This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Uwajima Japan 24 April 2011

Week 43
Mission Log
This week went very well.  My companion and I are both still in Uwajima.  This transfer is only going to be five weeks long though.  The last one was also only five weeks long.  It feels like I`ve been in Uwajima for several months though.  A normal day consist of waking up at 6:30, eating breakfast, showering and such, 8-9 personal study, 9-10 companionship study, 10-10:30 language study, 10:30-9pm work, 9-9:30 planning, and 9:30-10:30 get ready for bed, write in journal, etc., 10:30 sleep.  That is what life is like.  During our nightly planning session we decide as a companionship what we will do during the big "work" chunk of time.  It consist of mostly meeting with members, teaching investigators, finding people to teach, defending the castle from opposing samurai invasions, and doing service.  Monday`s schedule is a little different, and on Sunday we have church but everything is the same other than that. 
We`re basically celebrities here.  Sometimes people ask to take pictures with us.  Any time we talk to someone under 50, they tell us that we`re super good looking.  People just start talking to us on the street.  I think you`d be surprised if you knew how many investigators in Japan first became investigators just because they wanted to talk with some cool Americans.  A lot of people actually think that I`m from England though.  They say I just have that kind of feeling to me.  They also tell me that I have a huge nose and that I look like Keanue Reaves especially from The Matrix.  Japan is a fun place. 
Church was really good yesterday.  The District President visited our branch.  I spoke in sacrament meeting.  It was probably the best talk I`ve ever given.  I told the pearl and the box story and talked about the need to focus on Christ and the things that are most important.  A member of the branch presidency got up and told me that I had to finish because I was taking too long.  I just had a lot of things I wanted to say.  President Nakajima also spoke.  His talk was really inspiring.  He talked about miracles in missionary work.  He told the branch that if they want the church to build a building here, they have to have fifty people attending.  I looked out in the audience and you could see in their eyes that they all really wanted it.  It was awesome.  We also had a fireside on missionary work after church.  The branch president said a lot of good things about us and that we were great missionaries and when we ask the members for help or to do things we`re being guided by the Spirit, so they should listen.  It was great.  Everyone in the branch wants to do missionary work. 
We were talking with some members about earthquakes and tsunamis and such, and they said that in the event of a natural disaster, everyone goes to the castle.  I though it was the funniest thing.  Uwajima is and interesting place.  There are only old people here.  I pictured an alarm going off throughout the city and some old guy on a old bicycle yelling "To the castle!" in a croaky old man voice and everyone riding their bikes super slowly to try to get to the castle.  
I think that Doranda should name her child Tachibana Ryusuke if it`s a boy and Matsumoto Kumiko if it`s a girl. 
Easter isn`t written on the calendars here.  So, we went around telling everyone in the ward about Easter this week.  It was pretty fun.  Every single person seemed pretty surprised when we told them that Easter was on Sunday.  They all had weird guesses about when Easter was or they just had no clue.  Nobody said that it was on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. 
It sounds like everyone is having a lot of fun back at home.  I love you all and hope you`re having a good time.  Bye. 
-Elder Swift

Monday, April 18, 2011

Japan 17 April 2011

Week 42
Mission Log
This week was pretty good.  These week, our district meeting was in Kochi, an area that borders our area, and after the district meeting week did companion exchanges and worked with the elders there.  In order to get to Kochi, we had to take a small train that only had one car.  We had to ride it for about five hours.  For the majority of the time, we were the only two people on the train and my companion was asleep.  I mostly just read from the Book of Mormon in Japanese and studied vocabulary.  The elders in Kochi ended up being sick, so we weren`t able to work with them very much at all.  It took up a lot of our week.  We also had to travel back to Uwajima by train.  Then, on Saturday, we had to go to Imabari to have our interviews with the mission president.  We spent about four and a half hours on the bus in order to get to Imabari.  The mission president was two hours late to the interviews.  Then, we had to travel back home.  It took up our whole day.  We were worried that we wouldn`t be able to get back home until really late.  We hardly got to work in our own area at all this week.  While in Kochi I was able to see Kochi Castle, though.  I have now seen four of the twelve original castles of Japan.  It was pretty cool. 
On Tuesday we will get the phone call announcing the next transfers.  The president said that since we both just got to Uwajima recently and I was only there for the shortened transfer, there is a pretty good chance that we`ll both just stay there for another transfer.  But, nothing is decided yet, and anything could happen.  We`re going to go buy little bull souvenirs today and probably a bookmark.  Uwajima is famous for bull fighting. 
I don`t know if you remember, but there is a member of our branch that teaches elementary school children.  Before he had us take a first grade level Japanese test.  This week he had us take the second grade level Japanese test.  It was so hard.  It was like ten times harder than the first grade test.  I got an 88 percent on it.  I was embarrassed, but it was still better than all the other missionaries, and the member was way impressed. 
I bought a cool new pen.  I got completely destroyed at ping pong.  I ate some pizza.  We did Family Home Evening at the house of a part-member family.  It was really good. 
Nobody celebrates Easter at all in Japan.  Most people have never even heard of Easter or have any idea what it is.  It`s kind of a bummer. 
The weather is getting pretty nice.  It`s actually getting quite warm here in tropical paradise. 
I`m pretty much out of things to say now.  I`m glad that things are going well back at home and that grass is growing on the side of the house.  I love you all and I`ll write again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Uwajima Japan 10 April 2011

Week 41
Mission Log
Another great week has gone by.  It`s hard to believe that I`ve really been a missionary for 41 weeks now.  I`m pretty sure that I just got out of the MTC last week. 
The weather is wonderful here in my tropical paradise.  It`s sunny and warm every day. 
I went up to the Uwajima Castle last Monday.  It was awesome.  In Japan there aren't a lot of natural things like trees or animals, but in the center of the city, there is a giant hill that is completely forested and Uwajima Castle is on top of it.  It was really cool.  You walk through a gate and it feels like you just entered the jungle.  Then you hike up the jungle mountain and by the castle`s walls and fortifications.  Up at the top, there is a small park and the castle.  It has a great view of the city.  The park has a lot of cherry blossoms and they were stunning.  The castle is really really small, but it was still cool looking.  It`s smaller than our house.  It looks cool though.  I took a lot of pictures.  I`ll send them home sometime. 
Congratulations to Caleb for getting his Eagle Scout, and for getting to play in the Daffodil Parade.  :)
One of our zone leaders was in Uwajima six months ago and he had to watch conference here in Japanese.  So, he called us up on Saturday morning and said, "You two can come up to our area and watch it in English."  We were pretty happy about that.  We took the two and a half hour bus ride followed by a train ride to get to their church.  We spent the night there on Saturday and watched all of Conference in English.  It was really good.  I loved all of Priesthood session, especially President Uchtdorf`s talk.  I loved the one on Sunday about being and doing as well.  Those may have been my favorites.  President Monson`s talk in Priesthood session was really good as well. 
That`s pretty much all that happened this week.  I love you all and hope that everyone is happy.  I will write again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Japan 3 Apr 2011

Week 40
Mission Log
This week went very well.  I`m starting to get the hang of this area.  I know where most everything is at and I know most all of the members` names.  My companion and I are getting along pretty well.  We`re in the coolest area in the mission.  We have a good relationship with everyone in the branch.  And, we`re finding people to teach. 
On Saturday, we had a baptism.  Sister Misaki Ishikado got baptized.  She`s 21 years old.  A year and a half ago, she felt a really strong desire to learn about the church.  She went to the church and knocked on the door even, but there was nobody there.  So, she went home.  Three weeks ago she was walking around at a shopping center and she saw the missionaries.  She felt like she needed to talk to them, but she`s really shy.  So, she couldn't get up the courage to do it.  When she went back home that night, she felt really bad and was really wishing that she`d talked to the missionaries.  So, she decided, "Tomorrow, I`ll go back to that shopping center and if the missionaries are there, I`ll talk to them."  She went back the next day.  The missionaries were there.  She talked to them.  We taught her all of the lessons.  She accepted everything right away and she kept all the commandments even though she had some really hard trials.  Everything worked out perfectly, and she was baptized on April 2, 2011.  It was wonderful. 
We are planning on going to see the Uwajima Chastle later today.  I'm pretty excited.  Right now is the sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan.  During this season, Japan becomes so beautiful.  It`s great.  The weather has gotten really nice here.  It`s been sunny and warm all week.  Today is probably the nicest day so far.  The weather is just gorgeous outside right now. 
Gas is really expensive here.  It`s a lot more than in the US. 
In Japan, everyone watches General Conference in a church building one week after conference actually happens.  In most places, everyone goes to the stake center and watches it.  They have it there in a ton of different language, or at least Japanese and English.  However, Uwajima is too far away from any Stake Center.  Everyone in the branch is going to watch it together on DVD on a small TV in our building, and it will only be in Japanese.  I feel like there is no way I`ll be able to understand it.  The general authorities always use big hard words, and tell stories, and stuff.  It will be fun.  I hope that the Spirit will teach me all of the important parts for me to learn.  Everyone should send me there favorite quote from conference, and what talk it`s from. 
Dad, please be a bit more careful.  All of my worldly possessions are in that house.  If you burn them all up, I`ll be a little unhappy. 
I really feel like I`m getting the hang of things and I`m a real missionary now.  Japanese isn't really a problem anymore.  I have a lot of experience now.  I`m not a young missionary anymore.  It feels good. 
After the baptism, we made tacos.  Pretty much everyone there had never had tacos before.  We tried to teach them how to eat a taco, but they all insisted on trying to eat them with chopsticks.  It was so funny to watch a room full of Japanese people trying to eat their tacos with chopsticks.  It can`t be done.  You just can`t eat a taco with chopsticks.  I took pictures. 
On Wednesday, I was on a companion exchange with a pretty old missionary.  We went to go visit a member who teaches elementary school children.  He had us take a first grade Japanese test.  It was really hard.  The missionary I was with failed it.  Apparently, he`s given it to all of the missionaries.  I was able to find out what grade all of the other missionaries who have been there got.  They all got a C or lower.  I got a 91 percent on it.  I thought that even that was pretty embarrassing though.  I should be able to answer all of the questions correctly on a first grader`s Japanese test, but I forgot the word for cucumber and I couldn't remember the more complicated way to write foot.  That member probably thinks that all the missionaries are idiots now. 
We have our district meetings over the phone now, because we are just too far away from any other missionaries to meet with them.  To meet with them, we`d have to travel all day and pay a ton of money.  District meetings over the phone are really weird though. 
I`m going to get going now.  It was nice writing to you.  I`ll write again next week.  I love you.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift
P.S. Sorry that I`m not writing them like secret spy letters anymore.  It just became too much of a hassle.