Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverends Lowen
Life on the Lake and Beyond
by Aliso Emmanuel Lowen-NYC
Aliso is the Second Generation Abel National Messiah to Argentina. He is currently living there with his mother, awaiting his fathers arrival later this year. He is 17 years old. His parents are John and Sandra Lowen (1800 Blessing).
What did Chung Pyung Lake mean to me up until February 1998? I was never really sure. When I left for Europe with American Music Abroad (an international high school choir) in June 1996, my parents were just who they were. When I got back a month later, I was taken up to Camp Sunrise, where they were finishing up directing the Second Generation camp and agonizing over whether they would become National Messiahs. The next week I went to visit my friend Romin Johnson at the World Mission Center. In the middle of the visit I got a call from my mom that she was going to Korea and would see me in six weeks! That meant enduring my dads cooking (mostly beans and other healthy stuff), so I extended my visit to the Johnsons, made visits home only when I really missed my dad, and ate out as much as possible.
I was really happy to see my mom again; school shopping had been miserable and I was out of Burger King money. She had written me letters about angels and trees and the Water of Life-not at all like the down-to-earth woman I knew. She seemed to have enjoyed herself, even though she had written that she was doing a seven-day fast. She came home much thinner and more lively than I remember her being. She was bubbling about our new mission as National Messiahs to Argentina. Even though he had agreed to an overseas mission before Mom left, my dad walked around shaking his head and declaring that he wasnt going to just dash off on some dang-fool mission; he was responsible for the family, he had just gotten a new job that he couldnt walk away from, and he just didnt know about 40 days in Korea. Mom was unemployed and who would take care of us while he was gone? But his good friends "Uncle" Adruma Victoria (NM-Kenya), "Uncle" Anthony Aparo (NM-Thailand) and Dr. Kevin Pearson (NM-Malta) who had attended Chung Pyung with my mom, as well as Dr. Daniel Cabrera, went to work on him; and just before Oct. 1, he announced simply that he was leaving, told me to take care of Mom, kissed her good-bye, and took the train to the plane.
Life Without Dad
We always had a spiritual life at home. We did Pledge, held morning service, as we lived a distance from a center, and prayed before our meals. In spurts, we would read a few paragraphs of Divine Principle before I left for school. But now, Mom went into overdrive. She led prayer and every night we lit our candle, prayed together for Dads support and our new mission, and sang Tong Il. She absolutely brainwashed me with travelogues and books about Argentina. She went to work at a bank in town, and just from inspiration I would walk by every evening as they were closing and we would walk home together or take the bus to the mall and just look around. She talked a lot about Chung Pyung Lake and her experiences there, as did "Uncle" Adruma. Dad has always been one to talk about insights, rather than actual experiences; but his telephone conversations seemed to go from "I-came-here-for-Mom" to personal experience. I know my dad; I was impressed.
As time passed, Mom grew increasingly restless. Uncle Adruma had left for Kenya. Dr. Pearson had let for Malta. She began to become anxious about at least visiting Argentina; she said she or Dad needed to go by the end of the year. Fat chance! The stack of bills we had amassed was going down slowly and Mom had her little job; but people were constantly calling from Dads job to know when he was coming back. He had worked only two months before he left, but Mom had insisted that if he had faith the job would be there for him when he returned. And I was seeing miracles happen every day. A check would arrive unexpectedly in the mail. Wed get an invite to dinner. Our next-door-neighbor, Rev. Nicholas Pierce, would knock to say hed made too much food to fit his refrigerator, and could we use it? A ten-dollar bill would turn up in someones old sweater. And when Dad came back, not only was his job waiting for him, but they later paid him for the time he was at Chung Pyung Lake! Mom seemed to have no concern that she would not arrive in Argentina before the end of the year.
"Aunt" Linda Perry called one evening to tell her that True Parents would be receiving the National Messiahs in Montevideo, Uruguay, which is just across the river from Buenos Aires. She really wanted to go, but there really was no way; VISA was trying to decide if we deserved to live or if it was time for the hit-men to come shoot off our kneecaps. Mom prayed the next morning, "Heavenly Father, you know Id like to go, but I dont have a way that I know of to get there. If You want me to go, I know Ill get there; otherwise, Ill just wait on You." An hour later, the phone rang. It was Mrs. Philippa Clarke, then of Harlem Center, asking if Mom had heard that entertainment was being sought for the program at Montevideo, and performers could go all expenses paid. I couldnt go with her, because it was Midterms week. The family I was to stay with changed their minds after Mom left, and I wound up at home alone for almost a week before my dad returned from Chung Pyung; but hey-I was 15: old enough to take care of myself.
Now that I had two parents on fire for God and the mission, I had to remain calm. I put my foot down about one thing: I was going to finish high school before I left for South America. I had just entered my junior year of high school, and these folks were talking about leaving a.s.a.p. I brought the subject up at a pow-wow following Pledge and morning service, and my parents, who tend to think very much alike, said almost in unison, "So hurry up and get out; go to summer school."
Therefore, I doubled up on my courses, stopped playing around, and started studying. I took three courses in summer school in 1997, even though I hadnt failed anything. I got a job working evenings and weekends in a clothing store, so that I could help out by taking care of myself financially. I took a college course to supplement my high school course needs. There were fringe benefits, of course; I had the coolest clothes (at a 30% discount, yet) and moved around so much that I had to get my own car. No complaints there! Mom had a full-time job in the city by now, and I was asleep when she and Dad left in the morning and asleep when they came back at night. Wed try to call each other during the day, but it was a busy time.
I think it had just been kind of understood that I would go to Chung Pyung Lake before I went to South America. After all, my parents had gone to qualify for the mission, and I am the Second Generation Abel National Messiah, so I should qualify, too. "When" had always been the question; but the Public School System of Beacon, New York solved that one for me. I was informed in September that I would have enough credits to graduate in January 1998, three months before my 17th birthday. The time came up so suddenly that one morning I got up and realized high school was over. The next day my mom took me Chung Pyung shopping. I would be going from Feb. 20 to March 31-hardly the balmiest season! I wanted the physical challenge, though, and agreed to go then. I would miss my old friends at school, especially my chorus mates. I felt sad that I would maybe never see them again, and wouldnt have the chance for a proper "".
One Friday evening Mom brought Kevin Brabazon Jr. over to spend the weekend. This was highly unusual; I hadnt made any plans with Kevin. Then Romin Called to say he was going to "stop by." We went to the mall, and I ran into my choir friend, Jijo Thomas, who said something to my mom. I guess I was just in a "thick" mood; I didnt think anything of it. Uncle Adruma, Aunt Fiona, and their children, Justin, Alex, Ashia and Kiah, were at the house when we arrived, and Rev. Pierce volunteered to drive us to the China Buffet for lunch. We had just gotten there when a couple of my school friends came in. Dad called them over. Then two more came in. Some of our neighbors came, and a whole bunch of kids from my choir. Then came Uncle John Gehring and his daughter, Hye Won. Hey-dont they live in New Jersey somewhere? Why would they come to Poughkeepsie for lunch? When my school choir director Bruce Simmons walked in, I at last became suspicious: my parents had reserved a section of the restaurant and invited everyone they could think of to say "" to me and wish me well on my journey. We had a wonderful time. My friends and neighbors gave testimony to my influence in their lives or their wishes for me. My parents talked about the blessing of having such a son who was obedient (most of the time) and determined to have a successful life. Then it was my turn to speak. I was shaking as I talked about my gratitude to God and my family for the support they had given me and my friends for their loyalty to me. I vowed to make them proud of knowing me. I think I said a number of other things, too; but I was caught in the moment and dont recall it all. We all toasted and they gave me cards and gifts. While everyone was happy for me, some of them cried and cried. My friend Matt later told my mom, "I hate Al; why? Because he didnt take me with him."
The next week was filled with packing and boxing; not just for me, but also for my parents, who were moving out of our two-bedroom apartment in a very nice complex to one tiny room in the New Yorker, so that they could save money. I felt sad for them as my friends and I moved their things into a small space; but I also felt the enormity of their seriousness about the mission.
Next I went for shots. I was not only going to Korea, but also for the pioneer experience in Bangkok, Thailand with the Aparos after my training and before returning to the U.S. Then there were visas, pictures....
I had heard that haircuts were not allowed at Chung Pyung, and since my hair grows fast, I had no desire to come back looking like Hanson. Uncle Adruma agreed to cut it for me. I was going to get it cut short; but then I got inspired. I would have my head shaved. I felt it was a good spiritual condition to make; to arrive at Chung Pyung without vanity. I had heard, as well, that spirits like to cling to the hair, so I decided to give them no place to hang out. Of course, I regretted it a little the next day, especially as the wind was really whipping and there was nothing for a cap to cling to, either. I decided Id never let another bald man give me a haircut!
