Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When I drop my nalgene bottle on my bed...

...it goes 'thunk'. That's a good indicator that the mattress is too thin. It's about an inch an a half of low-density foam rubber. Fortunately, I can deal with a 'firm' mattress, so it doesn't actually hurt me to sleep on it. However, I'll bet that there are plenty of student accustomed to real, soft mattress and are getting killer backaches. I was going to buy a foam pad thing here, but the one that I found at the open market was 60 kilowon(I just make that up- 1 kilowon = 1ooo won) so I didn't buy it. However, I did get a massive pillow-almost too big- for 6 kilowon. Pillowcases were also inordinately expensive so I'm using one of my too-small undershirts. It does the job.

Also, the chairs here are plain wood. No padding.

People reading this blog might get the impression(from my complaining) that I'm dissatisfied. I'm not- I'm really content here. Some Koreans and people I've met seem surprised that I'm happy and don't have any issues to gripe about. I think this is just part of the Korean culture of humility. I've met a friend here who shall remain nameless (but who is probably reading this) that is kind of my insider guide to Handong. She speaks perfect English, being an ethnically Korean citizen of Canada. She gives me the inside knowledge of what HGU is really like. She's had a hard time here (being a Korean, but not having grown up here) so I think she tends to overstate the problems. She once asked me if I was enjoying HGU, I replied in the affirmative. She said "really?"

For anyone reading this who is contemplating coming to HGU- do it. It's a brand new experience. I like to think that I'm more open minded and 'culturally sensitive' than most Americans, so this a great experience for me because I didn't bring any cultural baggage. If you arrive at HGU having never left the US before and expecting everything to be just like the US except the language, you'll have major culture shock and be miserable. Some people think that the US is "the" developed country and any country must mimic the US to be developed. Why would someone think that? Korea's culture is very different, yet in many ways it is more developed than the US. For example, nationwide WiFi. That's right, pretty much the whole country has WiFi coverage that anyone can access for a modest fee. So my advice is this: Come to Handong prepared to live in a completely different culture. If you're willing to temporarily forgo your American oddities in favor of learning Korea's, you'll have a great experience.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First day of classes

Yesterday was the first day of classes, and it went reasonably well. I had four classes- Intercultural Studies, American and British Literature, Statics, and Marriage and Enrichment. Intercultural Studies will be interesting- it's with the boisterous black man, and I feel like I need to be sedate just to cancel out his undue enthusiasm. American and British literature shouldn't be too bad- I'm the one native english speaker in the class, so I feel like I have a leg up there. Statics is going to be very, very difficult. I am taking it as an attempt- I didn't know when I decided to come that it is a calculus based class- and I haven't had any calculus. I am going to rely heavily on the other LETU students in the class for this one. Marriage and Enrichment will have a lot of good interesting material in it- if I can manage to stay awake. Aside from the gems of humor from the teacher(he got engaged on the first date), it was pretty boring. Hopefully the other 16 weeks will have less monologue and more discussion.

I have one other class- although whether or not it will actually be a class it not yet determined. It's a higher-level engineering class called "Reinforced Concrete Engineering" which a dork like me thought would be really neat to take. I signed up for it, apparently Handong has never heard of prerequisites, 'cause I got in. I went to talk to the professor and shared my misgivings about being able to do the classwork, but also expressed my topical interest. He was very nice, encouraged me to come to class and decide for myself if I could handle it. He let me have a look at the book he uses. I certainly am not qualified to take the class, but I think I'll give it a shot nonetheless. If I find that I can't hack it, I will simply audit the class, which means to sit in on it and do my best to learn the material without taking tests or turning in work.

My sleep schedule is a bit off at the moment- it's 3:49AM here and I just woke up. Last night I didn't get to sleep until almost 2AM- night-owl roommates and heat. I had a class at 8:30, so I didn't get all that much sleep, and I was running low on sleep reserves anyway. Today my last class finished about 6. I came back, ate some dinner*, watched an episode of Top Gear and decided to read. I don't have any homework yet. Reading turned into sleeping- so I went to bed around 8:00 I guess. I ought to go back to bed, I suppose. Goodnight!

*There was a welcome dinner for the International Church two nights ago with chicken(American style!) and pizza(American style!). They had lots of leftovers, we were encouraged to take some home. This is what I've been eating recently, rather than going to the dining hall.

P.S. It's 90% humidity right now. GOOD LORD it's so humid!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I just installed Skype

Call me up sometime. My Skype name is ned.funnell.

I'm moved into the new dorm, I-House. I have one Vietnamese roommate and two Korean roommates(one of which is yet to appear). Tomorrow I will go to Handong International Church for the first time. Classes start on Monday. It should be interesting! I went downtown to buy some bedding today- all I walked away with was a pillow(and no pillowcase) because it was expensive at the place I found in the open market. I'll go to the 6-story department store tomorrow and try again. Everything else is cheap, so I guess something has to be expensive.

I also need to straighten out my course registration stuff- two of the courses that I was expecting to take are full (American/British Literature and Intercultural communication). The latter was replaced easily enough with Intercultural Studies. The guy who teaches it is a riot- he gave a lecture during out orientation about culture shock. He's very energetic and for the most part, the antithesis of most Koreans- loud, obnoxious, and provocative.

I don't think any of the classes that are offered for English language will transfer to LETU for my literature elective- so I'd really like to get into that Am/Brit lit class.

Anyway, it's late here. Goodnight.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Today concluded the second day of orientation. There are about 15 students in the orientation group, it includes any new international students; this includes transfers and freshmen as well as exchange students like me. So far we've just gone over guidelines and talked about culture shock, taken campus tours, etc. Everybody else had to take English and Korean language placement tests, but the exchange students don't have to as we're only here one semester. Handong is pretty nice. It's not the same as LeTourneau in some ways- LETU is kind of neurotic about landscaping and maintenance- everything is always really nice(except for Tyler hall bathrooms). Handong is the opposite- they don't maintain and clean their buildings as fanatically as LETU does. The dorm that I'm in is pretty darn messy. Apparently the school doesn't require students to clean the rooms before they leave, nor do they clean them before new students move in. That was kind of a shock the first night. The rooms are small, especially for 4 people each! Their grounds crew might be on vacation for the summer, as the grass is all overgrown and unkempt. However, this is not yet the school year- maybe they clean up a lot at the beginning of the semester.

Another odd thing- I was expecting more English speaking- I assumed that since there was the "30% of your classes must be in English", graduation requirement, most students would be proficient in English. Not true. Broken English passes as good enough here just because they don't have the 'real thing' to practice with. The best English language education they can get here isn't very good just because there aren't enough native English speakers to polish off their skills. It's the same as foreign languages in America- in my high school everyone had to take 2 Spanish classes to graduate. Did any of us speak Spanish? Not a chance- not even comprehension. There were no Spanish speakers at my high school, just white people that 'spoke' Spanish.

Also, I've been told that the school's international program is kind of segregated from the school, just as a de facto thing. Because nobody speaks English well, none of the student organizations, clubs, etc will work for international students. I've been told that in general, the international students just keep to themselves and vice versa with the Koreans. There are certainly efforts made- there is a whole section of student government dedicated to international everything, an international student council, international cafe, and a whole international dorm building. The fact of the matter is that the school can't force the whole 7900 Korean students to give a hoot about the 100 international students. Koreans will befriend international students, but we were warned today that sometimes they will try to be your friend just for the purpose of practicing English.

Handong is definately a Christian school, but according to some of the gossip I've heard, they have trouble with discipline. Students will go off-campus on the weekend and get wasted. Apparently they don't require a statement of faith from their students, as I'm told thats some students are openly Muslim and tend to make trouble in Bible class. My down-to-earth Canadian-born Korean tour guide estimated that 30% of the students are actually practicing, honest Christians. That doesn't mean that 70% of the students are troublemakers- most students are fine. It seems to me that the school has many rules but does not stand by them. Smoking is allowed only in designated spaces, but the school doesn't enforce this rule and students smoke wherever they please. I've heard of students making all sorts of trouble, an apparently the school doesn't expel them- then the troublemakers breed more troublemakers, and the problems appears to have snowballed. There are no slackers, though- all students take 18-23 credits every semester, all were in the top 5% of their class, and all got over a 1400 of 1600 on the SAT.
Schools are generally bigger here, HGU is considered small at 8000. I think that since the schools are bigger, they're fewer between, so HGU is sort of the only school in the area and students will come here just because it's a good school and not because, or even in spite of, it being a Christian school.

