Unification News for November 2003
In Memoriam Natsuki Yoshida
Natsuki Yoshida was born in Japan in 1983 and moved to Kenya with her family when she was 6 years old. Her parents were Blessed in the 1800 Couple Blessing. Natsuki joined STF in the beginning of March, 2003. During the kick-off workshop in July, she became sick and was taken to Albany Memorial Hospital where she was diagnosed with leukemia. She received chemotherapy for almost 2 weeks and was preparing to have a bone marrow transplant in Japan. Unfortunately, her central nervous system suddenly became infected, and she went to the spirit world on August 19th.
The Seung Hwa Ceremony was conducted on August 29th at Kosei Church in Tokyo, Japan, and attended by over 100 people. On the same day, Natsuki was buried in Oze Reien where many other church members are buried. International STF Director, Mr. Ittetsu Aoki, and 2 IWís (Ritsuko Seida and Makiko Watanabe) from STF USA attended, as well as the STF-Japan Director, Mr. Ohkawara, World CARP-Japan President, Mr. Matsunami, and STF-Korea Director, Mr. Yoon.
Natsukiís ascension was reported to Hyun Jin Nim immediately. He took this news very seriously, and gave a special message to Natsuki and her family through Mr. Jin Man Kwak. Hyun Jin Nim sent flowers to the Seung Hwa Ceremony in the name of Hyun Jin Nim and Jun Sook Nim. A few days later, he wrote a special calligraphy, "Natsuki Yoshida: A Daughter of Filial Piety of God and Heaven," and this was presented to her family at the Seung Hwa Ceremony. Also, Hyun Jin Nimís first son, Shin Won Nim, who happened to be in Japan for Service For Peace meeting, attended the prayer vigil on 28th and offered a flower.
As we gathered testimonies about Natsuki from her STF friends, captains and staff, and her family members, we were all reminded that Natsuki was an extraordinary blessed child who had a deep heart and love for God, True Parents, Hyun Jin Nim, and her brothers and sisters. Within just 5 months, Natsuki touched the hearts of so many, so deeply.
How Natsuki came to STF in America:
As she grew up in Kenya, where there were no other blessed children of her age except her elder brothers, Natsuki always kept a high standard of life of faith and tried to understand what it meant to be a blessed child.
Last year, after she graduated from high school in Kenya, Natsuki was visiting her brother in Japan and, "by coincidence," she attended a Sunday service which happened to be an introduction to STF by Mr. Ittetsu Aoki, International STF Director. As soon as she started watching the STF video, she decided in her mind to join STF-USA. She quickly convinced her parents, who knew nothing about STF and were a little concerned about her being alone in America, to give her permission to begin. She then worked in Japan for a while to earn the money pay for her plane ticket to America.
Natsuki in the Eyes of Other STF Members and Staff:
Natsuki's team in the van
Natsuki always had a strong determination to bring victory for God, True Parents, and Hyun Jin Nim no matter what it would take. We found out from her parents while we were in Japan that Natsuki always had an extremely strong character since she was a child, playing sports with boys in her high school and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro all the way to the top. While she was fundraising, she was constantly running from place to place, and pouring out her heart to people. Even when she was tired, she would never say so; nobody ever heard her complain, except a few times when she could not continue fundraising because of some public schedule change. She never stopped smiling and caring for others. Two of her Russian captains testified that they felt like Natsuki was their own physical sister, and they even felt closer to Natsuki than they did to their own family members.
Even though she never doubted God and TP, Natsuki felt challenged constantly on the frontline as she received harsh persecutions. She wrote in her diary that at those times, she often felt "treated like a bug. Through those challenging moments, I came to understand God and True Parents deeply. That is why I am so grateful." At the same time, she expressed disappointment at her own standard; she often felt sorry for not loving God and True Parents more. During her last testimony, given on July 26th, she shared about her most difficult fundraising condition in July, and her determination to become an unchanging, filial daughter of God and True Parents and dedicate her life to True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim.
