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
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REBECCA!!!