Unification News for April 2004

Northern California Winter Workshop

by Nancy Asmundson

One hundred and twenty excited, energetic teenagers descended upon the Bay Area Family Church (BAFC) in San Leandro, California for the Annual Winter Workshop held December 26 – 30, 2003. Girls could be heard screaming, "Amy!! Gina!! Oh, my God, so good to see you!!" Guys could be heard saying, "Hey, Dude! What’s up?" It was like "old home" week as teens from all over the country renewed friendships and caught up with each other. Kenritsu Yamamoto, the Youth Minister for the BAFC, kicked off the Orientation with opening remarks followed by a welcome speech from Northern California Regional Director, Rev. Man Ho Kim. Soon, everyone was assigned to groups mixing everyone up – boys, girls, locations – giving everyone a chance to make new friends and relationships. After a delicious dinner prepared by volunteer parents, everyone continued activities that helped one another get to know each other and meld as a group. A meditation lead by Yeondo Durst moved the first day to a deeper spiritual level.

This year, we were fortunate to have Mr. Tony Devine join us to give lectures all day on Saturday, December 27. Mr. Devine talked about goals: how to set them and apply them in every day life. After lunch on Saturday, everyone went to do a service project. Two groups went out. As the BAFC has a long standing relationship for doing service projects with the City of Oakland, one group accepted the invitation to the East Bay Regional Parks District EcoFarm to do weeding. It was great to be out in the fresh air working together!! Everyone pitched in and soon many of those nasty old weeds had been eradicated from the farm! Another group took big trash bags, went down to the San Leandro Marina and picked up many bags of trash. That evening after dinner there was a very insightful panel discussion on the blessing. On the panel were: Tony Devine, Mike Lograsso, Robin Cox, Kenritsu Yamamoto, Philina Lim, K. Buscovich, and Kenshu Aoki. Many interesting questions were raised as the teens mulled over the meaning of the blessing. Wisdom, pain and humor were expressed as the panel shared from their own experiences.

On Sunday, December 28, we had an Outing Day. About half the teens had signed up for skiing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Donner Ski Ranch (DSR). These teens and their wonderful volunteer drivers piled into cars and vans for the 3 hour trip to the mountains right after pledge in the morning. Due to the excellent staff at DSR, everyone was able to get onto the slopes quickly. Novices got right into an introductory class while experienced skiers couldn’t wait to head to the top for the first run of the day. Except for a brief break for lunch it was shush, shush, shush! At the end of the day, everyone agreed the runs down the slopes had been truly "radical". The remaining group of teens with no inclination to ski/snowboard, headed for San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf for a rousing picture treasure hunt. Everyone was divided into teams of about 8 people. Each team was provided with a disposable camera and a list of places and people to photograph. Of course, the team that returned with pictures of the most items on their list won! Everyone had a real adventure meeting new people and perhaps seeing things they might not have noticed before. Once the pictures were developed, the whole workshop enjoyed looking at them posted around the room. Thanks go to Liz McClellan and her team for assembling the posters of pictures.

On Monday, it was back to lectures again. Brenna Iredale shared deeply about her experience of joining the church and having to fight for her faith as she went through being kidnapped and dealing with deprogrammers. Many of the participants were not aware of the challenges that Brenna and others had in joining and remaining members of our church. Kenritsu gave a lecture about being 2nd generation. In the afternoon a particularly moving part of the workshop was the "Crossing the Line" activity. In this activity everyone starts on one side of the room. Kenritsu began asking questions such as, "Who has one or two Korean parents? All those go to the other side of the room." Kenritsu then talked about the resentment, sacrifice, and judgement that goes with it. One person gave a short testimony about their experience. Then, Kenritsu asked who from the other side would stand by their brothers and sisters and love and support them. Most went over. Before a new question was asked, everyone went back to one side of the room. The questions got progressively deeper: Who’s hated their parents? Who’s tried drugs or alcohol? Who has divorced or single parents? Who has been depressed? Who has been suicidal? Many teens were moved by this activity. One participant said, "I felt very moved during it (crossing the line). My heart felt so much empathy for those that had trouble with their parents, and especially those that have contemplated suicide and attempted it. I just wanted to hug everyone." Another participant said, "I felt safe and secure because of all the love we were receiving from our brothers and sisters. I know they’ll always be there for me." Many participants wept as they held or were held by their brothers and sisters.

Monday evening started with prayer and reflection. Everyone grabbed coats and other warm gear to head out to the San Leandro Marina. Once at the Marina, everyone bundled up for a short walk to the end of a spit that extends into the San Francisco Bay through the icy wind and slashing rain. After a deep prayer from Kenritsu, everyone had a chance to pray for 21 minutes and even though EVERYONE got SOAKED, it was often a deep experience!! One participant said, "It (the prayer) was great! The rain and wind was awesome! I really felt like I could just tell Heavenly Father everything! SOOOO, GREATFUL(sp)! It was amazing! It took a big weight off me." Another participant said, "It (the prayer) was a good experience. I hadn’t prayed in a while so it was a good feeling to do it again. The rain added to the effect and I received some sort of answer to the questions I had." After returning to the church and drying off, everyone’s favorite activity of every workshop, entertainment was held. Turned out there were many class acts from our teens. I tell you, you haven’t rapped until you’ve been heavenly rapped with the 2nd gen!!

All too soon it was Tuesday, the last day of the workshop. In final group meetings and reflections, many said that if the workshop were longer it would be better! As the vans headed out for homes and destinations far and near, many took with them new determinations for 2004, names and e-mails/screen names of new friends and many new inspirations for their lives.

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