The Words of the Mikkuni Family
As the editor of the English- language magazine MiniWorld in Surinam, I was invited to the World Media Conference in Korea. A week before my flight, I learned there would also be a Blessing in Korea. I felt very glad to witness a Blessing, after my own, seven and a half years ago. Many of the professionals in the news media appreciated Father's sponsorship of the conference and recognized his serious commitment to change the world in a realistic way; it is unusual to find a religious figure who is concerned about the responsibility of the media and its connection to religious aspects.
I was asked to help on the staff at the Su Taek Ri training center, where Father conducted the Japanese matching. I saw the brothers and sisters who were candidates for the matching and witnessed their sincere attitude. I will never forget the expression in Father's eyes when I was matched in 1975. He stared at me for several seconds, looking directly into my eyes, and shortly afterwards picked out my wife. Father told me, "I will give you a pretty sister"; maybe he thought I wouldn't see her beauty the way he did or the way God did, so he wanted me to see her from God's point of view.
Father concerns himself not only about a person's external image or shape, but more about his spiritual fitness, his character and personality. Father's concern is for the base or motivation upon which you will form a family. He is very interested in the children which will come through each couple. Now that my wife has joined me in my mission country and we have a baby, we are so grateful for this happiness.
The Japanese members had been waiting a long time for the Blessing. Since the 1800-couple Blessing in 1975, there had been no large Blessing for members in Japan. (In 1969, 22 Japanese couples were blessed, and many Japanese had participated in the 777-couple Blessing in 1970, as well as the 1800-couple Blessing. Not many Japanese could come to the July 1 Blessing this year. It is reported that 3,237 Japanese couples participated in the October 14 Blessing.) Many of these young Japanese members had never met True Parents.
Japanese people are very loyal and faithful, so when Father matches, almost everyone really accepts it. From the way Japanese members are taught Principle, they are very faithful to Father's choice. For myself, long before I was matched, I had already made up my mind that whoever Father selected would be my spouse. Many came to the matching with this kind of determination.
After accepting Father's choice, the members begin to introduce themselves; Japanese like to discuss each other's background, their character and feelings, and also their faith and way of relating to True Parents and God. Then they begin to face the realities and difficulties, searching for ways to overcome any anticipated obstacles. Others feel very happy, because they sense the many possibilities for the future. When Japanese members find points of difficulties, they often consider them part of their personal destiny and a course which they must go through in order to be victorious. Indemnity because of ancestry is a strong point of belief among Japanese members.
At the international matching, held at the Little Angels Performing Arts Center, I helped interpret between Japanese and English. The Japanese leaders who were present for counseling were very attentive to the members who were matched with non-Japanese; because of some previous difficult experiences in international matches, the leaders showed parental concern and care on this occasion. We checked carefully for any indication of specific problems which might occur between Japanese and Western couples. I could see Father's great care for the members, by the way he lovingly spoke about cultures and differences and about the significance of such an international Blessing.
Japanese members, for instance, have a very strong concept about purity before marriage, and it is common for most Japanese to have maintained their purity before the Blessing. In some cases, when Japanese members understood that Western members had not maintained their purity, perhaps having been married or having had children before joining the church, they were upset. It can also be difficult for an older Western sister to be matched to a younger Japanese brother, since fair- skinned people show their age earlier than Orientals.
In reality, relationships between Korea and Japan are still very difficult, but our Japanese members have much respect for Koreans; our True Parents and many of their elder disciples have had a lot of influence in the Japanese family. So many Japanese felt that they would like to be matched with Koreans -- perhaps more than the number of Koreans who wanted to be matched with Japanese. When Father asked who among the Korean sisters wanted to be matched with Japanese or Western brothers, not many volunteered. Father talked seriously to the Korean leaders about the significance of international marriage, since God's ideal is one world and one world family, with international marriages being one very important means of achieving this goal.
For Japanese to be blessed with Americans or other Westerners is not so unusual; especially since World War II, Japan has received a lot of influence from Western culture and civilization. I can remember as a child watching lots of American television programs and gaining a sense that Americans are more developed and superior to many nations. Through good films, we had the image of Americans as freedom-loving and righteous people. Of course, not all Japanese have such feelings -- especially older people who retain the strong traditional Japanese spirit.
Even though my spiritual children are of all colors and from all races, still I know how hard it is actually to live together. The ways of life, habits, manner of thinking, etc., are so very different from one culture to another, and so much effort and endurance are required. Because of knowing this from my experience as a foreign missionary, I was especially concerned about young Japanese sisters who were so eager, yet didn't speak English or have experience with Western people.
