This is Kobe, Japan.

Monday, January 31, 2011

JAPAN 30 January 2011

Week 31
Mission Log
It seems like it`s still getting colder and colder here every day.  I have no idea when it`s going to start warming up.  It seems way colder than back at home, but I think that`s just because I`m outside all the time now.  Back at home when it was cold, I`d just stay inside. 
  My last companion was in Fushimi for six months.  My companion before that had been in an area for eight months.  My current companion has never been in an area for three months.  It`s really weird how some people move around a lot and some people stay in one area for a long time.  I've already had four different companions.  I think I`m going to be moving around a lot throughout my whole mission. 
One time, when we were talking to people on the street, we decided to go somewhere quiet to say a prayer.  When we were looking for quiet places, all we could find was a Buddhist temple.  I thought it was way funny.  We didn't pray there, but kept looking for a different quiet spot.  There are random ancient Buddhist temples in the middle of the city sometimes.  It`s really weird.  There will be lots of normal stores or houses, then an ancient temple just stuck right in there like it was any other building.  I don`t think all of Japan is like that though.  Just Kyoto. 
We went back to the volunteer place that we went to last week.  It was great.  Last week they were asking me some questions to get to know me, and I said that I liked okonomiyaki.  So, this week they made okonomiyaki for me for lunch.  It was so nice of them. 
Not much really happened this week.  I hope that they make you the Gospel Doctrine teacher again before I come home.  I want to go to your class.  I hope that everyone is super happy and having a good time at home.  I`m thinking about trying to do some origami today.  Origami means folded paper in Japanese.  I will write you again next week.  I love you.  Bye. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

23 Jan 2010

Week 30
Mission Log
I am still in Fushimi, Kyoto, but my companion changed.  My new companion is Elder Kawamura.  His hometown is right by Mt. Fuji.  He`s twenty years old.  He`s Japanese. 
Congratulations to Caleb for getting his Eagle Scout, and happy birthday, Dad!  I`m glad that such great things are happening back at home.  That`s exciting that the side of the house will finally be finished.  It`s seems like that`s been the project you've been working on since before I was born. 
I don`t really have anything special that I want you to say in the missionary week talk.  Just tell everyone that this is the hardest thing ever.  I didn't expect it to be this hard.  Everyone says that being a missionary is hard.  So, I expected it to be hard, but I figured that just meant it was hard physically from riding your bike and walking and running all day.  In reality, the physical work isn`t the hardest part.  Being a missionary is difficult in every aspect of the word.  There is definitely joy to be had in this work, though.  On Saturday we went to a volunteer place that helps physically handicapped people overcome their adversity and actually work to earn their own money and contribute to society.  I really liked that place.  It just felt like it was so full of love.  We`re going back there next Saturday. 
On my last preparation day, we saw Nijo Castle.  It was so cool.  Back when Samurai ruled the country, the leader of the Samurai was called the Shogun.  Nijo castle was where the first Shogun lived.  It was insane.  There is a huge moat with only one bridge to get over it.  After the moat is a huge wall.  The one door in the wall looked super heavy-duty.  It was metal and all kinds of bars and boards on it to keep people from breaking in.  Then there were some buildings.  Then, there was another moat around a smaller section.  After this moat was another big wall, and inside that was the house where the Shogun lived.  All of the floorboards in the house were rigged so that they would make squeaking noises if you step on them, therefore making it impossible for anyone to sneak in.  They put red ribbons on some of the wall panels and it said that the bodyguards would be watching from behind those panels and that they could remove the panels to jump out and protect the shogun at any moment.  It was the coolest place every.  I totally want to live there when I become the next Shogun.  I didn't see any bathroom in the Shogun`s house though.  He must have learned some Samurai secret allowing him to survive without going to the bathroom ever.  Perhaps upon searching the house I can find his secret scrolls and learn this secret.  I think it`d be very convenient.  I wouldn`t be surprised if there were secret passages under the castle that people still don`t know about.  I look into it later. 
Thanks for the advice, Dad.  I did enjoy hearing the advice from you.  I truly appreciate the thoughts, advice, counsel, and prayers. 
Doranda's recipe seems like it will be good.  I would love those pictures.  Also, if for some reason you happened to feel the urge to send something else to me by chance, I really wish I had my three EFY CDs.  They`re in the cardboard box I had with all my books in it, I think.  It`s totally ok if you don`t send them though.  I love you all and hope that you`re all having a wonderful 2011.  I`ll write to you again next week, probably.  Bye!
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, January 17, 2011

JAPAN 16 Jan 2011

Week 28
Mission Log
I think I`m actually supposed to be on week twenty-nine or thirty.  I get all mixed up about what week to write sometimes.  I teach English Class in this area too.  My companion is Japanese.  So, I have to teach the class by myself.  All of the American missionaries in Japan teach an English Class.  I don`t feel like anything cool happened this week.  It was just the same stuff as always.  I did see one really cool thousand year old temple.  It`s the place that`s in the back of their ten yen coin.  It had a museum next to it and everything.  It was one of my favorite places I`ve seen. 
No, people on the street don`t usually argue with me or try to tell me about Buddha.  We did meet one person the other day that argued and got really mad because he was convinced that money was the most important thing.  He said it was more important than family and friends and anything else.  He was a bit strange.  He said he didn`t want a wife, girlfriend, friends, family, or anything like that, only money and cars.  Most people are really nice though.  Lots of people are so polite that they`ll talk to you and listen for a long time even if they don`t have any interest in the message.  The church members are all very nice and friendly.  They don`t have all of the socials and activities that we have back in America.  They have a few activities, but not nearly as much.  They go on trips together to the Tokyo temple.  They all go in a big bus.  It takes them forever to get there and back.  They usually go up there one day and come home the next day.  It`s too far to go there and back in the same day. 
  All of the missionaries here have business cards.  Everyone in Japan asks for your card.  I think it`s pretty cool.  I feel so official with my business cards.  Sorry that I don`t have very much to say this week.  It snowed last night and the night before.  Tomorrow morning we get phone calls announcing transfers.  My companion thinks he`s transferring and he`s pretty sad about it.  He really wants to stay. 
I will write again next week.  I hope all is well back at home.  Bye. 
Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pictures from the Mission Field



They get the "R" and "L" mixed up in Japan


Kyoto Japan 9 Jan 2011

Week 27
Mission Log
Another good week here.  Thanks to me, the country still hasn`t been taken over by zombies.  That`s awesome that the Seahawks are doing so well right now.  Maybe this year they can finally take the Superbowl championship that rightfully belonged to them so long ago.  Let me know if they win. 
You don`t know what a Navajo Taco is?  Yes, it`s named after the Indian tribe.  It`s kind of like a taco, but instead of a normal tortilla you make a pretty thick tortilla that`s almost like a pita.  You cook that up then put whatever you want on top of it (refried beans, salsa, lettuce, tomato, ground beef, chocolate covered strawberries, cheese, etc.)  It`s pretty good. 
We do have a heater in our apartment, but we don`t leave it on all night.  So, it gets pretty cold in the mornings.  Also, when the heater is on, only the study, bedroom, and kitchen get warm.  The bathroom and entryway are still freezing cold.  It`s snowing right now here.  I sleep on two futons (like a mattress but only two inches thick and not as solid and structured) and I use three blankets. 
I have to know, when people say the year, do they say "two thousand eleven" or do they say "twenty eleven"?  I feel so cut off from the rest of the world.  For the entire 2011 year, I`m going to be cut off from the normal world.  I`m guessing that they say "two thousand eleven".  It sounds more right to me, but I`m not sure.  when we talk about 2012 we say "twenty twelve."  English is so weird.  I`m going to be so bad at English by the time I get back.  I won`t even be able to talk.  I`ll fail all my English classes. 
I finally feel like I`m starting to make a little progress on learning this language.  All you have to do to get by in Japan is do everything the exact opposite of how you would do it in America.  Every time I try to lock or unlock a door, I get mixed up because you turn the key backwards to how you would in America.  The sentences are all in backwards order.  In an emergency you call
1-1-9.  Everything`s so crazy.
Mom or Dad:  Can you please send some pictures of our house, yard, and family.  Everyone always asks to see pictures of my family, and people here would freak out if they saw how big our house and yard are.  Everyone lives in tiny houses here and has no back or front yard.  Our house would totally blow their minds.  Also, if you have a good banana bread recipe you could send that too.  I have some bananas that turned brown and gross. 
That`s all for this week.  Try to make sure that the United States stays cool until I get back. 

Each city has their own manhole cover design.  It often has what the city is famus for.


This means "stop"
-Elder Isaac D. Swift

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kyoto 2 Jan 2010 (3 Jan in Japan)

Week 26
Mission Log
Happy New Year! They do celebrate New Years here, at the same time that we celebrate it in the US (other than 16 or so hours difference). New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in Japan. There are a lot of shrines and temples in Kyoto (the city I`m in), so on Jan.1st my area was way packed full of people. It was hard to walk around in some parts of the town just because there were so many people there. There were a lot of foreigners too. It was cool.
On Christmas, after I got done talking on the phone, we went to the church building in the area neighboring ours and spent the day there with some other missionaries and a couple members of their ward. Never in my life did I think I`d be able to say that I ate Navajo Tacos, in Japan, on Christmas. It was a lot of fun. After eating we played some games (all in Japanese). One of the games involved picking animals and making animal noises. I usually don`t particularly like that kind of game, but I had fun that time because of everyone there (except the Japanese people) I had the best Japanese animal vocabulary. I knew all the animals that were mentioned. It made me feel good. While we were playing the game, it snowed a little bit. We were pretty excited about that. It was super light and none of it stuck to the ground, but it was still cool. It still counts as a white Christmas, right?
On New Year`s Eve, it snowed all day. It was great. My companion didn't like it though. While we were riding our bikes, he slipped and fell. I thought the snow was fun though. It was the first real snowfall of the season. Christmas was too light to count. The next day all we had was a bunch of slush and the day after that everything was gone completely. It was fun while it lasted. On New Year`s morning I could see my breath, inside my apartment. It was so cold.
We had a big conference for half the mission on New Year`s Day. We all got together and played sports and stuff. It was a lot of fun. Can you imagine sixty twenty year old guys playing a big game of dodgeball? It was a lot of fun. They also let us watch a movie. We watched Kung Fu Panda. It was good. We watched it in Japanese with English subtitles.
Today, we went down to Osaka for the day. We went up a big tower that they have in Osaka. It was like the Space Needle except only half as tall, doesn't rotate, doesn't have a restaurant, we had to wait for an hour and fifteen minutes before going up, it has taller buildings nearby, and it doesn't look cool. It was still pretty fun though. We could see all of Osaka, I think. In every direction tall buildings and city stretched on as far as I could see. It was crazy. Osaka is like twenty times the size of Seattle.
Today I ate some Takoyaki. It`s balls of batter with a piece of octopus in the middle fried and topped with mayonnaise a black sauce and fish flakes. It was pretty good. On Saturday I ate a fried sparrow. They cooked it just the way it is. It still looked like a sparrow and everything. It wasn't that good. It still had all of the bones in it. You were just supposed to chew and swallow the bones along with the meat. I was worried that the bones would cut up my throat or something. I was OK though.
We found one new investigator this week. Everyone`s in a big hurry around New Year`s and nobody wants to talk to us, but we found one person who said he wants to hear about our message. His name is Ishida. We`re meeting again on Tuesday. There is one person who has come to church every week for the last six months. He loves all the teachings of the church and everything. He loves all the members. He said that he doesn't want to get baptized though because he doesn't believe in God. His name is Yuta. We also have an investigator named Hirano that is progressing really well, and liking everything about the church.
In Japan there is only one ward in each church building. I thought that was weird.
Japanese is still really hard for me. I still have trouble understanding people all the time. I have to really concentrate to understand what people are saying to me. Everyone understands what I say just fine though.
That`s all I have for this week. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year`s Day.
-Elder Isaac D. Swift