The Words of the Choi Family

Report and Reflection

Joni Choi
March 12, 2005
Couple Mentoring 1-day seminar


In February, Jim Stephens received an email from a concerned parent of one of the newly Blessed couples (Dec. 26, 2004) inquiring about any initiatives to support the newly Blessed couples. He forwarded this email to Alan Saunders and Joni Choi asking us to explore the idea of couple mentoring, which had been previously talked about on numerous occasions.

Joni Choi spoke with the InSoo Kim and InGuk Seo at the 2nd Generation Department and received permission to go ahead with a program in March. Joni Choi, Alan and June Saunders, and John Williams met to discuss the program and related topics. Both Rev. Kim (NJ) and Rev. Lee (WestRock) were contacted by InGuk Seo and Joni Choi and informed of the intended program. Rev. Lee requested that we work in conjunction with the WestRock Marriage and Family committee (Rev. Andrew Compton, Phyllis Kim, Lynn Walsh, Debby Gullery, Cynthia Shibuya). (Initial communication was with Rev. Andrew Compton, as Phyllis Kim, WestRock Family Minister was out of the country.) Naokimi Ushiroda volunteered to handle logistics.

The target audience was primarily newly Blessed couples, elder 2nd generation couples, and interested 1st generation couples. Potential participants were contacted via email, flyers, and announcements at local services. Each person was charged $20, couples were charged $30 (fee included lunch and baby-sitting service). The program was held March 12, 2005, 10:00am - 4:00pm.

Approximately 50 people attended (including staff and observers). The audience was comprised of one-third 1st generation, two-thirds 2nd generation (of which approx. 10 were newly Blessed).

Theme and Goals:

In the past, the Blessing has been seen as the final "leap" of faith for Second Generation. There have been very few programs and little done to support newly Blessed couples. The couple mentoring program is an informal program designed to match up "elder" 2nd gen. and 1st gen. couples with new and recently Blessed couples. These elder couples would act as older brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles to the new couples, offering them support and guidance. The goal of this seminar was introduce the concept of couple mentoring as a means of support and community building among older and younger couples, and to get feedback regarding concerns and questions. The theme of this seminar was Community Building Through Couple Mentoring: Introducing the Couple Mentoring Concept.

We hoped to achieve the following:

  1. Give an overview of the concept of couple mentoring.
  2. Provide practical skills and methods to deal with common difficulties that face mentors such as dealing with gender differences and conflict resolution/communication skills.
  3. Provide an opportunity for newly Blessed couples to meet and interact with elder couples who want to mentor.
  4. Identify questions and concerns regarding the mentoring concept.

Program and Schedule:

The planned schedule was as follows:

10:00am Welcoming remarks and opening prayer by Phyllis Kim

10:15am Vision of the Mentoring Program by Joni Choi

10:45am Introduction of elder couples who want to mentor

11:15am Coffee break and mingling

11:30am Overview of Couple Mentoring by John Williams

12:15pm Discussion groups

12:30pm Lunch and discussion by Blessing category (new, recent, elder, and 1st gen.)

1:30pm Communication Skills for Mentoring by Debbie Gullery

2:15pm Interactive exercise (speaker/listener method)

2:30pm Coffee Break

2:45pm Mentoring and Male/Female differences by Alan Saunders

3:30pm Interactive exercises, question, answer period

3:45pm Closing remarks. Reflections.

4:00pm Conclusion, closing prayer

Due to bad weather in the morning, the program was initially delayed. This cut out the first discussion time during John Williamsí presentation. Also due to an extended lunch and interactive exercises during Debby Gulleryís presentations, we were unable to include the final question/answer/discussion time after Alan Saunders presentation. The program ended around 4:30pm.

During lunch, participants broke off in to groups, discussed top 5 concerns or comments, and presented these points at the end of lunch. The top concerns/comments for each group were:

1st generation

Newly Blessed 2nd gen.

Recently Blessed 2nd gen.

Elder Blessed 2nd gen.

Personal Thoughts

Good points:

The program was advertised as a broad introduction to a previously unknown concept as well as an opportunity for couples to meet each other. The overall spirit and enthusiasm about the mentoring idea was extremely positive. Because the seminar was only advertised widely 2 weeks in advance, we were pleased by the turnout. We were able to gather a well-rounded group of 1st and 2nd new, recent, and elder Blessed couples. Participants enjoyed the warm atmosphere, clear and practical presentations, and meeting other Blessed couples. I believe, for introducing the mentor program, this was a very good start. Even though the program was not perfect, just starting it was important.

