The Words of the Pak Family

Interview with Mrs. Hyun Sook Pak, wife of New York City Regional Director, Rev. Joong Hyun Pak

Angelika Selle
June 1989

Rev. and Mrs. Pak accompany True Parents in an outing to the Sol Ak Mountains in South Korea.

Question: When and how did you meet the Unification Church?

I joined in June 1955 in Taegu City, which was the place Father pioneered next after beginning his ministry in South Korea in Pusan. From Taegu City he went to Seoul. My mother was the first member of our family to join the church. She was a member of a Presbyterian church, but she was always seeking for better understanding. A relative witnessed to her, and she immediately received many special revelations about True Parents and the Unification Church.

I was eight years old when I joined the church. My mother was a very strong, faithful person and I used to go with her to the Presbyterian church for revival services, witnessing, and prayer meetings. I really trusted my mother, so I joined the Unification Church, even though I didn't know then why it was special.

The Taegu church was small, with just one or two rooms, and there were no more than ten members in the city at that time. There was no Sunday school system or other developed church functions. We would pray and do some teaching. In the early days of our church there were many spiritual phenomena; it was like a Pentecostal atmosphere. Father often visited that small house in Taegu City and knew the ten members very well. He personally and deeply guided each one, so I received that special kind of love for a long time. Father spoke about many things that I didn't understand 100 percent, but I was very inspired. He always talked about the world, but the members couldn't understand it all. Father loved my mother; he would always speak to her very warmly and then ask her to sing. Now when Father meets me any place, he remembers me from that time and continues to express his love and give me wonderful attention.

At first my father didn't understand the church, so he was against it. Also he was not so religious, but later changed his mind and became a member. So before I joined, my father joined and then my elder sister -- she is now a 72 Blessed Couple. I have two brothers and three sisters, all of whom are now blessed members. My mother strongly taught all of us that the Blessing is our destiny. We really need to deeply educate our second generation about this point.

Question: What part of the Principle appealed to you the most when you were young?

When I first studied the Principle, the most inspiring part was the Principle of Restoration. I realized that God exists and that He has been working throughout human history. I understood the heart of God, how much He has tried to save us for so long, forgiving us again and again.

Question: Do you have any guideline or philosophy in your life?

I don't have any special guideline. From the early days of our church until now, I received so much guidance from True Parents; it has become part of my heart and blood. My whole life I have tried to understand, obey, and follow as much as possible the education about heart and life that True Parents have given us. I have no greater motto than this.

Question: Can you share something Father said to you that touched your heart the most?

I have received so many good words, but most precious has been the personal experience of True Parents' love. One example: When I was 21 years old, I went to the matching ceremony for the 430 Couples. Father was so happy to see me and said, "Oh, you already came to the matching!" He remembered me as an eight-year-old girl, and was pleased to see I was already grown and coming to the matching ceremony.

I felt how much Father watched over me while I was growing up -- that was his parental love. Though he was taking care of so many people around the world, he still particularly remembered me in a very deep, clear way. This experience of true love was more precious than any words. I then felt deep peace and hope because I thought: "Since Father really loves me like this, he will be very concerned about my future life." So I attended the matching with a peaceful heart. Now I have a happy life with Rev. Pak. This experience was one of many encouraging examples.

True Mother lovingly gazes at Ye Jin Nim.

Question: You have five children, right? We would like to know how you maintain your life of faith amidst all the responsibilities as the mother of five children. With so many details to take care of during the day, it is easy to lose the conscious connection with True Parents. How do you maintain that?

Life wasn't very easy for me after the Blessing. In 1975 Rev. Pak went to America for five years, so we were completely separated. Then I came to New York, but for four or five more years, Rev. Pak was in Boston, Denver, Seattle, and Korea. We have been separated a total of almost 10 years. Personally that was not easy. My thinking is that this separation helps us to learn about true love. If we always live together, we don't learn the value of our wife or husband. My husband loves me very much, and many times sent letters and pictures, but he also talked about how we have to unite with True Parents' way. To always sacrifice oneself is difficult, but in this way we learn true love. I really had to use my mind to control my feelings.

When Rev. Pak left for Japan and America, we already had four small children. I took care of four children, two grandparents, two young brothers, and some of my relatives. At that time, the church could not give our family any help, and to take care of our family financially was not easy. I spent as little as possible and was always saving. I needed to be a good witness to our church and to what the blessed family's duty is. Why? Because our relatives were not Unification members. They were watching: "How is it when husband and wife are separated? How does she live with her husband away, dedicated to his mission?" For old grandparents to take care of their young granddaughter-in-law is not easy. I wanted to show True Parents' standard, so I really made effort.

