Unification News For March 1996


Celebrating True Parent's Birthday in Brazil

by Dr. Tyler O. Hendricks-NYC

Flying in from New York across the equator, we made a smooth arrival at the Sao Paulo airport into temperatures of 20 degrees Celsus. The countryside was green and verdant, and the traffic not so crowded for a great metropolis. The Brazilian family was there with transportation into the city. Soon we arrived at the beautiful Brazil headquarters building. It is a large six story white building, a nice looking structure with a driveway approaching a glass enclosed lobby. We passed through glass doors onto a polished wood floor and registered and received our name tags in the lobby. The lobby was entirely polished wood. To one side was a pond with a small waterfall and numerous colorful carp. In the middle of the lobby the wood hid the doors of two elevators, one of which took us up to our rooms on the fifth floor.

After settling into my room, shared with Nigerian leader Jim Rigney, Thailand leader Dr. Lek Thaveetermsakul, and Taiwan leader Rev. Chaun- Fong Chang, I went to greet our True Parents. They were in the midst of a casual gathering with several of their children and church leaders from Korea, America and South America. Some gifts had been brought from overseas and the conversation was light as we shared the excitement of opening the gifts. Soon a delegation of leaders from Japan arrived and greeted True Parents. Lunch was shared, the itinerary for the next few days set, and we all settled down to watch the video tape of the recent victory of the Il Hwa Soccer Team over the Brazilian Santos team. Reverend Moon watched avidly, as we cheered every goal and groaned at every near-miss with equal enthusiasm.

The conclusion of the video showed Reverend and Mrs. Moon's visit to the office of the owner of the Santos team. It was an friendly affair, featuring the exchange of team caps (at which point Rev. Moon embraced an kissed the Santos owner on the cheek!). At the close of the meeting, Rev. Moon again embraced the owner and did his trademark lifting him up. Not missing a beat, the owner in turn lifted up R Moon, to everyone's delight, no one surpassing Reverend Moon's delight.

The next go-round of meetings included a video of a factory our members own in Vietnam, which produces cars, vans and trucks. The afternoon and evening were spent enjoying fellowship with old acquaintances and making new ones. When the sun went down the day became quite pleasant and I took a walk with one of our church leaders in Bolivia, a Chilean brother who had joined through the guidance of Regis and Nancy Hanna. He told me that thirteen professors from Bolivia were attending the conference in Montevideo. We saw the biggest McDonalds I've ever seen, a two-building complex.

The following morning we gathered in the ornate fifth floor chapel to celebrate the Main Ceremony of True Parents' 76th Birthday. True Father gave a deep speech to the three hundred leaders who were gathered there. [See excerpts.] At the close of this speech he quickly changed clothes and, seemingly without breakfast, went to speak to the two thousand members gathered in the large auditorium in our building adjacent to the Headquarters Building. Special guests included several university officials who had just completed a special convention at the Victoria Plaza Hotel in Montevideo. [See excerpts.]

As is the case everywhere, the afternoon was filled with meeting old friends and making new ones, as three generations of members enjoyed the beautiful day and each others' company.

Evening entertainment began with the audience cheering the entry of the True Parents and True Family into the hall. The hall, which had been the location of the morning speech, now featured lights, cameras and lots of action. The show began with Ms. Rafaela Martinez and two back-ups singing a song called "The Moon Family," which is much more musical in Portuguese as "La Familia Moon," and it was a pretty song in South American style-a bit melancholy, minor key, and romantic in spirit. This trio was followed by operatic bass, Pastor Edgar Martins, accompanied by a woman who both played piano and sang. Their "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was very nice, as well as his solo rendition of "How Great Thou Art." This was followed by a young tenor, whose "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" truly did justice to that lovely song, as he stretched out every line to its limit, and the higher the pitch, the greater the stretch.

Mr. Ki Byung Yoon, Mr. Koo Bae Park and Mr. Won Ju McDevitt performed as a trio, singing two beautiful Korean songs in glorious harmony. It is amazing how our humble brothers and sisters turn into celebrities when standing in front of a spotlight. They could have been Peter, Paul and Mary, for all their unity and outreaching spirit to the audience. Through their emotion-tinged voices penetrated such a deep love and longing for True Parents.

We then were treated to a samba, led by Dr. (!) Elizabeth Oliveira Braga. The mardi gras had just come to an end a couple of days before in the city, but some of it was preserved and transported to our Birthday entertainment. Several sisters in sparkling silver lame and huge headdresses opened the dance--these headdresses were four to five feet across, brilliantly colored feathers like so many peacocks. These dancers were literally dwarfed, however, by the featured performer. This woman, I assume Dr. Braga, maneuvered herself onto stage--well, I should hardly say "woman;" what we saw was a face in the middle of a fifteen foot square display. To her immediate right and left were statues of birds, about three feet high each, at her head level. Flanking them were fifteen foot high statues of men. These men were dressed in the style east Indian servants, exalting the figure of the woman in the middle.

The entire structure was back-dropped by voluminous feathery rays of gold and purple and sparkling silver, the center of which was Dr. Braga's face. She was veritably the sun, with ten foot rays of light emitting from her. Her body, draped in more silver lame, blended into the entire set so as to almost disappear. One could barely detect the presence of her legs as she walked about, moving with her this entire gorgeous assemblage. Needless to say, it was not a fast dance she was doing; her main accomplishment, for which she must have been well- trained, was to get herself and her impressive retinue on and off the stage in one piece. It was a feast for the eyes, however, with the sun queen floating about and the peacock ladies dancing circles around her, their five foot in diameter headdresses now dwarfed in comparison, small planets circling the sun. In the midst of all this was a slender young man out of Cabaret, providing, I suppose, some sort of appropriately overwhelmed masculine partnership.

Returning from this foray into the sensual world of carnival (rooted, by the way, in the word "carnal," the tradition of letting it all loose before entering into the season of Lent--if you are going to repent, might as well have something worthy of repenting of, seems the philosophy here) we moved into the world of innocence, with the Sao Paulo second generation choir, the Alunos do Colegio Sung Hwa"Filhos Abencoados. Cute, well-training, and some wonderful singers among them.

Our next act was called "Heaven's Engineers," featuring Kurt Muss Jr, who was indeed the engineer of the entire program, as well as of the morning's Main Ceremony and the speech. He was the lead singer of this five piece rock band, you see, and they sang a song which celebrated the variety of Brazil. During the number there appeared on the stage aboriginal peoples, covered with body paint and sporting bows and arrows, soccer players keeping soccer balls bouncing about on their feet, knees, chests and heads, and, yes, our mardi gras dancers again. The music was western rock'n'roll, the beat infectious and the chord progression sensuously repetitive.

Then came what I enjoyed the most in this very enjoyable entertainment. A choir of Japanese women missionaries did two numbers. The first was a traditional country-side skit accompanied by a song. It was about true love, a man and woman and their happy-sad relationship. The title was Otemoyan. The second was ol' blue eye's number, My Way. I have always had an uneasy feeling about this song, never letting its beauty enter my mind because of its individualistic theme. These sisters shattered that. I could never have imagined My Way being sung as an anthem of loyalty and devotion to God and True Parents, but there it was. The Completed Testament Age is the era of voluntarism to do God's will.

The final presentation was the Hallelujah Chorus, as stirring in Sao Paulo as in Germany, London and New York. It was sung by a strong ensemble of voices, the Coral da Igreja da Unificacao.

The performance brought the birthday celebration to a rousing conclusion. Reverend and Mrs. Moon left the building very soon, heading back to New Hope Farm. I myself packed up quickly and jumped on the bus for the same destination. It was a marvelous bus, air- conditioned and with a big reclining seat. Soon I was fast asleep, along with about one hundred Korean and Japanese elders, hurtling down Brazilian highways, heading west.

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