I cannot expressed to you the feeling of humility that comes over us each time we are invited into someone’s home here.  Each home visit is a unique experience and we are excited about the memories we are creating with each family.  Even after six months of living here, we are still being invited and we currently have two invitations waiting to be scheduled. You can read about our previous home visit experiences here.

In December we had two other home visits that we have not yet had the opportunity to tell you about.  First, was an evening with Mrs. Chun, from Chungun Middle School.  Mrs. Chun is one of the best English speakers in Korea!  Having lived in the Boston area for more than a year, she is extremely easy to talk with. Also, I enjoy having her classes at school because they are always so advanced and well-behaved!  We were thrilled when she invited us for a home visit.  Our evening began with a restaurant near her home where were were served Galbi, a type of marinated ribs that we had never tried before.  Mrs. Chun brought along her two sons, Harry and Alvin, as well as her niece, Shannon and nephew, Lucky.  Her husband was not able to join us for dinner because of his work schedule.  After dinner we took a short walk to Mrs. Chun’s home where were were treated to all kinds of fabulous desserts.  Shannon showed off her English skills and we had fun looking at all the awards Mrs. Chun’s smart sons have received.  Soon, Mr. Ahn, Mrs. Chun’s husband, was able to join us.  He is such a kind man and we had fun talking with both of them.  Afterward, they were kind enough to drive us all the way out to our Taekwondo class, and dropped us off with a cheesecake!  Amazing.  We were so excited to spend time getting to know this family.

Valerie and Griffin at Galbi Restaurant with Mrs. Chun and her niece Shannon

Valerie and Griffin at Mrs. Chun's House with Lucky, Alvin, Shannon and Harry

Next, we were invited to the home of Mr. Suh, one of Griffin’s co-teachers.  Entering this home was a little different than the others we have visited.  Right away we noticed some incredible paper-mache` figures depicting all kinds of scenes.  These dolls are positioned all over the house and they are amazing.  We were even more amazed to know that Mr. Suh’s wife, Mrs. Jeong  hand makes these dolls as a hobby.  Their son, Martin, is quite a gifted young man.  His English is spot on and he speaks like an adult.  He’s also very sweet and served as a wonderful translator for us.  We were excited to be introduced to a traditional Korean game called, Yute.  Martin and I defeated Griffin and Mr. Suh, so we were very happy with our win.  We were served an amazing dinner that Mrs. Jeong had spent a lot of time preparing for us and we were so grateful for her time.  After dinner we spent some time relaxing and talking.  Mrs. Jeong  showed us how to make Kimchi Chigae, our favorite Korean soup.  She made it seem easy and even gave us all the ingredients but we still haven’t quite gotten the hang of it.  We were given several gifts as we left: The complete Kimchi Chigae soup-making kit that Mrs. Jeong put together, A hand drawn Yute board and some Yute playing pieces, and a hand-painted Chinese scripted fan.  (Which now hangs on our wall at home.)  Then, the best surprise, we were invited back to the Suh’s home to learn to make her famous paper-mache` dolls.  We are incredibly thankful for their time with us, their unique generosity, and for the extremely kind 2nd invitation.  We are excited to tell you about the doll-making ventures next time!

Valerie and Griffin with Mr. Su, Mrs. Jeong and Martin

The Delicious meal Mrs. Jeong cooked for us!

Quick Video of some of the handmade dolls Mrs. Jeong makes

Recently, we also visited the home of Mr. Kang, from Chungun Middle School’s Admin Office.  Toto, as he calls himself, speaks excellent English and has spent some time living abroad.  Toto lives with his mother, Mrs. Cho,  and the two of them were kind enough to invite us over for lunch.  After a traditional Korean noodle dish, we took a drive out to Unheungsaji Temple in Ungchon.  The temple site is really beautiful as it sits atop a mountain and has an excellent view.  We spent some time looking around the temple where Toto spent much of his childhood, since he and his mother are devout Buddhists.  Toto explained some of the traditional Buddhist customs and we also had the unique opportunity to speak with the resident Monk.  (We also got to go inside the temple as well as the Monk’s home, which we have never experienced before.)  We were able to talk with the Monk (Thanks to Toto as our translator) about the economy as well as some past prejudices in different parts of the world.  After the drive back to our part of town, we had dinner with Toto before saying goodbye.  I’m glad to get to see Toto every day in our school office and he is always a bright and cheerful face at school.

Valerie and Griffin with Mrs. Cho and Toto

Delicious noodle lunch Mrs. Cho made for us

Valerie and Griffin at Temple with Toto, Mrs. Cho and the monk.

It’s families like these that have made our stay in Korea one of the best times in our lives.  We hope to return home with the same kindness in our hearts and willingness to open our homes to others if ever given the opportunity.