Sunday, July 7, 2019

Rolling Kimbap, Rolling Friendships

By Mavic Mercene
Office Staff, CLM - Philippines

After weeks of coaxing, Sun Hee Kim finally gave in and showed us how to make kimbap or the Korean seaweed rolled rice. Kimbap is a very special dish for me because it symbolizes the friends I made among the Korean LMs who were assigned in the Philippines since I came to work with the Columban Lay Missionaries (CLM) 27 years ago.  Many of these Korean friends are no longer here in the Philippines. Some left the CLM, others are now in other Columban Region/Mission Units, and still others are gone forever. Two persons who come to mind instantly when I hear the word kimbap are Columba Chang and Kyung Ja Lee.

Columba was one of the first Korean LMs I met in 1992. And she was one of those who used to prepare this great food.  She used to make these tasty creations for her “baon” to Payatas where she worked then. One occasion when she made these delicious food was for our summer outing.  I still vividly remember how, during that outing, we picked a special place in the park, spread our picnic blanket and carefully brought out our “baon” for lunch. Steamed white rice was out. The chicken adobo’s smell was so inviting. The bicol express looked sinful and we were ready to commit some diet sins. Columba slowly opened a plastic container full of carefully lined kimbap which she personally prepared, with the sesame oil teasing everyone’s palate. After we said the grace before meal, we readied our spoon, fork and chopstick to get our first pick of the food before us. Funny that almost every one dove in their fork and chopstick first to where the kimbap was. We all laughed. Then silence engulfed us. Lunch was gone instantly.  I thank Eun Yeal  for this beautiful memory.  And as I recall this beautiful memory, I also reminisce with joy and thank God for Eun Yeal’s friendship and for the many years she served in my beloved Philippines.

The second person who comes to mind is Kyung Ja Lee.  Kyung Ja came to the Philippines in 2000. I remember sharing this great food with her on many occasions.   Four months in 2011, I had the privilege of closely working with her when she became the contact person for CLM Philippines. It was during this time that I became close and personal with her. On regular occasions during those four months, we would share our deepest thoughts and prayers, fears and aspirations, challenges and joys, laughter and tears, rejections and unexpected welcomes. That time, she was also being groomed to coordinate the CLM in Korea. She was not ready and not so happy to leave the country she has called home for the past ten years then. But commitment was calling her, and she heeded the call. In 2017, six years since she returned to Korea, she came back to Manila for the CLM international meeting. I was very happy to see her.  She was also happy to be back and during her short time here, she purposely re-visited the places where she was assigned. At first, she was anxious to visit her former parishes fearing that nobody would remember her.  She was wrong. Not only was she remembered but many expressed that she was missed.  Many came to see her and thanked her for her help. Because of her, their lives are better and future brighter.  I am sure that Kyung Ja will continue to spread her love and friendship to the migrants and asylum seekers in Ireland where she works now.  Kyung Ja will always have a special spot in my heart.

Now, I believe that Sun Hee too has made a special mark not only in my heart, but to two other staff members in the Columban Lay Mission House.  Thank you Sun Hee for sharing  your love for food to us. Though quiet most of the time, your ready smile is always a welcome sight, your presence always a joy. We have not only rolled these seaweed rice to celebrate life but by our joyful rolling of these tasty creations, I feel that friendship has been bonded big time.

L-R: Columban Chang, Kyung Ja Lee, Sunhee Kim

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