Unification News for November 1998

The Third International Ocean Challenge Workshop, Kodiak, Alaska

by Eric Holt-NY, NY

An group of seventy participants from all over the world gathered in Kodiak, Alaska for the Third International Ocean Challenge from September 9 through October 18, 1998. The majority were National Messiahs, (missionaries in Africa, Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania). The Family Federation continental directors of N. America, Latin America, Asia and Europe also participated as well as several second generation brothers and sisters.

Our daily schedule included ocean- or river-fishing, hoon dok hae, spiritual guidance, testimonies and a considerable amount of practical training in boat-handling, navigation, fishing, knot-tying, first aid, etc. The local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary came by for several evenings and presented a series of lectures concerning boat-handling and seamanship. All of us completed a final examination – and everyone passed! The local Red Cross came and taught CPR. Everyone received their CPR certification.

Boat-handling involved days of practice, practice and more practice. Docking turned out to be a most difficult exercise, in view of the constantly varying winds and currents. Other exercises included navigating waves and rescuing an imaginary "man overboard". In the end, we all took part in a practical examination to test our boat-handling skills, and, yes, we all passed!

During the first ten days, Rev. Moon spoke to us in the mornings after hoon dok hae. A recurring theme was the three stages of human life: life in the womb, earthly life and life in the eternal spirit world. This can also be compared to water, land and air. Life in the womb is preparation for earthly life, and earthly life is training for life in our eternal domicile. Rev. Moon likened our ocean-going experience with the embryo’s watery existence in the womb.

Hyun Jin Nim, the Vice-President of Family Federation International, was also in Alaska at around the same time, on a moose-hunting expedition. After several days of fruitless search for the illustrious moose, a moose showed up at the last minute, weighing in at over 1,200 pounds. The process of carrying several hundred pounds of moose meat and antlers back to the base camp took all day. In one of his talks, Hyun Jin Nim related how the experience of God and His creation had taught him the value of humility and gratitude.

When I first learned that I would be going to Alaska for ocean-fishing, by mind immediately rewound to a not-so-glorious day in Gloucester, Massachusetts about fifteen years earlier when my ocean experience consisted of emptying my stomach of its contents and turning a greyish-green. Let’s just say that it felt like a near-death experience. So, this time around I prepared by going to my local drug store and loading up on every conceivable type of sea-sickness medicine. I must say, this was a good move. I also got some good advice from an "old salt": keep your head and body vertical while on the boat – the boat may rock back and forth but you should not. This was the best advice – and it worked. There’s some kind of religious message here: if you keep your vertical faith in God amid the turbulent seas of life, you will be able to cope. The likelihood of sea-sickness is further reduced if one keeps one’s vision on the distant horizon. Yes, there’s a lesson there, too: a long-term vision and perspective will help a person to navigate the short-term difficulties of life.

On the ocean, one can recognize the incredible bounty that God has placed in the ocean – a seemingly endless variety of fish, including some fascinating multi-colored fish. As you bring the line up, you wait in suspense to see what (or who!) is on the other end. Hopefully, your line is not tangled in the line of the person fishing next to you on the boat. The mighty halibut is of course the fish of choice. Several large halibut (plural?) were landed, the biggest being a 218-pounder. There’s no telling when a halibut will get hooked. Sometimes one will bite after a day of zero action. One of the Coast Guard instructors recalled how a local resident had recently thrown out a line at the dock, and tied it up during lunch. When he returned, a 300-lb halibut was pulling on the other end of the line!

One day, as I was pulling in my line it seemed that there was a heavy weight on the other line. However, whatever it was it was not fighting much. A sunken treasure? An old lobster pot? No – a large octopus! This rather sizable octopus proceeded to walk around on deck for about an hour, until we confined her to one of the compartments. The following day we confined her to our stomachs.

Catching salmon from a river bank calls for another set of physical and mental skills. We tried to catch salmon as they made the final stage in their life’s journey. After five or six years on the high seas, these magnificent creatures return to their hometown for matching, wedding, multiplication… and death. Salmon fishing can be summarized by the words patience and perseverance. On occasion, although very infrequently, it was relatively easy to catch a few. My first day salmon fishing was like that: it was pretty easy to catch them. Maybe that was God’s way of encouraging me, because after that it was murder. In light of this, Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s abilities at salmon-catching are all the more marvelous.

The vast ever-changing ocean, the endless varieties of fish, crustaceans and other life all attest to the magnificence of God and the boundless character of His love for His children. It’s a whole different world out there, especially if, like me, you’re a city boy used to the concrete reality.

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