This is Kobe, Japan.

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