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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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

Be faithful.

PS: Also, it helps to get some Vitamin D especially if you live in the rainy Northwest Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

Did you know that every year of secondary school increases a girl’s future earning power by 20 percent.

Did you know that if all girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia had a secondary education, child marriage would fall by 64 percent.

We can't change the entire world but we can impact the lives of one, few, and in some cases...many.

#jeremylin #jlin #linsanity #onedayswages Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism.

Know who you are.
Know what you're about.
Know WHO you serve.

The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on.

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