40 Years in America

Laura Taylor Hayashi

At 16, I was very serious. We had just moved to Ames, Iowa from Wisconsin, and I missed my friends. I missed snow skiing, so many things. As an only child, it was very important to have the skills to go forward and make new friends. I was searching deeply in a religious sense, trying to find more meaning in life than early adolescent society was defining it.

My family and I went to Toronto, Ontario, Canada for a vacation and I was able to bring my friend. One time we were on a lovely green near the University of Toronto, and playing ball with others there. I missed the ball. Of course, I chased it. And chased it, and chased it. It was like a cartoon! As soon as I would stoop to pick it up, it rolled and hit something and shot off again. It had a life of its own. Finally, it seemed to rest. As my fingers surrounded the orb, someone said hello. From the stooping position, I looked eye to eye with a Japanese dwarf. He started talking about all the things I had wondered about. About the unity of science and religion, the necessity of the unity of religions, of the necessity of pure offering in religion. I was impressed. Yet, I was as Cinderella at the ball. We could not come to the event he spoke about, because we had to go. It was our last day in Toronto. We left that night. I took his address. Leanne and I were confident that this was very special. I was perhaps more confident than she. When we returned, she forgot about it and was caught up with her new boyfriend. I turned the paper around in my hands, feeling it was so precious. After three letters were not returned, I actually made the long distance call. Disconnected. No further information. I was completely let down. I would continue my search, however.

The next year, my neighbor was babbling to me about a "commune on the edge of town." I thought, "What nonsense. I am interested in God." How grateful I am that she hadn’t mentioned that it was the Unification Church, and about the themes I was so interested in which the Japanese brother had spoken about. Otherwise I would have gotten involved with them then. That particular center was not in a healthy situation. Her group had been founded by an Iowan who went to San Francisco to find his fortune. He found Papa-san Choi’s group. He was an ardent follower, if a bit spiritually led.

One day, he felt called to return to Iowa, and start a group there. He didn’t have church permission, he just left. He found 40 members, and they had a center or "commune." In 1969, they made the trip to San Francisco to see Father. How shocked they were. "Papasan" had not explained about Father. Nor about indemnity. True Father was grilling Mr. Choi (Papa-san). "There is only one Papa-san," Father said. Of course, there was great confusion. Probably half the total members there left. The Iowa center director took his group back to the homeland to reposition.

Unfortunately, they concluded that Father and Mr. Choi had failed, and that their center leader was the Messiah. He then matched the group. Much sorrow followed before they split up. How blessed I was to be protected from all that!

When I was exhausted from my search for God, I returned home. I had searched through Hinduism and Yoga meditation -- all good, but limited. I loved the faith my mother showed, yet was very upset with the hypocrisy in the organized churches. I tried the Marxist theories, and found such psychologically ill people involved. I tried the university, to find not "love of truth" from which philosophy takes its name, but sophistry, or love of hearing oneself speak. I tried the humble life of factory work, and soon realized why I wanted an education.

Thus, I returned to my parents’ home to start again, at least to get a trade where I could make enough money to buy books, and continue to try to stay current and hear if the Truth appeared.

It came in the form of the same neighbor’s bratty sister. I had a garage sale. She said, "Oh, my sister would like these things. She’s not a hippie anymore. She’s a lady." I said to send her over. I was shocked. All her life, the sister had suffered from severe arthritis. You could see blue veins under china-transparent skin. She now glowed with radiant health. This was the same person who had told me about the commune.

I had heard she was so sick (after the tragedy of the "center"), and had even thought maybe she had died. I said, "Christine, whatever it is that you are doing, you have to tell me about it." So she did.

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