Monday, March 27, 2017

3-26-17 Been a week

Namaste hamaar bahut julum pariwaar!! 

MAN, where to begin.

I guess I'm 20 now, aye? Funny thing is that transfer day fell on the 24th of March, so I was so preoccupied with other things that I forgot entirely that it was my birthday until the sisters called that night to wish me a happy birthday. It's good because I was able to focus completely on the work all day without the distraction of any selfish thoughts. I totally see it as a blessing!

Speaking of transfers, hamaar paas ek nawa sathi hai! I have a new companion!
Elder Mokie is from PNG and has been out for 22 months, SO it's anticipated that I will be killing Elder Mokie here in Nasinu! This means that either 1. I will be serving in Nasinu for the next three months and Nasinu will be whitewashed when Elder Mokie finishes, OR 2. I will serve in Nasinu for the next four and a half months, receiving a new companion after Elder Mokie for one transfer so that they don't have to whitewash the area. It'll definitely be an interesting next three months, whatever happens! I'm excited to serve with Elder Mokie here in Nasinu, his stories about PNG are crazy and we like comparing our cultures and languages. Imu in PNG is mumu, just so you know.

Yesterday at a lunch appointment with a family in the ward, Elder Mokie asked the father (served in the UN force for like 30 years) a question, to which he responded in full Tok Pisin (the national language of PNG. He was actually speaking the dialect they speak in Vanuatu where he was stationed, but they're close enough to where they're both understandable to the other nation). Another fun little fact, Tok Pisin is literally just a fob pronunciation of 'talk pidgin'. Just like Hawaiian Creole, Tok Pisin is just a mix of English, Hiri Motu, German, and several other languages of the people that have history there. Tok Pisin follows the sentence structure of Hiri Motu but chucks in random mix-plate words, like Hawaiian Pidgin follows the Hawaiian structure but we use words with Portuguese and Japanese influences. It really is a super interesting culture and language, I'm stoked to get to know more about it. Aside from that, Elder Mokie has a strong testimony of missionary work and I look forward to carrying out whatever work we can/will get done together!

Other than the several birthday celebrations put on by my awesome district mates and ward members, and transfers, the last week has been pretty normal. Leading the area over the last few days has been a bit difficult honestly, but I feel the Lord guiding me when I need it most. 

I'm glad everything is going well back home! Talk of the pohoiki ward camp made me miss Hawaii and the ward heaps, those camping trips have spawned some of my most treasured memories. I'm overjoyed that our ward is leading the stake in missionary work, but also a little afraid of the idea of our ward splitting. Please give my aloha to the ward!

Please send me Makana's email, I don't think I have it. Coincidentally, I've been asked to give a training in district meeting this next week on the benefits of serving a mission. I'm still compiling some of the countless reasons I can think of, but one I thought of that I reckon I could share with Makana is that it will bless him in unimaginable ways for the rest of his life. You learn independence, tolerance, patience, humility, diligence, perseverance, and countless other things in ways that you otherwise never could have. I know that's pretty vague, but I'll be more specific with him haha. 
U'i, thanks so much for the pictures and videos!!

Anyways, I'm heading out now. I love you all so much! Elder Mokie and I are in great health and spirits. Thank you all for everything, the birthday wishes and the prayers and everything else!

Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hai, aaplogke hafta me kushii raho!
Khyaal rakna!
Elder Ishibashi-Fiji

-Courtesy of the AWESOME Koyamaibole family

-I tripped happy when I saw the Hawaiian!

-Fortunately my district is fams and they made me another cake 

-There is birthday cake all around, when there's love within the district 

Monday, March 20, 2017

3-19-17 When we submitted, we committed...

NAMASTE hamaar bahut julum aur pyaari pariwaar!

Not heaps of time today, sorry, but it's okay because not very much happened last week anyway. 

This week is transfer week, so I'm preeetty sure I'm losing Elder Datoon on Friday. I can't be %100 positive because transfers are never %100 predictable, we go where the Lord calls us to go and we serve whom the Lord calls us to serve. Whatever happens, I've promised myself and the Lord that I will serve with my %100 percent no matter where I go or who I'm with. As I progress through my mission, it's occurred to me that the time is coming for me to become a senior companion and an example of diligence, commitment, and love for the people I serve. This transfer is especially unpredictable, so I'm really looking forward to the call tomorrow! 

