Eugene Cho

out of the comfort zone

The Seattle Times published an inspiring article entitled, Out of the Comfort Zone, as its feature article in today’s Sunday Pacific Northwest Magazine.  It’s written by Paula Bock who has traveled/vacationed with her husband [and now daughter] to the Thai-Burma border annually since 1996.  During their trips, they volunteer with the refugees on the border.  In her words:

Volunteering on the Thai-Burma border for a dozen years has changed me.  I’m humbled and inspired by friends who’ve had everything ripped away – famimlies, home, jobs, safety – and still care about others.  They connect me to the rest of the world, help me see behind horrible headlines.  Back in Seattle, I relive certain moments, a dusty afternoon, the smile of a child recovering from fever.  I feel human.  My life is not only about me. 

I enjoyed the article not only because I personally trekked out to the Thai-Burma border last year but because I love the premise of traveling [even on vacations] with a sense of purpose.  Here’s another excerpt:

A reminder that helping is complex. Over time, you make mistakes; you learn. You learn to provide what’s really needed, not just what you want to give. You learn fulfillment can’t come solely from checking off items on a do-good list.

What if you help rebuild a library in a refugee camp that was burned to the ground — and it all gets torched again? Do you erase the check mark? Abandon your altruistic agenda? Spend your next holiday on a Maui beach? (Tried that, felt hollow, sat by pool with computer plotting next volunteer visit.)

You learn to find joy in the unexpected. Stray moments. Momentous events. [read full article]

My trip to the Thai-Burma border and into one of the Karen villages was eye and heart opening.  I only regretted not being able to travel with my wife which is the reason why we are making plans to travel “out of our comfort zone” this upcoming summer for our 3 month sabbatical.  Our family, including our three kids, hope to travel to couple destinations to remind ourselves

  • that we live in a larger world
  • that we are connected to others
  • the way that we live is not normal
  • and much has been given to us and much is to be expected.

Filed under: family, seattle, travel

3 Responses

  1. d says:

    PE, if Quest ever put together a team to go, I would be your volunteer from la…

  2. e cho says:

    d:

    we sent a team last summer to the thai-burma border. the team also crossed the river into burma as well and visited some of the refugee camps. when u work in that area, it seems like most people know of each other. we’re hoping to permanently sent someone that has a heart to work in the area in the future.

  3. d says:

    Oh wow, that is so awesome. I wonder where I could find resources on organizations that send teams there…?

    d

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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