That sounds like a list of bad things, but really when someone is given an expectation of sweetness and light, all they will notice are the flaws. HGU really is putting in a huge effort to earn that middle 'G' for global. HGU is a good school, and I'm glad to be here. I'm sure my opinions will be revised and changed as the school year goes on.

P.S. Even halfway across the world, cafeteria food hasn't changed. It doesn't help when you don't know what it is that they're serving, either!

I'm not taking pictures because my AA charger doesn't take 220V, I need to find someone with an AA charger so I can recharge my camera batteries before they're actually out. Here's a picture of the dorm room(they're all the same).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Turned down startling job offer

So I met with the job offer guy today. The one that offered me a job was actually a middleman, and he asked me how much I was going to give him for "hooking me up" after we agreed to meet. I talked to my friend here(a Hatian, been in Korea for 2 years) and he seemed to think it was normal. This made be feel uncomfortable, but I figured it just might be the way things work here and the normal way of doing business. Since he was actually offering a service- he was negotiating the deal with the school and translating because the language school's bossman didn't speak much English. (?!?)
He asked me to meet him in a little slot of time I had before I had to be back for lunch with the orientation group. It was only about half an hour long. He had the school bossman drive out and we didn't get started until 20 minutes before I had to go- and things went slowly because everything went through translation. It was at this point that they told me that the promised 2.2 million won/month was actually $2332 not "around $2500", and that I'd only actually get paid that much if I did a mid-day session as well. Also they didn't have a client for the second morning period so I wouldn't teach that(yet) so it would actually only be 1.5 million won per month- that is, $1590- although he gave me $1700 as an estimated conversion. I also asked if I were allowed to teach as employment on my student visa- I was told in more words that 'everybody does it'. That's probably true, and if that were the only sticking point with this job it probably wouldn't have been a problem. I also learned that I'd have to miss team meetings on Wednesday night (like Cornerstones at LETU) and it was farther away from campus than I though. And the kicker- to formally teach English in Korea you should have a degree. They asked me to tell the students that I had a degree. I think I'm very qualified to teach English(reading so much finally pays off) but I can't tell people that I have a degree when I don't.

At this point I decided it was more or less a crap deal. As far as the 'commission', a kickback by any other name is still as wrong. I could tell that this whole operation is kind of shady. I don't mind teaching English, and I don't see a problem getting paid for services rendered- but I just couldn't live with all of the demands. This deal might have worked out if I weren't in school- but school is the priority and I won't sacrifice my education and experience in school just to be a millionaire in won.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Startling job offer

Being a native speaker of english, I caught some attention from a man here in Korea who wants me to teach students proper english. It is an amazing job offer for several reasons- I get a free off-campus apartment, it pays around $2500 per month for 25 hours per week, or $25/hour- also with an opportunity to work extra for "high management"people who need to speak proper english(supposedly $$$). However, it has drawbacks: I have to live off-campus. I was/am rather looking forward to living on campus- meeting lots of new people, living in a community with people from all over the world, fellowship with the people I live with, etc. I would have to commute. I am told that the apartment is easy to get to from the Handong bus, and that the apartment is 3 minutes by cab to the place I'll be working. I'd walk anyway and save the cab fare. I'd have to get up early- the first teaching session starts at 6:40 in the morning, meaning I'd have to be up at least by 6:00, then two hours of teaching before I go to the bus stop and off to school. I'd stay at school until whenever the bus schedule would require that I leave for my next teaching session starting at 6:40, lasting until 9:40. I'd have to be in bed by 10:00 to get 8 hours of sleep. So I'd only be at school from around 9AM to 6PM. Plenty of time for classes, but I am going to need to study hard with Joe Carroll for Statics, and if I took this, I would have to ask him to work around my schedule else do it alone(e.g. fail). I am very tempted by this offer, but I know so little about it. What if it turns out that teaching english is terrible? $2500 per month is nothing to be turned down hastily. The guy really wants me, he wants me even to push back my departing flight so that I could stay longer(not likely). He even told me he'd have someone drive me to the airport (5 hours) for free if I'd change my flight. I would really like to take this, but I'm just not sure. I need to see how it fits into my schedule, as the job's schedule is completely unchangable(apparently). My earliest class is at 10:00AM and my last ends at 6:00. I think I could do it- I'm just not sure if I want to. I get the feeling that it will add stress to what I was counting on to be a relaxing, no-worries learning experience. On the other hand, the dorms here just aren't the same(not as nice as LETU, and 4 people to a fairly small room). Living off-campus would be nice. My friend here in Korea who I trust a bit recommended me to the job guy and suggests that I do it, so I'm confident that it's a legitimate offer- it's just a bit demanding.