It's seriously been an absolute pleasure to serve with Elder Datoon in the time that I have, I sincerely believe he was the man I needed to prepare me for the rest of my mission. He's put me through ups and downs I've never experienced prior to my service, but those ups and downs have formed habits within me that will carry me through my mission and strengthen others as I share them with those around me. Please contact his family if you haven't already, and thank them on my behalf for raising such an incredible example. 

ANYWAYS, there's really only one thing I wanted to touch up on from the last week, and I feel that it's appropriate to tell it in story form. 

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, there was in instance in which four missionaries (two Elders & two sisters) decided to spend four hours at a birthday party during prime proselyting time.
"To be fair", the party started nearly two hours late, and they didn't want to be rude and leave the party before it began. The sisters later reported that they had to cancel 4 appointments due to the elongated duration of the gathering. 

Bottom line: They wasted four of God's hours. Plain and simple. They didn't waste the district's time, they didn't waste the zone's time or their own time, they wasted our heavenly father's time. They deprived their brothers and sisters of spiritual growth. They (ministers of Jesus Christ) sat at a birthday party eating cake for FOUR HOURS while others sat in the dark, waiting for the change in their lives they never knew they needed.

Not only did they show their lack of commitment to the work, but they openly showed a room packed full of people that missionaries have the time sit around for so long and do nothing. They publicly belittled the importance of our work and our calling by giving God's precious time to an event so insignificant and irrelevant to the building up of the kingdom of God. 

When we submitted our mission papers, we committed TWO YEARS of our short, God-given lives  to the building of God's kingdom. Not 5-6 days out of the week from 8am to 9pm.Two full years. We committed every single minute of every single day of the 18-24 months we've been assigned to serve TO SERVING. I will not lie and say that I get caught up in material things throughout the week, but I am praying and fasting to become as effective a tool in the Lord's hand as I can possibly be. I have a testimony that if you don't follow the missionary guidelines and use God's time wisely, YOU will not grow, nor will you be able to help your investigators to progress and genuinely convert to the gospel. 
As for everyone, you will reap what you sow. When we commit all our time and efforts to the work to which we've been called by God, we will reap the blessings we've been promised by our heavenly father. One who sows a good seed and nourishes it well is sure to harvest good fruit. One who sows a bad seed or none at all is sure to receive thorns or nothing at all. 

It's hard sometimes to keep the work and the people and the scriptures in my heart 24/7, but I testify that my efforts in trying to do so has greatly improved my ability to do so, and it has spawned countless blessings and miracles in my mission so far.

This week was a wonderful week full of finding new people. We have a beautifully bountiful list of people we look forward to following-up on this week. I have no doubt in my mind that these people were brought to Elder Datoon and I because he has noticed our efforts and determination to the work. What motivation it is to keep up the hard work! EVEN if these people are not baptized or even very interested in our message, I know that they were given to me to teach me something and that I could plant that seed within them and remind them of the light that dwelt within them their entire lives. 

I am in great health and even greater spirits, I see the blessings of your prayers and hard work from back home influence my every day life. I love this work and this gospel, and I love you all so much. Have an incredible week!

Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hai, hamaar pyaari pariwaar! Khyaal rakna, aur ingat kayo!
Elder Ishibashi-Fiji

-Sunday morning selfie 

-Suva zone conference

3-12-17 Virtue is living the gospel for the gain of others

NAMASTE hamaar bahut julum aur pyaari pariwaar!

What a week it's been!

To start off though, I'd actually like to take out of 'Io's letter from two weeks ago. 'Io and I have been talking to each other more regularly lately, even if it's just a few lines, but I'm super glad! I feel like before a few weeks ago, I hadn't heard from him in ages. Anyways, he shared with me his personal testimony on the importance of frequent self-evaluations. He invited me to regularly assess my teaching skills, my dedication to the work, and my drive. He bore testimony that if I consistently evaluated how a particular lesson went, what worked and what didn't or what I could do better, that I would grow heaps and quickly. I'll definitely be applying that this week!

I also realized that I don't read his email enough. I did last week, and he included something that really stuck out to me. He talked about an experience he had with an investigator, who gave an (for me personally, pretty reasonable) excuse for not coming to church concerning their family. Now, having lived with 'Io for like 18 years, I cannot for the life of me see my soft-spoken, meek and humble brother telling someone to their face that our message is more important than their family. After some reflection, however, it is true. As hard as it would be for me to be that bold, it is true. 
Everybody loves their family. Everybody wants to be with their families forever, which in all honesty is impossible without this gospel. Unless they are baptized AND faithful to the commandments of the one and true living God, they cannot enter the temple to perform the sealing/saving ordinances required to enter the celestial kingdom with their families. Unless they develop a personal testimony of the restoration of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and are willing to live the Lord's standards, they cannot (should not, anyway) be baptized.

It's occurred to me that we need to love our brothers and sisters enough to lay it out in front of them as plainly as we have to for them to understand clearly the severity of our message. I'm grateful for dad's guidance, that if we testify and speak boldly through the spirit, it will never be interpreted as offensive. I know without a shadow of a doubt that 'Io had the spirit with him as he made that statement, and that his boldness will be a huge blessing to him and others as he continues on with the work.

Anyways, this last week was good!
We had a companion exchange with the zone leaders from Thursday morning to Friday morning, and I was privileged to work with Elder Chugg in Nasinu. That day was almost entirely spent OYMing, which turned out to be super rewarding. We tracted a street I'd never been on before near our house, and were welcomed in by two families. Both invited us back to teach them more about how they can, through Jesus Christ, achieve eternal life WITH their families. Several other people were busy but asked us to return this week. This next week will be mostly consistent of following up on people we found last week and seeing their true interest level in the gospel. The exchange was really good, it gave me heaps of opportunities to try out and improve my Hindi and to lead lessons. Elder Chugg REALLY helped me to see the importance of setting specific return appointments and finding common ground with them on the first visit. 

The Hindi elders are all working closely together to develop a way to convince Hindus that the bible is the word of God. I honestly don't reckon it'll be too difficult, because they all seem to believe in everything. The Hindus' Krishna, the Christians' Christ, the Muslims' Allah, they're all the same God; simply presented different ways according the the background and belief of a particular culture. 
One good thing is that all these religions, though vastly different in most ways, teach the same basic standards of living peacefully among our brothers and sisters here on Earth. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Service those who hate you. Don't hurt people or animals unnecessarily. Take care of your bodies. Take care of your families. Take care of the land. These are just a few things that are taught among most denominations we come into contact with every day. I believe that if we can show those of other faiths scriptures from the bible that teach standards also taught in their own, that they'll be convinced that the bible is the true word of the same God we all pray to, worship, and love. 

I'm out of time, but in closing, I'd just like to share something from a lesson we had with a recent convert we work with named Aaron. Aaron is one of the most humble and intelligent men I've ever met. He ran unto some pretty huge trials several years back, and his story is an inspiring one. He took the hand of Christ, who pulled him through the darkest periods of his life, and he continues to hold close to the Lord as he faces the struggles of every day life. He is now regularly attending the temple and preparing to serve a mission. On Saturday, we sat with him and talked about virtue out of the Christike attributes section in the Preach My Gospel. We talked about the meaning of virtue, and concluded that virtue is entirely what's in a person's heart. Virtue is service others when no one is looking. Virtue is scripture study when nobody tells you to do it. Virtue is seeking guidance and personal progress for yourself. Virtue is living the gospel for the gain of others rather than yourself. It made me think about whether I knock on gates because my companion rags on me for not doing it, or if I do it because I desire their salvation. I think about whether I try to keep a positive attitude all the time because nobody wants a downer companion, or because I want to have the spirit with me as I teach. I'M OUT OF TIME I need to evaluate myself more and I know that if we ALL do that that growth will come quickly. 

I love you all and thank you all so much for everything! Thank you for the letters, glad everything is all okay back home!

