The Words of the Suzuki Family

Tuna Tales -- A fisherman counts his tuna like counting your spiritual children!

Hiroshi Suzuki
October 1983

Ocean Challenge 1983 at the marina in Gloucester Harbor.

Hiroshi Suzuki was born in Japan, but came to America as a foreign student in 1974. In 1978 he joined the Unification Church in Boston, Mass., and has traveled with the IOWC and with the CARP Sunburst Band. Later he played guitar with Hyo Jin Nim's Band and has recently been recording with J.C. Chen. This summer, Hiroshi participated in Ocean Challenge and came back to tell us tales of life on the ocean.

1. One Japanese sister worked for International Sea, and her husband was one of the One Hope 22 captains. She prayed faithfully for the safety of her husband and that his boat, One Hope 25, would catch lots of fish. But her husband's boat was actually One Hope 22! That other person's boat, One Hope 25, had already caught four tuna!

So, she changed her prayer, and since that time her husband, Jean Francois, began to catch fish, but the One Hope 25 didn't catch any more.

2. Every day the tuna fisherman's job is to chum, and you chum all day long. Sometimes we go for many days without catching any tuna at all, so sometimes you begin to wonder, "What's happening to all that chum? Are the tuna really eating it?" Actually, catching a tuna is like getting a spiritual child: it just doesn't happen every day.

When you finally catch a tuna, you want to find out if your days and days of effort in chumming have been worthwhile, so Father told us to check every tuna's stomach to see what kind of foods they had been eating. Usually we found sand eels and chum, or maybe other kinds of fish. One day, we found in the tuna's stomach the label and string from a six-pack carton of Ginseng Up!

3. There were two sisters' boats, and I think Father was very happy to see sisters' boats out every day, competing with the brothers' boats and with other fishing boats, too. Toward the end of the season, Father made a Blessed Children's Sisters' boat, with Ye Sook Lee, daughter of President Lee, the captain. In Jin Nim was on that boat when the girls caught their tuna.

Many blessed children were there on the fishing grounds, including Kook Jin Nim and Hyung Jin Nim. I think Kook Jin Nim's boat did well. During the tuna fishing season, he celebrated his 13th birthday.

Jin Whi (Ye Jin Moon'a husband) soon became captain of his boat. Tiger Park's son Chin Hun came, and one day he would be in Kook Jin's boat, and another day he'd be in Jin Whi's boat, and whichever one he got on, that boat would catch a fish -- he caught seven tuna in ten days, which is just phenomenal. Father told him he was a very lucky man.

4. When a tuna is harpooned and caught, it is tied securely against the side of the boat, and then we pray. One time, Captain Zola began praying over this one tuna that was bleeding a lot. This one was still very much alive, and it was slamming its tail powerfully against the side of the boat.

Captain Zola, who several years ago had left his native Hungary, walking hundreds of miles across and rope in order to live in the West, prayed, "Heavenly Father, let this blood be shed instead of the blood of brothers and sisters in communist countries."

We all believe that this activity of tuna fishing is very providential. We all come to know that, and I'm sure that our Father has put some special condition over this, for we could feel the importance of being on the ocean and the significance of catching these tuna.

Then I heard Zola pray, "Let this blood be the blood that is shed instead of the blood of brothers and sisters in communist countries. Let this be the offering, Heavenly Father." And that tuna continued to bleed so much, like being pumped, but I felt so strongly that that prayer was heard by God, and that this tuna was actually bleeding as a holy sacrifice, instead of martyrs' blood. I could feel this so deeply, and I can sense when prayer is heard. And watching this tuna bleeding was spiritually beautiful, actually.

Every time you catch a tuna, you feel so much love, so much of God's love.

5. Catching a tuna is very internal, in a way. This summer I caught four, and each time, as I look back on those particular days, I can see that there was always some kind of a good condition that I had made, like relating strongly with my captain. For example, maybe the captain yells at you, but you really "go underneath" him and overcome and really unite with his instruction. It always happens that when such a foundation of substance -- and faith -- is made, then you catch a tuna.

I felt tuna fishing is just like witnessing: sometimes you go days without catching one just like you go days without finding a guest for the evening program or workshop. But if you set some special kind of indemnity conditions, then God can give you a guest, or spiritual child, or a tuna. Also, setting your motivation is very important. Father says the cleanest, most organized, and most quiet boat will catch tuna, but I would say absolutely that there is a close connection between the good conditions you make and catching your tuna.

6. My first tuna was caught on July 27. Our boat delivered chum to Father's boat, and I asked Father where to anchor. Father looked around and shouted, "Over there," so we were right next to Father's boat. We worked really hard, cutting the fish into chum to scatter into the ocean to attract the tuna. Father says the best bait is dogfish, which is a small shark. In less than an hour we hooked up.

Below the surface, the tuna are cruising -- always moving -- at a normal speed of 30 to 35 miles an hour. Even while they are feeding, they continue swimming. When a tuna bites a hook, he's moving and unless he gets "hooked up," he may be able to spit out the hook. When he does take the bait, the line leaves the clip with and unmistakable sound "snap-s-s-s-s," and you have to immediately grab the line, which is coiled into a basket on the deck of the boat, and pull it really hard so that the hook becomes "set" in the tuna's jaw.

If you lose the proper timing, the tuna will sense something is wrong and he'll spit it out, so you must set the hook. The tuna's head is strong like a rock, so once you get hooked up, the hook won't become dislodged.

