The Words of the Schenk Family
My year on ETF
In this reflection I want to share about my European Task Force (ETF) year 2001 / 2002...
Ever since I heard about ETF, maybe 2 years ago, I was excited about the idea. Already back then I knew I would do ETF in the future. I didn't really had reasons, neither I could explain why I wanted to do this, I just felt it was the right thing for me to do. So that brought me to ETF. When I arrived in Camberg I didn't have such a clear picture of what the year would be about. I remember meeting everybody on the first day, back than most of them were strangers for me, or just people whom I know from face. Now a year later I consider them as family.
The kick off workshop was in one word great. It was a good preparation for the year ahead of us. Finally I got some idea what full-time mission really means. I realised on the workshop that ETF was something serious and that it was definitely something more than just travelling around Europe meeting new people and cultures. I realised that with the decision of joining ETF I offered a year to God. What does this mean, to offer a year? That means to always, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week etc etc, work for God. Help Him to fulfil his purpose here on the earth. So it also means to live for the public purpose, to constantly think about the others in your team, to be constantly ready to help someone. This is what we tried to practise during this year.
Like I said the first workshop was great. The atmosphere was really high. Everybody was determined to make this a good year. We could learn a lot from the lectures and the short taste of fundraising we got in Dusseldorf and of course we also had loads of fun. The real thing started at the end of the workshop. We got split up into 2 teams. I was put into Stephan's team and the next day we would head to Scotland. To be honest I got a bit nervous at that time. Now ETF would really start. No more fooling around in the mud. Now we would experience what mission work is about.
After the first day of fundraising all my fears were gone and I was full of excitement. I was immediately in love with the country and its people. Fundraising was really good for me, right from the beginning already. In Holland I did quite some fundraising before but the whole internal goal was new for me. Through this aspect I could learn so much. I remember the time in Scotland as very exciting. Our team leader always made us try out new challenges or gave us some challenges to fulfil on the way. This made it impossible to get into a routine.
In the DP is written that we can grow spiritually by receiving love. That was maybe why I learned so much in Scotland. I experience so much love. From the people I met at the door or in the street. Total strangers who would offer me so much. The love I felt from the team was also amazing for me, something I never experienced like that before. Of course fundraising can be difficult and there are days that you suffer a lot. But knowing that there are 8 brothers and sisters who are going through the same and who care so much for me gave me a lot of power during "challenging runs". And of course I received so much love from God. Through the people, through my team leader and through my team members. God always tried to teach me new things, He gave me so much opportunities to overcome myself and to grow. And He helped me in rough times, reaching out to me through the people and encouraging me to keep on going.
In Scotland I learned about the power of faith. I could see with my own eyes what believing in something can bring about. Many times I had to make so much effort to believe in a certain goal. I was asking myself: can I make this much? Can I do it with the help and support of God and the spirit world.? When I was able to answer with a straight yes I can I always made my goal. I saw the most incredible goals becoming reality. With faith everything is possible. Everything starts with believing first.
The external conditions during our fundraise time were quite tough. It was freezing cold, we got little sleep and on top of this we went a few times on MFT to the north of the country to experience ourselves being squeezed together in one small van full of product. All these external conditions weren't important for me because I felt I was in an internal very rich and luxurious environment. Enough about Scotland. I can write about it for many more pages. I guess it was one of the most precious times of my time on ETF. At the end our team spirit was so high. We were ready to overcome every challenge, together as one. In the end of the 2 months I just felt so sad to leave Scotland.
