Articles From the October 1995 Unification News
Blessing '95 Testimony
by Brandon Olivia-Berkeley, CA
My Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Before I had left for Korea, my spouse Hiroko Izumi, a Japanese sister from Okayama, had been in contact with Masako Thompson several times. She had told Masako that she was very happy with the match and that there was no difficulty for her to go to Korea. We were not expecting any more contact from her after that.
A day and a half before I was to leave for Korea, I had to stop by Kevin and Masako's house to get something. The moment I walked into the house, I saw Masako talking on the telephone. She immediately waved to me and said, "It's your spouse. She just called." Hiroko's mother had become negative, trying to stop her from going to Korea. Hiroko was worried her relatives might kidnap her. "Please do a prayer condition for her safety. She will leave tonight from Japan and arrive in Korea tomorrow morning."
So with this concern in my heart, I left for Korea. When we arrived, we were put on a bus and brought to a ski resort two hours away. I was informed that if my spouse was in Korea, she would already be there ahead of me, waiting. When we arrived, we checked in at the U.S.A. office. Immediately I asked if Hiroko was there. They said no. All my worst fears rose up before me. I thought: if something happened to her, I will go to Japan and find her. I don't know how, but I will. If she can't come to the Blessing this time, I'll wait with her until the next. I went out and prayed a desperate prayer: "God, bring Hiroko here safely. How can I meet her? Please show me." At the end of this prayer, I walked around my building. It was then past midnight. Ahead I saw one Japanese brother, Hiro, from my center. He was with another brother, and they walked up to me. The other brother said, "Hi, are you Brandon?"
"I have a gift for you."
"What do you mean?"
"You're looking for something, right?"
"You mean my spouse...."
"Yes, follow me!"
On the way to her room, he explained to me how he met my spouse. In Korea he had gone to meet his spouse at the airport and Hiroko was on the same plane. Offhandedly he had asked Hiroko who her spouse was and she told him my name and where I was from. Somehow he remembered me, and when he arrived at the resort, he saw Hiro and asked where I was. Thus we met.
As I stood outside the door of Hiroko's room, the other brother's spouse came to the door. The other brother was Michel from Quebec. We were to become good friends. His spouse was Miyuki from Japan. She became the main link of communication between me and Hiroko.
After much giggling and laughing inside the room, the door slowly creaked opened and before me stood the person who I was soon to realize was, in every sense, my other half. We said hello, then she ran inside. Immediately she returned with presents and gave them to me. Three were for my parents. For me she had gotten a fountain pen because she heard I was a poet. I quickly told her how I had come to meet her and how worried I was, but that it was truly God's protection and guidance which had safely brought us together. She said, "I believe in God and True Parents, so I came."
The next morning over breakfast we talked about our family situations. I explained my feeling about our matching and we found we both felt we fit perfectly and that we were truly predestined from a long time ago to be here at this moment. We were both amazed. Our sharing became very open and honest and so relaxed. For the first time in my life I did not feel I had to try to be something. Very quickly she had accepted me and I had accepted her.
We went to the first church headquarters and then to Hong Halmonim's Won Jon. There, for the first time, we knelt down and prayed. It was such a wonderful feeling. On the way out, she said, "Brandon, camera, camera." She was reminding me not to forget it. Then she said, "Brandon, bag here." She had already noticed my tendency to forget things. She was trying to help me already. I was so moved.
The next day was the Holy Wine Ceremony. The rain was pouring again. The Americans were shuffled around all over the stadium for many hours until finally we settled in one place. During this time we had become separated from Michel and Miyuki. I wanted to say something, so I took her dictionary and started pointing at different words. I tried for 20 minutes to explain one sentence. Then I overheard one Japanese brother say something in English, so I asked him to translate. I told her how grateful I was that she has accepted me and that she was here with me. She wrote me a letter. When I read it, it was like a lightning bolt hitting my spirit. "You mean everything to me!" My eyes became so big, my face was blank. I looked at her and she smiled at me. She understood my heart.
A speech was given by Rev. Kwak. He explained that without the Holy Wine we could not receive the Blessing, and without our spouse we could not receive the Holy Wine. At that point so many tears began coming down my face. They were tears of gratitude. This person who sat beside me had just told me I meant everything to her. She has walked the path of restoration to meet me, and now through her I was to receive the Holy Wine.