Bad points:

The seminar was too lecture based and didnít have enough discussion. This was even more so after discussion time was cut out due to the weather delay and extended lectures. While the broad range of participants was good, it all meant that certain content spoke more strongly to some than others.

Suggestion for future seminars and the mentoring program in general

Other concerns

It was brought to our attention that some regional leaders felt they were not clearly communicated to about this program. Although initiated by the 2nd Gen. Dept. and the Blessed Family Dept., we want this program to be continued as a joint project with the NJ, CT, and West/Rock (NY) regions. This will require better communication between the 2nd Gen. Department, regional leaders, and each regionís marriage and family committee.

Action Points

  1. Create matching system or method and guidelines for mentor couples.
  2. Identify mentors for pilot program.
  3. Plan a program for this spring (late-April, May) that will provide more training and workshopping for mentors. Invite newly blessed couples to hear testimonies and get matched with mentor couples.
  4. Create a survey to see how we can better meet the needs of the newly Blessed couples.
  5. Organize informal gatherings for couples to meet each other.
  6. Invite mentor couples to other marriage enrichment programs.

Please see attached reflections. Many of the elder 2nd gen were not able to stay until the end of the program, so most of the reflections are by new or recently Blessed couples.

Reflections for Couple Mentoring Seminar (3/12/05)

  1. Talking to other couples was a really good experience. The mentoring idea is very good.
  2. Too much sitting time. Many of the elder brothers and sisters left the room after a while. It didnít seem that they were so interested in this workshop.
  3. We need more one-on-one time with older couples. Maybe have small discussion groups that are mixed. We could form trinities-one older couple, middle couple

and new couple. Make sure there is enough food.


  1. I felt that the workshop was a real good opportunity to gather my thoughts and feelings. I found some answers that have been evading me and questions that I felt could not be answered. Great speeches, and the speaker and listening technique really worked.
  1. A lot of the content is what I have heard already many times. This is good, however I would like to learn specific steps to take in helping couples with specific problems. I know that may be difficult. Anyway, it was very nice seeing so many 2nd gen couples here. How are we going to do couple pairing? Itís difficult to say "this is what I ordered" or "this is what I can give." Definitely more testimonies
  1. What I liked is to see people there and seeing newly Blessed people and seeing them trying to improve their lives.
  2. What I donít like: No clear resolution or future activities decided.
  3. What I think you can improve: Build up the blue print and move on to action steps.
  1. More testimony, less on how to be a mentor/mentoring. More on how to make relationships work. Maybe we could have gotten intro individual girl/guy groups and just talked about things. More discussion on personal issues.
  2. The pizza was yummy.
  3. I would like personal testimonies on problems and how they were overcome. Some time to discuss with older couples problems faced by younger ones.

I liked:


-Group discussion

-Food! (But there wasnít enough)

I Disliked:

-Long lectures

-Lack of interactive activities (panel discussions)

-Lack of fun activities (ice breakers)

-John Williams

I think this could be improved if the content were either completely geared towards 2nd Gen or towards 1st gen & older couples. I donít think this workshop related so much to what Iíve been going through.

It is good and challenging to attempt to have this program. The first presentation was very helpful to clarify the meaning of mentoring.

2nd and 3rd presentations focused on the relationship building between couples. This seminar could be separate from this seminar. There should be clear goal regarding what to achieve this seminar. It was better to stick with the theme expressed in the first lecture.

The organizational and structural development for mentoring should be the next step. The leadership of WestRock family church needs to endorse the idea and the program and create organization to make this program to be implemented. There are many public funded Mentoring leadership educations are available. Church leadership should send the organization body to get education and build structure to develop program.

Very good lectures, especially the 1st one on mentoring. Very good technique: the "speaker/listener" Canít wait to put into practice. Good effort to bring couples together. Indeed the blessing is not the end, always this expectation that couples have to resolve their problems by themselves.

I really wish that this kind of effort will bring the rate of successes of the blessing to 100%. Thank you.

Good things:

-The presentations went really well. I liked how many things were discussed in a friendly non-judgmental way. I liked how this program focused on how to develop a better relationship with your spouse and other people.

-I feel like I was able to learn more of my views and what I need to help my spouse and me through.

-I liked how the older 2nd gen. or 1st gen helped recommend different methods on how to develop a relationship.

-Everyone was really nice and it had a warm feeling to it.

Bad things:

-I found it hard to do the speaker/listener point because as a newly blessed couple, I canít see how it can be done in a way that newly blessed couples can do it. Because we are very sensitive at this moment. And I also feel that issues between some might be too hard to handle at this point in time.

-The program focused a lot on the mentoring like how to be a mentor rather than giving people mentors.

-I thought it was supposed to focus more on helping the newly blessed couples overcome with a mentor helping them.

Overall it was good for a first time.

Liked: Getting to meet more couples, elder couples. Feeling a sense of community, someone cares for us and there is help if you need it.

Didnít like: Some of it was very formal. I know there are advantages to structure but in my mind, mentoring should be a natural thing. Not all those steps shown.

Like to see in future: I think the location is ideal. For all people coming from NY, NJ, CT. I came from Bridgeport, and its 1 hr to get here and Iím worried I wonít be able to come to future events if they are in NJ or somewhere further.

I came late during lunch. But what I heard, I thought was great. Especially:

1.Speaking and listening techniques that avoid arguments.

2.The concept of empathic listening. This is an amazingly intriguing and helpful topic that is relevant in all aspects of life.

One suggestion I would make that intrigues me further is how I have come to learn that an expanded and applied use of the 4 realms of heart encompasses much many of the ideas that I heard. The 4RH are not usually taught in a way that emphasizes todayís points. But they could.

Also, this emphasis may help people connect all these skills more intimately to TPís and Godís word and make their faith more useful in their life.

    1. Itís nice to be with mixed generations 1st/2nd gen. (older) and 2nd gen (younger) but with one focus. How can we help the young 2nd gen (present and future) collectively as parents, aunts and uncles, and brothers and sisters. John Williamís lecture about what mentoring is all about is very helpful. Alan Saunderís presentation gave a general overall basics of men and women relationships but also added the spiritual aspect pertaining to our spiritual life of faith (which is often lacking in these kinds of programs).
    2. There wasnít enough interaction between the older 2nd gen and the younger 2nd gen. Too much emphasis on marriage communication skills for this purpose today.

This was a very good meeting / beginning for something that I hope will be another successful step toward building a truly restored / new community and world. Thank you for putting this together. I look forward to participating in the future and working as a mentor couple.

I canít find anything wrong with this program today.

I really enjoyed the talks given by John Williams and Debby Gullery, especially the "floor" communication method.

I didnít understand what mentoring programs might come out of this.

I think next time, more time should be spent exercising techniques and talking in groups.

Good: Pizza, Presentations (John/Allan)

Bad: Too cold/ Presentation (2nd one)

Improvement: Nope!

I liked the group sessions.

I liked the "floor" meeting with the assistance of professionals.

I liked John Williamís talk. Laughter is always great.

I didnít like the lecture by Alan Saunders, it was too much of a lecture, and he assumed and put words in to the mouths of us all.

It was too cold.

I want to see more group discussions and a longer workshop.

  1. I really enjoyed the real life examples of how people in real life do have communication problems because I realized that at some point, it was a reflection of our relationship as a couple.
  2. I also enjoyed the format of the presentations. It was simple and clear to understand. The group discussions were VERY HELPFUL.

  3. I thought there were too many lectures towards the end. It seemed we heard the same thing over again.
  4. Instead of having many lectures (in Timewise) we could have one to one talks with the mentors. Also I would have wanted to hear testimonies from our 1st or even 2nd gen. about their struggles and overcomings.


-good speakers, clear

-useful content

-atmosphere, very supportive

-good food

-excellent advice and practices


-we need more relevant content to newly blessed couples

-more discussions on personal issues

-more personal testimonies

-I feel as a newly blessed couple that content was a little too advanced for my position. Didnít gain as much as I expected.

  1. Good content, comforting and informative.
  2. Nothing much was bad; more food next time?
  3. Maybe more time to go through the topics, in a modular fashion, because there were more specific things I would have liked to hear as opposed to other things. (Allowing participants to choose what they want/need to hear). Maybe this time was more of a beginning and introduction to the concept of mentoring.

Good points:

-It was very warm (heart-wise, not temp-wise, haha)

-Helpful presentations

-interaction was good

-liked that it wasnít too formal

-good food (esp. fruit!)

Bad (?)

-Would have liked testimonies/personal things to relate to

-Made marriage seem so technical? I dunno, it was okay though.

-Too much centered on mentors

-was a bit advanced for those who just got blessedówe are still trying to love the person as a human being J .

Thank you for organizing this. Have an awesome life, day, night!


  1. I really want to thank to all the people who prepared this program. I learned the importance of communication.
  2. However, I want to hear more about our story. For example, I want to see our 2nd gen.ís difficulty in communication.
  3. Another thing, we need more discussion time and group meeting instead of lectures. Through this program, we can find more about what we need.

About communication skills, I think we need to learn another kind of communication skills, such as True Parentís way of communication, or oriental style of listening and speaking. (I believe that is pretty different).

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