I know I haven’t updated this blog in quite a while but everything was going so slowly it didn’t seem important and then suddenly everything was a whirlwind and I never had a second to tell you what’s happening!! Right now, I’m sitting on a plane on my way to Seoul. Final destination: Seocho. If google maps isn’t lying to me, that’s in southern Seoul, still in the city but on the outskirts.
Let me start from
Things were going smoothly with getting my documents in order so my recruiter began searching for schools for me to interview with. She set up one interview a number of months ago now and I was offered a contract for that school the next day. SLP Nam-Bundang. A private elementary school in a fairly affluent neighborhood about 30 minutes outside of Seoul. At first, they asked me to sign an 18 month contract and wanted me to leave JUNE 7th! Well, that was just absurd because almost 2 years away seems like a lot to commit to right away and being ready to leave so soon seemed crazy. I wanted at least June to get all my ducks in a row, say goodbyes, etc. So I prayed about it, felt unsure about it, read the contract, had bad feelings, and just asked the Lord to move me in the way he wanted me to go. Honestly, I had a ton of reservations. Some things just seemed sketch. But my recruiter assured me it was the best option and told me I wouldn’t find a better opportunity. (That was sort of an exaggerated statement in my opinion, but what did I know? This was all very new to me.) So anyway after I told them I felt hesitant about singing an 18 month contract they decided to offer me a 12 month contract from July 1st, ’14-July 1st, ’15! Such great news! I thanked the Lord for answering prayers but still never felt excited about the school. Call it a gut feeling.
So I’m ready to leave for my new teaching job in Bundang, South Korea when I got a phone call from my recruiter:
“So, this never happens but.. Your school caught on fire and had significant damage last night.
They can’t afford to hire you anymore.” Wait. Back up.. Um. Excuse me, WHAT? I’m supposed to leave for Korea next week, I mean I’M PACKED; and you’re telling me my school burt down? Clearly, this is a joke. “No,” she says, “Not a joke.” “Oooohkay. So what’s next?” Yes. Take a guess. This actually was not earth shattering news for me. In fact, I smiled when I found out. There were not doubts in my head like, ‘maybe you’re not supposed to go to Korea Ashley, or maybe you should actually just go work a 9-5 in LA somewhere because obviously that’s what God wants for your life.’ No. I did not feel any crippling epiphanies about what direction my life was supposed to go from here. I knew. I knew the Lord had his own perfect plan and this fire was complete assurance that all my negative feelings about this school were something to be considered.
Well.. Back to square 2
The only bad part about not having a secure job was that I had to go through the interview process again. Who really likes to interview though? Really? My recruiter told me of a couple new schools hiring for ASAP positions. One of them really stood out to me. Brown International School, Seocho. It seemed perfect. Best location, values, staff, website, reviews. Everything. So I enthusiastically submitted an application video (i.e. “Hi my name is ashley.. this is who I am.”) and guess what? They told me they didn’t even want to interview me because they wanted a Science major to teach Science classes (as well as English). Wait, what? I don’t expect that much in life but I did expect at least an interview. I mean that’s rude. I am so excited about this school, ready to move to Seocho, Seoul and they don’t even want to interview me? Fine. Whatever.
After that letdown, I started preparing myself for the worst case scenario: coming to terms with the fact that God may just not want me in a foreign place right now. That was hard. Like, I actually had to say, “OK God, I really think Korea is great and I really thought you wanted me there but after this fire and after not getting an interview with a school that seemed so perfect for me, I guess maybe I just need to give up the chase. I do want to follow your will and not my own after all.”
And then, the very next day… I get a text. My recruiter essentially says, “PSYCH! BIS changed their mind, they actually do want to interview you.” And I’m standing there in line for Medieval Times saying, “OK God, what the heck are you doing?” Seriously, I’m too old for roller coasters. So that night I interviewed with them. The Director and nicest lady I’ve ever spoken to said, “We really wanted a Science major because we want a Science teacher. But it is elementary school and you seem pretty smart so I think you’ll be ok teaching it.” And the next day, I was offered a contract. The best part was that the school never hid anything from me. They straight up told me that it’s a lot of work but satisfying. They sent me their blog, they gave me an e-mail for an American that works there who really had only great things to say about the school and his life in Korea. I felt none of the hesitations I had with the first school. For the first time, I felt utter excitement. Like bouncing off the walls excited. Praise the Lord! God amazes me.
