Eugene Cho

where is home?

Where is home for you?  Where is your heart home?  Let me explain.

After leaving Korea at age six and immigrating to the United States, I’ve often wrestled with the idea of “home.”

Growing up in San Francisco, I was often ridiculed and found myself in my share of fights – and usually on the losing end.  One comment I often heard was:

“Why don’t you go back home, Chink.  Go back where you came from.”

And so when I grew up, I did exactly that.  I returned to Korea and interestingly, couple people said to me:

“Go back home.  Go back where you came from.”

Huh?  That was really confusing.

Ultimately, it helped me to embrace the biblical truth that our citizenship and our home is with the Kingdom of God.

But nevertheless, I still am fascinated over the idea of “the home” that speaks to our heart.  I have lived [3 months+] at one point or another in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Davis [CA], Sacramento, Princeton, New York, Seoul, and Seattle.

Seattle is clearly home for us now.  We’ve been proudly living there since 1997. In fact, I’m already looking forward to the end of August when we’ll return to Seattle. 

But there’s also something very deep about being in Korea.  And the only way I can describe it is that while Seattle is home, Korea is home that speaks to my heart.  The Korean word for this is “Go-Hyang” or “hometown” in English.  I prefer to translate this to “Heart Home.”  This is the only explanation I can think of that explains why I still cry when I fly into Korea and why I often get emotional as I walk around Seoul – capturing the sounds of people, life, activity, business…capturing sounds and visions of its beauty and depravity. 

Question: Where is home now?  And where is your “heart home?”  Why?

Filed under: family, travel

30 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    Home is Arizona. But as for my heart home, I’d say New York City.

  2. Home right now is York, UK, and its still York, UK no matter where I go. I will be coming home here forever at this rate!

  3. ripplegirl says:

    I think home will always be very the family is and where love is. I have lived abroad and in different cities but home still feels like where I grew up, where my parents and my siblings are. Maybe because I don’t have my ‘own’ family yet.

  4. Beth says:

    I agree with ripplegirl. I live in chicago now but “heart home” is where my parents and family live which is…Chicago.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I think Seattle will always be home for me. Born and bred here, and I love it. I love traveling and am willing to go wherever God sends me, but there is a special feeling when I touch down at Sea Tac. I felt it driving back from my road trip early early this morning, crossing the state line. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face when I read the sign that said “Welcome to Washington”.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I think Seattle will always be home for me. Born and bred here, and I love it. I love traveling and am willing to go wherever God sends me, but there is a special feeling when I touch down at Sea Tac. I felt it driving back from my road trip early early this morning, crossing the state line. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face when I read the sign that said “Welcome to Washington”.

  7. Jenny says:

    I am a fairly new reader to your blog, in fact, a newbie to the entire world of blogging. God has used your blogs, especially in the past week or so, to encourage my heart in the midst of some tough times. Thank you for being willing to be used by Him.

    Home. Right now that is physically Lynden, WA. But I’ve been spending a lot of time in Mexico the last few years, working with (now) friends, sharing the love of Jesus, and finding ways to make life a little less difficult for people there. As I left there in March, I wrote in my blog, “What is it about Vicente Guerrero, and the people in Mexico, that leave me feeling like I just left home rather than am going home?” I am not Hispanic, but apparently a good part of my heart is.

    Thanks for leading me to think on these things this morning. Thanks for blogging. And encouraging. I hope your time in Korea, your heart home, is wonderful. I am hoping to attend Quest church next month when my husband and I are in Seattle for a weekend.

  8. Tyler says:

    Portland, OR is home now. Salem, OR is home where the heart is. That is where family is.

  9. Shaun King says:

    Born and raised in Versailles, KY and think of it as home in many ways, but I have lived in Atlanta since I moved here as a 17 year old to go to Morehouse College. I became a man here, got married here, have raised my family here.

    I think I have 2 homes.

    -Shaun

  10. Jan Owen says:

    I think I can understand your feelings. I live in the big city of Huntsville, Alabama now (this is huge compared to where I grew up) but grew up out in the country. Huntsville feels like home, but when I go to the country, particularly around Oakman, Alabama where my grandparent’s home is, I feel the deepest sense of my heart being at home. I guess I’m a country girl at heart. My southern drawl becomes more pronounced, I enjoy walking the fields and garden, and driving those meandering back roads. I like stopping to get fresh veggies on the roadside and that everyone waves even if they don’t know you. I feel my southern roots much more deeply in the country and since I think they are somewhat defining for me that may be why I feel more at home. The same may be true for you – when you are in Korea you feel in touch with a deep part of yourself. Have a wonderful time. May God speak to you!

  11. My home once was my home-state of Jersey. Ever since moving to Tri-Cities, Washington, it has been a better home for me in the 3 yrs I lived here than Jersey every was prior to my move.

  12. Matt says:

    Great topic. I’ve lived (3+ months) in Fairbanks, AK; Del Rio, TX; Elkhart, IN; Mishawaka, IN; Winona Lake, IN; Lancaster, CA (North of LA); Redwood City, CA (SF Bay Area); and now Seattle for the summer. My family is moving to Houston, TX in August. Right now I feel a bit homeless. Certainly in transition shock. Our Houston move will be 3 major moves in 4 months for a family of 6. So I’m LONGING for home right now.

    I always thought my Bay Area home was forever and then we felt God calling us to a new setting for life and ministry. It’s been crazy since then. Right now I feel like my “heart home” is people, not a place. Wherever my wife and kids are, there is my home. That’s what we’ve been telling our kids during this transition, and it’s what’s keeping us together.

  13. Blondie67 says:

    Home is wherever I am that feels like I don’t feel the need to be anywhere else!

  14. jadeavinir says:

    Nice idea and nice concept. Us humans are funny that way, we like our comforts and stability.

    So my home is in South Africa and will always be close to my heart!

  15. Kacie says:

    I think it’s interesting that people who actually have a stable, single place that is home don’t seem to get that emotion about the topic. It’s those of us that don’t have one that get all emotional. My current grudging “home” is Dallas, TX. My heart is at home in Indonesia, though my skin-color means that Indonesia will never call me its own.

  16. insipid "g" says:

    it’s Juhl-lah-DO baby!!! 😉

  17. Davo says:

    I’m a missionary kid. Grew up in Prague, Czech Republic, and have lived in TN, MN, CA and IN.

    When people ask me where home is, I reword the question by saying “who home is.” For me the concept of home is more tied to intimate relationships than a geographical location.

    Where do I feel most at home? With the people I love, wherever they may be gathered.

  18. pjchris says:

    While my home is in the Seattle area and I love it here, I have to go back to Western Montana at least once a year. As I come over the Continental Divide on McDonald Pass and my feet touch that soil, my eyes fill with tears and I have to take in the soaring peaks and cliffs and that awesome Big Sky. I take deep gulps of that Rocky Mountain Juniper spiced air and walk down roads where you won’t see another soul for hours. It is balm for my soul.

  19. Matt says:

    Home is Baltimore, MD. born in korea, raised in elmhurst ny, & w caldwell nj, college in pittsburgh, pa. But home is Baltimore.

  20. Joonmo says:

    Home is my grandma’s house (now issaquah). That’s where I feel most safe and comfortable.

  21. This is something I have devoted a great deal of thought to. I’m a military brat and a missionary kid and so the concept of home for me is often translated to me as “the place where I have the 3 suitcases and 6 boxes that currently make up my earthly possessions.” I also define it as “Where the majority of my family is.” Family is a fluid concept for me, encompassing both my biological, extended, and spiritual families.

    Home now is Annapolis, MD where I’m putting myself through college. One set of grandparents live here and most of my stateside family is close enough to easily visit by car or metro.

    I loved how you distinguished home and “heart home,” my heart home is Foz do Iguacu, Parana, Brasil, because it’s the only place that I have lived in for over 5 years. I was there for almost 8 years and that is the longest I have ever spent in one place in my entire life. I loved the people, the culture, the food, and the awesome beauty of the place. I get all “weepy and emotional” (to use my little brother’s term) when I think about Foz or when I talk to friends back there. I’m where God needs me to be right now, but some times I just want SO much to go back to Foz.

    Thanks for posting. It was just what I needed today.

  22. Ben says:

    I immigrated to LA from Seoul in ’84. I was about 6 or 7. I have awesome memories going to kindergarten in Korea. I had a blast.

    I also had a blast in LA. I rarely got the racial treatment and my parents sent me back to Korea for a few summers growing up. I love Korea and the ROK FOOTBALL team is MY team.

    That’s just a manifestation of the love I have for my people and my culture. Korea #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. rantingraj says:

    I live in a big big clogged and crowded city in India, Mumbai but I am from different part of India, Bihar (its were Buddha was born and he achieved nirvana) when ever I have the chance I go there and it is my ‘go-hyang’ – heart home, your post brought back the memories of sounds, sights and smells in my hometown – Bihar…

  24. Leroy Glinchy says:

    I don’t know about you, but I’d probably cry if I went to Korea because of all the hot Kim Chee. Yum. It has to be some kind of drug because it so addictive.

  25. Jamie says:

    I call Auckland my home… I spent a over a decade of my life in Seoul, little over a decade in Auckland NZ growing up… now I am living my 4th year in Seattle…
    I had a wonderful experience when I felt a deep inner connection with the land while I was living in Auckland. I like Seattle a lot and I am happy here but I feel a small chunk of my heart missing whenever I think of home…

  26. Emily says:

    I’ve grown-up in Memphis and spent most of my life here. All of my family and most of my friends are here, so I suppose Memphis would be my heart home. BUT, we are moving next month to Seattle. (and plan to visit Quest asap) We’ll be there at least 6-7 years for my husband’s job, and it will be where we have and raise our kids. So I really hope Seattle will become somewhat of a heart home for us.

  27. boundbyfaith says:

    I’m with Bethany. Military Brat here. Home is something I’ve often struggled with. Homelife as a kid, was rough, so I often wanted to escape. It never felt right. After marriage, lfie was great and home was with my hubby. Work stress beat me down and after a while I realized, home IS where my heart is. And my heart wasn’t right. Right now, it’s back to where it should be. With Christ. My home is in heaven. I’m but soujourner on this planet. Dying to myself daily now.

  28. dashed says:

    I’m with Davo and Bethany – I was born and muchly raised outside of my passport country (the u.s.) and my family is scattered all over the world. I have left bits of my heart in nearly every place I’ve lived. Home is partly where I’ve lived, where family live, where my ancestors are from, wherever people I love are… and nowhere. I had a kind of silly revelation one day that I am 100% earthling, never been off the planet in this life. There is a funny bit of reassurance there, somewhere to belong completely. If I had a particular religious faith, I’m guessing that could be home, too – it sounds like it is for many of your readers. Seattle is home now, as much as it can be, and it has a big part of my heart, too.

  29. Carl says:

    Interesting…my experience was a bit different.

    In the States I got the “Go back home” statement.

    But when I went back to China, I got the “You should stay here, this is your home!”

    So ever since I’ve felt more Chinese than American.

  30. […] by Bethany Kesler in Writing. trackback Inspired by Eugene Cho’s post about home – found here and the fact that I have just moved for the tenth time total in the past four […]

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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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