This is Kobe, Japan.

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