40 Years in America

You Are My Sunshine

Betty Lancaster

My life in the Unification movement began in the spring of 1963, in the days when we had no name except the legal name "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity." Needless to say, every year, indeed every day, was and still is a drama.

I will probably someday write a book, but for the moment I will recount two special days from early times, one so precious as to be treasured for years to come. I think it was the year 1969. Father and Mother were visiting America. I went to Upshur House in Washington, D.C. to visit and have lunch with them. Father then decided that they would visit Mount Vernon, Virginia, the home of President George Washington. I was invited to come also, so I followed in my car. The long ride through heavy traffic was dreadfully stressful for me but I was somehow able to arrive in the Mount Vernon parking lot successfully. What a beautiful late afternoon it was, strolling about the landscaped grounds with Father and Mother.

We went into the house, of course, following the usual visitors’ walkway. When we reached the small, unpretentious upstairs bedroom of President Washington and Father peered into the room, the others of us doing likewise from behind, it was then that I felt the presence of Mr. Washington. He surely must have been there and elsewhere on the premises, to receive True Parents. Father has often spoken of the faithful prayers of President Washington.

We walked out on the veranda overlooking the Potomac River. It was so beautiful and peaceful and I remember saying, "Father, I wish we could stay here. This is like the Kingdom of Heaven." Father just looked at me with a smile. But he did ask us to check on possible property nearby. There was none with any adequate buildings. And some of us still remember Father asking about what kind of fish were in the river. I felt it was no accident that I was there with True Parents. My physical parents had taken me there when I was a young school girl. We had always been made aware in my family that my great-great-grandmother had married into the family of George Washington’s nephew, so there was some ancestral magnetism that I was always conscious of even as a child. Fate seemed to have kept my father dwelling on historical Washington property, no matter where he was in Virginia. All of this added to my awareness of the intertwining of our families.

Before we departed Mount Vernon that day in 1969, True Father had us all line up in front of the Washington home -- I was standing next to Father -- and he had Mr. Ishi from Japan take a moving picture of us "for memorial purposes," True Father said. I hope Mr. Ishi can some day find that film. I would like to see it. But personal history aside for the moment, I have to say that the most public drama I experienced in this movement was the day at the Yankee Stadium event on June 1, 1976. I drove from Virginia and boarded a bus in Washington, D.C. early on the morning of the event with my three guests -- my second daughter who was 13 years old, her school friend, and a young married neighbor.

None of us had dressed warmly enough for the occasion. We had not realized that six hours north of our home in Virginia was considerably cooler, and besides it was drizzling rain in New York when we arrived. The atmosphere at the stadium was strange from the beginning. Smoke bombs were visible and there was an air of hostility prevailing. After we got seated in our reserved area, the rain began to pour at one point. Everyone from our section fled to shelter in the roofed area above, except me. Because of the heavy atmosphere I doggedly stayed in my seat, refusing to be daunted by even a rainstorm. It was a spiritual matter, as we say.

One section began singing "You Are My Sunshine" and we all triumphantly joined in. Soon thereafter the rain stopped and the program began. Father came forward to the speakers platform to give his usual life giving, life-saving message, accompanied by my spiritual parent, Col. Bo Hi Pak, who was translating. Protestors shouted from various places, the smoke bombs continued to go off and generally people were being noisy, as they tend to be at a stadium. In fact, I will always remember my young daughter standing up and shouting loudly, "I have waited a long time to hear this man speak. Now please be quiet, everyone." That part was so funny as I look back on it.

When the program ended and we all headed for the exit, we had no idea the drama that awaited us between that exit and our bus which was quite a distance away in the parking lot. Satan was furious that day and was striking out in every direction. As we began our trek toward the parking lot, we watched in horror as a gang of young hoodlums attacked one of our members dressed in his usher’s suit. He doubled over as one of the hoodlums hit him hard in his gut. We could see that others were coming to the rescue so we rushed on our way. We neared an overpass and had to suddenly stop because another group of hoodlums were smashing bottles to the pavement from above and glass was flying everywhere. I shouted for everyone to stop and keep their heads down. We were quite a few in number. My very verbal daughter shouted up at the hoodlums something like,

"God loves you anyway, you freaks!" A man who had hassled me back at the stadium was on the scene again, this time violently grabbing my daughter’s arm and literally screaming at her, "Shut up, girl, you’re going to get us killed!" Whereupon my daughter’s nerves broke and she began to cry rather hysterically. Now my young married neighbor began to wail as well.

I had the sense to know that we would have to outwait the hoodlums above us, so again I told everybody to stand still, not to move. The hoodlums realized what we were doing and decided to move on. Then we made a mad dash on the final stretch to the bus. Needless to say, we were a relieved bunch as we climbed aboard the bus to safety. But the wailing on the part of some adults continued even on the bus and that made me mad. So I gave them a sermon about the times we were living in and that the Savior was again on the Earth, so we had to be brave and overcome even the dangerous times. And I told them what an opportunity it was to be able to experience firsthand just how the disciples of Jesus felt as they hid out in catacombs and went through so much persecution. But I’m afraid my audience didn’t much appreciate my presentation, especially right then.

The final blow of that adventurous 24 hours came from the bus driver. He obviously did not like our group from the beginning and expressed his hostilities by constantly turning on the air conditioner throughout the night ride to make us quite uncomfortable. Some were sneezing and coughing.

Well, this is one of the early stories. Times are different now. And we can even laugh a bit as we remember some of these times when we were laying our foundation of faith and substance. Our brothers and sisters who were kidnapped in earlier times had far more drama than the incident I have just described. But we wouldn’t trade one moment of our life for any other. To live during the lifetime of the Messiah, the King of Kings, True Parents, is worth every good and challenging moment.

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