This is Kobe, Japan.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Otsu Japan 24 June 2012

Week 103
Mission Log
I had a great birthday.  Thanks for the card.  I don`t feel twenty-one.  I still feel like I`m seventeen.  My driver`s license expired this week.  I hope that it isn't too much of a hassle to get it renewed.  Also, after getting home, I have to register pretty quickly so that I can vote in the big election.  I`m not registered yet. 
    To go from Kobe to Osaka cost about 400 yen.  From Osaka to Kyoto is about 600 yen.  From Kobe to Kyoto is about 1000 yen.  From Okinawa to Sapporo is about 30,000 yen.  From Umeda station in Osaka to Nishinomiya church is about 260 yen.  
      It`s still rainy now, but the rainy season will be done before you get here.  It will be the hottest time of the year.  It will just be really hot and really humid all of the time.  It probably won`t really rain at all.  Even at night, or if a typhoon comes, it still doesn't really get cold.  It`ll still be pretty hot. 
    I had a pretty interesting adventure on my birthday.  We left early in the morning to go to a training in Kobe for all of the trainers and trainees.  It was pretty good, and they gave us COSTCO pizza for lunch.  We got done at around four and it was time to go back to Otsu.  We were in a hurry because we had a couple of lessons planned.  We had English class at seven and two different families coming for lessons at 6:30.  We were planning on splitting with some members so that we could teach both lessons at the same time.  We rode the train from Kobe to Osaka.  Then, in Osaka, we had to switch trains.  We were hurrying through the stations because we didn't want to be late for our appointments.  I`m leading the way to the platform because my companion does'`t know where to go.  I see the train we want to ride and I get on it.  The doors close behind me.  I turn around to see my companion on the other side of the doors.  He got scared and didn't step on the train before the doors closed.  I watch him through the window as I ride the train out of the station, by myself.  Using the cell phone, I calculate that the next good train from Osaka to Otsu will leave at exactly 5:00.  I figure that if I make it back by then, I`ll be OK.  I get off at the first stop, run through the station and find a good train that got me back to Osaka at 4:56.  I expected to be able to meet back up with my companion there.  He was'`t there.  It wasn't 5:00 and he wasn't in the station.  That means that he had boarded some other train.  I get on the 5:00 train and ride to the church in Otsu by myself.  I arrive at 6:00.  I meet up with some members there and teach both families the gospel, by myself.  Because my companion doesn't have a cell phone, I can`t contact him or have any idea where he is.  He finally does find his way to the church building at about 7:00pm.  We then teach a normal English class and had a good time.  We had to walk from the church to the apartment, though, and didn't get back until 10:15. 
I have to get going before my companion wanders off again.  Talk to you later.  Bye. 
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Otsu Japan 17 June 1012

Entry 102
Dear Diary,
It seems like just yesterday that I was writing last Monday and the day before yesterday when I was writing two weeks ago.  I`m quite certain that time has sped up quite a bit.  It`s got to be a part of somebody`s evil plan to take over the world.  I`ll have to figure out who`s so that I can stop them.  I`ll look into it tomorrow.  Thought the week was extremely fast, there was also some good interesting stuff. 
We went on a fun adventure during preparation day last Monday.  There was a way famous historical site (Hieizan) in our area, but on the map it looked like it was in the middle of the mountains.  It was actually on top of a mountain.  We rode the train to the bottom of the mountain.  We then rode a cable car up the side of the mountain.  That was pretty interesting.  We rang a giant bell.  We walked around looking at all of the neat Buddhist stuff.  Apparently that mountain is the "Mother of Buddhism."  The top Buddhist guy used to live there and stuff.  There was a little cartoon map of the whole mountain at the entrance.  A little ways off, at what looked like the summit of the mountain on the map, the was what was called a garden museum.  We really wanted to go, but didn't want to pay for a shuttle out there.  We decided that we could just find the way and started going up higher on the mountain.  I figured that as long as we were going in an upward direction, we had to be going the right way, right?  We went up for forever.  The farther we went up, the more foggy it got.  .Pretty soon, we couldn't really see ten feet in front of us.  I started to hear some freaky animal noises, but we kept going.  Eventually, we actually made it to the top of the mountain.  There was a little pile of rocks and a sign stuck in it that said "Mt. Hiei Summit 848.3m".  I felt somewhat accomplished for having climbed the mountain, but also somewhat disappointed that there were not gardens or artwork around. While wandering around at the top, we saw a little path and decided to follow it.  It led to an empty parking lot.  I said empty because there were no people or cars in it, but it wasn't really empty.  There were about ten to fifteen monkeys walking around it it.  Some of them had babies.  They were climbing on fences and street signs and stuff.  It was pretty cool.  We even saw some jump into the parking lot from trees near the other side of the fence.  It turned out to be the parking lot for the garden museum.  It cost like ten dollars to go in.  So, we just left the way we came.  On the trip down the mountain, we saw a deer.  Fun day. 
I`m excited to go to Mt. Fuji and Tokyo with my family next month.  If we take the bullet train (shinkansen) then it would take about four and a half hours to get from Kyoto to Mt. Fuji.  It`s just that we have to take the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo and ride a normal train from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji.  It would cost about 15000 yen.  Is the shinkansen included in the train passes?  If we take the normal trains from Kyoto to Mt. Fuji, it`d take about seven hours and about 100 dollars.  Going from Mt. Fuji to Tokyo is about two hours and about 20 bucks.
      Sunday was Father`s Day.  Nothing really happened here in Japan for Father`s Day.  I think that most people were not aware that it was a holiday.  I have the best father in the world.  I hope that he had a great day in the U.S. on Sunday.  I`ll get to see him and tell him Happy Father`s Day soon enough.   I hope that my wonderful mother has a great day on her birthday that is coming up.  Normally, we have the same birthday, but because of the time zone differences my birthday will be the day before hers.  Isn't that interesting? 
I've got to get going.  If the evil scheme for time acceleration keeps up, then I`ll be writing again in a couple of hours.  Bye.
-Elder Isaac Swift

Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 June 1012 Otsu Japan

The Acts of Elder Swift
Chapter 101
1.  And it came to pass that the Spirit of the Lord revealed that Elder Swift was to remain in Otsu for a little season* for thus it was expedient for the salvation of souls.  Elder Taggart has remained as his companion, and they worked well in unity.  Through much study and training, they waxed stronger and stronger in the faith of the Lord and power in their teaching. 
2.  Upon receiving these instructions, Elder Swift went out with much haste to cry repentance unto all the people by land and by sea.  He taught nothing but repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ to the people. 
3.  One the first day of the week, he went aboard the Michigan**, he unfolded the doctrines unto all whilst sailing through the Biwa sea. 
4.  The next day he traveled by bicycle to move quickly to every soul in the city.  While en route to an urgent destination, he was stopped by the guards placed in that city.  They asked for identification.  When asked for a phone number, Elder Swift handed the officer a gospel flier that had his phone number on it.  He then began to teach the guard of Christ and invited him to repent and come unto the Savior.  Being pricked by the Spirit of the Lord, the guard let Elder Swift and his companion go and gave them a promise that the guards of the city of Kusatsu*** would never stop the Elders or hinder their work again.  The work in Kusatsu has progressed since then. 
5.  Elder Swift then traveled to the University known as Ritsumeikan.  There were at that place a number of people who had sufficiently humbled themselves, and began to repent and come unto Christ.  Upon seeing those that had humbled themselves, Elder Swift felt great joy in his heart and began to unfold the Plan of Salvation unto them with much boldness and plainness that all would understand. 
6.  Though there were many who accepted the testimonies of Elder Swift and his companion, there were others among them that hardened their hearts and did not receive the truthfulness of the message.  One of those people soon came with soldiers positioned to guard the university.  After the guards chased off all who listened to to word, they then turned to contend with Elder Swift and his companion. 
7.  Ye cannot preach here.  Either cease talk of this Jesus that ye speak of or ye shall be driven from this land.  Because Elder Swift refused to deny or silence his testimony of Christ, they were cast out of that land.  While returning toward his quarters he found one named Kyota who desires to join himself with the saints of God. 
8.  And it came to pass that a great tempest came to the land of Otsu.  It began to rain throughout all the land and will continue in such fashion for nearly a month or so.  Thus passed the month of June among the people of Otsu. 
9.  Elder Swift continues to labor among these people with all his strength even to this day. 
*Elder Swift is to stay in Otsu for one more transfer cycle which is equivalent to six weeks of our time. 
**The Michigan is the name of a large old-fashioned boat that has a big wheel turning water in the back of it.  It sailed about through Lake Biwa, the largest Lake in Japan. 
***Kusatsu is the name of the city that borders the city of Otsu.  While the church building is in Otsu, the missionary`s apartment actually lies within the Kustsu city boundaries. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

3 Japan 2012 Otsu

Week 100
Mission Log
The rice has been planted.  There are rice fields all over the place.  They are right in the city many times.  Basically everyone works on a rice field.  It`s not like a regular field.  It has a couple centimeters (things similar to inches) of water on top the field.  They also don`t plant just seeds very often.  They plant them as small little plants that are already half a foot tall.  I`m excited to watch them all grow.  By the time you get here, in July, they will all be very tall and almost ready to harvest.  They don`t get tall like corn or anything.  They get up to about your waist height.  They look pretty similar to grass right now.  It`s just a couple strands of grass put together in a clump.  Then, one of those clumps every couple of inches all lined up in a straight row.  Most people have told me that when they were younger, they planted the rice fields by hand, one at a time.  Many many older women are permanently bent over so their hips are bent at a ninety degree angle and their upper body is parallel to the ground.  They can`t stand up straight.  It comes from bending over to plant rice their whole life and from drinking too much tea (it weakens your bones).  Nowadays, everyone just rides a machine through the field that plants it all for them.  It seems pretty convenient.  Along the road that we walk from the apartment to the train station there are a few rice fields in a row.  The first two just look like normal rice fields with the little plants in straight lines and a couple inches of water.  The third one, however, has a sign that says "Tamagawa Elementary School's Practice Learning Field".  The rice is not in straight lines at all.  They are in weird clumps.  A lot of them have fallen over.  There are tons of big mounds of dirt and footprints everywhere.  It`s way funny and way cute.  I`m excited to watch them grow.  After they get taller, it`s cool to watch them wave as the wind blows through them. 
-Elder Isaac Swift