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

Monday, June 5, 2017

6-4-17 I expected the answer to our challenge to be no

 ♪ ♫Gooood morning, good mooorning! ♪ ♫

Aaplog kaise hai, hamaar julum parivaar??

This last week was a really good, interesting, and humbling one! 

On Wednesday, I was on exchanges with Elder Aisa in our area. The first humbling experience happened at our first lesson after lunch. It was intended to be a drop lesson, in which we basically leave them a pamphlet and our number and tell them that if they ever have any questions, they can call us. We'd been teaching Dipti and Choti, two mothers of large families, for a while and they seldom kept commitments. Prayer the way we pray is still a bit foreign to them, and thus difficult to adjust, so they were slow to pray. I realized that we'd never invited them to be baptized (it's very uncommon for us to extend the baptismal invitations early on in the lessons, as most Hindus don't know who Jesus Christ is/ have a very limited knowledge of Him and His gospel), so I decided to give it a try. 

Given their apparent lack of interest in our message, I expected the answer to our challenge to be no. We based our lesson on baptism, and taught using the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. In fact, I was so ready for a no, that I kept the pamphlet on my lap with the pen ready to write our names and number as I extended the invitation. Choti silently put her head down in response. Dipti said yes. 
The answer surprised me, and I set a return appointment. 
When we left, I felt horrible. My faith was low and lacked hope for a yes, and I'm humbled that a yes to the baptismal invitation struck me by surprise. I'm working on going about my work more confidently in myself AND in the people I serve. 

The second great and humbling experience happened just several hours later. We were to go and check up on a referral given to us by a missionary who'd previously served in the area, but a record was never made for this particular person. We went up the steps, knocked on the door several times, and received no answer. Elder Aisa noticed a young man sticking his head out the door of the ground-floor apartment and suggested we talk to him. We introduced ourselves, and this young Indian man seemed thrilled out of his mind that I (a Samoan with a Japanese name from Hawaii in Fiji) spoke Hindi! It occurred to me while talking to him how odd it really is. I, a Samoan with a Japanese name from Hawaii, learned Hindi from a Tahitian with a Chinese name whose first language is French, in Fiji. 

ANYWAYS, Matthew warmly invited us into his house. Matthew is 18 years old and lives with his mom and 16 year old sister, Vashni. We sat down with Matthew and Vashni and talked about our purpose as missionaries. They seemed interested in everything we had to say. They both are strong Christians, but belong to no particular denomination. We found them in a time of thirst and longing. They're earnestly searching for the truth, and I honestly see having found these two to be a miracle. We spirit was present and very strong as we shared out of Ephesians about the foundation of the true church needing to be built on prophets and apostles. It was almost overwhelming as I testified that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a foundation of prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers; Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. We invited them to be baptized when they receive a witness that the things are shared are true, and they said yes.  About halfway through the lesson, their mother came home, sat down, and listened. After the invitation was extended, she spoke to us and started asking several questions about our doctrine. She brought up several points about the church that doesn't make sense to her or that she doesn't agree with. 

I'm pretty often received by people who try to find contradictions between our faiths bible verses, and instances like that usually throw me off and I can't feel the spirit. This time it was different, I felt confident knowing that the answer to/ evidence of every point she was bringing up was in the bible sitting on their nightstand. Though we didn't have time to answer her questions, we were able to set a return appointment with her children. We'll be seeing them tomorrow.

 I'm sure it was the spirit that softened her heart, and prompted her to leave it completely up to her children whether or not we're welcome into the home again. They agreed to have us back. I feel so blessed that the spirit lead us to these two young people in such dire hunger for the message of the restored gospel. 

Elder Mo'unga and I were blessed to see two of our little investigators in church yesterday! Elder Mo'unga and Elder Aisa found Jayden(9) and Danya(11) on exchanges a few weeks ago. They attend LDS primary school but have never received the lessons. They're always so excited when we come to teach and so observant when we do. We've set them on date for July 2nd, and I'm hoping I'm still in the area when that day comes! They seemed a bit lost in church yesterday, but they seemed to be welcomed warmly by our primary. Looking forward to seeing them again on Wednesday!
This week we were able to get a lot of good work done in the area, and we're excited to see what we can do over the next week! 

I've definitely witnessed the importance of having strong faith and letting the spirit guide in times of need. Dad, I'll definitely try that instead haha. If I don't HAVE to have trials in order to learn humility, I'd rather have that, I'm just also willing to take whatever the Lord sees that I need to be humbled.
That hike looks MEAN! Why didn't we do stuff like that while I was in youth?? 
You boys look gooood in your overalls and cowboy hats! And that looks like a solid youth program, SO glad our youth is growing in unity and individually. 

Lehia, you lolo head. That's actually suuuper funny to me because I see 'Io or myself doing the exact same thing if Kaulike told us that. Hearing Kala'i's story, I'm sure Grandpa was with you guys on that hike, and I bet he LOOOVED it. I can see Grandpa sitting on the wagon as the boys are talking about the bull, him chuckling and saying "Bumbai you boys learn" as he gets off the wagon to stop the animal before it even starts charging. Not only Grandpa though, I know the spirit of the early pioneers were with yous as well. Isa dad, I see the beard is coming back haha! 

I'm so happy that everyone is doing well back home, and I feel SO blessed to know that everyone is happy and healthy and that U'i's babies are still fat, kolohe, and growing!

Thank you so much for talking to Sister Dalton for me, I would LOVE to teach her family or even have missionaries in that area teach them! I'm more than willing to help in any way, and you don't know how excited I am to be able to speak Hindi with her!

I'll be heading out now, just know that I'm doing awesome and loving the work! OH, YEAH man It's hard to believe that I've been away for a year. They don't kid when they say it flies, it's a bit scary thinking that I'm running out of time haha. 

I love you guys SOOO much, you're always in my prayers! Please give my aloha to the Hilo Ishibashis, the Laie Ishibashis, the Watsons, and the ward! 

Mahan rako, julum chiiij karo iis agle hapta me! Haam aaplogke bahut pyaar karta hai!!
Khyaal rakna!

Elder Ishibashi-Fiji