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)