This is Kobe, Japan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

18 Dec (19 Dec in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 76
Mission Log
Things are going well here, as usual.  I`m excited for Christmas in a week.  I`m excited to get to talk to you on the phone.  The phone call has to be fifty-nine minutes or less.  You`re supposed to call on Christmas Day for you, which will be Monday for me.  If you call in the afternoon, it should get to me in the morning.  That would be the best for me, but I don`t know what your schedule would be like.  The best for me would be at like eight or nine in the morning.    I will probably not be sending an email home next week because I will be talking to you on the phone.
  This morning, the first place that we went to to email wasn`t working at all.  None of the computers in the whole place could get Internet.  After that, we had to walk my bike to the bike shop to get it fixed.  In addition to that, we have a lesson scheduled during our preparation day, so we don`t have much time for shopping and email. 
We received a phone call last night with our transfer announcement.  Sennan is going back to being four missionaries again.  Elder Murray (the Canadian) is leaving, but Elder Singleton (another Canadian) will be coming here to be my companion.  I will meet him for the first time tomorrow.  He is another really young missionary.  Elder McKellar (the Australian) will be staying here and his new companion will be Elder Stanford.  All of the transferring will be happening on Tuesday this time (it`s normally Thursday) so that everyone can get settled in before Christmas. 
I have to get going now.  I love you all.  Have a wonderful Christmas. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, December 11, 2011

11 Dec (12 Dec in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 75
Mission Log
I`ve become pretty much a pro at figuring out how to turn the typing back to English after I accidentally switch it to Japanese.  It only took me about two seconds this time.  The space bar is really tiny on the keyboards here and the button to switch it to Japanese is right where the second half of the spacebar is supposed to be.  I accidentally hit it all the time.  Other then that, Japanese keyboards are exactly the same as American keyboards.  As long as you keep it in English mode, there is no difference. 
I am still working with Elder McKellar and Elder Murray.  The next transfer calls will be on Monday, one week from today.  The transfer will occur on Thursday.  I wonder what`s going to happen. 
I`m continually amazed at the technology in Japan.  I expected Japan to have really cool advanced technology, but nothing like this.  There isn`t really any difference in the computers, phones, ipods, or TVs or anything like that.  Most people don`t even have a computer or a clothes dryer in their home.  The technology that they do have us beat on is their vending machines.  First of all, they`re everywhere!  Even in neighborhoods and on random streets in the middle of nowhere, there are vending machines along the road here and there.  I`ve seen vending machines with fresh vegetables or fruits in them multiple times.  Foods, batteries, small electonic/car parts, cigarettes, alcohol, eggs and of course normal drinks can also be found in vending machines here and there.  Most commonly they have drinks in them.  None of the drinks are left to be at a normal temperature.  Every drink is either chilled or heated at all times.  The machines all run twenty four seven in order to have your drink at the perfect temperature at all times.  I`ve even seen some that you can adjust the temperature according to what you like.  Sometimes they have small TVs on them advertising the product, or they just talk to you.  On the coffee ones, you can adjust the amount of coffee beans, cream, sugar, and things like that.  You can get your drink in a cup with ice in it and a straw if you choose to.  Sometimes I feel like the vending machines here have more variety and better service than grocery stores and even some restaurants back in the United States.  However, there one downside is that they use up ridiculously large amounts of energy.  I`m sure that vending machines will end up being the downfall of this country.  All the time, talk comes up of turning of vending machines at night or lessening the heating and cooling functions on them in order to save energy in the country, but people freak out and don`t want to do it.  I mean, when it`s two in the morning and I want a melon soda, it`s got to be kept at exactly one degree Celcius.  Any warmer would just be unbearable. 
Last Monday, we went to a zoo/park that`s in our area.  There was a dolphin show and it was really fun and interesting to watch.  We also got to see two kangaroos fighting each other, climb a lighthouse, feed some monkeys, and touch various animals.  It was a bunch of fun.  We actually don`t have a lot of time this week and I took a while going off about the vending machines.  So, I`m going to have to get going now.  I`ll right again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, December 4, 2011

