I don’t have fingerprints

It’s after weekends like this past one that I cannot doubt my faith, my belief, my God. #itaewonleadershipretreat2013 #yesIjustbloggedhashtagged #ohdear

Not that I didn’t believe before. Especially after this past season of my life… and for myself, I realized I need to timeline it out. Write it down. Remember. I need to remember.

Spring of 2013

March 

I accepted a position at a Canadian school in Seoul, teaching Kindergarten. It would be my fourth job and fifth year living in Korea. God is a fan of uprooting me.

April/May 

I gathered all my paperwork and started applying for a British Columbia teaching certificate, a requirement from my new- very Canadian- job. Now, when I say I gathered all of my paperwork I mean that Canada wanted everything but the actual limbs on my body.

I sent my fingerprints to the FBI in the States for the background check I needed in order to change the work visa in my passport.

June 

Back in Michigan for the summer, I received a rejection letter from the FBI. They explained that sometimes this happened and I would need to send in another set of prints. I have successfully gotten my background check three times, so I was a little confused… but not worried.

I was more worried about getting all the paperwork I needed for my BC teaching certificate, which required documents from every teaching position I have ever held… documents those schools needed to fill out.

July 

Yearly coffee date with my friend Gina. Sitting outside of Starbucks enjoying the beautiful summer weather in Michigan, I sipped my chai tea latte while Gina told me that she had been praying for me all day. The one thing that God told her was, Melody’s visa will work out. Gina didn’t know I had to send in my fingerprints again, and that in order to get my visa to work in Korea, I had to have a background check completed. I felt relief. My visa would work out.

Aug.4

Back in Korea, I get a text while I am half sleeping on the floor of my new apartment. Before I fell asleep my mom’s text read, “We got your background check!” I fell asleep in a state of joy, knowing I would still have enough time to get the rest of the process done before work started. I woke up the next morning to a text from my mom saying she opened the letter and it was actually another rejection. I cried.

I rally myself together and have my parents fedex me the rejected prints. I fill out two fingerprinting cards, though I wanted the CSI to do five sets. They refused. I send in the third set of prints on August 6.

I wasn’t able to fully unpack, my boxes still available in case I had to move back home… to America.

Sept.10

I called the FBI once or twice a week during the first few weeks of August. They kept telling me I had to wait a minimum of five weeks before I could get any answers. At the very beginning of the fifth week I called again. I talk to Monica, explaining that I am checking on my FBI background check, to see if my prints cleared. She looks something up on the computer and says, way too casually, “Aaahhh, yep. Looks like they were rejected.”

What.

I calmed myself down enough to explain my situation, that this is my third time sending in prints, and if I get rejected again I lose my job. After those words flew out of my mouth I started to cry (like the ugly cry). Then, something amazing happened. Monica was empathetic. She put a flag on my file and e-mailed some special division asking them to take a look at my prints again.

Up until this moment I had been trying to hold onto the word Gina gave me back in the summer, that my visa would work out. But it was hard. I had no faith for it, not yet. As soon as I got off the phone with Monica my faith soared (that is after I called my dad and started crying again). I realized that it had to happen now because it was actually impossible, and God makes the impossible, possible!

I threw away all of my boxes.

Sept. 11

No word back from Monica. So, I call the FBI again. Michael tells me to call back. After I get a hold of Monica she tells me that regrettably she had not heard back yet and they may have already destroyed my prints. Destroyed fingerprints? No big deal God’s got this.

Sept.2

On the phone with Monica for the third day in a row, and while I talked to her she received an e-mail from the special division, saying they would look into my situation.

Sept.13

Woke up to and e-mail stating, “This e-mail is being sent on behalf of Monica. Your prints have been processed. Your results were sent in the mail. -FBI communications department.”

I pumped my fist in the air and thought, “Go God!”

Sept.23

I receive my background check via fedex from my daddy.

Sept. 25

My school drops off my paperwork at immigration. Except. My former job never sent in a release letter. In the Korean system I was still working for someone else.

Sept. 26

I contacted them old job, they send letter over to immigration. I planned to head to Japan with the visa number on October 2nd.

