Articles From the September 1995 Unification News
For God So Loved The World
by Trisha Wentworth-Kennebunk, ME
Even before I was asked to represent Region One for the Blessing in Korea, I had felt very connected to the event and had wondered deeply as to what the cosmic meaning would be and how it would affect God's providence and each of us. Whenever I thought or prayed about this amazing Blessing, the words that always came to me were: "For God so loved the world," and I would just cry. I have, as I'm sure you have too, always hoped that it would be easier for people who would join True Parents in the future than it has been for us, both in suffering and ability to bring God's love to everyone. So from the feeling these words evoked in me, I felt much hope and gratitude.
As the time for the Blessing came nearer, I wondered how "on earth" this event could take place, because it felt so beyond time and space and human potential to me, and now after spending nine days in Korea, I know this could only happen because of God and True Parents.
My expectations of our accommodations were images of a large factory with bed rolls to sleep on, and maybe one or two bathrooms per hundred people. However, the American and European groups were housed in a ski lodge in the beautiful mountains of Korea about two hours north (I think!) of Seoul, and the rooms were small condominiums which five to six people shared. I did learn later that the accommodations for the Korean members were very poor and bleak, and I realized again how the Koreans had sacrificed so that we could have this luxurious place to stay.
We staff members arrived one day before the participants and it was very hot and humid. As the first buses arrived next day from the airport we still had no office set up, not to mention the use of a telephone, fax machine or copier, but undaunted we set up registration at a table with an umbrella which was part of an outside cafe-type arrangement. The next two days seemed as if constant streams of people were coming in all hours of the day and night, and we were kept busy getting the almost 400 people to their rooms. One interesting aspect of being at a ski lodge during the summer presented itself the first night. We were able to turn on the water heater for showers from the room (with a little education, that is), but what was not explained to us was that if this switch was left on, the system heated the floors, too! Although this must be marvelous in the winter, it was extremely uncomfortable in the hot, humid summer weather! I learned after the first night that the staff brothers had gone to sleep in the delicious cool of the air conditioner but had awakened in a tropical sweat. One brother who got up to see what was going on burned the soles of his feel as he ran across the floor to turn off the switch! We learned later that some people never had hot floors, but neither did they have hot water.
As the last people arrived, it began to rain very heavily and continued to do so for the rest of our stay in Korea; we were constantly wet. There were many situations which needed detailed attention-some people wanting to know if they had been matched, or trying to locate their spouses-to-be somewhere in the world, and many important messages from HQ in Seoul to be translated. Sometimes the language barriers became so intense, and we were all trying so hard to communicate in any way we could that we began to talk to each other in pidgin English! At one point, after a particularly difficult hour or so trying to discover where one Russian sister was supposed to be, trying English, Korean, Japanese, French, German and Spanish accompanied by all manner of hand signs and all-out efforts to communicate, I turned around in the office and realized that two Japanese people were trying to communicate in broken English; I gently interrupted to remind them that they could use Japanese. Then we could all laugh. I found myself on several occasions enunciating distinctly and a little too loudly with greatly dramatized gestures the message I needed to get across when a bewildered face would look at me in amazement (or perhaps it was pity) and say, "I speak English." Through all of this, the unflappability of Mr. Farley Jones, the overall coordinator for the United States contingent, was contagious for me and I think for all the staff, and I felt instant bonds between us which allowed us to work as a team quickly.
The day before the Holy Wine ceremony, we had the opportunity to visit the original church HQ in Chongpadong, as well as Grandmother Hong's memorial. It was raining, as always, and our group made a rather noisy entrance into the Chongpadong church; it wasn't clear to me whether we were expected or not, and we were not aware of anyone to guide us. We sat down and, as I had been there before, I told everyone how when True Parents had been blessed in this room, people were outside throwing rocks and yelling abuse, and yet only 35 years later True Parents were blessing 360,000 couples. If anyone stopped to consider this point alone, they could know who Father is. What an incredible testimony to one man's life work!
At this time a Korean brother came in to greet us and gave us a tour of the church. I had been wishing for a deep experience for these couples and this brother told us of the early days when hundreds of members would pack into this small room to hear Father speak. We were invited to Father and Mother's room and the room where Father would pray. We knelt on the rug where Father's tears had soaked the floor until they came through the ceiling below. The brother prayed and caught the hearts of the members and was able to convey the suffering. Many of us cried and one could feel the very essence of Father there. My bones aches and I remembered later how Father says we must feel things in our bone marrow. I would have liked to have stayed there for a long time, but we had to move on. We were also shown clothes that Father had worn and clothing and toys of the True Children. Already the church was a museum. There were pictures of the 36 Blessed Couples downstairs, and they looked so young and vulnerable. In the realm of heart, the history of the church held us in awe, even as it unfolded in such humble and mundane circumstances. Reluctantly we left into the rain.
Grandmother Hong's memorial was on the fourth floor of a church building which had been reconstructed to look like her home. It was beautiful. One first entered into the prayer room where someone led us in prayer. In the living room, there were artifacts of the True Children that Grandmother Hong had brought from Korea to America and things that Mother had had as a child. There were postcards from Father to Grandmother Hong and a picture Mother had drawn as a girl of a Western woman. There were Mother's school notes and a cat drawn by Father for Hyo Jin Nim, and many little things that Grandmother Hong had kept. Our guide told us this is the only place in the world that you can see Father's and Mother's writing. Again this was a beautiful experience, and we were so amazed to see how Grandmother Hong's life has been honored. After we left, we went to find the bus but it wasn't where we had been told, so we lost over half an hour and weren't able to visit the market place as we had planned. It seemed that our group's experience was meant to be very vertical.
The next day we went to the stadium for the Holy Wine ceremony. We had expected guides to be there when we arrived, but there were none. The stadium is huge and complex, and with the limitations of language and 370 people in tow, there was a great deal of confusion (nobody could have accused us of being an organized religion at this point!). In our course to find the place where the couples from America were supposed to stand, it felt as if we were going the symbolic courses of the Old and New Testaments.
We wandered for three hours to find where we belonged. The buses were parked quite a way from the stadium entrance, and when we got into the stadium, Mr. Jones went to find out where we should go but meanwhile Koreans from the stadium staff gave directions and people began to follow this way and that. At first there was only the group from America, since we were the first to arrive, so even if we were lost it was still fairly simple; but as other groups from other countries began to arrive, it became more and more confusing. There were so many interracial couples that one couldn't tell one group from another. Also, the stadium was designed so that one could not go directly up or down or completely around, and numbers were repeated even one the same level. Originally we were to have the Ceremony on the tracks of the stadium floor, but because of the torrential rains we were then to sit under the shelter of the spectators' area. Like the Israelites trying to reach Canaan, we were detoured and delayed many times and had to wait long periods while Mr. Jones, our Moses, was off finding directions. There were only six staff members to guide the 370 people, and I completely lost track of the group three times. They disappeared around corners or into crowds from other countries, and gaps in line got flooded with other couples. Spirits remained high and members were wonderful through this overwhelming process. One thing which kept us going was the thought of the story we would have to tell our children and grandchildren in the future.
Three times we reached the wrong place in the stadium, and after the first wrong place we seemed to reach a new level of "lostness". There was a deeper feeling of brother-and-sisterhood and someone said we were like the Christians in the catacombs. We had entered the New Testament Age. I certainly felt the anxiety of Jesus which he described in the parable of the lost lamb where the shepherd can't rest if even one lamb is lost. I felt our dilemma was so serious-here we were headed for the changing of the blood lineage and we could not afford to lose even one. When we finally reached our proper destination, we were greeted by the continental director, Rev. Park. We had arrived at the Completed Testament Age and we were on the third level of the Olympic Stadium!
Rev. and Mrs. Kwak officiated at the Holy Wine Ceremony. Rev. Kwak's prayer was so powerful that I felt it break through a dark, overcast sky over the stadium and penetrate a lighted path all the way through history to Adam and Eve. As I watched the couples received the Holy Wine, it was as if I could visibly and tangibly see a change take place and feel the couples had come to rest in the palm of God's hand. It was a very tearful moment. I could only imagine the tears of long- suffering hope and joy God was feeling.
The day of the Blessing was more organized because now we knew our destination and how to get there. There were many moving stories that day. One 47-year-old Canadian sister who has a teenage daughter felt that God wanted so much to give the Blessing to all who love Him. So even before she was matched she paid her way to Korea on total faith that Father would find her a spouse, even though her circumstances were not easy. Two days before the Holy Wine Ceremony, she learned that she had been matched with a brother from Africa. The picture and papers, however, had been sent to Canada because the Blessing staff in Seoul had no idea that she was a mere two hours away. Since there was no time to mail the photo back to Korea, she was sent a FAX of her spouse. As a black man, none of his features came through on the FAX, nor was there any information on his age, height, etc. Nevertheless, the Canadian sister faithfully took her FAX to the Holy Wine Ceremony and the next day, soaked by rain and Holy Wine, to the Blessing. Through it all she was simply joyous that God had found her a spouse. Although she was sure she didn't actually know if her spouse had received her information or whether he had made it to the satellite center at that time but, of course, he had. She had such a pure and simple love and faith in God that I couldn't help but love her completely. I was so proud of her and I call her "The FAX of Life."
Another Blessing story is when our American family was brought to the place on the stadium floor to line up. I was feeling particularly protective of them after the events of the day before. Suddenly a Korean member took three rows of our couples and moved them to a space next to another block of couples from another country. I ran after them and asked the other group where they were from. It was South America and I was so excited that I shouted that we were ahead of the providence because North and South America were all mixed together and have become one! The South American brothers and sisters cheered and clapped and it was a wonderful feeling. Later, when I returned to the United States, I shared my stories with one of my dearest sisters who was the original missionary to Colombia. I mentioned how happy the South Americans were when I made this observation, and she was moved to tears, telling me how much South America has ached to be with True Parents and be on the front line as the United States has been, knowing how overjoyed they felt to be embraced by us.
As we waited for the Blessing Ceremony to begin, it rained constantly and was reminiscent of Yankee Stadium, especially when the Americans sang, "You Are My Sunshine." I realized then that this was another Growth Stage event, but now in the Completed Testament Age, and as I looked out over the stadium at the young faces, I also realized that many of the people being blessed this day were only a few years old at that time. We had all been given raincoats as we entered the stadium, and now as I sat in the bleachers waiting for the Ceremony to begin, thousands of raincoats made a field of pink, yellow and white below me. Just before True Parents came in, everyone was asked to take off their raincoats, and in a flurry of movement the field was transformed into beautiful rows of navy blue and white. It was as if after hours of standing in the rain all the couples were lifted up to God in one sweeping gesture, and as True Parents entered, the rain stopped; it began again only as they were preparing to leave.
During the Blessing Ceremony the awesomeness of the event filled the whole stadium, and I know that most of us there were thinking of all the people receiving the Blessing by satellite. At the end of the final cheers, I saw Father's face on the big screen projecting this event to locations all over the world. His eyes shone so brightly looking toward the sky in a communion with God which shook me to the marrow, and I wondered what they were sharing. It seemed Father was smiling at God with a secret only he and God could share: an incredible, glorious moment-they had done it!
After the Blessing, I felt the incredible love God has for all mankind. I felt I loved everyone there as God loved them, and I was so proud of them and grateful for everything they had done. I could only feel that is how True Parents feel too. The simple truth is what Father has always been saying, that love, only love, will break down the barriers between us. I experienced this with a depth of realization that there is no way it could have been conjured up from my own knowledge of the Principle or my own thinking about True Love. It was as if I had had the privilege to be privy to a moment of Cosmic Love. When reflecting on the course of human restoration, how the people of God have struggled to have that profound relationship to their Heavenly Father; how available the True Love of God is to us now in comparison. We do not have to force ourselves to find it; it is already overwhelmingly here. All we have to do is to allow it, like the first realm of Shimjung of parent to child, to permeate all we do. The Blessing of the entire world is at hand. How precious we are to God and to each other!
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