4 Dec (5 Dec in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 75
Mission Log
Seventy-five is three fourths of a hundred.  That means that My mission is nearly three fours of the way over already.  I can`t believe it.  It`s weird to think that a whole year went by since last Christmas.  It feels like it was just yesterday. 
A few interesting things happened this week.  Elder Symmonds went back home.  He got a medical release and went back to the United States on Saturday.  I am now working with the other two missionaries that were in the same area with us, Elder McKellar and Elder Murray.  Elder McKellar is from Australia and Elder Murray is from Canada.  They`re both way cool, and we`re getting along well.  We will be working as a threesome for the next three weeks.  I don`t know what will happen from there.  It would be cool if I got back together with an old companion again.  It could end up happening.  There is also a possibility that I could end up training again.  Who knows? 
I don`t know when Caleb will get his acceptance letter.  It sounds like he sent his application in for the early application date.  I sent mine in for the latest one.  I applied a lot later than this.  Jordan Ottesen applied at the early one, and he got his acceptance letter much earlier than I did. 
My address is Oosaka-fu Sennan-shi shindachi ichiba 893 banchi 3 sanhaitsu izumisunagawa and I am in room number 1027.  I can see everything from my apartment because it`s on the tenth floor of a building up on a hill.  I can even see Kobe. 
I also got sick and had to go to the doctor this week. 
I got to go on a companion exchange with Elder Kawamura again.  That was pretty fun.  He was my companion about a year ago. 
I think that`s everything for this week.  I`ll talk to you all again later.  Bye.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, November 27, 2011

27 Nov (28 Nov in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 74
Mission Log
Hello, everybody.  How`s everything going?  Things are still going really well here.  I`m kind of getting used to everything in Japan and it`s all becoming normal now, so there aren`t really any strange experiences or weird foods to write about anymore.  I`ve gotten used to sleeping on a futon (a thin mat that you lay on the floor to sleep on).  It`s not soft like a mattress, but it`s still plenty comfortable.  It`s especially good if the g\floor has tatami (a Japanese style floor woven from bamboo). 
In Japan, they don`t do anything for Thanksgiving.  I had actually forgotten that it was Thanksgiving until I got the emails last week.  No one in Japan even knows when Thanksgiving is or what it is.  I went around and taught a lot of people about Thanksgiving this last week.  We didn`t do anything special for Thanksgiving either.  But, at night I got a package from you and I was able to have a great Thanksgiving feast.  It was wonderful.  Thank you.  The Jacket and the toothpaste are also much appreciated.  Everything was good.  It was pretty nice eating good American Thanksgiving foods.  People don`t eat turkey here at all.  Most people have never had turkey before in their life.  They just eat rice and soy sauce all the time.  I like Japanese food.  It`s no longer weird  or anything.  It`s just normal food now.  It doesn`t seem foreign to me at all.  Myt companion however, can`t stand any of it.  He just eats cereal and peanut butter sandwiches all day.  I really like ramen (like Top Ramen but nicer) and gyoza (potstickers).  What`s funny is that those are both really Chinese foods.  When people ask my what Japanese foods I like, I never know what to say because all of the best Japanese foods are from China.  If I say a food from China, then they`ll get unhappy and say "That`s not Japanese!"  I pretty much like all of the foods here.  The only food I don`t like is beans.  That`s the same in the US or Japan. 
Our apartment is on the tenth floor of our building.  I`ve never lived so high up before.  Because there aren`t really any tall buildings in Sennan, and our building`s on the top of a hill, I can pretty much see the whole area.  I can even see Kobe across the water from my apartment building.  We live a little bit East of Izumisunagawa station which is one train station North from Izumitottori where the church is.  We had to ride the train back from the church one time.  I like riding trains.  They`re pretty convenient, but cars were still much nicer.  I`ve going to let you go now.  I`ll talk to you all again next week.  Love you.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20 Nov (21 Nov in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 73
Mission Log
Why, hello everybody!  How are you all doing today?  Things went pretty well this week.  The new area is pretty good.  There a lot of really great members in this new area.  Also, I`m started to get all the streets and places down pretty well.  The one downfall of the Sennan area is that there are huge hills that we have to ride up all over the place.  I guess, I shouldn`t say "the one downfall" because whenever we have to go anywhere, it`s really more like three downfalls and seven mountains that we have to climb up.  It`s pretty difficult getting around here on a bike.  It`d be nice if we had a car or something.  No one in this mission has a car, though.  Every area is a bike area.  Only the office elders and the assistants to the president drive cars. In Japan, it cost a couple thousand dollars to get a driver`s license.  Also, you have to be eighteen or older in order to drive.  My new companion is cool.  I`m trying to help him get used to Japan and to being a missionary.  He`s working hard and doing a great job.  No, I`m not a zone leader this transfer. The church is about a twenty minute bike ride away from the apartment building. 
The pictures that you sent this week didn`t work, and they didn`t work last week either.  Just a bunch of random letters and numbers showed up instead.  The computer is going really slow and freezing up again this week and I think it`s because of the pictures that didn`t work.  Speaking of pictures, the battery on my camera died and I lost the cord that you charge it with.  It`s a cord that you plug directly into the camera.  The camera is a samsung and I haven`t seen any samsung stores around in Japan.  I can`t take any more pictures without the cord. 
My bike has a bit of a problem.  My left break was always really week.  You had to pull it really hard in order to slow down.  Also, the right break can slow me down just fine, but if I pull it, it stays pulled until I reach down to the tire and take it off.  Because of that, I would always just use my left break and only use the right one if I have to stop very quickly or go down a big hill or something.  It was my back-up emergency break type thing.  For various reasons I switched bikes with my companion for two days.  He then said that he couldn`t ride my bike because the breaks were too bad.  I figured he just wasn`t used to my breaks and didn`t know how to us them.  We switched back, and then we started going down the biggest hill in the area.  I`m pulling the left break as hard as I can, but because it`s so worn out and weak, it isn`t really doing anything.  I`m still going really fast.  There area some really sharp turns at the bottom of the hill, but I wasn`t worried, because I figured I could just pull my emergency break and slow down.  However, when I tried to pull my right break, nothing happened.  The break thing pretty much fell off of my handlebar and the were no breaks to slow me down.  That`s when things got a bit scary.  I had to use my feet as breaks (probably wearing out a lot of the soles), but I was able to make the turns ok.  I`ve been riding around with pretty much no breaks for the last couple of days.  It`s scary at times, but I`ve been ok.  We`re going to go get my bike fixed today.  My companion still claims that he didn`t do anything to my bike, though.  I don`t know what caused this problem. 
It`s gotten really cold for riding a bike around all of the time, but not cold enough for snow to fall.  I hear that it doesn`t really snow much in Sennan.  I hope that I at least, get to see some snow. 
Have a good week everyone.  I`ll talk to you later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13 Nov (14 Nov in Japan) 2011 Sennan Japan

Week 72
Mission Log
This week went pretty well.  We cleaned everything out of the apartment in Wakayama and said goodbye to all of the members and investigators there.  Then we went to a meeting with the stake leaders in Osaka.  After that, we spent a day helping the missionaries in a place called Senboku.  On Thursday morning I went up to the mission office in Kobe to pick up my new companion.  His name is Elder Symmonds.  He is from Las Vegas.  He`s brand new to Japan.  We then rode the train together to a place called Sennan.  Neither of us have ever been to Sennan before.  We don`t know where anything is or who any of the members are.  Also, we don`t have any investigators.  Elder Symmonds is brand new.  So, I pretty much have to work super hard to learn all that stuff as quickly as possible and find us some new investigators.  There are two other missionaries living in our apartment with us.  One is named Elder Murray and he is from Canada.  The other is named Elder McKellar and he is from Australia.  I love working with people from Australia or New Zealand.  They`re so cool, and they love to Tim Tam Slam just as much as I do.  I`ll teach you all what Tim Tam Slamming is when I get back.  It`s pretty much the greatest thing ever.  Sennan is considered part of Osaka, but it is on the very bottom border of it.  Osaka is a massive city, but Sennan is much smaller.  It seems really run down and dirty everywhere.  There aren`t any tall buiildings either.  The computer that I`m using to email right now isn`t working very well.  It`s kind of annoying trying to use it, because it just stops and freezes up literally every two seconds.  I can get through writing maybe a word or two before it will freeze up again.  Because of that, I probably won`t write very much this week.  All of the members here are really nice and they all are pretty friendly to the missionaries.  They are excited that there are four missionarries in Sennan now.  There are about sixty members here.  There is a properly built church building, but it is really small:  it is up on top of a giant hill.  Sennan is just full of giant hills.  It`s really hard to get around.  I`m going to get going now.  I love you all.  Bye.  
-Elder Isaac Swift 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

6 Nov (7 Nov in Japan) 2011 Wakayama Japan

Week 71
Mission Log
Good Morning USA!  Everything is great in Japan today, as usual.  Yes, I do know Elder Kameron Mesecher.  We were in the same seminary class.  It`s funny that Dad ran into him in Arizona.  I`m excited to hear who the new bishop is going to be back in the Manorwood Ward. 
This morning we had our transfer announcements again.  The mission president called this morning to let me know that I`m transferring again.  We are closing the Wakayama area.  My companion and I are both transferring out and no knew missionaries are coming into the Wakayama ward.  We knew it was coming though.  About a month ago, upon pondering what to do and much prayer on the subject, we felt that missionaries needed to be pulled from the area.  We let the mission president know the next week and since then, we were just working to prepare all of the people in Wakayama for the close.  It was really weird working in an area that I knew was going to be closed shortly.I`m not going very far though.  I`m going to Osaka.  Particularly, I`m going to a place on the very bottom of Osaka, called Sennan.  It`s the next area up from Wakayama.  There are going to be four missionaries in Sennan.  It will be a party.  Also, I will be training a new missionary again.  On Thursday, I will go up to Kobe and pick him up.  It`s very exciting. 
You don`t have to send me anything, but if you feel like you want to send something so me, there are things that I want.  They are my black Pierce College hoodie, toothpaste, garments (size 32 on the bottom), and whatever seems cool. 
I ran out of time, and have to get going now.  I`ll write more next week.  I love you. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, October 30, 2011

