40 Years in America

David Balise

Godís Day, 1975. David (right) with MFT Team 13 members: John Hessell, Bob Kleiman, John Cullen, Dan Stana and Tony Aparo; (front) Kathy Heany, Angie Giorgio and Shirly Gricar.

When I think back, I realize how much I learned about God, myself and relationships, through the years I spent on MFT. There are so many amazing memories!

For example, on Godís Day 1975 all the teams met together to celebrate. Mr. Kamiyama wrote a personal message to each member. Most of them were full of praise and gratitude. I remember my shock and disappointment on reading mine: "You must overcome yourself before you can overcome others. Get victory by fighting against your own fallen nature."

This message prompted me to do some deep soul-searching. I realized that I had been very self-centered. I was preoccupied with my own standing on our team. Whenever I was having a really bad day, I found myself hoping that others were also not doing well, so that I wouldnít look bad!

I determined from that point on that no matter how well I did, I would hope and pray that everyone else would do better than me. What a liberating moment! I really began to love working with the other people on my team. I could enjoy their successes. My fundraising results also improved dramatically, which was an unexpected benefit. The idea of "living for the sake of others" began to become real to me. Another example: in autumn 1975 I was a struggling new team captain. I had no confidence to do the job well. Then I was transferred to Mr. Sawamukaiís region.

Every time I would call Mr. Sawamukai at his office, the receptionist would say, "Telephone for you, Mr. Sawamukai." In the background I could hear Mr. Sawamukai answer, "Iím busy right now," or something to that effect. Then the receptionist would say, "Itís David," and then I would hear Mr. Sawamukai say, "Oh, David! Let me talk with him!"

Then he would tell me how well I was doing, how glad he was that I was in his region, etc. I felt that I was his favorite team captain. My self-confidence soared! Within a few weeks I was a new person. I began to see myself the way he saw me.

About a month later I spent a day at Mr. Sawamukaiís office. I was surprised to see that he did the same thing when each team captain called, no matter who it was! Then I began to understand what real leadership is. He made each of us feel special.

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