Elder Ishibashi-Fiji

-Happy for this guy 

-Service with the Koyamaibole matavuvale!
I think Sister Koyamaibole is Chochi Fong's father's sister or something. Sister Koyamaibole facetimed Chochi while we were there, and he was with Awe Miyasaki! It was way nice to see them! 

-Baptism of Tabokai Matang, and I was privileged to perform it! 

-Youth playing soccer after the baptism. Our youth invited Tabokai into the family with WIDE open arms, and I'm so glad that our ward has been blessed with a strong and united youth group to welcome Tabokai.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

3-5-17 Not lost, just not ready.....

Namaste hamaar bahut julum pariwaar!! Aaplog kaise hai??

This last week has been a good one! Nothing suuuper out of the ordinary except a few things I'd rather not mention, but there were a few highlights! 

On Tuesday, we were invited to the mission home for an incredible zone conference! We were privileged to receive trainings from the Assistants, the zone leaders, and President and Sister Layton. All huge eye-openers and testimony builders, I honestly have a newfound appreciation for the closing doors and wave-offs we get daily. Now I recognize those as tried opportunities. 

Elder Datoon has gotten into the annoying/helpful habit of saying things like "They could be the ones" or "What would Jesus do?" when I'm hesitant to approach houses or people. These little remarks are normally met with "FINE" or "UuuUUGGHHH", but I've come to see that those remarks are only made to help me see the importance of approaching EVERYone. I do firmly believe that I was called here to find and bring back people I knew and loved in the pre-earth life, and I do firmly believe that the lord won't just hand them over to me. I have to be ready and willing to search for them. I also know without a shadow of a doubt that the lord would approach anyone and everyone to bring them the message of the Father. Though I have gotten heaps better at it, it is still uncomfortable for me to approach people, but I go and do it because I know that Lord would want me to. There will always, without fail, be people who are not ready to accept the gospel when we knock on their gates. Their will be people who will never be ready in this life time, but I've learned not to see unwilling souls as failures on my part or eternally-lost sheep. If we've spoken up and invited someone to hear the restored message of the everlasting gospel, we've done our part. They will either accept or decline. What follows the invitation is entirely up to them. However, the Lord has His way and His time for those who decline. They are NOT hopeless, just not ready. 

In conference, President Layton stressed a new importance of gathering the Lord's flock, and this came with a change in the mission schedule and key-indicators. 
One of the key-indicators linked to the new stress on finding is that missionaries will no longer focus on reactivating less-active members. Ward members are now entirely responsible for the looking-after and bringing-home of less-active members in ward boundaries. This will give missionaries more finding time and more opportunities to work with current investigators and recent converts. 
FAMILY. PLEASE look out for those who are less/inactive. Show them that you love them and want them to return to church, whether it's through inviting them back or something as simple as weeding their yard. Get the ward involved in letting those people know that they are not forgotten, and that they will always be a part of the ward family. 

A few of the changes include the following:
P-day is now from 10am to 4:30pm, which basically just means we start and end an hour earlier than before. This will allow for missionaries to have an earlier start to the day and have missionaries back in their areas earlier, so as to allow more proselyting time between qito and dinner. 
Weekly planning (previously on Fridays from 12-3pm) will be held on Sundays, opening Friday to be a full proselyting day. Sundays, which typically are less effective for finding anyway, will be shortened to three hours of proselyting due to the five hours used for studies and weekly planning between church and dinner. We're free to arrange that block however is most convenient for us.
Service can be done on any day between 10am and 9pm, no longer on Thursdays from 8-11am only.
I'm still adjusting to the changes, but they'll definitely be good for us and the work!

Anyways, I didn't bring my notebook from zone conference so I'll share something from it next week! 

Saturday was a really special day, and it turned out to be more-so than I thought!
Shreya had a beautiful baptism on Saturday. Lots of family and friends were in attendance, and wonderful talks were given on baptism and the power of the Holy Ghost. On Friday night, we received a call from Sister Chand saying that Brother Pillai would not be able to make the baptism the next day, and someone else would have to baptize Shreya. Sister Chand asked if it would be okay for me to baptize Shreya, and I gratefully accepted! I was able to perform my first baptism last week! WHAT a special experience that was, and it's given me a new hunger to find and baptize those who are ready and willing to learn of the Lord's plan. 