30 Oct (31 Oct in Japan) 2011 Wakayama Japan

Week 70
Mission Log
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  I hope that everyone is doing something frightfully fun for this holiday that only comes around once a year.  I guess it`s still the thirtieth back in the States, but here, it is already Halloween.  I started this Halloween off perfectly with a scary Halloween nightmare last night.  It involved a lot of us being in a dark, old, scary mansion and people started disappearing.  It helped me get off to a good start and really get into the spirit of this holiday.  We had our ward Halloween party on Saturday, put on by the Young Single Adults of Wakayama.  It was a blast.  There were tons of kids that all had a good time, and there were probably fifteen or more people there who weren`t church members.  I decided to go as the guy from the Matrix.  All that I had to buy was a toy gun from the dollar store.  I then just put on my trench coat and black tie.  Everyone liked it.  The little kids all thought that I was a detective though.  It was cute.  The whole night, they kept calling me "Mr. Detective."  What is everyone back at home dressing up a for Halloween?  You should send me pictures, or at least tell me about everyone`s costume. 
It`s a beautiful day outside.  A member from the ward next to our ward is going to take us out golfing.  I hope that it`s fun.  I`m helping my companion pick out his classes to sign up for at BYU.  He`ll be going home pretty soon.  We have to go to the mission home again today, and it`s a couple of hours away.  So, I`m going to get going now.  I`ll talk to you again later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, October 23, 2011

23 Oct (24 Oct in Japan) 2011 Wakayama Japan

Week 69
Mission Log
Wow.  It sounds like everything is changing back in Puyallup.  It`s not going to be the same at all by the time I get back.  I`m pretty sure that I`ll be coming back in July, but that isn't completely certain. 
This week went pretty well here.  On Thursday, Elder Ringwood from the Seventy came and spoke to us.  His wife spoke as well and there was much to be learned from the experience. 
I don`t have very much time this week.  We have to travel into Osaka again to meet with everyone in the zone.  What is the plaque at the library for? 
The Young Single Adults are putting on the Halloween Party here.  It`s going to be a lot of fun.  I`m pretty excited.  I still don`t know what I`m going to dress up as yet.  If anyone has any ideas, they can e-mail them to me, but it will probably be too late already when I read it.  What is everyone back at home dressing up as for Halloween? 
The weather is beautiful, warm, and sunny right now.  It was pretty stormy on Friday, though.  The winds and rain were pretty strong.  There was even a bunch of Thunder and lightening at night.  It was pretty cool. 
I have to go now.  I love you all.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, October 16, 2011

16 October 2011 (Monday the 17th in Japan) Wakayama Japan

Week 68
Mission Log
Another week has gone by, and everything is still going just fine.  On Tuesday, we got to work with two of the nearby Elders, and one of them was in the same district with me in the MTC.  It was cool to work with him again.  Then, at night, we went to Osaka for a meeting with the Stake Presidency.  It was pretty cool.  On Wednesday, we had interviews with the mission president.  He`s a good guy and his wife is very nice.  We wanted to go down to a place in our zone called Shingu for a day to help out the missionaries there.  The thing is, Shingu takes about eight hours to get to.  We spent most of our day on Thursday going down there.  We worked with them on Friday.  Then, we left really early in the morning on Saturday and rode the train forever to get back to Wakayama.  Between that and going to Osaka for the meeting and the interviews, we hardly had any time to work in our own area.  It was a fun week though.  Have you ever seen or heard of the movie "The Cove"?  It turns out that the cove in that movie is in Shingu.  There are tons of protesters at the cove all the time.  While in Shingu, I was able to eat some raw dolphin and some raw whale meat with a lot of whale fat.  I thought that they were both pretty good, but the other missionaries that came didn't like them at all.  On Sunday, I had to teach the Gospel Principles class about the Law of Chastity.  My companion and I take turns teaching Gospel Principles class each week.  After church we went to an event that was going on which they called International Cafe.  We get invited to all of the International events because we`re Americans.  I expected this event to be a gathering of a bunch of foreigners that live in Wakayama.  While there were quite a few foreigners, the majority of the people there were Japanese people who liked English, like foreigners, have been to another country, or were just bored.  It was fun. There was a little performance and snacks.  Then, there was a time for everyone to get up and just talk with people.  Everyone would just come up to us because we`re Americans and start a conversation with us.  We used the opportunity to teach them about the gospel.  We found four new investigators there in like thirty minutes.  The food was also pretty good.  There are a lot of koi fish here.  In Japan they are everywhere.  There are especially a lot in the moat that surrounds the Wakayama castle.  The koi that are white, orange, red, and/or black look nice, but over half of the koi that I see here are just a really ugly brown color.  Japanese people think that they are really pretty, but they actually don`t look nice at all.  They`re pretty gross.  Wakayama is a pretty big city.  It`s probably four times the size of Imabari.  The church here is also really nice.  It`s a proper building that the church built.  The chapel is on the second floor.  That`s actually pretty common for the churches that we build here.  It looks like a normal church building that we`d have back at home, except, it has two full floors, there`s no gym, and there aren't any pews.  It just has folding chairs that we have to set up every week.  Everything is going really well.  I`ll talk to you again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, October 9, 2011

