Monday, August 14, 2017

8-13-17 I feel so unbelievably blessed

Kaise hamaar julum parivaar~!!

For some reason they start qito early in this zone, and I need to look for a new bag in Lautoka town (my shoulder bag zipper broke and I reckon a backpack would be more convenient for travel anyway) so today and probably the next few emails will be a bit short. I wish I had more time because so much is happening! We're getting heaps of work done here and finding heaps of people every day! Lately we've been blessed to be lead to heaps of Christian Indian homes, which is way sick. Wayy stoked to progress with the people we've met! 

Pretty much our whole week was finding new people in this and that area. 

Afrosh and Shahana came to church for the first time yesterday! They seemed to really like it and are keen on coming next week. Yesterday morning was actually pretty tough because were expecting to have about eight investigators in church, but when we called each home, each had a reason not to come. Ragni's was that she was going to her own church instead, which is why we may actually drop her. Church is a HUGE part of conversion, and investigators attending church is a huge indication of their genuine interest in the gospel and dedication to their gaining a testimony. Afrosh said that Shahana was too sick and asked us to come over before church to give her a blessing. When we arrived, Shahana suggested that we take Afrosh and that she'd be fine at home. After a bit of talking between the two, they decided they were well enough to come. We didn't give a blessing, Shehana just got ready and we were all out the door in ten minutes. What a tender mercy that was, and I strongly feel that is was Shehana's faith and knowledge that she had to go to church that healed her so suddenly.

I think I'll use the rest of the time to respond to my siblings, but I'm so glad everything's going well back home! Lately I've been thinking a lot about how much everybody has already grown and accomplished since I've been out. I can't wait to come home and see it all for myself! This morning I woke up to the crushing realization that I really don't have much time left at all. We're nearing the end of the year, and once the end of the year comes, I'll only have five months left. Not that I'm counting. Anyways, in the meantime, I have other families here I need to help before I can see my own again. I've come to love so much the focus of the family in the gospel. Something I always like to share with people when we introduce the concept of eternal families is that death will always be a sad thing. When we lose a loved one, of course it's disheartening  because we can't hear their voice or feel their touch anymore. However, everyone will die one day, and what a blessing it is to know that once we've been sealed on earth and reunited in the kingdom of our father, we will never be separated again. No force can part our families after the point of physical death. On Tuesday we'll be asked to share in district meeting why our particular families are unique and what we love about them. I love that our family has such a distinct sense of humor and an appreciation for art in it's countless forms. Most of all, however, I love that our family is built on a foundation of Christ. I've seen how families fall apart when their foundation is weak, and it's especially sad because they blame the foundation they didn't strengthen when it caves in. I feel so unbelievably blessed to have a strong base in the gospel built by generations of faithful servants of our Father in Heaven. 

I love yous all so much, keep being that shining light in this ever-so darkening world; it needs yous. 
I love you all so much, have a blessed week! 

Khyaal rakna, 

Elder Ishibashi 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

8-6-17 I'm loving the area and the work!

First of all, soooobo dad no say dat kine! Don't ever worry about being too busy to write, I'm totally aware of everybody's responsibilities at home, especially now! With so much going on, I reckon free time is a tight thing to acquire as everyone's trying to take care of this and that. I learned early on in the mission that when I came out, yous gave me to the Lord for two years AND vice versa. I know the Lord is taking care of yous and blessing my family immensely in my physical absence, and know that he's doing the same for me! Thank yous so much for the check-ups and status reports on blessings obtained over the last week, I can't say how much I appreciate them, but you all have responsibilities in the church to attend to, just like me. PLEASE don't let me get in the way at all of your fulfilling your responsibilities to the best of your ability! Yous making me feel bad! (I mean don't STOP writing me but don't prioritize me)

Anyways, KAISE HAI hamar pyaari parivaar?
This last week was awesome! First full week in Nadi. Nadi actually reminds me heaps of Kona, WAY hot and dry. Almost everything is dead or growing out of cracking ground, but the dry ground does produce what the people here need to get by comfortably, which is great. 

On Tuesday we held the first district meeting of the transfer with the new district, which is a BIG one (I think, 5 companionships)! We had some fire trainings and set a good transfer goal that everyone felt comfortable with after consulting with the Lord about it. After which, we were accompanied by one of the YSA in the ward who came out teaching with us. James should be receiving his mission call soon, and this was the first time he went out proselyting with the elders, so it was good for him. 
I met Shehana and Afrosh for the first time. They're a young, non-practicing Muslim couple and they're waaay cool. We have Afrosh on date to be baptized the first week of September. He has such strong faith in Christ, loves the discussions, and keeps all the commitments we extend to him! He has a smoking problem and has been doing an awesome job at rationing his tobacco since we taught the Word of Wisdom on Tuesday! He'd JUST bought a little pack when we got there and we invited him to ration it until Friday, and on Saturday he'd be able to buy another one (He smoked about 3-4 packs a day, so this would be a big step for him). When we went back on Friday for service, they were both proud to announce that he did it! Shehana is suuuper good for him, way supportive of his efforts to quit and helps him with it heaps. Though she's not quite ready to change right now (though she even shared that it's definitely a possibility that she follow Afrosh into the church), she loves the discussions, asks heaps of good questions and even loves the Book of Mormon and other LDS literature. She believes the things we share, she's just not ready right now to make the change. They're a power couple with a lot of faith and humble hearts. 

When we left their home, and went and met heaps of new people. James was such a big help and I know he'll be an amazing missionary! 

Another family we visit heaps is the Singh family. Elder Kioa and his last companion found 
them last transfer and they're way onst. We usually just meet with Ragni (the mother) and one of her three kids. Ragni previously belonged to the Souls to Jesus church, but as the missionaries have been visiting, she's gained a testimony of the restoration of the fullness of the gospel in these latter-days. She knows the church is true and is on date to be baptized on the same day as Afrosh, but her husband doesn't let her go to church. We're still trying to figure that out, and we will! We're praying that Brother Singh's heart will be softened so that Ragni and her kids can go to church and be baptized.

