Articles from the July 1997 Unification News
Minnesota: 3112 Couples Blessed in 2 Days
by Jim Gavin-St. Paul, MN
On July 4th and July 5th 3112 couples were blessed at a Hmong sports festival, at Como Park, in St. Paul Minnesota.
Like all breakthrough events it was proceeded by humble beginnings. Our focus since January had been with the Native American people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Over the next several months our region invested a lot of time and resources in the area learning to work with these wonderful people. Our approach was to invite people to events and give the Blessing at a community center or church. Over the course of four months some 70 couples were blessed.
A few weeks prior to Easter we held an event at Rev. Emerson Spider's and Rev. Renee Mill's Native American Church of Jesus Christ. Over the course of the weekend 13 couples were Blessed. However 5 of the 13 couples were blessed after the main event by the Hoffman's and Weigel's of South Dakota in peoples homes. Like many events there were people who said they would come and for various reasons were unable to make it. Rev. Hun Sook Lee our regional director suggested they go back to the homes of these people and make the Blessing available in their homes. This proved to be a breakthrough for our approach to Blessing couples. Instead of spending so much time and money on events that few people came to we brought the blessing right to peoples homes. It seems so simple now but at that time it was a big breakthrough.
Fresh from that door to door success we met with Mr. Pao Yang and his wife in a Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis. Mr. Yang has his own auto repair business and is a community leader in the Hmong community. On one occasion Mr. Yang brought over 100 people to hear Rev. Moon speak at the Raddison Hotel in Minneapolis. Esther and Edward Batino who had worked with the Yang's over the years arranged the meeting and Rev. Lee asked me to explain to them the work of the Family Federation for World Peace and invite them to receive the Blessing. The Yang's consented and instead of waiting for an event to give them the Blessing, I suggested we hold the Blessing in their home like we had recently done with the couples in South Dakota. The Yang's and his sister and her husband received the Blessing a few days later on May 10th in their home.
From that day on the Hmong Blessing began from home to home. Rev. Lee formed a handful of teams and over the next several weeks 100's of Hmong couples were Blessed in their homes and in parks. Rev. and Mrs. Lee's team made up of the Lee's, Batino's and Marika Hoegl were in the forefront of this effort, they set the pace by working day and night to bring the Blessing to the Hmong community.
Steve Schutte said, "A breakthrough blessing for me was a week into our 40 day condition in region #7. It was at the home of Tou Xiong Vue. Noriko Pearson and I worked as a team. We were joined on this evening by Eri Pehling. We met him and his family while going door to door. After the holy juice was shared, I felt the Holy Spirit move through me and my hands into their hands as I prayed for their couple- like divine electricity. He was so grateful for the blessing and the work we are doing. He was inspired to help us and began to explain how active he is in the community. He offered to work together with us and introduce us to family, friends and his other connections
At the end of June Steve received an invitation from Tou Xiong Vue to attend a "family picnic". The "family picnic" was in fact a soccer tournament with venders selling goods and food and people generally socializing with one another. Steve, Rev. and Mrs. Lee and several other couples found over 2000 people at the "family picnic" and blessed 150 couples on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Prior to this event Rev. Lee had arranged for booth space at a major Hmong gathering on the 4th and 5th of July. Buoyed by the picnic blessing of 150 couples Rev. Lee invited members from South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to attend the July 4th event.
On the 3rd of July 10 teams of 3 to 4 couples were formed. Very early on the morning of July 4th our teams converged on Como Park and set up tables all around the soccer fields and in the concession areas, anywhere people gathered or flowed.
Before large numbers of people began to arrive some of us went from concession stand to concession stand and blessed the couples who ran them. By 8:00 or 9:00 am thousands of people began to flow into the park. Over 30,000 people a day attended the gathering and unlike other events of this size, there was no alcohol and no fighting. The Hmong gathering was a family affair held by a warm and loving people.
As families passed by each team's location they were stopped and presented with the opportunity of the blessing. Couples were asked if they loved one another (and of course they said yes) and if they were committed to never getting divorced. The couples were then asked to take a stand with millions of couples all over the world to keep our families strong, healthy and together by rededicating their marriages. They were asked to each drink * a cup of "true love juice" as a symbol of their commitment to one another. We then asked God to bless their families and future generations with his true love, good health and prosperity. All couples were invited to attend the Family Festival on Nov. 29th officiated by Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Each couple filled out a Blessing application form and two Polaroid pictures were taken one for the couple and one for the application. Each couple was warmly congratulated as we held their hands and asked for God's blessing for their family and then they went on their way.
For 15 hours a day couples were blessed non stop. Each blessing took about 10 minutes from beginning to end. The more blessings that were given the more energetic and confident we became. There was no time to sit down. We were always on alert to meet the next couple. And the couples were so receptive. They always stopped to listen and most couples consented right away to participate in the rededication and blessing of their marriage.
The first couple my wife and I blessed let us set up our table in the corner of their concession stand. On a few occasions he served as a translator to explain the blessing to someone who couldn't understand English. The Hmong people are incredibly warm and gracious. We were sincerely thanked by many of the couples. We received many warm embraces, smiles and handshakes from the newly blessed couples.
Jim bard who played in high school football games on the fields in Como Park said "all my prayers for my home state were answered on July 4th and 5th at the Blessing in the park. The Mayor of St. Paul, Norm Coleman, who had presented Parent's Day awards last July, approached me at my table and thanked me for participating in the festival. He said that it was good that the Family Federation for World Peace was present and expressed that he wished that more St. Paul residents could come and participate in this terrific event. I am grateful to God that the long suffering Hmong people could immigrate to Minnesota bringing their tenacious work ethic, their deep hearted family traditions, their delicious foods and all their love to my hometown. What great fortune do I have that I could now show my gratitude by giving God's blessing to them. Our True Parents have paid and continue to pay a great price that God's blessing might now be given so freely. Glory to god and True Parents forever."
Keith Anderson said, " I was impressed by the seriousness and hope with which the Hmong couples responded to our offer to bring the blessing to their families. One couple childless after many years of marriage and so obviously desiring a child became the object of my sincere prayer for God's greatest blessing, the fulfillment of the four position foundation. I was deeply moved by the hearts of the Hmong couples."
Sachiko Johnson felt she got so much more than she gave. "I came back from Chung Pyung lake on June 29th and my whole family came down with bad cold sickness. It was very hard to do anything. When I was in Chung Pyung I prayed for victory of 160 couples and the 3.6 million blessing. Minneapolis members were working very hard going door to door every day. I felt so sorry for Heavenly Father because even though I wanted to go door to door, I and my children were so sick. When July 4th and 5th came I really wanted to get out of the house even though I didn't feel well, so I went to the park. When I looked at our members they all looked like strong soldiers and I felt like a little lamb. But when I started giving the blessing to people I felt so much power and energy, people who received the Blessing gave me so much power. That day I was able bring the Blessing to 30 couples. I felt so grateful that I went out even though I felt sick in the beginning."
By the end of the first day, July 4th over 1700 couples had been blessed. We were all happily exhausted and went home to replenish our supplies and get a little sleep. At 5:00am the next morning we were out of bed and set up in the park again by 6:15am. Some of us again went from booth to booth Blessing concession stand owners until around 9:00am when the crowds began to flow. By now our 10 teams were well seasoned, any trace of shyness was gone as our members warmly greeted and blessed people as they strolled by our tables.
Steve Henry was amused and moved by one experience he and his wife Jeanette had. "My wife and I came across an older Hmong couple and having experienced in the past the open heartedness of the Hmong families, we felt an immediate connection with this couple. The wife was smiling so bright as she walked with her 2 daughters and rather stoic husband. With the older daughter as an interpreter we explained what we were doing to the couple and offered them the holy juice to drink. The wife drank but her husband shook his head and walked away. We followed after him until we found him and approached him again with the holy juice. "How do I know it's not poison ", he said. I said your wife is still alive isn't she? He laughed and then he drank. Afterwards he was beaming with joy and thanked us very much, he was truly grateful."
Rain moved in off and on and many blessings took place under umbrellas. Nothing stopped the administering of the Blessing. I'm sure everyone got more tired, voices wearing down, legs aching, however, the spirit of what was transpiring as couple after couple was being Blessed lifted us up and energized our efforts.
Michael and Esther Moyongo said "I felt so grateful and thankful for the great opportunity to be with brothers and sisters to give the pre-Blessing to a big sports festival of the Hmong community for two days in Como Park. I felt and observed peoples spirit resurrected on those days. Spirit world was so close to us and inspiring these people. It's so easy to invite them to receive the blessing. I was able to give the Blessing to so many kinds of families. Black couples white couples, Spanish, businessmen, Hmong husband and white wife and the organizer of the Hmong sports festival. God has prepared them all, they are so beautiful and wonderful couples. I am so moved by God's creation."
Keiko Borer was deeply moved by the experience, she said, "when Rev. and Mrs. Lee gave us the holy juice and holy water I felt so much blessing from True Parents. When we think about ourselves we are not qualified to give people the blessing but because of True Parents conditions we are qualified to do so. My sisters family came to Minnesota in June and I was able to give them the blessing. I am grateful to Rev. and Mrs. Lee that we have had the opportunity to give the blessing to the Hmong community. "
At the end of the day, around 9:30pm, on July 5th, 3112 couples had been Blessed. There was a wonderful peace that filled our hearts. Our members from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota had witnessed the outpouring of God's grace and Blessing on the lives of 1000's of couples. All of us are deeply grateful to True Parents and are determined to bring the Blessing to 1000's more couples by August 9th.
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