9 Oct (10 Oct in Japan) 2011 Wakayama Japan

Week 67
Mission Log
Hey, how`s everything going back home?  Things are going well here.  I like Wakayama.  It`s a really cool area.  The people here speak much differently than they did back in my last area.  All over Japan, people speak differently based on the area they live in.  It`s not just pronunciation either.  It`s completely different words and ways of speaking.  I`d say that the difference between the last area I was in and this one, is a bigger difference than between the United States and England.  It`s like this all over.  Around here, everyone speaks Osaka-ben.  Because it`s so different in different areas of Japan, it takes some getting used to each time you transfer. 
General Conference was really good.  I especially liked all of them.  The Priesthood Session was really good.  I also, really liked Elder Yamashita`s talk because he`s from Japan.  Now that conference is over, that`s the cue that we have to start wearing suit coats all the time.  It`s still pretty hot, but we have to wear our suit jackets whenever we leave the apartment now.  Someone gave me a free suit jacket the other day.  It`s a pretty nice jacket.  It might be my favorite one. 
We got to go to the mission home for zone leader council this week.  It was really cool.  We discussed what to do in the mission this month and things like that.  Then, we came back and taught all of the district leaders in the zone about the new mission training plan.  We also go on companion exchanges a lot in order to teach and train all of the missionaries in the zone.  It`s pretty fun.  I only get to work with my companion for about half of the time.  That`s about all that I have for this week.  I`ll talk to you later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, October 3, 2011

2 Oct (3 Oct in Japan) 2011 Wakayama Japan

Week 66
Mission Log
Things are going really well here in Wakayama, Japan.  How is everything going back in the United States?    Wakayama is a nice place.  It`s a much larger city than Imabari is.  It`s the biggest city in this prefecture, which happens to be called Wakayama Prefecture.  It`s not a super big city though.  It`s a pretty medium sized city.  There aren`t really any huge skyscrapers like you usually see in big cities in Japan, but there are tons of building that are like five or six stories.  Other cities will just have a small area of the town that is super super tall, but Wakayama is just kind of big all over the place.  The ward has about 75 to 80 members that come each week.  That`s the biggest ward that I`ve worked in so far.  There are a lot of young single adults here, and also a lot of children.  It`s a pretty good place. 
The weather is starting to cool off quite a bit.  I`m kind of glad, because soon we`ll have to start wearing our suit coats around all the time.  It rained quite a bit on Friday, but other than that it`s been mostly sunny. 
My new companion`s name is Elder Burhoe.  He`s from American Fork, Utah.  He`s blond and a little taller than me.  He likes sports and having fun.  We`re getting along great so far.  We wake up extra early in the morning so that we can study some, then run to a nearby park and play football.  We played frisbee on the first day, but it broke and we just have a football now.  There`s also a nearby tennis court.  So, we might go play there some mornings as well.  Sports are fun. 
For those of you who have already watched conference, don`t spoil the ending for me.  I haven`t seen it yet.  In Japan, everyone watches conference in the church one week later than when it actually happens in the United States.  If we tried to watch it live, we`d have to watch it in the middle of the night.  Instead, each ward gets it on a DVD and they just play it in church on the next weekend.  I`m really excited to see general conference this next weekend. 
I`d love to go through the Salt Lake temple some time.  It seems like it would be a great experience. 
Right now I`m emailing in like an international community center type place.  It`s for foreign people that live in Wakayama.  It has super nice computers.  I really like it.  Also, they`re free.  In some areas, you`ll have to pay money to go do your weekly emailing.  I`ve pretty much run out of things to say now.  I love you.  Talk to you later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25 Sept 2011 (26 Sept in Japan) Imabari