Our family first lived in Rev. Pak's grandparents' house. I had one room and asked headquarters for one brother to help create a pioneer center there. I put up a board outside saying "Unification Church" and began to pioneer. That home church work was pretty successful, so I asked headquarters for some help to build a church. Headquarters was actually very inspired because one woman and one young pioneer were taking care of an important area of Seoul. Headquarters helped with some funds, and I bought a very cheap property and built the church. I cooked food for the builders, and Rev. Pak's grandfather would help supervise the work. Now, that same property is very expensive because Seoul is really growing. It's a big church now with many families attending.

I felt my destiny was to have a husband who would totally offer himself to God and would often be away doing mission work, so if I didn't work hard and was not strong for the children, our family would not be able to maintain itself. I created a business as a means of support in Korea. Then, when I came to America, Rev. Pak left again to other regions and then back to Korea. During that time I took care of our children by myself and educated them so that they could become true sons and daughters of the second generation. I always felt this is my responsibility because Rev. Pak is not here.

I believe our children have been moved to see their father offering himself to God and their mother dedicating herself for her children and also for the business. They recognize that their mother is very different from the mothers in the secular world, so they really respect me and understand how much I sacrifice for them. Also I see that my blessed children are very different from children in the secular world. God has given them a fundamentally special nature and sensitive heart. They understand more deeply so many things. I always invest my deepest heart in them, because our children are very important. Actually, they are God's and True Parents' children, not ours. We need to raise them and then offer them to God and True Parents.

God has given us very beautiful children and has really helped me because of our sacrifice. Rev. Pak is always concerned first with brothers and sisters, and second with his children. I like this because the more he invests in the members, the more God gives good things to our family.

Sometimes they would ask why their father wasn't leading our family. So I explained why their father was not with them -- that he was dedicating himself someplace else. They trust me so they are always proud of their dad. When he comes home he tells our children their "uncles and aunts" go out fund-raising in bitter cold. The children understand the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters. Rev. Pak is always concerned to teach them like this.

Even though I am very tired and have many difficulties, I try never to show those difficulties to my children when I come home. I make great effort to be always happy, optimistic, and loving and to create a very bright home atmosphere. Because the children see that I have this kind of positivity, they can have a bright, clear heart. They notice that I am an optimistic and happy person, and they try to make themselves like that.

Question: What gives you the strength to be optimistic?

I believe that God gave me a nature like this; secondly I have listened to so many of Father's words, and have tried sincerely to make them a part of me. I put the total elements of Father's investment sincerely in my heart and make them mine personally.

Also I try to hold a family worship service at 8 p.m., to pray for True Parents and True Family, and if Rev. Park is not there, to pray for him. This really helped to form the children's life of faith. Even though Rev. Pak is not at home, they feel he is always with them. Their school life is very busy, so they sometimes forget True Parents. But when they come back to our hour evening prayer meeting, it reminds them to continually build their spiritual life.

Sometimes in their prayers they express points of difficulty; other times, good things. I listen to catch each point, and the next day I try to find out more about what they mentioned in prayer.

Question: How have you educated your children?

In the evening before bed, I would play and speak seriously to the children at the same time. I would whisper in their ears about the day, both the good and bad things that happened, giving internal guidance. When the children were younger, the whole family slept in the one bedroom.

I taught the older son to take responsibility for the younger children, placing him in the father's position. If the elder son fought with another child, I would discipline the elder son separately, in another room, so that he would not lose the respect of the other children. I would say to them if they were fighting, "You only have one brother or sister in the whole world, so please take care of each other, don't fight."

The husband and wife must be united in order to discipline effectively. Rev. Pak and I often discuss together about the best method to teach and discipline the children.

I am a happy and lucky person because True Parents enabled me to have good children through my blessed family. So I am always optimistic and very proud. There are many Korean families in our New Jersey community. Many are very rich and well-educated. I at tend a woman's club, and they are always speaking about big houses, big cars, big money, good clothes. But if the topic of conversation is about children and family, they don't speak so much. Though I say little, they always come to me, saying "You are the most successful in creating a good family life." We are not externally wealthy, but internally we are the most rich people. Even nonmember friends say this to me.

It is very important for children to fundamentally experience a deep realization of continuous, unchanging parental love. Parents must consistently give this in really deep way so that the children can trust their parents. Through receiving that kind of deep love, they grow up with a secure foundation. We need to control our anger no matter what. We need to consistently express love every minute. It is very important for children to feel their parents love them. We must keep the feeling and color of love all the time. Love can also mean a punch. Sometimes we must teach them strongly.

Now that our children are almost grown up, they express so much filial piety and love. They are always concerned with my physical and emotional comfort, sensitively watching and wanting to support and comfort me, with a massage, or something like that. Sunday, they want to go to the store and help me. So I have more and more reason to always appreciate God. I deeply pray and sacrifice for them so they can become great sons and daughters of True Parents and be really useful in God's dispensation.

The Pak Family

Question: Could you keep up a good prayer life with all your many responsibilities or was your attitude more your prayer?

My prayer life is 24 hours as much as possible. When I ride in the subway a long time, I always remember True Parents, True Children, and also my own children, calling each one by name. I am so busy at the store, but if I have even one spare second, I always pray. Actually my travel time is the best time for prayer.

If you have problems, but you have no one to ask, pray. Even if there is someone to advise you, they can perhaps only understand 30 percent of your situation. Asking God is more important, especially if your leader doesn't know you so well.

Question: Could you also share something about your insights in your role as a sister and mother in our church?

I am a very ordinary person; I only try to genuinely be who I am in the best way possible. I know that the mother's role is a very important cornerstone for establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Through True Mother we are born again. I realize Mother's responsibility is a most important cornerstone in establishing Father's Kingdom.

When I came to America the first time, I brought only a thin, spring coat. But when I went to Father's speech at Belvedere, it was wintertime. True Mother noticed my situation, so she called East Garden and gave her winter coat to me. When I received it, I recognized how True Mother loves everybody, and also that True Mother has that kind of womanly sensitivity to each brother's and sister's situation and difficulty.

Because the husband has a certain mission from God and True Parents, the wife's role is also very important. If the wife doesn't understand her husband's mission and responsibilities, and give her heart to spiritually support him, it is very difficult for both of them. If the husband is working hard, the best a wife can do is not complain or nag -- otherwise the husband cannot focus on his mission, and later on, the family may not be so good or beautiful. If the wife supports her husband, the whole family will be very successful.

If you are having difficulty liking each other, remember that God has given everyone at least one good thing. Find out that quality and love it. If husband and wife fight, True Parents are not happy. A very good relationship between husband and wife is essential -- otherwise there is no difference between us and others. We have to show we're different from nonmembers. We must keep our True Parents in mind very strongly. We need to pray whenever and wherever we are -- in a car, bus, at work. We should pray 24 hours a day. This helps us to control ourselves.

Question: Can you say anything about how the present time differs from the early days in Korea?

In 1955 there were not so many church members and the economic environment compared to now was very poor. Not only was there no food, but also no house, no room. But we were really centered on True Parents' love and each other. Most important and precious was how much we loved each other. A very powerful motivation and source of victory came from that love and heart connection. American brothers and sisters sometimes think: "If we have this kind of organization or economy, we will succeed." But this concern with the external alone will never bring results. There are many brothers and sisters in New York City now, but sometimes they don't love each other so deeply, or encourage each other. They are often like strangers toward each other, and so they lose the internal strength that comes from feeling they are chosen people centered on True Parents -- a family community of heart.

But in the early church, Father would pray overnight even for one member.

When we met each other on the street, we would have tears in our eyes for each other. If we had a small amount of food, we would share together. If someone had no clothes, we would give our clothes. There is so much success when our motivation comes from heart and love. But now there are many externals to think about and not so much heart. This is very different from the early church.

We need to revive the dignity of loving each other. But still I am very optimistic and feel respect for American brothers and sisters; they are really dedicated, trying hard to follow True Parents. I am expecting American brothers and sisters will get back to the center of true love.

After I was married and Rev. Pak was in America, I stayed in Korea with Rev. Pak's grandparents and children. His grandfather knew I was very lonely and my situation was difficult. One day he wrote in my room three words: "be patient," "be sincere," and "be hopeful." Without being patient, you can't overcome difficulty. If you are sincerely working hard, then you can have hope. His guidance was to sincerely work hard with patience, keeping hope. Also he told me since my husband was dedicating himself for God, I could have great hope for my future and should believe in my husband.

I am an ordinary woman; in my personal and family life there are both clear sunny days and cloudy rainy days. Many different conditions come, but if I am patient, sincerely working hard and being hopeful, then always a victory results. Of course it is not easy to take care of business, church and family, but I always try to be happy and give happiness to others. Otherwise no good fortune comes. Sometimes there are difficult times, but I try to be open and happy. If no good comes, I still keep hope, and then good does come.

Question: How do you try to stay happy?

That strength comes from God and True Parents and also from my family and community. Because self-motivation is not easy, I felt always that I have to be connected as object with some strong power, like True Parents, True Family, true community. If there is a strong connection, then I will receive power and strength.

I can keep a humble, happy heart and attitude because I always see good things and appreciate them. Listening to and keeping Father's guidance is the source of an unchanging and stable spiritual life.

To make yourself happy, pray and study more, dance, sing, work hard -- and your feeling will change. Supporting each other is very important. Think about the feelings of others and try to make them happy, instead of being concerned about yourself. I educated my children not through words but through my life. I was the model. They are so sensitive. Their heart towards me is very touching, "What difficult circumstances my mother is overcoming. She is always sincerely working, always hopeful."

Question: Can you say something about how you started your business?

I came to America with four children, and in America I had another daughter, making a total of five children. I had a little bit of business experience in Korea. I saw in America so many young blessed couples asking for salaries; however, Father and Mother encouraged blessed wives to do some business or mission to generate income. I don't speak English very well, so for me to gain a job or even a church mission in America seemed almost impossible. The other brothers and sisters who speak English can lecture and witness better than I can. I knew that I had to start a personal business.

I found a small Oriental grocery in Closter, New Jersey. I had no money, but Rev. Pak received a small salary which I used to get a bank loan and buy the store. Because of the language problem, I had an Oriental grocery for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. That community had a lot of established churches. I was very nervous in the beginning because of my lack of experience, and because I knew the people didn't want to come to my store because I was an Unificationist minister's wife.

But I remembered my 40-days pioneering experience during junior high school in 1960. Though I was only 16, I received a lot of persecution from all the community churches. I was staying in one good family's house, and in the daytime I helped with the kitchen work or farming. They saw my expression of love and one by one I won their hearts. I recalled that experience and started with that kind of spirit again.

I really took care of each person that came. Then they would testify to others, "Oh, she's very good." So more and more people would come back, again and again. For example, a grandma came to the store and said, "You are much more helpful than my daughter-in-law." The grocery store became like the community center -- grandmas came and expressed all kinds of difficulties and experiences: "My husband makes a lot of trouble." I always received them and took care of each person. They started to become like a family. Even core members of the established churches, when they would have a party, would buy everything they needed from my grocery.

But this work was very difficult -- grocery workers often hurt their backs moving the heavy boxes. Also there was just a small margin of profit in a very competitive market. To save money, our family sometimes would eat the leftovers from the store before they went to the garbage. Finally I sold this store and bought another store in the Bronx. It is in a more difficult area, but there is no heavy work like the grocery store because it is a stationery store.

Father really trained us in our pioneer life to overcome all of our fears so we can become strong and go beyond all obstacles in our future lives. If I had not had this kind of foundation of faith, I would have given up because of all the persecution I received.

I have had the business for eight years; it is not easy to work from early morning until night. But I want to show our blessed family community that while my husband works for God, I can take care of the family. I really want to become a model or standard and show this potential and possibility to the children. The children come and support me because they always see me working hard.

After our second son helped at the store one time, he told me with tears, "Mother, you sacrifice so much for us; I feel so much pain because of your tired working heart. When I am grown, I will really help you and take care of you." I said to him, "No, I can take care of my life. Please, you take care of God and True Parents and work for them." In the beginning we were very poor. But now, little by little good fortune is coming. I'm very happy although still it's challenging.

Sometimes my children feel lonely, and it is very difficult for them because I am gone so much, but they recognize the value of this dedication. They are very good children. They study hard without my having to tell them to study. Our twin daughters have maintained the home by doing the cooking, cleaning, and laundry for these eight years. They never complained one second, even though they may cry sometimes because it is so hard to just be home with housework and study.

They also took care of the baby -- bathing and feeding her -- everything. If the children didn't help me, I couldn't work like this. I leave in the early morning and come home late, so I have no time to take care of these things. Maybe if I stayed at home, they would never appreciate me because I would give them an easy life, good life. But they recognize my hard work, so they feel they must work hard as well.

When we visit other families, everyone says, "Oh, your children have such good qualities. How do you teach them?" Because Rev. Pak was hardly ever home, my children really listen to him when he is here. We only see each other at nighttime, but when all the children gather around me, I no longer feel tired.

Question: Was there any conflict between what they learned at home with what they were learning at school?

Sometimes the children have difficulty at the Catholic High School because they have some different points of faith. In high school it is common for many young children to have boyfriends and girlfriends. But they completely overcame these problems. Why? Because of their early spiritual education they already had a very strong foundation. They are very proud of being "blessed children." Sometimes I joke with them and suggest that they go to a school dance. They answer me, "No mommy! How can I go to this dance with a boy? I am a blessed child!" Very clearly they are blessed children. 

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