Some testimonies from STF members:
" Natsuki was a very special person for me. She was in my team only for 30 days, but I feel like I knew her for a long time. I could see in Natsuki the fruit of her parentsí sacrifice in Africa as missionaries. Her heart was so beautiful and pure; she loved True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim. Even now, I cannot stop thinking about her and crying. She is my sunshineÖ" (Marina Berdyaeva; STF team captain)
A Persevering Spirit
" When she could not reach her external goal, she would not stop fundraising. When we finished fundraising and went to order dinner at a fast food restaurant, she would beg her captain to let her go fundraising while everyone else was ordering food. She would go out to the parking lot, fundraising." (Jeong Hwa Kusakari)
"Everybody in my team was inspired by Natsukiís report of her fundraising. She would compare herself with True Parents and Heavenly Father. She had a courageous, tough, and never-give-up spirit." (Marina Berdyaeva)
Living for the sake of others:
" On the frontline, Natuski would really give all her energy and offer all of herself. She is someone who would never rest and never waste public time. One time I went out fundraising with her in an office, approaching different customersÖ By the time I finally got kicked out, I saw Natsuki at the entrance waiting for me and praying. Although she was not able to fundraise because she was almost immediately kicked out from the office, she was happy when she learned that I did very well in this office. I found out later that while she was waiting for me, she was actually praying for the whole team." (Michiyo Kagawa)
"Natsuki was like Cinderella. She would always wake up early and clean our vans. Because of Natsuki, we could always live in beautiful vans.
She never asked her parents for money; she sacrificed her calling time (calling her parents) because she did not want spend money to buy a calling card. The only times I saw her spending money was when she bought cards for her captains before changing teams. She would take her time to choose the best cards for each of her captains." (Jeong Hwa Kusakari)
"(At the kick-off workshop:) One night, I was looking for beds for a few people who arrived around 1:30 am. Then, Natsuki, who had a high fever just before she was taken to the hospital, woke up and came to me, "Can I help you?" I gently scolded her, "What are you talking about? You are sick!" But at the same time, I was just moved by her heart." (Makiko Watanabe)
Her testimony on July 26, 2003 at the kick-off workshop:
" Other brothers and sisters went home for 2 weeks during the STF summer break, but Natsuki did not go home (due to the high expense of traveling to Africa). Then, Natsuki started her testimony by saying, ĎActually I went home, too, like many of you. My van is my home. I met my own parents and brothers, because my captain is my mother and my brothers and sisters are my family. Thatís why I went home.í When I heard that, I felt how much she loved STF. I wondered how she could have such a beautiful heart. We used to call her "princess" (because she had long hair), but I thought she was a real princess and I believe she would be the best princess in heaven." (In Sung Hwan)
Natsukiís dream (Many of her captains and teammates knew this dream.)
" Her dream was to build a boarding school for all blessed children and teach them about True Parents, and protect them from satanic culture." (Olga Pak; STF team captain)
Natsukiís Heart of Filial Piety
With her friends
According to one of her captains, the reason Natsuki did not want to ask her parents for money was that she thought Hyun Jin Nim would never ask his parents for money. That was how she tried to inherit such a filial, loyal heart from Hyun Jin Nim.
Also, Natsuki said that if she asked her parents to send money, she knew they would send more money than she needed, so she did not want to ask at all. Even when the staff advised her to call home so that her parents could hear her voice, she simply refused. Instead she communicated only by e-mail. She just did not want to be a burden for her parents, and did not want them to worry about her at all.
Natsuki felt she was loved by God and her parents. Once in a conversation, she said, "I would do anything for my parents. I can even die for my parents."
During the Colorado workshop in April, Natsuki was deeply inspired by one Filipino sisterís testimony of longing for True Father who was in the hospital that time. Natsuki felt she did not love True Parents enough, and she wrote in her diary: "I know that I do not love True Parents as much as Flora (who gave the testimony). I want to love True Parents. I want to become a filial daughter who can even die for God."
Natsuki in the Hospital
On the first evening she went to the hospital, the IW who was taking care of her asked Natsuki if she wanted anything. Natsuki responded, "I want my Hoon Dok Hae books." According to her mother, who came from Kenya to take care of her for 2 weeks, Natsuki was always awake for 5am pledge and Hoon Dok Hae.
Even while she was in the hospital, Natsuki was worried more about her motherís health than her own deadly illness, which she was fully aware of. Her mother was living in the hospital, but Natsuki would give her mother a massage and prepare a bed for her. Her mother said to Natsuki, "I donít know who is the patient!"
Natsuki must have been suffering tremendously from chemotherapy; however, she was fighting not to be bothered by her sickness. Whenever she called the STF staff, Natsuki told us how desperate she was to go back to the frontline, asked how other brothers and sisters were doing, and talked about her plan to give testimonies about STF in Japan after receiving a bone marrow transplant. Natsuki told us how she pushed herself to eat while she was receiving chemotherapy and suffering from nausea, thinking that eating would make her strong enough to go back to the frontline earlier. Unless somebody truly loves the frontline experience, it is impossible to push oneself that much when in such a physical condition.
We know from reading her diary that Natsuki never asked God why she was chosen to be in this position. She wrote, "I am grateful that I became sick, because it would be unbearable for me to see somebody else being sick like me and suffer. I will go through any kind of treatment, and come back to God, True Parents, and Hyun Jin Nim with my physical body."
All the doctors and nurses on her floor loved Natsuki, even after they all found out that she was a Unification Church member. When she was sent to the Intensive Care Unit, they all came to send her off. Natsukiís mother thought it was because they all knew that Natsuki might die, but somebody told her that it was because they all were moved by Natsukiís bright spirit despite her serious illness.
A Message to Second Generation from Natsuki
We did not know that it was going to be our last chance to see Natsuki at the hospital (August 3rd), and we were casually talking about second generation. When she was asked if she wanted to say something to other blessed children, after several seconds of silence, Natsuki clearly said, "This is what I want to say, that I would like all second generation to know and love True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim." When she was visiting Japan last year, she saw that second generation did not know their identity, position, and responsibility; she was disappointed that many second generation were not able to appreciate the fact that they were born as blessed children. It seemed that, as she went through the STF training, her determination to protect and educate blessed children became stronger.
A Special Prayer Vigil and the Seung Hwa Ceremony
The night before the Seung Hwa ceremony, we presented a 30-minute testimony about Natsuki, including parts of her diary while she was on STF. Natsukiís parents were especially happy and deeply grateful for the testimony because they had not known so much about how Natsuki had been growing since she came to STF. The audience who knew Natsuki very little was also moved to tears. Natsukiís father gave a speech at the end, saying, "When we went to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, she went to the very top and I could not. Now as I listened to this testimony, I feel once again Natsuki surpassed me, this time, spiritually."
As we prayed overnight for Natsuki, we were able to spend more time with her parents. They told us how they fundraised in Japan and pioneered business in Africa. Her mother said to us at one point, "Natsuki was a very good child, never doubting God and True Parents. Then, she came to STF and grew spiritually even more. I think she went to the spirit world at the highest, purest point of her spiritual life." She seemed to be concerned about the education of the second generation as well. "Natsuki told me how many second generation was doing in Japan, and she was very disappointed. If blessed children do not inherit the mission we, the first generation, started, all of our suffering will be in vain. That is why we need to take care of the second generation."
During the Seung Hwa ceremony, Natsukiís mother shared, "It was extremely difficult to organize the Seung Hwa ceremony in Japan, and I have been wondering why God wanted us to have the Seung Hwa in Japan. Now, after listening to Natsukiís testimony, I feel Natsuki truly wanted to revive 2nd generation and she wanted us to convey her message to 2nd generation in Japan first. I believe that STF and 7-year course can help 2nd generation to understand and prepare for their life-long mission, and I am grateful to Hyun Jin Nim who is leading 2nd generation this way. Thank you very much for coming here to celebrate Natsukiís new beginning."
As we listened to her parentsí speech, we felt more strongly compelled to convey Natsukiís message to 2nd generation, and to as many people as possible, to fulfill her dream.
Compiled by the STF staff
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