Jim Spendlove
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It’s more than 20 years since Jiyoung and Seunggon decided to pull up stakes and move from their home in Seoul, South Korea, to Ottawa where Seunggon would attend graduate school at Carleton University. Seunggon wasn’t your typical student…he already had 10-plus years’ experience as an engineer in Korea. It was while he was working on his Master’s degree here that he was offered an engineering job that was too good to pass up. Today he’s a computer hardware engineer at Microchip Technology in Kanata, “a leading provider of smart, connected and secure embedded control solutions.” (say that three times really fast!).   

It wasn’t only for education they came to Canada. They wanted their children, Samuel and Angela, to have the opportunity to broaden their horizons …to experience another country and culture. And so, the family settled in Waterloo in 2007 where Jiyoung attended the University of Waterloo for her BSc degree and Conestoga College in the Hearing Instrument Specialist Program.    

It hasn’t always been an easy road. Seunggon worked in Ottawa for several years while Jiyoung and the children remained in Waterloo - until Sam and Angela were heading off to school themselves at the University of Toronto. It was only then Jiyoung and Seunggon were both able to move to Ottawa for good.  

Like many others, Jiyoung has had trouble finding a job in her profession, and rather than sit around the house, she applied for and was hired as a server at a large Asian restaurant in Kanata.  

“Although it’s not in my chosen field, I like it because I meet many people and I enjoy chatting with them at the restaurant.”  

Of course, the current pandemic has put her work there on hold for the time being.  

Jiyoung and Seunggon attended Knox Church in Waterloo when they moved there in 2007 and it was this church relationship which encouraged them to come to Knox Ottawa: first Seunggon in 2012, and then Jiyoung in 2016 when she joined her husband here permanently. They tried out a few other churches before deciding that Knox was where they belonged. They have been regular attendees ever since.      

The couple recently took it upon themselves to support Knox’s coffee hour convener who was strapped for volunteers to assist at the post-service coffee hour. It’s a small but important contribution to the weekly life of Knox and Jiyoung and Seunggon were there to offer assistance.   

Seunggon also volunteers as a dish washer at Out of The Cold with Jiyoung joining him on Team Two last year.  

The couple still has many friends and family back in Korea. Jiyoung says there have been a lot more phone calls and video sessions in the last few months than in the past.  

“It is difficult with my parents aging and being so far away, although I do my best to get back to see them every year or two.”   Unfortunately, a visit to Korea may not be in the cards for 2020.   Jiyoung says what she misses most about being cooped up during this pandemic is going to the gym for her yoga classes.   

“I love going to the gym and can’t wait to get back to it… I also miss the freedom to go shopping or just have lunch with friends.”   She says she and her husband are watching a lot more movies and getting out for walks now that nicer weather has arrived.  

“Most of all, we miss seeing our kids who are both still in Toronto.”  

There’s one unique aspect to Jiyoung’s routine these days:  she keeps herself grounded by copying Bible verses.   

“Copying and memorizing Bible verses are popular ways to practice devotional time among many Korean Christians,” Jiyoung says.  

“I find this is one way to deepen my faith in daily life. And copying down the Bible books gives me a different feeling and different Grace, even though I may have read a section many times before. Especially at this time, I copy the verses with my children foremost in my mind.”   And, of course, Jiyoung is able to copy the texts in both Korean and English.  

“When you read the Bible, one can easily skip over a word or phrase, but when you copy them down, you can find a meaning you may have missed in a simple reading of the words.”    

It seems a very personal way to put time to use and more importantly, for Jiyoung to keep her Church and her beliefs close by.  

We’re fortunate to have people like Jiyoung and Seunggon and their family adding to the long history of people reading the Bible to learn about Jesus and ‘live our lives as he teaches us’.