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