This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Otsu Japan 27 May 2012

Week 99
Mission Log
I apologize for taking so long to respond to attempts to contact me.  I feel that too much contact with the outside world would blow my cover and jeopardize the entire mission.  Due to my isolation, I was not even aware that today is Labor Day, until I received an update of confidential information from someone who will for safety purposes remain unnamed. 
I`ve gathered a few others that I believe can be trusted and the six of us together are called a district.  I travel around and work with each one of them to accomplish various objectives.  This week, I spent a day or to in a place called Joyo, working with someone who, for the time being we`ll refer to as Elder Hale.  Afterward, we gathered together in a meeting building up on a hill in Otsu, and discussed sensitive mission related information.  It was probably one of the best district meetings that I`ve taught on my whole mission. 
In church one week, the organ player wasn`t there on time.  So, the person conducting the music just sang the first line so everyone would know the pitch and we sang acapella.  In the US people are embarrassed to sing in front of others, but no one is in Japan.  Everyone is just fine with singing anywhere, in front of anyone.  It doesn`t even matter if they`re a good singer or not. 
They`re attempting to drive us out of hiding by means of starvation.  Somehow, our money has "run out" and we weren`t able to go shopping for food last week or this week either.  Without money for groceries, they believe we will have to come into the open to get food.  What they are unaware of is the fact that we have a large supply of spaghetti noodle in the apartment and we can survive for weeks on eating simply noodles with sesame seed dressing poured on it.  We cannot let them win.  Endure to the end. 
If you are still debating on whether or not to by those train passes, I think we could probably get around fine without them.  We could ride all of the cheaper train lines and stuff.  Do you know where the hotel in Kyoto is?  If you give me an address or something, then I`ll know where it is. 
Congratulations on completing Mt. Si.    Sometimes I dream in Japanese, but usually in English.  Sometimes I think in Japanese even when I`m not speaking Japanese though.  When I`m planning out what I`m going to say for something, it always comes up in Japanese in my mind.  Like when I was planning out district meeting, I kept on thinking about what I was going to say in Japanese even though the meeting was in English.  I`m excited to go back and look at Seattle again.  
I must flee before it`s too late.  Farewell.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, May 20, 2012

20 May 2012 Otsu Japan

Week 98
Mission Log
This morning something that the Japanese people refer as Nisshoku happened.  At exactly 7:29 in the morning the moon moved directly in between Otsu and the yellow sun, blocking much of the sun`s light (a solar eclipse).  I seized this extremely rare opportunity.  Enduring the pain and likely causing much damage to my eyes, I stared directly at the Nisshoku and was able to break the spells and amnesia that was placed on me.  I quickly located a facility where I could make contact with the outside world and send this update to you.  I haven`t fully confirmed the security of this location yet.  So, I will still be using the code name Elder Swift and I will have to keep contact brief. 
I`ve encountered one set back in the mission.  My daily planner seems to have gone missing.  It contains all of the highly confidential information about my mission and the plans that I create and carryout throughout each day.  I`m at a loss as to what to do now.  I may need to acquire a new planner and start all over again.  I"m worried that allowing this confidential book to fall into the hands of the enemy could be quite detrimental to the mission, but do not fear:  I`ve written it all in a code language that I refer to as nihongo (Japanese). 
I`ve become much more proficient in communicating through this code.  It`s become quite natural.  When I hear a message come to me in the code language, my brain is able to simply comprehend it normally now.  It is now longer necessary to focus, concentrate hard on what`s being said, or translate it back to English in my head. 
Mom and Dad:  I`m glad that you are excited to come out here and get me.  It was very nice to be able to talk to you last week.  If you are able to find out the name of the train station that is closest to Mt. Fuji, then I don`t think it will be that much of a problem trying to get to it.  Mt. Si is a pretty difficult hike.  Good luck.  That theater is called Takarazuka Kageki.  Takarazuka is the name of the city.  Kageki means opera house or theater.  It might just be called Takarazuka Opera or Takarazuka Theater.  I think it would be all in Japanese, but they would have English pamphlets and stuff explaining it.  The story is Romeo and Juliet, so it probably wouldn`t be that difficult to follow.  I worry that it might be too expensive or that tickets would sell out to far in advance.  Also, there are no actors, only actresses.  I`m excited to see you again soon.  I can take you all around anywhere in this mission just fine probably. 
I cannot remain in one location for too long, or else they`ll catch on to me.  I must get moving now.  I cannot say exactly when I will be able to contact you again, but do not lose hope.  I`ve got this mission completely under control.  I`ll work something out.  Until then.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

13 May 2012 Otsu

No email this week, just a great phone call!  Isaac is doing great.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Otsu Japan 7 May 2012 (8th in Japan)

Week 96
Mission Log
I`m having a great time here in Otsu, Japan.  It`s a very beautiful place.  Lake Biwa is just a massive body of water.  It feels like we`re close to the ocean, but really it`s just a lake.  On Saturday we went to a Barbeque that was way off in the mountains.  It was at a camping place that was about an hour and a half drive away.  We went on a hike and saw some beautiful waterfalls in the mountains.  It was very nice. 
Elder Taggart is doing a great job.  He wasn`t in the MTC for very long, but he studied Japanese in high school quite a bit, and he is very good.  He`s working hard and pushing himself to do new things he may not be used to.  I'm glad that I am able to be his companion. 
I`m excited for the Mother`s Day phone call.  You are supposed to call on your Mother`s Day.  It will be the day after for me.  I should get the phone call on Monday morning around 9:30 am my time, if that is possible with your schedule.  That should be Sunday afternoon for you, I think.  The phone call is to be no longer than 59 minutes according to the mission president.    I`m excited to talk with you.   
Thank you for the letter that you sent.  I hadn`t gotten mail in a while and it was very uplifting.  I didn`t get to see the really big moon.  It was cloudy here.  
Last preparation day, I met Elder Gardner and his family.  We ate some ramen together and then went to go see Kinkakuji (the golden pavilion) and Ryoanji.  It was my first time seeing Ryoanji.  It was a beautiful rock garden.  It`s a field of raked pebbles with fifteen large stones artistically placed in it.  I heard that because of how they were placed, you can`t see all fifteen of the stones at the same time, and according to legend, if you find how to see all fifteen of them at the same time, you will reach enlightenment.  I thought it would be difficult at first, but I soon discovered how to view all the stone simultaneously and I have now unlocked the secret of enlightenment.  It`s pretty nice. 
Yesterday, we had a zone conference.  We have them once every three months.  Everyone sang happy birthday to me and I was presented with a package of Tim Tams.  I was pretty happy.  During the training parts, I translated for the Japanese people.  It`s a lot more difficult for me to really absorb all of the things being taught or receive personal revelation when I`m translating.  It`s also really difficult to take notes.  The training basically goes in my ears in English, comes out my mouth in Japanese, and then it`s gone.  After the training, the missionaries that will be going home soon, stand in front and are able give a final testimony and goodbye message to everyone.  Since this was my last zone conference, I got to bear my testimony and give a final message to everyone.  A lot of missionaries get emotional and cry while saying things like, "I don`t want to go home yet!"  Instead of doing that, I just tried to teach everyone what I thought was something important for them all to learn, and was one of the biggest things that I learned on my mission.  I think it went really well. 
  I love you.  Talk to you next week.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift