The Words of the Pople Family
Joy Pople -- editor and Jonatha A. Johnson -- assistant editor
"Think you could pick me up at the San Francisco Airport tonight?"
"I suppose so," murmured my abandoned husband.
"How long will you stay this time?" John ventured to ask as we watched the baggage carousel lumbering uselessly, like a vacant Ferris wheel on a littered beach.
"Maybe three months."
Two years ago, John drove his would-be editor wife to the airport, waved her goodbye, and entered his ninth year in the darkroom of International Exchange Press. Once every month or so, wife returned, camera-ready copy of Today's World Magazine cradled in arm, bringing harried husband work to occupy his evenings and weekends.
This time, I was returning with empty arms and jangled nerves. A sympathetic Rev. Kwak and Claire Bowles gave me a short respite.
I used to love traveling by airplane, but even a mere three hours of jet lag began to need a week's recovery time. California is supposedly the nation's trendsetter. I hope 3,000-mile commuting wives don't become a pattern; there is not enough time to build up steam for a good argument.
Now I have time to do home church.
Somehow, home church is a painful subject. In Mexico, where I was a missionary, after two years of slowly-developing friendship, a Jesuit priest asked me to help him in a community project. He, along with three devoted Catholic families in a poor colonia of Mexico City, began a little neighborhood school, but they also wanted to give the people something of spiritual value. At first, I gave free English classes, and later we began inviting people to Tuesday evening prayer meetings. Twelve brave people came the first Tuesday. Introduced by Padre Arroyo, I taught them simple choruses, accompanied by my fumbling guitar, read from the Bible, and led in simple prayers. The next week 25 people came, and each week more. I would visit homes in the area, by myself or with one of the three key women. Sometimes I cooked dinner for a family, and they opened their hearts to me. On Saturday afternoons, we invited the people over to our center for games, potluck dinner, a short Principle lecture and a question and answer session. By the time 125 people were attending, hepatitis struck me and I had to return to America. In my absence, the meetings were taken over by the local priest, and I could only grieve.
Then in Brooklyn, when I started editing Today's World, I again tried to begin home church. But whenever a chance came to do something really meaningful for my contacts, it was time to go to California. When a dear blind woman, Mrs. Burke, was living at home alone and her daughter in the hospital, I had a strong urge to visit her early one morning. I found she had burned her hand quite badly while trying to cook breakfast for herself. That evening I had to get on a plane for San Francisco.
If I were really ambitious, like Father often urges us to be, I mused, I would try to do home church on both ends of the continent. But no, the magazine absorbed 95 percent of my energy, home church maybe 4 percent, and my husband and the center in San Francisco perhaps 1 percent. What could I do? I always thought of the 120 countries which receive Today's World Magazine as a sort of personal home church, but there was no place on Rev. Won Pil Kim's roster for such a report. I tried writing a song about home church ("Home church is the beacon of hope, for all men...") but that didn't seem to be enough.
Inveterate armchair activist that I am, I thought I'd look for a neighborhood group in San Francisco which I could serve, with a home church heart. Three blocks down the hill is the storefront of "The Community for the Development of the Human Being." Well, the human being needs development, I thought; I'll check it out.
Curiously, it was an Argentina-based group, it promotes a lot of community service activities. But again, I found the New York problem in reverse: When something came up in which I could help, the magazine returned from the bindery, and I had to board a plane for New York City.
But now I was going to be here for three whole months. At last, I could get more involved. One night Nicole, the local leader of the Community for the Development of the Human Being, called me on the phone. "Why are you, a Moonie, coming to our meetings?" she asked. I had decided to be open about being a Moonie at the first meeting. It turns out that people suspect this other group of being a Moonie front group, and confuse "The Community" with the Unification Church's local "Creative Community Project." Having a Moonie in attendance, Nicole feared, would drive away otherwise interested people.
"Rev. Moon is teaching us to serve people in our neighborhoods and tells us that we can find God in this way," I explained. "I want to experiment and see if it is true."
"Why do you have to pick on us?" she persisted. "Why not pick on the local tree-planting club, or someone else?"
"I like what you are doing and want to help."
My long hours of labor in preparing Today's World magazines to suit the U.S. Postal Service requirements for bulk- mailing discounts came in handy in helping gain their friendship. Post Office regulations mystified Nicole and the others from the Community, so I put together two mass mailings for them. "You are so organized," Kayse and Nicole commented, "How do you do it?" I chuckled. If only they could see my desk in New York…