Koreans Benefit from Community Life

Since coming to New Haven on August 3, South Koreans Chun Lee and Sook Yun, who is called Suzy, say they have discovered a transforming depth of community life at OMSC, an unexpected benefit that is vastly different from the fast-paced lifestyles and hectic apartment-living pace they keep when at home in Seoul.

“We never got very close to our neighbors (in Seoul), but we trust the residents at OMSC. We openly communicate our hearts and lives to them without much reservation. This is real community life,” says Chun, a researcher and assistant director of the Korea Research Institute for Mission (KRIM), a mission support organization in Seoul. He notes that “real community life” takes “more time to know people better” than they have had so far at the center.  

One of the highlights for Chun, Suzy, and their children, Gillian and Gwenue, has been the community dinners, including one held on January 14 in Great Commission Hall for which residents and staff prepared four or five different chicken dishes. The Lee family enjoyed the variety of chicken recipes and consider this a part of their cross-cultural learning. At the potluck dinners, he adds, “we have a wonderful chance to talk” with missionaries and church leaders from other countries about their varied ministries and the life lessons they bring.

Shortly after the family moved to Doane Hall and unpacked, they decided to attend the multicultural Church on the Rock, one of New Haven’s largest evangelical congregations. Co-pastors Todd and Leslie Foster, and others, have “treated us as old friends. That’s what we like,” Chun comments.

In keeping with their desire to experience other cultures, the Lee family visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during Thanksgiving week, learned about Amish culture, and even took a buggy ride. They also enjoyed a Christmas program at the famed Sight and Sound Theaters; the children especially appreciated seeing angels flying across the stage. The rural, slow-paced life they saw in Lancaster County, Chun says, “gave us a new feeling about America when compared to New Haven.”

It’s not all rest and relaxation for Chun, who keeps busy most days by researching the impact on Christian mission of globalization and urbanization and by completing other assignments for KRIM. Suzy and the children, by contrast, are enjoying an unbroken sabbatical, while Chun, who studied for a physics degree before deciding to pursue a theological degree at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada, sits at a computer for many hours. 

Suzy enjoys playing piano for most Tuesday and Thursday morning worship services. She learned to play piano at age seven with encouragement of her parents and today she most enjoys black gospel and jazz music. Educated in business and computer programming, she is interested in how the field of business can be applied to mission work.

Of all the study program seminars in which she has participated, Suzy most enjoyed “Culture, Values, and Worldview: Anthropology for Mission Practice,” taught in October by Dr. Darrell Whiteman, OMSC’s interim executive director, because the seminar opened her eyes to cross-cultural realities of contemporary ministry. Suzy and Chun are not missionaries, but are active ministry workers in their own culture of South Korea.

Since Gillian, 11, has an artistic inclination the family visited the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, in New Haven, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York.  

Her brother, Gwenue, 7, enjoys spending time with new friends he made at the Worthington Hooker School in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven.