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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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. 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.

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