10 on 10- October

October is the month of visitors and I could not be more pleased! I lived in South Korea for 7 years and barely got my parents to visit (BUT THEY DID). I have lived in Melbourne for 3 months and I already have a list of people coming to see me. All about location, I see.

It was hard to narrow this down to 10, but here are some of my favs from when my dear friend Lydia and her husband DJ came to visit from Sydney last weekend. They took me on a whirlwind tour of eating delicious food (these photos show the brief stops we made in between eating, haha). I was so blessed by how well DJ did his research and his decisiveness in ordering food.


I am slowly falling in love with this city.

I am also super proud of myself for posting these photos ON THE 10TH.

Snail Mail Making a Comeback

For half a decade I have had a very faithful pen pal. We met in South Korea on August 20, 2009 and lived together for 10 days in a small dorm room as we were acclimated to our new jobs and country of residence. That random room assignment has given me a gift that keeps on giving. Christina has inspired me through her adventurous spirit, and her letters, and her gift of photography, which you can see on her blog. I am grateful for her faithfulness in writing me letters, because sometimes it takes me months to write back, but she never gives up on me.

A week after I received Christina’s letter in the mail I got another letter from a best friend since childhood. April blogged about sending something in the mail to someone you miss. I read the post and loved it and secretly hoped she would write me a letter one day soon, and then guess what showed up in the mail?

Thank you friends. I love my letters.

A few days after I got my letter from April, I received a package. Mail! It’s the best thing ever.

When I left Korea I had a group of beautiful friends form a committee (without my knowledge) to plan my going away party. As part of the party (before, during, and after it I should say)  the committee asked my church community to write me letters of encouragement. They printed out pictures and put together a massive binder of the letters and pictures and verses. You know you have teacher friends when you get a book of encouragement organized to last a whole year. I am not allowed to open the letters as I please, they are set up for me to open 3-4 a week.

Thank you Dyanne (those pictures, yay!), Tammi, Zara, and Delia. Thank you especially to Delia for putting it all together and for mailing it to me instead of making me carry and extra 12 pounds of weight to Australia. Thank you for knowing me so well. I love and miss you all.

I forget I have an Accent

I spent three weeks in Texas when I was 14 and when I showed up to the ranch that, unbeknownst to me until I got there, had been donated to YWAM by Melody Green (the person I am named after) one of the first things a Texan said to me was, “You’re from Michigan.” Not a statement, an observation.

“How did you know that?” Confusion. Probably the best look to describe my face.

“I can tell by your accent.”

Mind blown. At this point in my very sheltered, country-living upbringing, I had met very few people outside of the States and I thought the only accents that existed were British ones. Because those were the only people I had met outside of the USA.

I had an accent? Me?  It took a minute to wrap my head around the idea. Once I realized that everyone has an accent to someone else, well this revelation was the beginning of my journey to becoming more cultured. A journey that hasn’t stopped since leaving Michigan, the home of my accent, and living in South Africa, South Korea, and now… Australia.

The people I am in cahoots with the most are diverse and come from a broad range of countries and backgrounds with a variety of accents. This has caused me to forget accents exist. I meet someone and once I get to know them I think, “That is how so-and-so sounds.” Their voice becomes like the color of their skin, their eyes, their hair, it’s not an “Australian accent” or a “Kiwi accent” or a “British accent”, it’s “Danielle’s voice” and “Joanna’s voice” and “Ryan’s voice”. This in turn has caused me to forget that my voice isn’t “Melody’s voice” to strangers I meet. It’s a very thick “Michigander’s accent” that may have become slightly convoluted by years of international living. I’m sorry, is that one too many quotation marks? I’ll move on.

For example, when I order at restaurants or chat with cashiers at Woolworth’s a strange pleasant look usually crosses their faces as they pause. “What accent is that?” A lovely woman asked me the other day when I was shopping for groceries. I told her where I am from and she said, “I was going to say America, because I just visited family there, but I didn’t want to offend you in case you were from Canada.” Haha, those sensitive Canadians. I told her it’s always okay to guess Canada first, because if they are from my neighboring country they will be so happy that someone guessed Canada before the USA and if they are from the States they won’t be bothered too much. And people say Canadians are the nicer ones (okay, okay, usually true…).

I was ordering food at a restaurant when a handsome waiter started bantering with me (not unnecessary details) and asked where I came from. He then proceeded to try and guess which state, and he didn’t say California or New York. Mad props. He guessed Colorado and another state that I can’t remember. This impressed me greatly as the majority of Aussies I meet don’t know where Michigan is.

While living in South Korea I started losing the ability to remember skin color. When people asked me what someone looked like that I just met I would sometimes have to guess if they were Asian or Caucasian because I would actually forget. Now, I am losing the ability to pick up on accents. It’s a wonderful thing, living abroad.

10 on 10- September

I should just start calling this 11 on 11th. Only I have 10 photos so it’s going to stay 10. I will, I will try very hard to post this on the correct date of the month in October. I can do it— fighting!