Sept. 30

On Monday, I asked my work to contact immigration to make sure I would get my visa number before I headed to Japan on Wednesday. They explained that they had not started processing my paperwork yet (which normally takes a week) because my old school sent in an incomplete letter of release, something about a missing stamp…

Oh, and there was a news report talking negatively about my new school and other schools like it (all false statements), so immigration shut down the processing of visas for my school.

Immigration. Shut down. All visa processing.

My principal storms into my classroom (stressed about the negative news report I am sure) demanding to understand why the release letter wasn’t at immigration, because if it had been the processing of my visa number would have already started. I had no answers. But I did know that even if immigration only decided to process one visa within the next 24 hours, it would be mine. Because God’s got my back. But… I couldn’t exactly tell that to my boss. I prayed instead.

Oct. 1

Immigration started the process for my visa.

Oct. 9-11

I walked out of the Korean consulate in Fukuoka, Japan with tears in my eyes. I looked down at the visa in my passport and can’t believe that I finally have it.

***

Long story short, I may have no fingerprints… but I God. He is all I need.

A week after I got my visa one of my pastors preached a message at a prayer meeting. During her sermon she gave me a shout out, briefly explained my situation, and told me exactly why I am still here, in Korea. And I agree. I completely agree.

Listen to Pastor Erin’s message here. Seriously. It is really good.

 

the lie of loneliness

This past weekend marked my 28th year of life (I can’t believe I am now 28, I have lived 28 years! What?!). I started the beginning of my 29th year surrounded by almost 400 people for three days.

And at one point I felt completely alone. Growing up living with 10 other people in my immediate family, feeling lonely is a very rare occurrence for me. I grew up extroverted, and have never lacked family or friends. This emotion of being lonely was totally foreign, and also a huge fat lie.

For the first time, I felt like I had too many friends. It took me 28 years, but I had this feeling of finally reaching my limit— the capacity cut off.

You know how Jesus had the inner circle of 3 disciples that he kept extra close out of the 12? I would choose 6 people. Instead of 12 disciples, I would choose 24. In fact, right now if I were to pick bridesmaids out of my girlfriends (this is how the female brain works before you get married) the closest of the close, I would probably only be able to narrow the number down to 18. And that is just females; do you know how many amazing guy friends I have? I am blessed.

Friday night I left work and headed to New Philadelphia’s yearly church-wide retreat. I made it just in time for the evening message. Since the retreat had started the day before, I felt like I did a cannon ball jump into the water instead of slowly getting my feet wet, then wading up to my ankles, my knees, my thighs (the water gets so cold at that point!), and so on. It was good, but a little disorienting.

After the message, friends that weren’t too busy serving, or drunk in the spirit, bombarded me with birthday wishes and hugs and love. But then there were so many people I didn’t get to see, it felt like I saw no one at all. We had our small group session time. I told them it was my birthday, why? Why, as humans— do we need to make everything about us? I am seriously so selfish in the flesh sometimes a lot. I want everyone to be my friend, and I want everyone to love me, and I wanted everyone to know that it was my birthday so therefore it is the best day on the calendar and please be happy that I was born on this day almost three decades ago, and love me, and notice me, and give me presents, and love me!

But, if I had seen and talked to all the people who I wanted to… would I have even had a real conversation in such a short amount of time? The next day of the retreat during the free time I wanted to hang out with everyone, but I realized that if I had done that I would have ended up hanging out with no one. I felt burdened and sad. How silly.

I am loved. I have so many people who love me. I am not alone. I am surrounded. I had great conversations with some people and I had fun jokes and quick hugs with others. I met new people and loved it. I don’t have a cut-off, I don’t have a limit, because God’s love and joy that flows through me and from me is never-ending. I just needed to realize that I need to fill myself up by spending time with him, if I want to spend time with other people and not lose that joy. I also realized that I still want to be friends with everyone, I just can’t help it. But I also want to be fully present and invest in the lives of those who invest in me. I will learn a balance. Eventually.

birthday donut
Our school loves the teachers so much, they buy the employees donuts for the whole staff on every birthday. The birthday winner gets a special heart donut, I was so excited I bit into before I got a picture, hehe.

birthday cards and cake
Megan surprised me with a cake and the K-2 grade students poured into my room singing during lunch break with a bunch of beautiful home-made cards.

rachel cake

You can tell that I had a student take the above picture^^ One of my student’s had her mom make me brownie cupcakes because she knew that I prefer them over cake. She was super super super excited to give them to me. I love being a teacher!

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At the retreat! Having dinner with my Emmaus girls. SERIOUSLY LOVE THEM.

I have more pictures of the retreat that I will post later; these are pictures from my phone. My students treated me like a princess all month leading up to my birthday— they were the stinkin’ cutest things ever. Being a teacher when your birthday rolls around is the BEST OCCUPATION to have. Hands down.

On Resting

I really had no idea how hard it was for me to get actual, productive, REST. Being productive to me is doing the 101 things on my “To-Do” List that I make every morning, and getting immense satisfaction when I get to cross them off one by one (I seriously beam with every scratched through line I make).

God has been speaking to me (directly and through other people) for MONTHS on taking rest, and the importance of it. It is so easy to forget about rest when you live in Seoul. This city has an extreme case of the Korean “Bali, Bali” (bali translated to English means “hurry”) lifestyle. People are constantly on the go.

After my LASEK surgery, I was literally forced to rest as my eyes healed. In fact, they are still healing, and there are times when I have to stop what I am doing and just sit with my eyes closed for ten minutes. During which, I am thinking about all the things I need to do. I have to stop myself and remember that I don’t “need” to do most of those things RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

Rest. It is so very important. It is healthy for your body, it brings clarity for your mind… it fuels creativity. Rest is good.

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In other news I went to my favorite Indian restaurant (Everest, yum yum yum) in Seoul during my time of rest. SO GOOD, I took a picture.

DSC_0735

I’m a guest!

Today I have the privilege of being a guest blogger over at my amazing friend Hannah’s blog. I met her in Korea when she started coming to New Philly (my home church there).

She asked me a while ago to write up something for her blog’s undone series. What does it mean to be undone before God? I don’t often talk explicitly about my faith on my blog, for many reasons (though most people who read my blog know me, and the way I write shows that it -my faith- is portrayed in my lifestyle)… that being said, this was a good challenge for me.

Head over to her blog and check it out, this is my second time writing a guest blog post this summer (the first time was for Patrick for his QLC series, my thoughts for that are here) and I got to say, I love it!

I will leave you with the dogs begging for bread:

Looks like Jordan is not sharing!

a shared revelation

On an average day, my purse contains the following items:

  • lip gloss + chapstick
  • very flowery large wallet
  • planner
  • Bible
  • notebook
  • Nikon D5000
  • 3-5 pens
  • lotion
  • candy +gum
  • many, many receipts
  • random jewelry
  • book club book (that’s right, I am in one)
  • cell phone (that is before I lost it, [loud wail])
Needless to say, my purse is never light. When I was on Jeju Island last month my two girlfriends and I decided to rent scooters (some may call them mopeds in the States) for the weekend. While riding around we were free of all bags since they were in the compartment under our seats. Feeling nothing but the wind on my back and wearing nothing but my helmet, sick new shades, (and clothes-obvi), throughout the day I kept feeling like I was missing something. I didn’t have this extra weight around my shoulders and it felt weird… I loved the feeling of not being weighed down,  but it also made me feel paranoid. I always felt like I left something behind, and I didn’t like that feeling.
         At one point throughout the day I expressed these feeling to my girlfriends. We woke up the next morning to return our scooters to the lovely (and very trusting) lady we rented them from and afterwards one of my girlfriends turned to me and said, “Something you said yesterday gave me a huge revelation. I was thinking about it in the shower.” The shower  is usually where I get my huge revelations as well, so this made sense to me, but I had no idea what I had said.
       She reminded me of what I shared and then went on to explain how  people walk around with this weight, a burden. Then, God takes it away. We are free! And yet we feel like we need to have it back. We feel like we are missing something when it is not there. Which could be why so many people pick that burden back up even after God has released us from it. 
        It was an amazing revelation for me too. Thank you for sharing it with me R.

I googled the contents of a woman's purse and I got this image. Can't believe I forgot to mention nail polish!


A Call to Arms.

