Monday, January 26, 2015

48th Week in Japan, 56 Weeks

7 week transfer!

This week is the last full week of this 7 week transfer. It is really cool to see how fast time flies when your doing the Lord`s work! Yesterday I was just picking up Elder Israelsen from Honbu and getting ready to train. Now 3 months later, my training days are probably coming to an end. It is really a hard to describe the feelings of serving in a place that you love and the people you now call family. Kushiro is the first place where I have really come closer to the members and gotten to know a lot about Japanese culture and people in general. I have learned how important Jesus Christ is and His love for everyone, including me. I feel like sometimes I was lost in the world of missionary work and lost sight of my God. The numbers, the meetings, the doors slammed, all of those things were bringing my thoughts away from Him. This email probably sounds really cheezy and it is only a few sentences in, but I am learning to love God and everything that he gives me. It is a lifelong pursuit to be thankful for everything that you receive, but it is slowly coming and I am seeing it now. 

This week the cool things have been:
1. Got back to back meals from members within 20 min. of eachother. Almost died.
2. Snowed a whole lot and covered the ice with shoe grip-able snow.
3. Eikaiwa was a blast and lots of people came and had a great time.
4. Did splits and learned how to really teach a good lesson.
5. Gave a 15 min. talk in sacrament about the Savior and the Atonement.
6. Learned that we were guided through the Spirit to find a family to teach the lessons to. 

With bullet number 6 their is a story. We got a referral a week and a half ago from a member for someone to have the Free Family English Program. (30min. English 30min. Gospel). So this last Wednesday we went to go and visit this person. When we went I had the pamphlet for the program in my hand with Elder Israelsen`s and my name on it. When she answered her call box she said that she was busy with work and couldn`t talk to us then. So I had that pamphlet in my hand that I couldn`t give to her, so I just kept it in my hand and started housing (the number one used finding method so far in my mission). I wanted to give that Pamphlet to someone because I already had it out and I really want a family to teach the gospel to. The first house that looked like a young family lived inside I tried to get them to come to the door to talk to us. The mom said that she was busy, so I made a really weak appointment for the next week and told her to read the pamphlet that I was carrying. She said ok and I put it in her mailbox. Then yesterday at church one of the members came up to us and asked if we were working in a certain area on wednesday. When we said yes she explained that her friend had gotten a pamphlet with Elder Israelsen`s name on it. The same friend was invited and came to the Branch Christmas party 2 years ago and enjoyed singing with the missionaries. She was then asked by the member if she wanted to listen to our lessons and the friend replied with "we have been Christian for a long time and haven`t been able to go to church. I think that we would love to go back to church and listen to your missionaries." I haven`t been so excited in my life since...well I don`t remember exactly but I was pumped! So I do know that God is preparing families and individuals to hear the Gospel! 

Love you guys and work hard!

Elder Swenson

New haricuts and 

Cranes that only can be seen in Kushiro!   

Monday, January 19, 2015

47th Week in Japan, 55 Weeks

 Hey everyone!

This week we housed like crazy. Got a lot of contacts but not too many results from them. It was nice to go out and do a lot of finding so I hope our success from that work will show up this week. Last night I was a little "downtrodden" about why we are not  teaching a lot of people and why we were getting rejected so much because of lame excuses like "because you rang my doorbell and my dog started barking, I cannot listen to you. Go away." Then this morning I was reading in Moroni 9 and in verse six it says  And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligentlyfor if we should cease to laborwe should be brought under condemnation; for we have labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God. That really hit me hard. We not only dendo to bring people unto Christ, but to "conquer the enemy of all righteousness" and bring salvation for ourselves. I have just got to stay pumped! Besides that nothing too unusual happened this week. Sat in some massage chairs on P day, had some weird faces at District Training meeting, and the ward is about to start a PMG class! Yeah! Sorry my emails are so short. I will try to do more interesting things this week!

Elder Swenson

Sat in some massage chairs on P day.

Some weird faces at District Training meeting.

Monday, January 12, 2015

46th Week in Japan, 54 Weeks

Hey everyone! 

This week was a little more normal than last week. We had zone training meeting on Tuesday, but besides that we are back on normal schedule! Yeah! This week for dendo has just been focused on NA`s and working with the ward. Our NA effort is starting to pay off. We are finding NA`s that have not been visited in years and NA`s who forgot they were NA`s. It is fantastic!  Our finding efforts are not going as well as we had planned, but things will get better! Then this Sunday we had a ward council meeting and all of the missionaries were allowed to get in on the meeting. So we went hard on dendo and the branch is going to make a plan for dendo and a team up calender! It is going to get a lot better from here on out if everyone has a goal in mind and wants to see some miracles. 

So 4 days ago was my one year mark before I go home. It is really weird how fast things are speeding up. Every transfer just keeps getting faster. But i looked back at what I had done to see if I had been keeping my promise with the Lord that I would serve Him. I definitely can improve! But I have come a long way and it is great to see what happens when you start to keep the commandments and love them! 

Ok sorry for the shortness of my email. Maybe next week I will share a story!

Elder Swenson


Monday, January 5, 2015

45th Week in Japan, 53 Weeks

So due to that funny scheduling last week, its pday agian! Not much has happened these past few days so I will keep it really short!

Shogatsu was a blast! Some members invited us over for dinner and we chowed down on some mochi(super dense, Japanese, smashed into goop rice), some fried chicken and french fries, shrimp, fish, seaweed rolls, sweet potato stuff, and soba! Then we busted out the kanji writing kits and the members wanted to get a picture of us with kanji written on our foreheads. So Elder Israelsen and my kanji is kibo 希望 which means hope and the sisters is 慈愛 jiai which means charity. The next day we cleaned the apartment and had another fun day. So we went and did some shopping and this lady came up and started to talk to us in English which was really a surprise. She had lived in LA for 12 years and learned English. She showed us around and helped us find what we were looking for (she didn`t think that we could speak Japanese, so we let her think that;) It turns out that she really lives in Obihiro so we gave her an Eikaiwa flyer and to talk to the missionaries in Obihiro. On sunday we had a great fast and testimony meeting. The members here are getting a little more happy every week! And Heavenly Father was kind enough to prompt a member that I wanted new pants for dendo. So a member gave us some of her fathers pants and they are sick! Macklemore (sorry if I spelled that wrong) and Ryan Lewis would be so proud of me:) And that brings us back to today. 

These past few days of Personal Study have turned out to be really good. I was reading from all of these different books and magazine but the theme was somehow all the same when I read them. The point of this life is to Come unto Christ in order to learn of the Father. And if this is true, we need to do all that we can to bring more spiritual light into our everyday lives. Not just once a week at church, or just at that special meeting where and apostle comes and speaks, but everyday should be filled with things that bring more light into your life. And the more light that you have, the more you can reflect that light to others who need it.

Ok love you all and have fun with those New Year Resolutions!  

Elder Swenson

That is some good mochi I made myself.

The members wanted to get a picture of us with kanji written on our foreheads. 
So Elder Israelsen and my kanji is kibo 希望 which means hope and 
the sisters is 慈愛 jiai which means charity.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

44th Week in Japan, 52 Weeks - *1 YEAR!*

         Happy New Years!

Ethan - Mission
Hey everyone! Merry Christmas and  a happy New Years! Sorry you all did not get this email earlier. 
In Japan Shogatsu or New years is such a big and "respected" holiday, you cant do any dendo so we have had our P day switched to today! 

So this past week and a half have been so fast it isnt funny. Last week the zone got together for our 
Christmas activity at the church and had a lot of fun. We did Mario Party Live for the game, then we 
played mafia, and ended with making Nabe, Taco Rice, and Pizza! Oh and we accidently put another dent in the wall at the church so I think we are banned from Kushiro for zone activities... Next day we had our Christmas calls and that was really scary at first. No offense to my family but I didn`t want to call. During Christmas calls everyone gets trunky! But I am definitely glad that I did! So much is going to be different when I get back home! After that we have been doing a lot of NA dendo. In Kushiro there are 20 pages of NA`s. That is super sad to see. People who have the gospel but can`t receive all of the blessings the church has to offer them. So we have been visiting with them! And then this week the dendo has been rough so we did a lot of shizen or natural dendo. We went and played basketball at a local gym and had everyone thinking we were NBA stars cause we were gaijin:) That was buckets of fun being able to play sports again.(In Hokkaido it is almost impossible to play sports because of the weather and lack of equipment/facilities). Yesterday we had our Book of Mormon reading day and I got a lot out of that. The Book of Mormon is not only true, it is the most correct book on earth. I love it and all the hidden mysteries that can be revealed to you through it`s pages. Tomorrow is cleaning day and Saturday we will go back to regular schedule. 

Guess what?! Today is my 1 year marker! I have been an active missionary for a flippin` year! 
That is super weird. The time flies by so fast and so much happens in what seems a short time. 
But I am getting a lot of stuff done as well! That is what I really learned this week. When you put 
the Lord and His priorities first in your life, he will put you first in His and give you the time you 
need to accomplish what you need to get done. By putting the Lord first by going on a mission, 
He has blessed me with growth, knowledge, experience, love, and friends that I would never 
get anywhere else. 

We ll I love all you guys and hope that you will put the Lord first in your life!

Elder Swenson 

1.  My Japanese hair style

2.  Zone

3.  Christmas Package