Unification News for July 2005

The Second Generation Blessing Workshop Testimony

Tomiyuki Kuramoto
June 17 Ė June 19, 2005
Pasadena House, Pasadena CA

I did MC/staff in the 2nd generation blessing preparation workshop that took place from June 17th to 19th at the Pasadena house. I didnít feel I was ready to take such an important role and I seriously didnít have time to prepare because I was stressed with studying for finals, getting ready to move out of the apartment, and preparing the paperwork and other logistics so that I can move to Michigan for work, and the hardest of all, my wife had gone to New York in the middle of this confusion. I strongly felt that the workshop was able to start off because of the enthusiasm and solid support of the participants and their parents who came to give all the support they can provide. The workshop officially started on June, 17th after participants enjoyed a brief and simple dinner together with staff. Once the dinner was finished, the workshop orientation started. Uncle Keith McCarthy, father of Shawn McCarthy and four brothers and a sister, gave the welcome note to start, and introduced the staff. Rev. Inguk Seo, the director of 2nd Generation Blessing Department, gave the introduction, and gave us a short testimony and guidance for the blessing. The main lecturer for the workshop, Rev. Phillip Schanker wasnít to arrive in time to speak at the kick off orientation. However, as soon as he arrived, he shared all the time he could afford with staff and gave us encouragement, guidance, and warm smile. Honestly, I was feeling overwhelmed before, during and after the orientation because so much responsibilities were given to me. I was expected to manage the workshop in terms of its atmosphere, schedule and logistics, and I felt this role required far more than my whole heart, brain and humor, than I can offer. However, I started feeling lighter spiritually and felt a lot more focus and clear after the meeting with Rev. Schanker. I didnít really know him before because I had only seen him few times from a distance and never spoke with him in person.

The meeting was somewhat brief but it made us realize how important this workshop is for the future of our 2nd gen. brothers and sisters!! Rev. Schanker proposed to have another meeting with all the group leaders and staff members to unite the workshop atmosphere and the spirit. After the meeting was over, I was thinking about the blessing testimony that I was told to give later in the workshop. I have given testimonies several times in the past, but none of them really had clear or substantial points that I could convey. I havenít really faced big challenges in terms of the blessing and the marriage. From my perspective, the relationship with my wife, Mitsy Anceney, is working out relatively well and steady with just a few slight ups and downs, however, I am sure that my wife feels differently even when we experience the same thing.

Usually I have hard time sleeping when I staff for the workshop and this time was no exception. I didnít sleep throughout the night thinking about my blessing testimony. I was blessed in July of 2003 and have started family since September of the same year. It seemed I had so much to share, but at the same time, none of them were intense enough to be the testimony. Instead of trying to recall the blessing experience, I started remembering the past including my early childhood. It was very detailed and thorough; I even remembered how my kindergarten classmates looked like. It was somehow extraordinary because everything I wanted to remember just popped up in my mind with details so clearly. I wasnít sure why this was happening to me in the middle of the night which continued till the next morning. It didnít quite figure out the reason until I heard lectures by Rev. Schanker later that day. His lecture for the first day was about the Blessing with emphasis on the principle of creation, the three blessings and the four realms of heart. When I heard about the four realms of heart, something hit me inside. I realized how closely the experiences of the childhood impact the way you relate with your spouse and even friends and neighbors.

I am fortunate that I experienced a multi-dimension of love since I have both brother and sisters, and because I grew up with a bunch of people of different nationalities including Japanese, Korean, American, French, and Chinese as far as I can recall. My parents werenít there with me all the time, instead, Japanese sisters took care of me and other kids together. I started feeling the deep appreciation to my parents, brother and sisters, and everybody else who I came to know at some point of my life. It is very unfortunate that not everybody can grow up in the family that is filled with love and respect. I know quite few people both outside and inside the church who were raised in the broken family environment. The relationships with the parents are unique for everyone, but during the group discussion after the lectures we started to identify how the experience with the father is very similar among us. I was a group leader for the group of brothers who are not participating with their spouses or are not blessed yet. Most of us shared the feeling of resembling their father in the way we didnít want to resemble. I was struggling exactly with this issue and had numerous arguments when I used to live with my parents in Miami, Florida.

I once thought this was unique to my family, so it came as a surprise when we started discussing about our parents and the struggles we faced. My father and I had argued a lot in the past but, after I moved to LA and started family, things were getting better. We were able to share more deep contents without forcing each otherís opinions. The relationship is still under major reconstruction, but it certainly improved after I had spent time with my wifeís father. My wife also supported me greatly to improve the relationship with my father, and I canít appreciate enough about this. During the discussion, I shared about this experience with the group. We received a few lectures in the morning and had each group prepare and perform a short skit about the blessing after Tadakimi Takashima, the youth minister in Los Angeles area, and I shared our blessing testimonies. I decided to share my experience with my father before and after I received the blessing as a main point, and I donít remember what else I shared that night because I was overwhelmed with giving the testimony.

The last day of the workshop included another lecture by Rev. Schanker. He was originally asked to speak to the parents about the blessing during the main Sunday Service at the church, but he declined the request so that he can stay with the workshop participants as much as he can. He conveyed the value of blessing and was very intense and emotional. I will not get into details, but he shared about one brother who fell. The Blessing is the major milestone in our life that determines the future so overwhelmingly. After the lecture, each participant wrote a confession. After that, the workshop concluded with the participantís testimony, prayer and Oku Man Sei. As a staff, I regret that I couldnít organize the workshop as well as I thought it should be. Also, comparing with the blessing preparation workshop I attended in Japan, there are few more things I wish I was able to deliver during the workshop. I just hope that this kind of workshop can grow fast enough to facilitate the understanding of the blessing and to cover the needs of future blessing participants. I am really grateful that I was able to join and participate in this workshop and I hope that I can be involved in the next one.

Tomiyuki Kuramoto

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