This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Imabari Japan 31 July 2011

Week 57
Mission Log
I`ll let you know how a normal week goes here.  Monday is preparation day.  We still wake up at the same time and study and do everything the same until around 10 o`clock.  Then we email, do grocery shopping, write letters, etc.  At 6 o`clock preparation day ends and we have to get back to work.  We've started running a Family Home Evening activity at the church every Monday night.  We just play a game, talk, and have a little spiritual message.  It`s fun.  On Tuesday we have our meeting with the branch mission leader.  This just started up again because we just got a new mission leader called in the branch.  We go over to his house every Tuesday.  Right after that, we usually go and help out at and English club downtown.  They like us because we can speak English.  On Wednesday we`ll usually have our district meeting.  That`s a weekly meeting with four to eight missionaries.  At night we teach a free English Class in the church.  I think a lot of the people that come, come because they want to have fun and not because they want to learn English.  So, I plan the lessons so that they will be really fun for everyone and you can`t still learn stuff if you want to.  We play a lot of games, have discussions, work on pronunciation. and do some role playing.  Everyone seems to enjoy it.  On Thursday morning we usually do our weekly planning session.  On Friday sometimes we go to a community center and do some service for them.  Friday nights we're starting up a Ping Pong activity.  We`ll get together and play ping pong every Friday night.  On Saturday nights there is a festival type thing downtown every week.  On Sunday we go to church.  We teach a lot of lessons throughout the week to investigators (people who are learning about the church).  We visit a lot of less-active church members.  We also visit a lot of the regular church members in order to help, encourage, and strengthen them.  Any other time will be spent riding our bike or walking through town and telling people about the church. 
I`m pretty sure that most of the places have the same type of church meeting that we do back in the United States except with a lot fewer people.  I have been to two branches that only had two hour church meetings instead of the three hour meeting, but we started teach Preach My Gospel class after church, so it became three hours.  My last branch did'`t have any primary, young men`s, or young women`s classes.  There just weren't any youth there. 
I didn't really do much else this week.  I`ll right again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Imabari Japan 24 July 2001

Week 56
Mission Log
How is everyone doing back on the slower half of the world?  It`s nice being a whole day ahead.  I feel like I`m living in the future.  I already know what the 25th of July is like and you`re all still stuck on the 24th.  I can`t tell you too much about the future because, then I might change the past and that would cause some big ripple effect that would mess up the future that I`m living in now.  I tell you a little bit about what I did in the future this week, but try not to do anything differently because of what I tell you.  Just act the same way you would have acted if you didn`t know anything about the future.  If you change anything, I might cease to exist! 
No, there wasn`t any period at the beginning here where I would get sick while my body would try to build up immunities and get use to the different bacteria and viruses that they have here.  I was totally fine.  Perhaps Swift genes are just superior to all bacteria and viruses that currently exist on the earth, therefor making us invincible to all disease of any sort.  I can`t tell you too much about the future, but perhaps these super genes end up giving us super powers and we become superheros that travel the world fighting evil and completely destroying all the buildings and things around while we fight. 
It`s still really hot here.  I believe that August is going to be the hottest.  There was actually a typhoon that came in on Monday night and was here through Wednesday.  In Imabari it was just really windy but in other areas it was a lot worse.  On Monday night and Tuesday morning, the wind was blowing are apartment building all night.  It was really loud and all the doors were shaking.  There were even times that it felt like the whole building would shake or be moved by the wind.  It was like being in an earthquake all night.  The next day (Tuesday) I wanted to go out and keep working like normal, but my companion was way scared to ride his bike in the typhoon.  I ended up working just by phone calls for a lot of the day.  In the evening I made him go out, but we just had to walk.  He thought the bike was too dangerous.  In Japanese "Typhoon" is "TAIFUU".  It`s pronounced exactly the same except without the "N" at the end. 
Also, in the future, cell phones can exchange numbers and information using infra-red lasers, microwaves can bake things like an oven, and everyone likes cartoons and comic books.  It`s a pretty crazy future.  I hope that everyone back in the past is doing well.  I miss you all.  I`ll come back to the past and visit you sometime.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

It is 12:03 on Monday.  It is rainy today.  I`m bored waiting or my companion to get done emailing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

17 July 2011 Imabari, Japan

Week 55
Mission Log
What`s up United States!?!  Things are going pretty well here in Japan.  It`s still pretty weird to think that I`m in Japan.  Sometimes it feels like a totally foreign distant land, but sometimes it feels just the same as being back in the States.  It`s weird calling it the US again.  In Japan everyone just calls it "America".  I`ve gotten into a habit of calling it America.  I`m pretty sure that before my mission I always called it "the US."
2011 is already halfway over.  I can`t believe it.  2011 is the only full year that I spend in Japan.  Pretty soon it will be done and I`ll be on the 2012 homestretch.  It`s crazy to think about.  Did you know that they count years differently in Japan?  Right now the year is Heisei 23.  The year system is based on the emperor.  When the emperor changes, the year system starts back at one with the new name in front of it.  Before it was Showa.  Now it`s heisei.  It`s a bit confusing.  Everyone here knows the normal year system as well now a days, but when you ask someone what year they were born in, especially an older person, they`ll answer it it Showa years.  They often don`t know what it is in regular years and they have to think and figure it out.  It`s weird. 
We made origami in my English class again.  It was fun.  I`m starting to get pretty good.  No one in the class could keep up with my mad origami skills.  Everyone was super impressed.  I`m getting better at Japanese activities than a Japanese person.  I have a kendo stick and some calligraphy brushes.  I`m planning on mastering those as well.  "Preach My Gospel" says to embrace the culture in every way that you can.  It really does help to get to know their culture.  Yesterday I saw someone who was wearing a hat that said Ryoma on it.  Since I knew that Ryoma was a Samurai that live in Kochi, Japan, and revolutionized the country because he started using guns, I was able to talk to that guy about it.  He was really impressed that I knew that and it really helped him open his heart and accept us.  Also, Japanese culture is just really cool and fun. 
We went and did some volunteer service for a member of out branch.  We harvested potatoes with him.  I thought it was fun, but everyone else seemed to think that is was just miserable and hot and tiring.  It was really hot and hard, but I still enjoyed it.  I got to wear one of those triangle shaped straw hats that I always pictured Japanese people wore when they worked out in the rice fields.  It was super cool.  And, after we got done working, we got to eat inoshishi (wild boar) together.  He just had a ton of chunks of wild boar meat in his freezer.  Apparently his friend shot the boar and gave him some meat from it.  We just cooked up little slabs of the meat on a hot plate and ate them.  It was pretty good.  There was ton of fat on the meat though.  It was really just a lot of fat with a little bit of meat attached to it.  It still tasted good though. 
I didn`t really do anything else particularly interesting this week.  It`s still really hot and humid, and they say that it`s just going to get hotter.  I hope that all is well back in home country.  I love you all.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

10 July 2011 Imabari, Japan

Week 54
Mission Log
This week was a little bit hectic, but all is well. 
Monday was Preperation Day.  So, we went around doing things that Elder Tukukino wanted to do before leaving Imabari.  We even went to the top of the giant hotel that I nicknamed The Imabari Tower.  It was probably one of the fanciest buildings I`ve been in.  It was really cool and about a million times taller than any other building in Imabari.  I don`t know why they built such a tall building here.  While we were wandering around near the top of the tower, we found some secret until corridors and hidden passageways.  We explored through those and somehow ended up in a gym with a pool.  It was part of a spa near the top of the tower.  We go toward the normal exit of the spa and one of the workers spotted us.  She thought we were just coming out of the spa and she wanted to go get our shoes for us.  So, she asked, "Where did you leave your shoes?"  We were still wearing our shoes.  I just didn`t  answer and she asked like three more times before she realized we were still wearing our shoes.  She didn`t get mad or anything, but I think that`s just because we`re foreigners.  If we were Japanese, we might have gotten yelled at.  At night we went to Family Home Evening/Elder Tukukino`s Goodbye party.  It was fun. 
We shipped Elder Tukukino`s bike off Tuesday morning.  So, we had to work on foot the whole day.  Also, there was a small earthquake.  I hardly even noticed it.  The member we were with said, "There`s an earthquake."  But we both thought he was just imagining it.  It turns out there really was an earthquake. 
On Wednesday we found a cool all you can eat place with Cotton candy and we left for transfers.  We traveled half way to Kobe. 
Thursday morning we got up early and rode the trains the rest of the way to Kobe.  I went to a meeting with President Zinke where he told us about being a trainer.  Then all of the new missionaries came in and he announced who will be going with whom very dramatically like it was a reality TV show or something.  My companion is Elder Burner.  He is from La Verkin, Utah.  I totally just made up the spelling on that.  He`s 19 years old, 6'1", and has brown hair.  He`s brand new to the mission, but he studied Japanese a lot before the mission, so he`s already pretty good at Japanese.  That night we were only able to make it about half way back to our area and we had to stay in another missionary`s apartment.  The missionary that we ended up staying with happened to be Elder Hart, my trainer.  It was cool because my trainer, my trainee, and myself spent a night together.  It was fun.  The next day we got back to Imabari. 
On Saturday we had a baptismal interview for someone.  The district leader, Elder Hora, came to Imabari and performed the interview.  They come out of the interview and people are all talking about random stuff and I go and ask Elder Hora about the interview.  I`m like, "How`d it go?" Elder Hora just replied, with a serious expression on his face, "He has something he wants to talk to you about."  "What is it?"  "He wants to tell you himself."  "So he didn`t pass?"  "You`ll just have to talk with him about something.  Hang in there.  Keep working with him."  At this point I`m really worried and wondering what happened in the interview and why he can`t get baptized.  I go over and talk to him and he just says, "I can get baptized!"  Then we all celebrate and it was just a mean joke on me. 
We went to the church around 6:30 in the morning on Sunday to prepare the baptismal font.  We don`t have a real church building here with a real font.  We used a big inflatable pool-like thing.  It took forever to fill up.  The baptism was scheduled for 9:00 in the morning.  We told him to come about twenty minutes early.  At 8:57 he still wasn`t there.  My companion (the new guy) was way worried ad thought he wasn`t coming.  I give him a phone call.  He was asleep and my phone call woke him up.  Then he came straight away and got baptized.  It was a very nice baptismal service and the water wasn`t even cold.  It was pretty warm.  Bye the way, his name is Takebayashi Ken.  The last name comes first in Japan.  Takebayashi is his family name and Ken is his first name.  We forgot to turn off the water heater after we got done filling up the font.  So, I think Brother Nakahara is going to kill us. 
That`s pretty much how the week went.  Being a trainer is cool.  My companion is cool.  President Zinke said that we will be together for at least two transfers.  I`ve never spent two whole transfers with a companion before.  It`ll be weird.  It`ll probably seem like forever. 
I don`t know if you remember, but back in my first area (Nishinomiya) I baptized a Sister Yamamoto.  When I got on my email today and saw the weekly email from the mission home I saw a picture of Sister Yamamoto, the missionaries, and her son.  Her son just got baptized.  Isn`t that great!? 
Yes, it is still very hot and very humid here.  The temperature is usually in the mid 90s, but the humidity makes it feel like 130.  It`s too hot. 
I hope that everything is going really well for you all back at home (or in Alaska).  I`ll write you again next week.  I love you.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