I'm just not sure. I will give it to God and let him decide.

Edit Nov 12, 2007: See update. Wasn't so legit after all.

For reference, my schedule:
Monday, Thursday - American and Brit Lit from 10:00-11:15. Statics from 1:45-3:00. Marriage and Enrichment from 4:45-6:00.
Tuesday, Friday - Intercultural Communication from 11:30-12:45.
That's it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Arrived at Handong

I arrived at Handong today. After: the 19-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, the 7.5 hour flight to Seoul, the 4 hour wait for the bus, the 5 hour bus to Pohang, the 1 hour wait for the HGU bus, then about an hour between the bus ride and checking in. I'm safe and sound, if a bit frazzled. I haven't showered in 48+ hours. Come to think of it, why am I posting to my blog before showering? Shower time.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Kuala Lumpur

I had a fairly uneventful flight from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur. However, the checkin before the flight was eventful. Apparently there is fine print on my ticket stating that I only get to take 25 kilograms of luggage with me- some odd reason about being a US citizen with the flight originating from another country. They would let me take more, but at $20 a kilo. It would have been $300 to take my "excess" luggage with me! I wasn't going to pay $300, so the lady told me that I had to ditch everything over 25 kilos- and my carry-on couldn't be more than 7 kilos(and was 10 kilos at that moment). I had about 15 minutes to make it work before they closed the flight checkin. More or less this 15 minutes was spent with me sputtering in disbelief that Malaysian Air wanted $300 to let me take a perfectly normal amount of luggage with me. The ticket counter lady was completely unwavering; she asked me if anyone in town could come by and pick up my excess. Sure, Mom and Dad- but only if they could be at the airport in the next 15 minutes, otherwise the airline would throw my luggage away, being unwilling to hold it for the extra 25 minutes it would take for them to get there. For a moment I thought I was going to be in luck, the man in charge of baggage strolled by and the lady asked him about a ratchetstrap I had on my luggage. She said it couldn't go, I asked her to ask him and he said yes, but she made me take it off anyway. I thought maybe the lenient and reasonable luggage guy would let me take my luggage with me, but he strolled off without further comment. At this point my only option was to ditch what I could not take, so I began sorting. I was planning on wearing as much of the clothes that I was supposed to ditch onto the plane as possible. Once I was mostly done, the lady(who was off elsewhere for a few minutes) came back and quietly told me that I could take it all. I was grateful, surprised, and nonplussed. I had left an urgent voicemail on my parent's cell phone, spread my clothes all over the ticket counter, was almost late for my flight- and the lady that made me do all this just seemed to remember "Oh, wait- it's a 747, a few extra pounds isn't going to kill it- I can let this guy take a normal amount of luggage after all! Good thing I pissed him off mightily before I came to this realization!" So in the end, I have one enormous 28 kilo suitcase, stretched to the limit, and one plastic walmart box half-full with all my stuff inside bouncing around because I took half the stuff out to put it in the other suitcase. That was what the ratchetstrap was on- it probably wouldn't survive baggage handling without it, she planned on putting three pieces of tape over the lid to make it stay shut. I'm sure my stuff would have ended up all over the airport floor if it had been that way- I insisted(much to her annoyance) that it go into one of those giant bags they have for strollers and carseats and stuff.

25 kilos is 55 pounds- every other airline in the world allows 100lbs. I had 83lbs.

