The Words of the Perry Family
At the invitation of the government of Bolivia, several family members held a ten-day workshop on "Unificationism" for 41 students in Bolivia last December.
This workshop was one fruit of a new organization, CAUSA (Confederation of Associations for the Unification of Societies of America), formed last year by Col. Bo Hi Pak in coordination with South American leaders contacted through Noticias Del Mundo.
Upon the recommendation of Argentinian friends, an official of the new Bolivian government invited Col. Pak to go to Bolivia for a visit. Later, the Bolivian came to New York and met with Col. Pak again. Since it happened to be one of our church's holy days, he was invited to attend the celebration and was very impressed by the church and its activities.
As a result of his report, the Bolivian government invited us to come to hold a seminar, and Col. Pak chose a team of Spanish-speaking members to work with him. This team included Antonio Betancourt of Noticias Del Mundo: Bill Lay of the New York church; Beatriz Gonzales and I, graduates of the seminary in Barrytown; and Tom Ward, Bill Selig and Jean Jonet, currently students at the seminary. As our initial phase of preparation, we were sent to Korea last summer to study Unification Thought with Dr. Sang Hun Lee for 12 days. Afterwards, the seminarians returned to their studies and I was invited to stay in Japan to edit the manuscript of a new book on Unification Thought to be published soon in English.
When I came back, I found fairly extensive preparation for this trip to Bolivia. Our team met with Father on December 7 for breakfast. He was so excited, because this was the first time in the history of our movement that a government officially invited us to come to its country to give lectures.
We made plans for a ten-day seminar using materials from the VOC lectures, supplemented by a little Unification Thought and Divine Principle. Father gave us detailed instructions about our attitude, how to behave, how to inspire the people.
Bolivia is a very poor country and somewhat isolated, high in the Andes Mountains. Still, the government paid half of our travel expenses and supplied lodging and food staples for us and the workshop students.
We went not knowing what to expect. The government put us up in a moderate hotel in the capital. Then we went to the workshop location in the high plateau, a teachers' school which had just recessed for vacation. The school was very dirty, but we worked hard to clean it up the best we could. We were so inspired by our surroundings, 12,000 feet above sea level beside a beautiful snow-covered mountain 20,000 feet high.
Participants were selected with the aid of a government official and two people from the Department of Education. They contacted school principals, who gathered students and explained the program, asking for volunteers. The students did not really know what it was going to be like, but when they arrived, they got into the spirit.
Initially, we were supposed to have students from La Paz (the capital) and Cochabamba (a large town 12 hours away). But somehow, arrangements for transportation from Cochabamba fell through, so some were unable to attend. We had been promised 40 students, but we began on the designated day with only 25.
However, the major of the nearby army post heard about our workshop and was inspired by the idea. He appointed 16 soldiers to attend, bringing the total number of students to 41! The soldiers came initially because they were under orders, but eventually they became caught up in the general enthusiasm. Some of them failed the final exam but later studied on their own and traveled to La Paz to take a make-up test.
The first and second days, the students were quite rowdy. We prayed a lot, however, and a spiritual group which had received revelations about our coming prayed for us as well. Soon a great sense of peace began to settle in.
The students were a diverse group from different parts of the country, the majority of them high school seniors or college freshmen. The best student of the class was also the youngest-15 years old.
At the graduation ceremony, three students gave mini-lectures based on the subjects they studied. I coached them a lot, and they spoke very well. One prominent official heard his son talk on the theory of surplus value and give a critique and counter-proposal to it. As he listened, he was moved to tears.
After the program was over, our team stayed on for a while with the Bolivian family. The students who had attended the workshop continued to come to our center there and started a little social-action program. They passed out leaflets in a neighborhood and returned to each house to collect used clothing, which they stored in a garage space donated by a congressman. Then they would distribute these clothes to the poor.
In addition, they continued studying the materials on which the workshop was based. We did not teach the biblical parts of Divine Principle, but VOC theory does contain quite a bit of Principle. Little by little, as they continue to study, they will understand Divine Principle as well.
We planned the program in such a way so we could leave the door wide open for further study and keep a good relationship with the parents, schools, teachers and government. This is a little different from our church's classic witnessing and teaching methods, where young people eventually have to choose between us and their parents.
In Bolivia now, the parents are bringing their children to the program and feel proud of their being with us. Although Bolivians are not so religious in general, they want to maintain their religious ties. Still, they are righteous people and yearn to work for the good of their country. We want to offer them a way to uplift their country and still maintain their faith. We also hope in the future to integrate our work with priests and nuns.
After the workshop was over, the government invited us to return and conduct another workshop there. We are going back to South America in February and will hold similar seven-day workshops in three countries.
It was so good for me to see how much effort Father is putting into this, to show love to these countries. "The world must see and understand that the Unification Church is very interested in and concerned about Latin America," he told us.
Our team became very excited when we saw how different it is to work in this way. In the United States, we make so many efforts to gather people. How wonderful it was to see 40 people waiting for us! The parents were so impressed. The Minister of Education wants us to start programs in all the schools. It is like a gold mine. It is a whole different Unification movement!
We found Bolivia to be a very spiritual place. One man we met was very involved in yoga and told us about one yoga group who had migrated from Tibet to Bolivia. They say that after the revolution there, the blessings of the Himalayas (pursuit of holiness) were transferred to the Andes. The highest group of mountains in the world is the Himalayas, followed by the Andes.
Our host during our stay helped us in many ways. Several times he took us out for meals and once for a drive to the mountains. While we were amid such beauty, we started talking about condors, a large rare bird unique to the Andes. Suddenly, a condor emerged from the depths and began to soar up and down before us. Actually, many native Bolivians have never seen a condor. We were so privileged!
I was deeply moved by our experiences in Bolivia. Bolivians are humble people and have suffered a lot. Like a dry land, the country is waiting for the water of life to come.
From now on, I believe we can expect things like this to happen. I foresee many breakthroughs, especially in third world countries. We have the know-how, the home church structure and the facilities to help with material goods. It is ideal. We can do social work, educational programs for youth, family counseling and many other things. In light of so much need, however, we want more than anything else to train young people to help their fellow countrymen.
Father told the European leaders to start similar programs in Africa. "The key to moving Europe is in Africa," he said just as the key to moving the United States is in Latin America."