This is Kobe, Japan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

KYOTO 19 Dec 2010

Week 25
Mission Log
25 really is a lot of weeks. It`s already a fourth of one hundred. Essentially, I`m a fourth of the way done with my mission already. That`s crazy. It still seems like I`m a brand new missionary, but I`m old now. I`m not a new missionary anymore. I`m just a normal missionary.
Today is my half birthday. I`m now nineteen and a half years old.
The phone call is on Christmas morning for me. Therefore, it would be Christmas Eve for you. I can talk for an hour, or a little longer because I have a big family. I`m only allowed to speak in Japanese, though. So, I hope you`ve been studying. Christmas is going to be Preparation Day. I will, therefore, not have my normal Preparation Day on the 27th. I probably won`t email next week. Sorry. I`m looking forward to the phone call in a few days.
On Wednesday we have a Ward Christmas party. I get to be Jesus Christ in the Christmas pageant. Not the baby Jesus in the manger, though. I`m Christ when he calms the stormy sea and when he is crucified. I think it will be a fun Christmas party.
I ate a Big Mac the other day. It was so good. I kind of miss American foods like that. The Big Mac is so American and so opposite of all Japanese foods. It has bread, meat, and cheese. Those are the three things that Americans eat way more of than Japanese people. I don`t know if they have this in America or not, but here they have sweets buffets. I don`t remember ever seeing one in the US. I ate at one once. It`s an all you can eat place with chocolate fountains and cakes and ice cream and stuff like that. Most of them have some regular food too and you can pay the higher price to eat regular food and sweets or you can pay the lower price to eat only sweets. They`re kind of common here. It really surprised me because Japanese people don`t eat very much sweets. It`s too expensive to eat at often, only once in a while.
We did some caroling in the street one night. There were eight missionaries there. A lot of people stopped and listened. A group of like ten people ran up and joined us. They were all about twenty and they sang Christmas songs with us. The songs were in English. After we sang a little bit, we talked to the people. We were broken up into little groups. So, I had to talk to two Japanese people I didn't know, with no one there to help me. It turned out alright though. One girl said that she'd studied English for nine years, but she still couldn't speak it. She didn't even want to introduce herself in English. She would only speak in Japanese.
They can`t pronounce most of the English missionaries` names, but we don`t use Japanese names. We use our normal names, but sometimes we change it a little to make is easier to pronounce for them. They call my suifuto choro. The second u is really short though, so it`s like suifto choro. You have to change it a little so you can write it with the Japanese alphabet. Choro means Elder in Japanese. The Japanese people all use their normal names. None of them have English names like the Chinese people I've met do.
Caleb's new schedule sounds pretty hard. I hope he can handle it. I did get the package you sent. I did get a package from the ward. I did get the Christmas card. I might have gotten the missionary newsletter a long time ago. I don`t remember. Thank you. I really appreciate it. It`s very nice.
Calendars already have some holidays printed on them. Here a lot of calendars don`t have Christmas on them, but they all have the Emperor`s Birthday on them. It`s December 23rd. I thought that was pretty funny.
I`m out of things to say now. I`m looking forward to the phone call. I probably won`t email next week. I love you all. Bye.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, December 13, 2010

JAPAN 12 Dec 2010

Week 24
Mission Log
Things are going well here, and it has been a very good 24 weeks.
On Tuesday morning, at about 6:50am we got a phone call announcing whether or not we were going to transfer. Elder Hashimoto stayed in Nishinomiya. I got transfer out of Nishinomiya. I transferred to Fushimi, which is the cool part of Kyoto. Tokyo is the capital of Japan now, but anciently the capital was Kyoto. So, Kyoto has all kinds of cool castles, and Japanese temples, and crazy stuff like that. It`s awesome here. I get to be here for Christmas and Shogatsu (New Year`s, it very big in Japan and everyone goes to Buddhist temples and stuff) for sure. And, if I stay here for a little while, I`ll get to be here for the cherry blossoms too. It`s a very cool place. It`s much colder here than in Nishinomiya. Kyoto is one of the coldest parts of the mission. Some say it`s the coldest. But, it hardly snows at all. It rains often. I don`t understand how it rains when it`s really cold, but it does.
My new companion is named Elder Maesawa. He is Japanese, but his English is really good. I wish my Japanese was as good as his English. He is tiny. I`m a bit taller than the average Japanese person and he`s a little shorter than the average Japanese person. I`m probably a foot taller than him. When I got here, he kept saying "dekai!!!", which means huge. I never thought of myself as a very big person, but the longer I`m here, the more I`m starting to believe that I am a giant. Elder Maesawa is very energetic. He`s always making jokes and playing around, but he still works hard and he`s a good missionary.
The funniest thing happened. On the day that I transferred, we took a train to go to a meeting location. The train was super packed. Everyone was pressed up against everyone else. They were all squished together super tight, but there was like a five inch space around me. The Japanese people were all trying hard not to get to close to me. It was so funny and weird.
We had a baptism here in Fushimi. His name is really Zhang Hao Yun, but he doesn't go by that. He`s Chinese. He always goes by his Japanese name, Cho, or when he meets English speaking people he uses his English name Lawrence. I think it`s weird to use a different name in other languages, but all the Chinese people I've met do it. He`s a very fun guy. He`s a good addition to the ward, but he`s going back to his home in China in a few weeks.
The mission is great. I've seen many miracles. I see the Lord`s hand helping me all the time now. I don`t know if he`s helping me more because I`m a missionary, or if I`m just noticing it more now. It`s probably a combination of both. It`s incredible. He always provides me with just what I need right when I need it. It`s not always when I want it, but everything I need is taken care off. It really feels like He`s watching me and taking care of me. It`s a wonderful feeling.
That`s all I have to say for this week. I`ll write again next week. Bye.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, December 6, 2010

Japan 5 Dec. 2010 Nishinomiya

Week 23
Mission Log

Sister Yamamoto at her baptism
The baptismal service was great. There were like thirty people there. That`s as many as come to church on most Sundays. Sister Yamamoto was referred to us by a church member who lives up in Sendai. The member from Sendai flew down here to see the baptismal service. It was great. I didn't do the confirmation on Sunday. A member of the bishopric did it instead. His name is Brother Suzuki. There are a lot of people named Suzuki here. It`s a very very common name. Brother Suzuki served a mission in Sendai. He just got home from his mission a few months ago. When he was on his mission, he baptized Sister Yamamoto`s friend from Sendai. It was such a crazy coincidence. Sister Yamamoto`s husband didn't come to see here baptism though. I thought that was kind of sad.
My companion went to leadership training in Kobe on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So, I went and worked in Kitarokko. Kitarokko is in the middle of the mountains. It is all hills. It`s very difficult on a bike. And, it`s freezing cold. It was a fun three days.
Tomorrow morning we will get the phone call telling us if we`re transferring or not. It`s exciting and nerve racking. I think that I`m going to transfer and my companion, Elder Hashimoto, is going to stay here. I don`t think I`ll transfer very far though. I don`t think I`ll leave the Kansai area. I think I`ll go to Osaka or very close to it. That`s my prediction. Next week I`ll let you know what happened. I really hope I get to go somewhere that isn't full of rice fields. My companion thinks I`m going to the island of Shikoku. There are practically no people there.
When Japanese people are being polite, they speak in a high pitched nasally voice. Especially the women. I think it`s really funny. We were talking with a member, she was talking perfectly normally. Then, she got a phone call and she answered it and spoke and her super nasally voice. I was way surprised. When she hung up she went right back to speaking normally. It`s funny when you walk through the mall and all the workers talk to you in a super high pitched nasally voice. They`re hard to understand because they use super polite honorific Japanese. It`s wishing minute right now.
Tomorrow is December 7th. I`m unsure if I should pretend that it`s a super big deal in America and everyone just cries and acts sad all day or not. It could cause problems.
Everyone is ready for Christmas here. In Church we sang only Christmas songs. All the lessons had to do with Christmas. Everywhere, all you can hear is Christmas music. There are decorations everywhere. Everyone loves Christmas.
I`m out of time now. I have to get going. I`ll write again next week. Bye.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nishinomiya Japan 25 Nov 2010