To conclude: I am grateful to God that He allowed me to get on the plane with all my stuff. I was definitely praying during that 20-minute period. However, I am also annoyed with Malaysia Air's (frankly stupid) rule and the ticket lady who obviously didn't care too much about the rule anyway, and decided she'd just make me completely screw up my packing before she let me get away with having a normal, fine-at-every-other-airline amount of luggage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Things that are different about Australia

1. Funny accent.
2. Metric system.
3. Drive on wrong side of the road.
4. Everything is expensive.

Other than those things, Australia is remarkably similar to the US. Jake's wedding went great. It was the most uncomfortable day of my life, however, because the place we bought suits from didn't have anything in my size. That extra month I spent stewing in my mother makes life difficult sometimes. We bought our suits(not tuxes) rather than renting because the difference in cost was negligible. We thought it would be $100 at first(since the $US is worth more) but it ended up being like $250. I was mega pissed at having to buy a suit that didn't even fit, but I took it back and they're trying to alter it to the proper size now. We'll see how that goes.

Things have gone smoothly here, we spent the past few days doing touristy things. We went to a sweet beach called Surfer's Paradise for the day, and saw some neato weird-shaped mountains on the way back. The next day we went to the Australia Zoo, which is fairly large and has some neat animals. We saw koalas, wombats, and kangaroos and such. I fed several kangaroos- they're quite lazy from being fed by tourists all the time, though, they just lie on the ground propped up on one elbow while tourists walk up and hold food right under their mouths. Neat, nonetheless. Pictures.

Ian, the kangaroo, and I. Note the kangaroo's casual nature. I don't think I saw a combined 20 kangaroo hops.
I thought a kangaroo with a nalgene bottle would be a funny picture. Some middle-aged guys not too far away thought it was a beer bottle(must be a forty) and started laughing about the 'boozing kangaroo' on a bender. Pretty funny. Next time I go to the zoo I'm going to have to remember to bring funny items to pose the animals with- hats, a gameboy, assualt weapons... these could all make for hilarious pictures.

A wombat. They had them out for walks on leashes. They're neat. I woudln't mind a wombat for a pet. They weren't very good with names, though- the zoo named this one 'minibus'. I don't get it.
A tiger. I was annoyed that they were all completely behind glass- it made it hard to take a decent picture. I wish they'd had some bars I could peek over or something. They couldn't have been that vicious, the handlers were just sitting in there doing crossword puzzles or whatever tiger handlers do when not taming them with chairs and bullwhips.
A koala. They apparently just sit around in trees all day, doing nothing. I don't think they'd ever even have to leave their tree if the leaves held out, and it rained well. They just lounge in the crook of a branch and scratch themselves; occasionally reaching for a leaf. Ian remarked that they look like little old men. It's true- gray hair, sitting around doing nothing all day.

I took about 300 pictures(in true tourist fashion). Once I get to Handong(and presumably, high bandwidth) I'll upload them all to facebook or flickr or something. I've got a good 600 Alaska pictures that need to go up too.. dang, I should get my domain name going again.

That's the zoo. And yesterday, Ian and my newfound inlaw Mike and (his girlfriend?) Estrelle went up to "Noosa" and did various things. We stopped at a beach on the way up, punched around an Aussie-rules football and swam. Some more of my newfound inlaws were staying in a resort near Noosa and we tarried there for the lunch hour. There was a pool and jacuzzi. I realized while in the jacuzzi that I had my wallet in my pocket. Ooops! I had been through the ocean, out, drove for an hour, and started swimming again before I realized that my wallet was wet. It dried out quickly thanks to the hot, unfiltered Australian sunshine. Australian money is plastic, too- no trouble drying that out. I did have a check in there, though. It made it alright.

Today is more or less a slack day, I leave tonight at midnight from Brisbane. I'll arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6AM, and be laid over until 1:00AM the next day. 19 hours of layover! Then I'll arrive in Korea around 10:00AM, and have four days in which to explore Korea before I need to be at Handong. I have no plans whatsoever, and I don't speak Korean. Brilliant! Korea is more civil than the US, I don't think I'll be kidnapped by pirates or anything like that. It will be an adventure, the kind that would make my mom worry. Those are the most fun.

I'll plan to arrive at HGU on the 22 or August or earlier, if exploring Korea isn't as fun as it sounds. I may actually go to HGU, check in, then go exploring, as exploring with 100lbs of luggage may not be as fun as it sounds.

Anyway, that's the plan. Please pray that everything will go smoothly and that I won't have any language-based difficulties. This will be my first time traveling to a non-English speaking country.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I am in the terminal.

I wrote this as an email to my folks, which is why it sounds personal instead of like a blog post.

Hello there! I'm in the secure zone of the airport now. I'm on flight NZ5(Air New Zealand), departing LAX at 10:30PM. I will arrive at 11:00AM on what may be the 10th for you. God gave me a cool birthday present- there were no fees to change my ticket. When I got to the ticket counter, John(the guy I spoke with originally, who could give me a sweet deal) wasn't there and I didn't end up seeing him. He apparently told someone my situation, as the lady that helped me knew my deal. There were going to be fees and a substantial change in ticket cost because only first-class seats were available. She saw the distress on my face, I suppose, because she disappeared for a few minutes(with my passport and tickets to Korea, causing me some slight distress) and when she came back, she just printed my ticket and told me to have a nice flight. I thanked her profusely and now I'm on my way! Praise God! He's so great! Jehovah Jireh, the Lord provides.

Mike was a good host. He was out most(all) of the time; I didn't see Kait at all. I suppose she's out of town. I left them half of the pie that you(Mom and Dad) gave me. I don't think it would have made it to Brisbane in my checked baggage. The first day I was there I walked about 3.5 miles after not properly memorizing the map of the area. I wasn't lost, really, I just went way too far in the wrong direction trying to find a Subway. Eventually I admitted defeat and headed back to Mike's place and checked the map. It was about a mile and a half to the plaza where the food was(and back). I walked it twice, lunch and dinner. All in all I walked 6.5 miles yesterday. Good exercise I suppose, and refreshing. CA makes sure that pedestrians are well taken care of with bike trails through the city and such, on the pretense that people should bike to work instead of driving.

Anyway, I'm happy that God has taken care of me; I knew he would. This whole debacle came about from my own poor planning, God forgave me for being an idiot and provided.

Passport in the locale, should have it today and fly tonight

I got a call this morning from the express mail facility here asking about the address that it's going to. The carrier didn't recognize the name and wanted to know what was up, and apparently it was lacking the apartment number. So it's close! I will have it today, and be flown out tonight. Whew!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Passport issue update

My passport did not get to Ian before he had to leave, and I missed my flight. I spent the day calling around to many post offices trying to locate it with no luck. Its tracking number didn't even show up in the system when I went to sleep last night. I saw Ian and my parents, who are high over the pacific right now(still!). Ian has a good friend here in Los Angeles that I'm staying with right now- much better than chilling in the airport waiting for my passport to show up- also gives me a mailing address here.

Today I woke up early to call the Maryland express mail depot around when they opened. I called the tracking number first; and my package was FINALLY in there! It didn't get scanned in Houston until Monday night(yesterday, flight day) at 6:00PM. I can't think of much that would account for that kind of lag in pickup, even if it sat in a drop off box from Friday afternoon to Saturday or even Monday morning. I suppose the consulate could have been lying about when they mailed it, but that's in the past and it will do me no good to accuse them.

I'm worried about how much it's going to cost to get my ticket changed. When I knew my passport wouldn't come, I called Air NZ's booking number and told them the story. Luckily they can cancel my resevation on that flight and have my ticket still in the system. I asked what kind of cost would be incurred. My folks were worried it would be over $1000, but the guy on the phone told me $452 as an example of pushing it back one day; same flight. Being the persistent one that I am, I spoke with the counter guy at the airport and by chance/divine intervention he happened to be the ticketer(boss) on duty. He was nice and we reached an understanding that he'll do his best by me to keep the cost low. I just need to make sure that he's the one that I talk to when I check in.

This morning when I woke up, my passport was 'in transit' from Houston to MD. I called the help line, who referred me to the Houston express office. Now that my tracking no. had hit the system, they could put in a forward order for when it landed in MD and hit their express mail center. This was good news, and I wrote my folks about it, after I checked the detailed history on the USPS site. They have a tool for emailing you as soon as something new happens; so I put in both my and Ian's emails. Not fifteen minutes after my first email to my folks, I get a USPS one informing me that it had hit MD and been forwarded on. So right now I imagine that it's in a basket somewhere waiting for it's plane out here, or maybe even in the air. The USPS tracking lady told me before it probably wouldn't show up for two days, but I think that's a bit pessimistic. If it's leaving MD directly from an express mail facility in the morning, it should certainly be here tomorrow. It may be in LA and not yet delivered perhaps, but if that's the case and I can figure out who has hands on it I'll do my darnedest to find my way to the express mail office and get it. There's even a faint glimmer of hope in the back of my mind that it might be in-state tonight and I could track it down before morning. I won't set my heart on it, but God is in the business of miracles.

Keep on praying that I will get it as soon as possible! Thank you!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Please pray for me, my passport, and USPS

I am leaving for Australia at 10:30PM Monday evening. Close enough to be Sunday night, as I will leave Anchorage 12:50AM Monday morning, arrive in LAX at 7:30AM, and wait in the airport literally all day long. I actually plan to check my bags then leave the airport and see what Los Angeles has to offer. I am on the same flight with my brother, Ian. My passport is currently in the mail, from the Korean consulate in Houston to Ian's place. (Had to get my visa for Korea) It's going to Ian instead of me because it's quicker to go from Houston to DC than it is to Houston to a remote bush village in Alaska. Since Ian and I are on the same flight anyway, it works out well. I thank God for providing the blessing of Ian and I booking the same flight without coordinating it intentionally. Without this, getting my Korean visa and passport back on time would be impossible.

Scheduling is a bit awry, however. My express mail item to the Korean Consulate left here(bush Alaska) Monday morning at 11:30. By 3:30PM, it was in the mail in Anchorage. It did not arrive in Houston until Thursday at 10:30AM. I left a message on the Korean Consulate visa dept's machine to please process ASAP. I called again this morning(10:00AM here, 1:00PM there) to ask if they had it yet, and when it would be mailed. Turned out I forgot a few documents, which I faxed to them pronto. The fastest that they could get my visa(and passport) in the mail was after the express mail pickup deadline, even after 5:00PM.

Right now all I have is the casual word of a visa dept's employee that my visa should have been in the mail sometime today(friday) not long after 5PM. Also, I have not actually been able to get in touch with Ian to find out when he leaves and if he is in fact expecting the package. My parents have not heard from him recently either. Assuming that my passport and visa don't count as being mailed today(3rd), but tomorrow, the USPS site tells me to expect "2 delivery days". Not sure how that translates, "days" is quite vague for something that is supposedly overnight. It will most likely not arrive tomorrow(Saturday). Several different USPS claims have been made regarding whether or nor they will deliver express mail on Sundays - their site says "Delivery to most locations 365 days a year, including Sundays and holidays at no extra charge." Why, then, does their calculator use the wiggle-word "delivery days"? If delivery is 365 days a year, isn't every day a delivery day? Right now the express mail package does not show in the USPS tracking system(not unusual, but disconcerting nonetheless)

Since Ian is on the same flight that I am from LAX, he will need to arrive in LA some time before 10:30PM on Monday. I do not know when he is arriving. What is important is whether or not he will be able to collect mail(and my passport/visa) before he leaves on Monday. I have no data on which to venture a guess for this probability. Express mail is supposed to be delivered before "Noon or 3PM". We'll see.

To sum it up:
My passport is in overnight mail to my brother, who will meet me at LAX.
The USPS is real, real shaky with overnight mail.
I am not drawing any conclusions yet as to whether or not I'm going to have to knock out a flight attendant in the airport and steal his uniform in order to get on the plane without my passport.

Please pray for my situation. I trust that God will take care of me- He gave me everything I have, He provided everything I needed to make this amazing international trip. I am going to trust Him to provide for me when man's ways seem unreliable and broken. Though I can see so many ways typical of man's ways for this situation to end up wrong, I know that God's way is the best way. I now only need to trust in God- He has done everything up until this point to get me on that plane, and I must trust that His will is for me to be on that plane.

Thank you Lord for your blessings, please use this potentially disastrous situation to build me up. I will trust You and Your plan for my life.