Unification News for September 2005
Chicago STF Testimonies
This year was amazing. My spiritual life has grown so much. The first year of STF was laying the foundation of faith. After coming to the witnessing center, I could see how the second year was laying the foundation of substance. Without this year, I donít know how I would have been able to adjust to living in a college environment or even putting the Principle into practice as well. Living with a large family in the CARP center, I could grow my heart to understand many different kinds of people. I feel it was great training for life and the blessing.
I had so many experiences here in Chicago that changed the entire course of my life. My work with STF as well as with the Chicago family church opened so many new possibilities. After being here for just a couple of months and seeing the ACLC work, I became inspired to read the Bible. Iím already up to the New Testament and I feel my understanding of the Principle growing so much. In the future, I would like to get involved in witnessing to ministers and churches because I see so much progress here in the city of Chicago.
In the beginning of my STF year I was unsure about Chicago. I used to live here, but I didnít know what the city was going to be like. No one talked too much about Chicago while I was on my first year of STF. However, since coming here, I feel that I couldnít have been put in a more amazing city, providentially speaking. Iím going to miss the city. Chicago is my second home. As a captain, I memorized most of the main city streets and I can navigate through Chicago better than I can in Boston. When I leave, Iím going to miss the city a lot. Even though Iím a little unsure of my plans now, I can be certain that at least God knows where Iím going.
Out of all the places that Iíve been to in my life, I can honestly say that Chicago is my most memorable city. Iím fortunate not simply because of being sent to this beautiful city along with my eleven unique brothers and sisters for my second year of STF, but because of the people that weíve had the pleasure to spend time with.
One thing that amazes me about Chicago is the leadership and how the blessed childrenís community here puts so much effort in uniting with the directions that are given to attend God and True Parents. Many times what Bishop Kim said took me by surprise, because behind his firm discipline that he gives to second generation I can feel the care, concern, love and the heart of the father that he has towards all of us. Although my understanding of the heart of filial piety is limited, I can see the highest extent of it in Bishop Kim, especially when he thanked the congregation for their support after his car accident and hoped for his speedy recovery only in order that he may attend True Parents at his best. Whether because of the leadership or because itís just how God planned it, we all realized that itís not a coincidence that we had two opportunities to meet True Parents within a year. All the experiences that I was able to have this year are very real to me, and Iím truly grateful to everyone in Chicago community Ö from the leaders who guide everyone to fulfill the dream of God and True Parents, to the parents who sacrifice so much of their time, energy, and heart to maintain a public mind and keep the family together at the same time, and to the kids who gives joy, hope, and happiness to all of us.
This year in Chicago was such an amazing experience for me. I could gain so much from this year through witnessing and fundraising as well. I feel like I could really reach my goal of building a consistent life of faith. Iím so grateful to the Chicago Family Church for being so welcoming to us STFers. It was always so inspiring to have the 1st generation come over to our center and give their testimonies. They would always drop by and love us up with their stories of fundraising and witnessing.
This year in Chicago has been one of the most significant in my life in terms of spiritual growth, self-realization, and development of relationships. I feel strongly that God placed me here very specifically to grow in the way I really needed to.
Before coming to Chicago for witnessing, I was doing extra fundraising as an assistant captain for the first year STF program. At that point I felt like I was doing pretty well internally, so I thought I could handle anything God threw in my direction. However, God always has ways of surprising me. The witnessing lifestyle was so different from the frontline fundraising I had been doing for the past fourteen months. There was a much greater need for initiative and self-discipline; investment was more long term and showed less result; and most significant of all was the relationships between the brothers and sisters I was living with. Over the course of the year God guided me in many ways and revealed to me many amazing things. Slowly, step-by-step, I was becoming more well-rounded.
What made the Chicago witnessing center unique from the other two centers (Maryland and Berkeley), besides the weather, was the community there. I was never around such a strong, united church community before, centering on Bishop Kim. I really felt that these people were on the frontline of Godís providence every day. The strong sense of unity there inspired me every time I was surrounded by it. Overall, I am grateful for all the experiences God and True Parents allowed me to have during these past ten months in Chicago, and I am making a determination to do my best to keep the Chicago spirit back home in New Jersey.
I am grateful to have been put in Chicago. Maryland is too close to home, and Berkeley already has all the foundation it could need. My experience in this 2nd year has been defined through three main aspects: the actual frontline activity, the blessed childrenís community, and learning about myself.
Witnessing frontline is a lot different from fundraising. The main point that kept me spiritually centered was the awareness that every guy and girl on campus is a child of God. The most difficult aspect of witnessing is the heart to keep going and keep investing. Equally difficult are those extremely important pivotal moments when a guest is not sure whether to go to a workshop or not. Mrs. Sometani contributed a lot to making the workshops special.
I feel the Chicago blessed childrenís community was an important part of my 2nd year, too, because I realized that these are my brothers and sisters. They need us elder 2nd generation to be role models and, more importantly, elder siblings. The Service For Peace Summer of Service was my best experience with this. Whatís also important is the development of oneself. In this year I have been able to become more of myself, coming out of my previous shell, and more firmly understand my relationship with God. Mrs. Sometaniís personal advice to me helped me in this area. I also appreciated the various 1st-generation people who gave advice and testimonies at our house. In summary, I had a very heart-opening experience. Thanks to Bishop Kim for his support.
This past year on STF has certainly been a whirlwind experience for me. I honestly didnít imagine so at first, but it eventually became clear that I needed this witnessing experience here in Chicago more than anything else. Heavenly Father truly knows whatís best for us, although we often deny it. This year, it was as if God firmly clutched me with His hands, picked me up, and shook some heavenly sense into me. So many wonderful realizations and inspirations emerged from trying times. After receiving this witnessing training, I feel more confident re-entering the "world" outside.
I learned so much living with 12 other brothers and sisters under one roof. This year was tremendous change from my blasé island lifestyle that Iíve come habituated to growing up. Chicago, Illinois, is most definitely not Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. This I learned very quickly. However, I am so grateful to have worked with the Chicago community. The sincere, hardworking spirit of the blessed central families here definitely rubbed off on me. Itís no wonder this midwestern town continues to lead Godís providence in America.
I have an entire lifetime ahead of me, and with the help of STF, I hope to make it worthwhile.
When I first learned that I would be sent to the Chicago witnessing center, I was nervous. But after living here for one year I forget why I was ever nervous at all. My second year of STF has been quite an experience. I have learned so many things about Heavenly Father and His heart, His desire and hope for second generation, and what He wants this world to be like. I am incredibly grateful for the leadership in Chicago. Bishop Kim gave us such a warm welcome that it already felt like home. As an STF team we went through so much together - good times and bad. I will always remember the lessons that I have learned here during my second year of STF and the wonderful people I could meet in the beautiful city of Chicago.
The Chicago community has always been home to me. But never have I actually had to experience it from the inside out. Now, rather than just being a child on the end of forced participation, I was treated more as an adult with the freedom and responsibility that entailed. With each event -- be it a speech, an ACLC breakfast or SFP -- STF was given the responsibility of assisting with organization and participation. Actually experiencing the difficulties of preparing for these grandiose events, we gained a new appreciation for everyoneís constant hard work and effort. Moreover, it provided us, under the guidance of our beloved Bishop Kim, with an example of what could be achieved through the unity of Cain and Abel on a statewide level.
Hyun Ju Maketa
I would like to thank everyone here once again for allowing me to be a part of such a warm and embracing community. Thank you very much, especially to all of those hardworking 1st Generation members who really went out of their way to help work with us and to share with us.
As the weeks have been drawing to a close for our second and final year on STF, I began to reflect on my year. Not just what this year has meant to me or what I have accomplished but also about why it was that God brought me specifically to Chicago. I also thought about what made Chicago such an amazing and unique city. In all honesty, when I first came to Chicago, I didnít know what to expect. Coming from such a large and established community in Maryland/Washington, D.C., I was under the impression that Chicago was a small "middle-of-nowhere" community. But the whirlwind of Fatherís speaking tour in October, which sprang forth from the inspiration of the Chicago True Family Values Banquet, quickly crushed my previous concept. And, speaking with my father about this last speaking tour, his words only confirmed what I had heard: "Chicago always crushes the other cities in numbers."
Itís not just the blood, sweat, and tears of the members that were invested here, but the city itself makes Chicago so special. Itís such a key city in the eyes of God and True Parentsí providence because it represents the heart of America. Geographically, it lies centrally located in the "heartland of America", the Mid-West.
Not only does the location of this city qualify it as the heart of America, but the culture of the city as well. Chicago is a quilted city, a tapestry weaving together the different cultures and regions that make up this great and vast nation. The buildings here stand tall and proud with just as much style and grace as an East Coast city; however, there is an air of the laid-back West Coast spirit here too. But what sets this city apart from all the others is the strong representation of the good old Mid-West/Southern, all-American hospitality. Itís this warm and welcoming spirit that truly represents the heart of America. And it was to inherit this spirit that God brought me to this blessed city.
Living here within the community lends a certain perspective, but I hope that I have offered some deeper insight as to what makes this community so crucial in Godís providence. Thank you so much for everything that I have learned from all of you.
This 2nd year, I learned a lot, especially through relationship with brothers and sisters. The first year had a vertical focus, emphasizing my relationship with God. But this year, God showed me many things through horizontal relationships among brothers and sisters as well as with customers and witnessing guests. Chicago gave us many experiences, including True Fatherís tour, CARP, construction, and Summer of Service. Through these experiences, God showed me how He can work through unity and team work.
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