The Words of the Toffey Family
1975 Ancestor Liberation in Korea - My Experience
March 28, 2003
Back in 1975 I went with the IOWC-First Global Team to Japan and Korea. I had just joined months before our January departure for Tokyo. It was actually a very amazing time but I am not sure what kind of foundation I had. Having only been in the movement for less than 5 months, I found myself in downtown Tokyo with a team of 350 western members and 350 Japanese members.
I firmly believe that for the first six months after joining the church my head was in the clouds. I realize that is not true for everyone, but it was really true for me. I was swept off the streets of Berkeley, CA and landed in Tokyo. When that 'cloud' dissipated I was in a foreign country not really understanding what was going on.
The reason I mention this, is that most of my first year in the church was actually in Japan and Korea. Frankly I didn't always know what was going on. Most of the time however, I was fairly happy just to experience what I was experiencing. It was really thrilling to be part of this historical tour with True Parents.
One of my most memorable experiences was with this old lady in our church that I had been told had been given authority over spirit world. I must admit that I did understand the significance, but this in Korea and I felt the spirit world was much closer than I had felt before. Actually she seemed very nice. I believe her name was Miss Oh (?) Halmeonee. She had these most amazing eyes. Before she was born her parents expected that she was going to be a boy and going to be the messiah. Being very disappointed, they raised her as a dog (her words). She was not allowed in the family house and was fed scraps. She ultimately got ill and went blind. She was saved by a group of Buddhists and brought to Japan where she had many spiritual experiences and partly regained her sight. She had a very hard life. When she met Father, her life was complete. Because of her spiritual experiences and power, Father asked her to help with spiritual problems. She did have the most wonderful spirit. She really glowed.
We saw this halmeonee a couple of times. She came around to bless our buses and pray for us. Someone had a revelation that Christians were going to attack our buses with stones after Father's great victory in Pusan. So she prayed for our safety.
From what I understood she asked Father if she could do an ancestor liberation. It was performed at the VOC/ILHWA compound in Kuri. Frankly, I didn't have a clue what was going on or what to expect. No one else did either, I think. We met in a large room and given some instructions.
We were to pray with our hands together in front of ourselves in a prayer position. We were to pray for our ancestors to come and be liberated. And once our ancestors came, this nice woman would put a piece of paper between our hands, pray, and then ultimately we would burn the pieces of paper.
This did turn into a quite a carnival show. It seemed once we got going, some of these ancestors started to kick in. There were various levels of possessions happening. On the mild side, Japanese members sometimes started knocking their wrists together. Halmeonee would bring such people up to the front and explain what was going on. In this case it was Buddhist ancestor that had conditions to knock sticks together when he were on earth and he was continuing such activities in the spirit world. But there were also some more heavy situations. There was one brother who stood there with the backs of his hands locked together while he was crying. It was explained that one of this brother's ancestors had vowed never to pay because he was angry at God. So in the spirit world his hands were locked in this position. It was amazing watching this because the countenance of the member would change. This brother had a real sad mournful look. When the halmeonee took his hands, turned them around, and gave him the piece of paper, the brother burst into a wide grin. Now that ancestor was free to pray in the spirit world. There were a number of other cases, like the sister who was flinging her arms around. Seems her ancestor was killed by his two mistresses when they had found out about each other, and he was still looking for them. Drunks, thieves, murderers, and adulterers filled the room. Often this halmoenee became very serious and explained about come very dark spiritual realities. Brothers and sisters were having an average of about three or more ancestors liberated. It was quite a show.
Well, I too was paraded up to the front. I thought to myself, "Oh, no... what have my ancestors been up to?" My hands had started bouncing off each other. Really it was more the tips of my fingers that were bouncing off each other. I was praying and watching what was going on, and my hands kept bouncing. I was fully aware of what was going on. I could listen to the other testimonies. But my hands kept bouncing. Now it was my turn.
When the halmeonee came to me, her demeanor changed completely. She had been very serious. She started to laugh. She explained to everyone that my ancestors were just so happy that I had met True Father that they were clapping and applauding in the spirit world. They were really happy that I could be there. She was amazed that 31 of my ancestors showed up to be liberated.
It was then that a couple of pieces of a puzzle fell into place. A year before I joined the church, I took up playing the 5 string banjo. Immediately I was attracted to a folk style of playing which is very different from contemporary bluegrass picking. I really enjoyed that. Then just before leaving for California, to ultimately join the church, I saw a picture of my great-grandfather's living room. In the very center of the picture was a 5 string banjo just like mine with the banjo head worn the same way my banjo was worn, meaning he played the same style. When I first saw the picture, I thought that was interesting. However, after that liberation ceremony I felt my great-grandfather saying that he was really with me.
I was still less than a year in the church. The many experiences I had that first year did shape my life of faith. Eventually I returned to America with my 31 happy ancestors. And I was happy that they where happy.
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