40 Years in America
Mary Cloutier Yasuda
When I was asked if I would contribute something to be included in a book about our True Fatherís 40-year course, my initial reaction was mixed. Although I will share many things, the point really isnít about me. Itís about the tremendous foundation we were blessed to be born with. Itís about the results of the blood, sweat and tears that were invested to make preparation for the appearance of Godís holy family on the earth. Itís about the mobilization of the spiritual world to testify to God and that very precious gift that He has given out of His deep, deep heart of love for each and every one of us. Itís a testimony, at least in part, to the heartistic investment of our beloved True Parents, especially Father.
My testimony begins before True Parents came to America, before I could know about them. I want to share a little bit about my parents because it shows that long before our awareness, behind the scenes God has been moving, investing and preparing so much. My parents are Roman Catholic. My father especially is very devout. But also, my mother has some foundation of faith too. My father was born into the faith. My mother converted at the age of twelve. Had the original course in Fatherís providence been successful, Iím certain that they, rather than I, would be in the position of the first generation.
One day, when my mother was twelve, her mother said to her that she and her younger brother should attend some kind of a church. Any kind of church. She felt moved that they should have a spiritual life. She told them to take a walk and whatever church they came upon, to begin attending there. My mom, in that way, met the Catholic Church and later converted. She attended Catholic school and received education and a lot of help there until she was sixteen. In that way, the spiritual world and God worked to lead and prepare her. In the meantime, my father was growing up in a Catholic family and was very close to his sisters and brothers. He joined the U.S. Navy after he finished high school. My dad was a deeply religious person and didnít have girlfriends. However, during his last year of school, he dated one girl. When he left for the navy, she was supposed to wait for him so they could later marry. After a while she had a change of heart and ended the relationship.
My father was heartbroken and he prayed very hard to Jesusí mother, Mary, to guide him to the person he was supposed to marry. Men in military uniforms are notorious for their drinking and fallen behavior when they are on leave. My dad wasnít into drinking or any of that stuff. He played guitar, went roller-skating or went to the movies on his time off. At a movie theatre he made friends with the ticket lady. She introduced him to her daughter who later became my mother. My mom was 16 and my dad was 21. They dated for a short period and then married.
That was in 1953-54. Had the Christian churches received True Father, Iím sure they would have followed the direction of the Pope and attended True Parents. But that didnít happen, so their way was blocked.
When my parents had been married a month, I was conceived. I was the firstborn in a family of nine children, of whom eight survived. My mother had four miscarriages. My parentsí lives have been extremely difficult. Iím grateful today because it helped make us deeply religious. We had to go to God or we wouldnít survive. I grew up in the Catholic Church, and thanks to that, my heart and mind were guided toward a life of faith. We prayed because my father always said, "The family that prays together stays together."
As much as circumstances allowed, we went to Catholic school. When we couldnít attend Catholic school we attended catechism classes. We went to mass every Sunday and I vividly remember as a young child, my mother pointing to the box that held the hosts and chalices. She said to me that that was where baby Jesus was. I tried hard to see Jesus, though I couldnít. My heart longed so much to be with him. I heard from my parents about angels, and my dad told me how angels had protected him from a couple of car accidents. I used to leave space on my chair for my guardian angel. God and the good spirit world were with me before I was aware of them. In high school I started to have recurring dreams. One was about my family being attacked in the middle of the night while they slept. I had to wake everyone and take them to safety by a secret passageway. I realized later that it meant that I was responsible for the salvation of my family.
The other dream was similar. I had to gather my family and we had to burn all of our belongings. We had to shower and put on new clothes, and re-buy and rebuild everything we owned. We had to begin anew, create a brand new start. This dream influenced me very much. I studied hard in school because I wanted to graduate from a university and get a good job so I could help my family accomplish the new start I had dreamed about so many times. When I heard the Divine Principle, I understood that I had been guided to connect my family to the Messiah. They couldnít listen to me and join at that time, unfortunately.
During high school I dated a couple of boys but kept my purity. Two relationships became serious but broke off. One was with a Baptist boy and the other was a Mormon. Through them I knew that God was working in various faiths. At one time in my life I thought that I would like to be a nun. I deeply admired the Catholic saints. When I got older I wanted to marry and have a family, so I was torn between those two desires.
Somehow I knew this was the last days, and I read the Bible and other spiritual texts. I considered converting to Mormonism but wasnít sure if Joseph Smith was right or wrong. I considered becoming Jewish too, because Jesus had been born a Jew. Iíd been taught that Jesus had founded the Catholic Church. I decided to remain Catholic even though I had many questions. I got a job with a government program for high school students from poverty-level families. For two years I participated in the program and during the summer I lived on the campus of the University of New Hampshire. On July 8th, 1973 I was on the campus of UNH preparing to enroll in the fall. I saw a young man walk past the house where I was staying. I felt pushed by the spiritual world and found myself running up to him saying, "I donít know why but I have to talk to you." He was as surprised as me. As it turned out, he was the newly assigned state leader for the Unification Church of New Hampshire, fresh from Belvedere training. He told me he was with the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity -- or The Unified Family." He never used the word "church." I had continued to search for truth, but closed my mind to other churches. "The Catholic Church is the One True Church" was engraved in my mind.
A three-month member playing guitar under a tree, Dr. Tyler Hendricks, was somehow familiar to me. Gerry, my spiritual father (Gerard Willis), introduced me to the other members. He invited me to a fellowship meeting in the evening. I didnít know what that was but agreed to come. I felt that I belonged there. I came that night with a friend. They played some songs on the guitar and then Gerry gave the introductory lecture. I was hungry to hear everything. I didnít understand everything but I was spiritually awakened. After the lecture I walked around the house and stared at everyone. The IOWC commander, Mike Smith, expressed concern to Gerard because I stared at the brothers especially!
I got up early the next morning, pushed by the spiritual world. I pounded on the door at 8 am and asked with all my heart to hear more. Tom Fields spent the entire day with me, and taught me the Divine Principle on a yellow legal pad. We did this for several days. I had never heard these things before but I knew it was the truth. They gave me a booklet to read about Sun Myung Moon. Nobody said the word "messiah" but I knew he was the Second Coming of the Lord. At first I thought, what if he was a false prophet? But I knew that a false prophet couldnít bring such truth.
Nothing could deny the heart I experienced hearing about Jesusí painful course, Godís heart of hope about Jesus and His painful heart at the crucifixion. I experienced Godís feelings. I knew I was called to attend the Messiah in the same way Peter and the disciples were called to attend Jesus. From that moment on July 11, 1973, I joined my heart to our True Father.
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