Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday In-House Service

We thought we had made it clear…attending the Sunday Church Service was not going to be a part of our weekly schedule. This didn’t stop Aunt Kimchi.


Guess who came knocking on our side window this morning, yelling “Sungsaeneem (teacher)

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness…  We should’ve left the sunroom doors closed. Dang it. Why did it have to be such a perfect sunlit day outside?

Aunt Kimchi had seen us with her glimmering, innocent eyes. Sigh…we had to welcome her inside.

“Church today?” she offered.

“No, I’m sorry, we can’t. We’re both very busy…we have a lot of work to do,” I replied.

“What about at two o’clock?” she pushed.

“Umm…two o’clock isn’t a good time for us…”

“C’mon, I’m sure you have one-hour to spare…” she insisted.

I didn’t know how to say what Ken and I wanted to say (that we wouldn’t be attending any of the services). Ken and I enjoyed the beautiful church service the previous Sunday, but Ken is an atheist and I was uncomfortable being the designated translator for the sermon (especially since I only knew select words from the church vocabulary). Actually, I guess I knew exactly what to say, but if you’d looked into Aunt Kimchi’s sweet, almond-shaped eyes, it’d have been difficult for you to say, too.

I finally convinced Aunt Kimchi that we absolutely couldn’t attend any service today. She understood (in utter defeat) and went to the morning service.


(…five hours later…)


I picked up my phone.

“Heeellllooo teacher.”

“Oh, hello [Aunt Kimchi]. What can I do for you this afternoon?”

“Well, I explained to the pastor that you couldn’t make it to the services today, and he’s decided to visit your home…just to say hello.”

“Oh, I see. Ooookay (I had no choice). What time?”


“Four-thirty?” That was in half-an hour.

“Yes. I’ll be over there soon, don’t worry.”


Within ten minutes, Aunt Kimchi was at our home, inspecting our rooms, making sure that it was suitable for the pastor’s arrival.

“Good, good, it’s nice and clean,” she approved. “Now, I’ve brought some ddeok for you two, but half of it will be served for our guests.”

“Guests?” I repeated.

“Oh yes. The pastor, his wife, and a couple of elders are coming to see you.”


So we prepared some grapes, apples and apple cider for our guests, and waited…and waited…for one hour.

Finally at five-thirty, they arrived. Ken and I saw them walk into our concrete front yard…the pastor, his wife, two church elders…and then five more people. This was unexpected. Ken and I were throwing a house-warming party that we hadn’t even known about.

We warmly welcomed our guests and they sat in a circle on our wooden floor. After a small introduction from the pastor, he continued on with the service…the service??

It turns out that our visit from the church members was actually a make-up service for the ones we had missed this morning and afternoon. As the pastor and the church elders sang through the hymns in Korean, Aunt Kimchi urged us to sing too, pointing at the English translations under the Korean words. I mouthed along, but I could tell that Ken was getting uneasy. Next came the sermon, which was again, in Korean, and even though the pastor explained the same message to us that the elders had heard this morning, they listened intently. The pastor kept looking to me to translate his words, but I could barely absorb anything that he was saying. I was still trying to collect my thoughts. I knew that they were just doing what they thought was right, but this was a little too much to handle.

After an hour of staring at different spots on the floor and shifting my weight, the pastor concluded his message and we snacked on the food that was prepared beforehand. The church members were gracious that we had invited them to our home, and urged us to go visit some of their homes, just down the street. After some last final reminders to go to the church service every Sunday, they handed us house-warming gifts of candy, hand-towels, and juice. If this wasn’t peer pressure, I didn’t know what was.

We waved goodbye to Aunt Kimchi and her guests as they left our home, and were finally able to take a breath of relief.

Ken and I set our thoughts in order. They were very kind people and I’m sure that they had the best intentions for us, but it was time to set things straight. I would tell her. I would tell Aunt Kimchi all of the real reasons why we couldn’t attend the service. Gosh, if her eyes start to tear, my heart will break :(.

- Jess

1 comment:

  1. That would be such an awkward situation - they mean so well. I hope that it all worked out OK.