Mi Sook tossed her long black braid across her shoulder. Slipping out of her shoes, she yanked open the front door to her apartment. “Mama, I’m home!”
The stifling Korean summer heat followed her into the apartment. A battered fan purred in a corner. Grandmama sat in front of it, her eyes closed as she nodded in the heat.
“I’m glad you’re home,” Mi Sook’s mother said as she came from behind the paper screen that divided their one room from the nook that was the kitchen. “Grandmama isn’t feeling well in this heat, so you must help me with dinner. Please go to the roof and bring down some kimchi (spiced, pickled vegetables).”
Mi Sook sighed. It’s so hot on the roof! she thought, wiping her brow. But heat makes the kimchi ripe. She licked her lips, anxious for dinner.
The hall was deserted as she climbed the stairs to the roof. Waves of heat rippled the moist air. Mi Sook loved Seoul, especially the way it looked from the roof. Encircled by mountains, its buildings and markets created an ocean of color.
She found her family’s kimchi pot sweltering with others in a corner. Prying open the lid, she breathed in the tangy scent.
“Hello, Mi Sook. It looks like you’re getting ready for dinner.”
Mi Sook started, looking up. A pair of wide blue eyes smiled down at her. “Sister Miller! I didn’t see you there!”
Sister Miller stepped forward toward the kimchi pot. Her nose wrinkled as she bent down and took a sniff, then her blue eyes turned watery. Mi Sook smiled. She wasn’t sure the missionary liked what she smelled.
“It is hot on the roof!” Mi Sook scooped kimchi into the pot her mother had sent with her. “Why do you stand up here?”
“I’m waiting for a friend,” Sister Miller said, running a hand through her damp hair. Drops of sweat beaded her brow. “I have to wave at her when she gets off the bus so that she can see where we live. We’re teaching her about our church, and she’s coming to dinner and for family home evening tonight.”
Mi Sook watched the sun inch toward the western horizon. “Family home evening? What’s that?”
Sister Miller’s eyes brightened. “Family home evening is a wonderful thing, Mi Sook. Heavenly Father knows how important families are, so He has told us to put aside one night each week for our families to be together. It’s a time to learn about the gospel, play games, laugh, and even have refreshments!”
Mi Sook smiled. She didn’t know much about the gospel Sister Miller always talked about, or about the church she loved, but Mi Sook thought the idea of spending time like that with her family was great. “Family home evening sounds nice, Sister Miller.”
Sister Miller nodded. “It is, Mi Sook.” Then she grinned. “How would you like to join us tonight for family home evening?”
A city bus rattled to a stop below them. People poured out as Sister Miller craned her neck, then waved at a young woman who looked up from the crowd.
“I’ll ask my mother,” Mi Sook said as she headed toward the stairway with her kimchi. “I’d like to learn more about this family home evening!”
That night, Mi Sook could hardly finish her dinner. She gulped down her rice and kimchi, then hurried to help her mother clean up the dishes.
Grandmama smiled when Mother told her that Mi Sook was going to the missionaries’ apartment for a party. “How nice,” Grandmama whispered, nodding her head. “Those missionaries are happy girls.”
Mi Sook enjoyed family home evening that night. Sister Miller and Sister Chadwick sang songs, showing Mi Sook and their friend how to read the music in an English hymnbook. The missionaries told a flannel-board story about a young man named Joseph who became a prophet. Mi Sook was excited, she’d never heard such a story before.
Sister Miller told them how important families were. “Heavenly Father wants all families to be together forever,” she said. Then the sisters sang another song, one about families being together. Mi Sook didn’t understand all the English words, but her heart was happy.
“Here, Mi Sook,” Sister Chadwick said after the closing prayer, “have a brownie. I made them this afternoon with the chocolate my mother sent me from home!”
Mi Sook smiled as the dark, sugary brownie flooded her mouth. Its sweetness overwhelmed her. She couldn’t take another bite.
“It’s a little sweet isn’t it?” Sister Chadwick looked at her and laughed. “I guess you’re not used to sugar, as we are. Why don’t you wrap it up in this napkin and take the rest home.”
Mi Sook smiled. “I may not be used to your brownies,” she said, “but I like your family home evening very much. It makes me feel good inside. And happy, like you. Thank you for inviting me tonight.”
As Mi Sook walked toward the door, she noticed pictures of the missionaries’ families sitting on a small table. She looked at a picture of Sister Miller with her family. “Will my family be together forever?” Mi Sook asked.
“They certainly can be, Mi Sook,” Sister Miller replied, wrapping her arm around Mi Sook’s shoulder.
“And the story you told tonight, about the boy Joseph—that’s an important story isn’t it?”
Sister Miller nodded.
Mi Sook smiled as she opened the door and slipped into her shoes. “I thought so. And family home evening is important too. May I bring Mother and Grandmama to family home evening next week?”
“We’d love to have all of you come,” Sister Miller and Sister Chadwick both told her.
Mi Sook smiled as she walked down the hall. She was sure that Mother and Grandmama would enjoy family home evening and learning about being a forever family.