In a previous post, I mentioned that Charlene and I had the bittersweet privilege of taking Jin, Yuna, and Isaiah to the airport. They’re headed back to Seoul, Korea. They’ve been here in the States longer than we’ve known them, but with the economy tightening up, and jobs getting scarce, they felt God’s calling to return home.
It was our pleasure getting to know them while they were here. Before the arrival of Isaiah, they were both very involved with Real World. Jin played guitar and led worship, and Yuna always sang with him (even when she was very pregnant with Isaiah). They make a beautiful team. I was always fortunate, that despite his solid guitar skills and ability to lead, Jin always made room for me to play guitar on the team with him. (I was never a participant with them, but they also lead a Safari Kids Sunday School class at our church. Jin always said how it was good practice for parenthood, and more than once he mentioned how the kids loved to jump and climb all over him like a swarm of ants.)
Isaiah’s arrival meant that external ministry to the group took a back seat to the personal ministry at home (as it should be). So Jin and Yuna gradually phased out of leadership in Real World, but they continued to stay in touch and we’d see them at church once in a while. Isaiah is so adorable, and it was fun watching him grow up the past few months. He has the greatest smile, and is ever so shy. I love saying “hello” to him, watching him give a big smile, and then seeing him turn his head away. It’s almost as if he’s blushing with embarrassment and shyness as he turns.
I think what I’ll miss most about Jin and Yuna is their hospitality. There was always a sense of “welcomeness” in their apartment–that feeling of being at home. They didn’t have the largest, or most luxurious apartment ever, but I’d take a cozy home full of warmth and love over a cold and loveless mansion any day. Theirs was definitely full of warmth and love. They were well known on the worship team for hosting quarterly dinners in their home. They never asked anyone to bring any food or for payment, and they always provided more than enough for everyone to eat. They usually made Korean food, and it was always delicious. Predictably the massive quantities of food available at places like Palace BBQ in Santa Clara never held a candle to the quality of food prepared in that household.
A little more than a week before our wedding, Jin shot me an IM and asked if Charlene and I might be free for dinner anytime. Frankly, I was a bit harried over the question since we were so close to “launch” and were still wrapping up details. For whatever reason, it did occur to me that we had to eat dinner at some point in the evening, and since they were offering, we might as well take them up on their generosity. I did offer one caveat: we’d likely eat and run. It was doubtful we’d spend a lot of time chit-chatting after the meal since we had so much more to finish up that week. I was struck that they were OK with that setup anyways. He said they’d have to put Isaiah to bed around that time, so it would work out alright.
What a blessing that dinner was to me! The food was delicious (we had ribs), and the company was wonderful. The bittersweet reality of the meal, however was that Jin and Yuna chose that meal to tell us that they would likely be moving back to Korea. Things weren’t set in stone at that point, but they were definitely headed in that direction. As we left, I commented to Charlene “I already miss Jin and Yuna.” She concurred.
One of my last memories of Jin and Yuna is from the Wednesday night (2.5 days) before they left for Korea. First, a bit of backstory: when Yuna was pregnant, we had a worship team dinner at their house, and I made a cheesecake from scratch. Everyone commented that it was tasty, but Yuna wouldn’t be able to eat any of it until after the pregnancy. I felt bad, and promised her that I’d make another cheesecake one day. Well that day took a bit longer to arrive than I expected, mostly because of the busy-ness associated with wedding planning. But with their departure imminent, I knew I had to get it done rather quickly. So we came up with an alibi to show up at their house that evening, and brought the cheesecake with us. Of course, they had no idea of our ulterior motive and were pleasantly surprised.
Frankly, I pretty much expected to say hello, have a few bites of cheesecake, help them pack a bit, and then take off so they could finish packing (remember, they had 2.5 days until departure). But when we arrived with the cheesecake in-hand, they dropped all packing activities, told us to sit down, and we chatted for well over a few hours. We offered to help them pack a few times, but our efforts were refused. They were simply content to have us as guests in their home. What hospitality!
As we left that night I told Charlene I really missed the Parks already. “If the shoe were on the other foot, I would’ve been freaking out about the lost time packing. I totally would’ve had them helping us to pack,” I commented. But that’s not their MO. They’re too gracious for that.
I think these last two anecdotes really seal the deal for me. They will always remind me of the generosity, graciousness, and hospitality of Jin and Yuna.
Jin, Yuna, we’ll miss you dearly, but whether it’s here, there, or in the air, we know God’s hand will be upon you. You’ll never be beyond the reach of His family; you’re merely moving to a different part. His grace is sufficient, his strength is made perfect in weakness. Trust in Him with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.