Monday, December 22, 2014

43rd Week in Japan, 51 Weeks

メリ クリスマス!

Hey everyone! I hope wherever you are at in the world, you are having a great Christmas experience! This week was a little different than any other week I have had in the mission. 1. Transfers were a day early and I made mochi the old school way!
2. Went caroling in Japanese
3. Transfers and dendo was cancelled due to storm and blizzard conditions outside.
4. Shoveled snow like a boss all day for dendo the next day!
5. Had a ward christmas party where there was a hip hop dance crew that performed.
6. Saw lots of miracles Sunday! And got a little Christmas from the Kushiro Branch!
So yeah this week was pretty crazy. Had very little dendo time. Fortunately Kushiro Branch is finally getting its gears rolling and they are starting to create a Dendo plan for the branch. Once we get a ward mission plan everyone will be able to work a lot better together and see more miracles, re activation, and baptisms! So I am really glad I was sent to Kushiro! 

This week I took the Christlike Attributes test and realized that my hope was needing some improvement. I have been studying it all week and thinking about it a lot. Hope is something that is related with faith and scripture study. In Jacob 4:6 I learned that through reading the scriptures we gain hope and our faith becomes "unshaken". Reading and applying the scriptures gives us the hope we need to perform the work and miracles of the Lord.  This Christmas we all can read the scriptures and grow our hope in Jesus Christ and His infinite loving Atonement for mankind. Because of His gift to us, we need not fear death, for He overcame it. We need not fear for our souls, for through Him we can be saved. We need not mourn, for He is there in our sorrows. The Lord of all the Earth and Heaven above loves and cares about all of you and wants you to trust in Him. See that ye do!

Elder Swenson

Monday, December 15, 2014

42nd Week in Japan, 50 Weeks

Got my transfer call early!

OK everyone I am staying in Kushiro with Elder Israelsen! I get to finish all of his training! Yes! I would have hated to have only had one transfer with him. Plus, that means I get to stay in this area for Christmas! YEAH! Our zone is literally the best zone in the mission! 

This week our hope in Satoh san died a little bit. She said that she couldn`t and doesnt want to act on our message, so we might be dropping her:( But something really cool did happen to us this week. We were housing and some guy immediately let us into his house and showed us around! He said he met the missionaries 30 years ago on bikes and talked for a little while. But when he let us in we were able to teach almost the entire first lesson and he said we could come back anytime! I flelt the spirit so strongly while we were teaching the lesson, it was great! So we are going to meet with him on tuesday and give him a Book of Mormon!

This last monday we had the zone activity and it was awesome! We played nerf so hard that someone put a hole in the we played 人狼 or  mafia after that. But I am pretty sure that no group in the world can have more fun than 24 missionaries with nerf guns on a P-day! 

Something I learned spiritually this week. I was reading in "Our Heritage" about Zions`s Camp and how all of them were put through many trials and hardships to go and defend the saints in Missouri. But when they arrived the Governor denied them the right to defend the saints. So they traveled there and went back to Kirtland.   The Lord then revealed that the point of Zion`s camp was to see who would follow the Prophet and obey his words. When we are finding, or teaching, or even just living the normal member life and things get rough, the lord is seeing if you will keep the faith, obey the Prophets, and be loyal to Him. These are opportunities to prove to the Lord how much you love Him. 

I love you all and hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas season!

Monday, December 8, 2014

41st Week in Japan, 49 Weeks

Hey everyone! 

So the week started off with a district activity of Kushiro Combat! Our district of 8 with 1 investigator gathered together at the church, grabbed some dart guns from a $1.00 shop, and had a blast! That was the closest thing I have done to paintball in a long time.It might have just been one of the greatest district activities in a long time:) Oh and we ate a rare food in Japan right before we did it. スパかつ!(Spakatsu) It is basically a type of fried meat on top of spaghetti and you can only, as far as I have been told, get it here in Kushiro! It is a way good thing that Elder Israelsen and I got called here because we love to eat good food!

The rest of the week we did a lot of Finding and tried to search out some NAs but our search was not very successful.  We did however make a new investigator, Satoh san, an 83 year old grandma who is very genki! She took the Book of Mormon and said she would start to read it. When we came back she said she had read a little bit which made her a progressing investigator!(Yeah!) This week we are going to try and get a church tour set up and we will see what she thinks of the church building! After that just a lot of walking, and walking, and a little more walking. I have already lost my biking legs:( But my calves will be looking pretty fantastic by the time Christmas roles in;) 

Our eikaiwa is starting to grow a little bit week by week, but unfortunately because of Shogatsu/New Years coming up, our Eikaiwa will start to get smaller as the holidays role around. But just recently we housing and found this lady who spoke to us in english from the door. So we told her about eikaiwa and from that point on I really couldn`t understand her. But two weeks later she came to eikaiwa! When she came we definitely found out that she is not "all there" so our classes have become a little interesting. But having a bigger Eikaiwa makes me happy! 

Yesterday the Andrus Family fed all six of the missionaries in Kushiro dinner and it was awesome! Chicken wings, sloppy joes, and a potatoe, cheese, and meatsauce lasagna!(lasagna noodles are really hard to find in Japan so she used potatoes!) It was so good! And it was pretty American! Yeah! Next she gave all of the missionaries christmas gifts! For the elders she handmade a bunch of christmas ties with her professional Brand patch on the back! It was awesome!

In 伝道  (missionary work) I have discovered the secret to becoming a PMG missionary! It is planning and creating goals! If you can really sit down during weekly and daily planning sessions and for real plan out your days, your success and growth rate will increase quickly and shoot way high. I had the best weekly planning session this week with Elder Israelsen because we followed PMG and did what they do in the district! It was really awesome!