My parents took me out to dinner several times; I think they forgot they had done it the night before, and we just kept going. No complaints, though. The last night, Mom, Dad, Uncle Adruma and Kevin Brabazon Jr. drove to Kennedy for my flight. They had arranged for Uncle John Doroski to be my seat companion and to keep an eye out for me while I was in Korea, for which I was grateful. I was never big on flying alone; of course, now Ive done it so often that I dont think about it. I started to feel even a little adventurous as I saw other members arrive. My parents introduced me to many of the people, who knew me, though I didnt know them. A few minutes before flight time, we gathered in a circle and prayed together. Each person hugged me and told me how proud they were of me, and how brave I was for going off on this spiritual adventure at 16.
Then it was time to go.
Immigration was returning a criminal to Seoul on my flight. They had handcuffed him, and he passed me as I turned to raise my hands in a Mansei response to my family, who were Mansei-ing like crazy on the other side of the security glass. It was the last thing I saw as I entered the ramp to the plane.
What can I say? It was a plane flight. We watched some movies, I talked with Uncle John some, and slept some. I wondered what was going to happen next. My parents had loaded me down with Hoon Dok Hae books, advised me to get a bottle for my Water of Life, and warned me not to touch the trees or go to the mountain late at night. Mom had carefully put money in envelopes for me (for transportation, touring, workshop fee-I was particularly interested in the one marked "Daily Expenses-dont spend more than $4/day." Uncle John maneuvered us through immigration and onto the buses for our participants, and we were on our way.
I was very happy to see Su-jin Bowman there, doing the full 40 days as I was. I did wonder if everyone would be 50, and I would be the only kid. What a relief! Su-jin is 19 years old, and wanted to go to Chung Pyung Lake before starting college. I had seen her before at summer camp, but we had never spoken to each other. At Chung Pyung we became good friends, and she suggested that I write my Chung Pyung memoirs for the U.News.
The tents gave the area the appearance of an army barracks, with tents everywhere. If I thought of myself as being in Army boot-camp, it was easier to get up at 6am every day and keep up a busy schedule until I fell into bed-er, bag-late at night. It snowed a couple of times, which made a beautiful landscape, but climbing the mountain every day became quite a challenge. To meet that challenge, I decided to climb up three times every day. My favorite tree was the Tree of Loyalty; I felt a special peace there, and always paused a little longer beneath it. There were certainly some exceptions; but most days, for meals we had kim-chee and rice, except for those days when we had rice and kim-chee.
I was looking forward to meeting Dae-mo Nim/Mrs. Kim, but in a way the thought was a little scary. Could she read my mind? Was she going to be critical of me? One afternoon I was in prayer at the Divine Principle reading, and I suddenly got the urge to look up. She was looking right into my eyes, and she smiled.
Our workshop was pretty small, except on weekends, when hundreds of people came from Japan and Korea. My group was small, too; besides Su-jin, my group consisted of Dave Kurpitch, Jack LaValle, and my adopted uncle and aunt, Jack and Claudine. We all became very close and knew each other well by the end of the workshop. As for the repetitions of singing and reading Divine Principle, well, my group read through eight times. I could see how the spirits would get bored and leave.
I had heard that diseases and illnesses are often caused by negative spirits which cling to our bodies. I had suffered from pretty bad asthma for some time, but as a leap of faith I had left my machine at home and brought only a pump. One day I realized that I was breathing deeply and without any trouble. I was climbing the mountain with ease, even though the air was cold. Suddenly I was able to run without getting winded. Several months later I visited a lung specialist, who found absolutely no trace of asthma. I had been healed. I gave out some happy shouts, did a little dance, and dedicated myself to an increase in activity which this healing was allowing me to do.
Many people asked me what it was like to be at Chung Pyung Lake at 16, without my parents. I would never say that it was easy, but I did enjoy it. I would recommend the experience, especially for the young person who wishes to experience God and True Parents first-hand. It was a hardship; but in hindsight, I came to appreciate the experience, and even to miss it.
