Unification News for November 1998

Blessing `98 in Baltic Lithuania

by Gunnard Z. Johnston-Lithuania

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are tucked between Poland to the south, Belarussia to the east, the Russian oblast region of Kaliningrad to the southwest, far western Russia (St. Petersburg area) to the north, and the Baltic Sea to the west, facing Sweden and Finland. Itís not surprising then, with so many bordering nations, that the geographical center of Europe is 20 kilometers from Vilnius, the capital city of the Republic of Lithuania. On a clear day, one may see dozens of high-flying commercial airliners passing overhead, most at 7,000 meters or more altitude, as they connect the East-Moscow, Peking, Tokyo, and Seoul-with the West-London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Copenhagen.

We are really at the center of East and West here, but to look at the peaceful countryside, with miles and miles of farms and predominantly flat countryside, small cities of 20,000 to 40,000, and even smaller towns and villages, you would never know that we are such a hub of centrality. On the other hand, there is a spiritual aura of "centralness" about the Baltics, the feeling that these peoples represent a strong sense of the character of the original European stock of people. Elements of the different characteristics of German precision, English manners, French beauty, and even a trace of Italian fire (though just a tad!), are seen here. I donít mean to leave any nationality out of the mix I described here, but this is the best way I know to portray this little-known part of the world. In short, it is quiet, peaceful, simple, and beautiful, with many ancient customs still very much alive. The city of Vilnius has been designated by the United Nations as a "model traditional city", and UNESCO works to preserve its classic architecture and landscape.

Giving Godís Blessing here has been a special experience. We have Blessed high government officials, television personalities, professors, and clergy. We have Blessed couples walking to or from their own church weddings, and their entourages. We have Blessed couples with their children, friends, and relatives, in the fields cutting hay, fishing by the river, or sunbathing by the sea. We have Blessed people in their homes, on the street, at the beach, in the parks, at city and town plazas, at meetings of civic groups, school committees-in short, we have Blessed couples in just about every imaginable situation.

When it became clear that this yearís goal for our nation was going to be much higher than last yearís-more than ten times higher!-we had no idea how we were going to accomplish this. In fact, while we could Bless sixty thousand last year, we had the most precious assistance of many Japanese sisters, who came in waves from the Mother country. All together, forty-three Japanese sisters, from fifteen years old Second Generation to more than seventy years old senior elder sisters, expended considerable time, money, and love to come here for the sake of Lithuania. Organized by our Mother country National Messiah, Mr. Masayuki Kachi, these beloved sisters came here-some for a few weeks, some for several months-and gave so much heart and love to Lithuania. Often, as Family Federation workers, we meet people who say, "Oh, yes! The Japanese womenís group!" These sisters and their beautiful hearts really made a lasting impression on this country, one that will not be forgotten.

So this year we had to find a way to do ten times more Blessings, but with only one-tenth the number of workers!! And people say theyíve never seen miracles!! How else could we do it?

When we started earnestly in early May, we began as we did last year, by looking for couples walking together down the street, or in their homes. We would find a couple, then offer them the full treatment: the Four Vows, Holy Wine/Juice, Indemnity Stick, and Certificate, which explained what they had just done. We took their name, address, and phone number. But, with an average of only five people giving such full treatment Blessings, the most we could give in one day was a hundred and twenty couples. There are only so many married couples walking around together these days! Our national population is only 3.7 million people, so we have maybe 700,000 married couples all together. How to reach virtually all of them was going to require some creative thinking.

Enter reports from other countries: first, we heard of giving Blessings to only one half of the couple, either the husband or the wife. We did that, and our numbers started to go up dramatically, but still not any where near the pace of 5000 per day we would need to make the goal Father had given us. What to do now? Then, we heard that we might use Holy Candy-candy which had Holy Wine in it-as long as we also gave every newly Blessed couple a longer, more descriptive certificate, explaining the association with True Parents, and some facts about the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Thus armed, we set out to meet as many people as we could, and give them these precious connections to True Parents and their Blessing.

At a critical juncture of the campaign, when we were about one half of the way to our goal, a most unflattering television program came out on a Russian station, and quickly multiplied to Lithuanian newspapers and other media outlets. Suddenly, we were being confronted by angry people on the street: "What are you doing, giving out that candy with all that terrible stuff (the Holy Wine) in it??", they cried. Some people were genuinely agitated! I had to speak strongly to a few women who began to follow me and were yelling to other people on the crowded street. They threatened to call the police, to which I said, "Yes, please do!! I want them to see how you are harassing me and preventing these good people from receiving a Blessing from God." The police came, and, acting out of obligation to the call they had been sent on, asked for my "documents" on the candy. Fortunately, I had brought both the bill of sale from a well-known candy factory, and a health certificate, proclaiming the candy safe. These police politely thanked me, and left me alone.

We had prepared this way after a serious attack the week before, when we attempted to give Blessings at the biggest summer festival of the year. We were doing very well, Blessing people at the rate of ten thousand per day, when suddenly one member of the police department came down in an extremely altered state upon my wife, Satsuko Masuyama Johnston, and tried to physically grab her. Fortunately, my wife is a veteran of the exciting days of communists on campuses in Japan back in the late 60ís, so she knew how to just slip away from the fellow, who was left talking to himself. Unfortunately, he must have made a call to his headquarters, because suddenly, in the middle of a great run of giving Blessings to a huge crowd of people, each and every one of our six members was arrested and taken into police custody. I myself was taken by police jeep to a police station, and faced with questions from an angry sergeant who spoke no English. My Lithuanian is still too poor to converse well, so I was very uncertain what would happen in that dark and dingy police house. After showing my passport, and doing my best to tell him that the candy was manufactured right in the same city where we were-I even implored him to call the factory director-he decided to let me go, with the warning that if he caught me doing this again, it would be jail for me!! Now, where have I heard these kinds of words before, I thought to myself, with a little chuckle in my heart.

When we heard late in July the deadline Father had set for August 21, we really became even more desperate. We already were giving Blessings at phenomenal rates-each member giving 3000 Blessings per day-but now we had a shortened deadline, and were several hundred thousand Blessings short of our goal! So, we had to streamline everything-travel from town to town, city to city, sleeping in the van, eating on the run, using gas stations to shave and get cleaned up-where again had I seen this all before!!? Itís good to know that MFT experience was useful for something besides old war stories.

When all was said and done, Heaven had blessed us with safety and good health, and we had given Heavenly Fatherís Blessing to over 600,000 couples and individuals!! If you asked me if this would have been possible even two months earlier, I would have said, "Well, itís going to take a miracle!" So, I guess thatís what we had, a miracle. We made our goal, a few days after the August deadline, but soon enough to bring that result to our continental meeting in Moscow in September. Through it all, each one of us-Mrs. Masako Kachi, Norie Kachi, Aistis Vaicekauskas, Ina Dobrovolskaya, Beata, Viktor, Danguole, Birute, Justina, my wife, and I-felt the tender love and support of True Parents all the way. Even in the police station.

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