I love all you guys and remember send me some christmas pics!

Monday, December 1, 2014

40th Week in Japan, 48 Weeks - Thanksgiving in Japan

Hey everyone!

I hope that everyone had a great thanksgiving this week! In Japan, no one celebrates it at all! In fact we forgot as well. So we just made tacos from the taco kits I got in some packages!(Thanks fam bam!) This week was busier than usual. And by busier I mean not time effective. All of the Elders in the mission sent their bikes to Honbu to have them stored for the winter. So this week was our first week without bikes and all of the areas that we want to focus in take an hour to walk to which is really not effective. So from now on we are either going to have to be very fast walkers or I need to figure out how the bus system works here! 

This week we also had to do some hometeaching and I found out that my teaching skills have gone to poop:/ I havent taught in such a long time...but thankfully the members are really loving here and still give us nashi;)  To thank them Elder Israelsen and I took a funny picture and made them some bread and delivered it to them! Plus we were able to go to a Hockey game! The Cranes which is Kushiro`s hockey team is the best in Asia! It does not compare to NHL and any sense but it was still pretty awesome! This week when I went to a members house they showed me my facebook and some of my old pictures and I freaked out! It is so crazy to think that I have almost been gone for a whole year now and I can definitely see the difference in myself! It is way cool to see what the gospel does to someone over long periods of time!

On Sunday a missionary returned home from serving in the Colorado mission and he is so awesome! Not only is his English fantastic, but he is really a cool guy and became the ward mission leader the first sunday he got back. He also wants to get the ward reading PMG together!  These next few transfers will be really awesome! Plus ( Alec Gibelyou please pay attention) he served with Elder Gibelyou in the same Zone while Elder Gibelyou was ZL. So now the ward mission leader and I have a connection:) 

So we werent able to meet with any of our investigators this week again and I am getting tired of it. So we are gonna go hard and do our best to meet with them and find the other elect in Kushiro! While eating tons of sushi at the same time!  

Love all you people and dont forget, whatever your are experiencing now, it will be for your good later! D&C 122!
This is Brother Ryo! My new Ward mission leader!

Monday, November 24, 2014

39th Week in Japan, 47 Weeks

This last week we spent 3 days in Sapporo and traveling! over 12 hours on the bus! Fun...anyways  Zone Conference was a blast! We were able to hear the Honbu staff (mission office) give talks and testimonies. Elder Getz, senior couple missionary, gave a talk on light and leaves. It was really inspiring. When we are young missionaries, we are like little buds, absorbing more light and learning in order to grow. And the further you progress in your mission, the bigger you become and the more light you can absorb and begin to reflect. When the end your mission comes you change to a different color, orange, red, yellow, and you then give all of that light to others. Sometimes we all feel like buds and that we only learn a little bit and cant really help people out. And sometimes that may be true, but by improving how we absorb light, (personal, companion, and language study) we can reflect that light the rest of the day.So that was the big thing I learned at Zone Conference.

When we got back to Kushiro we did our weekly planning session and cleaned out a bunch of junk from our cabinet in our study room. Their was a whole stack of OI and PI list that no one has seen in 2 years. So I am hoping that in that stack we will be able to find the person we need to direct into the lords kingdom. But besides that we did not get to meet with any investigators. We made one new one but she basically lives in the hospital and we cant see her for long periods at a time. So we are going to try and find a way around that.

So their was and earthquake here and we are completely fine. We did not even feel it in Kushiro but they did sound some big alarms. We are literally next to the ocean so if something did happen, we would have evacuated. But the earthquake did not cause a tsunami so we are ok. 

Later today we are going to take some apartment pictures and christmas pictures so I will try to send those tonight!

This is the beginning of our family tree! So here is grandfather, Elder Mecham, myself, and my son Elder Israelsen!

Bye Bye! Love you!

This is the beginning of our family tree! 
So here is grandfather, Elder Mecham, myself, and my son Elder Israelsen! 

This what we do for PDay dinner now. $5 australian beef!

Monday, November 17, 2014

38th Week in Japan, 46 Weeks

How is everyone doing this fine day? So this week the temperature here dropped... a lot. The cold in Kushiro and the cold in Sapporo is way different. The wind blows through you here and freezes you. No joke. We rode past some puddles on our bikes to an appointment and on the way back five min later, they were frozen. Thankfully, after this week we wont be using our bikes. Tomorrow we head for Sapporo for Zone conference and will be gone for half of the week. But the cool things is we will have some time to dendo in my old area of Moiwa so I want to stop by some investigators!

This last week on monday a member took us to this place called Akan, the most beautiful and ideal place for camping! I really want to go back there someday and do some stream fishing, but we went for a different purpose...(; Onsens!(Hotsprings!) Japanese people love onsens so they have them at hotels and other places. So our ward mission leader took us there and we went onsen hopping! We went to 2 onsens and just relaxed in pools and in saunas all day. It was the best thing ever. Plus at this place they have an Ainu village. Ainu are the natives for Japan. They have white skin, different color eyes and speak a different dialect of ancient Japanese. They are a dying race but we got to go and see one of their little tourist villages. It was really awesome. I am pretty sure Elder Israelsen was super spoiled on his first Pday.

We didn`t get to teach any of our investigators until last night. Kadowaki san is a 17 year old highschool student who met the missionaries and had a baptismal date, but the missionaries dropped him and we dont know why. Nothing was written on his teaching record or anything. It is like the missionaries just stopped visiting him because they did not write anything down on the teaching record. Mendokusai! So Elder Brown and I picked him up and taught him a few times. Last night we visited him and taught him about God`s love and how he could feel that love if he read from the Book of Mormon. It really suprised him and he said he would read from the beginning.  I was soooososos happy! Besides that we have been finding this week.

Being a trainer is so different than being any other kind of missionary. It gives you the opportunity to focus on someone else besides yourself and to really have a point of view from the savior. Doing things so they can grow and become a better missionary, person, and companion. Japanese is still rough but I am getting along alright. 

Love you all and remember send me your Christmas cards\photos!

Monday, November 10, 2014

37th Week in Japan, 45 Weeks

I am a dad!

I became a trainer!!!!!!0: On Monday night I got a call from the APs and was called to be a trainer! So Tuesday after DTM we headed to Sapporo, which is a 6 hour bus ride... but it was nice to be in some warmer weather. We spent the night in Odori apartment and Elder Horne, who was in the MTC with me, got called to be a trainer as well! We stayed up talking about training and what had happened recently in our last transfers. The next morning was really nerve wracking. I didnt know who my bean was going to be or let alone what I would teach him. We went to Honbu at about 10:30am and had a meeting with all the other trainers. Nakatsuka会長 lead the meeting and told us how important our new callings were as missionaries. After the whole meeting was done I was filled with the Holy Ghost and I wasnt nervous anymore, only excited and happy that Heavenly Father trusted me to train this new missionary.

After the meeting we went upstairs to find out who our beans were going to be. The group was 5 Elders and 1 Sister so it was a little hard guessing who my companion was going to be. But I was really happy when I found out it was Elder Israelsen! He is from Casche Valley Utah and has the courage and energy of many beans! He has played Lacrosse for 6 years and is a champ! 

It is really awesome thinking back to when I was a bean and seeing the progress in myself as a person and the language. The gift of tongues and the atonement is real. I havent even been in Japan for a year and can speak to people and kind of understand them now! So I am way pumped!

Thursday we rode back to Kushiro, ate sushi, and went to Eikaiwa. A member who goes to Eikaiwa brought AW Root Beer! I was sooosososoo happy! Friday and Saturday we went out and housed, taught an RC and had lots of fun! Sunday was a mess for a while because I was asked to teach the primary, the young mens, and a bible class. Fortunately we only had to teach the young mens and primary.

Yeah I am way pumped for these next two transfers because we are going to baptize people! 

I love you all!
President & Sister Nakatsuka, Elder Israelsen, Elder Swenson

Monday, November 3, 2014

36th Week in Japan, 44 Weeks

Hey everyone!

How did everyone`s Halloween go? I hope you had a blast! Because we celebrated Halloween last week nothing really happened on Halloween. We even tried to go to McDonalds to try and get the Halloween burger on the 30th, and they had already gotten rid of it! It wasn`t even Halloween yet and they got rid of it to bring some other burger out. I was furious! The burger was purple and it had Squid Ink for ketchup! So I used it as a conversation topic in Eikaiwa and everybody thought it was hilarious! 

Other news this week is transfers and I will most likely be staying here for another transfer. But if I become a trainer (which I dont plan on happening) I will get a call some time today. And plus, we will be getting a new gaijin AP and it might be my trainer, Elder Mecham! But we really don`t know yet. On Tuesday I got a lucky privilege to go on a split with Elder Inoue! I was his last split ever! He goes home this week and I was able to learn a lot from him. 

This week I was able to start reading Acts for the first time all the way through. And I love it. The apostles and those brave Christians after the ascension of Christ suffered a lot for the His name`s sake. But what I love most is the change wrought about in these people and their lives. Peter, a man who denied the Savior 3 times, turns around and will say nothing but His name, suffering through torture and death, but still praising God. Saul, killing the saints, throwing them in jail, and destroying the church of God, changes and becomes one of the greatest missionaries of all time. And the Gentiles, not knowing of Christ, turning unto Him, received baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and speaking with cloven tongues of fire. All of these miracles and people, are in the restored church. I am not saying Peter himself is hear, but Prophets and apostles with the same authority lead and guide our church today. How wonderful is that!

I love you all and please read Acts. It is my favorite book of scripture now:)

Elder Inoue and Sister Holt at their Funeral Party being killed by their companions...

 Oh yes. The beards are in Japan now:)

Monday, October 27, 2014

35th Week in Japan, 43 Weeks

This week was a lot of fun! Our branch had their Halloween party and it was pretty fun. I was Shoku pan man, a kid show character in japan who is a man with a slice of bread for his face. Elder Brown was Gomi man, the garbage guy (that is why he is wearing a garbage bag with an ugly sweater). The party was really slow and not very interesting at first, but when we pulled the pinatas out, everyone had a blast!

Concerning dendo this week, we were only able to teach 1 lesson. That is not good. But on splits with Elder Strachan, we were able to teach 3! And get a lot of contacts in. So that was a good day.

Elder Brown and I had a long talk about learning the language (considering he is the best gaijin at speaking and reading Japanese in the mission right now) and I asked him what I should do to learn the language more effectively. He told me some of the stuff that he used to do to learn the language and he is crazy! The amount of time and effort he put into the language was double that of an ordinary missionary. He would wake up early and study, study during exercise, during language study and during free time. The amount of time he put in was ridiculous. It was above average for any missionary. Then I made a connection to myself. I have usually or always just been average at everything in my life. Average student, average athlete, average member of the church, average was just who I was. Then I started reading the scriptures and  looking at all the men who are in them. The Savior chose average men to be his disciples. They were common fisherman living average lifestyles. But when the Savior entered into their lives and into their hearts, nothing could stop them from improving and progressing until they became men who are even to this day talked about in history, religion, and by every people because of their boldness and hard work. When you work hard, the Lord can enter into your heart, and change you. I found out my effort needs to increase and I need to let the Savior into my heart to learn the language. 

This is the last full week for this transfer so Elder Brown and I will be traveling all over Kushiro so I can memorize the place. And hopefully next transfer I will be prepared to maybe go senior comp. 

I love you all and send me pictures of all your guy`s Halloween!
Our branch had their Halloween party and it was pretty fun. 
 I was Shoku pan man, a kid show character in japan who is a man with a 
slice of bread for his face. Elder Brown was Gomi man, the garbage guy 
(that is why he is wearing a garbage bag with an ugly sweater).

 River in Kushiro

Monday, October 20, 2014

34th Week in Japan, 42 Weeks

Hey everyone!

This week we had ZTM and District conference(Branch conference)! Because I am in Kushiro(釧路) we hosted all the missionaries at our apartment for these meetings. So we had like 16 missionaries in our apartment. We all slept very close to each other that night... Saturday we had ZTM and Interviews with the President. In my interview I learned a lot. Effort is something I need to work on. Our President is the hardest working person I have ever known. And through his hard work and 100% effort he puts into everything he has come close to the Lord. So he asked me to try and put just a little more effort into everything that I do, and through that the Lord will be able to purify me and turn me into the person I want to be. That and a few other things I was able to learn in 10 mins. from him. Next I listened to all the workshops that all the ZL`s, STL`s, and AP`s did without translation. I got just about 90% of everything! and the other 10% were things I was able to look up in my dictionary! So this ZTM for me was just amazing. After ZTM we went on scramble splits with everyone in our zone and we were able to give out 3 Books of Mormon in our first 3 contacts! It was just a day of miracles! On monday we made Pinatas for our Halloween party at the church! Halloween isn`t celebrated as a Holiday in Japan so sometimes you will see decorations or someone might have a party at their house, but besides that no one does anything. So it is a great way introduce investigators into the church. Elder Brown and I were not able to make any new investigators this week so next week will be all finding again. 

Until next week !
Elder Swenson
We made Pinatas for our Halloween party at the church!
 President Nakatsuka`s birthday presents!

 This is our picture for Nakatsuka Kaicho!

Monday, October 13, 2014

33rd Week in Japan, 41 Weeks


Ya! We got to watch general conference! I flippin love it sooo much! I am pretty sure conference is just as good as Christmas is. This conference they really focused on three things. 1. Giving to the Poor 2. The Prophet has been called of God 3. Families need to stick together and parents need to show righteous examples. Looks like when I become a parent Ill study this conference really well. 

So this week was a little slow dendo wise. We were not able to meet with any of our investigators or any of our appointments. So we just housed. Thankfully last night we were in the neighborhood of a random PI and visited and she was home! So we were able to make one new investigator and that was the blessing of the week. This week we have a few other appointments so we will see if we get a few more! 

This week we had an action item from the AP`S that said make your companion his favorite meal. Unfortunately, both of our favorite dishes were rather hard to make so we just went out and bought some Pizza! Japanese pizza definitely has some weird toppings, but it was soo good! Then we had to buy a bunch of snacks for General conference so this month will be a little tight on money...but we will survive! 

I appreciate all the pictures that everyone sends me! I love seeing gaijin! (only when they are not in Japan. Here if I see gaijin I get really scared...) SO  please keep them coming! And if you feel so inspired to do so, tell me your testimonies of the gospel so I can use them in my dendo! 

 Spiritual Stuff: This week was a big anticipation for conference so personal study was aimed at making questions for conference but I still learned a lot. Prayer is so important. When we pray to our Heavenly Father and tell him about what we desire, feel, struggle with, and hope to become, He has the opportunity to talk back to us. I know that God wants us to learn something every day from Him. I have been seeing this stick out in my studies for a month now. It looks like I need to have a one on one with the man upstairs. 

I love you all and keep the commandments! Don`t be scared of men, just love God!

Elder Swenson

 Brown Choro with our PIZZA!

Monday, October 6, 2014

32nd Week in Japan, 40 Weeks

Yeah I Transferred!

Hey everyone! I am now serving in Kushiro! I am on the east side of the Island right next to the ocean! Kushiro has the best sushi in Japan which also means the best sushi in the world! I am so lucky! I unfortunately dont have any pictures as of yet...sorry. My new companion is Elder Brown. He is from Orem Utah, 1/4 Japanese, can speak the language perfectly and can read kanji. So I think this transfer my language skills will be able to grow a lot.  He is really cool and it is really nice to be able to talk in English and Japanese together. Another really cool blessing about this transfer is that Elder Matsuhashi and I are in the same apartment again! We have been in the same district  up until last transfer, and for 3 transfers we were in Moiwa apt. together. And we both came to Kushiro together. So that was really awesome. I havent met any of our Investigators yet, but we only have 3 right we will be doing a lot of finding this transfer.

Things I have learned recently
1.You don`t need a lot of clothes as a missionary, it makes transfers a pain in the butt.
2. If you use your MSF(MissionSupportFunds) wisely, and you get transferred to Kushiro, you can buy fantastic sushi.
3. Heavenly Father wants to answer my prayers and give me everything that I desire, but His plan will give me what I need most right now. 
4. General Conference is the best thing in the world. We don`t get to watch it till this saturday and sunday.
5. Scriptures are only as effective as you want them to be. If you take the scriptures seriously, Heavenly Father will seriously bless you.

So I will have a lot of pictures next week but this picture is of Elder Brown and Elder Matsuhashi 3 transfers ago in Sapporo. Left side of the table 2nd and 3rd person.

I love you all and keep having miracles!
 Elder Brown and Elder Matsuhashi 3 transfers ago in Sapporo. 
Left side of the table 2nd and 3rd person.

Monday, September 29, 2014

31st Week in Japan, 39 Weeks

SO tomorrow we have transfer calls! I will most likely stay her in Takikawa for another transfer and Elder Hirata will transfer somewhere else. But he really doesn`t want to transfer, and I really don`t blame him. Takikawa is such a great place to dendo. It is a town smaller than the size of Kingman (my hometown) but because we are in Japan, the population is just a little bit larger. So its a cozy little place, but nothing exciting happens here. So when a gaijin shows up at your door, people want to talk to you! It is great! So if I transfer I won`t be the happiest person.

This week we were really pushing church and trying to get people to come to church. Yesterday we had a mission goal to have 60 people come to church. So all this week we taught church, church, and a little more about church. By Friday night we had 7 people who were going to come to church. By Saturday night, all of our investigators canceled on us. It was really a bummer. So yesterday we had the parents of a part member family come, and then an Eikaiwa student come to Church. So in the end it turned out all right. I showed the branch how to make tortillas and we made tacos! I would have included some pictures but my hands we covered in flour and trying to run a kitchen in a different language was really difficult, so I apologize. 

Although not very many people showed up to church, through our efforts in trying to get people to come to church, we were blessed with finding a lot of good investigators. For example にわ was a former investigator who was seriously thinking about getting baptized. But he ended up moving to China for a while and couldn`t meet with the missionaries. So he got married and had a kid and moved back here a few months ago.  When we went and visited him, it was like we were meant to find him. I haven`t met a nicer Japanese person as of yet. So I really want that to go places. Like to the baptismal font and then to the temple;)  Oh and I found out that I won`t be here for the dedication of the temple so I will be planning a trip back here very quickly when I come home:)

Well I hope you all are doing well and love hearing from you! Remember that God loves you and and wants you all to be successful, so if we keep the commandments, all of them, that will happen!

Love Elder Swenson

Monday, September 22, 2014

30th Week in Japan, 38 Weeks

Hello Everyone!

So this week has been a blast! But it has rained 6 out of the 7 days this week:/ The temperature has cooled down as well. We are back in our long sleeve shirts and starting to wear thermals at night now:0

Monday- Ate the best rated ジンギスカン in Japan. (Lamb)
Tuesday- Met a family all about basketball and might want to take the lessons!
Wednesday- Had a member come and team up with us on 2 lessons and both of them are progressing now! 
Thursday-Had my first hamburger sushi...
Friday-Went on splits with Elder Sakae and accidentally housed a members home, recieved a member referral (really rare), got to meet with an investigator who we normally cant meet with and gave her a BoM,   made a baptismal date with a 19 year old.
Saturday- During housing met a lady and talked with her for 2 hours so we didnt really house, got dropped by one investigator, met 2 nice PI`s, and talked with a drunk NA.
Sunday- Talked to a Canadian who was Philippine, to a Philippine in Japanese, and taught the Sunday school class. We are currently in the old testament. I had lesson 36 which is the first 6 chapters of Isaiah. Yeah we will just say that the members of the church are really nice:) 

Right now we are pulling some of the highest numbers in the mission. Elder Hirata is a great missionary and because of his hard work I was able to come in and be a part of it this transfer. We get our transfer calls next Tuesday so I will probably stay and Elder Hirata will transfer so I am gonna have a big responsibility soon. 

This week I got a lot of spiritual messages from all you guys!! Thank you so much! Please continue! Missionaries love nothing more than hearing testimonies and spiritual things! 

I dont have time for a spiritual message today but I will say this. General conference is coming and that means we all have a chance to hear from the Lord`s servants. Don`t miss a minute of it.

Elder Swenson 

The food Jingusu kan.

I found this guy in a bathroom at a convenient store. I think you will catch my humor.

Monday, September 15, 2014

29th Week in Japan, 37 Weeks


How is everyone doing this week? Fantastic? I thought so! This week has been a little different but a lot of fun! On monday we had a district Taco Party! We made tortillas, taco meat (thank you Costco for having Taco Seasoning), cheese (Japanese cheese is not the same but we work with it), and some chunky salsa! I have to say I was pretty happy to have a fellow missionary from las vegas who knew what I was talking about when I said, "Hey, should we get mango`s for this salsa?" and he replied with, "Yes! But they are expensive so we can just do without them." Mango salsa is the best thing ever! If you have access to this blessing, thank your Heavenly Father for it!  Tuesday we had DTM and on our way to go eat we played a ukulele and sang the whole way to Tsukiya! Music Dendo (missionary work)  totally works!  We ran into a guy who had a ukulele, but he didn`t want to listen to our message. Thursday some gnarly storms went through Hokkaido and we couldn`t go outside for a while. Luckily we had Weekly Planning Session(DKK) anyways so it all worked out. During DKK we found a mis translation in PMG which caused about a 40 min. discussion on how we should be teaching our investigators. I am so thankful that Joseph Smith was truly a Prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon 100% correctly as to have no confusion and unity between church members. That is why Heavenly Father gave us the Book of Mormon, to "confound false doctrine" and have God`s will. Friday I went on splits with Elder Fukushima and we ate at Marlins again. That place is ridiculous. The food is just too much. (And that is coming from a missionary). So we wont go back there again. But Elder Fukushima taught me that a happy missionary brings more people to the Gospel. His smile and his kind loving Japanese completely changed our housing results. Plus we were able to talk with everyone we had planned to meet with. When people see us they always say that they are busy, but they aren`t a lot of the time. They just dont want to talk. But, because of Elder Fukushima`s kindness, everyone made time for us! It was a great split and I am very lucky to have gone with him.  Sunday we had a Branch Counsel meeting and I didn`t understand about 80% of what was going on. For 2 hours my brain was mush.  Next thing I knew, I am being assigned to make another Taco Party for the Branch "come to church" day on the 28th. So, Looks like ill be very busy that day. 

Spiritual Thought
  If you obey "Every word that comes out of the mouth of God" you will be blessed immensely. If love for God can become your motivation for keeping the commandments their is a promise for you in John 14:21 that I think everyone wants have! (Look this scripture up, I am too lazy to type it out.)

 Till next week!
 On monday we had a district Taco Party! 
We made tortillas, taco meat (thank you Costco for having Taco Seasoning), 
cheese (Japanese cheese is not the same but we work with it), and some chunky salsa!

Monday, September 8, 2014

28th Week in Japan, 36 Weeks

Guess what? Really cool stuff happened this week:p

So Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we were in Ebetsu and Sapporo. On Tuesday we had splits and DTM in Ebetsu. I went with Elder Gubler, who is from Las Vegas so we understand eachother pretty well. During that split I was the language Senpai (higher level) which was really scary when I thought about it. So I prayed to Heavenly Father to boost our language skills so we could do his work. That day I understood 90% of the Japanese that everyone spoke! It was really a miracle! (Miracles always happen on splits by the way.) Wednesday we had to go to Sapporo for a leader meeting at Honbu. Because Elder Hirata is a new District leader he had to go. Because I am still a junior comp. I got to go on splits with the other new district leader`s companion. And guess who it was......ELDER HORNE! Ever since the MTC we always wanted to be companions so this was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father:) So we went to Shiroishi, the sketchy side of town, had sushi, talked about old times and dendo, and went to work. Although it was a really short split, I had a blast! That night we had to teach Eikaiwa without prep time, which is not normal, but thankfully one of the members showed up and really helped out a lot. She is a cram school teacher so she knows a little bit of basic English and helped to translate what I couldnt. The rest of the week just did some dendo (Missionary stuff):p 


In relationship to the Holy Ghost again, we need to have the Holy Ghost with us always. And how we can better do that is through obedience and "prayer of faith"(PMG Chp.4) . If we do not pray with faith, with earnestness, with desire, we cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes it is really hard to pray for things that you specifically want in a different language. I always pray in Japanese to help me learn the language, but sometimes I give up what I want to say because I am not sure how to say it right or I dont know how to say it at all. So my prayers have been lame for a while. This week I am going to really gonbarimasu and make my prayers meaningful. 

Love all of you peoples and please, dont have lame prayers like I do!

Elder Swenson

Monday, September 1, 2014

27th Week in Japan, 35 Weeks


How is everyone doing?  This week was a blast! 2 splits, Zone Conference and my  first Takikawa Eikaiwa! Tuesday we went down to Iwamisawa by train and I went on Splits with Elder Rostedt. He is a really fun Elder. He does his best to come closer to the Lord and have fun at the same time. Wednesday night we I taught Eikaiwa that only had 2 people come to it. That was a first and it is a lot of fun! When I teach I usually end with American slang and it makes me laugh so much hearing Japanese people ending all of their sentences with "man." (:  Thursday night we went to Honbu in Sapporo to spend the night because Zone conference was from 8-2.  It was so nice seeing so many missionaries again! That is the only down side about being in the country areas, you do not see other missionaries very often. Elder Whiting of the 70`s came and talked to us about how we can perform miracles and have the spirit more abundantly in our lives. It was a very spiritual Zone Conference. The next day we had splits with the Zone leaders and we had the largest meal I have ever had in Japan. This place called マリン (Marlin) gives these huge sized meals for really cheap. My meal could have fed 2 or 3 people. Elder Miyaki and I got sick afterward for about an hour. Yesterday President Nakatsuka came to the Takikawa Branch meeting and I was teaching a lesson from PMG to the members that day:o That was a little nerve racking. Thankfully the church has DVDs in Japanese which I gratefully used. After church we taught a lesson, reset a baptismal date, and made 4 appointments in a couple of hours. Takikawa is on fire with missionary work! I was definitely blessed when I was transferred here. My teaching abilities have opportunities to grow everyday now instead of once a week.


During Elder Whiting`s Q/A session, someone asked how we can know when to perform miracles and how to perform miracles. And everything was easily explained from the example of the Apostles in the new testament. During Christ`s ministry he sent out his apostles to spread the word of the gospel and to invite all to be baptized. When they returned they said that they could not cast out devils and do what Christ had done. Christ told them to do a few things, but the point was to be obedient and keep practicing the basic principles of the gospel, fasting, prayer and scripture study to name a few. But these were needed so that when Christ left the apostles could have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. After the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles received the Holy Ghost, the apostles performed many miracles.  We need to obey the rules to have the Spirit so we can be prompted to and perform miracles.

Mom: Yes I got my package! Thanks! The strawberry milk thing is awesome! And I needed an american tooth brush. They are the best!  We ship our bikes thru a shipping company and it is starting to cool down a bit. Takikawa gets a lot of snow fast so I expect to see snow in October. Sone san is 20 and only has 20% interest in being baptized, but he is too cool to not be baptized so it will happen.

Dad: Just wait! Jesus the Christ is awesome! I am almost done with it and I don`t want it to end!

Emily: I swear reading your email was just like reading stuff on FB and Twitter again. I guess I have been reading a lot of formal and confusing stuff since I have been on the mission. Way nostalgic.

I love you all and would love to hear from you!

Elder Swenson

Zone Conference

Monday, August 25, 2014

26th Week in Japan, 34 Weeks

 Hello Everyone!

So we had transfers last week and I am now in Takikawa 滝川! I am with Elder Hirata who is Japanese! He does not know any English whatsoever! Plus we are in a two man apartment in the middle of nowhere! So planning is a lot of fun:p Last transfer we did a lot of finding and not a whole lot of teaching. Takikawa is the exact opposite. We have 6 strong investigators and 40 other investigators! Yahoo! And the cool part is a lot of them already believe in Jesus Christ which is very rare in Japan. I have a great opportunity while I am here to master all of the vocabulary for teaching. The Branch that I am serving in has about 20 members that come regularly so these investigators could really be the beginning of the Takikawa ward!

When I got here the first night, I called the Branch president to let him know that I had transferred in and he was like oh cool by the way your gonna give a talk tomorrow about missionary work and a self intro. Good luck. Yeah I prepped for that talk for about three hours!

This transfer we set goals for being on time with morning schedule and obeying the rules so we could receive the blessings we need. In James 2:10 it says that if we disobey one of God`s commandments, we disobey them all. I had heard that before but I couldnt really believe it. Then during personal study this morning I was reading Jesus the Christ and on pg. 565 2nd paragraph it says that [ None of them had realized the great principle, that because the object of the entire law is the spirit of obedience.] Through disobedience we show God through our actions that His laws are not important and we are not willing to keep them, therefore we break them all. If we don`t have the spirit of obedience we cannot enter into the kingdom of god. Obedience is the key to growing and learning. And right now I need to learn and grow because that is what this life is for. If I dont do it here, I wont get another chance. Let`s do it now!

Mom Dad: I havent got the package yet. They will probably give it to me at Zone conference on friday. Dad please read pg. 564-565 in Jesus the Christ. I think you will find it interesting. Katie Kara, don`t die at school. If you get overloaded with work, remember your doing it so you can have fun Senior year!

Becca: Whoops! Sorry! I thought you were in my forward list!

Erica: I got the pics! Thank you!

Everyone go out and do good!

And this is Sone san. He is the coolest guy ever! He is gonna get baptized this transfer!

Here is a good face for Weekly Planning Sessions with your comp!

Monday, August 18, 2014

25th Week in Japan, 33 Weeks

Sorry about last week....(:

Ethan - Mission
Hey everyone!
So yeah last week we had a zone activity and really didnt have too much time and we scheduled it a little poorly, so gomenasai! The last week was too much fun! The zone activity was a blast! We did a bunch of fun team games, relays and arm wrestling! I obviously won that last event...... Elder Yoshikawa and I got shirts from Don Kihotesu (Quijotes) and dominated the companion outfits! Tuesday I got a flat and that ruined the rest of dendo time, but Eikaiwa was a blast! We played Jeapordy! Wednesday was splits and because of the Obon holiday dendo kinda stunk. Friday we were able to play at the park for 2 hours and that helped to spark my dendo fire! Saturday we hungout with the YSA and learn about relationships, which actually helps with missionary companionship's as well. Sunday we had tacos with the Domon Family! They are the best! With that dinner we all shared our testimonies on why we came on our missions. When I related my story to everyone else the spirit bore witness to me that I made the right decision to come out here. This week ends my 4th transfer and starts my 5th. I have a 85% chance of transferring so I will let you all now next week what happens!
Spiritual stuff:
I was reading a talk by Elder Cook from this last conference that was about family history. I now everyone usually has a drag about that topic but I really learned how important it is. If we dont do family history, temple work cannot be done. Temple work is the most important work in the Latter Days besides missionary work. But if we do not do our family history, missionaries can't baptize either. The leaders in our stake took some surveys and learned that only 3 wards/branches do family history. Those 3 wards are the only ones who see baptisms on a regular basis. Everywhere else it is a rare occasion. Our ancestors salvation is just as important as ours. We need their help to find others to bring them to Christ just as much as they need us to do their ordinance work.
Faith is probably the biggest thing missionaries study. How to gain more faith, how can I have more faith, faith faith faith! While I was reading "Jesus the Christ" I read the story about how the Pharisees could not understand the Mustard Seed parable, and how if they faith the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains. When people see faith, they see it like a loading bar on a computer. 50%, 40% or less is where we think we are. But faith is not about the quantity, it is about the quality. That load bar is not 50 seeds or 40 seeds of faith, it is the quality. Everyone has faith in Chirst, for the most part. But what is the quality? This really impacted me. I always asked for more faith in my prayers. But I realized I have it. I have a mustard seed, it is planted, and growing. But what kind of ground is it in? Is it quality soil? So from now on I am going to improve the quality of my soil.
I love all you peoples! Oh and if you were wondering, we didnt meet with anyone this week:(
Elder Swenson

 So we have nagashisoumen which is a noodle slide!

 Our Shirts!

 Friday we were able to play at the park for 2 hours and that helped to spark my dendo fire!

Monday, August 11, 2014

24th Week in Japan, 32 Weeks

From the Mission Home

I am sorry to be emailing you so late.
Today, your son Elder Swenson, had lots of different activities and due to slightly unfortunate circumstances , he was not able to email. He called and asked us to send you an email telling you he is ok and he is sorry for the mistake.
He also asked us to tell you that he sent a few letters a little while ago and they should be arriving in a few days.  

Thank you for sending such a wonderful missionary to this mission and for all of your love and support.

Japan Sapporo Mission Home Staff

Monday, August 4, 2014

23rd Week in Japan, 31 Weeks

Hey everybody!

 How is it going? Yay more finding and dropping this week..... I dont like to drop people but I am realizing that Heavenly Father has prepared people to hear the gospel and we need to find them. So if our investigators want their salvation, they need to act and they have our phone number. It sounds harsh but I am realizing my time is short here on the mission. I am starting my 8th month as a missionary. That is scary. I want to baptize and bring people unto Christ!

  This week was flippin nasty! I was so sticky and sweaty this week, when I showered I felt a little bit of heaven:p  We really tried to find young people and teach them. We made a lot of appointments but no one has followed through with their promises yet.  But I have hope:) 

  So today we went to the zoo for our district activity! I saw some crazy monkeys! And this giant cow size thing.  And this crazy orange eyed owl!

Hey everyone, if you are not on a mission and have time, please send me pictures of us when we hung out! Thanks!

 giant cow size thing

crazy orange eyed owl

Monday, July 28, 2014

22nd Week in Japan, 30 Weeks

Yeah !

Today has been a great Pday! We were given the lovely privilege of going to Costco! The Costco here is exactly the same as in America! So it was really natsugashi (nostalgic) and it felt like I was in America! And the best part is, I was able to drink Mountain Dew, eat real American Pizza, a real Hot Dog, and a Costco Churro! Those things are precious. If you have them, thank Heavenly Father for your blessings! 

So this week, we had ZTM! I love ZTM! You get to see all the other missionaries in the zone and usually, pizza from Costco if you can convince the Senior couple missionaries to get it:p  My interview with Nakatsuka Kaicho (president) was a real eye opener. I told him how I really don't like streeting and that it was hard for me because all of the people in the city are pretty mean when missionaries talk to them.  He told me how it is important to talk to people anyways for a few reasons. One of them being upholding our reputation for loving people and being representatives of Jesus Christ, and two is because sometimes people aren't ready to recieve the gospel right now, but will be later in life. If we only talked to people once and called it good, many people would be lost for the rest of their lives and the blame would fall on me. That hit me so hard and I am going to work a lot harder now.  That also lead into our DKK. We are tired of having eternal investigators so we dropped a lot of people and made a new mission goals. If your companions goals and your goals arent the same for that transfer, nothing will work, I am in a baptizing mission and it is possible. It really depends on how much faith you have in the Lord and how obedient you are. 

Cool stuff! We got to do kendo! The picture below describes it all. You have a blown up katana or other weapon of choice and you fight! It is basically the Japanese version of fencing. 

Ok ill write you all next week! Bye Bye

We got to do kendo!

Monday, July 21, 2014

21st Week in Japan, 29 Weeks

Hey everybody! 

This week was a finding week. We put in over 25 hours of finding this week. I was definitely tired this week. But it was fun. In the area that I am in right now, we are used to teaching all the time and not so much finding. But this week I got a little bit of the taste of what country area will probably be like. And because the likeliness of me transferring after this transfer is over is very high, maybe the lord is prepping me for the area I will be going to! 

Our investigators, for the most part, we couldn't meet with this week.Everyone was busy because of the 3 day weekend. But we did meet with Fujimoto san, Soda san, Morikawa san (new), and Ono san. Fujimoto san accepted the Book of Mormon, Soda san has a better grip on the Atonement now, Morikawa san became a new investigator and we taught her about Joseph Smith. I don't know if she is listening because I am a gaijin, or if she is actually interested in the gospel. But for now she is listening so we are gonna find her needs, and teach to those needs! Ono san, Ono san,  Ono san. We have been teaching him for so long. Every time we visit him, a new problem, a new disagreement, a new excuse always pops up. He doesnt want to progress. He really only likes the company of the missionaries because he is alone all the time. Elder Yoshikawa insists on teaching him still, but I think we should drop him.  He wants to be an eternal investigator and we don't have time to waste with those who don't want to move forward with the gospel. I want to teach and find those who are searching for the truth. 

The language barrier was a problem this week. Elder Yoshikawa and I had quite a few miss communications  between the two of us. Because of that we weren't  unified as a companionship, and therefore the spirit couldn't be with us. Being unified with your comp is so important. During Church I had a mini revelation. I need to work harder on the language. I am tired of not being able to  communicate with me comp., my investigators, and the members. I cant make relationships with anyone unless it has been in English. So I am going to work harder.

Oh yeah I might have forgot to mention this but 2 weeks ago on thursday I baptized one of the sisters investigators! It was so cool! The baptism prayer in Japanese is so awesome!

Ok Ill email you all next week!

New tie clip and Baptism!

New tie clip

 I baptized one of the sisters investigators! It was so cool!

Monday, July 14, 2014

20th Week in Japan, 28 Weeks

And......I didn't transfer! yeah.....

Jul 13 (7 days ago)

I am still in Moiwa! And my companion is still Elder Yoshikawa! This will be my fourth transfer in my bean area! I like Moiwa but their is a lot of street contacting here. I really dont like street contacting. People in the city are really mean and they either yell at you, hit you, or pretend like your dirt or don't even exist. So that is probably why I stayed. I wont leave the city till I like to street. So im going to gombarimasu!
This week we did a lot of housing. A lot of housing. Personally I like to ride my bike to the boondock areas of Moiwa because missionaries don't like to dendo far away from the city. So we went up a lot of mountains and hills this week. My legs are feeling a lot stronger now:p Although we weren't able to visit a lot of investigators this week, we made a lot of appointments.  Hopefully they will all turn out with interest.
Fun stuff, Yoshikawa Choro got hit by a car. Dont worry he is fine. He braked just enough for only a bruise.
Sorry for no pictures this computer is not very good. Short on time gotta run Ill try to email again later today!