This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

26 Feb (27 in Japan) Sennan Japan

Week 86
Mission Log
Everything is still super awesome here.  The members here are all really nice and they pretty much all speak English.  I never speak in English to any of them, but they would all understand if I did.  It`s really weird.  In most wards there is one or two people or families from a foreign country (like the US), but everyone else is Japanese and doesn't know English.  This ward is backwards.  There aren't any foreigners, but pretty much everyone seems to be able to speak pretty good English.  In part, I think it`s because there are so many returned missionaries here.  A lot of times, Japanese missionaries will end up picking up English on their missions, even if they serve in Japan. 
We had a zone conference this week where the mission president and the assistants came and gave training.  We`re trying to focus more on finding and teaching families now. Also, we changed the way we add up our numbers each week so that it`s a lot harder to find "new investigators" now.  The conference was in a church that is right in downtown Osaka.  It was pretty fun going into the big city. 
It`s gotten quite a bit warmer now.  It isn't even cold normally.  I don`t have to wear a coat or gloves anymore.  The only exception is when it is windy.  The wind is really cold, especially when riding a bike. 
I went back to Wakayama on a companion exchange this week.  It was really cool going back there.  There is a person there named Sister K.....  About twenty or thirty years ago, she went less active.  She didn't just stop coming to church.  She moved and changed here phone number to that the members wouldn't know where she lived.  About seven months ago, the missionaries ran into her while tracting, and they started teaching her.  She wouldn't go to church or talk to any of the members, but she was fine with meeting with the missionaries.  Elder Burhoe and I taught here many times.  Right before Wakayama closed, we told her that it was going to be our last Sunday and that she needed to come this week.  I think she always wanted an opportunity to go back sometime, but she just needed us to give her a little push.  She came that week and we were so happy.  Then, we left Wakayama and I didn't hear anything for three months because there were no missionaries there.  This last week when I went down to Wakayama on a companion exchange I went to her place and visited her.  She was way excited to see me and let us in right away.  I noticed right away that on a shelf by the door, there was a framed picture of two missionaries and one of Mary and Jesus that she`d taken from the Liahona.  Upon going in and talking with here, I found out that she has been going to church every week ever since that day she came with is.  She read the Liahona and scriptures all the time and she is working so that she can go to the temple again.  She was so happy when I saw her.  It was great to be able to see how she turned her life back around and how happy it made her.  It made me happy too. 
That`s about all I have for this week.  I`ll write you again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, February 19, 2012

19 Feb (20 Feb in Japan) Sennan

Week 85
Mission Log
We had another good week.  I got to go on another companion exchange with Elder Kawamura.  It was cool because we were companions exactly one year ago.  We were working together on Valentine`s Day and reminiscing about what we did for Valentines Day last year.  It was also fun to work in his area.  His area is north of ours.  It`s closer to the big Osaka city area.  It was a crazy feeling to see big buildings all around and people everywhere.  Osaka is such a big city.  I always thought that Seattle was a pretty big city, but in comparison to the size of Osaka, it`s like nothing.  I can`t imagine what Tokyo is like.

The Bishop had us over to his house last night to have gyoza (potstickers).  Gyoza are so good in Japan.  I don`t remember them being this good back in the United States.  You`ll have to let me know.  Are potstickers in the United States any good?  I wonder if I`ll still be willing to eat them or ramen in the United States after getting used to how good it is here.  There are restaurants all over the place that are dedicated to just gyoza or just ramen.  Those are actually two foods that are eaten together quite often.  It`s because they are really both Chinese foods that Japan adopted from them. 
It`s gotten quite a bit warmer recently.  During the day time it isn't even cold most of the days.  It did snow just a little bit one day this week, but even while it was snowing, it didn't feel all that cold.  The days are all significantly warmer now.  But, once the sun goes down, it gets freezing cold super fast.  Riding a bike at night is unbelievably cold and my hands get painfully frozen each night, but the days are nice. 
That`s about all I have to say this week.  I`ll write you again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, February 12, 2012

12 Feb 2012 (13 Feb) Sennan Japan

 Week 84
Mission Log
That`s funny that you heard men in Japan spend a lot of money on Valentine`s Day, because men actually don`t spend any money at all on Valentine`s Day.  It`s a little bit different from in the US.  In Japan, Valentine`s Day (February 14th) is the holiday where women get things for the men that they like.  One month later (March 14th) is a holiday called White Day.  That is the day where men get things for women.  Out of all the women they got chocolate or something from on Valentine`s Day, they give some candy or gift or something to the girl on White Day if they are also interested. 
There are going to be two missionaries moving into the Wakayama apartment on Wednesday.  I got to go down there and get it all ready for them.  It felt weird going back to Wakayama again.  I went and looked in the mailbox in Wakayama when I was down there, and it was full of ads for pizza and stuff.  Upon looking thought the ads a little bit, at the bottom of the pile, I discovered, to my delight, two letters addressed to me.  I guess they were delivered after we moved out of the Wakayama apartment and they had just been sitting in that mailbox for a few months.  One of them was a Halloween card from the Barkers and the Pollards.  I was very excited to get the mail, and at the same time thought it was kind of funny that I din`t get it for like three or so months.  
I've pretty much given up on trying to send pictures through an email from my camera.  I`m convinced that it can`t be done.  I`ll just have to send the memory card home again sometime like I used to do.  I hope that you are doing well.  I`ll write you again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, February 6, 2012

5 Feb 2012 (6 Feb in Japan) Sennan Japan

Week 83
Mission Log
I`m surprised that I kept addressing my emails in the exact same way each week for the past 82 weeks.  I just jokingly wrote that on the first week.  I didn`t know that I would be continuing it for a year and a half.  I might as well just continue it all the way to the end now.  The end of my mission just feels closer and closer all the time.  I don`t feel like an old missionary, or that I`ve been out here very long, but at the same time, it feels like I`m going to be going back home any day now. 
That cord you sent me to charge my camera looks like it can plug into USB as well.  So, I`m going to try to send some pictures home each week with the email if I can. 
Last preparation day, we went to a giant slide that`s in the mountains south from the church.  It was a lot of fun.  At one point, the slide goes into a big dinosaur`s mouth. 
It`s fun being back in an apartment with Elder Gardner again.  He`s fun.  His companion is named Elder Barney.  He is from West Valley, Utah.  He has blond hair.  He is about the same height as Elder Gardner.  He is brand new to the mission field. 
Four different less-active members came to church yesterday.  It made me so happy to see them there.  Something I love almost as much as seeing new members get baptized, is when I see a member who hasn`t been to church in a long time finally come back. 
I can`t get the pictures to work.  I`ll send pictures back some other time. 
Right when we left the apartment to go email today, it began to rain.  The rain got harder and harder.  It`s a good thirty minute bike ride to get to the email place, and I am now soaking wet and freezing cold.  It is a good thing that there is free hot chocolate to drink here.  This week was definitely the coldest week that we`ve had so far.  It snowed a couple of times.  It was painful to ride a bike outside. 
Everything is going well here.  The work is wonderful.  I love you and I will write again next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift