Unification Sermons and Talks

by Reverend Joy Pople

First Love

by Joy Pople
January 28, 1975

Dear husband to be, gift from our True Parents,

I have never before tried writing a love letter, and especially not to someone as yet unknown. But already I want to begin living not for myself but for whomever our Parents choose as a mate. Before I bought anything for myself to take to Korea I looked for a gift for you. I got for you the most beautiful tie I could find. Not knowing the color of your hair and eyes or your likes and dislikes, I felt it was appropriate. Time will tell.

Our Heavenly Father has graciously given me most treasured experiences in preparation. On Friday night, January 17, when I received a letter saying I was being considered as a candidate, He gave me three dreams/visions of True Parents and the symbolism of being linked to them. These have been such an inspiration and encouragement. Also, all my past sins and failures come back to haunt me, and I long more and more for the real cleansing by the True Parents. I don't know what it means in substance, but I am not worthy of being their daughter or your mate. Only God's grace can make any of this possible. You and I will need each other for our eternal salvation. The world needs you and me and our family for their salvation. Heavenly Father, our True Parents, and our lineage depends on you and me to make an eternal unity based on the True Parents. Whoever you are, I will be eternally grateful to our True Parents and you, and I give you my pledge of all my heart, mind, and will. By God's mercy and grace I will be faithful to you, no matter how far we are separated, or how long. I hope we can inspire each other to greater and greater love and devotion to our True Parents and always be ready to pay any price he asks and work to fulfill God's will and advance the providence of restoration. I am making a commitment whose contents I do not yet know, but I have never been happier or more hopeful for the future -- of the cosmos and of our marriage and children.

My first love goes to God and our True Parents. I do not know who you are or how to really love you yet, but I will learn.

In our True Parents, Joy

I wish to begin an account of the dramatic changes in my life beginning on January 17, 1975, when I receive a letter informing me that I am a candidate to go to Korea to receive our Father's blessing on February 8.

It is not totally unexpected, for Father has been talking for several months about a possible Blessing in the near future. And ever since I joined the family, rumors of a Blessing appeared periodically.

My trinity of co-workers at HSA Publications in Washington, DC began a 21-day prayer condition, little realizing the momentous events about to unfold. Mr. Han Joo Cha came to translate Father's God's Day speech. A predecessor of mine as Way of the World editor and a 777 blessed couple, he is my spiritual ancestor. He works at the vacant desk in my office, and we sometimes pray together and share stories. Still, I am nervous and uncertain, afraid to call my parents.

Mr. Cha wants to visit Joon Ho Seuk, and I offer to drive. We go to a Korean restaurant and a movie. (Appropriately enough, the movie is "Earthquake.") Pulgogi, kalbi, kimchi, etc., are always a treat. Mr. Seuk gives me a warm look when Mr. Cha tells him I am going to Korea and perhaps will be blessed. I want them to give me advice or talk about deep spiritual things, but they converse animatedly in Korean. Yet I feel spiritually guarded by two mighty pillars, and my uneasiness melts.

That night before sleeping I see a vision of Mother. I see her smile, and all the negative elements of the creation respond in delight. She smiles and the hummingbirds dance and the stars waltz and the moon radiates. I have never before dreamed of Mother, and since she doesn't have much of an active role externally in America I have not understood her spiritual position in the cosmos. But to me she is the source of one polarity of radiance, beauty, harmony, rhythm and color. How wonderful she is! What a wonderful vision of how we as women can complement our mate and reflect aspects of God's polarity.

After awakening the next morning I see two more visions. They are in answer to questions about how we are joined to our True Parents. The first vignette is about engrafting. I see that when we accept the Divine Principle and the True Parents, we are like a limb yanked off a satanic tree. The break is ragged, and scars form over the wounds in the course of time. Now, to prepare for the Blessing, I or Father must cut apart the old scars and whittle the broken edges down to a perfect wedge to fit into the notch Father is preparing in the Tree of Life. I will receive the sap or blood of the True Parents and can give to them the true joy of nutrients from photosynthesis and the fruit.

The second vision has a slightly different viewpoint. I see our True Parents as a huge rock and our family as building on the rock. In the beginning only a small part of the rock could be seen above the dirt, and first 3 couples, then 36, then 72, 124, 430, and 777 couples or families could be built on it.

Now we have been clearing away more and more dirt, with Father's aid, and there is space for 1,800 couples. But again, we must plane our surfaces to fit precisely the flat surface of the rock and join tightly with the other families. The process of planing flat is crucial to the preparation. Without our Father's forgiveness we can never make it. But I must deeply pray to recognize my sin, sincerely repent of it, and work to root it out. The our Parents' Blessing will have real meaning.

I call my parents, after considerable deliberation of what and how to tell them. I am surprised to learn that apparently my mother has been receiving revelations from spirit world. Last December she asked, "Aren't you going to Korea soon?" Today she says she was expecting a call from me.

They are very happy when I tell them I am going to get married, and they talk about how they expected that their children would someday get married. The catch is that I don't yet know who the husband will be. My father says he would be happy if I brought someone home and said I loved him and wanted to marry him. But since I don't know who it will be, they worry. I ask my father to lend me money to travel to Korea. Money is always a sensitive issue with my parents; eventually my father agrees to lend me the money, with interest.

For a while only mother and I are on the phone. I can feel that she doesn't want me to have the same difficulties she has had in her marriage, for externally, the conditions of our Blessing seem similar. (My father met my mother and corresponded with her from Paraguay, where he spent World War II on assignment as a relief worker for the Mennonite Central Committee. She accepted his marriage proposal and traveled by boat to meet him and become his wife.)

My mother once told me the reason she married my father was because (a) he was a college graduate and could therefore earn a good income; (b) he was physically strong; and (c) he came from a Christian home. She didn't know him well, but she had a list of qualifications that she thought would guarantee a good husband and stable marriage. The marriage has been stable, but not happy.

I explain to my mother that all the candidates must meet strict requirements of maturity and spiritual growth and come with the recommendation of their national or team leaders. So even if I don't know a person, I can count on him having met certain standards, higher than those demanded of most husbands.

Since my sister Louise and I have both joined the Unification Church, our brother and parents have complained that it hardly seems like they have sisters or daughters anymore. I resolve to try to write them a meaningful letter.

Washington, DC., Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo and finally Kimpo Airport, near Seoul Korea. It is about 9:00 pm on February 3, 1975. After clearing customs, about 100 American Unification Church members walk out of the airport to face floodlights and masses of Korean members singing "Tong-Il" and carrying banners.

We get in buses and ride through the dark streets of Seoul to the training center in Sutaek-Ri, where we will soon meet our True Parents here, and our eternal mate.

There are no street lights, but the cooking fires of little eating stands illuminate clusters of people waiting for buses. We wave at each one. Some notice us and wave back. Soldiers with machine guns guard the major intersections.

We arrive at Sutaek-ri, buses careening down the narrow streets to our church's training center next to the Il Hwa ginseng factory. The sky is dark, and Orion watches over us in Korea as well as at home. We enter a hall, bow in prayer, and receive dormitory assignments. I look for a holy ground and am told it lies outside the compound and I will have to wait for tomorrow. I kneel in the dirt to pray outside the dormitory, in the biting cold air. I pray for Father and the salvation of Korea. A man taps me on the shoulder and says, "It's too cold; you must go in."

At 6:45 am Sara Reinhardt and I set out on a walk. The loudspeaker broadcasts tunes from "The Sound of Music." Outside the compound men and women are walking to work. In a few houses, the women are beginning to prepare breakfast. We bow in passing to a Korean girl, who smiles. Sara folds her hands in a gesture of prayer and gives a questioning look. The girl's eyes light up and she takes our arms, leading us down, the roadway, across rice paddies, through a hamlet, and up a rocky passage to a grove of trees. In front is a well-worn path, where Koreans are offering tearful prayers. Sara and I, on either side of our Korean sister, join them.

It was black night when we started out, and as we approach the trees the rugged shape of the mountains gradually rises out of the fused land and sky. When we finish our prayer, the dawn has wakened. There are few trees and little grass in the winter countryside. With light footsteps we head back to the training center.

David Kim warms up the crowd of Americans and Europeans in anticipation of Father's arrival. He counsels a humble attitude, advising us to "like a baby who depends on mother's milk." He urges us to accept Father's first choice, but if we cannot, to humbly decline and ask for another chance. On the one hand, Mr. Kim reports that Korean astrologers who study Father's matches declare that they are perfect while on the other hand he jokes, "If I were you I would not be here." Then he has various brothers sand up and introduce themselves, while he discusses their unique aspects speculates about good matches for them.

At 10:45 Father appears and welcomes us to Korea, the land of morning calm where, he says, the sun shines purely. "More than anyone else, Heavenly Father has been very worried about you," he says with a grin. "Why? Because every one of you wants the best mate, and the best is just one! Heavenly Father's idea is to make everything even--the best matched with the worst." As is typical in his talks, he reviews the Principle of Creation, Fall, Restoration, and the Mission of the Messiah, leading up to building projects in Korea. Our destination after marriage is the battlefield, he says, with the initial task of shifting from being a slave of Satan to a slave of God and then progressing to the positions of servant and then younger son in relation to Father's immediate sons and daughters, who are the elder sons.

"What is the Blessing?" Father asks. "It is to possess God's love, God's son or daughter, and then all the universe." He says that he matches people for harmoniousness, and he promises that we will find out what that harmony is in at least three years. "Stretch your arms out wide so you can accept any kind of person."

At 1:30 pm Father stops speaking and announces, "At 3:00 the matches will begin." People enter the dining hall and pick at the piles of rice, hamburger and vegetables, but no one seems very hungry for lunch.

For the matching, Father has candidates line up facing the center aisle, sisters on the right and brothers on the left. People seem to avoid staring at those across the aisle from them. I keep my eyes on Father.

The oldest candidates are matched first and shown to a small consultation room. Ernie Stewart & Therese Klein, and Zack Piorkowski & Pat Hannan set the examples by returning quickly from the adjoining room and bowing their acceptance. Zack had been a priest for 20 years and Pat was a nun for the same amount of time; they had heard about each other but had never met; they sparkle like little children. David Kim greets each new couple with a handshake, then they kneel before Mother, greet their national leader, sign the register, and shake hands with Dr. Sang Hun Lee. Afterwards, they go outside to become acquainted.

Having spent the last year and a half editing Way of the World Magazine, I'm still in a journalist mode. I try to take pictures of each couple, but I am so excited that I miss the Stewarts and Piorkowskis. I don't want to miss a move. I know both partners in many of the American couples, and when we talk afterwards I am amazed to learn that they had never met each other; they were meant to be introduced by Father. Sometimes my tears interfere with my journalism. Father matches the older members, state leaders, people seeking international matches. Korean members had been introducing Korean sisters to some older American brothers, laying the groundwork for some matches. One American sister tells Father about a dream she had about a certain brother. Father calls the brother up and questions them both at length. Finally, he motions them both towards the consultation room. A wide-faced brother is matched to a narrow-faced sister, and when they sit side-by-side and smile, they are perfect complements. One of Father's matches pairs a brother and sister who had been very attracted to each other as young members but who cut off the close relationship on the advice of their leaders. One sister rejects two matches and finally accepts a third; in another case, the brother and sister head toward the consultation room, turn and speak briefly to each other, and then return to bow and sign the register.

Father spends extra time making interracial matches and studying each pair before motioning them to the consultation room. Most of the European members are unknown to me. Some of them had been matched by their leader before arriving in Korea and Father disregards those arrangements and makes his own matches; two who were national leaders plead to keep the match with a partner who can complement their mission well, and Father accedes to their request.

Towards dinner time, a lot of people are rejecting Father's choice and the atmosphere becomes depressed. Sometimes Father paces up and down, humming to himself. Candidates laugh nervously.

When Father announces a dinner break I'm not hungry. In the dormitory, I reflect on why I came to Korea. I didn't come as a journalist but as a candidate for the matching and Blessing. I put aside preconceived ideas and focus on Father. Considerably reduced numbers re-enter the matching room. Father looks right at me several times and then moves on. Finally, he motions to me and points his hand to consultation room. I look across the aisle and see a tall young man. I can't see his face clearly as we head to the consultation room.

Inside the room we kneel on the floor and look at each other, discovering that we are total strangers. We say our names; his last name sounds familiar but I'm not sure why. After some silence, I ask, "Can you think of any reason why we should refuse Father's suggestion?" He shakes his head. We come out and stand side by side waiting for Father to finish selecting another couple. We bow, shake hands with leaders, and sign the register.

John and I part to get our things. Then I cannot find him. I look all over, asking myself whether I remember how he looks. It would be embarrassing to meet on a pathway and not recognize him. Finally we find each other. "Have you been to Holy Ground?" I ask. He hasn't, so we go there, talking about small things along the road. There we kneel and pray. As we walk down toward the training center John asks, "What kind of person are you?" On our return we see people filing into the hall and discover that Father has decided to hold the engagement and holy wine ceremonies that night. We run in line up in the back. Father had expected the matching of Western couples to take three days, but it took only about six hours to match 107 couples.

Father explains the meaning of the engagement ceremony. Our hands are joined one on top of the other, symbolizing uniting heaven and earth, spirit world and physical world, four seasons, and four directions with God. Then Father prays.

The holy wine ceremony follows. Father prays again, and it feels like new blood is running through my veins. A great spiritual warmth fills me, like a garment which dissolves and penetrates my skin and becomes part of my blood. Then we march up and receive the wine from President Young Whi Kim. I receive the cup, drink the contents and replace it in the container. Then I pick up another cup and hand it with both hands to John, who takes it with both hands, drinks, and passes it back to me for returning to the tray. Then we march back to our place. Father and Mother sit on the platform, watching. The ceremonies had to take place very quickly since Father has to return to Chungpa Dong before curfew.

After True Parents depart, the brothers leave so the sisters can try on their white chima choggori gowns.

I cry occasionally throughout the ceremonies. On World Day last year Father said that the first tears were shed by Adam and Eve when they fell through illicit love, but actually their first tears should have been on the day of their holy marriage. Those would have been tears of joy. I felt I was crying the tears of joy on my wedding day. The engagement is the formation stage Blessing, the holy wine ceremony the growth stage. So the day I met my husband was also my wedding day.

During the dinner break I had prayed to make a pure offering to God. When Father picked a husband whom I had never met, I felt there would be no ground for Satan to accuse us. In the early Blessings members confessed their sins to True Father and he forgave them. There is no such special ceremony for us, but I feel cleansed.

Monday, February 3, is the day of my rebirth and the end of my life as an individual. Heavenly Father and True Parents, I come to you as a new daughter and bride. Please come to dwell in our family and be happy in our happiness.

From the Monday of our matching to the Saturday of the public Blessing ceremony, the days are quiet and cold. John and I talk about our relationship with God, our life of faith, our church missions. He joined in California and has been working at with other members at a printing company; I joined in Washington, DC, and have been working for the publications department there. We search out the printing operation near the ginseng factory and watch the pressmen hand-feed sheets of paper to the presses; type is set, one line at a time, from boxes of metal letters. The Way of the World Magazine which I edit used to be produced at this shop. We communicate by pantomime and smiles.

Japanese and Western couples gather around a bonfire and sing. Groups rehearse for the wedding reception. Rings are fitted, engagement photos taken. We take snapshots, listen to other couples' stories. At times we retire to our bunk beds to hem the wedding dresses and slips, and to write letters. On Friday we go to the gymnasium which will be our wedding hall to rehearse.

When the lecture halls are used by the Orientals, the Westerners stomp around outside trying to keep warm. Village children line the fences staring at us, and we entertain them with renditions of "O Maya" and "Toraji." After initial explorations and shopping forays to the village market, we are asked not to leave the compound, since Koreans are not accustomed to unmarried couples socializing in public. Late at night, special arrangements are made for us to visit the local bathhouse for long soaks and hand laundry.

John is very quiet, and I am seldom a big talker. Mr. Salonen tells us not to talk to each other about our past. We learn later that he meant we should not discuss previous sexual experiences. There are periods of silence between us. We are disappointed that Father does not meet with us after Monday's ceremonies, not no one explains much about the Blessing.

I have no doubts in my heart about John. I am grateful that Father chose a husband whom I can respect, like, and feel comfortable with. Each night before retiring we pray together. On Friday night John formally asks me to marry him and I say yes. John offers a beautiful and deep prayer and asks, "Are you happy?" "I have never been happier," I reply, and then ask if he is happy. He says he is. We feel grateful to Heavenly Father for the great promise of the Blessing.

After a night of tossing and turning I rise at 4:30 to the music of the Little Angels chanting, "I'm Getting Married in the Morning." We begin to wash and dress. After breakfast of a half cup of milk, we put on our gowns and veils. Korean ladies help us arrange the three layers of the veil. With two layers of long underwear, top and bottom, I feel like a stuffed doll. The sisters parade out between rows of clapping brothers.

I find John and we are loaded onto buses. It is cold, but the sunrise is peaceful--soft and pink over a quiet countryside.

On the bus to Chang Chung Gymnasium, we discuss the purpose of the veils. At first I declare they are for purity, but after some experimentation with turning--or trying to turn--my head from side to side, I decide they are for singleness of mind.

All around the outside of the gymnasium are colorful boards announcing the Blessing. Also on the boards are the flags of the 20 nations represented. As our bus pulls up, hot-air balloons carrying large vertical signs reading "Unification Church" and probably its equivalent in Korean are being raised. Another white banner, square and larger, with Father's seal on it, joins them.

Our bus pulls under the old Korean gateway and we sit inside for 30 minutes or so, talking quietly and meditating until time to exit. All the couples line up outside the gymnasium. We are the front couple in row #29 -- couple #1653 out of 1800. We are some distance from the beginning of the lineup prepared to enter the gymnasium.

The temperature is -8 degrees centigrade (around 18 degrees Fahrenheit). The two layers of long underwear keep all but the extremities warm. My hands and feet eventually freeze into unfeeling appendages. John and I are entirely surrounded by Japanese couples, who keep us entertained with lovely songs, some in Japanese, some in Korean. I especially enjoy the bright-spirited "Shiawasate" and the "Little Angels Song." Every now and then some Korean comes by and smiles in sympathy. Soon I begin to shiver uncontrollably.

The ceremony begins at 10:00 with representatives of each participating nationality carrying flags of their nations. Then they return to rejoin the line.

Finally, at 11:30 it's our turn to enter the hall, marching two couples abreast through the 24 elders dressed in white robes. Slowly we approach the steps to the platform where True Parents and sprinkling the holy water. My hands and feet are still numb, and I forget to grab my skirt in order to climb the steep steps. Tripping on the layers of fabric, I begin to go down. John pulls me along the at relentless pace of the procession. In the course of this trauma, the small white purse under my arm that contains John's wedding ring falls down. Finally, we make it past True Parents and down the platform, coming to a halt at the head of line 29. By then my feet finally start to thaw, and the pain of suddenly awakening nerves is anguishing. I can do nothing to ease the pain but cry, both out of pain and out of frustration at losing the ring. I wonder if John will forgive me. The cameramen are standing right in front of us. I whisper to John that I lost the ring, and he says it's okay. In pantomime, I try to tell one of the Koreans what happened and ask him to look for it. I write down our name, bus number and seat number.

Father reads the four Blessing vows, and we answer "Yea." The exact meaning of the Korean words I do not know, but the first involves our personal commitment to God, the second our commitment as a couple, the third our commitment as parents, and the fourth our commitment to humankind. Even though I do not understand the words I sense a real meaning to the questions and answers. Then Father prays. It is a very moving prayer, and I cry some more. Then John gives me the ring. Greetings are presented by a Japanese educator and a Korean cabinet member. True Parents exit, and then all the couples exit through the 24 elders.

The Korean newspaper reports 891 Korean couples, 797 Japanese couples, 76 U.S. couples, 35 European couples, and 2 Taiwanese. I don't know how they categorize the international matches. The newspaper also reports that Father said something to the effect that, "You, getting wed here, prove to all the people around the world that you are a family in God's grace." In the videotape of the event, my crying face appears following that of Father and Mother offering the Blessing prayer.

My Kwang Yol Yoo, the Korean poet who helped launch the Way of the World Magazine, comes to congratulate us and poses for a photo. The couples pile into our buses for our symbolic honeymoon trip through Seoul. On each seat is a large boxed sponge cake, and my purse is on the seat as well. Neither John nor I eat much; I am too thirsty for cake. We stop at a mountain hotel overlooking the city, and John buys me a Pepsi.

We are to smile and wave to everyone in the streets, "to multiply our Blessing to the people of Korea," according to Dr. Lee, who rides in the front of our bus. I get dizzy waving my hand side to side and watching the surroundings fly by. We have had no access to a bathroom since we left the training center at dawn.

Finally the buses deposit us at the training center to change into our reception clothes and eat a quick lunch (our only meal of the day). I have been sick since yesterday, with a bad head cold, upset stomach, diarrhea, and cramps. It seems like all hell is breaking loose on my physical body in an effort to destroy the Blessing. Yet our blood lineage was changed on Monday to that of True Parents.

With all the pills I've been taking to counter the various ailments and survive the long hours without bathroom access, my spirit is dissociating from my body. I can still feel my body stumbling on the platform steps. I had tried to offer John his ring on the bus, and he refused. I offer it again during lunch at the training center, and he still refuses. Finally, on the bus to the reception I beg him to let me give him the ring, and he consents. "We finally decided to make it official," he grins as he tells the couple in the seat behind us. I am relieved, but keep fighting back tears.

The Chang Chung Gymnasium is again the site of the reception. The musical entertainment is professionally done by Korean performers. The Little Angels perform several dances with all new choreography. Then various Western groups sing. The Americans make a big hit with a skit centering on Perry Cordill portraying a very tall American visiting Korea. The Americans sing "Come and Go With Me to that Land," in rousing style and then bring down the house with a canon of "Arirang" sung with an overlay of "Tong-Il." Cheers and clapping rise from the stands as we begin each new round.

The remainder of the evening passes in a blur. The buses bring us to Sutaek-ri and we walk two miles or so to the training center in the dark. I bump into a concrete block on the edge of the road and hurt my shin. "This whole day seems like a nightmare," I tell John. I hope he doesn't take it literally.

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