My Year of Trust

For me, all of 2016 was about trust. From January until June and really since October of the year before, every time I panicked, every time I felt scared, every time I thought, “is it too late to change my mind?” I heard God clearly say, “Trust me.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

My own understanding of the situation was that I was about to leave the best school I had ever worked for to move to a country that was notorious for being difficult to get visa sponsorship since they have enough teachers of their own. But 7 years in Korea was a long time and I was ready to leave. Then again, I was not ready to leave. I had been begging God to call me to live somewhere else, and then when it happened, I wanted to stay. Oh, we are so fickle!

I was excited to move to Melbourne, Australia and I was terrified at the same time.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. 

Isaiah 43:2

Moving here has by far been the hardest thing I have ever done. I know, I know, my instagram feed shows pictures of me going on amazing adventures and seeing koalas in the wild and feeding kangaroos and exploring waterfalls. But who posts a picture of themselves crying on a living room floor in the middle of the night because they don’t have a place to live yet? Who posts a picture of themselves at a fax machine trying to send request forms to their universities because they can’t get their teaching license registered without actual snail mail transcripts (it’s the digital age people!) so they can’t start looking for work? Who posts a picture of themselves sitting at a cafe by themselves (okay a lot of people do, but you know what I mean) and feeling like they don’t have a friend who knows them enough in this country to know that when they get migraines they can tell by looking at their eyes? Those photos probably wouldn’t get a whole lot of likes, and they are downers, no one wants to see that. And I didn’t want to post that. But every time people asked how I was I tried to be open and honest. I knew it was going to be hard, I just didn’t know what kind of hard it would be. There’s no way of preparing for that.

It’s 2017 now and I have a job at a school that is sponsoring my visa. I live in a great apartment in an incredible location. I have a church community that is starting to feel like family. God is worthy of my trust, and He is faithful.

2016 may have been the toughest year yet, but there were so many moments I have to be grateful for, and I don’t want to forget them.

At the beginning of the year I took a trip to visit friends in the Philippines. Those same friends were able to visit me at the end of this year here in Australia. My friends in Korea made me a book of encouragement to last me the my first year in Melbourne. It is full of notes of encouragement and photos and it is really fat, they love me so much they gave me the first part before I left and mailed the rest of it (which was most of it!) later. My colleagues at GSIS were some of the best people I have ever worked with and they made leaving Suwon (who would have thought?) so hard.  I am so grateful for that. (“Gold! Nay… Diamonds.”) I started (and stopped, oops) exercising! My roommate was my partner in crime and we even did a 10 day sugar detox. Paying off the last of my student loans with my final paycheck from Korea I left debt free. DEBT FREE.

I visited my family in the States and I got to watch my niece dance in a bajillion dances while my nephew played charades (“You’re a tree! You’re a tiger!) with me during the intermission.  I met the newest nephew and held him like he was my own and couldn’t get over how happy my 2nd nephew is, all. the. time. His smile could light up a city, scratch that, a country.

My sister couldn’t talked to me the whole two weeks I was home and I got really good at lip reading. When we were out by the pool my niece who is going through her “only mommy for me!” stage, walked over to where I was sitting with my legs dangling into the water and turned her back to me. She then proceeded to back up towards me and plop herself into my lap. It was the greatest. day. ever. And my other niece kept saying, “Auntie DeeDee come look at this. Auntie DeeDee Let’s pay that. Auntie DeeDee these are my pigs.” Yes, she has real pigs.

My fourth niece (and the 7th grandchild) was born near the end of 2016. I can’t wait to meet her.

My church as doubled in size from when the original team of 12 was called to start it. I love humble beginnings.

At the end of 2016 I celebrated my six month mark here in Australia. And while feeding kangaroos and seeing inspiring landmarks is ridiculously cool, I will remember this year by the conversations with my CG at Eight One Eight. I will remember the 5th grader who told me I taught her how special reading is. And renting a car for the first time to go on a road trip with my friend who visited me from Singapore. I will remember friends showing me the best food spots in Melbourne, even though they were here for the weekend from Sydney. And hearing about how the child I teach in Sunday school volunteered to pray on her own. I will remember my niece getting really excited when I walked through the door carrying her sister’s silly monkey because she thought I was back to play. I will remember working at a mapping company for two weeks clicking on facebook links and meeting the nicest people. I will remember my friends who stayed with me my last night in Korea and helped carry my luggage to the airport. I will remember eating dinner with my pastor and tears streaming down my face as she empathised and understood my struggles living in this country and gave me wisdom on what to do next. I will remember learning how different Australian culture is to my own and starting to love the way they spell and say things.

Thank you God, for teaching me how to trust in a whole new way. Thank you for 2016.

Affirmation is Powerful

I started my blog to share my life with my family and friends back in Michigan, since I live thousands of miles away from them. But throughout this journey I have realized it is also an amazing journal, and a way for me to express my creativity through photography and words (I love stories!).

The following is a journal entry.

Dear New Philly Itaewon Welcoming Team,

Thank you for being inspiring, and creative. Thank you for helping me grow as a person, and as a son (yes, that may seem confusing to outside readers, what are you doing reading my journal anyway?!). Every single one of you encourages me to smile supernaturally, and welcome the crap out of people (okay… there has got to be a better expression).

Thank you for affirming me last Sunday. Just for my records I am writing your beautiful words here, so that I can come back to them over and over again, and remind myself of WHO I AM!

I am an ice cream cone, I have many flavors— and I am sweet! Did you know that my ice cream cone also doubles as a microphone? So I can sing out all my sweetness to the world, which I do ALL THE TIME.

I am a stamp, to give you more of a visual, this stamp is in the shape of a heart— and everyone I meet gets a stamp, I stamp the father’s heart. The verse that went along with this is Proverbs 31:20, She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I carry favor like a shield. I can be extremely vulnerable and genuine with people, with a lot of people… because of this favor.

I am a rock, rolling down a hill- I. Am. Unstoppable.                                                                      1 Corinthians 9:24-27: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. No, Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

BRAVE. That’s me. Now think of the movie Braveheart. Now cover my face with dirt and picture me as Mel Gibson. I am a forerunner, I am brave. My love is genuine.            Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

I am a clean spring, that always brings fresh water. My smile is genuine.

I am fearless, I cannot fail. I have a resilience to be admired. D.C. Talk has a song about the Proverbs 30 woman and a line from it says, “A woman who fears the Lord, she aint playing.” I need to listen to that song!

Affirmation is Powerful.

“I want to experience the speed again.”

I find the best writing my students produce is usually on their own time. Every weekend they come back to class with a journal full of their thoughts, and one of my favorite activities is to read about what they have to say. You might be thinking, “Really Melody, you teach eight-year-olds, is what they have to say really that interesting?” Well, the answer is YES!

Recently one of my student’s went skiing, and she wrote a journal entry about it. There was one line that really stood out to me:

“I want to experience the speed again.”

Come on now! Can’t you just picture her at the top of the hill, coming down, cold wind whipping her hair all around… a smile on her frozen face? All of that with one simple line: “I want to experience the speed again.”

Me too girl, me too.

Writing can change people… you know? So, write stuff down!