Week 22
Mission Log
I`m writing my email three days early this week. On Monday my companion is going to training in Kobe and I`m going to work in a neighboring area called Kitarokko with another missionary. So, we have our preparation day today (Friday) instead of on Monday. I just wrote an email like four days ago. So, I don`t really have a lot to say.
I taught my English class everything there is to know about Thanksgiving. I taught them the history, the food, football, sleeping, gratitude, everything there is to Thanksgiving. Other than that, I didn't do anything for Thanksgiving. Lot`s of people here have never eaten Turkey before. My companion said he`s tried it once in his life. That seems weird to me. One student in my English class asked if we raise the Thanksgiving turkeys ourselves in America. People just have the weirdest ideas about America. Their mind can`t comprehend that anything in America is similar to how it is in Japan. They think we`re all gangster cowboy surfers.
Apparently, there is a really famous samurai that is buried in Nishinomiya. His name is Takeda Shingen. I was looking at some maps of the area, and up in the mountains it said, "Tomb of Takeda Shingen." I showed my companion and he freaked out. He`s like, "Oh! Now way! I want to go there!" I had never heard of him, but the fact that his tomb shows up on the map indicates that he`s somebody of importance. My companion says he`s very famous. You should look up some info about him for me and send it in the next email.
We have a baptism tomorrow. Her name is Sister Yamamoto. My companion will be the one baptizing her, and on Sunday I will confirm her a member of the church. She`s very excited but a little nervous. I am too.
Melon is one of the most common flavors of pop (soda) here. It`s green and it`s delicious. The place I`m emailing in now has free drinks. They don`t have root beer, Sprite, or Coke, but they have two or three brands of melon flavored pop (soda). They have an interesting pop (soda) called Calpis. It`s "a milk based soft drink." It`s really weird, but it`s good. I like it. They have melon Calpis here too. It`s a very popular drink.
They might be just holding any packages for me at the mission home until I go up there for interviews. The next interviews are going to be in mid to late December. After that, I won`t have interviews again until like April. I've been getting letters and stuff just fine. It seems to take about ten days for them to get here though.
I hope everything is going well there. I hope everyone is listening to only Christmas music. I`ll write again next week.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, November 22, 2010

21 Nov 2010 Japan

Week 21
Mission Log

On Monday, in my English class, I taught them all about the system of measurement that we use in the United States. I taught them about pound, inches, feet, gallons, etc. (I forgot to teach about the Fahrenheit and Celsius difference). Everyone thought that our system of measurement was totally ridiculous. They kept saying "It`s so hard!" As we were going through it, I was kind of agreeing with them. It was seeming pretty absurd to me, and I`ve used it my whole life. Then, the next day, my companion and I made cookies to give to someone. He had never made cookies before in his life. He bought a package of flour with a recipe on it though. We had to buy basically all of the ingredients though. Japanese people just never use flour, sugar, baking powder and that kind of stuff. When we started making it, I realized how ridiculous their measurements are. All of them were weights. We had to weigh every ingredient on a scale. My companion said that`s normal, and everyone has a scale in their kitchen. It was so annoying. The recipe said "Egg - 20g". I said to him, "Let`s just put one egg in," but he was sure that we needed to weight the egg. Recipes here use grams, liters, milliliters, and cc. Our recipes with cups teaspoons and tablespoons are way easier. It`s wishing minute right now. I also dropped an egg on the ground and looked like a complete idiot. The cookies turned out weird. It was a strange recipe. Maybe I`ll buy some chocolate chips at COSTCO and make cookies with the recipe on there.
Yesterday was the primary program in church. (For any readers that my not be familiar with the church, primary is the children that are 3or 4 to 11 years old.) There were only three children in the primary here. It was so tiny, but it was still totally adorable. They sang the same songs that the primary back at home sings. Each child had a lot of speaking parts though. It was the whole sacrament meeting with only three kids. One kid was so small, he had to climb onto a step so he was tall enough to speak at the podium. And, he spoke a bunch of times. He had to climb up every time. It was cute. Their podiums are really short too. When I spoke last week, I felt like a giant.
Yesterday, when we went into the city, there were Christmas decorations everywhere. It was insane. They all came up really suddenly on the same day. And, there were a ton of them. It`s evident that Christmas is very big here. The area around the main train station was decked out with lights and such. People don`t know what the star means, but the decorations always have a big star in them. People don`t even know what Christmas really is.
That is everything that happened in this week. Next Monday I will write all of the things that happen next week. Until then, you`ll be left in a cloud of mystery about what I`m up to. Goodbye for now.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, November 15, 2010

Japan 14 Nov 2010

Week 20
Mission Log
Things are going well here. The only American food I miss is McChickens. They have a McPork, and a big chicken patty thing you can buy. I usually get both and combine them into a big McChickenPork. It`s pretty good. The also have a fondue burger at McDonalds. It`s a chicken burger, but the chicken patty is dipped in cheese. It`s really good. Members never invite the missionaries over for dinner like they do back at home. We have two baskets at the church, though, and people put food in them for us sometimes. They put a lot of what they think Americans eat (lots of flour, sugar, popcorn, and hot chocolate usually). Now that I have a Japanese companion, we get Japanese foods too.
It`s starting to get cold here. If you decide to send anything here, I could really use warm gloves, a cool scarf, and a beanie.
I haven`t seen or heard of any upcoming holidays other than Christmas. Some places already have Christmas stuff up. That`s weird. Christmas is super far away. I`m excited to see what Christmas is like here.
I had to speak in church yesterday. I was really nervous. Somebody special was visiting our ward, but I didn't understand who they were. My topic was preparing for the second coming. When he gave me the topic, I told him, "I don`t even know how to say second coming in Japanese." But, I worked really hard, and I think that I gave a pretty good talk. I talked about the parable with the three servants that get different amounts of talents from their master in St. Matthew 25. I also told a story the Pres. Hinckley shared in stake conference a little while back. It was about Native Americans, and the boy having to spend the night in the woods in order to become a man. I love that story. Then I read some of the words to the hymn "The Day Dawn is Breaking". People said that it was really good. One of the visitors that was with the special guy said that he was way shocked at how good my Japanese was. I had a list of a few difficult vocabulary words up at the podium with me. Those were my only notes. All the rest was from my head. I`m really relieved now that it`s over.
There is someone sitting at a nearby computer that is sipping their drink really loudly. Aahh! All Japanese people eat and drink really noisily here. They loudly slurp up everything. It`s just how they eat. People here don`t think it`s rude or annoying or anything. My companion only eats two different meals. He has what he thinks are all these different meals, but to me they just seem like slight variations of the exact same meal. He either has rice with chopped meat, onions, and peppers on top, or he has noodles with chopped meat, onions, and peppers on top. That`s all he eats. He only ever uses two utensils, and they`re both chopsticks. He doesn't even use a spatula or whisk or anything. They have an extra long pair of chopsticks that they use for cooking. This morning he had a piece of toast with butter on it and he got the butter out and spread the butter with chopsticks. He looked like he was having a tough time with it, but he didn't get a knife or anything. He just kept trying with his chopsticks. I have influence on what he eats a little bit. He like COSTCO muffins now. And, he has toast now and then. He still hasn't eaten any cereal or sandwiches though. It`s probably because cereal would be difficult to eat with chopsticks.
They sing all the hymns so slowly and unenthusiastically in church. And, it seems really quiet because there are only 35 people instead of the 200 people at home.
I`m glad everything is going well back at home. I`ll write to you next week.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, November 8, 2010

8 Nov 2010

Week 19
Mission Log

Nishinomiya Apartment

Nineteen is a lot of weeks. Can you believe I've been gone for that long? It doesn't feel like that long.
I don`t think they do daylight savings time here. I don`t remember doing it at all.
The last couple of days have been really nice weather. We went and contacted people in parks and stuff. We also went and saw the ocean. It`s crazy to think that it`s the same ocean that I went to so many times when I was back at home. I looked across the water and realized that all my family and friends were just on the other side of that water. It was really weird.
I won`t be able to participate in any facial hair growing competitions this year or next year, but the next winter, I will come home and just destroy everyone with my awesome super-manly Brigham Young style beard.
When we went to COSTCO, Elder Hashimoto was really anxious to leave the whole time because there were so many people there. He grew up in a little countryside area of Hokkaido and he`s been in small countryside areas his whole mission. Nishinomiya is freaking him out. I don`t think he likes the big city.
Japanese people put a ton of onions on their food. And, the onions are in huge chunks. We had spaghetti one night. I had the spaghetti on the plate. Then, there was a layer of the sauce. Then, Elder Hashimoto put a huge layer of onions covering the whole thing on top of that. I told him that I didn't want quite so many onions on mine. He thought it was weird but he scooped most of my onions onto his plate. Now he tells everyone that I hate vegetables.
We had a really long lesson earlier this morning. So, I don`t have very much time to email today. I`ll write a lot more next week.

Elder Swift

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

31 Oct 2010

Week 18
Mission Log

I`m staying in Nishinomiya (the city I was in) but Elder Hart (my companion) got transferred out. He went to Fukuchiyama (a countryside rural area). I`m glad that I got to stay here. I think some really good things are going to be happening in Nishinomiya. Also, I really don`t want to go to a rural area.
I have a new companion now. His name is Hashimoto. As you probably guessed upon reading his name, he is Japanese. He doesn't know any English at all. It`s going to be really good practice for me and my Japanese will improve a ton this transfer, but it`s going to be really difficult. It`s already difficult. Sometimes, when he`s talking to me, I just nod and pretend I know what he`s saying. He`s extremely different from Elder Hart. It`s really weird being with him. I`m in the same place I was in last time, but I`m doing different things. He eats rice for every single meal. I figured that Japanese people ate rice for most of their dinners and lunches, but he eats it for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It`s so strange. He said he`s never made a sandwich before. I suggested to him that we bring sandwiches with us one day. He laughed and said, "I've eaten a sandwich before, but I've never made a sandwich before." I was pretty surprised. We eat a lot of curry now. Everyone loves curry. It`s not bad.

It got really cold. Everyday I wear long sleeves, a sweater, and my suit coat. And, it`s probably going to get much colder still. It`s rained quite a bit recently. Yesterday, I got completely soaked from head to toe.

We had a Halloween party on Saturday night. I wore a black suit, black tie, black trench coat, and sunglasses and had a toy gun. I was from The Matrix. People loved it. My companion didn't wear a costume. I carved a cool face into a pumpkin. It was a Japanese pumpkin though. They`re different. They are smaller and they`re green. It`s not as cool as the big orange American pumpkins.

On Thursday I`m moving into the Nishinomiya apartment. Then, it will be just me and Elder Hashimoto. I`m going to miss living with three other Elders. It`s a lot of fun. I`m also going to miss being able to speak English. When we teach English speaking people, I`ll be on my own now. Also, at English class I`ll be on my own.
It`s funny to see all of the English words that they have put into their language. Right now, I`m in an intanetto kafee (Internet Cafe).

I`m going to COSTCO now. My companion has never been to a COSTCO before. He`s very excited. I`m excited to see how he reacts. When Japanese people go to COSTCO for the first time, they just go crazy. They've never seen anything like it. All Japanese food is sold in little individual packs. I got a big bag of pancake mix one time, but when I opened it up, it was just a bunch on little one serving size bags of pancake mix. It`s so weird. COSTCO is completely opposite of everything they know. Plus, tons of stuff is written in English. It`s great.

That`s all I have for this week. I`ll write to you again next week. Bye.

-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nishinomiya Japan 25 Oct 2010

Week 17
Mission Log
Tomorrow we get a phone call telling us whether or not we are going to transfer. I`m a bit nervous. It`s crazy that my first transfer period is already over. Every six weeks is called a transfer. At the end of the six week period some people will get moved around. I find out where I`m going on Tuesday and I move there on Thursday. I hope I get to keep working in Nishinomiya. If I do, I`ll get to move into an apartment in Nishinomiya. Right now we`re living in an apartment in Amagasaki (the neighboring area). The Nishinomiya apartment has an oven in it. That`s really uncommon. Nobody in Japan has an oven. Nishinomiya and the mission home (headquarters) are the only places with ovens. Everyone in Japan just uses their microwave for everything. The microwave has an "oven" button on it. That switches it to oven mode, and you can cook things in it like a normal oven, sort of. It`s still pretty small though. I never have to set a time on the microwave. I just hit "start" and it selects the amount of time for me. It`s so cool. Everyone has a rice cooker too. It`s because they eat rice for every meal. They don`t eat brown rice very often, though. Just white rice. And, they don`t eat it plain. They make all kinds of different dishes, but they basically all have rice in them. I really like rice now. I wasn`t a big fan of it before, but now it`s good. I especially like omu rice and taco rice. Taco rice is basically a taco without a tortilla, on rice. Sometimes it has tortilla chips.
I go to the mission home in Kobe all the time. They have young single adult activities there and we bring investigators to them about twice a week. But, if I transfer somewhere far away, I won`t be going there as often anymore. If you sent food the the mission home, it`ll be fine. They get everything to you very quickly. If you want to get anything to me, you should send it to the mission home.
Everyone knows what Halloween is and the stores all decorate and sell Halloween themed stuff, but nobody does trick-or-treating and people don`t really decorate their houses. The big holidays here are Christmas and New Years. On New Years everyone goes to the Buddhist temples.
I haven`t seen any corn on the cob anywhere.
English class is every Tuesday and it`s one hour long.
Most of our teaching is in Japanese.
It`s ridiculously safe here. You can leave anything anywhere and it won`t get stolen. You don`t even have to lock your bike ever. I see little kids walking around all by themselves all the time. Even in big cities or on small side streets. No one even worries that they could get kidnapped or something. Most of the people here have never touched a gun before. Everyone thinks that America is really scary because everything they know about it is from the movies. They think everyone carries guns around and people get shot or beat up all the time.
I`m glad that you put the Pumpkin Man out on the porch again. He`s so cool. When I get back, we have to have some jack-o-lantern carving competitions. I`ll totally dominate.
That`s all for this week. Japanese is coming along. Everything`s good. I hope I don`t get transferred. I hope all is well at home. Talk to you next week.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Japan 17 Oct 2010 Nishinomiya

