The Words of the Lee Family
We recently interviewed Lee Duk-lim about her experiences when as a young member still in her teens, she went to live and work with the True Family. True Mother was then 27 years old -- younger than almost all the True Children are now.
Can you explain how you joined and when?
I joined the church in 1968, when I was in my second year of high school, and became a Sunghwa' student. [Sunghwa - The name Father gave to the middle and high school student members.] My older sister was already going to church, so under my sister's guidance during my high school years I came along -- though not that often -- maybe once a week or when there was a student council meeting.
In 1968, during the forty-day summer witnessing period during the second seven-year course, Father sent out all the students. I would not have been able to do anything because I was too young at the time. I was supposed to go with a friend, but that friend was unable to go and I ended up going alone to Gyeongsan. The Gyeongsan district leader at that time was Rev. Kim Zin-moon. He was like a father to me during my time there.
From Rev. Kim's church I went to the villages. I went to a small village that didn't have a church and stayed at the house of the district [government] leader for thirty days. That was the time of the enlightenment, where we were providing education for the public. I taught people Chinese characters, which everyone was using at that time, and how to calculate using an abacus. I was attending a vocational high school, and I was quite quick in doing the calculations. I also helped them with work on their farms, while I conducted activities from the district leader's house.
The years 1968-1969 were a time when witnessing was crucial. Father sent all the students out to enlighten the people.
After joining the church and completing high school, Father told us to go out to witness. The first place I ended up after high school was, again, the church under Rev. Kim Zin-moon.
During my time there, he was like a father to me. I was at the church for several months. I did witnessing and fund raising activities; I bartered pencils for rice. People gave me rice, because they didn't have money. There wasn't much to eat; I ate gruel. Nevertheless, it was exciting, and we were filled with hope.
Even on the coldest days of winter, I slept in the same room as Rev. Kim and his wife. Lym Soon-hee, who is in Japan now, also slept in that room. There were other rooms but we could only heat one room during that cold winter, which is why we all slept in the same room together with Mrs. Kim.
A couple of months later I went back to my hometown. Back then it was Chilgok. [Her hometown was absorbed into a borough of Daegu in 1981.]The army is stationed there. Now it's part of the city of Daegu.
How did you come to work for True Parents' family?
Through my older sister, Rev. Kwak called me when he was the Daegu district church leader. It was 1970. He thought that I should work to help True Parents and told me to go to True Parents' family in Seoul. After arriving in Seoul, I went to True Parents' family in Chungpa-dong on July 17.
Yesterday I went back there with my two daughters. We went there to pray. In the past, it seemed to be so large, but now it looks so small. I saw the rooms the True Children used to sleep in.
It's smaller than you remember.
It has changed slightly. The furniture is different. Back then, the second floor was carpeted, but now it's back to the plain wooden floor. I was in charge of True Parents' rooms back then.
How many years did you live in Chungpa-dong?
I was there from July 1970 until when True Parents called the seven children to America. Grandmother Hong Soon-ae, [Whom Father gave the name Dae-mo nim following her ascension on November 3, 1989] Nam-hee (an older assistant) and I went to Japan for three days with the True Children on the way to America in December 1973. Sung-jin nim spent all the money he had saved up on his younger siblings at that time. He was a student then. He showed all his love to his younger brothers and sisters. He did not want to be helped with anything himself -- he did his own laundry and ironing.
Two days after that, the Little Angels performed at the UN. The True Children sat in the front row. My mother and father told me later they saw it on TV.
When you moved to Chungpa-dong, what kind of work did you do?
When I went to Chungpadong for the first time to serve True Parents' family, I met Father. Mrs. Choi Won-pok was there with him. Mother was in another place in Seoul at that time because she had only recently given birth to Kook-jin nim. A couple of days later Mother returned to the Chungpa-dong house.
At first I was asked to help the youngest children. I really wanted to do something. It wasn't easy to take care of the young ones. There were other elder sisters who were taking care of them. I didn't know what to do, but I said I would work. Frankly, I was really too young at the time.
At first I helped in the kitchen and took care of Heung-jin nim. Later, I began to do errands for True Mother and helped her with anything she needed. I took care of her room. When True Mother was young, I did many different tasks.
Later, my elder sister received the blessing among the 777 couples, and after that, she began to take care of Heung-jin nim. Right around the time she was attending Heung-jin nim, Father was going to Sutaek-ri at four or five in the morning. [Sutaek-ri: Where Father established the church's central training center and, next to that, the Il Hwa pharmaceutical company. It is now Sutaek-dong, part of the city of Guri.] What was in Sutaek-ri? At the training center, Father met with the executives of Il Hwa and the Tongil Industries, and he would go to Chung Pyung. Every day he went to Sutaek-ri or Chung Pyung; he was hardly ever at Chungpa-dong.
At Sutaek-ri, Father spoke to students and the workshop participants. When there was a big meeting with everyone together he spoke to the students. I am from the fourteenth class of Sunghwa students. Father spoke when the fourteenth class had a meeting. In those days, Father was setting conditions for Sutaek-ri and Chung Pyung. He left early in the morning and came back at around midnight. Young as I was, I was taking care of the children when Father came in late and kissed the children. I was usually sleeping next to the children at such times. I always told myself that I should not sleep but remain awake when Father comes, but I was young and susceptible to sleep; I regret that I was unable to wait and was asleep by the time Father came back.
Father often took Hyo-jin nim and some of the other children with him when he went. I often had the opportunity to go with True Parents and ride in their car with the True Children.
Other people who took care of the children would also go along. It was the same when we went to Chung Pyung. When Father went to Chung Pyung, he would sometimes visit Sutaek-ri on his way back before coming back to Seoul. The people helping care for the children would sometimes go along too. Once on the way back from Chung Pyung and Sutaek-ri we went to the theater.
How did you stay with the True Family? It was not a big place...
When we were in Chungpadong, Father's room was on the second floor and Mother's room was on the first floor. Her room was very small back then. I slept with True Mother in her room. There was a staircase that connected the second floor to Mother's room. If I was sleeping in Mother's room, if I heard Father's footsteps coming down in the early morning, I would pick up my blanket and quietly leave the room.
I've been back there a couple of times. I remember the rooms very well. When Father went to bed, I would close the door to the second floor and go downstairs. In the early morning, Father would come down from the back stairs.
The True Family moved to the United States in the early 1970s. How different was the culture?
I was worried about the language barrier even though Mother told me not to worry. Mother actually spoke a little English.
There were several American members at East Garden, but Grandmother Hong had come there from Korea, and the children only used Korean. There were three Korean women with Choi Won-pok and Phyllis Kim. There weren't that many people, so in the beginning I prepared meals for Mrs. Choi and Grandmother Hong.
What kind of things did you do?
There weren't that many members there at that time, so we planted vegetables. Back then, I would go out to the garden with True Mother to pick vegetables. Grandmother Hong also went out to the garden and worked. We planted many vegetables in a spot next to the cottage in East Garden, where vegetables could be planted. Grandmother Hong worked there and True Mother would also, from time to time. It was a family atmosphere.
What I came to realize later was that the True Children really grew up in hardship. When we raise our own children, we come to realize how much physical intimacy and love from their mother children need. There were, of course, sisters who took care of each of the True Children. But how much love could they give to the children? They could provide them with clothes, food and other things they may have needed, but in reality, because True Parents were so busy, the True Children made many sacrifices. True Parents ate with the leaders, while the children always ate in the kitchen. When we raise our children, we know that they need the warmth of love during their growing years and that friends are important. Yet, the True Children could not freely make friends. There weren't any second-generation members around them. That is why they had a lonely upbringing. [Duk-lim weeps]
At that time, the younger True Children spent time with adults. That's why it wasn't easy for them. True Parents were so busy and were seldom there. Tears come to my eyes whenever I think about Ye-jin nim, Hyo-jin nim and the other children. I regret that I could not do better for them. Love pours from my heart even if I just hear their names, Ye-jin nim, Hyo-jin nim.
Nowadays Hyo-jin nim is speaking with a lot of feeling in Belvedere. Members like it a lot...
Hyo-jin nim is very warm-hearted and draws people to him like a magnet. The members love him a lot.
When he recently came to Korea he spoke at the Chungshim Graduate school.
He is so warm and full of love. Heung-jin nim was like that too. One thing I remember, Hyo-jin nim bought a black car once, which he entrusted to Heung-jin nim when Hyo-jin nim went to Korea. I was at East Garden but I had to go to a member's house. I asked Heung-jin nim about Hyo-jin nim's car, and he just lent it to me. It wasn't that far, but too far to walk, so I really needed a car. Heung-jin nim lent me Hyo-jin nim's car.
Do you have any special memories of Father's activities?
When Father went tuna fishing in the summer, he was staying in a small room at a motel. This was before we had the house in Gloucester. There was only one electric range on which to cook meals. They prepared everything for the meals there.
One dish at a time was made in that room. They didn't have a kitchen. He had to wash the rice in the bathroom. For a short while, Father and Mother stayed there in that way.
Mother didn't go tuna fishing; she stayed with the children. After Father returned from fishing, Mother would make his favorite, kimchi-bap, which he ate at a small table because they didn't have a kitchen.
I took the children shopping and waited with them until Father came back. Father took the members with him tuna fishing, so there weren't that many people left.
Later, Father called the leaders and 36 couples -- Rev. Kim Won-pil and others -- and went out on the boat every day for three months. They prepared tuna bait on the boat. Father really worked so hard.
I prepared meals in that motel room; usually it was something simple like bulgogi, kalbillim and kimchi. Father and the members ate together in that way.
Duk-lim lives in Italy with husband Mauro Sarasso; they have two daughters and two sons.