Marriage with black people can be a source of controversy in Japanese society. I observed some Japanese sisters and brothers who showed exemplary courage and faith, wanting an international match. One Japanese sister was crying with emotion after being matched to a black brother. When I looked at these sisters, I felt that they must have a great quality of spirit and courageous faith; there is much difference between the two cultures. Father talked about the challenges of joining the two cultures and the different background that African members may come from. His words had the effect of dividing those who were unsure from those whose courage and faith were outstanding. Father spoke the endurance and patience which these couples will need in order to resolve the problems which will occur. Much concern was expressed about how our members could digest such diverse cultures. One suggestion was that Japanese-African couples first live in Europe or America, in order to lea] to know each other in a society which already is willing and able to absorb different races and cultures.
In my mission country, Surinam, people of all races live together, after maintaining their own traditions and pride. I have learned from experience that Africans too have a very strong spiritual nature and very strong emotions. Perhaps because they have not experienced the four seasons and the extensive organization which white people have developed in colder nations, African people are not disciplined in the same way. The black people I know in the Caribbean area have very deep hearts and great sensitivity, carried over from the days of slavery. In the bad sense, there is much resentment, and in a good sense, they have good hearts and kind feelings toward other people. When I reflect, however, on the great differences that exist between Japanese and black cultures, even in such relatively minor areas as music, I am amazed at the challenges facing these couples in bridging their differences.
Our members have gone throughout the world as missionaries, and as missionaries they could learn to accept many differences. But those who are matched to international members have a much deeper connection to those cultures than the missionaries could ever make. They must become people of those cultures.
Of course, before we are Japanese, or African, or whatever, we have to fulfill the roles of restoration within the Principle. In Unification marriages, during the period of separation, the sisters first fulfill the role of restored Eve, while brothers take the position of archangel or servant; thus, the sisters must unite with True Father and fulfill the instructions he gives, raising up and loving their husband as archangel, while educating him to become like true Adam, a son of God and True Parents. The Japanese sisters have this role, in addition to their role in Principle as representatives of the Eve nation, bring Father's standard to the rest of the world. I feel that the Japanese sisters will have a challenging course, in trying to be patient and tolerant, truly caring for their husband and giving him true love -- at the same time being loyal to True Parents.
We should learn Father's language, Korean, and as missionaries we should learn the language of the people of those nations where we go to teach. We must ultimately ask the children to be like parents, but first parents must give of themselves to the children and educate them. So Japan, as the Eve nation, must offer herself to other people, learn their customs and languages, and thus carry the word from True Parents to people of other lands.
Language has to carry successfully the concepts of the Principle. From my experience as a missionary in a country of different languages, I have learned that each language is very much connected to the daily life of that culture. I remember one American who came to Japan and learned to speak Japanese so beautifully; I was so touched by this. Sometimes it is difficult to translate from one language to another. When I am at a conference where there is simultaneous translation from English into Japanese, a literal translation is not easy to understand, and I would prefer to hear the original English to get a feeling for the meaning of the speakers' words. The reverse is also true; when I listen to English translation of a Japanese speech, I find that the meaning can become unclear or confusing.
It's very good to learn the language by living in the culture where people speak it -- by living their way of life, rather than learning by books or dictionary. A language barrier actually means a barrier between cultures, between lives. When I receive publications from Japan and try to translate the inspiration I receive from them into the local language for our members, they seldom react the same way I do. You must live with people and experience their lives in order to find inspiration to share with them. It's the only way. This is why we must learn Korean in order truly to understand Father.
When I came to my mission country I had been in the Japanese family several years, but upon arriving there all my inspiration left me. I had to start at the bottom and pioneer myself first. In my mission country I must not forget that basic tradition, that faith from Father, which is like the skeleton of spiritual life. This is what we can receive from Father and others. But the flesh is what each person must develop for himself. In Japan I had my bones, my flesh, my skin; but in the mission country, I had to shrink down to the bone and then rebuild the flesh level. I arrived with Japanese "flesh," but I could not reveal my total flesh to the people I was working with. Eventually I no longer felt a hostile or alien reaction from other people; I no longer felt a kind of resentment or uneasiness between them and myself. In this sense, I wasn't getting other flesh, but rather those people could become accustomed to me and relate to me in a somewhat Japanese way.
In one respect, I needed to become like the local people, and in another respect, I had to bring a Japanese aspect to them -- that is, the heavenly side of the Japanese aspect. I found that I must not lose what was good as a Japanese, and also I needed to adopt what was good from other missionaries. This is part of the process necessary to become a universal person.