I am in pain. I am so tired of this. I woke up this morning with my head pounding, it was overheated, and I wanted to throw up.

And then I had to come to graduate class. For eight hours.

Every single person reading this, wherever you are in the world, whether you know me or not, please… think of me. Pray for my head. Pray that these migraines GO AWAY once and for all. God does not want his children in pain, there is no reason for me to live like this, my God is a God who heals.

These headaches get in the way of me living my life, and I am done. Lord, heal me. In your name, you blood covered my sins and I don’t want to accept this condition anymore. You are the King of Kings and your name is higher than any other.

Headaches. Migraines. Go. Away.

Amen.

PRAY WITH ME!

21 days… it will change you.

I feel as if I keep getting hit. Over and over again. The kind of hits that blow you backwards and have you gasping for breath.

I love every minute of it. I hate some of it. But mostly, I love it. God is really opening my eyes and challenging me.

Saturday night I went to Jerusalem Ministries monthly prayer meeting. I tutor my boy Han Wool at Namsanwon Children’s Home through this organization. The pastor who founded this ministry, John-Michael (also known as JM), shared a little bit on the history of Cambodia because we had sent four ladies there on a mission trip this past winter break. I was shocked. I had heard of the Killing Fields just this past year, but I didn’t know what they were.

Have you ever heard of Pol Pot? Until last Saturday, I had no idea who this man was. Now I know he is responsible for killing almost 1/4 of the population in Cambodia during the mid 1970s.

Right after the Vietnam War, Pol Pot had a vision for the nation to go back to the basics, where they ‘lived in harmony’ working the fields and eating off the land and having nothing else. He went in and split up the population in this way (to put it as basic and simple as possible from what I was told). If you were educated you went to the right, if you were not, you went to the left. If you had smooth hands, to the right. If you had calloused hands, to the left. If you wore glasses, to the right. If you went to University, to the right. The right side was destroyed, murdered, sent to death camps. Mostly they were executed and buried in large masses. These are what became known as the Killing Fields. Pol Pot wanted to get rid of all the intellectuals. He wanted what I have learned is called a “collectivist agrarian utopia”. Though I am not exactly sure what that means…

Here is a man, described to be worse than Hitler. And yet I have never heard of him. One reason (as JM explained) could be because Cambodia has nothing to offer the world, no natural resources, and so the powerhouse nations have ignored it because they gain nothing from them.

 

a picture from the mission trip to cambodia. took it from jy's fb, thanks girl!

 

What else don’t I know about this world? How can people like Pol Pot exist? I was really upset after Saturday night. Part of those hits I am experiencing, from the beginning of this post, I could label with one word: “empathy”. I am in anguish thinking about the people of Cambodia. I have never been so cold in my life this winter in Seoul and therefore want to weep when I think of the North Koreans, who are experiencing even colder temperatures and have no roofs over their heads. I want to mourn with all  of the mothers who have ever lost a baby, my heart is breaking.

And then, on Sunday, JM got up to preach at church, New Philadelphia , and what did he talk about? Love.

He focused on three of the words for love found in the Greek language (the New Testament was first written in Greek).

Eros (click on the word to read Websters definition)=selfish love (where the word erotic is derived from). The kind of love Hollywood is really good at portraying in movies. Satisfy yourself. Pornography. Prostitution. All Eros love. The word eros is mention zero times in the Bible. Yep, it is not mentioned even once.

Phileo= brotherly love. This word is used most often by the disciples in the Bible. You love someone as a friend, as a brother. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him he responds with this word, “Jesus, you know I phileo you”. Jesus is searching for a different answer.

Agape= The way God loves. God’s love towards his son, Jesus. God’s love towards us. When we love with agape love, we are showing people God. Agape love is 1 Corinthians 13. Agape love is free, undemanding, unconditional. Agape love expects nothing in return. You. Just. Love. This is the kind of love we are called to give. It goes completely against human nature, the opposite of eros.

1 John 4:16 say “God is love” that word love, is agape. God is agape.

This message JM preached really helped me. The hits will keep coming, and I want them too… as long as I always remember that above all, God is good. He is Agape.

my 21 day fast is almost over. it was life changing.