Week 65
Mission Log
Hello, everybody.  How are you doing?  I am doing quite well here. 
This morning I got a phone call from the mission president announcing the transfers.  Elder Burner will stay in Imabari.  I however, will be leaving to a place called Wakayama.  The zone that I`m in right now is called Matsuyama zone.  Matsuyama zone and Wakayama zone are the farthest places from each other in the whole mission.  It will probably take me a couple of days and a lot of money to get there.  Also, I`m going to be a Zone Leader now.  I've never been a zone leader and Wakayama is the biggest zone in the mission.  It has eleven areas in it.  Each area is one ward or branch and they all have two missionaries in them.  My companion`s name is Elder Burhoe.  I heard that he`s pretty good.  On Wednesday I will begin my long journey out of my beloved Imabari and into the land of Wakayama.  It`s pretty exciting. 
This week was pretty good.  We visited one member twice who was in the hospital.  He just got out and was able to come to church on Sunday.  We had a really good lesson with a guy named Watanabe Ryosuke.  We were teaching him about the commandments and he was saying that they seemed pretty hard and he didn't think he could do it, but we committed him to keep them all for one week and promised him that he would see the blessings that come and he would feel the Spirit testify that they are true commandments from God.  It`s been five days now and it seems to be going really well.  We have another investigator who had met with the missionaries back in high school and she`s remembering all of the things that she learned and felt.  And, we`re teaching a referral from a member named Nishida Lisa and she`s already said that she wants to get baptized and she`s just working to prepare herself so that she can.  We have a lot of good investigators here, but I`m sure that we`ll be able to find a lot of good people in Wakayama as well. 
We had to cancel our English class this week,  because of two big typhoons that came through, all of the English classes in Japan were canceled.  Normal schools and stuff were canceled as well.  This year has been really bad in Japan for typhoons. 
I went on another companion exchange in Niihama.  It was pretty fun.  I`ll let you know what Wakayama is like after I get there.  Talk to you next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, September 19, 2011

18 Sept 2011 (19 Sept in Japan) Imabari

Week 64
Mission Log
Things are going well here.  Next Monday we will get the next transfer announcements.  It`s pretty exciting.  I probably won`t be a trainer again.  I`ll probably transfer out of Imabari.  I`m ready to go somewhere else.   It has started raining quite often again.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was raining when I got done emailing. 
Yesterday, there was a Priesthood Preview meeting.  It was a meeting for people getting the Priesthood.  Ken Takabayashi went.  He`s a Priesthood holder now.  It was a really cool meeting.  There were only ten people there.  Three people getting the Priesthood, the branch leaders, and us.  Each of the leaders in the branch (branch president, Elder`s quorum president, etc.) spoke about the priesthood at the meeting.  It was really cool.  I felt the Spirit and it helped me.  I hope that it helped Brother Takebayashi as well. 
We`re working really hard and teaching a lot of good people.  There`s one American in our branch.  His name is Brother Scott and he`s from Minnesota.  Not much other stuff really happened this week.  There may be another typhoon coming soon.  Possibly even today. 
I`ll write more exciting stuff next week.  I love you and hope that you are having a wonderful time and enjoying every day.  Talk to you later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, September 12, 2011

Imabari Japan 11 Sept, 2011

Week 63
Mission Log
My plan to infiltrate the Japan Kobe Mission Infrastructure and become accepted as one of them so that I can learn what they`re really up to is almost complete.  This week, I even got to travel quite a bit to go to some of their top secret meetings and conferences.  On Monday, I took a trip to Matsuyama which is a couple hour away by train.  I spoke with some people there and then went immediately to Okayama without even coming back to my base in Imabari.  Okayama was a few more hours by bus.  There we had a private conference with about thirty people that the President chose to share his secret plans for the mission with.  I wrote down some notes and locked them up back at my base.  I think they`re really starting to trust me, because after that meeting I got invited to the even more exclusive meeting with the President.  There was about six of us in that meeting.  There, he told us all of the real hidden motives behind his actions and informed us of the devious plans and happenings that are about to unravel.  I haven`t blown my cover yet.  I`ve nearly assimilated myself into their structure well enough to begin forming alliances and thwart any evil plans that arise.  Also, on Friday and Saturday I spent some time in Niihama (two hours by train) instructing some missionaries about many important secret plans that have been formed and helping that sector of the mission to become a greater ally to my cause. 
Last preparation day, I got to see a really cool castle in Matsuyama while I was there.  It`s up in a mountain and you have to take a chair lift to get up to it.  Also, inside the castle, you are able to try on some samurai armor.  It was really cool.  When my companion and I had it on, several different Japanese people that came by wanted to take pictures of us, but none of the Japanese people wanted to try the armor on themselves.  It was kind of funny.  It`s a little weird to think of how many people that I don`t even know have taken pictures of me in the last year.  It`s strange thinking that there are tons of pictures of me floating around in the hands of random Japanese people.  It`s like I`m a celebrity ;). 
It`s weird that I have so many relatives that I haven`t even met yet.  Next summer, we`re going to have to have a family reunion or something so that I can meet everyone.  It`ll be interesting to see how everyone has changed over two years.  I think I`ve just been getting fat.  Maybe I need to ride my bike more.  My legs have gotten really musclular from all the bike riding, but my abs have just gotten worse, I think.  I`ll try to start doing sit-ups in the morning from now on. 
I don`t really have anything else that I can say this week without jeopardizing this entire mission.  I better sign out before this line of communication gets tapped and everything I`ve been working for goes up in smoke.  Show this to no one.  I dont know when I`ll be able to make contact again.  Be careful.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Imabari Japan 4 Sept, 2011

Week 62
Mission Log
Everything is going really well here.  My old companion, Elder Gardner, is now in the area next to where I`m at.  I get to see him now and then.  It`s cool to see an old friend from the past and reminisce together about the good experiences you had.  It`s good to look back to good times and remember all of the miracles you've seen and the blessings you've received.  You can look back to the times that you were happiest and learn from them.  Why were you happy at that time?  What was different then than other times?  The time that I spent in Uwajima was some of the best time of all my mission.  But, it wasn`t a time that we were finding a ton of investigators.  It wasn't a time that we had very many people to teach.  For the majority of the time, we had no investigators or only one investigator.  It was the hardest time of my mission, but it was the best.  We cared about each other.  We cared about all the people there and they really cared about us as well.  We overcame new challenges by working together and relying on the mercies of the Savior.  Happiness isn't a result of circumstances or anything that comes our way.  Happiness is an attribute of our personality.  It is a virtue within us that we can choose to develop.  The happiest times aren't when you see the most success.  The happiest times are when you choose to be truly happy and you choose to love the people around you. 
This week was pretty good.  A huge typhoon came to Japan.  On Friday, we were all (10 missionaries) in Matsuyama for district meeting.  That`s when it came.  Two missionaries weren't able to get back and had to stay in Matsuyama.  We got back just fine and two others did as well.  Two missionaries had their bus rerouted because some bridges were taken out by the storm.  The trip that normally takes them two hours ended taking about five hours.  Upon getting home, were were all asked to stay in our apartment.  The rain was pretty heavy and the wind was strong enough to shake our apartment.  It was constantly howling quite loudly.  All of the missionaries were OK though, and we went out the next day.  It was still pretty windy and rainy.  Some missionaries had to stay in their apartment the next day as well.  All of the rivers were huge and powerful.  Right now, it`s nice and sunny. 
English class has gotten pretty good.  I don`t think people really learn that much English, but they all have fun.  We spend a lot of time playing games line "Simon Says. . ."  or "20 Questions".  In Japan,  everyone takes English in Jr. High and High school, but hardly anyone can speak any English.  Everyone just knows a couple phrases or words.  I meet English teachers that can`t even speak English very well all the time. 
On Friday, we had ten people lined up to come to church this week.  On Saturday, four of them contacted us and said they couldn't come.  One person texted us during sacrament meeting and said they couldn't come.  Another person texted right after church and said they were sorry the couldn't come.  The other people just didn't show up.  Nobody came to church this week (I mean investigators.  Of course the normal members came.) 
I hope that all is going well back at home.  I have to go to Matsuyama again today.  So, I`ll get going now.  Love you.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, August 29, 2011

