Thursday, May 12, 2022

Our First (and Possibly Only) Guest in Korea: Hosting My Sister!

My sister C came to visit us in South Korea all the way from Colorado! She stayed for 10 days, and due to the pandemic she was our first and possible only guest we will be able to host during our time here, as there are only a few months left in our tour before we return to DC. C was such a huge help with baby S, and it was so nice to catch up with her and talk excitedly about her upcoming wedding. (What can I say? It's a big year for our family!)

C's visit coincided with multiple relevant holidays. Together with our Korean extended family, we celebrated Orininal (어린이날, Children's Day) at home. My family was kind enough to bring gifts for the baby and fruit, cakes, and drinks to share. It was a great chance for both C and I to practice our Korean language skills and spend some quality time with our family. We haven't been able to see them nearly as much as I would have liked during the COVID-19 era, but I'm so grateful they got to see us and C and S.

Later that week, it was also Korean Parents' Day and my first U.S. Mother's Day as a mother myself. My heart is so full with the joy our child brings to me. Postpartum recovery is very tough, but simple things like seeing his smiling face or holding him close or washing his little fingers and toes make every challenge and sacrifice worth it. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be entrusted with his care.

It was also that wonderful time of year each spring in Korea leading up to Buddha's birthday when all the Buddhist temples and streets around them are decorated with lotus lanterns. C and I took advantage of the opportunity and went to Jogyesa Temple (조계사), where we took the first photo of this post, and to Gwangjang Market (광장시장) together while M watched baby S at home. The Temple was gorgeous as ever, and the market was wonderful. We had some delicious lunch of mung bean pancakes (bindaetteok, 빈대떡), dumplings (mandu, 만두), and pig's trotters (jokbal, 족발). The bindaetteok (pictured below) was the best I've ever had.

When we were done eating, we walked by the stall of Cho Yoonsun (조윤선), made famous by the Street Food show on Netflix. We were only gone a few hours, but the mom anxiety was real! I kept texting M to reassure me S was okay even though I knew he had everything he needed at home including plenty of refrigerated and frozen milk. Now I understand so much better why my new mom friends always said leaving the baby in the beginning was so hard.

My confidence built after that excursion, I decided to accept my friend J's offer for two free tickets to a musical performance by a group called the Young Ambassadors from Brigham Young University (BYU) at Yonsei University (연세대학교) in Seoul. I didn't realize Yonsei University was so close to the Seoul Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my church. There were more missionaries gathered together at the Young Ambassadors show than I've ever seen in one place in Korea. Several of them were joyfully hugging when we arrived, and I guess they hadn't seen each other in a while. The vibe of the whole event was energetic and wholesome, and it really recharged my emotional and spiritual batteries to enjoy performing arts in person: something my sister and I have always loved.

I saw the show with C while M took care of the baby again, and S did so well we even had a chance to grab bingsoo (빙수) at a local cafe together afterwards. The area around the university was very hip, with tons of cute shops and street performers, and the walk was delightful on a warm spring evening. It reminded me a little bit of my own college days. Now that S is already over a month old, I hope being apart from him once in a while helps ease my transition back to work in a few more months.

The time flew so fast (I'm sure in part because M and I live our lives these day in 2-4 hour segments dictated by S), but the time with C was so special and has become part of my most treasured memories from our tour in Korea. I can't wait to see her again in a few months for her wedding and our own return to the United States.

No comments:

Post a Comment