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.
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