Many times you put the lines out and then you just wait -- that's all there is to do. Father never sleeps on the boat, and he doesn't want us to sleep either. So we wash and scrub the boat, and keep chumming.

7. In 1978, the first day on the boat I had been so very seasick during the whole trip. And then when I was chosen in June for Ocean Challenge (a 70-day program), I remembered it, and I casually refused, telling my leader that I had been so sick. Seasickness is really one of the most physically suffering experiences -- it's really bad. Anyway, that same night I had a dream about fishing. I was flying over the ocean about 10 feet above the surface, way out from the shore. I dropped a line with a hook and went flying back to the shore. I could see big fish chasing the hook!

The next day after the dream I saw my wife for the first time since our blessing. I told her about the dream and she said, "Why don't you put everything in God's hands?" So I said that if my central figure asks me again, then I'd accept that it was God's will. Next morning Rev. McDevitt called me aside, just nodded his head saying, "Hiroshi. Gloucester!" And so I said yes, and told him of the dream.

Because of that earlier trip in 1978, I was determined to overcome seasickness. I knew that if I could overcome it, then this experience would be fantastic! But if 1 couldn't, it would be hell!

Mental attitude has a lot to do with overcoming seasickness, and I was completely determined. At Gloucester, I went around to the boats and started asking many people, "Can you give me any advice about overcoming seasickness?" One brother said, "Yes. Eat! You have to keep eating and let your stomach know that those things are there to stay in!"

The first few days I did everything on the boat, just to keep my mind away from thinking of becoming seasick. I cleaned and washed the boat, I kept busy cutting chum -- just everything that I could find to do. And during those next two months I never got sick even once!

On that first trip in 1978, I had a shocking experience to see whales -- even among the boats in the fleet. There were two whales swimming around and Father said, "They are entertaining you."

Tuna are so very smart -- that's why in the tuna's world, getting caught is like an accident for them -- it happens so rarely.

8. Maybe you've heard something about persecution received from the other fishermen of Gloucester, from 1979 or 1980. I don't know so much about that, myself, but it doesn't happen so much anymore.

But one day while I was there this summer, there was this very tiny boat named the Bottom Line fishing right next to us. He got hooked up, but we could see that the only crew he had with him was a little boy. This guy was hailing another boat to ask it to call his friend on the radio to come help quickly! But the guy had to fight all by himself because they couldn't contact the other man by radio. Because this little boat was so close to us, we had to drop our anchor line.

It's so easy to lose a tuna between the time the tuna strikes and the time he gets hooked up, so it's really necessary that everyone on the fishing grounds cooperate! If the fish swims toward your boat, you must quickly pull in all your own lines and even drop your anchor line, which always has a big buoy connected so that you can retrieve it later.

One way the tuna will get away is by wrapping around a tight anchor line (connected to a boat), and pulling. In this way, he can break himself off the hook and escape! By disconnecting the anchor line from the boat, the tuna cannot wrap around it so effectively. The boat that hooks up with the tuna tries to maneuver the fish, and itself, out of the fleet to a more open place, which is a better place with room to fight.

So, here we were and the man on the Bottom Line dropped his anchor line and started fighting. We felt he needed help so we came and offered our help -- we could see he was exhausted. I hopped on the boat and took over pulling the line.

When the tuna comes to the surface, then someone must harpoon the tuna, but when I got onto the boat, this one man was both pulling the fish to the surface and trying to harpoon it himself, which is nearly impossible. He had a line in one hand connected to a 900-pound tuna and a harpoon in the other.

As I took the line, he harpooned, but because he was so exhausted the harpoon did not penetrate entirely adequately. But at the same time, the line in my hand snapped in two! The tuna still had a lot of fight left in him, but we could still fight him because the harpoon is connected to its separate line. And still we fought the giant tuna. Then we transferred our harpoon from our boat to this man's and he tried again. Just as the second harpoon struck the fish, the tuna broke free from the first harpoon.

But finally we conquered the fish! And this man was so thankful for our help. He told us that he had been fishing for 25 days without catching even one tuna. For a fisherman, this is really his whole livelihood, and just to pay for his gas for that many days might cost into the hundreds of dollars. This fish was big and might bring him thousands of dollars. Without us, he definitely would have lost it. And he tied his tuna onto the side and drove around showing everybody proudly how big it was. He and the little boy were so happy, I'm sure they won't forget that experience. And I really thanked him, too. He gave me what I came for, too -- action and an exciting experience!

9. To me, it was easy to see an internal connection between tuna fishing and spiritual conditions.

For example, Galen Brooks was one of the squadron leaders. Galen caught his first fish of the 1983 season on his 21st spiritual birthday, which was his 21st day out fishing this year, and this was exactly the 21st tuna that he had caught in his life! A fisherman counts his tuna like counting your spiritual children!

10. One day about 30 to 40 guests came from KEA to spend a day with Ocean Challenge. Of all our boats, none caught a tuna that day except the KEA boat, and it was a huge one! They left the fishing grounds about two hours before the rest of us, and circled the fishing grounds to show their catch to the other boats before heading home. But it takes a boat with a tuna tied alongside about two hours to make the trip home, so the other boats left later, but arrived at the dock before the boat with the tuna. As they drove in, a beautiful red and golden sunset painted the sky, and all brothers and sisters from Ocean Challenge and KEA were waiting on the dock, cheering to welcome them home. The tuna weighed over 1000 pounds and turned out to be the largest caught so far this season. Somehow, with them leaving the grounds first, but arriving home in the sunset with everyone waiting, made me feel that it was God Himself, who set everything up so perfectly. 

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