Eugene Cho

falling in love with nebraska

As I shared earlier, I spent about 8 days in the middle of nowhere recently to cap my sabbatical.  Where did I go?  Because of some connections with friends, I retreated in a small town you’ve never heard of in Central Nebraska.  Yes, you read that correctly…Nebraska.  And after my visit, I think I fell in love with Nebraska [check out the pics below].

The population of the town was 302 people according to some townspeople.  According to their census, Asians comprise .24% of town’s 302 people.  The closest market is 25 miles away.  And because my cellphone wasn’t working in that part of the country, I found myself completely disconnected: no TV, radio, internet, and personal phone access.  The first few days were incredibly difficult but after the 3rd day, it felt so refreshing to be disconnected – even while financial institutions were crumbling last week.  Perhaps, it was good that I had no idea what was going on in the “real” world.

What did I do?

  • I read.
  • I prayed.
  • I worked on the poverty organization.
  • I fished and fished; I have never caught so many fish in my life.  Must have caught and released over 150 bass [mostly largemouth].  On couple occasions, I hooked two fishes on 1 lure. 
  • I learned about farming, cornhuskers, millets, etc.
  • I helped cut some trees that were attacked my beavers.  I have a new found respect for loggers.
  • I hiked.
  • I captured some snakes.
  • And I fished some more.

Where’s the most obscure place you visited or vacationed? 

Filed under: family, travel

13 Responses

  1. goldfearsnofire says:

    hey eugene, i just want to let you know that i think you are cool. and that you challenge me to consider how to live rightly, healthily, and honorably. thanks for your example. wish you all of the best as you transition out of sabbatical. best, drew

  2. Tyler says:

    that is awesome eugene. i have family in nebraska. it makes for one boring drive though, i will admit that.

    most obscure place i’ve been is wildhorse canyon, oregon. it is a young life camp. 30 minutes away from anything.

  3. matt says:

    catch and release? no cooking up some fish for dinner?
    Although not obscure, I’ve taken a couple of Korean bus tours that decide that a random train museum is a great place to stop at on a tour of eastern Canada.

  4. Sue says:

    I was going to say the same thing. Long boring hours of senseless driving and it doesn’t help to have gas prices so high. Great pics.

  5. eugenecho says:

    @matt: ok ok. we did eat a couple of those fish. delicious. also caught crappie, smallmouth, northern pike, and catfish. but just ate couple big and smallmouth. pretty good.

  6. Nina Seong says:

    wow, i never knew nebraska was so beautiful & picturesque.

    the water looks crystal clear.

    and capturing snakes & catching fish.

    very symbolic & analogous to ministry.
    :)

  7. Sara says:

    I never knew Nebraska could be so appealing. Thanks for the photos and the beautiful descriptions.

    Most obscure place visited… hard to remember… We’ve visited lots of out of the way places here in the Northwest (or at least, as out of the way as you can get with two small children). One of our favorite things, which we haven’t done for a long time, was to pick a place in the Waterfall Lover’s Guide Pacific Northwest, pack our boys on our backs and go find some gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the woods or in some odd roadside spot just outside of Shelton or some other podunk place.:) We’ve found some really beautiful places and spent some really fun moments together as a family by doing that.

    Maybe most obscure locations I can think of out of the country usually involve getting lost. There was the time that we got lost driving through Normandy in France trying to find a little town called Ville Dieu Les Poelles, where they sell fabulous copper pots. We saw some lovely farming villages and lots of lovely tumbledown, roadside, stone cottages on the way because we chose to take some back roads to get there. Once, as a whole family, we got lost in the jungle in Panama in a tiny Toyota rental car. That is too long a story for this comment space, but it involved, a scary spider, a large snake, unintelligible attempts at speaking Spanish, and a little bit of crying. It’s a funny story (at least NOW it’s funny).

  8. chad m says:

    being a Cornhusker myself i am pleased to see my people treated you well. it’s not washington, but i love my home state!

    you should consider working in travel and tourism for Nebraska on the side…go big red!

  9. eugenecho says:

    @chad: i wrote this post in honor of you cuz i knew you were a cornhusker.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I think the most remote place I have been is Haines Alaska. One local told us that the only industy there was the breeding and raising of children.

  11. gregwheeler says:

    Hmm, 0.24% of 302 is less than one person.:)

  12. Kim says:

    Remote = Unalakleet, Alaska – According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 square miles, of which, 2.9 square miles of it is land and 2.3 square miles of it (44.25%) is water. Local overland travel is mainly by ATV’s, snowmachines and dogsleds in winter. It is an amazing place!
    http://www.kawerak.org/tribalHomePages/unalakleet/index.html

  13. queltica says:

    I grew up in Ecuador, so nothing there for me feels remote or obscure – but to me the most remote place I’ve visited was the Isle of Harris in the northern Hebrides. It was in October, and everything was gray rocks and gray skies and moors and cold beaches. It was beautiful. The standing stones at Callanais on neighboring Lewis was one of the most awesome wild old places I’ve ever been …however, the place that felt the most “obscure” was probably some hot sticky stanky pond/lake in southern Illinois one summer when I was a teenager at a church camp. Mosquitos and flatness and humidity and not much else.

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One Day’s Wages

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Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

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