Yesterday, on the 10th I went to the South Melbourne Market, a mer 15 minute walk from my apartment, to shop for my housewarming party. Heeeeyo. I decided to grab my camera, something I haven’t done in a while, and snapped shots of one of my favorite places in Melbourne.


10 on 10 Project, I have not failed you.

Tomorrow is September 10th. I missed posting pictures on June 10th, July 10th, and August 10th. I will not fail in September, and yet if I do forget or don’t have time because there are other important things on my mind, that’s okay too. Part of me is ready to drop the 10 on 10 project for the rest of 2016 and start up fresh in 2017. But “starting fresh” or having pictures to document every single month isn’t what the project is about for me. It’s having archived memories to look back on and see my life and my photography, two things I love very much.


Thank you, Korea.

Have you ever knitted a scarf before? You are almost finished and you see a dropped stitch creating a big hole right in the middle of your soft, thick, creation and you think great now I have to unravel it because the idea of having a whole in my scarf is too terrible to comprehend. At least that’s how dramatic my thinking usually is. You unravel all the yarn and proceed to take the end of it and wrap it around your hand, because you need to do something with all of the yarn or it gets too tangled. And you wind the yarn over and over and over again, around your fingers. Around and around until the ball of yarn gets bigger and fatter and your fingers get squeezed tight and you have to pull them out of the yarn and keep wrapping, around and around again.

I feel like for the past seven years I have been wrapping a ball of yarn. Every job, every apartment, every friend, every student, every moment, a turn of the yarn goes around and around. Memories wrapped around memories, layers over more layers, creating a giant ball of life that is just waiting to get knitted together into a beautiful scarf to keep me warm (and stylish) as I move away from Korea and on to the next place.

I will never forget you, Korea. I will never forget the memories because I wrote them all out. Here. Where there is spit on the street.

Thank you for teaching me how to use chopsticks, for giving me the discipline to learn Taekwondo, and for introducing me to jimjilbangs. Thank you for assigning seats during movies, for having a top notch public transportation system, and for letting couples dress exactly the same and not judging them for it (except maybe sometimes, a little bit). Thank you for the people who love practicing their English with me, and for the adjuma who picked me up when I fell (literally), and thanks to those kind Koreans who helped me carry my stuff down the street because I overestimated my strength and got over-excited while grocery shopping. Thank you for the jobs, all the jobs. Thank you for red days, for your closeness to many other great Asian countries, and for sparking my interest in photography. Thank you for the Han River and tandem bicycles and for convenience stores on every corner. Thank you for the Lantern Festival, the Mud Festival, the Strawberry Festival, the Ice Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the International Fireworks Festival, the Apple Festival, the Ceramic Festival, the Green Tea Festival,  the Mountain Trout Ice Festival (okay those last four I have never been too, but I am still thankful for them)… Thank you for my colleagues, my students, my students’ parents (even the challenging ones because I learned so much about myself as an educator from them), and my masters degree.

Thank you for Korean BBQ (this deserves it’s own line).

Thank you for Han Wool. Thank you for my overseas family. Thank you for my church.

I wrote this blog 70 days ago and I forgot about it. I just now found it in my drafts. Today marks two weeks in Australia and I already have so much to be thankful for. 

Thank you God, for the opportunity to live and love and learn in cultures so very different from my own. Thank you for the appreciation this brings.

Now everyone go out and try something new! 

And now for some random pics from Korea I found in my phone^^

There are No Small Acts of Kindness.

Two weeks before leaving Korea I met a girl named Mali from South Africa (of course when I first met her I thought her name was “Molly” because I from Michigan, oh how I love different cultures). She approached me after Sunday service at our church location in Itaewon (Seoul). I was surprised that she wanted to talk to me because I was intending to seek her out. I saw Mali at the beginning of church and she was so happy and excited to be there, I thought, “I must meet her.”

Mali attends our church campus down in Busan. It turns out that she wanted to meet me because before she moved to Busan, Korea she learned about New Philadelphia Church through this very blog. Mine. THIS ONE! I am sorry. I need everyone to think that is as cool as I do, because it is so cool… right? Thank you for introducing yourself to me Mali, it was the highlight of my year (or… at least one of the highlights).

Fast forward a few weeks to another completely unrelated meeting, but one that equally blessed me (aka made me so happy). I was in Holland, visiting one of the many campuses of The Point Church,the church I went to growing up in Michigan, when someone came up to me and said, “Hi! I heard I needed to meet you. I am Kristen.” It turns out Kristen studied abroad in Australia and I heard I was moving there. She was sharing her love for the country when her eyes lit up and she said, “Wait a minute!” Reaching for her purse she pulled out a MyKi public transportation card that she had kept in her wallet for a year from when she visited Australia last. She said there might still even be money on it (there was! 4 dollars!) and it saved me the 6 bucks it cost to buy it.

What a beautiful gesture. I felt God’s love through that card in a way I can never describe with words. Not only did I not need to worry about one more thing when I got to this country, but the fact that Kristen was so excited to give it to me. Thank you, Kristen.

From Mali telling me that she read my blog and to keep writing to Kristen giving me her public transportation card, there are no small acts of kindness— they are all big to me.