Unification News for October 2004

Graduate Looks Back at Eight Years in Jardim

Michael Armstrong
October 2004

I first heard of 'New Hope Farm' in Brazil when I was a student at UTS in 1995. A group of Women's Federation for World Peace members, including a good friend of mine, had gone to Jardim, Brazil. My friend (a 777 couple) told me about Father's dream of transforming this huge amount of land (its circumference is the same as South Korea's) into the new Garden of Eden. I prayed that I would be able to go there.

In 1996 I graduated UTS and Father sent the graduating class to Jardim. He had spoken with the leaders, and the new graduates the entire night. He left abruptly to catch a plane, but before he left President Shimyo asked him for directions for the class of '96. Father turned and said, simply 'you have spent three years at UTS using your head, go to Brazil for three years and use your body.' I rejoiced at the news, but as I looked around faces dropped. We were being sent, literally, into the middle of nowhere (try to find Jardim on a map).

The first three years we 'farmed' and eventually helped on the construction of the school, which is now New Hope School and is doing well with over 300 student, both members and non-members. True Parents were there a lot. There was a small house they lived in and the rest of us lived in tents. It is very hot in Brazil, especially if you are doing construction work.

Father held a lottery sometime the second year and we all drew names of towns within the respective radius of 'God's Eternal Holy Land,' which Father proclaimed the area to be in the 'Jardim Declaration.' There were 33 cities drawn. A year later we all met with Father in the small house and he told us to pioneer our cities and to buy houses in each of the cities to be used as 'cultural centers'. The original plan was to first buy 'churches,' and then build a school and a factory. The idea was that we praise God, educate the mind, and sustain life through the body (via schools and factories), like the pilgrims did when they t first came to America.

Eventually the whole process was seriously complicated by the local politicians, who had originally welcomed True Parents. They became greedy and tried to get money via taxes from the land. The remainder of our first seven years here was spent sorting through lots of red tape. Everything has been resolved at this point. So, our first seven years were our indemnity course. We were like children who didn't know better and made mistakes. But now we have been here for almost eight years and we are growing up. Some of the cities are doing well, others continue to struggle, but we all share the original ideal set forth by our Parents of building a substantial Cheon Il Guk, 'thus establishing one global nation under God,' as the Divine Principle concludes.

In one of our meetings with Father, he foretold that half of us would leave Brazil, which came true. Of the original 33 city missionaries, I counted 15 at our last meeting. We still believe in and uphold the ideals of Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universally Shared Values and are trying to substantiate these ideals daily. Life is difficult here, it's a third world country, butwe arefinally adjusting to that.

The other day I realized that it has been quite some time since my family has had anything new in the way of clothes. Then I thought of Jesus saying (to paraphrase) 'don't worry about what to eat, or what to wear, but focus on the Kingdom of Heaven and all things will be given to you.' In that moment I transcended my own limitations and experienced a more eternal reality in keeping with the truth of Jesus saying. The only things eternal are beauty, truth and goodness. All the rest is ephemeral. Our Faith sustains us, absolutely.

For seven years we have basically endured. I can't honestly say I have any substantial result. It is a small Catholic town that rejects us. However, when I pray, I feel that we are merely conduits for the spirit world. If we were not here there would be no connection to be made, spiritually and providentially speaking. I first met True Parents in 1976, at the same time a brother from my city in Brazil named Itaporč, also met True Parents. His entire family joined. He had been studying to be a priest, so when he left to join the church the entire city was up in arms, and still is. To make a long story short, of his 10 brothers and sisters, 8 have received the Blessing. Two years ago he visited us in Itaporč and told us his story. On July 24th, 2004, all of them came back to Itaporč to give the Registration Blessing to their clan. My wife, Sonia, and I gave the Blessing to 106 people. I am crying as I write this because, after 8 years (the number of return) there is hope, or light at the end of the tunnel, or, at least there is a tunnel.

So, God and True Parents and our hopes and ideals are very much alive here in Itaporč, Brazil. Last year I started painting again, which I haven't done (except briefly at UTS) for over 20 years. I hope to be able through my art to begin to make a financial foundation to substantiate Cheon Il Guk, and our mission here.

So, day-by-day we are creating our own restored Garden of Eden in Brazil, beginning with our family and now reaching out to the clan level. We will connect this to our True Parents national, world and cosmic level to substantiate God's dream, His Kingdom on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus said, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is in your Heart.' Father says, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, it is Love.' It is in our heart, it is love. We've already registered as citizens of Heaven (Cheon Il Guk), now it's time to substantiate it.

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