After being at some winter workshops the next big challenge faced us: witnessing. At the beginning of ETF I kind of felt prepared for fundraising, I had experience from the fundraising with the Dutch harp, but witnessing, I had no clue what to expect. We met up in Slovakia for a (too) short kick off workshop. We got all hyped up by some testimonies and exciting stories by the Slovakian brothers and sisters. It was a special moment though in that house there. The atmosphere was weird. You just felt something going on. Suddenly all of us got really excited with the idea of changing Europe. Through our witness campaign we wanted to show the rest of the movement that witnessing is possible. We wanted to inspire the rest of Europe by bringing in some result. On that afternoon we made the promise to bring back 77 people to God. Again we had to go through the heartbreaking process of splitting up in new teams. I was again in Stephan's team and our destiny was Hungary. To be honest I didn't felt so comfortable in going to Hungary with this team. I had prejudices about Hungary and the movement there and I wasn't too happy with the teams. Later I realised that God didn't put me in the situation I wanted (I wanted to go to Slovakia and be with the people of the other team) but in the situation that I needed. It took me a long time to realise this though.
I remember that we arrived in our centre in Györ. It was such a humble and small place. At that moment I thought by myself: "there must be another place where we will sleep and stay" But there wasn't. That small flat with hardly any furniture was our home and witnessing base for the next five months. Not only the external conditions were tough in Hungary. Internally it was much harder. Especially the beginning was really tough for me. The first few weeks everyone had such a success. The centre was jam-packed with guests from the street. The whole team was so excited. But I had no success. I remember there were weeks without being able to bring any guest. It was cold outside and when I looked from the square into the narrow szabadsajtó street I could hear them sing songs and having good times up there. That was a difficult time. I felt no support from the team. No love. No care. In difficult times during these five months this feeling always came back. The lack of love in the team.
The break in February was more then needed and I'm grateful that Emanuel took the decision to go with all of us to Korea. The 2 weeks there were amazing. In that short time we saw so much. I also used the time to reflect about the witnessing. How I could improve my attitude. After Korea I went back to Györ full of new hope. And things changed. I had a really good time. I felt so close to God in those weeks after Korea. I felt often so guided by God. It was amazing. I would always start the witnessing with a prayer walk around the square. In those prayers I desperately asked God to guide me to the right people. At the end of the prayer I walked to the middle of the square. I would open my eyes and walk up to the first person I saw. In this way I met my best guests.
In general it is quite difficult for me to talk about my time in Györ. Internally it was often extremely difficult. I had times I couldn't go out witnessing. I couldn't approach the people and I didn't know why. At the end of the condition everything got so confused for me. Doubt came into my mind and it made me so insecure and sceptical. I suddenly became very negative and doubtful about many things. But I didn't want it. I couldn't understand what was happening. Still now I cannot really explain what happened in Györ, why it was so difficult. Let me just say that all of us went through a lot and that you had to be there to understand it. The relationship with my team leader was quite interesting. In Scotland me and Stephan could get on very well. In Hungary with some more struggles. Although both of us were fighting and arguing a lot with each other I must say one picture of Stephan remains in my heart. I'm just so grateful for everything he did for us. Often he had no clue how to handle things or what to do but his intention was always good, always to help and guide us. The situation was difficult for all of us but definitely the most difficult for him and I have deep respect for the way he led the team. Thank you Stephan.
Although we went over a lot of peaks and through deep valleys, the end was great. The end of our five months was a blessing from God. On our last workshop we had 13 guests (the goal was 10), the workshop was great, our guest were fabulous persons and telling them about our True Parents was really precious. After this great and successful workshop we only had a good-bye party left. On that evening so many people came. They sang songs for us, they were reading poems they wrote and they gave us gifts. Many of them were crying. At that moment it struck me. Now I can see the result of our work. Now I can see clearly what this time was for. Often out on the battlefield I felt that all of this has no purpose. But it did! So much. We could give these people, our new brothers and sisters so much. We meant something for them. In some cases we changed there lives. We made some people experience love, Gods love and we brought these people in contact with our True Parents. All of this made the five months of blood sweat and tears worth it. More then worth it.
Our next mission was fundraising. I was looking forward to this already a long time in Hungary. I felt fundraising is what I need at the moment. We drove all the way up to Norway. The country was beautiful but the fundraising was disappointing for me. The condition was quite short, a little more then 2 weeks. In those 2 weeks I learned one very important lesson: love the people. I realised the importance of this although I was not practising it. My results were very bad and later I could see that this was because of my bad attitude towards the people. I was hatful towards them when they didn't give something and I could see their Mercedes and Porsche on the driveway. I had a good time with the team though. And seeing those amazing sunsets and beautiful landscape was incredible.
That was Norway, up to Poland were we went for a few days to meet Dae Mo Nim. The atmosphere was really great and I was also very happy to meet my father. When we were there I got asked to be a team leader for the fundraise condition in Denmark. First I wasn't really sure about it because the condition in Norway was quite disappointing for me. But I felt I had to do it. I felt that I was given this opportunity to experience what it is to be a leader. This was quite important for me because I was thinking a lot about doing a second year or not. And I felt trust from the people above so I decided to take the challenge. Denmark turned out to be a really great experience, a bit short though. The most precious was that I felt that God could really work through me being the team leader. Often I didn't know what to talk about for morning service but always I would find a good inspiration. I knew for myself that I had many shortcomings but it gave me a lot of confidence to see that God could still use me and work through me. In Denmark I got quite inspired to do a second year. It would still take me some time to make the final decision.
The next thing was the settlement age workshop. I had a nice time there. Workshops are always nice and fun but I felt I couldn't learn so much compared to fundraising. I won't go into so much more detail about this workshop as I feel it didn't influence my year that much. Though during this workshop I made the decision to do a second year. I felt God wants me to do it, especially after a speech from Tim Miller where he emphasised that we should live for the sake of God. I felt that I could practise this on another year of ETF. I was also very inspired about the fact that about 40 brothers and sisters signed up for next years ETF. I just realised how important it is that we can pass the foundation build up during this year. It would be such a shame if they have to start next year from scratch again. During the workshop we heard that Emanuel prepared a "special surprise" for the people doing a second year. Stefan Kaiser appeared and he was gonna take us on a 21 day team leader training. This sounds nice but it came down to a tough fundraise campaign in Berlin. In the beginning when I heard about this "nice surprise" I wasn't so excited. I was kinda afraid for going fundraising in Germany. I had bad experiences from the past I guess. Also Stefan Kaiser seemed quite enthusiastic about doing some crazy, hardcore, American style fundraising. After a few days I overcame my difficulties to unite with this new mission and I realised the preciousness of fundraising. So up we went to Berlin in the big KM van, our home for the next 3 weeks. I decided to make my main focus to breakthrough with the people. I wanted to learn to love the German people and restore my past difficulties with them. It was really interesting that Stefan Kaiser also focused a lot on loving the people. In the beginning he even gave like 3 morning services about it. I remember my first day out still quite clearly. I made the determination to go out with the right attitude and to keep this no matter what happened. During the run, especially in the beginning, I got so much negative responses from the people. The people I met at the door called me a beggar, told me to piss off, asked me why the hell I don't take a normal job etc etc. I felt that this was my chance to love the people. During that run I made so much effort to stay positive, positive about what I was doing and positive towards the people. In the end of the day I had a small breakthrough wich showed me that I was working in the right way. In the rest of the 3 weeks I constantly focused on the same thing: loving the people and trusting in God. Fundraising in Germany was very interesting. Stefan Kaiser told us that the spiritual world is really sensitive in Germany and I experienced many times that this is really true. When I went out unfocused I always had a bad result. The people could really sense my mood/spirit. After realising this I got a very good feeling. I felt that I was totally in charge.
The time in Berlin was good. It took me some time to breakthrough but especially the last 2 weeks I felt so victorious. I could breakthrough in any kind of area. My first big breakthrough was in a low-class shopping area with a lot of foreign people. I was at that time really focusing on trusting in God. At the start of the run I would meet people who would tell me that it is no point in fundraising here because all the people are so poor. I just replied to them that I at least wanted to try. In fact I just wanted to have faith that God can work through me. And I broke through that day. The first run I missed 3 sales for my goal of the run. There were only a few minutes left. It looked that I was far from my goal but I wanted to believe. I did believe that it was still possible. The last shop I went through I could see God working again. The Turkish shop owner bought 3 wind chimes from me through which I exactly made my goal. I had so many experiences with breaking through if I could have this absolute faith and trust in God.
The fundraise condition was also some kind of leadership training. Stefan Kaiser gave us very good morning services about how we can take care of a team. He also gave us so many good tips and advices about what being a leader is all about. He would also take time to share with us personally. We never really had these personal talks during ETF. They were for all of us very meaningful and the advice I received was very helpful. It was very good having someone who is so experienced as team leader. I learned an incredible amount about fundraising and leading a fundraising team.
The last 5 days were amazing. It was at that time when I had the most incredible experiences with God. Also during those 5 days I broke through in any kind of area with any kind of people. I made my goals higher and higher and through loving the people and trusting in God I was always able to reach these high goals. The last day I made an (for me) extremely high goal. Already the evening before I decided for myself that there was only one option for tomorrow and that was to reach that goal. I was extremely determined. The most determined I ever was to reach a goal. I was the first drop off and got a village for myself. When my team leader was explaining the area I felt a big desire in myself to reach out to the people and to go all out. I could finally go and on the way to my area I approached one lady. She had no money but suddenly said she felt an impulse that God would work with me in the future. She told me that God would use me for his work. I was very moved by what the lady said, she was just so nice. After we prayed together I ran to my area. The first hour I had zero result. I felt I was kind off tested whether I could keep up my faith. I did and in the rest of the run amazing things happened. Things I cannot really explain. Everyone was buying from me and people whom I totally didn't expect. I had half an hour left and I ran out of area. I decided to go back to a small square to re-do some restaurants. I entered a restaurant and got told off quite badly by the waitress because I was there already earlier on. On my way out 3 men at a table called me over. They seemed to be the owners and they bought 3 wind chimes from me. Waiting for the pick up I couldn't really explain what happened during the run. Until I remembered what the lady said to me in the beginning of the run. I realised that it wasn't the lady that spoke to me but that it was God. He told me that He would work through me and use me for His work as long as I could keep up my faith. I showed my faith during the first our and after that I received such amazing blessings from God. The realisation that God is so close to me and that He can work through me if I set the right conditions is so incredible. Through this experience I will never doubt God again. I ended up the day with making my goal, far the highest result I ever made in Germany. Though the experience was much more important for me. The fundraising condition in Berlin was definitely one of the highlights of the year. I could learn so much more about fundraising as well learn some leadership skills which are hard needed for next year. In this time I also had many experience in which God really wanted to teach me valuable lessons. The most important I learned was to have trust in God. Further I learned what it means to love people and that true love is the key to success.
I guess that was my year. Writing this reflection was so difficult. There are so many emotions involved in this year. It would be impossible to express clearly what I went through, with this reflection I just want to give you a taste of what this year of public mission was like for me. It has been definitely the most intense year I had so far. A year in which I learned a lot. A year in which a grew up. I felt this year of spiritual education has been so valuable for me. I improved my relationship with God so much. God became real for me. Not something I intellectually believe in but something I can connect to in heart. I could also learn from the relationships within the group. I realised the importance of vertical unity through many experiences. The support and love I received from everyone on ETF was really precious to me and I will cherish it in my heart forever. This year will never be forgotten by any of us. We overcome, we made it through, our bond is set in stone.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank those who made this year for me a success. I'm grateful to God for guiding me and His constant present. Without God this year would have been nothing and only because of God I could overcome the challenges with what I was faced. I want to thank my parents for supporting me during the year: My father for his advice and my mother for her guidance and presence. Thanks to those who made ETF possible: Emanuel & Limi for there hard work and total dedication in their mission, Julius for his guidance, advice and the care and love he showed to all of us, Laszlo & Milena for supporting us in Hungary as well as all the other Hungarian members who supported us. And a big thanks to all those who helped and contributed to make ETF possible this year.
Of course I shouldn't forget my dear brothers and sisters with whom I spent a whole year with. With whom I shared ups and downs, tremendous joy and deep depressions. It was a privilege to share this year with all of you.
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