The next day, we were asked by a less-active member to visit her after a long while of missionaries not coming by. Sherlini introduced us to her partner Amesh and his son, Anish. We learned that Sherlini is a returned missionary, her partner and his son are not members, and that they want to be! They both have a lot of faith in Christ and are really interested in getting baptized, just several things complicate the situation. One of those is that Amesh was never properly educated throughout his life. He can't read, write, or speak much English. Sherlini and Anish, however, are more than willing to help us and Amesh to understand the importance of our message. Another complication is the fact that Amesh and Sherlini are living together despite not being married. Amesh is divorced, but Sherlini's divorce is still pending and the work is being done in Canada, where she was married. Until she goes to Canada and finalizes the divorce in October, they'll either need to separate or Amesh will need to wait for the divorce to be made final AND for them to be legally married before he can be baptized. These things won't affect Anish's eligibility to be baptized, so we may baptize him early just so that the home can have the priesthood in it. We're really looking forward to seeing them again! 
We're way excited to continue to teach these people and help them to come closer to the savior. We met heaps of new people last week, so the next week will be a lot of follow-up appointments.
We're looking at a good week and more new water for Nadi's dryness!

In response to the love: LET'S GOOOOO MAKANA!! You seriously have no clue how stoked I am for him! SPANISH!! HOW SICK IS THAT! Oh my goodness, and what a cool thing for him to set that example for Hoku and his friends. Makana is going to looove his mission and the Dominicanos are going to looove him!  MAN so excited for him! 

Glad everything else back home is all good! Everyone looks so good, thanks for all the pictures I received! I'll respond to the individual emails as well, and I'm running out of time, so I'll close this letter now.

Know we're in great health in spirits, Elder Kioa is still the man and pushes me hard!

"It's okay to be weak when you've exhausted all the strength you could possibly muster. Until then, leave nothing in the tank."

I'm loving the area and the work! 

I love you all, thank you all again so much for the love and blessings I receive as I search the Nadi desert for Christ's dwindling sheep! Have a blessed week all of yous! 

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi

P.S. I feel like yous might know Elder Kioa's parents aye? That Fijian guy knew both our parents and Aunty Sia and Brother Maiwiriwiri know Brother and Sister Kioa as well, just wondering.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

7-30-17 President Higgins reassigned me

Kaise hai vinaka hamaar pyaari parivaar!

This last week had definitely been a very interesting one! So much to write about!

On Tuesday we held a really nice district meeting which consisted primarily of role plays and sharing OYMing methods. It was pretty fun because we'd planned to have a potluck lunch after district meeting but nobody had time to cook that morning, so we ended up using the chapel's kitchen to cook/prepare our lunch DURING district meeting. Since the people in the house are cooking a lot of the time we approach them, we reenacted several scenarios where a member of the house prepared food for their guests and listened in while the missionaries shared a message with the rest of the family. It was fun, we learned a lot and was able to get a lot done during our district meeting. As we were preparing to leave the chapel, transfer calls were circulating throughout our area, and it was our turn to receive. 

President Higgins reassigned me to serve in the Nadi Hindi area!

That night, I received such a tender mercy from the Lord that I don't reckon I'll forget any time soon, and I'll cherish it for as long as I remember. The Tarbiti family always felt bad that some members of the family would still be out in town whenever we arrived at their house, so we'd have to wait a little for everyone to arrive and settle before we could start the lesson. Because of this, we always ran out of time before our dinner appointment so we'd have to quickly close and rush out the door to make it on time. Last week, Fifin asked us to make sure no dinner appointments are scheduled for Tuesday so that THEY could feed us and we wouldn't have to stress about having to be somewhere else. We made sure the Tarbitis were the last family we had planned for that evening, we held a great lesson with the family about the importance of baptizing the same way Jesus Christ did, and a niiice feast was placed in front of us. Before we ate, Fifin told us how much she appreciated our visits and the spirit we bring into their home. She said it was a custom in Vanuatu to give gifts to people who visit the family often and ultimately become good family friends. She and Betisha (9 year old daughter) went into the back room and brought out two of the most gorgeous Vanuatu lava lavas I've ever seen. Betisha came to me, wrapped hers over my left shoulder and tied the ends together under my right arm (like a kihe), and Fifin did the same for Elder Mo'unga. It was only after this that Elder Mo'unga told them that I'd be transferring on Friday and that we'd be busy Thursday night because of transfers, so that would be the last time I got to see them. Fifin was sure, as am I, that the Lord arranged for that evening to be so special. Tuesday night was especially significant for two reasons:

One, I felt like we definitely could have done more work or found more people. My ultimate goal when I enter an area is to leave it better than I found it, and though I can in all honesty say that for Suva, I felt like I could have done more and I was sad. That night, I really felt like we made an impact on that family's lives. Their love and appreciation for us was so evident, and that night, I felt like I'd been successful in that area. The second reason that evening was so special is because it was easily the most love and appreciation I've ever been shown since I've been here. I've taught people who ended up being baptized and even myself helped several into the waters of baptism. The Tarbiti family had not received an answer yet as to whether or not our teachings were true, but they were humble and so willing to find out. Some had no indication, some had received light promptings, but there was no surety yet. Despite this, they knew we were sent from our Father in Heaven and that the Spirit was evident when we entered their home, and they were grateful for that. Even though they haven't been baptized yet, I'm sure they will be one day. That was an amazing night. 

On Wednesday we were joined by Elder Fonua, the Hindi elder from Lautoka who was called to train a new Hindi missionary. That night, he taught me heaps of Hindi words that I didn't know that don't even have real English definitions, and I realized how much serving in the city limited my Hindi haha. The next day we were joined again by him and his trainee and we were able to see a good lot of people and teach the yougin his first Hindi words. 

Friday rolled around and by 9am, I and 8 other missionaries were on a bus to Nadi. After a nice and beautifully scenic four hour drive, I met my new companion at the Nadi airport. 

Elder Kioa was raised in San Mateo, California, but has been living in Utah for the last few years. He is SOOO chill, so humble and suuper funny. I'm super excited for the next transfer, I feel like we're going to have a lot of fun and get a LOT of work done together. This particular area is notoriously dry (in the air and in the work), so I'm really looking forward to getting some good new water flowing these old dusty pipes. It's a bit difficult adjusting to being a senior companion because I feel sometimes that I lack confidence and sufficient enough Hindi to teach someone (even though his Hindi is WAYY good, way better than mine was at his stage), but in time my leadership skills will kick in and I'll be able to preside over this area effectively. But yeah since I'm Elder Kioa's first companion out of training, I am, in missionary terms, his mother! Anyways, Elder Kioa and I are ready for work and we're about to SMASH it here!