Imabari 28 Aug 2011

Week 61
Mission Log
Last night I dreamed in Japanese.  And, it didn't seem weird at all.  I mean, the fact that it was in Japanese wasn't weird.  It was still a pretty weird dream.  I was the villain, but instead of using guns and stuff I used samurai swords and kendo sticks.  And, everyone just spoke in Japanese.  I continue to become more and more Japanese by the day.  It`s all a part of my plan to adapt myself to their lifestyle and become one of them, until eventually they can`t tell that I`m an outsider.  A few days ago, an older lady asked me if I was Japanese.  My plan is working perfectly.  (See 1 Corinthians 9:20-23) 
We`re supposed to try to talk to 50-100 people about the gospel each day.  That comes from talking to people on the streets, talking with members, visiting less-active members, and sometimes knocking on doors.  We don`t knock on doors very often.  All of the missionaries in Imabari before would spend all day every day knocking on doors.  Then, I got here and changed it.  That`s not really my style.  There are other more effective ways to find people to teach. 
Everything is going great here.  Food is good.  Sleeping in the futons is good.  I have everything that I need. 
I got to go on a companion exchange with my old companion, Elder Gardner.  It was pretty cool.  We were able to talk a lot and reminisce about the good times we had back in Uwajima.  I`d love to go back to Uwajima sometime.
That`s all for this week. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Imabari 21 Aug 2011

Week 60
Mission Log
Things are going very well here out in the Imabari Branch of the Matsuyama District of the Japan Kobe Mission.  The people are nice and it`s a good city.  The weather hasn`t been so great recently though.  It`s been raining quite a bit.  On Sunday, during church, it was probably some of the hardest rain that I`ve ever seen in my life.  I thought that it was going to break through the windshield of some cars or something.  It was intense.  By the way, that black rain suit that we bought before my mission is perfect.  I probably have the best rain suit in the mission. 
  I was so exhausted one day this week that when we came home to eat dinner, I sat down in a chair in the kitchen for a moment and felt like I didn`t have the energy or power to get up.  I felt like I couldn`t even lift my arm, I had so fully exhausted all my strength.  We were going to knock on the doors in an apartment building one day, but I felt like it wasn`t the right place.  So, we got back on our bikes and rode for like twenty minutes taking weird turns along small streets that I`d never been on before until finally I saw this little apartment complex that felt right.  The first person we talked o there invited us in and he was way happy to see us.  He had known the missionaries twenty years ago.  After we left that place, I had no idea where we were or how to get back.  A member taught me some kendo. 
The Manorwood ward really is awesome.  There are a lot of missionaries out and a lot of young returned missionaries.  The branch I`m in now has one missionary out and about four members that served a mission and that`s quite a few.  Everyone in the Manorwood ward is very nice, helpful, and was a great example to me.  I`ve learned so much from the ward that has helped me a great deal since coming out here on my mission.  I`m excited for the day that I return home to the Manorwood ward and I can personally thank everyone for the good influence that they had on my life.  That`s all I have to say this week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Imabari 14 Aug 2011

Week 59
Mission Log
Things are going well here.  There have been random storms blowing through this week.  We got soaked a couple of times.  On Friday there was a big thunderstorm even.  I thought it was pretty cool.  The rainy season ended a while ago.  So, it`s supposed to be sunny and nice now.  I hope this next week gets better. 
The transfer calls came today.  Elder Burner and I are both staying in Imabari.  It`s what we expected to happen.  At the meeting for all of the trainers, he told us that we were all going to stay with our new missionary companion for at least two transfers. 
There are tons of bats that fly around the city at night.  I was way surprised when I first saw them.  I`m pretty sure that I`d never seen bats in the city before.  Back at home, I think I only saw them in caves or in the woods.  They fly around right outside our apartment at night here.  I suspect that it may actually be a group of vampires that has been trying to hunt me down.  Don`t worry about me though.  I always have my garlic and wooden stake on hand.  I`ll be OK.  The hard part will be having to watch out for my companion and protect him all the time.  It`s just like in all the movies.  They never go for the main guy straight out.  They try to take his weaker friends and allies first. 
I just watched a couple of cool videos on lds.org.  Some of the Mormon messages are really good.  Today I especially like "Look Not Behind Thee" and "Watch your Step".  They`re super good.  Look them up.  Tell your friends. 
I`m getting out of here now.  I love and miss you all.  Live in the moment and do your best.  The future is as bright as your faith.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, August 8, 2011

Imabari Japan 7 Aug 2011

Week 58
Mission Log
Things are moving along very well here in Imabari City of Ehime, Japan.  This week we had the big yearly festival in Imabari.  It was on Saturday and Sunday.  It was really cool.  The downtown area was packed full of people.  Some of the main roads were blocked of so that cars couldn`t go down them and there were parades of Japanese dances going down the streets.  There were vendors lining the streets selling all kinds of Japanese foods.  There was a big stage set up and various performances and dances were done there.  There was music playing everywhere downtown.  There was even a big fireworks show.  What may have been the coolest part was that everyone would dress up in traditional formal Japanese clothing to go to the festival.  I thought it was pretty cool to see.  There wasn`t really anything else that happened this week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift