Unification News for February 1997

Highschool Workshop - Sun Shines Through a Rainy Week at Aetna Springs

by Mary Hose-San Francisco, CA

A workshop for high-school students was held Dec. 26-31 at Aetna Springs. There were about 30 participants. The following is an account of the workshop from a staff-member's point of view. Reprinted from American Neighborhood.

My big brother lifted the shade of my bedroom window the morning after Christmas and exclaimed, "Look! It's snowing outside!" Part of me was filled with nostalgic bliss while the other side heaved a huge sigh. I was in Seattle, Washington and due at Aetna Springs to help with the Blessed Children's winter workshop in but a few hours and I knew the airport would be tied up. As it turns out, my plane (along with a few others) was canceled. I called the workshop staff and explained the situation. They encouraged me to "get here as soon as possible!" So within 40 minutes I found myself on a Greyhound bus praying for a safe 20-hour trip.

When I finally arrived (two days into the workshop), the first thing I noticed was the cloudy sky and the heavy rain. But when I walked into the lecture hall for the first time and looked around the room at the expressionless faces of the 30 or so high-school age Blessed children (participants) as they sang holy songs, I realized that the gloomy weather was nothing compared to this exceedingly dull atmosphere. My initial reaction was "What's wrong with these kids?"

However, my worries turned into hope as the days went by and I came to know younger brothers and sisters. They had all spent many months in an atmosphere of superficiality and materialism called "high school" and their consciences were starving for something more, something pure and true. In group discussions each person expressed a desire to connect with God and gain strength to survive the many false joys of the world around them.

Our motto was "Let us win the future with True Parents' tradition." We the staff (Keiha Kobayashi, Hyundo Seong, Eunha Stein, Mary Gowey and myself), centered on Yoon Sun Park (under regional director Rev. Lee), had to convey the heart of God, the importance of prayer, the Divine Principle, the value of True Parents, all that good spiritual food, in a little less than a week! But the staff was determined and ready for the challenge.

The obstacles which surfaced out of nowhere all throughout the week could easily have ruined the whole experience. Yes, obstacles are inevitable but in all my workshop experiences I have never encountered so many unpredictable problems in such a short time: at the last minute we found out our main Divine Principle lecturer could not come due to illness-it rained heavily day and night for the whole week-the electricity decided to black out completely on several occasions (thank God for candles and flashlights)-our workshop camera broke-and the skiing site was closed down (we had planned to spend a day there). Despite the above, however, the staff and participants were determined to make this workshop an awesome and unforgettable one.

Something other than obstacles surfaced that week: the true God-given potential of each person there. Truly they were opening up and using their original minds more. Some of them, by their own volition, went out to the holy ground and prayed together out in the rain. My initial anxiety was replaced with hope and inspiration. The lectures, group discussions, yute games and group activities helped to chisel through each person's barriers of self-consciousness and fear, exposing something beautiful to see. The testimonies on such topics as "The Role of Second Generation," "STF (World CARP)," "The Early Days of the Church," "True Family," "Leadership," and "Prayer," moved many to tears. Emphasis was put on building a personal relationship with God more than anything. Based on that foundation, many of the participants could have a deep experience with Heavenly Father in prayer on the second-to-last day during the candlelight prayer. The tiny room was lit by candles and filled with shouts of desperate prayer. One brother looked around the room at his peers in tears and soon saw a vision of God crying above them because He was moved to see young people so determined to do His Will. Kayo Sato and Erica Belot both shared that during the candlelight prayer it was the first time either of them sincerely shed tears while praying. "I was moved by their determination to meet God," expressed Mary Gowey, who was like Mamma for us all during the workshop.

The testimonies from the participants themselves on the last day was like sunshine amidst the clouds there. Leandros Olivas said, "I determined I would make this workshop a good one no matter what." Another sister sincerely shared her heart: "Before I came, I was unsure whether I should stay and believe in True Parents or the church...thanks to this workshop, I have decided to stay and follow True Parents." Another brother expressed, "The workshop changed my life." Those who were reluctant to attend in the first place were glad they came. The winter workshop was quite a success, but this really is just the beginning.

I cannot emphasize enough the need for education and guidance for Second Generation. I know during the rocky times in my faith, a few words from elder brothers and sisters or my own parents helped me tremendously. Second Generation need the strength to resist Satan's temptations they face on a regular basis, whether on the TV or in school or on the street. I feel there is so much Blessed Children have to offer the world, and it is just a matter of helping each brother and sister to see and use his or her potential given by God through education, guidance and love. (Jesus taught us to raise brothers and sisters with the truth, but save them with love.)

I'd like to thank Heavenly Father for guiding us all the way during this week, as well as True Parents, Rev. Lee, the staff and parents and all the BC's who attended. Hope to see you all in the summer!

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