I really enjoyed church yesterday as well, Nadi ward is awesome! The members are so loving and inviting. I was actually blessed to give a talk in sacrament yesterday, and I don't know why but I almost threw up on the podium because of how nervous I was. The members seemed to enjoy my nervous twitches, stutters, and facial expressions, so I know they also have a sense of humor. Speaking of which, I was oddly insulted when my new ward mission leader called me haole during our brief Missionary Coordination Meeting, MCM after church. He also needs some time to learn how to pronounce my name, so until then my name is either Elder Islamabad or Elder Istanbul. I'm excited to see what world capital city he can come up with next... he really is a funny guy though. 

I learned this morning that my new companion is an excellent disciplinarian (and thus will make an excellent senior companion himself one day). I've come to Nadi for three reasons: To preach repentance and baptize converts, to follow-up train Elder Kioa, and to get black and skinny. Nadi is also notorious for doing that to people, so I'm excited. This morning, we went running. I haven't gone running since that one time in Nasinu, so my legs still feel like they're full of lead. I'm pretty disappointed at this moment because I thought that I had to have run like four miles this morning, but I just checked the distance on google maps and it's just barely two miles there and back. It's okay, a hard run is a good run. Elder Kioa noticed I struggled the first time to our destination, so he was right behind me the whole way back egging me on and pushing me to keep going despite my pleads to let me stop. THAT's a good companion, those kinds of people in paddling and judo always got me through the season. 

MAN but yeah, everything is way good! I'm happy and healthy and glad to be in the West zone.
Thank yous so much for your prayers, I know I wouldn't be receiving all these blessings without them. I love you guys so much, hope all is well at home!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, now that I don't have Elder Mo'unga or the other missionaries to leach pictures off of, I may need that camera a little sooner than initially anticipated. Don't worry about it though!

Please give grandma as big a hug and kiss as you all can without hurting her for me, and massage her feet for two hours each (one for every year). Hau'oli lā hanau e ku'u tūtū! Aloha nui wau iā 'oe, e ho'omaika'i a me mālama pono! 

Again, love you guys so much! Have a great and blessed week!

Khyaal rakna, 
Elder Ishibashi

Elder Kioa

Monday, July 24, 2017

7-23-17 Humbling experiences

Bula vakaise hamaar parivaar wananavu!

Man it's been a long week, which is always way good! We were able to go out on exchanges with the zone leaders and the other elders in our district, double-exchanges weeks are always longer but heaps productive. 

When I was out with Elder Roberts (ZL) on Tuesday, I had several humbling experiences. 
I haven't had an umbrella for a long time (I have a horrible habit of losing or breaking them), and I haven't seen much use for one lately since we haven't seen heavy rain in a while. We saw it on Tuesday. While we were out finding, I was getting dumped on and soaked. We contacted a few houses in the rain, all of which bese'd us. I was cold, wet, my shirt became transparent and my kamakis were uncomfortably visible. As we walked, I received several impressions to knock on several doors/gates, but I ignored them because 1. I didn't want to sit on someone's couch soaking wet and 2. I didn't want anyone to see my underwear through my shirt (3. I didn't want people to pity me for not having rain gear). I bought an umbrella a few hours later when the rain cleared, and I haven't had to use it once yet. I didn't think much about the promptings I ignored. 

Tuesday night, we visited the Tarbiti family. Their 11 year old son was in the hospital having a tumor removed from his ear. Last we heard, he's doing alright and the operation went well. We brought a member with us to the lesson (another RM from Vanuatu) and taught a good brief lesson about the importance of receiving personal revelation through prayer, reading the Book of Mormon and church attendance. I led the lesson. When we left, I was mortified to realize that we didn't start the lesson in a prayer. We've made that mistake with that family a couple times before; it's usually because we're waiting for our member-present to arrive when the family starts asking questions about the reading assignment we gave them in our last visit or particular things they heard/noticed in church. We start answering the questions, then accidentally connect our answers to the topic we were planning to discuss with them and head straight into the lesson. Since Elder Mo'unga always leads the lessons, I blamed this last incident on him and the fact that it's happened before; like I was just ma'a starting the lesson without a prayer.

When Elder Roberts and I got home that night and discussed our exchange, I thought about the decisions I made throughout the day. 

Something happened a few transfers ago that I never wrote home about, but it's one of the most humbling experiences I've had so far in my mission and I feel like I need to share it. 
I told yous about how I found Shryna, the little girl I taught in Nasinu that was baptized improperly a couple years ago. There's more to that story that I found significant as I've gained experience over the last few transfers. When we were out that day with Raymond Koyamaibole, Elder Datoon told me to OYM a nani sitting on her porch. For me, if I receive a prompting and I have a good attitude about it, I'll OYM without hesitation. I personally felt no prompting whatsoever to talk to this nani, so I said no. He went off on all that "maybe she's the one you came to Fiji for, she's been waiting for you since the pre-existance, you're denying her salvation" stuff, and in all honesty while it was helpful in the end, it made me super mad. After several stubborn no's and with a really stink attitude, I walked back to the house and asked the nani if we could share a message with her. In the middle of my asking, she waved us away like flies. I was already upset, but after that I lost the fire to work. I walked silently ahead as Elder Datoon and Raymond conversed behind me. After a few minutes, I received a really strong prompting to knock on the door of a pink house on the left side of the street. As the spirit prodded at me, I told him "No way, I'm not in the mood right now" and walked past the house. Immediately afterward, Raymond told us to stop. He pointed straight at the pink house and said that he used to visit the family there with the missionaries. That's how we found Shryna. I don't believe she's being visited anymore because the missionaries after me expressed some difficulties with her, but I learned heaps of teaching methods (and patience) in our visits. 

Reflecting on Tuesday made me think about that experience. You'll be pleased to know that I'm definitely receiving my lessons on humility by our Father and I'm learning every day. I've stressed it countless times in my letters over the last year haha, but DON'T IGNORE PROMPTINGS. Blessings are promised as we follow the Holy Ghost wherever he'll take us; often in odd or unexpected ways, but they're blessings nonetheless.

