The Words of the Smith Family

The Challenge of the Ocean 1988

Karen Smith
August 7, 1988
Director of education for Ocean Church

Father speaks to Ocean Challenge participants

Ocean Challenge always provides new challenges for the newcomers as well as the more salty. This year is no exception. The '88 season has thus far seen three 21-day training programs through to their end. Now, while staying busy with the moment to moment work of keeping lines properly adjusted and baited, engines maintained and boats safe, and the needs of our physical bodies assuaged, we wait. We wait for the magical sound of "clip." We wait with the excited hollering of "strike!" echoing in hopeful hearts. We wait for the rush of adrenalin in which we lose ourselves as we fight the tuna. We wait, often with impatience agitating mind and body.

Learning precision and attention to small details often seems ironic in the face of the size and mercurial nature of the ocean. Rushing to get out early to the tuna grounds can seem inconsistent with the long hours spent waiting by the fisher folk. So, to be able to utilize all circumstances we find given to us, we must learn patience and perseverance. We delve into the depths of our hearts and consciences to understand why Father sends us here for training and what it is he wants us to learn. Our alternative is to find an untrue bedmate for our conscience -- failure.

Gerhard Peemoeller demonstrating knots and tie- up lines to the trainees, Gloucester

Organization and Activities

This year we have many international participants, predominantly from Japan. We also have four from Brazil and one from France. As is becoming tradition, we have many of the second generation, plus the graduating class of the Unification Theological Seminary. The lecturers, senior captains, and most of the technical support teams needed to keep the boats at sea are Ocean Church members.

So far we have only brought in seven giant Bluefin in the Gloucester area and about twenty small Bluefin under 100 pounds in Montauk. After the training periods ended, we sent out squadrons to a number of fishing locations. To date we have five boats in Montauk, Long Island; ten in Provincetown, Cape Cod; and the remainder of the fleet are based in Gloucester. The Gloucester fleet fishes in four different areas. We have two squadrons up around Jeffrey's Ledge -- one on the northern horn and the other on the southern point. Another squadron fishes in Ipswich Bay, and the fourth at the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank. Gerhard Peemoeller heads up the Ocean Challenge fleet, coordinating its movement and fishing locations, correcting the novices and intermediate captains and crew, and speaking on Father's tradition. He has a number of squadron leaders assisting him who are responsible for about ten boats and their crew: David Rosenblum is squadron leader in Montauk; Liam Forrestal in Provincetown; and the four squadron leaders working out of the Gloucester base are Bernhard Volk, Chuck Frumin, Jin Gil Lee, and Scott Greene.

Often, in the excitement of the fishing season and the glamour that surrounds the ones who catch the mighty fish, the importance of the land crew is overlooked. If it were not for those who work constantly on maintaining and rebuilding the engines -- and on teaching the captains basic maintenance and troubleshooting, the fleet would never even touch the briny seas, and the fish would still swim safely at sea. Galen Brooks, Denton Smith, Douglas Schlageter, Ray O'Neill, Felicitas Moyer, and Cindy Bergman are only some of those who serve as fleet support, organizing, buying, and distributing equipment and fuel, preparing the meals for the hungry fishermen and solving the multitude of problems that any group of more than 250 individuals manage to generate -- from accidental self-inflicted knife wounds to grievances about mates and captains. Even in such a small community as Ocean Challenge, we need so many items and services. Then, too, there are all those whose sponsorship makes the summer program possible. Without our brothers and sisters working in places often far from the nearest shore, we could not consider such an annual venture.

Effectively, this Ocean Challenge program is the nucleus of the Unification Marine Institute. Father's vision is to have such a school that will also be a center of maritime concerns. It is merely a matter of time and money before we establish a full-fledged campus with classrooms, dormitories, and all the other services needed. The range of studies will increase and eventually be available all year. Perhaps some of the campuses will be in Florida or California, Alaska or Hawaii, so "classes" can be conducted all year round with different focuses in different locations. (Why stop at American locations -- perhaps we have to include South America, Antarctica, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.) But for now, we are establishing the base and foundation of such a school.

Transferring various materials from one boat to the other, Ipswich Bay

Following Father's Footsteps

By the time the initial training period is over, people are seasoned enough to stay out overnight when the weather permits. So the number milling around the buffet dinner at night is less. Activity on the docks, on the gangplank, and around the bait and ice boxes is a little less. Fewer engines blurt out their day's first blue smoke at 0430 hours (4:30 a.m.) as the fleet stirs itself into activity. Those who stay out overnight are rewarded with more sleep.

Ocean Challenge provides participants with special opportunities. Those who come are afforded the unusual chance to walk precisely in our Father's footsteps -- if we so choose. We cannot go back to Hungnam prison, or to Danbury. We cannot crawl back into the mud hut that was called the first church. We cannot even go back to the days when Father mobilized us all for the campaigns of the 70's. But here in Gloucester, we can greet each new day from the deck of a boat as the sun rises over the horizon, or as it is unveiled by the fog -- as Father did. We can generate the determination to catch the magnificent fish we call tuna -- as did Father, even though we have never seen one, and find it hard to believe they are really down there in the shadowy world beneath the waves. We can face daily the same challenges of wind, sun, salt, and time that Father faced. Through this we can better learn how to draw out of ourselves the hope, faith, patience, and perseverance that Father has wrought in himself. We can use our time to pray, reflect, and prepare for the future -- our own, this nation's, and even the worlds -- if we choose. We can cross the same waters Father crossed so many times. We can return from the tuna grounds and develop the same love for the buoy called the "groaner", for the lighthouse, the smell of land, and for the safety of Gloucester Harbor itself. We can learn the art of tuna fishing and something more of the art of restoration. With each setting sun we can feel the completion of another step toward the realization of the Third Blessing -- if we choose.

The measure of the success of the summer ocean training we call Ocean Challenge cannot simply be counted in the number of fish caught. It is counted more by the measure of unity among all the different people -- the seen and the unseen -- who contribute to this program. Ultimately, the victory won is the amount of heart manifested in all our dealings with each other. Eventually we need to bring together external success and internal success. For now, our successes can be seen in our determination to fulfill the providential vision Father has for us and to resolve the difficulties and differences that are evident amongst us: the old and the new, the second generation and those who are endeavoring to pass from the old lineage to the true, those fishing and those working on land, those who are obviously part of Ocean Challenge, and those in other states and countries who make this possible. We are all involved in this condition for 1988 and this tradition of turning to the ocean for the sake of the future.

When Father spoke to us here in Gloucester on July 8, he made the priorities very clear to us. He expressed his heart and his hopes so deeply in his prayer that for most of us, it took three days before we could truly feel the intensity of his heart. A group of the second generation transcribed and translated this special prayer. For them it was a labor of love because they could understand its contents and thus feel more deeply the waves of seriousness and deep heart emanating from Father. They in turn were so serious themselves about translating not only the words Father spoke, but also the heart behind them. Still, when we took their version to print, they were not satisfied. They were very concerned whether or not they had done the job adequately. Nevertheless, we are very grateful for their hours of struggle with the awkwardness of transcribing from a video tape plus the challenge of translating heart into words. 

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