The Words of the Owens Family
In February of this year, Hyun Jin Nim and several leaders visited Leda, a land situated next to the Paraguay River in the Chaco region of Paraguay in which eight years ago Japanese brothers, directed by True Parents and headed by Rev. Kamiyama, pioneered and built a tremendous foundation with their own hands from sweat and blood, in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees in the winter and 120 degrees in the summer.
While practicing riding on some of the horses near the corrals, Hyun Jin Nim saw some of our cattle being herded to another part of our pasture land. He and several others joined in to help. During this short ride, Hyun Jin Nim began formulating the idea of a major cattle drive from one part of the Chaco to Leda. But, not just to enjoy ourselves, or to actualize a dream when we were children being cowboys. He would bring the young leaders from Paraguay, who never even saw this part of their country, to participate and educate for the future peace and unity of their nation and the region of South America as a whole.
Some of those young leaders he had met a few days before were so excited when they heard about the cattle drive that they instantly put aside their schedules and wanted to come. One of those leaders is a soccer legend in Paraguay who was very eager to participate. Another young leader, whose wife was expecting their first child any day, realized this event was so important that he came as well.
On June 18th, we all arrived at Fort Olimpo, the same town where True Parents stayed over 10 years ago, educating many of the National Messiahs for over 40 days. With the hot sun blazing down, the town was so excited about the cattle drive they closed the schools and many of the town's people came out for the opening ceremony that would launch the drive. After several VIPs spoke and the priest gave the cattle drive his blessing, Hyun Jin Nim spoke, giving the people his inspiration for the cattle drive and the hope for the future it would bring.
With the conclusion of the ceremony, the participants mounted their horses, and with Hyun Jin Nim and the soccer player carrying the national flag, rode through the streets of the town and onto the dirt road that would take two days of riding to reach where the herd of cattle would be met.
For many of the riders, this was their first time not just riding all day on horseback, but even just being on a horse at all. So, throughout the day, with the sun beaming on them and the trees, brush and water holes going past them, the muscles in their bodies began sending many small and then urgent messages to their brains about their sitting conditions on these wide Paraguayan saddles. Some riders already began to realize they would be walking kind of funny at the end of the day.
Finally, near 3 or 4 pm the riders arrived at their first camp of the trip. Mr Sano from Leda, who did much of the preparation work for the drive, met every one at the camp, which was now full of tents and dinner cooking. With the sun setting on one end of the camp and the full moon rising on the other end, all the riders received their dinner, served directly by Hyun Jin Nim and sat into the night hours around the camp fire, talking about the day's ride and listening to Hyun Jin Nim who gave much advice about riding horses, the cattle drive and his vision of the cattle drive for the future for Paraguay.
The next morning, we started at 7 am, with the sun already up, and began our ride of almost 40 kilometers. By car, it doesn't take long to drive, but on horseback, under the hot sun and our brains still receiving even more urgent messages from certain areas of our bodies, we would reach our newly placed camp mid-afternoon. Again, after being served dinner by Hyun Jin Nim, he and some of the young leaders continued to share their thoughts and visions that were shaping this cattle drive into a history making event. Hyun Jin Nim especially spoke about the histories of North and South America, especially why America grew so rapidly and flourished. He told them that America was founded by those who, with the Protestant Christian ethic and principles, began a nation with a single unified vision and goal: to worship God and live a Christian life with their families.
The next morning, right after breakfast, the gauchos and the herd of cattle they had brought from another part of the Chaco, arrived at our camp. Together, with overcast clouds and a cold wind now covering us on the new morning, we started the cattle drive in earnest, with Hyun Jin Nim still giving us guidance and leading the way on how to drive cattle properly on horseback. The drive now was now at a slow pace, for the cattle and horses would graze along the road as we went at their own speed.
After many kilometers and at least two rest stops, we arrived at our next campsite. With the gauchos putting the herd in an area of pasture land for grazing, we again stretched our legs and prepared our tents for the night. Hyun Jin Nim, always trying to improve himself, practiced throwing the lasso. He did several twirls of the lasso over his head before unleashing it at "yours truly," all the while taking photos. After the last photo, his lasso had wrapped itself over my wrists and pulling, tied my wrists together. He was so happy with this achievement. Around the campfire, Hyun Jin Nim still gave us, both young and a bit older, even more guidance, especially about the Global Peace Festival on July 5th, telling the participants that the Festival would be a major turning point for the nation of Paraguay.
During the next few days we continued the drive toward Leda, still under the cover of clouds and cold wind. Around lunchtime, we came upon a very small group of houses. The women and children asked us to read a letter asking for help in improving their school for their children. Hyun Jin Nim, seeing their faces, especially the children, some of whom had no shoes, took out his lunch from his saddlebags and, telling all the other riders as well, gave their lunches to the children. Now, Hyun Jin Nim, who wanted to taste a real Paraguayan meal, asked, almost jokingly, if the women could cook a lunch for us. To his amazement, the women spent the next two hours preparing a lunch of fresh chicken for almost twenty of us. After visiting their small two-room school house, where there were few desks and no books, we all enjoyed the best meal we had had in several days.
On the morning of the last day of the drive, the participant whose wife was expecting, called him on his phone and told him that she would be having a C-section operation (the umbilical cord was loosely wrapped around the baby's neck) that night to deliver their first child. Still convinced that this cattle drive as a great moment in the history of Paraguay, he still wanted to finished the drive before going back to see his child. He spent the rest of the day with a big smile We arrived around midday of the last day at the entrance to the property at Leda, where some of the Japanese brothers met us. With five kilometers to go, the cattle drive began its last leg to the finish line. Driving through a nest of mosquitoes and the drizzle of rain, Hyun Jin Nim lead the herd and it's riders across the finish line, with Japanese members and workers from the nearby villages cheering. At noon the next day, a celebration was held, with several VIPs in attendance. After an opening prayer, the celebration cake was cut, and testimonies were several participants.
One testimony was by the person whose wife was giving birth. Today, he almost on the verge of tears. Hyun Jin Nim had told him because he participated in this event and that he protected God on this drive, that God would give protection and blessing to him. This came true. During the night, the doctors realized that a miracle was taking place. The umbilical cord unloosened around the neck of the baby and his wife was able to give birth naturally the next morning. At 8:30 am, he became a proud father of a baby boy. He and his wife gave life to their son. Their son gave them in return the title of "parents." His wife and son were doing well. He was smiling and tearful at the same time. Hyun Jin Nim told him now he will see the world and his life much differently.
Hyun Jin Nim spoke, giving his reasons for the cattle drive, his vision for Paraguay and telling the participants to take ownership of the vision as well. Then,Hyun Jin Nim gave each participant a special gift and a memorial portrait. Afterward, everyone went to the corral area, where ten cows were brought. Hyun Jin Nim donated these cows to the mayor of the nearest Indian village to enrich their village with future generations of cattle for the needs of the people of the village. The mayor was extremely grateful.
With a final group photo, the 1st International Cattle Drive for Peace and Unity was completed. For Hyun Jin Nim, God's blessings for Paraguay and the region could truly begin with the victories of the cattle drive and next week's Global Peace Festival. For the participants, their lives have been changed for they are inspired by Hyun Jin Nim's vision for their country. For those of us older folks, we were rejuvenated to dream big again as we had when we first joined the movement many years ago. We may have taken longer to get on our horses than the younger folks, and literally felt every inch of the way, but our hearts and minds are younger now and energized for the work ahead. We can't wait for next year's cattle drive.