Hospitality with Gratitude

A Letter from Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee, serving in Korea

Fall 2022

Write to Kurt Esslinger
Write to Hyeyoung Lee
Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee’s ministry 
Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee’s ministry
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

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Dear friends,

Greetings from Philadelphia. Our family landed in Philadelphia on June 28, 2022, to start our Interpretation Assignment (IA) for the next six months. It always takes us time to transition back to the U.S., settling in and adjusting to our new temporary home. We found a wonderful community that welcomed us and provides housing with affordable rent for six months, which made our transition much smoother. We are staying at Rydal Park Senior Community Housing in a nice apartment. We will be engaging with residents here from time to time to provide some educational programs and share our ministries. We had a “meet and greet” time with the residents early in our stay where we met residents who were very curious about who we were and what we were doing. During the event, we met one of the residents whose grandfather served as a missionary in Korea beginning in 1916. He shared his memories of his grandfather as well as his mom who grew up in Korea. He even brought us a book that his grandfather wrote about Korea. What a wonderful connection we made in this community! In addition, our neighbor named Barbara always stops to make a conversation with us and check on how we are doing. Although it took us some time to adjust to the time difference, in the beginning, it has been a pretty smooth transition back to the U.S. because of this welcoming community.

Hyeyong preaching at a UCC church

After a few weeks of adjustment, we started our Interpretation Assignment. In July, we were able to visit two United Church of Canada (UCC) congregations, one of our partner denominations, where we offered sermons on our ministry in Korea. Hyeyoung preached at Trinity United Church of Thorold, Canada, while Kurt preached at St. Davids-Queenston United Church. In Korea, we work closely with UCC ecumenical co-workers and have made meaningful partnerships with them. It was a great honor to be invited to UCC local churches to meet congregations and share our stories. They welcomed us with curiosity and hospitality. In our sermon, we were able to talk about our journey with church partners who are working tirelessly for peace and reconciliation in Korea. We look forward to traveling to other parts of the US to share the stories that we brought from Korea with our fellow PC(USA) congregations as well.

The YAVs who served in Korea in 2021-22 completed their assignment and have now returned to their homes. As they are transitioning back to the U.S. and thinking of the next steps in their lives having had a meaningful and rich experience in Korea, please pray for their smooth transition. Our son, Sahn, is adjusting to life in the U.S. and is preparing for a semester of school in the Abington, Pennsylvania school district. We have registered him to enter the third grade, and we are looking forward to the rich experience he will have, complementing his Korean education with a fall semester in a U.S. elementary school. To ease him into a U.S. school environment he attended a day camp for a week at Carson Simpson Farms in another nearby suburb outside Philadelphia. Every day he said he had a wonderful time swimming, playing games, and meeting other children. We expect him to adjust to a U.S. school without much trouble.

Kurt with a UCC pastor

Kurt attended the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany in the first two weeks of September. He assisted the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) with a workshop they led on the Korea Peace Appeal, a campaign the NCCK is hoping will help end the Korean War. He also helped to coordinate a gathering of the Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK) international participants just after the WCC Assembly concluded. They discussed the prospects for humanitarian cooperation with North Korea around the ongoing pandemic and its effects on the Northeast Asia region.

Being sojourners for six months means you need to learn how to accept hospitality with gratitude. This reminds me of Young Adult Volunteers coming to Korea to be hosted by Korean people. They had shared their feelings of being a little uncomfortable when they were constantly cared for. However, they also quickly learned to accept the fact that they need help from Koreans because they did not know how to speak Korean, and they had little knowledge about Korean culture and customs. So, we learn to accept hospitality with gratitude reminding us that we will do that same thing for people who are strangers in our lives. As people who have experienced receiving radical hospitality in our lives, we cannot help but reflect on how we can share our hospitality with others who might feel alienated in this society. We are grateful for friends, families and partners who offer places to stay, delicious food to share and listening ears to hear our stories.

We want to thank you for your continued support, and we would be happy to find a way to connect with you while we are here in the U.S. Our calendar for travel is filling up quickly, but we are also available to meet you for video conferences online. It will especially be easier for us now that we are living in a U.S. time zone through January 2023. Your support through prayers and donations has been so helpful to us, and we would love to share with you more stories of the work that you have been supporting along with our partners in Korea.

With Love and Peace,

Hyeyoung and Kurt

Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:

Dear Partners in God’s Mission,

What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.

We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.

We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:

Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.

Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).

Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit to search by last name.

Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).




Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give, please visit

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

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