With one of my nieces (third sister's daughter) and the "baby" teddy bear I brought her as a goodbye.
I have not been able to see my Korean family much this year. Between my 언니 sister (aka best Korean gal-pal), Se Jin, being extremely busy with her responsibilities at work, buying her first apartment, and a sort-of friend of the male variety in Seoul and my illness, wedding, and impending move, making time to hang out with her, let alone her wonderful and accepting family that made my first impressions of Korea and Koreans so positive, was nearly impossible. I think we've hung out only five or six times since September, and I have not seen any of her extended family at all.
Amazing spread of food with my Korean father. I can only look at the prowess of my Korean mom's cooking skills in awe. Perhaps one day, my ajumma skills will begin to approach this level, but I seriously doubt it.
However, I was very lucky to attend a goodbye and good luck lunch celebration at her new (fabulous apartment), prepared by her (my) Korean mother (entirely vegetarian--wow!) in my honor. Se Hoon (the brother) prayed for my safe return and for my father's health. Mother and Father hoped I would return to Daegu soon and always come to visit them.
Korean Mama, me (their fifth daughter, 권다인), and Korean Papa Kwon.
This family has taught me the depths of hospitality and kindness--not just for Koreans, but for any humans. I cannot imagine my Korean life without them. After the parents left for their country home in Yeongcheon and the brother's and sister's families cleared out for the rest of their Sunday afternoon activities, Se Jin and I gossiped in the rain, and I cried a little at not seeing them again for so long. But then Se Jin reminded me that we are family--and her house is always open to Min Gi and I when we come to visit Korea, just as my house in America would always be open to her or any members of her family who wished to visit.
Saying I'll miss them is the biggest understatement I can imagine. Being away from them will almost be like being away from my own family has been over the last three years. My heart already aches with the thought. And I have nothing but inadequate words for my gratitude. All I can hope is that I will remember always to be as accepting and open with strangers and travelers as they have been to me.