The idea of my pioneering after Chung Pyung also just was there. Uncle Tony Aparo had been a friend of my parents for a long time, and he had recently come through Beacon while visiting from Thailand. When his family accepted my familys request that I visit them "on my way" from Seoul, I was happy for the opportunity to see him again, but I didnt know his children, Vince, Alex and Hannah, and I wasnt sure what to expect.
The flight was the most miserable I had experienced in recent years. There must have been a monsoon, or something, going on outside; there was a lot of turbulence, and people around me were looking concerned. I was starting to search through my seat pocket for the barf bag, when we finally landed.
It was the middle of the night. Would anyone be up? Would they be there to meet me? What about the confusion of the International Date Line? Had they been there the night before? But there was Uncle Tony. I really wanted just to drop into bed, and it was a joy to have one, after 40 nights of intense floor-sleeping. But I was also curious about this new place I was in. Say-isnt this where they made Mortal Kombat? So where was the Emerald Buddha?
Thailand is a thoroughly modern town, with lots of high-rise buildings, just like New York. The only difference is that everyone is shorter than I, and everyone has straight black hair. But every once in a while one saw some sign of ancient Thailand; I was playing handball on the roof of a condo, for instance, when the ball sailed off the roof and into the river. As I looked over the railing, I spied a magnificent junk, sails fluttering, gliding by, and I thought This aint America!
The Thai people were very open to receiving the Blessing. Uncle Tony would periodically take us to the villages around Bangkok, where we would meet with the village leaders and receive permission to give the pre-Blessing. If the village chief said to do it, the people followed. Soon I was blessing people like an old pro; I blessed several thousand people there. It was easy. It was even fun.
A Brief Trip Home
It was hard for me to leave Thailand for the return trip home, even though I missed my parents. I had grown so close to the Aparos that at times I called them "mom" and "dad", and I thought of their children as my own siblings. The country was very beautiful, and the people were very wonderful. It was definitely not New York!
New York was abuzz with Blessing activity. I arrived in time for a brief trip home to pre-Bless my maternal aunt and her children and a next-door neighbor from our old apartment. My parents were now living in a single room at the World Mission Center, and I spent most of my time with the Victorias and the Johnsons. I was able to find a mini-mission as an usher at Madison Square Garden, and I was able to rehearse with the 2,000-voice choir. We then traveled to Chicago, where we spent a few days with Jack and June Kiburz and Caleb and Renee Thompson and their children. They saw me off at the airport. Late I heard that they saw my plane as it was about to taxi down the runway, and raced alongside it on the highway for as long as they could until the plane left the ground and disappeared into the clouds. I didnt know their prayers and cheers were rising with me as I left America.
A Mission Of My Own
Montevideo, Uruguay is a bustling and beautiful city. I was very excited to see our ship sitting at the dock. As I spoke with David Rogers, who heads up the Atenil, S.A. project, and with the ships Captain Hull, I had visions of being a part of launching this great vessel on its first mission.
However, I was attacked by a very tiny "Satan": a flu virus. After only a few days of greasing great pistons even larger than my body, I found I could not breathe and was coughing all the time. I thought my asthma might be returning. I was always cold (July is winter in the Southern Hemisphere), and I felt miserable. Fortunately, I have an aunt and a great-uncle in Montevideo, who took me into their homes and nursed me. Other crew members were ill, as well. This flu lingered and lingered and seemed to threatening to drag me off to the spirit world. It was just awful! My parents, my relatives and the Atenil staff decided that it would be wisest to send me to Argentina to recover, so I was soon off on a boat.
Whats a 17-year-old supposed to do in a foreign country alone and with no direction? Why, to quote my dad, to witness, of course. I was soon off to the streets, giving the pre-Blessing to everyone in sight. Within a week or two I had pre-Blessed more than 2,000 people. I was feeling better, so I went back to Uruguay and Atenil. This time, I was involved in computer data-gathering, which was great fun and taught me a lot.
My visa was about to expire, so I returned to the United States, where I found my mom in the end-stages of her job and my dad working seven days a week. They were serious about this mission! That made it difficult for me to just sit around. After a quick trip upstate to pre-Bless my school friends, their siblings, parents and grandparents, I helped the Victoria family for a week, and then went to Washington DC, where I found restoration work with a Church mission.
My mother will be leaving for Argentina very soon, and I shall be going with her. Im sure there will be a lot of exciting adventures in the summers ahead-Blessing, college, missions and professions. If this vacation is any gauge, however, Id better keep my passport current!
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