I talked about how I saw my role as a junior companion in my email two weeks ago. I realized how selfish I was to throw Elder Mo'unga under the bus because I didn't begin the lesson in a prayer. I often feel like if anything goes wrong in a lesson, it's his fault because he leads the lessons and it's his responsibility to tell me what and when to teach/testify. I often forget that I have my own conscience and that there will be a time where I preside and will have no one to shield me.

Speaking of which, it's transfer week, and several sources say that I may be made a senior companion in the coming week. 

The sisters in the district held a baptism for two young men on Saturday, to which President and Sister Higgins were invited. President Higgins said something in his closing remarks that I always knew but never really thought about. He told the young men who were just baptized that at that very moment, they were completely anew. As they sat there in that chapel, they were without sin or blemish, like a baby straight out of the womb having committed no sin. In that moment that they left the water, they were perfect. It made me think of the urgency of receiving the gift of the holy ghost as soon after baptism as possible. Newly baptized members NEED that guidance to keep themselves clean and pure. Inevitably sins will be committed, but repentance will consciously become an important and essential thing in our lives as have the spirit and are sensitive to his promptings. 

This last week was definitely one of reflection and learning haha. We'll be heading out soon because Elder Mo'unga had a lot of things he needs to do as he approaches his last six weeks in the mission.

RIGHT OOOOON JADEN!!! It's not Fiji but HOLY SMOKES I'm so happy and excited for him! Tell me when he reports so I know when i can start writing him!

WAYYY GOOD ON MAKENNA, ILIHIA, AND SANDY AS WELL!! That really is awesome that they all get to serve in the same mission! It's like one area too I think, I don't really know how the temple square mission works but MAN how lucky for them!

Suva is doing an excellent job at sending missionaries out, in my time here we've already dismissed three on their missions. This week, two will be leaving, and another five or so over the next month! What a beautiful thing to see the work of the Lord increasing in numbers and vigor.

Alright we're heading out now, know that we're busting out as much as possible before one of us leaves the area and that we're doing it in great health and spirits! Can't wait to see what the next transfer has in store! I love you all so much, hope all is well! Have an amazing and blessed week! 
Khyaal rakna!

Bahut pyaar, 

Eldar Ishibashi

-Service project two weeks ago in the teitei (cassava patch)

After Church on Sunday 

-From museum P-day

Museum P-Day

-From last night

-Let me eat in peace

With an old Indian tapestry

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7-16-16 Mormon ki Pustak


Today will be extra short because this computer is suuuper pilikia and we're meeting the zone leaders again soon for another P-day activity (we're going to the museum).

This last week was good! Nothing out of the ordinary happened, but it was a good week! Everyone we're working with is doing well, we see some real potential in a family we met yesterday in church. I forget their names, but they were new faces in the Hindi sunday school class. We thought they were visiting members, but they asked heaps of questions like "What's the priesthood? What is it for? How do we get it?" Those are basic questions that should be answered in the first or second visit, so we figured out that they were investigating the church. They found it through their mom (a recent convert and regular attendee of the class), and agreed to let us come over and teach them. They've already expressed a desire to be baptized! 

A few months ago I would have said MAN! Easy conversion, they've got it all down already! BUT over the last few months I've received several heavenly "nopes" as I've progressed with our investigators. Satan has power. 

We haven't seen Rina and Meverick at church in several weeks, we feel like Satan's starting to work with them; instilling fear and nervousness in their hearts. We were able to sit down with them after a while and they shared with us their struggles, we're doing our best to help them resolve them. 
We had a nice sit-down with Jaden and Danya this week and discussed something we felt was important. We loove Jaden and Danya and they love us. They come to church now without us reminding them the night before or morning of and they always sit with us. Elder Mo'unga baptized Danya and I baptized Jaden. We told them we won't always be there, that one of us are likely leaving in a few weeks and that come a few months, there's gonna be a new set of missionaries. Too often members are converted the the missionaries rather than the gospel, and when the missionaries leave the area, they don't go back to church. Jaden and Danya seem to have a perfect understanding that a new set if missionaries will replace us, and that this is the only true church on the Earth. I know that they're truly converted to the gospel, and it brings me SUCH a sense of joy to see how committed they are to the covenants they've made. Their parents agreed to pay them for their chores JUST so that Jaden and Danya would have something to pay for tithing. Jaden (being a young and energetic boy) often complains that Danya tries to stop her family from going out or watching movies on Sunday, and she un-involves herself from activities that differ from her standards. Jaden wakes up extra early on Sunday mornings so he has time to mentally and spiritually prepare himself for church. I love these kids man. 

The Tarbitis are doing well, we don't think we'll be able to baptize them this weekend as we've initially anticipated, but they're still waiting patiently for an answer from the spirit and accepting our visits excitedly. 

That was basically our week, I'm getting a lot better at reading/writing sanskrit! That's pretty exciting for me, no reading doesn't benefit me much because everything you'll find written in sanskrit is pure Hindi, but being able to read from my Mormon ki Pustak (even though I can only collect bits and pieces) is cool. I'll write a letter home soon in sanskrit with its English translation!

I'm overwhelmed again, the letters I received were another HUGE wave of news! SOOO MUCH HAPPENING, SOOO many exciting things to come!

CONGRATS ELDER BOND! Let me know as soon as possible where he gets called! SO excited for him and MAKANA! LET'S GOOO!

CONGRATULATIONS HAMBLYN AND MAHANA!! I'm not gonna lie, I didn't see that one coming at all aye... BUT HOW COOL IS THAT??  When I left, Mahana was a faithful young woman on a mission and Hamblyn was a faithful young man on a mission. They were where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there, and I have no doubts that they were both supposed to be home at this time so they could be engaged. BEST OF LUCK TO THEM!

HOOOW COOL for Herb to have Kai to speak Fijian with and for 'Io to have Ka'imi to speak Tagalog with and for Mikel, Kala'i and Lehia to have each other to speak Podagee with!

Man, look at all these blessings. The Lord is watching over each and every one of us. I have faith that you can deal with the crushing emptiness of my absence for just TEN more months, after which the fullness of joy will be restored back into the family (naah jokes). 

I love you guys so much, thanks for the weekly blessing updates! Know Elder Mo'unga and I continue to work hard in great health and spirits!

