40 Years in America

To the Kingdom on a Cookie

Mardi Esselstyn

Clear back in 1975 we decided to leave the lumber business, to sell our home and venture to Phoenix, AZ because of a new prognosis on my husbandís physical condition. But upon arriving, we found much much, more. We had a í66 Oldsmobile with a sense of humor. It had an "ooga" horn. It startled drivers making strange moves in their cars ahead of us.

One month of medical treatment in Phoenix, AZ, gave my husband a favorable prognosis and left us wondering what was our next move? We visited the shopping mall nearby and soon learned of our next move. A young man came up to us with a box of cookies in his hand. They did not look very good. Heavily frosted, gingerbread, maybe. He asked us if we would care to support a religious youth camp in the mountains, whether we bought a cookie or not. My husband was gracious and said, "Who is the founder of the youth camp?" The young man had sad blue eyes and we thought he would cry if we didnít listen.

Soon a security guard came up to us and asked this fellow if he might be selling something in the mall, and if so, where was his permit to do so? He said it was at the center. The guard told him to get off these premises and to not sell in the parking lot either. My husband told the guard that our car was parked at the curbing outside of the parking lot so we agreed to walk with this red-faced young man.

My husband had read a full-page ad when he had been in the hospital on the man, Sun Myung Moon, the name on the card that our new friend handed us. I was internally bored with yet another approach for money, but my husband was more gracious and listened. The young man asked us to come to an international dinner and we were delighted to go and see what the ideas presented were all about.

Our first impression was that they were simply anti- Communists. And we were agreeable to the talk given after a fine, multi-ethnic meal. We were in our early 50ís, while the girls and boys were the ages of our own children. We just assumed that they had been misled.

The second night we met Dr. William Bergman and he asked me what I thought brought us there. I replied, "I think we have some sort of mission. But I do not know what it is yet."

His eyes twinkled but he was quite serious. Then he asked us to come back Saturday and Sunday from early morning and have breakfast with them all. He would be giving a workshop and hoped we would come by. We went from swimming every day and getting bored, to rising at 6:00 am and arriving back at our apartment around midnight, then up again at 6 am to hear the second three lectures of Divine Principle. We were enchanted by Dr. Bergman.

When it came to hearing the "Fall of Man," we snapped our fingers and said to each other, "No wonder the world is in such a mess."

Even our sexuality was changing within our own minds and bodies and we were surprised about that. My husband wanted to be more secretive than I did. I was ready to share everything with Dr. Bergman, but my husband was shocked at that so he kept quiet. We spent about three weeks learning and working in and out of the center and then we decided to go back to Portland to rearrange our original plans about furniture and storage, etc. Then Dr. Bergman came back through Portland on his way down to his new assignment, Los Angeles, and asked us to join him there.

We were so green, so new to all the fast changes taking place in our lives. Is it any wonder that we slowed down to a snailís pace while going at a breakneck speed? It was the beginning of "The Richard and Mardi Parentsí Association." We traveled nearly a 1,000 miles a month going south, east, west and north to visit parents of the young people who had come to this startling new movement. Some were friendly, some were dubious and some were downright hostile.

From 1975 to 1999 many stories have unfolded. I need to write them all down in a book or maybe a pamphlet telling us all about going to the kingdom on a cookie. Right? Right!

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