This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

29 Apr (30 Apr in Japan) Otsu Japan

Week 95
Mission Log
We had a fun exciting week.  On Thursday, I went to the mission home to pick up my new companion.  His name is Elder Taggart.  He only spent nine weeks in the MTC.  He is from Edgewood.  He went to Puyallup High School.  He`s a very fun Elder and he`s working very hard.  I think we`ll have a great twelve weeks together.  It`s fun talking about things we both know like the fair, and telling everyone in Japan that we`re both from Seattle and we`ve actually seen Ichiro play.  Everyone`s really amazed about that. 
We've been teaching an investigator named Okumura Kazuya for a little while and just yesterday, he got baptized.  We first met him when his friend brought him to conference on the eighth.  He accepted everything that we taught right away, except for some of the commandments which he had heard about from a member and was already following before we taught them.  He quit smoking and drinking immediately, the day he heard about the Word of Wisdom.  He`s 25 years old and works at a place close to the church building. 
Today, we are planning on going to Kyoto seeing some stuff with Elder Gardner and his family.  It should be pretty fun.  I don`t know any information about Mother`s Day yet.  Preparation Day might be on a day other than Monday next week.    Today is a holiday. 
I have to get going now.  I`ll write again next week.  Bye!
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, April 22, 2012

22 April 2012(23 in Japan) Otsu

Week 94
Mission Log
It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  I traveled the farthest I`ve gone from the apartment.  I spent the most time in the apartment.  I talked to the oldest guy.  I talked to the youngest guy.  I have so much time left.  I have no time left. 
This week went very well.  On Tuesday, we rode our bike way up North to a place called Katata.  It was the farthest I have ever been from the apartment.  It`s about three times as far North as I`ve ever been before.  It took hours to get up there.  We were riding along Lake Biwa the whole way.  It was a pretty ride.  My bike was having some slight problems the whole way there, too.  By slight problems, I mean that the wheel wouldn`t turn sometimes when I wanted it to, and sometimes it would turn on it`s own when I didn`t want it to.  It caused for an interesting bike ride way out to Katata.  When we finally got to the house, I started to get a bad headache.  I said a little prayer though, and rang the doorbell.  I ended up being ok throughout the whole appointment.  I had a headache the whole time, but it was at a manageable level.  The moment I stood up to leave, my head started to hurt way bad.  I got on my bike and rode around the corner without saying anything to the member.  After getting around the corner, I had to stop.  I couldn`t ride my bike any farther.  We slowly walked to a nearby drugstore where I got some aspirin.  It was pretty lucky that there was a drugstore right by us.  Even after taking it, my head was hurting much worse than it ever has before.  I`m not really sure what the difference between a migraine and a headache is, but I probably had that.  I wasn`t able to work any more that day and had to get back to the apartment, but the apartment was a several hour bike ride away and I didn`t even feel like I could ride a normal short distance on my bike in this condition.  We left our bikes there and took the train home.  I was in bed for the rest of the day. 
The next day, we rode the train back to Katata, and made the long journey back home by bike.  I don`t really know why, but I got quite sick starting on Tuesday and rested for at least a portion of each day all the way through Saturday.  I'm pretty alright now, though.  On Saturday we got my bike fixed and then rode much farther South than I`ve ever been before.  It was a nice trip.  On Sunday, we ate dinner at the house of a member whose wife isn`t a member.  The member remembered a story that I told during my talk the week before and said that he loved it so much and wanted me to tell it to his wife.  I was happy to tell it, and even so happy that someone liked my talk and even remembered it a week later. 
This morning we got a phone call from President Zinke.  He gave us some interesting news.  Elder Meyers is going to be transferring to a place called Hanayashiki to be companions with Elder Baily who was in the MTC with me.  I will be staying in Otsu until the end of my mission, and I will be training a new missionary once again.  I`ll go pick him up from the mission home on Thursday.  It should be a fun experience.  I`m very excited to train again.  Maybe he just keeps letting me try it again until I get it right one time.  I`ll try my best.  I`ve got to get going now.  I love you.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, April 15, 2012

