So we’re on the move again.
It’s goodbye to Southern California and hello to Texas. Or maybe it’s “Howdy” to Texas?
We have been blessed and grateful to spend the last four years in Santa Barbara. There’s no city like it. My wife’s pretty upset with me that we have to exchange the shores of Santa Barbara for Galveston Beach. (Texas folks, it’s not the same.)
She was upset with me when we had to exchange the shores of the North Shore (Hawaii) for Huntington Beach. (Still not the same).
I lived in Santa Barbara, before, from ’92-’97.
My dad started a Korean church on the campus of St. Mark UMC. I attended youth group at St. Mark, the church I served for the past 4 years.
That Korean church eventually became University UMC, where my wife served for the past two years with Frank Schaefer.
My parents often shared with us how they got tired of the drive home to Santa Barbara.
It’s a scenic drive. The mountain on one side, the ocean on the other.
I always attributed their disdain for the drive due to the fact they went to LA quite often — at least twice a month; that the frequentness of the drive wore them down.
That’s how they described it.
By the end of their stay in SB, that drive had long lost its beauty, allure, and shine.
They were tired of it. Tired of the traffic. Tired of the distance. Tired of going back and forth.
It was tedious and repetitive.
And they warned that it may be the same for us.
In the four years living in Santa Barbara, we made trips to LA quite frequently — at least once a month to see my parents.
Starting in March of 2014 to January of 2016, we made that scenic drive to Oxnard and back every Monday for N’s parental visits.
And every time on my way home, I always wondered why I hadn’t gotten tired of the view/drive yet.
It wasn’t until recently, I finally understood why.
The 5 years my parents lived in Santa Barbara was a struggle — at best.
They had two boys to raise, one being the model (in behavior AND looks someone* once said) son — the pride and joy of the family (me) and the other that just took up space (brother).
They planted a church without any financial support or aid.
Money was tight.
My dad shared with me a story about the day after our insurance ended. My brother hit his head on the swing set and my mom cradled him in her arm, both of them crying, and saying, “Why couldn’t you do this yesterday when we had insurance?”
My brother hit his head a lot — which explains a lot about him. (Brother and I eventually received medicaid).
They didn’t really get to enjoy Santa Barbara until I came back here as an “adult”.
They rarely went to downtown because they didn’t have the time or money.
So maybe that drive home reminded them of all the stress that so eagerly awaited them with arms open.
It was hard to see the beauty around them when they had bills to pay and boys to feed and not enough money to comfortably do both.
Exodus tells us that the Israelites had a hard time listening to Moses’ message from God because “of their discouragement and harsh labor.” (Ex. 6:9). Maybe that was my parents’s experience of Santa Barbara. As beautiful as this city was (is), perhaps for them it was their Mitzrayim.
My experience in Santa Barbara could not be more different.
How blessed of a season this was for us.
We were loved by the people we served.
We loved the people we worked with.
I was (and am) honored and proud to have been called the pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church.
This church has been good to the version 1.0 of the Yoo family (Dad, Mom, Me, and
And now this church has been good to version 2.0 of the Yoo family: wife, N, and me.
2 generations of the Yoos got to witness, firsthand, the love and generosity of the faithful people of St. Mark . Fairly rare in an itinerant system.
No, that drive home never got tiring for me. It never lost its wonder. It never lost its beauty. It never got tedious or boring. Because my heart was always full.
It was filled with the love, prayer, and support of my church, friends, and family.
I was always grateful and blessed to come back home.
St. Mark UMC will always have a significant hold on my heart — for I can never repay the kindness they’ve shown to the two generation of the Yoo’s.
Thank you for your love, prayer, support, and grace.
Thank you for allowing me to join you in your faith journey.
Thank you for the opportunity to lead and thank you for all the invaluable lessons you’ve taught me with your wisdom and experience.
Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor — even if it was because the Bishop made you.
We will miss you, deeply.
Though I tried, words cannot express my gratitude and love for you.
So with heavy, but absolutely full, hearts we say “see ya later.”