So let me pause and just thank all of you out there who were praying for me at this point. Many of you knew what was happening when it was happening and I could feel the prayers flooding into my life. What an incredible community I have!
Preparing to go
Like I said- the last couple weeks have been a real whirlwind. Actually, the last couple months. When you realize you’re going out of the country and probably won’t see your friends and family for a year, you start trying to cram. I had every second of every day planned out with various lists. Activity lists, people to see lists, food lists, buy lists, do lists, and pack lists. I think “write a blog post” is literally the last thing on my “before I get to Korea list.” High five!! Gettin’ it done. The blessing and curse of all this “cramming” is that I didn’t really think about the emotional aspect of leaving. Like it didn’t really actually hit me until last night. As I was digging my toes into the oh so familiar powder-like Newport Beach sand for the last time in who knows how long, boyfriend in hand, I started sobbing. No more holding hands with my boyfriend, no more sunny California beach days with my mom, no more spur of the moment coffee dates with Kate and Chel. Well, not for a year at least. Oh gosh, I’m typing on my iPad right now.. Apple’s going to have to charge me for water damage pretty soon… What did you drop this thing in the ocean? No. It’s just my salty tears.
I’ve never been such a fatalist in my life!! Not once in my life have I ever cried before leaving for a trip. I cried today. I cried so much. Saying goodbye to Eric and my mom and dad was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Maybe that’s because the longest I’ve ever been away was 4 months. Or maybe it’s because I’m going into the unknown for an entire year. Honestly, I think being in a three year relationship and then leaving the most important person in the world to me has made it most difficult. But! Every time I think about Korea.. Every time I think about the kids and the new experiences and all the adventures and the food and people and learning and living on my own in a foreign place- I get so giddy. Like ‘yes, this is right.’ But as soon as I think about Eric or my family I start to have doubts. And that’s where…
THE REAL STRUGGLE
sets in. In fact, last night.. this morning.. probably about 5 times since I’ve been on this airplane I have asked myself the question, “is this really what I should be doing? Is it selfish of me to move? Don’t I have enough to live for back in comfortable California? Why do I have such a huge desire to live abroad anyway? Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe that’s the old Ashley but maybe I’ve changed. And it’s like a war within myself. GET BEHIND ME SATAN. I have to remember all the incredible things God has done throughout this entire process! Oh, so many things.
Ok so just today and yesterday for instance! Yesterday I reserved my seat at noon for the flight to Korea. I wanted a window seat so badly but at first glance the only available seats were middle seats. So I scrolled to the top of seating chart and guess what? There was exactly one window seat available on the entire flight. Which seat? 12K. Meaning it’s in the front of the plane, meaning I got to board first. Then get this, before I checked my two bags I was like “Lord, if it be your will please allow these bags to fit weight restrictions.” And they were both EXACTLY 50lbs! And then- I knew there was a Klatch Coffee in the airport and with Klatch being my absolute favorite coffee in all of California (but since the closest one is an hour away, I hardly get to go) I wanted so badly to get a beverage. But I wasn’t at the airport early enough to explore so as I was walking to my gate (sobbing like a lost child mind you) I prayed “Lord, you know how much I love Klatch. I would just love for it to be on my way to my gate so I can pick it up real quick.” And GUESS WHAT? I kid you not it was literally directly adjacent my gate. Excuse me what? And then, I boarded my flight to Korea from SF and since I’m carrying on so much stuff was feeling a little cramped and got upset I couldn’t fit my huge camera case/backpack under the seat. I didn’t pray about this one but it turned out that the seat next to mine is empty (but when I booked my ticket that seat had been booked too) and there is enough space to make everything work out perfect. YES. Thank you Lord. Yeah yeah, all these stories COULD just be coincidence, but I personally feel God’s hand in all of it. Like, he’s saying, “even though child you are leaving your family, you are doing this for me.” And he’s totally showing me in tiny little ways (well huge ways to me) that he’s not going to let things like overweight luggage, airplane seats and missing coffee get in my way of going to Korea with ease. Seriously! This has been the easiest move of my life- and it’s to KOREA.
So every time those little doubts sneak into my brain I just remember all the things God has done up to this point. And just think of the incredible things he’s going to do after this. I can’t even imagine. So yeah, am I sad to leave the people I love? OF COURSE. But I’m even more excited to go on this journey, hand in hand with my Lord. We’ll see what He does. I’ll keep you posted for sure.
Until next time my dudes,