We'll be heading out now, have another incredible and blessed week! I LOVE YOU ALL!

Khyaal rakna,
Elder Ishibashi

Sunday, July 9, 2017

7-9-17 Talia & Io

I'm oddly overwhelmed right now... I say oddly because I just got slammed with so much news that I'm almost in shock. Holy smokes, I don't even know where to begin.

I love Talia so much, so looks so beautiful and healthy! My head is still wrapping around the fact that there's a new little Watson at home. I really like the name Talia! And her smile is EXACTLY like Jeremias's was when he just popped out. Thank you SO MUCH for the pictures U'i!! I can't wait to come home and love them in person again! That's way unfortunate that you had to miss 'Io's homecoming because of Talia haha, but how LUCKY for 'Io to be able to see her right out of the airport! Just plan not to have any babies or family reunions between April and June of 2018 and you shoould be able to make my homecoming. I actually can't be sure of that either though because in the light of a conversation I was having with Sister Higgins, I said I wouldn't mind extending my mission. I'll give yous further details on that when it becomes relevant again. ANYWAYS, WELCOME HOME TALIA!

I'm also still trying to grasp the fact that 'Io slept at home last night. I can't believe 'Io's home! I don't reckon he can either, haha. It's true, the mission does go by stupid fast, and I can't say that I feel like it's been two years since I've seen him. I don't even feel like I've been away from home for over a year now, what a tender mercy of the Lord. 'Io, I reckon it's a bit of a struggle adjusting to normal-joe life. I was talking to a senior missionary and I asked him a question. His answer disappointed me (I guess because, much like a lot of the people I teach, I had a predesignated/preferred answer in my head), and when he found out I had a brother returning home in the following week, he suggested I share the same answer with you. My question was this: What should my first priority upon returning home from a mission? My predesignated/preferred answer was this: School and work. Get financially stable, get a good education, find something that you don't hate doing and get paid to do it so that you can support yourself (and someone else, when the time comes). The answer that disappointed me: GET MARRIED. Elder Edmunds explained why "The five years after your mission will be the most difficult five years of your entire life. You'll be dealing with the daily stress of school; assignments on classes on due dates. You'll be looking for work; appointments on interviews on shifts in addition to your classes and assignments and due dates. You'll be looking for a place to settle and/or a car to drive, adding all those other things to the load (I don't even know where to begin in the process of purchasing a car or home so I don't know what those other things are).
I know you know this already because I've never heard a different answer, but I guess that's my tip as you go about trying to become a normal person again, haha. I reckon Herbert and any old guy in the ward can attest to that as well. Suuure you can wait for me to get home to get married if you REEAALLY want to, but you don't haaaave to. Wait to have a kid, though. 
One other tip I was given by our late mission president, President Layton, was this: Go to the temple.
President Layton owns this and that company back home in Utah, and when asked how he became so successful, the answer is always the same: Go to the temple. I heard that answer and I was like... okay, but... but like howwww- I've decided not to put too much thought into it, however it works, that's good advice anyway. I've come to realize how blessed we are to have a temple on the Big Island, as Fijians for decades have had to fly over to Tonga for the temple before 2000 when the Fiji, Suva Temple was dedicated. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TEMPLE, I miss it sooo much. You'll be blessed with guidance and further enlightenment as to what your next step in life should be. 
I just got the pictures, what a skuuuxx guy you. Grandma still looks absolutely GOLDEN, oh my goodness. Also I can't believe how lucky you are to have no shortage of people to speak your mission language to, sa. 

Just know I love you all more than I can write. I love you all so much, thanks for your prayers and your support and the love you send me every week. 

I have so much to write but so little time, so I'll squeeze everything together. 
President and Sister Higgins are absolutely lovely. I miss President and Sister Layton heaps, and I know that the Higgins's will escalate the work beautifully. President Layton is a business man with a sense of humor. White-haired Spirit giant, both figuratively and literally (he's a taaaall man, even to average sized people). Low voice, very serious and stern man that likes to point and tap the table when he trains to make his point, and it's always a very bold point. He knows how to make crowd laugh, and he knows how to make a congregation shake in their vavas (shoes). President Higgins was a surfer back home, and he's expressed that he missed that above all. In fact, he was out on dawn patrol when Elder Renlund called their home to set up an interview with then-Brother and Sister Higgins. He's still pretty young and really active and expressive in the way he goes about his trainings. The contrast is staggering, but it's nice haha. 
Sister Higgins is wayyy sweet and I can't wait to get to know them better. They know the Bournes! In fact they're pretty close apparently, they send their aroha to the Hilo Bourne whanau. 
Zone conference was incredible and so fulfilling, but I'll go into more detail maybe next week. A big stress of the conference was humility; the importance of delegating important responsibilities to your junior companion as learning/growing opportunities and of sustaining/obeying your presiding authority whomever it may be. 
As a junior companion to someone younger than me, my head often gets big in that I feel like there's a better way to do or say something (in other words: my way is better than his, and that my way would spawn more success). Something valuable that was reiterated to me was that: Whoever presides, decides. I've been busted before for trying to take charge over my senior companion that didn't do things the way I figured they ought to have been done. I learned that my responsibility as a junior companion is to assist my senior companion in the work and to sustain him as he leads the area. Though I don't make any final decisions, my ideas are valuable and my help is not unnoticed. We'll all have the opportunity to preside over something, whether it's a district or a family, and being presided over is more of an opportunity to learn and follow the good example of the presiding authority; pick out things we can use as we prepare to preside.
I'm working harder at being supportive of his choices and methods but bold when it comes to right and wrong. 
The rest of the week was good, Jaden and Danya were confirmed yesterday! There's real potential in Sister Prasad, as she stayed again for all three hours of church. we weren't able to meet her throughout the week, so we'll invite her to take the lessons this week. We also had more members of the Tarbiti family attend church yesterday, more and more come every week! We've STILL yet to see Bennett in church, and we'll definitely try HARDER to stress that again this week haha. Rina and Meverick are recovering from an accident that occurred last week, so they're still simply in our prayers. Elder Mo'unga and I were blessed to see 9 investigators in church yesterday. The work is moving powerfully and beautifully, miracles are pouring in!

We're supposed to meet the zone leaders soon so they can take us to LDS tech for another combine qito, so I'll be heading out now. This week was awesome, the next week will be as well! We're pumping out so much good work right now, I feel so in the zone haha I love it. 
I love you all so much, again thank you so much for everything! 

