Unification News for
True God's Day 1998 and Leaders Meeting in Uruguay
by Michael Kiely-Chesnut Ridge, NY
"Do you want younger, energetic leaders or more mature leaders 60 years old or older?" True Father asked suddenly in the middle of a speech to a gathering of over 600 National Messiahs and other Unification Leaders from around the world. The leaders stood on a grassy slop outside True Father's home in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on the Day of Victory of Love, January 2, 1998.
The Koreans in the crowd responded immediately. The rest of the crowd, straining to hear translations in English, Japanese and other languages, was unable to answer before True Father launched into a new topic. For two days he said nothing more about this.
Then at a meeting on January 4 in a large temporary amphitheater constructed by the Uruguayan family for the True God's Day celebration, True Father called Korean continental leaders and national messiahs to the stage. He began to list the qualifications of a continental leader. As he spoke, the leaders left the stage one by one to disqualify themselves until only eight remained, all 60 years old or older. Just as he had done in matching national messiahs with their countries over a year earlier at Chung Pyung Lake, True Father assigned a continent to each of these eight remaining elders by lottery.
"As in the past, Father allowed God, through the lottery, to choose the new continental directors," one leader observed afterwards. But it appears none of the leaders present had anticipated True Father's replacement of the continental directors.
With just a few weeks notice for many leaders, True Father had invited continental leaders, all four members of the national messiah team in each country, ACC and state leaders to fly to Uruguay for the True God's Day 1998 celebration and the official launching of the 360 Million-Couple Blessing. They were to bring tents, sleeping bags, surf casting rods, summer clothing and, oh yes, "a sweater in case there is an evening chill after a hot summer day."
And chill there was. A phenomenon locals said was impossible at this time of year occurred. They said it could only have been the child of El Nino. First, on December 30 a relentless, chilling wind froze thinly clad leaders as they listened in the amphitheater to True Father speak till 4:30 a.m. the next morning. Many of the African contingent and others from warm climates were shaking with cold and stamping their feet for warmth.
Then the next day after a morning of practice surf-casting at the beach a 40-minute bus ride away, wind-driven rain began to fall. A city of tents, in neat rows by the continent of their inhabitants, had sprung up almost overnight on a long grassy slope overlooking a lake near True Father's house. As the rain became torrential, tend dwellers dug ditches uphill from their tents. But the grass was gradually transformed into slippery mud. Some smaller tents whose pegs had become loose in the rain-drenched earth were blown over. Of those tents that survived, many leaked, and sleeping bags and suitcases inside were soon drenched.
Asked afterwards what stood out in his mind about his stay in Punta del Este, David Payer, ACC member and owner of an Internet Service Provider in Iowa, quipped: "Mud!"
Umbrellas were of little use to those standing in the half hour-long line for God's Day Eve dinner because the wind blew them inside out and the wind-driven rain fell sideways. Even the best-prepared were not to keep dry that night as all experienced a drenching of near biblical proportions.
But delicious gourmet dishes by Father's Montevideo Plaza Hotel five-star chefs, who were imported for the holy day, made dinner festive nonetheless, even as wooden outdoor tables around which diners stood to eat glistened with rain.
Those who huddled afterwards around a log bonfire in their hooded ponchos for a moment of respite from the chill rain looked like monks in prayer. But the conversation among them was in anticipation of Father's midnight prayer and speech.
"Do you suppose the rain will stop at midnight as Father prays?" one hooded figure asked.
A half-dozen heads nodded their agreement that it might. The monk-like figures then sloshed away to their tents to don Sunday suits, dresses and soon-to-be-mud-encrusted dress shoes for the midnight prayer and speech.
Shortly after 11:30 p.m. the area around the back door of Father's house was a sea of umbrellas and parasols. Even from 20 feet away it was impossible to see what was happening under the open-sided marquis which had been erected for the celebration. The only sound was the splash of rain on hundreds of umbrellas as people waited in silent anticipation of Father's ushering in of the New Year.
At the drop of midnight as fireworks crackled from neighborhood homes, Father began to pray. His voice was low at first, then grew to a crescendo as the rain slowed to a drizzle. Within minutes after he had ended his prayer, the rain, which had poured down steadily for hours unrelentingly, stopped and did not fall again during the speech and for hours afterwards. It was, as one participant observed afterwards, as if the rain had completed its task of cleansing the earth in preparation for the new year.
After Father had written the 1998 motto on a long table with an oriental brush and ink and as he launched into his midnight address, the umbrellas began to be folded and lowered, and soon Father became visible to the whole assembly as if a curtain had been drawn back. It was an awesome moment reminiscent of Jesus' quieting a stormy sea as the apparent master of the weather began to make his first speech of 1998.
As Father spoke, a handful of Koreans throughout the crowd sacrificed their own note taking to translate for Westerners and Japanese. It was a struggle to hear them as they spoke in low tones in order not to disturb the speech and to hear Father's words above the sound of their own voices. Even Peter Kim, Father's translator in America, put away his notebook and translated for those around him. The challenge for each of them was that Father did not stop speaking as they translated, so they had to hear in one language and speak in another simultaneously.
"Without understanding the beauty of convex and concave, you cannot understand the Universe," Father was saying. "Adam and Eve could have understood about love by observing (this in) nature."
He said God wanted to experience marriage through humankind. "Adam and Eve's marriage should have been God's marriage," he said with True Mother sitting next to him. After the Fall, "The Old Testament is about God's search for the pure marriage that was never realized in the Garden of Eden," he said. "God wanted his marriage and could not find it."
Reflecting on his own difficult course, he said, "Sacrifice is bleeding and total giving. Even though we bleed, we should not have (self-)pity. That is the nature of the offering On the foundation (of the blood) of thousands of martyrs in the New Testament era True Parents have appeared."
Emphasizing the importance of marriage and the family, he said, "The time has come when all Buddhist and Catholic monks, priests (and nuns) should marry. We must have a family."
Through the 360 Million-Couple Blessing all things will return to God if "we cut off completely from all things of this world, even from our children and `myself,' " he said. "Even if we become like Gypsies, we must restore all things."
Father concluded on an upbeat note: "A new day of blessing is coming," he predicted.
A few hours -- and a short sleep -- later that morning after the main ceremony and the traditional cutting of the cake, a Korean elder read a long speech in Korean with little or no translation. As they stood in the intermittent rain around the back of Father's house opening and closing umbrellas and shifting from one aching leg to the other, the two-thirds of the listeners who did not understand the reading may well have been strengthening their new year's resolve to master Korean.
"How many times have I started to learn the language," one listener said afterwards, "only to forget it a year later!"
During their six or so days with Father, he reminded leaders regularly that they should master Korean and told them that in the future there would be only one unified language.. "I do not like hearing the sound of translation," he had said last year at True God's Day in Sao Paulo. And at other times he has said he will only meet with those who understand the language.
In his wide-ranging True God's Day speech, Father addressed the need for a religious United Nations, proclaimed that True Parents Day should be celebrated around the world, waxed enthusiastic about True Love, and offered a solution to loneliness.
"The solution to loneliness," he said, "is that the self must disappear."
Exploring various manifestations of True Love in nature, True Father likened thunder and lightning to a true love marriage in nature. "In the Amazon there are 3,000 kinds of insects all trying to fulfill God's love," he said. Only True Love can create "eternal relationships," he said.
Looking toward the coming Kingdom of Heaven on earth, True Father said, "If the world is united and God can use all his power, how much better (a place) the world will be!"
After a five-star lunch, earnest but mostly first-time fishermen launched Father's world fishing championship contest at the beach in quest of Dorado, Boga, Putado or Paku. The biting issue in preparing to fish was how to hold a squirming silver-dollar-sized crab, whose only purpose in life was to pinch freshmen fishermen's fingers, on a large hook long enough to tie him to it. A few nips from his powerful pinchers was all it took to brush away any tears of sympathy one might have shed for the little fella becoming a Dorado's dinner.
"If you do not catch 160 fish, you cannot be a Unification leader," Father said in an ocean-side chat with would-be fishermen seated around him on the sand. Sitting cross-legged on the edge of a platform next to a small tent, he tapped members on their heads with a fishing pole to emphasize his points. "To catch 160 fish you should leave your tent and tackle here (in Punta del Este) with your name on them," he said. "The next time you come, bring 10 friends for each of the four kinds of fish," he suggested. With these 40 friends a member could start a business of bringing people to Punta del Este for fishing, he said. To push his point home, he added, "True Father will keep his word. What he says will come to pass."
"Whatever you do," he said with a broad smile, "please enjoy it."
As he was speaking, a passerby on the beach stopped to ask Regis Hanna, a national to Panama and former missionary to Mexico, "What's going on here?"
"That's Rev. Moon talking to members," Regis replied.
"You're kidding! That's not really Rev. Moon, is it?" the passerby replied in astonishment.
Then Regis witnessed to him about Family Federation, the Blessing and other Unification activities.
Clearly impressed, he responded, "Wow! I'll have something to tell my friends now! I just met the Rev. Moon!"
Back at camp after another melt-in-your-mouth dinner the bilingual team of Larry Moffit and Steven Boyd co-hosted a generous three hours of evening entertainment. Larry, the manager of Tiempos del Mundo in Argentina and assistant publisher of the hemispheric edition of the paper, spoke English or Spanish and Steven, longtime missionary to Uruguay, translated Larry's untranslatable humor into Spanish or English as needed - to the delight of their multilingual audience. Some wondered out loud if the inimitable Larry Moffit had met his match in Seven Boyd! Troop after troop of Latin and international dancers, singers and martial arts teams shared their art with True Parents and the assembled leaders. As a finale Hyung Jin Nim sang Jose Feliciano's La Bamba, and Hyun Jin Nim offered a thoroughly interactive rendition of Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes.
