and just like that folks...8 months have flown by. (I imagine pregnant women say this when they are close to delivering their child haha) 

In a few days I'll be back in the states for a dear friends wedding and to shove my face with chic-fil-a and acai bowls. It's also been 8 months since I've seen my mom and let's be real - home is where your mom is. 

It is pretty surreal to be heading back after all I've experienced thus far in Japan and I am anticipating a fair amount of reverse culture shock. Before I came to Japan I was down right terrified of being so far away from home... but now I stand somewhat on the other side of that bridge at a place where Japan is becoming the norm and America is seemingly foreign and far away. life is weird!! 

A few things that have struck a chord with me recently...

This quote speaks to my soul. I think Maya Angelou wrote these words for teachers working abroad. There is so much that goes beyond grammar, words, and even language itself. This quote reminds me that even if my lesson fails, the kids don't get my jokes, the speeches don't win awards, and my Japanese level takes forever to improve...if my students walk out of school knowing they are loved, supported, and encouraged, then I have succeeded as a teacher. 

I teach an adult class a few Saturdays a month. The average age of the class is 50 and although I was intimidated at first, these people have really won me over. I have received hand warmers, books, McDonalds coupons, free coffee, and wise advice from these lovely people. They've become a big part of what I do here in Kashiwa and I am very thankful for them. 

I witnessed a 90 year old man get baptised and it was one of the most beautiful things I have even been a part of. He was standing there, with a towel over his thin shoulders, his eyes closed and his face pointing to the heavens...and the look he had on his face was sheer and utter peace. It was incredible. The whole congregation was in tears as Pastor Kaylor said, "although you are 90, today you are born again in the name of Jesus!"  

My coworker invited Steph and I over to his house for a bbq and the food was out of this world. Bbq chicken, pork, and cow tongue (very popular here in Japan), not to mention the homemade spicy miso paste, kimchi, and fresh fruit...yowzah! We spent the afternoon eating and playing Wii, Mario Kart, Old Maid, and Uno with the kids (two boys who are both 8 aka the perfect age for games) and as I sat there my heart swelled with gratitude for this family and their hospitality and kindness. They are a big part of why these 8 months in Japan have been so incredible.

So I'm off to finish packing (half my suitcase is omiage!! aka gifts!) and to those of you reading this, hopefully I can see you when I am back in the states for a week or so. Love you all!