40 Years in America


Dr. Kurt P. Frey

My most poignant experiences in the Unification Church occurred during several years of fundraising in Texas during the 1980s. The mobile fundraising teams I was on spent many months in the southern towns of Texas -- from San Padre Island in eastern Texas to El Paso in western Texas, and as far down in the "Valley" as Harlingen near the Mexican border.

We typically fundraised from mid-morning to late in the evening, six or seven days a week, traveling nomadically from town to town, sleeping in campgrounds or cheap motels. Our external purpose was to raise as much money as possible to support church activities in Texas and across America, mostly by selling "monchichis" (small, furry stuffed animals that, when pinched on the back, would open their arms and cling to whatever they were attached, such as a car mirror). Our internal purpose was to purify our hearts and grow spiritually, to develop our love and unite with God and True Parents.

The climate of Texas, the Mexican-Texan people we encountered, and the ease with which we sold our "product" made for many beautiful, heartfelt, victorious experiences. After a short sermon by our team "captain," or one of the team members, we would eat a breakfast out of a cooler in our van or stop for eggs, refried beans, and flour tortillas at a diner on our way to our first "drop off."

Often, we would each be dropped off in a different small town for the day (there were usually five or six of us on a team). Once in a town, I would pray before venturing into neighborhoods or commercial areas. I would often jog from house to house or shop to shop, praying to myself or chanting ("...build Godís kingdom on earth, build Godís kingdom in the spirit world..." for example), hoping to mobilize the spirit world to assist my efforts. I would often experience some type of persecution or period of poor results (requiring me to have faith) before I would finally "break through" and start to "crush out." I would sometimes trade one or two monchichis for lunch, and then find an inconspicuous place to take a short nap (I was often physically exhausted from our long days). A recurring fear I had was being picked up and interrogated by local police. Who was I, who was I working with, and what was I doing in say, Fort Smith, Texas.

Good experiences occurred upon being invited into a home and talking with, for example, an elderly grandmother living alone, talking of things that would lift our hearts or bring us to tears. Occasionally someone would mention a recently deceased family member, claim that they had some dream about my coming, or simply said they felt I had been sent by God. Although there were always a few people who wanted to belittle me, or disabuse me of my brainwashed state and ludicrous beliefs, many people wanted to share their hearts. These fundraising experiences afforded me opportunities to better understand myself, the spirit world and God. It was a "formula course" for accelerated personal growth.

A very memorable few days was fundraising our way from town to town along the Rio Grande between Harlingen and El Paso. We would drive fifty or sixty miles to the next town on the map, only to find that it had but five or ten rustic houses or trailers and if we were lucky, a gas station (once or twice we came upon a deserted "ghost town"!) We would "blitz" these small towns as a team -- the workers and families we met, while somewhat puzzled by our sudden appearance and disappearance, invariably embraced us with kindness. One afternoon, we drove several dozen miles off the (mostly vacant) main highway, to bathe in a hot spring along the Rio Grande. Afterward, we pasted our bodies with soft mud from the riverbank before diving into the river itself.

Our team would reconvene for dinner together in the van, a park or a fast-food restaurant. This was a time to share our experiences with each other and receive new guidance and inspiration before going out again in the evening. We would fundraise late into the night, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, mostly in bars and restaurants that were open late. I will never forget the fun I had late one night fundraising car to car in a drive-in movie theater -- how surprised movie-goers were when I came knocking at their car window with my box of monchichis!

Finally we would count our money and close the day in prayer. I remember the time we decided to say "Pledge" (in the middle of the road behind our van) before going to sleep at 2 am one Sunday morning. Two of us fell asleep (totally exhausted) on the road during the three bows -- we went down but didnít get up! I also recall one very special night on San Padre Island. After singing holy songs together and taking turns praying out loud in a circle on the beach, we carried our sleeping bags out onto an old weather-beaten pier that extended over the rough surf. We slept under a brilliant starry sky to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks below us and the soothing touch of a steady cool breeze. I remember waking up briefly during the night and marveling at my life and feeling the intimate and personal love of God. Looking back it is a wonder that none of us fell off the pier into the ocean during our slumbers. But we lived with the very palpable sense that we were being guided and protected each day by heaven, that we were in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

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