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!

Image

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.

my burning hands

I must share this.

It was in bible study this past Sunday at church that it finally clicked, really clicked. All the powerful prayers of the prophets and leaders in the old testament had important ingredients and similar outlines. First, you pray out God’s character… He is GOOD. Then you declare his promises and his works. You start with praise and thanks, and then you stand on the truth of what his word says and what he has done.

After bible study my friend wanted prayer for her legs, we all felt an increase in our faith after digging into the Bible. When she sat down we could see that one leg was slightly shorter than the other. Enough to give her extreme back pain over the years. A group of us prayed for her, nothing happened— we could still see one leg just -that- much longer. We prayed again, and all of a sudden I remembered the order and the ingredients needed and I spoke them out. I commanded her leg to grow based on God’s character, his promises, and his works. My friend looked at her legs and went, “Wait… I think they are even!” Even though I knew, I was still taken by surprise (silly, silly me), we examined super closely, and kept looking and then started gaping— her legs were the EXACT SAME LENGTH! I wish I had the foresight to take a before and after picture… she stood up and could already feel the difference of having two even legs.

Right before our church service started my welcoming team leader came up to me while I was greeting people and giving out name tags (we like to know peoples names^^). “My arm hurts, pray for me.” Turns out she gets chronic arm pain due to an accident on a scooter that happened years ago… randomly, when it starts to hurt she can’t lift her arm above her shoulder without a lot of pain. I quickly prayed with the same understanding I had just grasped that morning, and then went back to greeting and writing nametags… I hear “Melody, Melody!” I turned and my friend was swinging her arms around saying that all of the pain was gone! I jumped up and down (yes, literally)— praising God for his healing power.

Throughout all of worship my hands would not stop burning, and not just a small tingling sensation— I said “owww!” out loud during one of the songs— possibly a couple of times. They were burning.

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 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!

I don’t want to start any rumors but…

Korea, you are just like all the boyfriends I have ever dated (all two of them), you get me to fall in love with you. And then you break my heart. And then you may possible get me to fall in love with you again, with the same ending reaction.

Why Korea, why? Subways are kept super clean, yet old men are constantly spitting (the street, the mall, it doesn’t matter) I know I rant and rave about this ALL THE TIME (hence, the name of my blog) BUT REALLY. Is it too much to ask to NOT do that? I just don’t think it is.

Every time I find a delicious meal that I can enjoy because it is not spicy, the restaurant closes or they stop carrying that dish (this has legitimately happened to me about three times now). I more often get a shove or hiss or ‘shhh!” or glare than the kindness of a stranger and therefore when someone says a simple ‘excuse me’ i almost cry from joy. The other day I was traveling from church number 1 to church number 2 (yes, I love Jesus that much, one is an English service and one is in Korean- I’d like to say I understand every word. LIE. I have a translator) and I had the WORST headache, there were no seats on the subway causing me to lean against a metal bar they have every so often between seats. A man saw that I was having a rough time of it and five minutes into my journey he insisted I take his seat. This happened weeks ago and I am still thinking about it. What a nice man.

I hear nonstop praises for the fall and spring seasons in this land and then experience the coldest winter in a hundred years followed by the shortest spring. Why Korea, why????

And one last thing… Men run amuck in this city. Women are trained from birth to do chores and be a good wife. boys don’t handle any household work and are told to study to get a good job so they can have a nice wife who will sit at home and make them meals. Join the 21st century where men and women are equals. Think about it.

Now it’s time for pictures, I LOVE PICTURES!

I don't want to start any rumors... but did Barack Obama visit South Korea about ten years ago?

The kid on the left probably raised his hand with full intentions to answer a question, kids get sidetracked easily? No....

The kids love it when I take over the second half of class, GAME TIME.

Let's throw in a black and white photo just for fun. Love my kiddies!

I am so funny, that's why they always laugh at me... right?

At the salon, seconds away from getting all my hair chopped off. My before shot.

The next day, eating shabu shabu for the first time and sporting my new look!

such a good konglish find Amanda had to try it on... oh, Korea...

I thought this long winded shirt would turn out to be something sweet, pretty shocked by the ending. BUT REALLY? Did you ever have the slightest intention to stay??? ANSWER ME.

Waiting to use the toilet. This isn't awkward at all.

What was originally a feeling of disgust has turned into one of my favorite things about Korean couples. Matchy-match.

That’s all for now. Peace out, girl scout.