Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverends Robles
Home Church Ministry
by Miguel and Mary Helen Robles
In 1987, my husband and I and our three-year-old son ventured to leave our home in the world Mission Center to go to my hometown area of Manhattan, Kansas. It was not easy to leave the womb of the World Mission Center and the nurturing environment of our True Parents, spiritual children and many brothers and sisters whom we had grown to love and respect. As my husband said, "we have moved from the big apple to the little apple." It is also the home of the Kansas State Wildcats. My husband and son are enthusiastic supporters. I am too, as long as they are not playing Kansas University, my alma mater and rival school.
We first located in the small town of Wamego, a population of approximately 5,000 people. It was only 3,000 when I went to high school there. My three brothers and I grew up on a farm 6 miles outside of Wamego, in a community by the name of Wabaunsee. There are a lot of counties and towns with Indian names in Kansas. I went to grade school in Wabaunsee, for all eight grades. The total enrollment for the school was 34-38 students, with two teachers. Nowadays you can easily have 30 students in one grade. Manhattan was only 15 miles from our farm and this is where we shopped for special items other than groceries. Once a week my mother would race my brother and I to our piano lessons from Miss Painter who taught on campus. Miss Painter was at least in her 50s and wore her dark graying hair pulled back, in a bun. I remember several times when we would shed a tear or two before our lessons were done. She was very serious and had high expectations. She was a very memorable person.
Our small farming community of approximately 250 people was like an extended family. My girlfriend's parents were called ma and pa of the community. Ma Snyder weighed about 300 pounds and was barely five feet tall. They were real humble folk, and had an outhouse for a toilet. On a cold winter's night, we used the portable pot, or prayed that we didn't have to get up at all. Anyway, we had a lot of fun. We had community meetings in another old school house. People brought food, and we'd sit around and entertain each other. At the end of the school year, there was a big picnic and the fathers played softball with their sons and we all had a great time. Also, in our community, was a very old church. It is an historical landmark, called the Beecher Bible Rifle Church and Colony. Pretty big name for such a small church. It was established by a group of people that came from the mother church in Connecticut. It even had dividers down the seats where the men sat on one side and women sat on the other.
My father turned the business of farming over to my brother. He retired to the neighboring community of Wamego in 1968, five years before I joined the church in Berkeley, California, as Mary Helen Berke in 1973. My husband joined the church in Barrytown, NY, in 1974. My younger brother and his family moved into the family farm house and were still living there when I joined the church. Fact is, my one-and- a-half-year-old daughter and myself came to live with my brother and his wife and their one daughter in 1972 for seventh months, while I was recuperating from a divorce. I came there with the determination to stay until I had a clear understanding of what I was to do with my life. About the time I was ready to give up and go back to California, my brother showed me an article advertising a lecture series that was to be given at the university, by some group called the "Unified Family." This turned out to be our church. The ad went something like, "If you are interested in supernatural human experiences and psychic phenomena, call this number and sign up." Actually this article was first noticed by my brother's friend, and it was he who passed it on to my brother, who passed it on to me. What an incredible effort by God and my ancestors to connect me to the Principle. After hearing these lectures, the pieces of my life started falling together. I never had any doubts about it being true. It was then that Manhattan became the home of my spiritual re-birth. My brother, and his friend Norman, have always wondered if they had done the right thing. I have reassured them a number of times that it was exactly the right thing to do, and that I would be forever indebted to them. Of course they don't understand right now, but someday they will, and what a day of rejoicing that will be.
Prior to our leaving New York, my father unexpectedly passed away in November, 1986 and my mother 10 months later. My brother and his wife were there attending to my parents during their illnesses. My parents left their home to me, since my three brothers already had their own homes. It was on this foundation that we returned to Kansas to begin our Home Church Ministry. As I later found out, my husband had been longing for the day to come.
My parents left us the perfect home in which to start up our Home Ministry. Unfortunately, in our struggle to establish a financial foundation, we made an adventure into the retail business in Manhattan, selling costume jewelry and other unique gift items. After one year, we decided to close it down. We sold the house to pay off a bank loan and moved to Manhattan ,where we have been renting ever since. Out of this experience grew new friendships and respect for those in the retail business.
My brother Richard and his family had already moved to Manhattan four months before us, after selling the farm. When I first learned that he was selling the farm, my heart sank. But I knew that he had tired of farming and wanted to try his hand at something different. I still drive by the house quite often, and reflect upon so many wonderful childhood memories. The young couple that live there have taken good care of it. And for that, I am truly grateful. Although many of my clan still live in Wamego, the move to Manhattan has been a good one. It was here that we started having breakthroughs in our home church ministry. Ironically, the first home that we rented in Manhattan was two blocks from my brothers, and right across the street from my old piano teacher, Miss Painter. But, she didn't remember me. Time and age had faded her mind.
Our home was located about four blocks from the campus and it wasn't long before Miguel was bringing over guests. One of the first was a young Korean couple, Min Ho and his wife. Min Ho was having car trouble and Miguel stopped to see if he could help. My husband knows nothing about cars, but that doesn't keep him from helping out in other ways. Min Ho was familiar with Rev. Moon, but he was not so open to the ideas. However, they had us over to their home many times for a wonderful Korean meal. After a year, they moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania where he enrolled at Lehigh University, to finish his doctorate.
We stopped to visit them several times, on our yearly pilgrimage back to New York and Miguel's hometown. They always prepared for us a delicious meal and a place to sleep. They have since returned to Korea and we have stayed in touch.
Mike was really beginning to miss his New York culture and his mother's cooking. His mother passed away before Milen was born in 1984. Fact is, shortly after she passed away, I became pregnant. We had been trying for about a year and a half. So once again, God provided, and Miguel came upon another car stalled on the side of the road, and this time it turned out to be a Puerto Rican man with his American born wife and two children. They lived in a town of about 4,000, and about 40 minutes away. It wasn't long before we had been invited to his mother's home for some rice and beans, Miguel's most favorite food. It was there that I learned to cook rice and beans the Puerto Rican way. I had to laugh to myself, at the irony of leaving New York City to come all the way to the farm lands of Kansas to learn how to cook Puerto Rican rice and beans.
While we still had our business, my husband met a nurse who worked in a hospital in another community, about 45 minutes from our home. In the course of their conversation, he told her that I was an Occupational Therapist. Ha! I said to myself, I wish! The last time I worked in my profession was 1969 or 70, only 19 years ago. They were desperate and I was too, so I agreed to a part time position. Fortunately the requirements had changed, for the profession was trying to get many retired Occupational Therapists back into the field. I had thought about going back to school to take a refresher course because I knew I could not pass the registration exam. But in 1988, all I had to do was have lots and lots of faith, and pay my $40, which the hospital loaned me, and I was on my way to paying to supervise me one a week, or two times a month. I thought I'd never regain the skill I had lost. After one year, I resigned and started working in the public schools in Manhattan as a therapist in special education. Miguel took advantage of the University an started witnessing right away.
We had not been in Manhattan very long when we were called by a student, Christine Young Sook Han, who had met the church in Europe that summer and wanted to work with us. Her goal was to try to get CARP established on campus before she graduated at the end of the year. She was also Korean. Her family came to the United States when she was seven years old. She was the second oldest of five children. She was still a spiritual baby, and her parents and older sister were not at all happy with her affiliation with the church or us. But Young Sook was very strong and committed. She lived off campus but came to our home two to three times a week. It had been a long time since we had raised someone so new in the church. Frankly, I'm not sure who raised whom. I know we certainly grew a lot .By the end of the school year she qualified to be in the blessing and went to Korea. She was blessed to a Japanese brother. Young Sook and Miguel, or Mike as he prefers to be called, was joined by Richard Karnowski in this project because he was an alumni of KSU. The people who were in charge of campus organizations gave us a thumbs down because the chairman had bad memories still lingering from CARP activities back in the 70s. But through a talk on campus, we did meet a student who was interested in learning about the reality of God.. He was from India. It's been over two years now, and he also attended Mother's speech. He continues to fellowship with us whenever possible.
When Mike wasn't doing his witnessing walk to the campus and all over town (approximately 7-10 miles per day), he was working on one of three restaurants. It was here that Mike met one of his first contacts, Ranie. She was working as a waitress, mother of two young children, and wife of Richard, who was in the Army. Ranie was born in Thailand and came to America to live with relatives and joined the Army and that's where she met her husband. She has been a very loyal participant in our home church work. She would always arrive early to help prepare the meal, and be sure that the dirty dishes were in the dishwasher before she left. Long before I met Ranie, Mike would bring home gifts that Ranie had sent. One was a small, but beautiful jade tree, a cooking pot, and later on a food processor for a Christmas gift, a large, and I mean large fan from Thailand, just to name a few. On the weekends, especially during the summer, I would try to do something special with Ranie and her children.
Next, Mike met Sonny, a Chinese student working on his doctorate in International Business. Mike was on the Kansas State University campus where he went every day to pray at the war memorial. He approached Sonny to ask if the student union was open. That was the start of a very special relationship. Mike invited him to our home, and Sonny has become an invaluable member in our Home Church ministry. Sonny's wife and young son were still in China. Sonny was struggling financially. He was finding it difficult to make the money he needed for the fall tuition. He asked if we could help him find a job To simplify a long story, we opened our home to him, so he wouldn't have to pay rent for approximately three months. Mike taught him how to drive and I taught him how to sell flowers. He helped me sell flowers in the local bars, of which there were plenty in a college town. I allowed him to keep a certain portion of the money for his effort. Then during the week he could sell the leftover roses in the neighboring town, Junction City, located near an Army base, known as the Big Red #1 at Ft. Riley. This way he could make extra money for his school needs. He has endured a lot of persecution, but never complains, and he has been 100% dependable. He has learned to pray with us, which was a totally new experience for him, coming from China. He works on his own now, and stays out extra late on the weekends, 3:00 to 4:00 am, to bring home a good result for our home church work. After his wife and son arrived, Mile also taught her how to drive. Mike has spent many hours in service work with Sonny's family including taking care of his son. Through Sonny, we met two more Chinese students, both working on their masters, both married with their husbands still in China. They too, became regular visitors to hear both Father and Mother speak; Father when he spoke in Denver, Colorado in 1992, and Mother in Topeka, Kansas in 1993. They were very inspired by the talks. Mike has been able to get Chinese Divine Principle tapes for Sonny's wife to listen to, for her English is quite limited, but the others are enjoying them as well. Over the last three years Sonny has brought many of his friends over for Sunday service, dinner and fellowship. We have made a tradition of celebrating birthdays, parents, and children alike. We love to celebrate birthdays. We also have a big feast on all the major holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We also celebrate the 4th of July with a cookout and fireworks. We have started teaching them about church holidays.