Anyways, it was a really nice service!
Elder Datoon and I continue to be in great health and spirits as we teach and preach and work as Fiji,Suva missionaries do. I'm loving my companion, my area, my ward, and the work!

In regards to the letters,
SO glad everyone's doing well at home!

Mom, thank you so much for your letter. That's a message I've become especially fond of sharing lately, that as long as we strive to the best of our ability to keep the covenants we renew when we partake of the sacrament, we will receive the blessings promised. As long as we always remember him and take upon ourselves his name, he will remember us and be with us always. 

One account that took place on Saturday night strengthened my testimony of what you said, about my mouth being filled when I allow for the spirit to humble and guide me. Elder Datoon asked me to lead the lesson with a less-active member we were visiting. I felt a sense of confidence and calmness when I was extended the opportunity that I honestly don't feel as often as I should. 

In zone conference, Presdent Layton told us that we could know when we're being guided by the spirit when we learn from what we say. I felt that on Saturday night.

The words seemed to pour out of me in ways that I've never expressed them before. I didn't get stuck this time, I didn't get scared or feel obligated to pass it over to Elder Datoon because I ran out of things to say. It simply felt like the feelings of my heart were rolling off my tongue smoothly and fluidly. No it wasn't in Hindi, but it was still a really special experience for me and I consider that an experience in which I was able to obtain the gift of tongues even if for a brief moment. I know that as I continue to genuinely and excitedly accept invitations to teach that my mouth will be filled and my remembrance will come to me in the time and place that I need it to. Thank you so much for reminding me of that, mom!

Dad, I'm glad you have the desire to help the Scouts! What a blessing it is for our boys to have you as a leader for them! REALLY make them want the opportunity to progress to Eagle, and do it with love. I didn't feel the drive because I felt forced by my leaders and they gave me reasons that didn't appeal to me or the future I saw for myself. Looking back, I definitely wish I had that drive and put in the effort to get my Eagle. Also a great growing experience!

That picture of Herb and Jaz is SIIIICK, I love it! Definitely printing that out and putting it in the trunky book. What is Jazamin really holding though, just curious haha. 

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO SO HAPPY for 'Io! MAN it just reminds me that I REALLY need to fast more and further immerse myself in the work. I need all the help from home and on high if I want to get accepted as well (because I think it's pretty safe to say that my grades alone won't get me there). Just kidding. Anyways CONGRATULATIONS TO FILIPINO ELDER ISHIBASHI! 
Good to know that Kala'i and Lehia are enjoying and thriving in their activities! Both of you, never stop developing your talents! A missionary in the MTC gave me some advice he received from his band instructor in high school. 
"Don't practice something until you get it right, practice it until you can't get it wrong"
I don't imagine grandpa was one to simply suffice. Don't just be good, you don't necessarily have to be the best, but be GREAT and LOVE what you do. 
I'm glad Nina seems to be unchanging, except in her face, which really doesn't matter all that much because you'll always be my baby sister. I'm laughing thinking about the fact that we referred to Kala'i and Lehia together as "the babies" until Kala'i was like 8 years old. 

Thanks so much for the pictures, U'i! I can't wait to catch up with your babies on the things that happened in their baby lives over two years. 

OKAY I'm out of time, again, everything is all good here in Nasinu! Know you're all in my prayers day and night. I love you all so much, have a blessed week! 

Ham aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hamaar julum pariwaar! 
Kial rakna!

Elder Ishibashi-Fiji


 --Combine-zone qito feat. Suva zone "City slickers"

-Benjamin Kumar/Elder Reuben (Joe's little brother) was sent off to the Johannesburg MTC on Wednesday morning!



-Fijian licence plate 

-Team lefty (yes, all three of them)

-Service w/ Sister Kotobalavu and sisters

-Elder Datoon dumped a bucket of water on Eroni and made him cry

-Baptism of Shreya Chand and Luisa Nacebe! Sister Nacebe asked Elder Datoon to baptize Luisa, and I was asked by Sister Chand to baptize Shreya! What a special experience! (I am aware of the grossness of my shirt and I plan on buying more soon no worries)