Then the ceremony began. As I waited our turn to receive the Holy Wine, my heart began to ache for True Parents. As I watched the representative couple approach, my spirit began to shake. After we took the Holy Wine, I sat down and closed my eyes for a long time; then I opened them. I looked around the stadium and, to my amazement, it seemed as though I had never seen so clearly before in all my life. I looked at the people around me and they were my brothers and sisters. I thought of True Parents and for the first time I really felt as though they were my parents. Then I bent my head and prayed such a tearful prayer. And for the first time in my life, I felt free to pray as a child of God.
Then came the closing prayer. We were instructed to put our hands together, one atop another, and the prayer was offered. While touching her hands I felt as though there were only one set of hands there, and that they were clasped tightly together. At that point I felt as though our covenant was sealed.
That night we went back to the ski resort. Our two couples agreed to meet for dinner after we had changed clothes. When we met, Hiroko looked a little concerned, and she asked me if I had the bag full of personal things. I said no. We went to the U.S.A. office to see if they had found something on the bus. They said no. She became very concerned and frustrated. They called the bus company but they didn't know anything either. The Japanese brother asked her what was inside her bag. She explained: her driver's license, about 200,000 won, and 20,000 yen. She sat down and began to cry so much. My heart was crushed. Here was this person I cared for so much, in such deep pain. All I could do was sit beside her. Then one sister remembered she had picked up several bags from the floor and thrown them away. Quickly I ran out the door and down to the trash bags by the bus. I tore everything open and found nothing, and then at the bottom of the last bag, I found what she was looking for. She had followed behind me. When she saw me with her bag, she ran over to me and began to look through it frantically. She saw her wallet, her money, her driver's license, everything was there. But still she was desperate. I couldn't understand. Then suddenly she pulled out her camera, and with incredible excitement grabbed my arm and screamed out joyfully in Japanese, beginning to cry with relief: the pictures she had taken of us together were safe!
My heart was melted.
The next day was the Blessing. We all arrived at the stadium, and again it was raining; we lined up on the field in front of the stage where the Americans belonged. Michel and Miyuki, and Hiroko and I, were standing side by side. What a wonderful experience to go through everything with new friends. Before the ceremony was to begin, I had to take care of one small detail: I had to find three Blessing rings: one each for Hiroko and Miyuki and myself. For hours I ran frantically around the stadium looking for extra rings. I heard a rumor concerning where some would be, so I went there but those were for Japanese members. I fought and fought but couldn't get any. Then I saw one Japanese staff member from the American group. He borrowed two sisters' rings for our spouses, and then bought one for me. I got the rings and ran back just in time for the start of the ceremony. It was still raining.
The ceremony began with the opening remarks. When we welcomed True Parents onto the stage, the rain stopped. Everyone took off their raincoats so we could face True Parents without any barriers. As we said "yea" to the vows, I could feel that Hiroko and I were one. There were 36,000 couples being blessed at the stadium at one time. Yet I can say honestly that at that moment, it felt as though Hiroko and I were the only ones in the stadium. Just True Parents and us. That's how personal it was.
As the ceremony ended and True Parents walked off the stage, we waved good-bye. And then the rain started again. The ceremony was over; we were blessed.
Our final day together, I saw Hiroko off at the airport. As we sat next to each other on the bus to the airport, she turned to me and said, "Sing, sing!" So I sang her "Amazing Grace" and "I'll Never Leave You Anymore." After each she clapped and gave her warm and deep smile of approval. Then she pulled out a package and gave it to me. It was a pen and pencil set. The name of the brand was "Twins". She said, "Pick one; I'll keep the other."
At the airport, we said good-bye. For the first time, I was truly sad to see someone leave. In such a short time this person had come to mean more to me than anyone else-this was True Parents' love. The love they have for each of us. I immediately missed her, but we had talked about the meaning of our time of separation and had determined that for us it would be the purest sacrifice. We promised to move forward and to fight together. I was no longer alone in this world. Thank you, God and True Parents!
Reprinted from American Neighborhood, the newsletter of the Unification Community of Northern California
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