The next morning, January 2, leaders gathered again outside Father's house in mud-spattered suits and dresses for the celebration of Day of Victory of Love. After the Main Ceremony, the cutting of the cake, and a recitation of Heung Jin Nim's biography, Father again had a long speech read in Korean. Known as Hoon Dok Hwe, the daily morning reading of Father's speeches is what Rev. C.H. Kwak called "the precious tradition of Unification Families in the future." Rev. Kwak said the speech should ideally be read in Korean, but a translation is also acceptable. Father himself reads his speeches with his own children each morning at 6 a.m.
In his celebration speech afterwards True Father said that no one is able to take responsibility for those who break the Blessing and warned that families which do not pay the blessing fee will be "in trouble" and will have a hard time when they arrive in spiritual world. He suggested that if a couple does not have enough money for the fee, they should go fund raising to get it. If all couples pay their fee, he said, then he will be able to restore the whole world. After the 360 Million-Couple Blessing, he said, "the whole world will automatically turn around."
Turning again to the family, Father said, "Now is the age of family-centeredness. No matter how great a man is, without a family he cannot take responsibility." Father said that the president of a country must first be president of a family. Then his wife will become the vice-president and his sons will be ministers. If a person wants to succeed in school or in his career, he said, he must first be centered on his family.
"From now on in the Unification Movement you will be recognized according to the state of your family," he said.
He said that members will need to write autobiographical reports about their family lives which "must be approved by people both on earth and in the spiritual world."
In his Victory of Love speech Father also announced the formation of a Special Dedication Fund to help Korea. Each member of a family, he said, should make a donation that includes the number 12 (like $120 or $1200), at least half of which should be sent before True Father's birthday February 2.
Throughout the afternoons of January 2 and 3, the fishing contest continued. Each day Father visited and spoke intimately with members on the beach. While most members assigned to one of ten teams fished on the beach with 12 foot surf-casting rods, a small group picked from each team went out on a boat each day. Because almost no fish were caught from the beach, it was those who went out on the boat who won the fishing contest.
On January 3 the ten teams competed in track, soccer, volley ball and a tug-of-war for the championship. That evening with the Uruguayan Minister of Tourism and other dignitaries present, winners of the fishing contest received awards, and the next morning the winning teams received substantial cash prizes from True Father.
During Father's annual reading of directions for the year he said that the era of "great migration" is about to begin. Previously Father has said that in the future he will ask many members to move to Africa and other developing areas. It may be that Father is saying that he may give that direction in the near future.
Father also said, "For the National Blessing to take place, we need (True Father's) worldwide tour." This appears to suggest that the his coming world tour is a foundation for the National Blessing to occur, although he did not say whether there were other foundations or when the blessing would take place. In the past Father has spoken about three levels of Blessing that must eventually take place, namely, church level, national level and world level. This was apparently a reference to that second level.
Finally, he counseled listeners to "be grateful every day without complaining." He said, "When you live with gratefulness, you will prosper."
On the final day, January 4, when leaders were free to leave and after Hoon Dok Hwe, Father gave his final speech. Speaking of God's plight and our relationship with him, True Father said God has no ancestors and bears everything on his shoulders. "One tear that is shed can glorify God," he said. "Even if I die 10,000 times, I must be grateful to God. He then can come to comfort me."
He called on leaders to follow the path on which "God cannot abandon you" without excuses. "You must have the depth to face persecution as a given," he said. "That is the path of a messiah." God is looking for "the filial son of the filial son, a historical son," he said. "Even though you are not qualified, you are called to the position of a Holy Son."
Concerning our clans, True Father said that it is critically important to bless our own kinsmen "even if they resist." He said, "You cannot leave them in the path of death, even if you must fight or drag them." He said once they are blessed, relatives can support ones mission.
On a hopeful note, Father said, "The period of going around and around without results is over. (Now) you will have results according to your effort."
After the six-day celebration on their return home, some members toured Montevideo to see Father's foundation there. They visited Father's Five Star Plaza Hotel complete with sky restaurant on the 25th floor and a swimming pool and spa. They also saw Father's Banco de Commerce, which has 23 branches in Uruguay, and visited his industrial park and educational facility where Father will train Uruguayans to use machine tools to help increase the manufacturing capabilities of the nation. Also, the site will manufacture parts for cars produced in Argentina and elsewhere. Finally, the group visited the Montevideo editorial and production offices of Ultimas Noticias and Tiempos del Mundo, Father's two newspapers in Uruguay.
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