Unification News for September 1998

World Leaders Meeting, Alaska-Style

You canít get there from here, unless you have a boat or plane or happen to be a salmon. Itís called Chignik, and itís a ways out on the Aleutian peninsula. That makes it closer to China than to New York. To get there, get in a puddle-jumper and fly an hour and a half southwest out of King Salmon. What, youíre asking me where King Salmon is? Well, I donít exactly know where it is, but it has the only gift store Iíve ever seen that sells fur-covered nose warmers.

Iíve never been anywhere like Chignik. The closest thing I can compare it to would be an almost-abandoned mining town in the Nevada desert. Combine that with scenery from Vail, Colorado and weather from the inside of a refrigerated truck. This is where True Parents come for relaxation.

My great grandfather Frederick Godbolt came to Alaska in the 1890s searching for gold. He died there, having not found the gold of Alaska, and is buried in Haynes, Alaska, according to family lore.

His great grandson Tyler Hendricks found the gold of Alaska on his fourth attempt. Three times, promised trips to Alaska fizzled out. Number one: the musical group I was with once was offered the chance to play on an Alaskan cruise ship; then the offer was rescinded. Number two: in 1973, Kristina Morrison invited me to join a team pioneer witnessing in Alaska. I said yes, and then the direction changed. Number three: True Father, at the close of the 1983 Ocean Challenge, asked me if I wanted to go to Alaska. I said yes, and then the direction changed. Number four: finally, in 1998, the call came to come to Alaska, and this time, the direction didnít change.

I was on the 6 a.m. flight to Anchorage the next day. By that night, I was flying on a little propeller plane across the Alaskan tundra into a village called Chignik. The bush pilot who flew us there invited anyone who liked to sit in the co-pilotís seat, so I did. A half-hour out he popped open a bottle of Pepsi; he exuded a feeling of confidence as we flew blind through the low-lying clouds. I asked about some of the gauges and dials; some worked, someÖ well, didnít. "Does the man know," I thought, "that these are top disciples of the Lord and his wife, snoozing in the back of his plane? Should I tell him?" I decided not to. The landing was soft as a feather. "It should be," he said, "the plane is so light." The runway being dirt probably helped as well. Later I read that the accident rate for bush pilots in Alaska is five times that for small planes in the lower 48. But there are no roads, railroads or regular airports, so what can ya do?

We jumped out of the plane and were greeted by a few local children riding quads. Our landing provided some entertainment for the day. The pilot became the ground crew, unloading our baggage. The airport terminal was a barn. We set out by foot to our lodging. The town has, as far as I observed, one broken-down pickup truck. And we were renting it. The other vehicles, besides simple tin boats with outboards, are quads. The age of the driver averages about 12, and the number of passengers per trip about three, usually younger than the driver. The pickup truck took our luggage, and we walked to the house. It was full daylight, around 10 p.m. True Parents were there, sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, awaiting our arrival.

It is here that Reverend and Mrs. Moon bring followers and friends for training and education. Here we would spend the next seven days, fishing all day, sometimes until 10:30 at night, and meeting with True Parents morning and night until 1am or 2am. There is one what you would call middle-class home in Chignik. Itís where we stayed. The house has three bedrooms. One for True Parents, one for the sisters and one for the luggage. If I count up correctly, that leaves none for the brothers. We continental directors, newspaper publishers, world and national church leaders slept toe to toe in the living room. But not to worry, there was no time for sleep anyway. Welcome to Reverend Moonís hobby life.

Daily Routine

The schedule of each day is as simple and majestic as the environment. Each day began with hoon dok hae, usually around 5am or even before. Start time depended upon the time of retirement the night before. Usually we had about a four-hour break for resting. Around True Parents, I find it a verity there is lots to eat but no time to sleep. It held true here. After reading an hour, with everyone except the reader and kitchen staff in a state of deep meditation, Father would share guidance. It was as it must have been forty years ago: big visions for world peace and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Three of us then would be invited to sup with True Parents at the dinette table, and the rest of us would sit around a makeshift cardboard table in the living room.

Stepping out into the great outdoors, it was revisiting Eden. The green forest, mountains blue and brown and white in the distance rising up into the clouds and blue sky. It is untouched, as the saying goes, by human hands. It is the North American equivalent of the Pantenal in Brazil, an area primeval and wild.

Returning home there would be time to clean up and shower, as the boats usually returned one at a time, in pleasant contrast to the crowded morning. Then all would gather for dinner. The food was delicious and plentiful. Korean and Chinese-style, in general, with ever-present salmon sashimi. Our excellent meals were prepared by sisters from Kodiak and Kum Hee Fontaine from East Garden. Kum Hee also proved to be an intrepid fisherman.

After dinner we would reconvene with Rev. Moon, and teaching and discussion would continue into the night, usually until between midnight and 2am. It was a notable collection of participants. They were about 16 in number, including the top leadership of Korea, Japan and the USA. Men whose responsibilities encompass millions of people, following the schedule I mentioned above. Sleeping side by side like sardines in sleeping bags on the living room floor. Sharing one bathroom. It was a peaceful group, harmoniously bespeaking the future harmony of the world. We all struggled with the same fishing gear, raggedy fishing boats and recalcitrant salmon. One welcome addition to the group was two second-generation youths, Tweeran Verheyen and Yoni Drucker.

On the boats we had bags of fruit, pbjís, cupíoísoup, crackers, chips and candy, as well as spring water and coffee. Like I said, you get no sleep but lots of food. Even with that store on the boat, we often came home for lunch. Our fishing grounds began a few hundred yards from the beach, and went as far as three miles down river. So everything was close at hand. And the house was about a five-minute walk from the beach, past a little clapboard Russian Orthodox church, with its little graveyard.

The weather, cloudy and rainy at first, turned fair on our fourth day, to reveal to my happy surprise the most stunning scenery Iíve ever seen. Imagine floating downstream, trolling for salmon, at every turn of the river your eyes welcome a new vista, a new range of mountains, covered with snow, soaring into the blue sky.

When the sun appeared, the animals came out. We saw bears on the shore, a single one, and a family with a mother and three cubs. They were brown bears, very big. They are amazing, really, in some ways resembling dogs and in some ways cats. There was a warning in the village to look out for them. We saw on a beach very close to the village. We were told that if a bear approaches, start yelling at it very loudly to frighten it away. A bear killed a child a few weeks before our stay, bit off the 6-year oldís head. "Human beings are on their food chain," said Barry, our local general affairs staff. Bill Gates, he said, had recently come to Chignik to hunt for bear, and he got one. But you need several hunters, as one gunís bullets may ricochet off the beastís skull. "Iíll take salmon, thank you," I thought to myself.

We saw seals and beavers swimming. We saw eagles flying and perched grandly on various perches. Floating downstream there would not be a sound other than the soft lapping of water and the cries of birds.

Eternity And Fatherís Feet

Light remained in the sky well past midnight. The days stretched into a peaceful Zone of Godís abundant blessing in the long evenings. Time stood still because, for me, this is time which is usually scheduled for travel home, dinner, and various doings, but here the hours slipped by in the most simple mode of fishing. Once one gives up struggling with the whole idea, one receives incredible grace. The body is subjugated by this point, no longer struggling with sleepiness or with what I should rather be doing.

I actually found myself one evening, around 9 p.m., with rain falling, dripping off the visor of my cap, sitting in the boat, fishing line in the water, feeling there is no better place to be on earth or in heaven. I thought to myself, "HmmmÖ Iíve accomplished something here."

It was like a wonderful fundraising evening after a long good day, having a lovely evening going door to door, oblivious to the time. The state of mind in heaven may be "being oblivious to time." At least that is one dimension of the reality of heaven. Just enjoying the moment as it by itself stretches into eternity. Completely satisfied with the moment for what it has to offer, and spending the rest of your life in it. Caring not for the next moment, caring not if it ever ends or changes, letting the dayís own troubles be sufficient for the day.

General affairs were the province of the dedicated Mr. Yoshihisa Inoue. He captained True Parentsí boat. He is one with fishing. His motto is, "Donít stop fishing to eat." He said that we should keep fishing, because people are much happier if they catch fish than if they eat. He proclaimed, "I love to fish, 15 hours a day." We wanted to use his (True Parentsí) boat, late one night, and told him to rest, but he insisted on piloting us, saying with finality, "I come with the boat." Later, he confided to me that after a summer of True Parents and True Family activities in Alaska, it takes him weeks to recover. Where does he obtain his power?

I found out one night, when Mr. Inoue became my hero and role model. As I arrived in the living room after cleaning up, there he was at Reverend Moonís feet, massaging Reverend Moonís feet. He was calm and in a meditative state. His expression was beatific. I know, Iím getting syrupy here, but this is what I observed and felt. It was like Jesus washing the discipleís feet, and they didnít want him to. Why? Because they didnít like clean feet? No; because it was too intimate. It was too much love to bear.

Well, thatís what I felt, looking at Mr. Inoue. I could hardly bear witnessing his degree of childlike love, but I could not take my eyes off him, and I just sat down and watched. Oh, I wish I could have that much love for True Father, so much love that I would not be embarrassed about massaging the manís feet. I imagined myself easing up to Father, taking off his socks, and plunging in with a good massage. But the gap between thinking about it and doing itÖ "Oh," I thought, "Us stuffy white Anglo-Saxon protestant male chauvinist pigs!"

Later, I brought up my feelings to Mr. Inoue. He said it was not easy for him to do that, but he had learned it from Mr. Koo Bae Park. Another encounter with a beatified saint, this "businessman," Mr. Park. I observed him talking with Father. His face is very round, like the sun. It reflected delicate feelings so sensitively, so expressively, so lovingly. He was speaking and listening to Rev. Moon-about some issue Iím sure the world would consider very trivial-and I saw the love of a perfect object in his face. Gentle, quickly responsive, cajoling, not pushing his point of view, although he had one, making supreme effort to unite his heart with that of his Teacher. Short of my own wifeís face, Iíve never witnessed such a beautiful human visage.

Girl On The Beach

And there was the morning after the night before. We had stayed up until past 2am. And, just like in your family and mine, it was so late that accidentally on purpose no one had set an alarm clock. Except for our parents. So here are Rev. Kwak, Rev. Pak, Rev. Kamiyama, President Hwang, President Otsuka, President Joo, Rev. Peter Kim, Dr. Yang and my unworthy self, all snoring away, and in the shadows of my awareness I see True Mother entering the room, lightly but sternly advising everyone that hoon dok hae starts in five minutes. Hi mom, oh sorry about that. Youíd never believe that so many high-level bureaucrats could transmute themselves from sleeping babies to studious disciples in only five minutes, relying on one bathroom, but it has been known to happen.

Chignik has no stores, although a few days after we arrived an enterprising resident with a home next to the beach where our boats landed put up a sign advertising snacks for sale, 24-hours. I didnít see much business going on. The village has, at last counting, one street light. No, not "stop-light," street light. Actually, I should say, dirt-road light. But not to worry, itís dark only two hours a night.

Most of the villageís 25 or so houses have the same last name on their signs. Itís a Russian name, and the people look like Eskimos, but they are not Eskimos; they are Aleuts. That explains what happened when we came in from fishing my first day. It was starting to get dark, about 11 p.m. I and the others on the boat were wrapped up tight in rain gear, parkas, sweaters, jackets, boots, sun-glasses, etc. etc. We were literally freezing. And there on the beach was a little Aleut girl, maybe eight years old. She was wearing shorts and a tee shirt. She was barefoot. She was playing in the water. Playing, mind you, splashing in the water, with us grown men bundled up for subfreezing weather.

Is that an allegory for our status in comparison with True Parents? Father and Mother are out there working and playing in the cosmos, embracing all the forces of nature, spiritual and physical. We disciples are bundled up like crazy, trying to protect ourselves,Ö from what? Father is saying, toughen up in order to live a life of freedom in true love. This was the lesson of Chignik. It is the lesson that True Parents teach everywhere they go. Letís loosen up and catch salvation moon fish.

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