Week 16
Mission Log

English Class
I`m starting to really get the hang of teaching English class. I have a lot of fun, we learn a lot of material, and the students have a lot of fun too. Elder Hart said that before I came they had one regular student and usually one other random person would just walk in. Now, we have about eight regular students that come each week. When people come they just have so much fun and learn so much that they want to come every week. One student came to our class one time, then went on vacation. She brought us back souvenirs. We only taught her once. They have a binder with a lot of lessons you can teach, but I decided that they were stupid and I make up my own lessons now. My companion mostly just sits there and watches.
We now have four investigators that we teach in English. One is from America, one is from Mexico, one is from Nepal, and one is Japanese but he lived in Hungary for seven years. I really like when we teach in English. It`s a lot easier for me.
I met Elder Aoyagi of the Seventy. He came to Kobe and we had a mission conference. There were people translating for me and the other new missionaries. His talk was amazing. That was on Wednesday. Then, on Sunday, he came to Nishinomiya Ward (my ward). I`m not really sure why he came to Nishinomiya ward, but I`m glad he did. He and his wife spoke for the whole sacrament meeting. We had brought a less-active member to church that week and he (Brother Ueda) said that he really liked Aoyagi. I think it really strengthened him. Than, Aoyagi did a fireside after church. There weren't any translators at church or the fireside. So, I didn't understand most of what was being said, but I`m sure that it was probably super awesome. My companion said it was awesome. At the mission conference, I got to see some of my friends from the MTC that I haven`t seen in like a month.
It`s still really warm here all the time. On Monday we started having to wear suits again. We don`t have to wear suits in the summer because we`d die from the heat, but now we have to start wearing them all the time. I think that it`s still really hot in a suit. It sounds like the winter here is going to be a lot like the winters back home. It will get sort of cold but not too bad. We will probably get snow a couple of times but just light stuff that is usually gone the next morning. Nothing very extreme or exciting.
President Monson said that if you memorize a scripture every day for two years, you`ll develop a photographic memory. He has the whole Book of Mormon memorized. I`m going to start memorizing a scripture every morning. By the end of my mission, I`ll almost have a photographic memory.
After church on Sunday, we were sitting in the kitchen eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when two church members came in. They were like "What is that?" They`d never had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before, or even heard of it. I was pretty surprised. I thought everyone knew PB&J. Japanese peanut butter tastes different. We had some American peanut butter from COSTCO. They tried it and they were shocked. PB&J isn't as good with Japanese peanut butter. We also had nutella and they`d never heard of that either. The all tried some. There were like five of them by this point. They all liked it. They eat rice and soup for every meal here. I`m starting to get used to it. It`s still a little weird though.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift
Eating something (above)

Monday, October 11, 2010

News from Japan

 Best Burger Place

Zone Leaders Elders Kee and Hoffman
 Week 15
Mission Log
Another week has gone by, and I still can`t speak Japanese. Perhaps, I`m doing something wrong. When I`m listening to other people talking, I often understand most of what`s being said, but if they say something to me, I don`t understand it at all. It`s pretty weird.
Elder Hart and I live in the same apartment with the zone leaders. So, we get to go on companion exchanges with them almost every week. Those are really good. I went on a pretty good exchange this week with Elder Lee.
We`re teaching one guy who owns a burger place. It is the tiniest little restaurant ever, but the burgers are so good. We teach him in his restaurant. He`s way cool. We did interviews with the mission president this week.
One day we had four appointments in the morning, but only one person made it. Two of them called and said they couldn't come and one just didn't show up. The one lesson that we did teach went really well though. We took them up to Kobe for a Young Single Adult outreach thing. We made American pizzas and played Foosball. I dominated everyone at Foosball. American pizza is different from Japanese pizza. Japanese people put corn on their pizza. It`s so weird. We taught him a lesson there and it went very well. His name is Taka. He`s very interested and very accepting of all that we've taught. Even though we only got to teach one out of the four people, we still considered it a successful day.
We were eating some lunch in the mall and two girls just walked up to us and asked if they could take pictures with us. It seemed weird to me, but my companion said that happens all the time. I`m pretty much a rockstar here.
I loved General Conference. And, Taka came to both of the Sunday sessions. Between the sessions, all the missionaries there had a big pot luck. It was delicious. After the second session got over, Elder Hart, one of the APs, a member of our ward that just got back from a mission, and myself, all taught Taka another lesson. It was very cool.
I`ll write again next week.
Japan is so weird.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, October 4, 2010

Japan 3 Oct3 2010

Week 14

Mission Log

We went to COSTCO right after I e-mailed home last week. It was just like the COSTCOs back at home. They had all the same American foods and everything on the foods was writen in English. It was pretty great. It felt like being back in America. Then, when we walked out of the store, it was pouring down rain. It felt even more like being back at home. I had used a black marker to color over all the logos on my backpack, and when the backpack got all wet the marker ran off and got all over my white shirt. That was a bit of a bummer.

The next day, my backpack had dried off, and, without even thinking about it, I just put it on and left the apartment. The marker got all over another one of my shirts. I was worried that I had ruined two of my white shirts, but when I washed them, the marks all came right out.

We have our own washing machine in our apartment but not a dryer. Nobody has dryers hardly. Everyone just hangs their clothes on a clothes line. Also, nobody has ovens. Everyone here have crazy high-tech microwaves. Our microwave has an "oven" button on it. It`s really cool. If you just hit the start button, it picked out a time for you, and it`s pretty good. If you just hit start on the washing machine, it`ll weigh your clothes and work accordingly.

Tuesday morning, I got out a paperback Book of Mormon. I spent my personal study time writing out my testimony in Japanese. I then wrote that on the inside cover of the Book of Mormon along with my name and phone number. Then, I went through and marked some of my favorite scriptures. Then, I prayed and asked God to either let me know who I was meant to give that Book of Mormon to, or let them know me. Later that day, we were sitting on some steps and talking to a guy we just met. During the conversation, someone just walks up to us out of nowhere and says, "Hey, I know you. You`re Mormons." It was really surprising because no one here has ever heard of the church before. Then he`s like, "Can I have your book." It was a miracle. God definitely answers prayers. My Japanese isn`t very good so I can`t speak well, and it`s very difficult for me to understand what people say. Therefor, at times, I feel a little useless, but this shows that there are things everyone can do. I put in a little effort in the morning and did all that I could. God saw that I was putting in my best effort and he helped with the rest. It was great. We found four new investigators that day. I now always carry a Book of Mormon with my testimony, name, phone number, and marked scriptures, and I now write little descriptions under all of the pictures that it has at the beginning.

They next day we met a member of the mahikari. You can just feel evil coming from them. They have devil powers.

The next day, we had our weekly planning meeting. It ended up taking way too long.

Friday, I ate octopus. The word for octopus in Japanese is tako (taco). It could easily get confused. The octopus was really hard and chewy. I didn`t really like it that much. It was a good experience though. Then, from the restaurant, I left with Elder Nakamura. We went on companion exchanges. I basically just swapped places with another Elder for twenty-four hours. I rode back to their place which is in the middle of nowhere. It took forever. By the time I got there, it was basically time for bed. The Elder I switched with (Elder Moffet) has a nice air mattress. It was pretty comfortable.

I then spent the next day with Elder Nakamura. He is Japanese and he didn`t speak any English the whole time. I`m still learning Japanese. So, it was very difficult to communicate. Kitarokko (the area I was in for the day) is in the middle of nowhere. There are pretty much zero people. The area is huge is space and has no big buildings. It`s incredibly hilly. It took forever to get to anywhere. I had to ride that other Elder`s bike, and it was just awful. My bike is brand new and very nice. His bike is falling apart. He`s known throughout the mission for being very clumsy and such (Elder Moffet). He`s gotten in wrecks on his bike about one bazajillion times. It was so junky. We had a good time anyway. That night, when I rode my bike home, it felt so good. I love my bike. It`s all white, and it`s really nice. Also, I found out that they don`t let you go through the drive-through at McDonald`s if you`re on a bike. I thought they would since it`s Japan and everyone rides bikes.

The next day was Sunday. We went to church, and it was good. I still don`t understand most of what`s being said. It`s so hard. But, Brother Ueda came to church. He`s a less active member that we talked to and asked to come to church. When we rode our bikes home, it was raining again. It`s about a forty-five minute ride home from church. That`s because we actually live in Amagasaki. We don`t even live in our own area that we work in. It`s a long bike ride to get to everything. There is a church building right outside our apartment, but it`s the Amagasaki building and we go the Nishinomiya building. That night Brother Ueda had us over for dinner. His house is so tiny. It`s smaller than my bedroom. His house is only one room, and a little closet sized bathroom. We sat on the floor and he put a newspaper down as a table. But, he fed us way good food. He gave us each our own package of meat that cost about six dollars each. We then put the meat in boiling water until it turned white, then dipped it in this way good sauce, which he clearly bought just for this meal. Also, he gave us each and box of sushi (another six dollars each). Most of the sushi was very good. A lot of it is just a hunk rice with a slab of raw fish thrown on top. It was so weird eating slabs of raw fish. Then, he gave us bottled water and cup of noodles (yes, they have cup of noodles here). His place is tiny and he has no money, but he still spent a tons to feed us. It was really nice of him. We talked to him for a while and now he`s going to start coming to church again.

I haven`t watched conference yet. They play it in the Stake Centers on the following week. So, this Saturday and Sunday I will go up to Kobe and watch it. I hear I`ll even be able to watch it in English.

The biggest holidays here are Christmas and Shogatsu (New Year`s same day as ours). They don`t understand what Christmas is or why we celebrate it, but they think it`s fun and the give presents and stuff. Shogatsu is like the Shinto/Buddhist equivalent of Christmas. Everyone goes to the shrines and stuff. They do some decorating for Halloween, but not very much. The stores sell Halloween candy, but nobody goes trick-or-treating. It`s not super big here. And, nobody celebrates the 4th of July. It`s so crazy.

The church pays the rent and utilities for the apartment I live in, and they put money on a debit card I have each month so I can buy groceries and stuff. They give me plenty to live off of.

I am taller than the average guy but not by very much. I`m way taller than all the girls though. The girls here are so short. The guys are almost normal height. I don`t usually play any sports on Preperation day, but there is a day coming up sometime soon when a buch of missionaries are going to get together and play some sports. I`m excited for that. I wish we played more sports.

Signing out for the week,

-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, September 27, 2010


Elder Hart
Aragasaki apartment

Week 13
Mission Log
Things are going really well here. The weather is starting to cool down. It`s not even that hot anymore. My companion is from Whakatani, New Zealand. We`re going to the stake center in Kobe to watch conference. I don`t know what days or times it is at though.
I`m basically starving all the time. We have hardly any food in our apartment other than rice and curry. There`s nothing to eat. There is one COSTCO in the mission and it`s in our area. We will go shopping there later today. It will be fun. I`m going to buy so much American food. Everything here is really expensive. The loafs of bread that you buy at the store here only have five or six slices in them. I need to buy about one million of them in order to be fed for a week. A two pound bag of cheese cost eight hundred and eighty yen. That`s a little more than nine dollars. Cereal is very expensive and they don`t have any of the good brands. It`s like they`re trying to make me eat Japanese foods.
We`re having some success. I haven`t baptized anyone yet though. When I got to Nishinomiya, there were zero progressing investigators. It`s better now. We have two people that have baptismal dates. I hope it will work out.
The weather has cooled down a lot. It isn`t even hot anymore.
Japanese is coming along pretty well. I`m getting better at understanding what other people are saying. I don`t have very much time to write this week, but next week I`ll write a bunch. I hope everyone is having fun.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, September 20, 2010


Week 12
Mission Log

I`m finally here in Japan. It just took me forever to find the apostrophe on this Japanese keyboard. The group I was in that was going to Kobe had fourteen people in it. President McIntyre said it was the biggest group he`s ever had. We stayed in the Mission Home in Kobe for the first two days. We just did lots of training and stuff. One morning, some of us woke up early and hiked up this big hill to a park that overlooks the whole city. There are just giant buildings as far as the eye can see.
Then I got my assignment and my first companion. I got assigned to Nishinomiya. I was pretty happy about that. It`s right next to the Kobe area. I could probably see it from up on the hill. We even go back to the Kobe Mission Home sometimes for activities and stuff. And, it`s a big city area. In the whole Kobe mission, Nishinomiya is the smallest area geographically. I`m glad that I got to go to a city area and didn't have to be in the countryside. We never knock on doors here. We just talk to people on the street or on the trains.
My companion is Elder Hart. He is from New Zealand, and he is basically the exact opposite of me in every way. He lived in Japan for a few years before his mission, so his Japanese is really good. He's the district leader. Two other missionaries live in the same apartment with us. They are Elder Lee and Elder Hoffman. They're the district leaders. They're pretty cool.
It's way harder to understand people here. In the MTC everyone talks pretty simply and slowly and they have American accents. In the Kobe Osaka area people talk really really fast and they have their own unique dialect from the rest of Japan.  It`s really hard to understand.

Japan is way cool though. Just because I'm an American, I'm basically a celebrity. People stare at me. Some people just try to talk English to me. A lot of people are pretty good at English, but some aren't very good. And, their accent is so funny when the try to talk English. A lot of the time, when I walk by, girls will say "kakkoi" which means cool. It's pretty fun here.

There are like fifty billion bicycles. Even old ladies will ride bikes around. It's really weird. Also, there are vending machines all over the place. They're just on the sidewalks of all the streets. Not just the big streets. Every street has vending machines. There are tall building everywhere. They seem like they're built around the train stations. There are a lot of train stations and everyone rides the trains. Everybody really likes English. A lot of the time, if you try to stop people on the street to talk to them, they'll just ignore you. But, If you talk in English, they'll stop and try to talk to you. It's fun. Sometimes I have to speak English in a Japanese accent for them to understand. I have to say I'm from Shiatoru instead of Seattle. Everyone knows Ichiro. People love baseball. It's really hot and humid all the time here.

The first lesson I taught here was to a man from India and his English was much better than his Japanese. So, we taught him in English. We usually teach in Japanese though.