Our next contact and friend, Marilyn, was met through her son Harold, who became our son Milen's best friend. Marilyn is from the Philippines. Marilyn had completed her doctorate in biochemistry and was working in research at the University. She was living in the married student housing with her older sister, parents and two sons, Harold, Milen's age, and Glen, who was six years older. Marilyn and her family would come to our home about every other Sunday, and quite often she would bring friends from her workplace. Marilyn and her two sons all went to hear Mother speak in the summer of 1993. She was very inspired by the whole experience. Mike and I were able to bring about 15-20 guests to Mother's talk. On other occasions we would go to her place to enjoy food from the Philippines and to enjoy the company of her friends and we taught them to play Win, Loose, or Draw. This game became an all-time favorite with our regulars because it is a game that people from different cultures can play even if they can't speak English or draw very well.
We also had as guests a professor from Korea and his wife and two children, also met through Milen's school, who came to our home and brought us a gift of yute and taught us some good strategies. We were sorry to see them leave, but we hoped they returned to Korea with an entirely new view of Father and Mother. Mike gave them Father's talks in Korean. In the meantime, I had not brought two guests. I was beginning to feel rather judged.
By now, I am working as an Occupational Therapist in the schools. I am meeting many people, but the opportunities to converse about anything other than the student and the student's needs were very limited. In the course of the week I drive to 10 different schools, see about 10- 16 students per day, plus many meetings after school. But working in the schools has given me access to many quality people. And over the course of the last four years, I have been able to establish myself more and more in the schools. As a result, I was able to invite many to hear Mother speak, and to follow up by sending out many speeches to those who were not able to come.
Finally two summers ago, I was able to bring a co-worker, Nancy, to our home to study Divine Principle. She is slowly digesting it. She was able to hear Mother speak, too. She was quite moved by the atmosphere of love and respect for Mother.
Over that same summer, I finally managed to get Milen and Harold out of the house to go swimming. It was then that I met Rosevelt, who was there with his daughter. He had just finalized his divorce and was feeling pretty down. Rosevelt and his daughter, Elyse, have been able to come to a number of our services. He is very receptive to the Principle.
One of Mike's goals is to be able to get onto campus and teach the Divine Principle. Mike has so many contacts, and he has worked with all kinds of people, including the gay community, sharing Richard Cohen's material, on the healing of homosexuality. Even when people indicate that they are not interested, he will still pursue them with his love and truth.
Mike spends a lot of his time at the library studying Divine Principle and even at night when he sleeps, he listens to a Divine Principle tape play throughout the night. He is developing into a good lecturer and giver of Father's words. It has been a real joy seeing my husband so invested in his home church ministry. He is very caring and generous with his time and money. It is my deepest regret that I have not been more sensitive to his needs and supportive of his vision. Sometimes he feels as if he's "fighting the battle by himself." One thing that is for sure, my husband is incredibly self-motivated, and he is willing to take personal responsibility for this community. He has sacrificed working in his own home church area, the lower east side of New York, to come and work in my hometown. I know he misses his hometown very much and he has been back almost every year to spend some time in it, looking up old friends and family.
We have been involved with the hometown providence for exactly seven years now. We struggle to make unity every day so that we can give love to our son and community. We are 180 degrees different in how we relate to the Principle, to our True Parents, Heavenly Father, and our congregation and our son. I guess when you put it together, it makes a whole. We keep looking for ways to make the pieces fit, and more and more we are delightfully surprised. This summer we had the best surprise of all, in that we could take an 18-day trip, 4100 miles again back to New York, but this time, plotting our course so that we could visit all of our friends, and spiritual children, and blessing trinity along the way. It was just incredible how things worked out. It was one of the most fulfilling trips we have ever taken. We realized how blessed we were to be part of such an extended family and for all of this we have our True Parents to thank. We are so glad that we "knocked" and that we had the courage to "enter" when it was opened. We have a picture of Jesus on our altar. It depicts Him at a door, knocking. To my husband, this is the heart of home church. The door is the heart of the people. Heavenly Father, Jesus and our True Parents never gave up on us. So we can't give up either. There are many doors to knock on, and more and more are prepared to open. We just have to get out there and get things going, and "they will come."
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