The Words of the Mueller Family

My Island in the Sun -- Reflection on my first overseas mission

Hans-Joseph Mueller
November 1983

This month on my way to New York I had the opportunity of passing through Trinidad, the country I had originally been sent to as a missionary in 1975. In that year for the first time Father sent out American, Japanese and German members to more than 120 countries around the world.

Just recently I learned that a new missionary couple, Richard and Hazel Barlow, had arrived on the island with their three children. When I boarded the plane in Caracas for my flight to Port-of-Spain, the capital city of Trinidad-Tobago, very similar feelings and thoughts came to my mind as more than 8 years ago, when I had arrived in Trinidad for the first time.

Trinidad-Tobago, with less than 2000 square miles, just about the size of the state of Delaware, with a little more than a million inhabitants, seems at first sight just like another small country. But it is much more than that! It's a true micro-cosmos! I hardly know any other place that small, when talking in square miles, and none other as big and tremendous as that when talking it, terms of culture, races and religion. More that 60% of the population are Christians, belonging to a vast variety of churches, followed by 25% Hindus and about 10% Moslems.

To me Trinidadians seem to be very spiritual and religious people, unlike people in any other place I have been to so far. Although most of them are either Blacks or East Indians, many come from a mixed cultural background. Besides there are also the Spanish, the White and the Chinese -- truly a melting pot of people.

I will never forget when I first walked through the downtown area, passing by hardly any corner or square where there weren't people preaching or singing Christian hymns. I certainly felt happy and thankful for having been sent to such a country which seemed to be so prepared, with people really longing in their hearts to serve God.

In my first enthusiasm -- which was mingled with a little arrogance though -- I started to witness. After all, we had been sent as representatives of the Messiah, and sure enough after three years, we would return to our home countries leaving behind a strong Unification Church, which would be taken care of completely by its own native members. That's what I thought.

Soon, however, I was to learn that besides many other deficiencies, my knowledge of the English language was very poor, and that of the Holy Scriptures even worse. It was only then that I decided to take a more humble attitude. I began to visit different churches and in this way was able to make many friends. Very soon, even before the arrival of our Japanese brother, I found my first spiritual child in Trinidad: a 19 year old East-Indian girl! Still being unable to teach her in proper English, I mostly read straight from the study guide and also encouraged her to study by herself.

By the end of June 1975 our Japanese brother arrived. Now the number three was completed, including another sister who had joined the church in England and had come to her homeland, Trinidad, as a missionary the year before. Together with Ruth, the girl I just had witnessed to, we were four members in the country.

One would think that things would be much easier to handle for three missionaries than just for one individual. But nothing could be further from the truth than that! We had not become a team yet. There were just three individuals who spoke 3 different languages and had 3 different ways of looking at things and dealing with them. But during all that time I wasn't aware of these facts at all. As a matter of fact, only now while writing these lines do I realize how ignorant I was about the things which stood between us. I sincerely believed that our common faith in True Parents, the Divine Principle and the desire of working for a better world would make us automatically a most effective team, which would be able to work together in harmony.

But our daily lives proved to us that there were yet many things that had to be mastered and overcome. It seemed extremely difficult to establish love and unity among us. I also recall events when we had same opinions and ideas, but weren't able to communicate them to each other because of our language barriers. Some other times I felt there was hardly anything at all we had in common except for our love for this island in the sun and its people.

Although everyone suffered in his own way, we tried to continue our daily activities of witnessing and teaching the Divine Principle.

One afternoon when out in the streets I felt so depressed and unworthy of working for God, that I asked Heavenly Father: "Can you really work through us?" I asked Him many more questions in that direction because I deeply felt I was too impure to be His instrument. And at this: very moment an old Baptist lady dressed in white, about 20 yards away from me, started to scream toward me: "YOU ARE A MAN OF GOD!" She came closer and asked me to talk to her. This was the strongest confirmation that ever could have happened to me! It showed clearly that Heavenly Father was well aware of all the problems and struggles we went through. And in spite of it or because of it, He was using us to do His work.

In March 1976, the Japanese brother and I had to leave the country; we were in fact deported. Our two new native members went to Guyana to join the family there for the time being. The whole situation was sad and at the same time tragic. Our story had no happy ending.

Today we are working in different countries in different parts of the world. But I will never forget this first year in which I was able to learn so much. I know that all these experiences in Trinidad made me a stronger and better person. I am now able to face situations in a different way than before.

I am also happy indeed, that now, after so many years, there is a Blessed couple working in Trinidad. I hope that they will be very successful and bear the fruit God is expecting from this island in the sun. 

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