3 July 2011 Imabari Japan

You are over the hill now you really must hurry.  On bike or on foot work with a scurry.  There is so much to do, no time to fret; work with great effort so you'll have no regret.
Week 53
Mission Log
Fifty-three is more than fifty-two.  Therefor, my mission is already more than one year over.  Therefore, there is less than one year left.  Around this some time next year, I will be coming home.  Around this same time last year I left for my mission.  About this same time fifty years from now, I`ll be really old.  As far as mission time goes, I`m already pretty old. 
It is the 4th of July (Independence Day) right now.  As I`m sure you already guessed, they don`t celebrate that holiday here in Japan.  My companion and I probably won`t be doing anything to celebrate it either because he is Austrailian and they don`t celebrate it in Australia either.  They celebrate Australia day in January. 
The weather is a bit hectic.  It`s really really hot a lot of the time.  We definitely have to use air conditioning.  Everyone in Japan uses air conditioning.  It would just seems ridiculous for someone not to use it here.  There was a crazy storm coming in as we ride to the emailing place though.  It was starting to rain and there was a ton of lightning and thunder.  We still hear some of the thunder even though were inside a mall and there`s music playing.  It`s really loud. 
President McIntyre has returned to the United States and has been released from his calling.  President Zinke has been called as the new president of the Japan, Kobe mission president.  On Saturday, we were able to meet him and receive training from him for the first time.  It sounds like he`s going to do a great job as mission president and it sounds like his wife will do very well as well.  President Zinke is completely different from President McIntyre.  It`s clear that a lot is going to change in the mission.  I just hope that all of the missionaries can adjust well and remain completely loyal and obedient to the new president.  He became the president on June 30th which is exactly the one year mark from when I started my mission.  That means my mission is exactly half with President McIntyre and half with President Zinke. 
Transfer announcement phone calls happen on Monday mornings now.  One came this morning.  My companion is leaving.  I`m going to become a trainer for a new missionary.  I will be staying in Imabari which is on the island of Shikoku (not the main island).  On Thursday there will be a meeting with the president, the new missionaries, and the trainers.  That is when it will be announced who I am going to train.  I heard that two Australian missionaries are coming in this transfer.  I hope that I get to train one of them.  Then, I will have my Austrailian accent perfected.  I`m excited for the opportunity to become a trainer.  The president himself called to tell me the transfer announcement. 
That`s about all for this week.  I love you all and wish you the best back at home.  Goodbye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift