Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Japan, here I come!


We leave for Japan in 5 days!!! I am so excited to finally be in Japan and get to teach the people and invite them to come unto Christ.

Hill Shimai and I are now in a trio companionship with Barton Shimai. She is so fun! I was really worried about teaching with her or living with her, but we taught 2 lessons with her the other day and they were so amazing. She came out of the first one and said "It was so fun teaching with you." That just made me so happy! I'm excited to be her companion for the next few days. I know we are going to have a lot of fun and learn a lot from each other's.

From the Fourth of July
Another struggle has been my thumb. Last Thursday, I went to a hand specialist outside the MTC. My companion and I got to travel through Provo and it was so fun. This doctor gave me a new brace that is better for keeping the thumb stable and it's a lot lighter and less hot so I like it. The only downside is that I have to wear it for 4 weeks and it makes writing a little hard, but it's all good. If it helps my thumb heal, I am all for it! After the doctor's appointment, we waited for our shuttle back to the MTC for 40 min, but it never came so we had to call it. It was all good though, because we got to meet a lot of really nice people. The people of Provo really love Sister missionaries. They kept saying hi to us and stopping to talk to us. One nice grandpa told us about his son who lives in Tokyo. We also talked to a Return Missionary who just got back from serving in Tacoma, WA and to the receptionist who gave us some packing tips. Everyone was so nice and it was a nice little break from the MTC. I'm just glad that we for sure know that it is a sprained thumb and I am on my way to recovery! Yay!

President and Sister Weaver
The language is coming. I was finally called on to give a talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. The theme for this Sunday was Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, so I had the opportunity to share my testimony and a few thoughts in Japanese about that topic. It was so cool! Also, just yesterday, Hill Shimai and I were talking to some Elders who are going to Canada and they asked me to bear my testimony in Japanese so I bore a really simple one. It feels so nice to know that even if I won't be able to teach everything in Japanese, I can at least share my testimony and I can rely on the Spirit to teach others.

Yesterday was so the last time I will see my Branch President and his wife because they will be gone on Sunday. President and Sister Weaver have been so great to me. They are the best! They love us so much and always give us the best advice. I am so grateful for them.

In addition to the hard things, this week has been so fun!

On Sunday, for Pioneer Day, the MTC brought in the Nashville Tribute Band for our devotional. The whole MTC Choir got to be their backup choir for a few of their songs and it was so amazing. There were almost 1400 of us in the choir (there are about 2400 missionaries at the MTC right now) and there was so much power. It was an incredible experience. If you haven't heard any of their music, I highly recommend looking them up. We sang John's Song, I was Born, and When the Son of Man (Comes Again), all of which are amazing songs. When I get back from my mission, I will definitely be looking them up. That was a great way to spend one of our last devotionals/chances to sing with the choir.

Paskett Choro and I are twinned.
Also, funny story. My dōryō was standing in line for food at dinner and she heard an Elder say "Ugh, I'm so ready to leave the MTC. I'm just so done." Another Elder asked "Oh, so how long have you been here?" to which the first Elder said "3 days." My dōryō just laughed. Hahahaha we've been here 9 weeks. Try doing that. This has actually happened to our district many times.

Really though, the MTC isn't bad. It's actually really great because it's the first time where all you get to focus on is yourself and your spiritual growth.

On the topic of being ready to leave, WE GOT OUR FLIGHT PLANSSSSSSS!!!!!! I am so excited! Basically we meet at the travel office at 6:20 am Monday morning and our flight is at 11:15ish. We will be stopping in Portland then off to Tokyo! It's going to be so fun, especially since we get to travel with all the other missionaries going to Tokyo. It will be a 13 hour flight so we will also have time to sleep, talk to people, and eat delicious airplane food. Haha! I am actually so excited, Hill Shimai and I have been talking about getting Cafe Rio at the airport :) It's going to be delicious.

Our collection of origami cranes
So overall, the last 9 weeks have been a lot of fun and a lot of work. There have been ups and downs like you wouldn't believe, but everything has helped me grow to become a better missionary.

When you are here at the MTC for 9 weeks like I am, you get to see a lot of cool things. We had the chance to listen to Elder Bednar speak twice, watch fireworks, see the MTC when there was almost no one here and when there was no room for people to sit in the cafeteria. We were here when the mission president's seminar was happening, when the temple was closed for cleaning, and we saw friends come and go. But now it's our turn. I am so grateful for the time I have spent here at the MTC. It has been such an amazing experience. My testimony has grown so much and I am ready to go serve the people of Japan. I'm sure that I will get there and be very overwhelmed, but it will be good. I have grown as much as I can here at the MTC and now it's time to do some more growing.

We are ready for Japan.
One of the most important things I've learned here at the MTC, is that I can do hard things. Learning Japanese is a hard thing. Teaching lessons is a hard thing. Sticking to a schedule is a hard thing. Constantly being with your companion is a hard thing. Being Christ-like is a hard thing. There are many hard things, but you really only need a little courage to start doing them and overtime they become easy. One of my friends loves the quote "You only need 30 seconds of courage." That's what a mission is all about. Starting something is hard, whether that be knocking on a door, stopping someone on the street, or starting a conversation with a person on a train, but if you have the courage to start you can do anything.

My next email will be coming from Japan, so stay tuned! Once I am in Japan, my P-day will no longer be Wednesday, so feel free to send me emails on Sunday to make sure I get them and can respond to them! It's so weird that this is my last P-day in the MTC.

You are all amazing and it's finally getting real that I will be in another country next week. Thank you for all of your support, it's truly amazing to hear from you!

I love you all!

ブラック姉妹 Black Shimai

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Excitement is Building...

First, update on my first mission injury: I sprained my thumb. Last Wednesday, I went to see the doctor and he gave me a brace and sent me to the BYU Health Center to get an x-Ray. Me and my dōryō had a really fun time walking in the outside world. We joked because there was a TV in the waiting room, but don't worry, we didn't watch it! Haha, we read church magazines instead. Later that day, we went back to the doctor so he could look at the x-rays and good news, my thumb isn't broken. However, in the last week, my thumb hasn't gotten any better, so I will be going back to the doctor's office today. It isn't super painful, but it's something I want to heal before I leave to Japan in 2 WEEKS!!!!! So excited!!!

This Friday, we are supposed to be getting our flight plans and I am so excited, it's unreal. I will finally be in Japan! I probably won't understand anything they say, but it's all good because I will be in Japan.

As we get closer to Japan, our teachers have started to do some review with us. We've gone back to the very beginning of our grammar book, to review earlier concepts and make sure we know them super well. It's so amazing to look back to when these concepts were hard, but now I use them on a daily basis. Japanese is such a cool language and I feel so lucky to be learning it. It's a confusing language, but it is so cool. Last week, I sent an email in Hiragana to one of my high school friends who speaks Japanese and he wrote a response back to me in Hiragana, Katakana, and Kangi. It took me a while to read the email, but in the end I could read it and understand almost all of it. Progress is being made!

Last Wednesday, we also did our first Skype TRC, with a real person living in Japan. I actually understood a lot of what she was saying and we had a good conversation about charity. TRC is so fun! Ok, all lessons are fun, but TRC is extra fun because you just get to talk to members and share little messages with them. Also, Nihongen (Japanese people) are so cute! She asked us all these questions about our families and such, it was so cute. I'm excited to do it again tonight.

Other things I'm doing to prepare for Japan:

1. I went through my Ninja (Japanese phrase book) and marked all the words I know. I'm working on memorizing the words I don't know so that I have a larger vocabulary, especially of non-missionary words. At the MTC, we learn a lot of church vocabulary which makes it hard to converse with people, so I'm working on learning more normal words, like colors.

2. I am also reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese. I will just sit there and sound out the words. It takes me forever, but I'm focusing on reading and sounding out words, not comprehension. It took me 8 min to read a long verse the other day, but it was so worth it. I'll usually be able to pick out words that I know, and that is really fun. Reading from the Book of Mormon has definitely helped my character recognition so I can read faster.

On Friday, Pierre Shimai went to Temple Square with her companions Barton and Atkinson Shimai. The MTC lets international missionaries go to Temple Square once during their time at the MTC, so since Pierre Shimai is from Brazil she got to go. She had so much fun, but our class was so quite all morning since there were only 6 of us there. Also, they went the day before the new Meet the Mormon videos were released, which was sad since one of the new videos is about a family from Tokyo who make up the band, Bless4. In class, we watched them sing "I am a Child of God" in English and Japanese and it was so good! We were singing it for the rest of the day. (Hopefully this is the link: )

Also funny story, apparently the place that makes our name tags accidentally made my district's name tags twice. We got one set last week, then this week they gave us another set. It was so funny because on the bag of name tags there was a sticky note that said "Just hand these out anyways." I was so excited because now I have 6 name tags. I'll probably send one set of my Japanese name tags home, so you all can see it in person if you would like.

This week, I also had to stop playing volleyball (because of my thumb), so I started playing frisbee with some of the Chorotachi. They are super good, but that makes it fun. I've played with some of the Kohai and also some of the new Kohai that just showed up this week. I actually have a friend from home, Elder Ricks, going to the same mission as I am, who reported last week. It's been so fun to see him. Anyways, we play frisbee at every free time now and it is so fun. Howard Choro likes to sass me because I can't throw very well, but it's getting better! Practice makes perfect, right?

Last week, a ton of missionaries came, so the lines at meals are insane. I will spend almost half my meal time, in line getting food because they are so long. It's crazy! Apparently, the Wednesday after I leave, 800 missionaries are coming. So to all my friends reporting August 3rd, have fun! :) It's so weird that I've been here so long. When I first reported to the MTC, there were barely any lines and the gym didn't fill up all the way during devotionals. Now the lines are insane, and the gym is stuffed and they have to have an overflow. I have seen friends come and go and it's crazy that I'm still here. I'm excited to leave though. Growth only comes when you are uncomfortable and I am definitely becoming comfortable here at the MTC. It's time to push myself and grow.

Another sign that I have been here too long? Elder David A. Bednar came for devotional on Sunday and at one point he said "I gave a talk here a few months ago called 'One by One.' None of you were probably here for that." Well, he gave that talk the first Tuesday I was at the MTC, so I've heard it, When he said that, I felt old, because I've been here so long.

Speaking of Elder Bednar, he was the biggest surprise of this week. For Sunday devotional, the MTC presidency told us we would all be watching "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar for our devotional. "The Character of Christ" is one of the movies here at the MTC. I watched it my first week, and I had been wanting to watch it again before I left, just to see how my perspective had changed, so this was perfect. Well, after the movie ended, we all prepared to sing the closing hymn and go off to watch our movies, but then we were surprised when Elder Bednar showed up! He came to talk to us again, but this time he did a question and answer session. How often do you get to participate in a Q&A with a member of the Quorum of the 12? Not very often. There was such an amazing Spirit in that room as he answered all sorts of questions. I was especially excited because Sister Carpenter (One of my Sister Training Leaders) and SIster Honda (one of my childhood friends) both asked questions and Elder Titel (my District Leader) shared a comment. Japan was killing it with the participation and all of their questions and comments were so perfect.

One thing that he said that really stood out to me was when he said "Sisters do 10 thing. 9 of them perfectly, and 1 just ok and then all they remember is the 1 they did ok. Don't beat yourself up about it. Don't burden yourself." Here at the MTC, one of my greatest struggles has been learning the language. I never feel like I am learning fast enough or learning enough. My mind instinctively looks to how much I still don't know. However, there are also so many things that I have done well. We have had some amazing lessons, but I always focus on the language. Elder Bednar's comments helped me to refocus myself. I am learning at the pace that I need to be learning and there are so many things I'm doing well. Since Sunday, I have tried to focus more on the things I do well, instead of my shortcomings and I have been able to feel the Spirit even more. I am still aware of the areas that I need to work on, but I don't beat myself up over a bad sentence or a missed particle.

I wish there was room and time for me to share everything that he talked about because it was all so amazing. I walked away from that devotional wanting to be the best person I can be. Missions are tough. I'm only at the MTC and I already know that. However, they are also amazing. This devotional (the combination of the movie and the Q&A session) made me realize a lot of things about myself, things I need to change, and things I do well. My mission has already helped me become a better person. I know that there are many trials ahead, especially when I get to Japan, but I am excited to face those trials and grow because of them.

I know this church is true. I love this gospel and the happiness it brings me. I am excited to go to Japan in 2 weeks and serve the people there. Thank you all for your support and love!

Black Shimai

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Burrakku Thunder!!!!!


Let me just start out by telling all of you how amazing the MTC is. I have learned so much Japanese here. Let me put it this way, in 7 weeks I learned what would have taken me at least a year in a Japanese class outside of the MTC. It is amazing!

This week on Sunday, my whole district decided to watch "The Testaments" in Japanese since they were offering it and the other movies we wanted to watch were all full. There were no subtitles (in Japanese or English), so I was pleasantly surprised by how many words I was able to pick out and how much of the storyline I could understand. It probably would have been helpful to watch "The Testaments" in English first so I would know what was going on, but it's all good. That was the first sign to me that I have learned a lot of Japanese.

Second, my district decided to do an Eigo (English) fast on Monday. We couldn't speak any English all day. It was rough, but also super good because it made me realize that I know a lot more Japanese than I think I do. I was able to express my thoughts and say almost everything I really wanted to say. There were some small comments that I had to keep to myself because I didn't know how to say them in Japanese, but overall it was a really cool experience. Also, when we spoke Japanese, it encouraged our Kohai to speak more Japanese too, so overall our whole Zone spoke a lot more Japanese than we usually do.

Hill Shimai and I with Silva Choro.  He is from Brazil.
This week's teaching started out rough. We taught Shimada-San on Friday and it was difficult. We were so frustrated with our Nihongo and how she wasn't progressing. However, this week we started Mogi-ing (role playing) our lessons before going to teach and it made all the difference. So far, out of the 2 lessons we have Mogi-ed both of them were so powerful. The first lesson was with Asaka-San and we were just trying to teach her how everything is connected because God loves us. After the lesson, Lewis Shimai (who plays Asaka-San) told us it was our best lesson. That means so much coming from her because we have been teaching her since day 1. The other lesson was yesterday with Shimada-San again. We taught about the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong! After the lesson she told us that our lesson had been super powerful. That meant a lot to us as well since our last lesson with Shimada-San went so badly. I think we needed that bad lesson though to help us understand what we needed to change to become better missionaries. It wasn't until that lesson that we started to seriously Mogi our lessons, and those role plays have made all the difference.

That was the major trial of the week, but a lot of super fun things happened this week as well!

First of all, it was Akagi Choro's birthday on Monday. The whole time that we have been here he has refused to tell any of us when his birthday was, but we found out. All the Shimaitachi made decorations for his desk and we woke up early to decorate it and surprise him. He was so excited when he got to class and we started singing to him. We even made him a little party hat! His family then sent a ton of treats to him including cookies and orange rolls and Japanese candy. We feasted and had a great time. Also, his family send him Black Thunder. The teachers have been raving to us about Black Thunder candy the whole time we've been here so we were so excited to finally get to try it and it is so good!!! It's almost like Oreos covered in chocolate. Akagi Choro gave our teachers some and they were so excited!

This leads me to probably the greatest thing that has happened all week! We got our Katakana name tags this week!!!!! These are the name tags we get to use in Japan and mine looks so cute! When we were figuring out how to write our name in Katakana 6 weeks ago, the Sister that was helping us told me that the my name would be really easy to remember for the Nihongen. I didn't understand why until Akagi Choro got his package of sweets. My name is spelled the same way as Black Thunder is. Hahahaha!

My Japanese name tag and the mission scripture
Besides that, I am actually so excited for my name tag. I was running all over the building showing the Kohai and basically anyone that I saw. I was so excited! I think mine looks so cute with all the swishes. Also, it has my favorite Katakana character (tsu=ツ) and it's smaller than the rest of the characters on my name tag because it indicates that the K in my name should be a harsher/longer k. So my name is spelled ブラック which in Romagi is Burakku. It is so cool! We got them on Friday (the same day that had been really rough for Hill Shimai and I) and it made the day 1000x better. I still love looking at my name tag.

Other fun things that happened this week...last Wednesday, we had our last in-person TRC. This week we get to do Skype TRC with a member in Japan. It's going to be insane! Anyways, last week we got to teach a Return Missionary named Spencer and he was hilarious. We had so much fun. At one point, we asked him to read a scripture about charity and so he did, and at one point he just stops and says "Shino? What kind of word is that?" Hill Shimai and I almost died. It was just so funny, especially since the TRC people aren't supposed to speak English! It was just so funny!

My name tag and Black Thunder.  Look they are twins.
This week in exercise time, we have been playing sand volleyball outside because the gym is closed (they are redoing the floors). Well, volleyball outside is a lot more fun than inside, and a lot more dangerous :) I scream a lot more outside and the Kohai thing it is hilarious. Also, on Monday, Hill Shimai and I almost collided into each other and I screamed so loud. Oh my goodness, it's a problem. If you all were there you would have laughed, the Kohai did. Anyways, I also jammed my thumb playing volleyball on Saturday, whoops! I told my brother I would be get fewer juries than he did on his mission...but who knows if that will happen now.

Also, just so you all know, everyone here is also obsessed with Pokemon Go, which is hilarious since none of us have phones/have ever played it before. I basically know nothing about what has been happening in the outside world for the last 7 weeks, but I know about Pokemon Go, so weird. It's because the teachers are all obsessed with it, so they tell us about it. Apparently the MTC, the Provo Temple, and the Provo City Center Temple are all Pokemon gyms, which is awesome because it's totally a missionary opportunity! Haha, yeah, I hope you all enjoy playing Pokemon Go, feel free to send me pictures of your Pokemon!

Last Wednesday, our district actually got to help clean the Provo Temple! It was so fun! We got to wear these white scrubs and help clean the President's dining room. I helped hang crystals back on the chandeliers and we cleaned the whole room. It was so fun because we were working with some Sisters learning Chinese and we shared stories about why we decided to serve and crazy language learning stories. It was so fun! I love the temple. It's been closed the last two weeks for cleaning, and I am so excited to go back this week! I recently found out that the Tokyo temple is going to be closed almost my entire mission, so I am really going to enjoy these last few weeks when I can go to the temple.

Last thing, yesterday's devotional was about gaining more powerful testimonies through our trials and he shared one of my favorite scriptures from D&C: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;" (D&C 121:7).

The Japanese Hiragana alphabet.  I am now learning Katagana.
I can definitely testify that this is true. I don't always share everything in these emails, but know that I have gone through my fair share of trials, but they have all helped me grow. Trials aren't meant to be fun, but they are there to help us become better, learn, and gain experience to help us in the future. My trial this week was teaching Shimada-San and after going through that trial, I was refocused and I was willing to change to help her. That one change benefited all my investigators. In the long run, our trials are but a small moment, but they can have eternal impacts on us. I know that in the past I have gone through trials that changed me and helped me become the person I am today.

Thank you so much for all of your support! I've heard that many of you like reading my letters and that makes me so happy! Thank you for reading them. I will only be in America for 2.5 more weeks and then I get to go to Japan. It will be a new and exciting adventure, but it also is a little scary.

Thank you all for being amazing!

ブラック姉妹 Black Shimai

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Don't Worry, I Got to See the Fireworks


This week we got two new investigators! It's exciting but also stressful. Hill Shimai and I were scheduled to teach 8 times this week, for 3 different investigators. That means a lot of lesson planning!

Our first investigator is Shimada-San and she is actually our new teacher, Taylor Shimai. Taylor Shimai is Nihongen (Japanese) and lived in Japan during high school so she speaks like a real Nihongen. After our first lesson with her I felt like I was back in my first week because I barely understood her at all. She used so many new words and talks really quietly, but it's good practice for Japan. We had another lesson yesterday and it was so much better. We better understood her needs and we were able to feel the Spirit. Yay!

Our other investigator is Miura-San and we've only taught her once. First lessons are always hard because you can't really plan them. Most of the time we try to get to know them and their needs so that future lessons can be better planned to suit their needs. This really stresses me out since I like having a plan.

We were preparing for our lessons
and then decided to become the emoji monkeys.
Good news though? Our lessons were all pretty good and we have plans for all three investigators, which almost never happens for us. Usually we won't have any idea what we want to plan until closer to the time we are teaching.

Now, I've had a special request to tell you a little bit about exercise time. So I get 1 hour of exercise time every day except Tuesday's (we set up for devotional instead of exercise time) and Sunday. My district loves volleyball and we've gotten the Kohai into it too. I am actually terrible at volleyball, but after 5 weeks of playing it almost every day, I am slowly getting better. Atkinson Shimai, Hill Shimai, and Akagi Choro are like my personal cheerleaders. Anytime I hit the ball they all cheer for me :) Lately it's been pretty nice outside (not to hot) so we will play on the sand and it is so fun! Those of you who took PE with me in high school know that I end up on the ground a lot when I play sports, well it's no different here. The other day I landed on the sand probably 10 times. Also, I scream a lot and the Kohai think it's hilarious.

My district with Stratford Sensei
on his last day with us
Besides volleyball, I'll also sometimes run on the track that's on the second level of the gym. This week, I was running and there was an Elder who would high five me after every lap. I'm not the best runner, but I came up with a plan for myself. There are 4 corners to the track (10 laps equals a mile). So the Kohai were in 1 corner, the Elder who was giving me high fives was in the next corner and the other two were free. So, I decided I would run from the Kohai, past the high five giver, and all the way to the next corner then I could walk the rest of the way. The main point of all this was that I ran a lot more than I normally would because of that Elder, so I was glad he was there. :)

On Saturday, they canceled exercise time without telling us, so McFarlane Shimai and I went on an adventure. We walked around the MTC for our exercise and explored building 4M. For anyone coming to the MTC, take the time to go look in that building. It is so nice and they have the prettiest pictures! We went to all 4 floors and talked to some missionaries as we went. It was really nice.
Now the reason they closed the gym on Saturday was because we had a special International Celebration of Freedom devotional for the 4th of July. It was super nice! They had missionaries parade flags around the gym and Japan and Thailand were right next to each other. The devotional was really nice, they talked about freedom of religion and freedom of choice. The real highlight of the night though was that we got to go into the parking lot and watch fireworks AND STAY UP PAST OUR BEDTIME!!!!! Normally, lights out is at 10:30, but we got to watch fireworks until they ended at about 11:15. I didn't get to bed until past midnight, but it was so worth it. The fireworks were great, and our zone sang a bunch of songs (hymns of course). I don't know when I'll see fireworks again, since I'll be in Japan next 4th of July, so it was nice to see some this week. However, the next day (Fast Sunday) I was dying. I went to bed at midnight, and still had to be up at 6:30 and then we had personal study for 2 hours. I was so tired throughout the whole morning. It was bad. We were all dying.

Akagi Choro and his new favorite socks
Funny story of the week: So some of our Elders don't have the right socks. Socks are supposed to be dark, conservative, and match their slacks, but they have some patterned and green ones, so the Shimaitachi decided to help them out. Some of the sisters bought the Elders some black socks from the MTC store to help them be obedient, and they left the socks on the Elders' desks with anonymous notes. Well, apparently the Elders were going around trying to match the handwriting on the notes to the handwriting in our journals to find out who was giving them socks. For some reason this led to a secret sock exchange. Us, Sisters, decided to mess with the Chorotachi by randomly having different sisters give socks to different people. On Day 1, Hill Shimai put socks on Atkinson Shimai's desk and Atkinson Shimai pretended to get all mad. Akagi Choro was so confused and he started saying that he wanted socks, so he was our next victim. Erickson Shimai gave him a pair of women's shoe liners that are pink and yellow and it was so funny because he actually loves them. He put them on and started dancing around the room. It was hilarious! We have to keep ourselves entertained somehow here. I don't know who
will be the next person who gets socks. Really, this sounds a little silly, now that I'm reading it again, but it's all good.

One of my greatest accomplishments this week was when I started watching the "Because of Him" video (my favorite) in Japanese and I could actually pick out Hiragana that I could read. There is a lot of Kangi in the video that I can't read, but just the fact that I can pick out bits and pieces of the Hiragana is huge for me.

Another accomplishment? I memorized the First Vision in Japanese. The version I memorized was JSH 1:16-17 and in Nihongo it is really long and has a lot of words I don't know. It was the best feeling to sit in a lesson, teaching about the Restoration, and being able to tell that amazing experience to my investigator from memory.

These are all great accomplishments, but they only came because I never gave up. The first weekend I was here at the MTC, I was about ready to give up because Japanese was too hard. If I had given up then, I wouldn't be here right now. I wouldn't be able to speak or understand as much as I can right now. I didn't give up though. I pushed forward, one step at a time, and here I am. I have come so far and grown so much, it's amazing.

As I passed my halfway point here at the MTC this week, I realized 2 things. 1. Japan gets closer and closer every day and I need to be ready. It's scary, but also exciting. 2. I have come such a long way since Day 1. You really just have to take it one step at a time, one hour at a time, one lesson at a time. Improvement takes time, but if you keep climbing, you will never fall.

You are all amazing and I am so glad that you have helped me improve and grow throughout my life. Thank you so much!

Black Shimai