The Words of the Matusomoto Family

Norfolk Winter Workshop 2002

Shori Matusomoto, age 16
February, 2003

Norfolk has a rather small Unification Church community, and perhaps it always will be. Our church can almost seem pitiful to those used to a larger church with a larger congregation. But the fact that our community has so few members has only strengthened us in the last several years. The dozen or so families that make up our community have become like one. We all truly love each other as brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters. We have learned to do so much with so few people. And since our introduction to Service for Peace last summer, things have only gotten better. We meet with each other three times a week; for Service for Peace, Divine Principle lectures, and Sunday Service. Based on this yearning to spend more time with one another, we decided to have a winter workshop.

The original idea came from Miwa, who started Service for Peace here in the first place. Once the fact was established that we wanted a winter workshop, planning began.

Every Sunday we take a Sunday School offering as well as a congregational offering. During previous years we usually took a large portion of the yearly Sunday School offering and spent it on a church trip to Busch Gardens, but this year we decided to spend the money for a spiritual purpose.

More than anyone, Aunt Joan Mwamlima, took the most responsibility and sacrificed the most time to make the workshop happen. It took a couple of weeks, but when the planning was finished, it was decided that the workshop was to be at First Landing State Park, beginning Saturday, December 28th ending on the 30th.

The first day of the workshop was quite interesting. No one was really serious about learning anything, but was focused more on having fun, and spending time with their friends. We arrived at the park around 9:00, where we played Matanage (our unofficial adopted sport) for an hour, waiting for everyone to arrive. Afterwards, we were called into the main hall for orientation. After taking all of our luggage to the cabins, we had free time, where again we played Matanage, among other things. We ate lunch, and then received a wonderful lecture from Uncle Gerhard Peemoeller, whose lectures are so deep and incredibly spiritual that you can't help but get absorbed in them. Once we'd finished the lecture, we had our sports and activities, followed by dinner. This is when Uncle Peemoeller gave his second lecture.

His words were unlike any other I had heard before. I feel so foolish for not taking it seriously at the time, but the lecture was incredible. He spoke of Jesus, and his heart. And God's feeling when he had to let his beloved son go. Tears came to his eyes. He invested all of his heart and spirit into that lecture. And after the lecture, it was like it had been forgotten. We just simply moved on from it, not reflecting or thinking at all. I felt much regret for that. After dinner, we headed back to the cabins to sleep.

There was supposed to be a very strict bed time of 10:00. By this time, everyone in the cabin was supposed to be in their sleeping bag and asleep. However, this was far from what happened. The lights were out at ten. Then someone said something. This started a conversation. Freeson realized what was happening, and told us to shut up. The same thing happened again. The vicious cycle continued for an hour, after which everyone finally went to sleep. Then Freeson, who so strongly urged us to go to bed, kept us up all night long with his unending snoring. What a night it was.

The second day began at around 4:45. We all woke up, got dressed and got ready for pledge. After pledge, we had Hoon Dok Hae for a little more than an hour, and then it was time for breakfast. Following breakfast, we had a free time, which was originally designated for a relaxing walk on the beach. So we went outside, and filmed a movie with a camcorder I had brought. When Aunt Joan pulled up in the car and asked us to walk on the beach, I'm sure she had no clue as to what our idea of a walk on the beach was. She soon found out.

At first, no one wanted to go to the beach. They just wanted to stay behind, relax, skateboard, whatever. Well Bhae-Jin had decided beforehand that he was going to jump into the icy cold ocean water that very morning. So we went. When we arrived at the beach, the girls were serenely pacing the ocean shore, collecting shells, dancing in the wind, etc. When we arrived, things changed abruptly. Bhae-Jin and Koubun mindlessly ran into the water, as if it were some strange alien ritual. They jumped around, screamed about how cold it was, and laughed as we caught their antics on film. Little did we know what idiots we were. It turned out that Miwa was in the middle of a deep spiritual experience, an experience of closeness to God through nature. We didn't find out until later on.

As we returned to the cabin, I worried (something I spend too much time doing) about the sermon I had to give in a few hours. I hadn't prepared anything. All I knew was my topic: Humbleness. Yes, I guess I was just expecting the Holy Spirit to speak through me that day. What a mistake. When we arrived at the main hall, where Sunday Service was to be held, I learned of the whole incident with Miwa. I felt pretty bad. At first all the boys were in complete denial that we were in any way wrong, but eventually we became humble and realized that the whole purpose of the workshop was not to act like fools, jump around in the water, and have fun. The purpose (as it is with all workshops) was to receive a deeper understanding; of God, of our mission and purpose as the Second Generation, and many things. This was a turning point for me. My objective for the workshop changed to a more internal and spiritual goal. But first I had to give a sermon. Ugh.

As Sunday Service began, my heart began to race. I realized then and there that I did not take it seriously enough. After Freeson and I embarrassed ourselves with a guitar/vocal duet of "Amazing Grace", I was called to the podium to give my sermon. I'm not going to go into my sermon, but I'll just say it wasn't what I had hoped it to be. I spoke of humbleness, and how it can be applied to everything in life; and how its evil twin, arrogance, can destroy everything. After my sermon I received many compliments - perhaps just comfort from the ones I love. Well we had our usual lunch followed by activities. This is when Rev. Philip Schanker arrived. He gave a wonderful lecture, explaining a broad variety of subjects, but basically outlining the Divine Principle. His lectures were very fun and everyone received a lot from them. After his lecture, we ate dinner and went to bed. This time Freeson slept in a different room.

The last day of the workshop seemed much shorter than the others. I was quite sad that things were coming to a close, but still looked forward to the day ahead of me. We woke up very late that day. We did a brief HDH session, ate a quick breakfast, and drove to the main hall where Rev. Schanker gave another lecture. He used the movie The Matrix to explain some parts of the Divine Principle. The movie is much different when seen from a different perspective. True for many things in life. Following his lecture, we had lunch, and wrote our reflections of the workshop. After which we packed up and eventually left.

The workshop was, in my opinion, way too short, but I really appreciate the chance we had to have one. It was excellent experience overall, and I'm very happy we were able to have what I hope will become our annual Norfolk Winter Workshop.

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