15 April (16 in Japan) Otsu

Week 93
Mission Log
As of today, we can stop wearing our suit coats all the time.  That`s nice because it`s starting to get pretty warm on some days.  It`s not an unbearable heat yet, but I definitely get a lot more thirsty throughout the day as we ride around on our bikes.  I`m going to have to start carrying water bottles around with me again.  We still have to wear our suit coats at church or in any meetings, not when we are just out doing normal proselyting.  The birds and bugs are all starting to come back out for the Spring.  The Sakura (cherry blossoms) are still out and looking very pretty.  It`s a good time to be in Japan. 
I got a phone call at night before church and was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting.  So, I gave a talk during sacrament meeting, taught an investigator a lesson during Sunday School, talked with another non-member during the third block, and after church taught a fireside about missionary work.  It was a whole lot of teaching stuff crammed into a short time.  There was another investigator that was supposed to meet with us just after that, but he didn`t come.  I think all of it went pretty well.  I pretty much just share stories, experiences, and parables when I speak or teach.  It seems like the easiest to understand.  Or, I draw diagrams, pictures, and Japanese characters on the whiteboard to help people understand.  The cool thing about Japanese is that I can explain gospel concepts to people by showing them how the word is written and talking about that.  It`s way easy for Japanese people to understand. 
We now split our English class into a beginner and advanced class each week.  My companion teaches the advanced class and I teach the beginner class which consist of only an investigator family that we have.  It`s a mom, dad, two little girls (9 and 7) and a baby.  None of them really speak any English at all.  So, I teach them something simple like animal names and then we just play games for the rest of the time.  It`s pretty fun, but also pretty hard.  In the other class they just have a conversation in English for an hour.  If you have any ideas of a game that kids would enjoy, please send it.  We played pictionary and a game with making animal sounds last week.  They were both pretty fun. 
Cool experience of the week.  We were teaching a lesson to guy named Okumura and the member that we had sit in on the lesson with us randomly starts going off about the Word of Wisdom, which we hadn`t taught yet.  He says, "We don`t drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or smoke."  He then basically starts interrogating the investigator.  "Do you drink?  Do you smoke?"  I`m thinking to myself, what is this guy doing?  I was a bit surprised,but what surprised me even more was Okumura`s answer.  He said that he did drink and smoke quite often, but he had heard a week earlier that we don`t smoke or drink in the church.  So, he quit.  That was way awesome.  It`s not everyday that investigators quit smoking or drinking before we even teach the Word of Wisdom to them. 
I think that`s all I`ve got for this week.  Keep loving life.  I`ll write again next week.  Bye.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Monday, April 9, 2012

9 April 2012 Otsu Japan

Week 92
Mission Log
Aloha from Kyoto, Japan!  Wasn`t General Conference the best!?!  I thought that it was wonderful.  I only was able to watch four of the five in English.  Everyone has to travel to the stake center in order to watch General Conference here.  The stake center is in down town Kyoto (the next prefecture over).  We had to take a train and then a bus, but we got there alright and had a wonderful conference.  After Priesthood session ended, we stayed the night in Kyoto with the Elders that are working there.  Then, we watched Sunday`s sessions.  They were all really good.  The Saturday morning session I had to watch in Japanese.  We had a family of five that is investigating the church come, and I went in to watch it with them.  It would have been nice to have been able to just let them sit with some members and form relationships with them, but basically nobody comes to the Saturday sessions of Conference here.  There were probably about as many English speakers as there were Japanese speakers on Saturday, and only the missionaries are English speakers.  It was kind of fun to watch one of them in Japanese.  I could understand everything just fine, so long as I was paying good attention, but when I wrote notes or was thinking about the investigators that were there, I didn`t really pick up what was being said.  I`m going to have to work harder on my Japanese.  After they left, I went upstairs and watched the afternoon session in English with all the other missionaries.  We also had an investigator come on Sunday, but there are plenty of members there on Sunday.  So, we just had him sit with some members and watched it in English. 
It got pretty hot today.  I have no idea what temperature it was, but I was wishing that we could take our suit coats off.  Usually some time soon after Conference, the mission president will announce that we don`t have to wear our suit coats around anymore.  That announcement hasn`t come yet. 
I`ve pretty much been in Kyoto for the last week straight, and had no time to work here in Otsu.  I went up there on Tuesday night and conducted a companion exchange with the missionaries in Fushimi.  That went through Wednesday.  On Thursday, we had interviews with the mission president in Kyoto.  That was pretty fun.  We just talked about my investigators and then did a quick temple recommend interview.  I now have a Japanese recommend.  On Friday I had District Leader Council in Kyoto.  Then, on Saturday and Sunday we watched general conference there.  Even today, on our preparation day, we went up to a famous temple in Kyoto.  It is called Kiyomizudera.  It`s a very beautiful place, and all of the cherry blossoms are blooming now, so it was a lot of fun.  Pretty much everyone in the mission went there today.  I even talked to the President and his wife there.  It`s just the place to be when the cherry blossoms are out.  I took a bunch of cool pictures. 
Nobody celebrates Easter in Japan.  Even the members half the time won`t know when it is.  It isn`t written on the calendar or anything.  I have to get going now.  Talk to you next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, April 1, 2012

1 Apr 2012 (2 Apr In Japan) Otsu

Silver Sand!!!
  Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto.

This is Ginkakuji!!! All the above pictures.
The street in front of Gikakuji.  I bought a delicious bread thing with custard on the inside from a vendor. 
My companion, Elder Meyers
Me when I`m sick
Me when I`m better again
Week 91
Mission Log
April Fool`s Day passed by quite uneventfully.  I guess Japanese people aren't really the type to play jokes on each other.  It seems like most people know what April Fool`s Day is, but whenever I asked people about it, they all seemed like they had had bad experiences with it in the past.  Like, a joke had been played on them and things got out of hand.  The people I talked to didn't really seem to like April Fool`s Day very much. 
Last Monday, we went and saw Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto.  It`s nice being in the Kyoto zone again so that I can go see an  ancient temple on each preparation day.  Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion) was actually built by the son, or some relative, of the guy who built Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion).  It has lots of beautiful, very neatly raked silver sand that according to legend turns into silver when it`s under the moonlight.  Unfortunately, the place is only open during the day, so no one can confirm if the legend is true or not.  I`ll just assume that it is. 
I also got sick for a while during the week, but I`m mostly better now.  I`m going to try to send some pictures now.
-Elder Isaac Swift