40 Years in America

Bob Gauper

Betty, call the shopkeepers and the townspeople. Warn them that there’s a Moonie in town." Such was the response when I asked the hardware store owner, in a small northern Wisconsin town, if he would like to make a donation for a butterfly pin to help our church work.

He then asked me to come into his office so he could show me something. One wall of his office was covered with negative articles about the Unification Church. Looking at the articles I had a feeling that today was going to be an interesting day.

I left the hardware store and then proceeded to go shop to shop. Which of course was futile since every shopkeeper had been "warned" about me. Having finished the shops in record time (having someone yell "no" at you when you open the door doesn’t take very long), I started to go house to house. Although many of the residents had been warned about me, I was still able to gain some success. However, it was soon to become more difficult. One gentleman, perhaps a relative of the hardware store owner, believed it was his personal responsibility to make sure that no one in this town was going to give me any money. So he went with me to every house to let the residents know why they shouldn’t give to me.

I was often able to outrun my persecutor, an overweight middle-aged man, and was able to knock on a few doors without his presence. However, he would drive around in his car, and would soon spot me. I then decided to try another part of town. Walking near downtown I passed a small gas station where I had been earlier. An elderly lady asked me to come inside the station. She asked me what all the commotion was about. (Meanwhile, I noticed that my house-to-house antagonist was driving around trying to find me, but couldn’t see me inside the gas station.) I briefly explained what I was doing. She stated, "People in this town are mean. You seem like a nice young man. I’ll buy some of your butterflies." She gave me ten dollars. I then left the station, ran to the other side of town, and started to go house to house unmolested. Until! Until, I reached a newer subdivision.

They’d been waiting for me! "Red Alert! Red Alert! Moonie on the block!" about six kids on their bicycles shouted as I started going house to house. Surprisingly people still bought. (Perhaps they felt sorry for me.) Around about 7:00 p.m. a police officer pulled up and said the townspeople had a special meeting to decide what they should do about me. The officer stated that he knew I had every right to fundraise for my church, but for my own safety, he suggested that I stop fundraising. Since I was almost done with the town, I agreed. "You know," I stated, "I get an idea how Jesus must have felt when he got kicked out of towns."

"Yeah, and I know what it must have been like for Pontius Pilate," remarked the officer. I walked over to the post office where I was to be picked up in about an hour, sat down, and started to reflect about the day. I thought about the elderly lady who had asked me into her gas station; I thought about the policeman; I thought about the various people who gave me a donation while someone was screaming at them not to. In particular, I thought about an elderly couple living in a small shack down a small dirt road, a couple who were both reading their Bibles when I knocked on their door. They offered me some lemonade, said that they were glad I came by, and gave me $5.00. Around 8:00 the fundraising van picked me up. I counted up. I had made exactly 100 dollars. Someone asked me about my day. "Well, when I walked in to this hardware store..."

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