As I Leave LA

I feel pensive, and nervous, and sad and grateful as I sit here on my last night in Los Angeles. I came here the fall of 1993- 21 years ago. My dad flew down with me to drop me off at Scripps College- a tiny women’s college of 600 students. I arrived in LA in the throws of biracial identity angst, disillusioned with the Korean immigrant church, not sure what to do with my Seventh Day Adventist upbringing, diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, and insecure about my ability to succeed in school.

My experience of falling in love with Jesus through the ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship absolutely changed my life. Discovering Jesus in Mark study, being loved on by upperclassmen and mentors, having passionate and committed Christians model discipleship brought so much joy to my life! I learned about racial reconciliation, social justice, giving Jesus Lordship over my dating life, my money, and my family. I came alive and discovered a Christianity that I could actually be passionate about.

After college, in the midst of persecution from my mom, I experienced financial provision, inner healing, and deliverance. I was broken of my selfish only child ways by my Oxy staff team- thanks and sorry! I was given a sister, brother, mentor, home, and children through the Schaupps- a family that I have lived with for 11 of my years in Los Angeles. InterVarsity gave me a chance to grow as a young woman leader. I was taken seriously and learned to actually put my value for multiethnicity into action on campus.

I got to reconnect with quite a few Oxy alumni at my going away party on Saturday.IMG_8371 It brought back so many fond memories of staying up late working on talks, food fights with milk and salsa, writing dramas for evangelism outreach events, and coming home to students in my living room. For the seven years I lived in a house across the street from Occidental I never owned a key to the house. We got to live a life of total hospitality. I would come home to students I had never met sleeping on my sofa because there was a party in their dorm and someone had told them they could come to my house. My staff partners and I would throw an event at 7pm, clean up, and then throw a late night study break at 10 pm. Then we would head onto campus for late night prayer. Our lives were crazy, exhausting, passionate, and inspired.

Leaving Oxy in 2006 and getting married in 2007 marked a new phase. Marriage was a gift of laughter and a partnership where we helped each other’s dreams come true. I went to music school and started a band. I fell in love with a new group of students at Harvey Mudd and Scripps. My gifts got more focused and I found myself leading the Los Angeles Urban Project and serving more explicitly with Black Campus Ministries.

I love the passionate and unselfaware girl that left Seattle for Los Angeles. I had no idea the gift this city would be to me. I had no idea that Jesus would use people here to love me and lead me and help me grow. I had no idea that I would fall in love with the city- I love South LA, Eagle Rock, my Korean American home church, and the suburban white church where my husband worked.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for the gift of You. Thank for the gift of this city. Thank you for the ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Thank you for community, discipleship, mission, joy, life, laughter, and friends.

I’m leaving tomorrow morning. And I am sad to go.


Last sunset in Los Angeles. This is the view from my front porch. 


3 thoughts on “As I Leave LA

  1. This is really beautiful Erna!

    Obviously, I was in LA for a lot less time than you, but there’s something about leaving that city that hits you hard. I miss LA’s apocalyptic energy – the cliffs & canyons, the earthquakes, the helicopters always buzzing around.

    LA remakes those of us lucky enough to call ourselves transplants — but never in the ways we imagined.

    Drive safe! The PNW always welcomes it’s own home with open arms 😉

  2. Thank you for this eloquent reflection and tribute to your time in LA. Erna, you have touched so many lives, including mine, in deep and profound ways. I wish I could have been at your send off party. You are an amazing woman of God and I will always be grateful for you. Bon voyage!

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