Bahut pyaar, khyaal rakna,
Elder Ishibashi-Fiji

-Pre-zone conference

-Zone conference!

-Post-zone conference (w/ district)

-Ties came in late, but that's okay because we could look skuxx for church

-Suva 3rd Elders (E. Arrieta and E. Smith)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

6-25-17 N I C E. Blessings on blessings!

Not a lot of time today, we have combined qito again (and I'm out of money saraga so I don't have much to pay for time haha).

BUT MAN this last week was N I C E. Blessings on blessings!
We were able to bring Sister Oere (the RM from Vanuatu) to the Tarbiti family's (the family from Vanuatu) home, and we had an AWESOME lesson. Though the Tarbitis' English is perfect, Sister Oere shared her portions of the lesson in their tongue and in a way that was totally understandable for them. They soaked everything up beautifully, and we were able to set the entire family on date to be baptized on July 22nd! They were not able to attend church yesterday due to a death in the community, but they've promised to come next week and we're so excited to see them again tomorrow!

The Millers, a missionary couple in Suva 1st, accompanied us in teaching another family we work closely with this week. Rina was a referral from church headquarters that the Suva Hindi Elders received several months ago. We've been visiting her family often and Rina has a very strong testimony of faith in Christ, since her son's mental condition improved tremendously since they both began exercising faith in the savior. It was an awesome visit, and the Millers did a wonderful job at boldly inviting them to church. Rina and Maverick (her son) came yesterday! They seemed to really like it, and they've expressed that the rest of the family should be coming next week. Dad, you're so right. A lot of members have no idea how important they are in building the kingdom of God. I reckon members often have the mindset that 'I'm good, I'm here and active in the church, there are people called to shepherd in the strays and they're doing a marvelous job!' EVERY member a missionary. People coming into church for the first time are scared and nervous, especially if they don't know anybody. To be as simple as the smiling face they see or the firm hand they shake when they walk in COULD VERY WELL keep them in church. I also like the exact obedience part, and it leads me to reflect on Elder Bednar's talk in which he mentioned two missionaries who entered his home and spent an inappropriate amount of time playing with the kids. When asked for referrals by the missionaries, Elder Bednar basically told them "No, but even if I did, I wouldn't give them to you." 
The Spirit guides us to those who are in need of the gospel, and we all know very well that disobedience drives the spirit away. The Lord will not guide someone who lacks the spirit to someone who needs it so desperately, so we must needs ALWAYS have the spirit with us, and we will so long as we are obedient. 

We were able to find some new people we look forward to visiting over the next week, this week is going to be an awesome one! 

On Saturday, we receive President and Sister Higgins. This next transfer is definitely going to be a very interesting one as well! 

Know the work is going smoothly and swiftly, we are witnessing miracles! 

Glad everything seems to be going well back home!

There is NO WAY it's been 8-9 months since I got the news about U'i, unless you guys just waited like five months to tell me. SHE'S COMING SOON?? WOOOOOOO! These next few months are probably gonna be trunky central for me, 'Io coming home and Herbert having a baby and U'i having a baby and Herbert turning 27 or something and yeah but SUCH EXCITING THINGS happening in the family! Bring the pictures in by the heaps aye? So excited! 

I can't believe the Aloisio's are moving though, that's actually way sad. I was looking forward to speaking my pepe fa'asamoa with Mac. Good on them though, what a faithful and caring family! Wherever in Utah they go, they and their ward will be blessed.

Thank you so much for the pictures, U'i!! E totoka saraga o erau na luvemuni! They're growing up so fast, I saw them with their backpacks and squirmed a bit thinking they'll be in school soon. 
Welp, we're heading out now. I love you all so much, have an incredible and blessed week! 
Haam aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hamaar julum parivaar!

Khyaal rakna/manuia/ingat kayo/tikaroi/malama pono/lukot dem gut yu fala/kalougata tiko/take care!

Elder Ishibashi-Fiji



Monday, June 19, 2017

6-18-17 If you're not stepping up towards the Lord, you're stepping down

Kaise hamaar julum parivaar!!

Iis hapta BAHUT julum raha! Haamlog bahut achaa kam kara aur dher jan mila. Lekin saabse zaruri chiij hai, haamlogke paas 14 anveshaklog baptismal dates ke sange! Haam bahut kushi rahe apaan kam ke bara me iis pichle hapta me, aur haam dher aur kam karega iis agle hapta me! Jon kam wahaapar bahut achaa hai abhi, aur haamlog iis jaga aur julum banaega. Bahut dhanyavaad applogke dher pratna ke liye, haam sakta jon ashivaad dekhe uus pratnase hamaar mission me. Haam aaplogke bahut pyaar karta, dhanyavaad saabchiij ke liye! 

MAN what a week it's been! 
This last week was transfer week, which doesn't really apply to me because I've stayed here with Elder Mo'unga. We're actually the only companionship in the entire zone to have not changed, which will be interesting as we see the new zone at qito today. Anyways, transfer weeks are always a bit slower because the leadership missionaries are busy making sure the transferring missionaries are in the right place at the right time, going to the right place and getting there at the right time, etc.
We came up a bit shorter on the finding-spectrum of the work last week, however, we were still able to get some awesome work done. 

Danya and Jayden are progressing really well, but for some reason they didn't come to church yesterday. We're seeing them tomorrow to check up on why. 

We're also working closely with an old couple. Kumarii comes to church every Sunday and is strong in his faith, we've set him up to be baptized on the 22nd of July. His wife, Kala, is also very strong in her faith and desires to be baptized, but she can't walk properly without assistance. Her only issue is getting to church because of her handicap. We've been trying for weeks to get her a wheelchair from church services so she can come to church, but we were just informed yesterday that the user must have absolutely no ability to walk in order to receive a one. She slowly scoots around the house by using a chair as a walker, but I don't know that she has the physical capability to leave the house, leave the koro (village), walk out to the main road, taxi (if she can afford it) to the chapel, then have to scoot around the chapel with the constant assistance of an able-bodied member. Kumarii will not be baptized without Kala, so we're putting a lot of prayer and fasting into those two right now.
Though the week was awesome, yesterday (Sunday) was especially interesting. Upon entering the chapel, I saw two new palagis I'd never seen before. It's not uncommon to see palagis in the chapel as there's always a senior couple or two, but these were two older men. I saw that one was bald and wore glasses, and looking at him from the back, I thought for a split second: Holy smokes, if that's President Eyring... 

I walked around the back of the chapel shaking hands with the few people there, when I saw one of the senior couples walk in and approach the palagis. I saw Elder Miller shake hands with the one with the glasses, who I heard introduce himself as John Shute.

I looked at him directly and studied him with my terrible eyes from afar for a good minute. My mind was able to piece what I heard and what I saw together: Yeap. That's Brother Shute. I could see his mind doing the same thing as I approached him and shook his hand. It was SOOO weird but nice to stand there with Brother Shute in a chapel in Fiji. We got to talking, we were able to take some pictures, and he shared with me and the other missionaries present the story of how the Suva 1st Ward chapel came to be. I'll share that story later on because we're kind of short on time. Anyways it was SO great seeing Brother Shute again, give their family my aloha kerekere!

Another awesome thing happened yesterday, but it starts from two weeks ago. I talked a bit about Bennet a bit in my last letter (the man who moved from Vanuatu). We had set an appointment with him for Saturday last week. When we arrived at his home we met his wife, Fifin, who'd always been at school when we visited. Bennet wasn't home, but we asked if we could share a message with her and her family. After an awesome lesson, she also accepted to be baptized if she came to know that she could truly be sealed to her family forever. I felt prompted to invite her to church the next day, and she agreed to come if she found the time. As I've shared before, getting people to church is the most head-ache thing. It's a struggle to find people who are committed enough to actually come to church, so you could imagine my unparalleled joy when Fifin and two of her kids walked into sacrament meeting yesterday (even if it was during the closing hymn)! Having someone come to church THE DAY after meeting them as been unseen in my experience, making this even more incredible. During the lesson on Saturday, she asked if it were mandatory to stay the entire three hours. We said it wasn't,  and that the sacrament was the most important part of the service, but we strongly suggested that she do stay. When we got to talking to her after sacrament, she said she would stay for the remaining two hour blocks. She was immediately introduced to two returned-missionaries from the Vanuatu, Port Vila mission who spoke Bislama as well. We didn't even have to introduce one of them (a relief-society presidency member), she saw that Fifin was holding a Vanuatuan bag and knew immediately that she's the investigator we spoke of during ward counsel. She just walked up, grabbed Fifin's kid, kissed Fifin and introduced herself in Bislama. She took over our investigator and escorted Fifin and her kids to their respective classes. WHAT A BLESSING it is to have such loving members who are ready and willing to reach out to every new face they see. We meet with her again, and hopefully her entire family, tomorrow evening

We currently have 14 investigators with a date to be baptized over the next six weeks, which is easily the most I've ever had in my mission. Elder Mo'unga and I are finding a lot of people, and we look forward to visiting with them every week. 

Dad, thank you so much for your letter! It reminds me of the lesson we had in Sunday school yesterday. Our group was assigned to talk about the Millennium and what would happen therein. We read in the Doctrine & Covenants that there would be absolutely no contention or worry or pain amongst the people because Satan would be bound. Satan will have no power whatsoever over the people of God in those times. One sister proposed an interesting question: Does Satan know that? Does Satan know that he can't/won't win, and that there will be a time where he will be absolutely powerless? We decided as a group: Yes. The world we know and live in is getting increasingly darker by the day, BECAUSE Satan knows that his time is running out. Our purpose as missionaries is to shepherd as many people as possible back into the Lord's flock before the coming of His great and dreadful day. The Lord has been fortifying his forces and hastening his work in these latter days. Satan KNOWS this, so he is doing the same. He's working harder than ever to bring as many people as possible down with him before the coming of the Lord. This idea gives me a much greater sense of urgency for the work. Truly there is no standing on the fence. If you're not stepping up towards the Lord, you're stepping down. Now is the time to be that motivation and that helping hand for those our brothers and sisters who are in the process of stepping down. 

I'm so happy to be a part of this great work. Thank you so much for your prayers, know that yous are constantly in mine as well. 

I'm glad everything is going well back home, and that Kala'i has decided to jump on the band wagon (fishing boat?) with Lehia. I have no clue how the economy is doing right now or what Trump is up to, but be ready to provide dinner for the family when store foods are unavailable or too expensive. I don't know how politics work at all but be ready for that day anyway. 


Firse bahut bahut dhanyavaad saabchiij ke liye! Haam aaplogke bahut pyaar karta, Julum rako!
Khyaal rakna!

Elder Ishibashi-Fiji

SO HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED WITH MY HAIR (you can see that it's noticeably shorter on the side in the third picture) we got hair cuts on Saturday. The barber I got was doing my fade, he got to the line and asked "Same pattern?" Pattern? So I'm thinking, same line? Yes, I want the line in the same place. That's where my hair naturally parts, why would you even move the line? So I said "Yeah", and then I learned to ASK THE BARBER WHAT THEY MEAN if they say something you don't understand. When I said yes, he went along the line with a 1 blade. I was mortified, 1. because that cut would not be missionary appropriate (hard parts), and 2. because I was to give a talk in sacrament the next day. Nobody said anything about my hair except Sister Pea, who's more like the Mama Bea of the missionaries. My hair looks fine now, but if you ever go to a barber, MAKE SURE they know what you want and they know what they're doing. 


Last week's qito (Elder Mokie and elder Whitworth's dying qito)


District! (We have a new one now, I'll send pics next week)

Monday, June 12, 2017

6-11-17 All we need to do is walk, and as long as we're on the Lord's path

Kaise parivaar julum hamaar??

Nice fact about Fiji-Hindi: There is no set structure, I don't think there's a wrong way to say any particular thing. We will go to the store, for example.
Haamlog jaega dukan ke
We will-go store to
Haamlog dukan ke jaega
We store to will-go
Dukan ke jaega haamlog
Store to will-go us (my preferred structure)
Jaega haamlog dukan ke
Will-go us store to
Jaega dukan ke haamlog
Will-go store to us
All these are grammatically correct, the structure goes according to personal preference. This is actually the hardest thing about the language. I can communicate what I want to people preeetty freely, but it's difficult for me to understand people because everybody structures their sentences different ways. It usually takes me a moment to register what they've just said, take the individual parts of their sentence, and piece it together in a way I can understand it. It's alright though, the language IS progressing well and I learn new grammar rules/vocabulary every day.
Fiji-Hindi is also a phonemic language, meaning that there's no set spelling for any word. You literally just spell it how it sounds to you, which is why you'll find a lot of Fiji-Hindi-speaking people or RMs who'll spell words differently than myself. If English were a phonemic language, ai kud spel mai werdz laik this end it wud be perfikly fain.

Anyways, the last week was good! We went on two exchanges, during both of which I stayed in my area. The first was with Elder Albert from Suva 1st. We pretty much did finding all day because every single one of our set appointments fell through. At one point, we sat down on someone's driveway with a bag of chips and drinks for a small lunch break. As we sat and talked, a man walked by and kerekere'd some food. We gave him the chips and drinks and got to talking to him. He's been living at a bus stand for about a year now and hasn't been able to find work. He told us he gets harassed by young men every night who take every coin he was able to scavenge throughout the day. One thing he said that hit me particularly hard is that nobody knows his daily struggle until he tells them. People see a man walking on the street, but not the way he lives his life. He expressed his gratitude to us for having shared our food with him as soon as he asked. 

It reminded me of prayer, and how the Lord is always there to assist and guide us. However, there are blessings that we will never receive if we don't open our mouths and directly ask our father in heaven for them. I shared this with him, and he agreed. 

He was muslim, so we couldn't really get a return appointment with him or anything, but he was a good man and it was nice to have spoken to him. It was also pretty sad when he asked us for two dollars as we got up to leave, but we had to bese (reject). 

That was a good day with a nice reminder from a humble man. The next day, we were on exchanges with the zone leaders. Elder Miller and I approached the front house of a property with two homes, and asked the resident if the second house was Indian. The man (obviously Fijian) called the old Indian lady out of her home and she invited us in. We had a good sit-down with her and got a return appointment for tomorrow. 

When we left her house, Elder Miller suggested we go and teach the family in the front house. We Hindi elders aren't allowed to teach Fijians, but since we cover the same area I just reckon Elder Miller wants to find for their own companionship (which I"m fine with). As we approach the door for the second time, Elder Miller said he heard someone speaking Hindi inside. I listened, and that was NOT Hindi, nor was it Fijian (which explains why the guy looked confused when Elder Miller spoke Fijian to him). The man came out again and warmly invited us into his home. The first thing that caught my eye was a big Vanuatuan flag hanging from the wall.  We learned that they'd moved from Vanuatu to Fiji a year ago because his wife is schooling in Suva, and that they speak Bislama. We had a great lesson with them and got a return appointment for tomorrow, right after the Indian woman. 
After them, we went and saw Danya and Jayden (who came to church again yesterday! Honestly, getting people to church is the hardest thing, so seeing investigators in church is like gold). Awesome visit, committed them to pray about the word of wisdom and the law of tithing. Those kids were a golden find, they already talk about one day becoming Sister and Elder Prasad! 

The rest of the week was good, Elder Mo'unga and I pretty much just did finding and visiting the people with baptismal dates. It's transfer week, which I guess marks the middle of 'Io's last three weeks! Hoooly smokes, that's crazy. Can't wait for those pictures! Also, since it's transfer P-day and the zone leaders put us in charge of a transfer-finale-game, we need to head out and buy some stuff then be at the chapel early to set up our relay. 

In closing, I read 'Io's (awesome) letter from last week so I think I'll bite off him and share one of my favorite spiritual thoughts to share out of the scriptures at meetings or dinner appointments. 
Matthew 4:18-20In verse 18, Jesus Christ is walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where he finds Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the water. This is at the start of Christs's ministry. 
In verse 19, he tells Peter and Andrew: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
In verse 20, they "straightway" left their nets and followed the savior. In those times, you didn't leave your family profession. If your father was a brass worker, you're gonna be a brass worker, and your children's children will probably be brass worker. You make pots because your grandfather made pots, just like his grandfather. Because of this, we can pretty safely assume that fishing was in the blood of Peter and Andrew. They were brought up fishing, just like their father. Fishing is probably all they knew. Here comes the savior to these fishermen, saying "Follow me". They immediately left their nets and followed. They dropped their professions, everything they knew, and followed Him. They didn't know exactly where they were going or what they were going to do, they just followed in faith.
How blessed we are as we forget everything we think we know or need and follow the savior. As we exercise our faith by putting our lives into the hand of the Father, he will carry us through the worldly wars of our lives and lift us through the depths of our miseries. All we need to do is walk, and as long as we're on the Lord's path, it will lead us back Home. 

Mom, thank you SO MUCH for your letter! I gained a testimony of what Bro. Watson shared about before I came out. I remember being overwhelmed with this and that and not having time (or the motivation) to work on my Sunday school lessons. I'd go to my class on Sunday, teach the youth, and leave drained and disappointed because I felt that my lesson was poorly prepared. I remember YOU telling me that if I put in a even a little bit of time to study the scriptures prayerfully, that more time would open up for me to prepare my lessons and the motivation would come. As I applied that, I saw the blessings pour in. I felt more comfortable/confident in my teaching, and I felt like my lessons were more fulfilling. I also had more time/motivation to be more productive. I gained a testimony that if we do everything we're supposed to be doing to grow spiritually and closer to heavenly father, He will bless/enhance us in every other aspect of our lives. Yes, it does require our efforts as well to be successful and have happiness, but I know that TRUE success and TRUE happiness comes by no means other than obedience to the Lord and His commandments.

We're heading out now, glad everything is going well back home! Keep up those consistent FHE's and family scripture studies! I look forward to those!

I actually gave a talk in Suva 3rd yesterday about the importance of scripture study as individuals and in families. I know I didn't really pay attention to the scriptures when I was 11 and had to wake up at 5am to read difficult words, but I'm SO glad that mom and dad set that awesome example for us. Though I didn't pay much attention, those mornings brought us closer together as a family. The scriptures are such a blessing, don't take them for granted.

Haam aaplogke bahut pyaar karta, bahut dhanyavaad saabchiij ke liye hamaar mahan parivaar! Have a blessed week!


Elder Ishibashi-Fiji