40 Years in America
Lost and Found
IOWC team #4 in Arizona, January 1990
At the very end of 1989, Father felt that there was little unity between National Headquarters and CARP. He organized four IOWC teams to travel throughout the country, comprised of members from HSA National Headquarters and CARP members. I was asked to join a team, to leave right after Godís Day, for all 14 of the Western states. We traveled from city to city, working with the local church and CARP groups, mostly on campuses where CARP had established a presence.
We would witness for several days, holding rallies where possible, and then end with a big public speech. Tyler Hendricks led the team. We were quite a crew, some hardened old-timers from New York, a few brand new members, and CARP recruits from different parts of the country. Debby and I had found out she was pregnant with our third child just before I left New York, and another team memberís wife gave birth while we were on our three-month trek.
We had been given a small amount of money at the beginning of our trip in Tempe, Arizona, but after that we were on our own, and had to be self-sufficient. Our time was divided between witnessing, fundraising and traveling.
We held campaigns in Los Angeles, Berkeley and then Las Vegas, before heading up the coast to Portland, Oregon and then Seattle. By that time it was Valentineís Day weekend, and we decided to do an all-out fundraising blitz, hopefully making enough money to last until our final city, Kansas City, at the end of March. We carefully divided up area, ordered flowers from New York and made all the preparations. I took charge of one half of our team, while the rest headed up to Vancouver, where they would also fundraise.
I think the Seattle church gave us some of their prize spots. The weather, however, decided to not be with us. It was so cold, so wet and just miserable. It began to snow. We longed for Tempe again, where it had been summer! I felt so bad for poor Taj Hamad -- whenever I pulled in to see him, he would emerge from his spot looking so frozen, and so out of place. I knew he was thinking about being at home in his native Sudan! But hey -- we were members from way back, andwe all had fundraising stories par excellence to prove it. We could do this! We managed to tough it out, returning that night to slowly thaw out and await the return of the others.
Yes! We had managed it, we had made just enough to pay for all of our product and then make it the whole rest of the campaign without having to fundraise again. We could just focus on witnessing. I felt that all of us -- from the newest members on the team, to the oldest -- were just as inspired.
Then to the campus, where we were now on fire to bring people to the big speech. The day before the event, however, something happened that none of us who were there have ever forgotten. One of the team members stayed behind at the house because this person was sick, while the rest of the team went off to witness. While we were gone, this person packed their bags and left -- taking all the fundraising money as well. It wasnít until that night that we discovered what had happened. We couldnít quite believe it, and we all felt a little ill. How could this have happened? What would we do now? How could we even pay for the flowers we had sold? Had we made some kind of bad condition? We kept thinking that maybe they would just show up, that somehow it was all a mistake. We all wanted to make excuses -- to somehow not believe that this person had just stolen the money.
The day of the big speech arrived, and somehow the fire was gone. We had the same determination, but not the same spirit. The CARP band traveled to join us that night, providing great music and entertainment before Tylerís presentation. He spoke with such conviction to a huge crowd. After his speech Taj went up to the microphone and explained that our teamís money had been stolen, and we were now broke. To our surprise, he asked for a collection, and then after what seemed like a silent pause that lasted a very long time, people began to give. We sat there stunned, lumps in our throats, and I think every one of us on the team cried, as the collection went on and on.
I donít remember the exact amount we made, but it was enough to pay all our bills, and move on for several more cities without having to fundraise. It was that spontaneous outpouring of heart -- that complete giving of all those people in Seattle, most of them not members of the church or CARP -- that I will remember always. Whether those people went their own ways, or became involved in some way with different parts of our organization, they had been deeply moved that night.
I realized that that was what Father wants us to do again and again, to go into situations beyond our own usual, normal experience. Thatís where we are touched by God and His grace.
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