way we came. As we walked, I complained about not having a truck in the area. We would have been able to freely go where we needed at as slow a pace as needed to be able to recognize the street post or driveway. When we got to the house, we found out that we were a day early. They signed up for the 24th, which I was positive it was. She showed me on the calendar that it was the 23rd. In unbelief, I checked my planner, and sure enough, it was the 23rd. I accidentally skipped Tuesday, and my Wednesday plans were being written on the Thursday page. A mistake easily made since my days are written in Hindi and sometimes I don't bother to read them to see what day it actually is. She insisted on feeding us anyway. 

As I sat there, I was really upset. I've been out in Fiji three months. I'm leading an area I don't know. I don't know the families or their addresses or numbers. I don't know the language. I sat there really discouraged and feeling sorry for myself, when Elder Hariprasad flipped open his scriptures and pointed to the scripture we would share with the family after dinner. Dinner was awesome, but the lesson that followed was far more fulfilling than any meal we could have had that night. We shared a scripture in Ether about how the Lord shows us our weaknesses that we might rely on him and become strong. I also related one of my favorite scriptures in Mosiah 24 (always thought that was funny) that says that Heavenly father will lift our burdens when they become too heavy for us to bare ourselves, if we let him. When we rely on him and allow him to help us, we get stronger and become more capable to bare the burdens that world has for us. I related the advice from mom, about acknowledging heavenly father for every tiny good thing that happens to us throughout every day. The father of the house told us that he does the same thing, but to add to that, he does it when something bad happens. He was walking at work and kicked a 2x4 that had a nail sticking out. The nail went through the front of his big toe and stuck out the top of the back. He thanked God for the nail. Work is stressful often, he thanks God for the stress. It reminded me of a story I had a loong time ago, about two young girls in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. The young girl complained about everything from the brutality of the guards and the difficulty of the labors to the filthiness of their living quarters. The other being her older sister, however, exhorted for her young sister to thank the Lord unceasingly for the pains and burdens of the world, as they are graciously given from a loving father in heaven. They conducted regular (and very dangerous) bible studies in their barrack, and when their living quarters were infested with fleas, the young girl couldn't believe her older sister thanking heavenly father for the fleas. The older sister explained that she overheard the guards talking outside, and they refused to enter the barrack to check on the girls during their bible study because of the flea infestation. 

No, I don't know the area or the families or their addresses or numbers. No, I'm not nearly fluent in either of the languages I proselyte in. Yes, we walk a lot and spend lots of time and money on buses and taxi rides due to a lack of personal transportation. However, I've been blessed with a strong body that can take the walking and the heat. I'm blessed with an incredible family that loves and supports me while I'm away in a different country, and my parents have been blessed with incredible jobs that they love AND allows them to be together every day. Yes, I've been living off personal for a while now, and I know how hard it would be to support both 'Io and I on our missions without these jobs. The Lord knows EVERY aspect of EVERYTHING, and blesses us according to our faith and reliance on him. I've been blessed with a gift to pick the language up quickly, and though my Hindi is still extremely limited I can and WILL pick it up. Heck, I've been blessed with a companion who happens to be fantastic with names and addresses and he helps me to remember things. I have more to be thankful for than I can even begin to think about. Thank yous SO much for your love, support, and prayers for 'Io and I. 

BUT YEAH. That was my Wednesday, and it was an awesome Wednesday. 
Thursday Friday Saturday were way good, more great families reached out to. Nothing super out of the ordinary. OH found out some sick news on Thursday though, I'll explain with the pics. Also ended up eating with the same family from Wednesday on Thursday night, insisted on feeding on the signed day as well. They're awesome!

SUNDAY, we ended up attending all three hours of Nausori ward. Elder Hariprasad also suggested that we switch off weeks for the wards. Yeserday was a Nausori day, next week we attend Waila only. But yeah, after Nausori ward we headed over to Waila for a lunch that was going on. We got there to discover that the lunch was a going-away party for three people! A senior couple that attends Waila ward, the Aldredges, die in two weeks. The third was Jeanette Maiwiriwiri! She heads out to Utah on Friday and will spend a week there before she enters the MTC. Man, who is that sister from Keaukaha ward that left on her mission last year and is serving in Japan? She wanted to know haha.

After the lunch, we had an awesome visit with a new investigator! It was the first visit we had with her, except running into her on the street every now and then and sharing a thing or two. On the first appointment, we extended the invitation to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized IF she prayed and received an answer from God that the things we taught were true. She accepted! We look forward to visiting her and teaching her more often, I see heaps of potential!

But yeah, that was our week! It's getting hotter, and heaps of members are telling us that the cloud patterns and weather changes every day are signs of an incoming cyclone. A bit scary BUT I've no doubt that whatever happens, everything will be okay. 

Now to address the letters:

Glad everyone is still in AWESOME health and AWESOME spirits! Man, congratulations on the new position mom! What a huge blessing, both the Lord and the leadership there knows your capabilities and dedication to the work, I'm so happy for you! Also way happy that yous get to get together for lunch every day or so, what an enormous blessing! I imagine the work might get a little more difficult or stressful with this one-up, but I doubt I have to remind you that patience, diligence and dedication brings accomplishment because you taught me that. 

I do remember Brother Brown, and though not very well, I am saddened by his passing. I do remember that he was way nice and way funny. One of those unkos that just make old people jokes, and while all the other old people are laughing the kids are laughing because it was so cheesy. I also remember that he did have a bit of a heart issue when they asked for our assistance, and though his passing is a sad thing, it's good to remember that he doesn't have to deal with those health complications anymore. I know he was a great man, and he's with Heavenly Father now. Please give my aloha to the Brown family when you can.

Please, I feel like nobody brings anyone to Grandma's house unless it's serious. If it's not, waste time. Grandma no care who your friend is, grandma like know who her new grandbebe going be. 
Speaking of grandma, please give her another good long foot rub for me kerekere. As well as Aunty Roxie! 

I forget about the babies, there are so many now. I forgot Kiana was hapai again! Thank you for telling me, know I'm praying for the baby's health. 

Also know I pray long and hard for yous and Filipino Elder Ishibashi long and hard each and every day. I'll start sending the pictures now then head out to qito soon.

IN CLOSING, and something I just remembered: I want to extend to you, my incredible family whom I am incredibly grateful for, an invitation. It's an invitation that Elder Hariprasad extended to me, and I think it's really really good because It's something I seldom ever do to be honest. The invitation is this: Just say a thankful prayer. A long, heartfelt prayer where you just thank heavenly father for his many blessings and tender mercies. Don't ask for anything, just thank and express gratitude. 

I love you all so much, and thank you for everything you've done for me throughout my life that I could be where I am today. Have a blessed week, I love yous! 
Au lomani kemudou sara valevu!
Ham aaplogke bahut bahut pyaar karta hai! 

Elder Ishibashi

P.S. I think 4pm would work well for me! I'll have to check with my companion to see what time would be convenient for his family in India as well. I'll let yous know asap!

-Our like ten year old boat guide 

-Boat ride to district meeting

-Welcome to Nausori. This is every driveway. I'll come home with a six pack on my thighs. 

-Look at this cutie we found in the bathroom!

-One thing I had to rudely learn as a Hindi elder: you actually absolutely do have to learn Fijian, even as a Hindi elder. We primarily teach people who prefer to be taught/are more effectively taught in Hindi, BUT we do regularly go on splits with the district leader in their areas. It's a bit awkward sitting through a 20-30 minute lesson of lightning vosa vakaviti and I'm sitting their like "Oh she said kete. That means stomach." Also, as I've explained before, effective Hindi elders will be called as zone leaders and chucked into the Fijian program, so It'd be a bit awkward to be a zone leader that doesn't speak Fijian. SO YEAH I've been paying heaps more attention during lessons while on exchanges with the Fijian elders. 

-Look who's coming to Fiji!! I'd know that name anywhere, this HAS to be Hearii Lee Chip Sao's little brother or something. Please ask Herbert to confirm this with his first counselor for me! Please also tell him to tell Hearii that I look forward to training this young man in the Hindi program! Something's itching at me, I just feel it. Anyways, WAY stoked to meet him! Elder Lee Chip Sao was one of my favorite elders from back home, can't wait to meet this one!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

11-20-16 Namaste hamar bahut julum priwaar!!

I Namaste hamar bahut julum priwaar!!

MAN what a week it has been! Let me recap:

Most of the beginning of this week was spent vakamoce'ing (saying goodbye to) families before Elder Mo'unga transferred to Lautoka! Man, some way exciting news in the Hindi program: Because two Hindi Elders died this transfer, two new ones were called! One's name is Elder Fonua from Tonga. The other one is Elder Begman from New Zealand, who came into Fiji with me! Fresh out of training, Elder Begman expressed to president a desire to be placed in the Hindi program. After much prayer, President Layton decided that Elder Begman had what it took to take on the Hindi program. We spent the last 12 weeks here in training in the Nausori South zone. Elder Begman was transferred on Friday to Nadi Hindi, where he was assigned to kill my father! Elder Mong Yen! WAY stoked for him, Elder Mong Yen is the man. Still miss the guy heaps. But yeah!

Hours after Elder Mo'unga and Elder Begman left, I met my mission mother, Elder Hariprasad! Elder Hariprasad is from India and is awesome. Hours after our first meeting, we were out the door and teaching. He was way eager right off the bat to meet the people we teach and contact regularly. He's a way good teacher and example to me. He's also super chill, it was pretty easy to get along with him pretty quickly. It's pretty funny when Elder Hariprasad introduces himself. When he says he's from India, the Indians' eyes just light up and they get way excited haha. But yeah, we got heaps of lessons in this week already and we plan on getting two investigators on date in the next week! This transfer looks bright, I have a good feeling about it. Anyways, yeah! What I mean by the troubled childhood thing is this: I have three fathers and I've only just met my mother haha.

Same as usual, had some awesome visits with some awesome people AND heaps that we don't get to see very often. MAN we need the truck, taxis and bus rides suck up SO much time and money. Our area is too big to rely solely on those sources of transportation. Just wishing out loud. Hopefully soon! 
We have some big things coming up in the next month, including mission tour and Christmas zone conference! Way excited. 

Speaking of Christmas, I know they've been talking about allowing the missionaries to watch Finding Dory this year BUT I'm gonna kerekere to watch Moana. I heard it looks WAY good, and I bet it does! 

SORRY about the lack of pictures lately and today, apparently I happen to get the one computer in the shop every week that happens to be bugged that day and won't accept the chord or SD card. 

NOW to address the letters:

OH MAN, Penina got baptized already! Thank yous so much for the pictures!! Man everyone looks so good haha. Nina, you're getting way big! The thought that you'll be nine when I come home is crazy. But man, looks like a beautiful service! Please give them my aloha and congratulations to the Valeras too! 

Glad everyone is still in great health and spirits! Know I am as well! 

Okay sorry this one is so short, but we have heaps of things we have to get done before qito today. 

I love you guys so much, thank you for everything!
Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hai, have a great week! Moce!

Aapke vinakaduadua larkaa/tuakamudou/chota bhaiya,

Elder Ishibashi

PS Aunty Alofa sends her love!

-The reason we obviously won the district games last week 

-Tattoo I talked about 

-Poor guy got caught in the rain so I invited him in for milo and a game of catch-the-dictionary (he lost)

-Because we're all about that zone unity 


-Moce Elder Mo'unga

-Namaskaram Elder Hariprasad

-Pidgy used glare. It was ineffective. 

-I have come to Fiji and become a Micronesian prince. Na yacaqu o Ratu Isipasi. 

-Cutting my own hair today, don't worry 

-E dua na loloma mai noqu ta 

-If I were a cat

Sunday, November 13, 2016

11-13-16 So what's gonna happen now, we ALL move somewhere or you all move here??

NAMASTE hamar bahut BAHUT julum aur pyaari priwaar!

What a fantastic and refreshing week it has been! We got some great work in this week, got around to talking to heaps of people, and found some who we could potentially start teaching!

SO, recap of the week.

Monday we had a special district-vs-district qito, and every district was supposed to show up in some kind of team uniform. Obviously, as you will see in the pictures I attached, we won by miles. When our district leader (Elder Paki) revealed the uniform that morning, we went nuts haha we thought it was wayy cool. We joked about going on the road right next to the chapel, where there were county workers at work, and telling them that their shift was over and it's our turn. No worries, we didn't. ANYWAYS, we ended up winning the games as well! Navatuyaba district sa na vinaka duadua saraga. 

Man, Thursday was a crazy day. Elder Mo'unga and I had to get some things from Nausori town, and as we strode through, something caught my eye. Newspaper stands. Everywhere. With Donald Trump's face on it. My first initial thought was "Oh no..." I read the heading of the front page and was greeted rather impolitely with big, bold, white letters reading "TRUMP IT IS!"
And a picture of a cabbage yelling at a group of people. I am aware of the large protests going on all over America right now, there's no escaping American politics apparently. HOWEVER, it is prophesied that the promised land would deteriorate and fall before the second coming so I take this as a definite sign. Important time to be a missionary, for sure. Vinaka, President Trump, and vinaka America. 
But other than that, Thursday was awesome. When we got back home, we went on splits with the district leader. Elder Mo'unga took Elder Paki to Baulevu in the Nausori North Zone, and Elder Lemusu stayed with me in the South. I'm sooo glad he's good at OYMing. As we walked and talked, he shared his discomfort in finding and approaching people. BUT, as we all know, you just gotta do it. As we stood at the end of the road, we noticed a Rotuman girl sitting on the curb by a school nearby. We approached her and asked her if she knew a Sera in the area (we were looking for Sera, who told Mong Yen and I we could teach her but she never gave her address and we haven't seen her since), but she said no. Slowly, we transitioned into sharing our purpose as missionaries, and we were able to get a return appointment! We'll be checking up on her this week, I'm excited to see her interest level! As we were walking away from her, I felt really good. After that, Elder Lemusu was on fire. We also got a return appointment for a Fijian family, whom we will differ to the Fijian missionaries in our area. It really made me see how OYMing is like a lot of things I actually tend to enjoy and are good for me, but getting started is hard and uncomfortable. I like to run, but building the motivation to get off the couch and get dressed and leave the house is so exhausting. I happen to find mowing the lawn relaxing, which I can tell yous now because you can't make me mow the lawn here, but the thought of getting geared up and out is tiring. VERY much the same with OYMing. Once I get started, I get used to it and it becomes fun and exciting. But yeah, awesome day!

OH, I also got a tattoo! More on that later though. 

Friday was good, Elder Mo'unga and I OYM'd several more people. One Hindu family invited us to teach and help some kids that live with them who have parental problems. I think it's important for those kids to know at this time that they have a father in heaven who loves them very much, and is ALWAYS there when they need love, guidance, and support. We'll also be checking up on them. 
Friday night, I decided that I need to take in as much curry as possible over the next two years because it truly is a precious, precious gem of Fiji. As I ate the Pumpkin chicken curry and whole wheat rotis that were prepared for us by a member, I realized how different and unique real Indian curry is. I also got several recipes for Indian cuisine from some awesome members so we're having Indian when I come home!! 

We spent Saturday visiting some families in Baulevu, and got caught up in a volleyball game on the side. it was pretty awesome. As were walking when we saw four kids playing volleyball with their makeshift net, two on each side. Elder Mo'unga looked at me and said "Oi. Qito mada." as he slipped off his bag. The kids were way cool and let us jump right in. Not long after, a few more kids ran up and joined in. Within an hour, there were heeaaps of people all around! Easily about 20 kids, a good handful of YSA aged men and women and several older men and women all engaged in the game, whether playing or watching. As we switched teams, Elder Mo'unga and I got a good number of the kids to sit on the side with us and we shared a quick something about our purpose as missionaries and the importance of faith. They all seemed to understand well what was said! A little sketchy that right across the road was a church, but the adults didn't seem to mind at all. We said a little prayer with the kids, pulled a taxi off the road, and were vakamoce'd by everyone with such love. I love how easy it is to get along with Fijians, it really is something new and precious to me. 

Yesterday was an awesome sabbath! Heaps of people we're working with showed up to sacrament in Nausori ward. One awesome family that showed up, and have been coming consistently, was Christina and Shivani! They're sisters, and Shivani has recently been coming back to church after a period of inactivity and bringing Christina! Christina is 10, and has suuch a sweet spirit. The language barrier is a bit difficult to cross, given that she's currently learning English and I'm currently learning Hindi, but what I do say she seems to understand and accept. We'll be extending a baptismal invitation soon! Always awesome to see them at church. Following sacrament, Elder Mo'unga and I headed out to Waila ward, where we were greeted by the Naiaga family (who remains strong, active, and amazing). After church, we had lunch with the Maiwiriwiri family, and I met aunty Alofa! She's wayy cool and way funny. She and Aunty Sia remind me so much of you, mom! In that they're so sweet and loving and gentle, but there's also a tinge of fear that I'll say or do something dumb and receive a bear slap on the neck. Must be that Samoan mother vibe. Anyways, they're wonderful as well. 

Welp, it's transfer week! And according to President Layton, I will be receiving a new companion this week! Goodness gracious. I make six months out in two weeks, and I'm going on my fifth companion. I will have never spent more than one transfer with one companion. Several missionaries predict one of two things. One, I get on of two companions: Elder Toni or Elder Hari Prasad. For this or that reason, those are the only two missionaries I could possibly be paired with. Other prediction, I will be motherless in the mission and will instead receive a son! Both, I'm actually okay with. IF I am called to train, it's important to remember that the Lord calls those who are unqualified to an important work, so that they can exercise their faith in Him and rely on Him to progress. Rereading the letter just now, I will not be training, as President Layton clearly stated that I will be receiving a followup trainer. Bit of a relief, biiiit disappointing BUT the Lord will call me at the time he sees fit. 

Also given that it's transfer week, we have combined qito today! The Nausori North Zone, as well as the STL's and AP's, will be joining our zone in a mass qito today! Normally, combined qito is held at a beach in Nakelo, but there was another accident within the zone which left our zone with one truck. It's okay though, still looking forward to it and should be fun. That was pretty much my week!

NOW, to address 

MAN, I can't believe you're already 8 years old! I'm preeetty sure you were six when I left, but time goes by so fast when you're having fun I suppose. I can't wait to see those baptism pictures!! Penina, I know dad told you this already, but know that baptism is super SUPER important. That's what 'Io and I are going around and telling people right now. You'll find out more about baptism when it comes around, but our job as missionaries is to make sure people know how important baptism is and how it can bless their lives. I know, Penina, that baptism will bless you in ways you cannot imagine! Just remember to always be a great daughter, sister, aunty, and friend to everyone around you! I love you so much, happy birthday Nina!!

Second things next, that's two so far. Two new babies I'll be coming home to, that is. WOOOOO!! I'm sooo excited for U'i them!! Holy smokes, I cannot wait to meet the new Watson pepe. U'i just sent heaps of pictures, they're getting TOO big TOO fast! I can't believe how much change I'm coming home to already, and I've only been out six months! Undoubtedly Herb them will have popped one out by the time I come home so there's that as well. MAN, all great great news!!! Glad everyone's doing well in body and spirits! 

Welp, better head out to qito soon! 
Thank yous so much for all the love and support, and for always letting me know how well everyone is doing! It makes my week, really. I love you all so much, know I'm in great health and spirits! 

Au lomani kemudou sara valevu!
Ham aaplog bahut bahut pyaar karta hai!!
I love you folks so much! Moce!

Elder Ishibashi 

Sidenotes: I have fallen in love with the new mango flavored Fanta, try it if you haven't already. Sooo good! Also, I've been hearing some of Bruno Mars' new stuff on the buses and in the markets. It sounds wayyy sick, way oldschool! The guy's a genius man.