I had to introduce myself in church and bear my testimony up at the pulpit, in Japanese. It went pretty well. There are only like forty to fifty people in church every week, but it's a ward, not a branch, and we have our own church building just for this ward. The second councilor in the bishopric is really cool. His name is Senba. He just got back from a mission in Sapporo recently. He's easier to understand. Some people are really hard to understand, and some people are a lot easier.
Talk to you next week,

-Elder Isaac D Swift

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Hey. I'm allowed to send you a quick email to tell you that I got to Japan safely. Everything is great. I'm living in the mission home for a day or two. Then, I'll go to my first area. Love you.


Elder Isaac Swift

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Isaac is finally in Japan! His new address is

Elder Isaac Swift
Japan Kobe Mission
4-6-28 Shinohara Honmachi

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MTC 7 Sept 2010

Week 10
Mission Log
This is likely to be the last time that I'm able to contact you from this facility. Once they trust me enough to sent me off of a mission in Japan, I'll be able to contact you more easily. On Friday, I received the plans for my traveling. On Monday morning, I leave the MTC at 10:00am. I might be allowed to call home from the Salt Lake City airport. I then fly to Tokyo, Japan. I arrive there at 4:35pm on Tuesday. That makes the flight more than 24 hours long! It's really just like 15 hours. The international date line makes it seem longer. I also might be able to call home from there, but probably not both times. Probably one call. I don't know when. Then, I fly to Osaka. There the mission president will meet me, take me out to dinner I hear (Kobe steak I hope), and bring me to the mission home where I will spend the night. My companions are both going to the Nagoya Mission. So, they are on different flights completely. Therefore, I need a new companion while traveling. I've been assigned Elder Jindo. He's Japanese. It may be a pretty interesting trip.
I did receive the camera card. I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures when I get to Japan. The tie that everyone loves is the Donald Trump tie that's silvery white with blue boxes on it. It's pretty awesome.
They teach some forms of magic here. That is how I learned to run up walls and such.
Nathanael and Mary-Anne: Thank you for infiltrating the security here in order to help me acquire some of the necessary "tools." They are greatly appreciated and very much enjoyed. As far as I can tell, this infiltration has gone unnoticed by the guards, but I can't know for certain. I've been seeing all kinds of storms from my classroom window. I've seen more lightning since I've been here than I've seen in a long time. I like watching them on some of the really long days.
Japanese is coming along pretty well. It seems like I'm learning more this week than I did on any of the other weeks. It's the last week. So, I have to work as hard as I possibly can.
I don't really have that much to write about other than I'm excited to go to Japan. Oh, I probably won't be able to email home next week. Here in the MTC, my P-Day is on Tuesday. Out in the field it will most likely be Monday. I leave here on Monday and arrive in Japan on Tuesday. Therefore, I completely miss P-Day. So, if you don't get an email, that's why. You don't need to worry that I was killed or anything. I'll make my email extra long the next week.
Signing out,
Elder Isaac D Swift

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MTC Aug 31, 2010

Week 9
Mission Log
Many interesting things occurred during this past week.
Tuesday: When we were coming back from the temple, we saw three elders from our district running by with suitcases in their hands. We were like "What's going on?" When we got back to the room, all of Elder Payne's stuff was gone. He went home. His companion, Elder Larking, is now companions with Elder Horne and myself. We have three in our companionship. It's a little weird, but it's OK. Both of my companions are going to the Nagoya, Japan mission whereas I'm going to Kobe. So, I'll never see either of them in the mission field. Then, we went to the devotional. They finished putting the bleachers in. So, the gym is opened back up. Now, they have enough room for the majority of the missionaries to sit in the gym. We get there really early so that we can get a good seat. There are two different sets of doors to get in. We're first in line at one of the doors. But, they end up not opening those doors. So, we were last in line to get in the other doors. When we finally got in, the place was packed full of missionaries. They were telling people to start going to the overflow rooms. We kept looking for a spot anyway. It's especially hard for us to find a spot because there are three of us now. But, we find one eventually. It turns out, Elder Holland was the speaker at that devotional. He was incredible. He's very passionate about what he has to say. I think my notes from that meeting have more exclamation marks than everything else I've written in my life put together. It was cool. After the devotional, we met with all of the native Japanese missionaries and talked with them. It was also really fun.
Wednesday: We were studying. Then, after something that Elder Larking said, (something really funny) we decided that he should go to the health clinic and see the doctor. We go down there and sit in the waiting room while he sees the doctor. He comes out and tells us the (really funny) diagnoses. They said that the medicine should arrive around 4:45pm. It was already like four. So, we just waited there for it. It didn't come. Then they told us that we can either walk to the BYU health clinic or wait for the medicine to be delivered tomorrow. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to see the outside world. A health clinic worker walked by and they decided he could just give us a ride there. So we got to ride in a car and we got to leave. He got his medicine very uneventfully. Then, the lady there asked if we wanted to walk back to the MTC or if we wanted a shuttle. I got excited to get to walk back. But, Elder Larking said, "We want the shuttle." So, we sit outside for twenty minutes waiting for the shuttle to come (it's only a five minute walk). When it gets here, there are already five other missionaries in it. Instead of going back to the MTC, it is taking the other missionaries all over the place. First it goes south to downtown. Then, it goes way up north to who knows where. We probably rode in that shuttle for an hour. It was really fun to be able to leave the MTC.
Thursday: We had the TRC. For the first part, there were five new Japanese sister missionaries in the room watching us. They were writing notes like crazy. I'm pretty sure that they copied down word for word everything that was said. Then they left. Our "investigator" kept laughing when we'd say stuff. I don't know if that's because our Japanese was funny or if she just liked to laugh. It all turned out OK though.
Friday: Successfully stopped a zombie invasion from occurring. (just kidding)
Saturday: Defeated seventeen armed guards using only my bare hands. Flipped the switch to turn off the countdown for the nuclear bombs. (again with the humor)
Sunday: I was writing my talk in the the morning and I wrote this sentence that had some really great kanji in it and just looked awesome. So I said, "I'm just going to stop here." In church I got called up to give my talk. I just had to make up the ending. Then, the devotional was Director Heaton. He is director of the whole MTC, and his son is our teacher. He had me come up to the front and help with a demonstration during the devotional. I'm pretty much famous now.
Out of time.

Elder Isaac D. Swift

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More from the MTC 24 Aug 2010

Week 8
Mission Log
The native Japanese people that are going to Japan with us got here yesterday. That means it will be hardly any time before we're all leaving to Japan. It's exciting. There will only be two more weekly emails before I leave to Japan.
On Wednesday, some people from Toyota are going to be in Utah to discuss with the church what kind of a deal they can get on all the cars the church buys for missionaries. The Toyota people wanted to check out the MTC though and see what was going on here. My class was recommended as the best one. So, it's the one that they're going to look at. On Wednesday, they'll come in and talk to us. Based on how awesome we are, the church could get a better or worse deal on all the cars that they buy. They really don't want us to mess it up. I'll make sure that Toyota people have a fun time here.
Last week"s TRC went very well. I understood a lot of what they were saying. And, I'm sure that this week's TRC will go even better.
Every week is pretty much the exact same thing. So , I don't have a lot to write this week. Everything is going well. Lots of studying. Always busy. Lots of great people around. I like it here a lot. You can send whatever you want to the newsletter as long as you make me sound really awesome.
I taught the lesson in our weekly district meeting. It was about Humility. Everyone said that I did a really good job. But, that's to be expected. I mean, who could teach humility better than the Great Isaac? There is no one. When it comes to humility (or anything else for that matter) I'm about as good as it gets. They should just have me teach every week. (funny)
Our two normal teachers are back now and they're teaching again. The half hour of emailing time seems really short when I have stuff that I want to say, but it seems really long when I don't really have anything to say. I'm excited for the devotional tonight. We have no idea who is going to speak to us. They never tell us in advance. Most of the staff doesn't even know in advance. It's basically just director Heaton that knows. But, whoever it is, it will be great. It's always very good.
I'm out of time now. So, I have to get going. I will write again next Tuesday. Goodbye.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More From the MTC--- 17 Aug 2010

Week 7
Mission Log
Here is the schedule of a typical day here.
6:30am - Wake up and get ready
7:00am - Study on your own
7:45am - Breakfast
8:25am - Gym
9:15am - Shower and get ready for class
9:45am - Class
12:30pm - Lunch
1:15pm - Class
5:30pm - Dinner
6:15pm - Class
9:00pm - Plan for next day
9:30pm - Go back to dorm room. Write in journal, get ready for bed, and study
10:30pm - Sleep
*Gym moves around to different times depending on what day of the week it is. Also, on Monday, we have a large group meeting just before lunch and on Friday we have service in the morning and gym right before dinner. Sunday and Tuesdays follow completely different schedules. Each day, we have one teacher teach one of our classes, a different teacher teaches another class, and the third class time, we don't have a teacher and we just study by ourselves. Overall, there is a lot of studying every day.
Funny Story:
We were in the TRC where we practice doing things and teaching people in Japanese. We wanted to share this scripture about Jesus Christ with the person. My companion is thinking, "I'll have him read Alma 7:11." He pulls out his scriptures and he accidentally opens it to Mosiah 7:11. Mosiah 7:11 says, "And now, for this cause have I suffered that ye should be preserved, that I might inquire of you, or else I should have caused that my guards should have put you to death. Ye are permitted to speak." We had them read it aloud, but it was in Japanese. So, we didn't understand what he read, and we didn't know that it was the wrong scripture. Then we asked him (in Japanese), "From this scripture, what did Christ do?" Then he said, "I think someone's about to get killed (in Japanese). The whole time my teacher was watching through a camera and laughing hysterically. It was so funny. It was probably the funniest things that's happened since I've been here.
After the first part, we leave for a few minutes, then come back and teach a lesson. When we came back somehow there were three people in our room. I guess word got around that we were funny and other people wanted to come here. The lesson went really well, though. Two of the people we were teaching were returned missionaries, but the other person I don't think was a member of the church. And, he was a native Japanese person. Mostly, in the TRC it's just church members that volunteer to let the missionaries practice on them. I wish we were more fluent in Japanese so that we could have taught him better. I hope he learned a lot and was able to feel the Spirit anyway.
I've grown a lot in many different ways since I've been here. I'm able to work a lot harder, I've grown a lot spiritually, and I now have a pretty good five o'clock shadow. I like it here a lot. It's great being here. Everything about it is good. However, I'm totally ready to go to Japan. I want to leave for Japan already. I'm excited to be walking the streets and teaching people (in Japan). I'm excited to be eat rice and sushi (in Japan). I'm excited to be sleeping on a futon in a little apartment (in Japan). I'm excited to serve the Lord (in Japan). I'm excited for everything. I'll write you again next week. I hope you're having a good time back at home. I miss you all. Bye.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

News from the MTC 10Aug. 2010

Week 6
Mission Log
To whomever may be able to get a hold of this message. I was able to survive another week. I'm now over half of the way through my mission here in Utah. I'll be able to begin my mission in Japan in approximately five weeks (assuming the let me leave). If they don't, I'll just have to break out of here and commandeer my own plane to Japan. It feels good to be on the second half of my time here now. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's close. Good work to anyone who used the dearelder.com agents to contact me last week. I'm confident that they can be trusted. They sneak in here in the night to secretly deliver messages. I believe they are putting something in my food in an attempt to try to make me like it here. It's working. I'm enjoying it here. I'd avoid the drugs, but I get hungry and the food is all you can eat. I can't help myself. They even order pizza on Fridays and have really good ice cream on Wednesdays and Sundays. I'm going to have to keep eating their food and hope that there aren't any other effects of the drugs.
One of my "teachers" "decided" to go on a "vacation" to "Japan." So, we got a substitute "teacher" for two weeks. He taught us for like two days "then" suddenly just "decided" that he "wanted" to go to "Japan." I find it all to be very suspicious. I heard that one of the "teachers" for the other "class" also went to "Japan" and they aren't even going together or doing things together. What are they really doing in Japan? If that's even where they're really going. I'm OK with it though. I really like learning from all these different teachers. They were all extremely different. What's really weird is that the new teacher is a girl. There are no girls in our district. So, no one in the district has talked to a girl for more than like a couple minutes in the last month and a half. We'd forgotten how different girls are from boys. It's strange.
We have still heard from Emeritus Seventies at every devotional. It's been six weeks now. Their talks have all been really good, but I think it'd be really cool if an apostle came here. People keeps talking about all the apostles that were coming in June. I kind of wish I had been able to come here a few weeks sooner.
Dad should take the job in Belgium! It'd be so cool. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.
Everything is going very well, and mostly according to the plan. There are ridiculous amounts of things to do every single day. I don't think that a human being is capable of getting it all done. I need to leave now. If I don't get back to room 513 in the next two minutes, they'll start to wonder what I've been up to and they might come searching for me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More from the MTC 3 Aug 2010

Week 5
Mission Log
Thank you for putting your lives on the line by attempting to contact me through these emails. Had I been completely cut off from the outside world, I think they would have been able to crack me by now. However, I haven't given in. I wasn't able to send the pictures home by email for two reasons. The first reason is that I did not have the proper cord. Their security is very tight and I was unable to acquire one. The second reason is that these computers that I was able to gain access to are unable to upload pictures from a camera due to the added security they have. They're running a pretty tight operation here.
Amongst us Japanese Elders they usually have an older group which they call senpai, and a newer group which they call kohai. I have always been operating among the "kohai" up until this point. However, yesterday, in the morning, they snuck all the senpai out of here and shipped them off to a top secret mission in Japan. In eight days a new group of agents will come in. At that point, my "comrades" and I will be promoted to senpai, and the new agents will be known as kohai. It's exciting to no longer be a kohai.
The temple in Provo had been closed, but they opened it up last week. So we are now able to go to it every P-day (Tuesday for Japanese Agents).
Their shouldn't be any problem with me being able to "obtain" a visa. I have quick hands. One person wasn't able to get his on time for his departure date, but he's from Finland. The Agents going to Mexico, however, are all having a hard time getting visas. Some of them have been here for like seventeen weeks. I'm glad that I'm not going to Mexico.
We decided that Japanese is the closest language on this earth to Adamic. It just make so much more sense than English. It's so simple, but so great at the same time. I'm really glad that I'm learning it.
Sometimes my companion and I will study at a table outside and put a sign up that says "Contact Us." Tons of people stop by to practice. It's fun.
This opening in which I'm able to hack into this internet connection is only half an hour long. If I attempt to hold the connection any longer, the computer will self-destruct. Then all the doors will seal shut and alarms will start going off, just in case the blast wasn't enough to get rid of me. The time is running out I need to leave immediately. I'll contact you again soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pictures from the MTC

This is where I will be going in September to teach the Japanese people the Gospel.

A cool picture of my nametag,

The district

My companion


One of our rooms and us messing around.

Me fighting off two double agents while running on walls and stuff.

This one block is completely hollow. You can tell by knocking on it. It sounds like a hollow piece of plastic.

My classroom and the computer lab where I breach their security in order to contact the outside world.

There is a secret room that is ust full of plants. The only way I've found to get into it is through this office. (They won't let you go through it though) It is in the middle of the main building.

The first page of the Book of Mormon in Japanese.

I wrote this! Jealous much?

And finally a picture of the laundry mat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More From the MTC : .......... 27 July 2010

Week 4
Mission Log
Not much has changed since the last time that I contacted you. They've been monitoring me closely and attempting to keep me to the same tight schedule every week. They monitor when I go to class, when I go to the gym, and even when/what I eat. I was lucky to be able to get a away for a moment just now. I check each meal for poison, but I still haven't detected any. If they've discovered my identity, they are choosing not to eliminate me. I wonder what exactly it is they have planned for me. I was able to smuggle in a camera and take some pictures that could show everyone what this place is really like and what's going on here, but I don't have the proper cord to attach my camera to their computer system, and I haven't been able to obtain one.
Each week, on Thursday, we go to a special training session. They refer to it as the TRC. There are two parts to this training session. First, we practice doing various tasks or missions in the Japanese language. This last week, we had to pick up one of the "investigators" at their "house" then get that "investigator" onto the "bus" and take them to the secret meeting house referred to as a "church." It's pretty difficult to understand what the "investigators" are trying to say to me in Japanese, but we prepare for the task and have a relatively easy time saying what we want to say. The second portion of this mission is to teach someone a lesson. We have been doing them all in English so far, but a week from Thursday we will begin doing that in Japanese as well.
I've picked up on their code language that I've been referring to as Japanese quite well. I'm at the point where I don't make any more mistakes, and I sound as if I'm a native Japanese speaker when I talk. I often correct all of Japanese people's grammar. I'm actually better at Japanese now than I am at English. I had to write this very mission log in Japanese and have someone else translate it to English so that you would all be able to read it. (I think he is joking-Mom )
I have yet to meet any of their leaders that they call "Apostles," but I'm planning on being on this mission for quite a while. So, I'm sure I'll have that opportunity. Apparently, the Sunday right before I got here was a mission president training session and they had the whole First Presidency and ten out of the twelve Apostles here. I wish that I could have been here.
I've seen a few of the other under-cover agents here that I knew from BYU.
I have to go now. Some of their guards have just breached the perimeter that I've set up. I'll attempt to contact you again next week.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20 July 2010

Week 3
Mission Log
Hello. Things are going pretty well here. My companion is from Utah. He's totally a Utah type of person. I don't think he's ever left Utah for more than like two days. He basically has to live in Utah for his whole life, because I don't think he could handle it anywhere else. He's OK though. There are no other Elders from Washington in my district, but in the other district; going to Japan at the same time, there is one Sister from Washington. Also, one of my teachers was from Spokane.
It's just the same thing here every day. I do the exact same things. I go to the exact same buildings on the small campus that I can't leave. And, I see the exact same people. I literally might go insane from this. There is a very high possibility. I like it here a lot, but doing the exact same thing every day is making me crazy.

We just had a shoe shining party. It was pretty sweet. We actually shine shoes for fun here. My shoes have never been this shiny before. I didn't know it was possible for shoes to be this shiny. It's just bizarre.
It's pretty great here. Everyone around is really nice and awesome and most of them are somewhat fun. We're always doing Japanese stuff or gospel stuff. That's pretty fun. It's nice to not have to worry about school or work or anything like that. You can just focus on being a missionary. Also, we have a devotional every Tuesday and a fireside every Sunday. It's really sweet. The devotional is always a general authority and the fireside is always somebody who's super awesome, but not a general authority. Last Sunday the director of the MTC spoke at the fireside. He's also my teacher's father. He was so good. At today's devotional we think that there's going to be an apostle. They don't tell us who is speaking ahead of time. The last two devotionals were both by Emeritus Seventies, and we hear that they like to have an apostle speak about every three weeks so that even the English speaking missionaries who are only here for three weeks will get to hear from an apostle at least once. I'm pretty excited for it.
If it weren't for pizza day and ice cream day, I would seriously go insane and start breaking stuff. I even wear the same thing every day. Everyone does.

The language is still coming along pretty well. I think I'm about fluent now. I'm ready to get out of here and go to Japan. It's a good thing that I only have nine more weeks here. I don't know if I'm going to survive this. I'm kidding. I'll be fine. It's great here, even though it's driving me insane. If that doesn't make any sense, it means that I've already lost it.
All the days are kind of blurred together now. Every day seems to take a week to get through, but every week feels like it was just a day. It's strange, but it a perfect description of what life is like here. It's also very busy here all the time. Well, if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing it is.
I'm going to go do more language study and gospel study now, just like I do all day every day.
Talk to you next week,
-Elder Swift

13 July 2010

Week 2
Mission Log
I was able to breach their security and tap into the system for a brief time. I've recruited some of their men to my side and we've formed an alliance. I've allied myself with nine other Elders that are going to be traveling to Japan. We call ourselves District 27. Four of them are from Los Vegas, one from New Mexico, one from Arizona, two from Utah, and one from Brazil. I don't suspect that any of them have been compromised. However, the Korean Elders all seem fishy. We keep a close watch on them, and make sure to do everything at least a little bit better than they do. I've located secret compartments in Building 18M (the building with my classroom). As I knocked on all of the stone blocks that make up the walls I discovered that some of them are hollow. I have not yet discovered what is hidden inside of them, but I'll look into it.
The language is coming along really well. Everyone in the district comes to me when they have questions or anything. Today one of the Elders wanted to prove that he could fit a quarter in his nose. He got it. But, he wasn't able to get it back out after he got it in. It was the funniest thing in the world. We were all laughing our heads off. Luckily, he got it out before the Korean Elders found out about it. The other day one of the Korean Elders was trying to drink red juice by using chopsticks instead of picking up the glass with his hand. What a stupid idea. He dropped it and some of the red juice got on the white shirt of one of my district member. He turned around and said, "Wow. Thanks. How about you use Sprite next time." Why would anyone use red juice to do that when everybody is wearing white shirts. Only a Korean Elder would do that. We have a big rivalry with them. Also, we call the Spanish speakers Slytherin. Everything is going great here. My district is really nice and friendly. We're taking some pretty awesome matrix pictures. Hopefully they will be posted on this blog later.

On Independence Day, we got special permission from President Smith (the MTC Mission President) to stay up late, because you can see the Stadium of Fire from the MTC. If you don't know what that is, you'll have to look it up. It was pretty cool. We had a really awesome devotional on Sunday. It was by Jenny Oaks Baker. She is Elder Oaks' daughter. Elder Oaks was there too. Anyway, she is like the greatest violinist in the world. She's played with basically every symphony group thing and played in basically every major place. She played like eight songs for us and talked about how the gospel has helped her in her life and how it's helped because a great violinist. She played at Stadium of fire with Carrie Underwood, and her gown caught on fire from a firework that went array. It's really warm here. But, there were lightning storms a couple days ago. It was pretty cool. Getting up at 6:30am really hasn't been that hard for me. I can tell that some people struggle with it, but it's not that bad. I hope you are all having a good time back at home. I like to get letters from people.
I must return to hiding now before they discover my location. I hear them coming for me. Don't tell anyone my real identity, or else the whole mission could be compromised. Don't trust anyone.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift