The Words of the Waldner Family
Mrs. Kim-Waldner teaches piano to Ye fin Nim, right, and Won Sook Kim, (Rev. Won Pil Kim's daughter), left.
I was born on December 17, 1922, in a little village not far from the boundary of Manchuria in what is now North Korea. My father was at that time a great landowner; the many fields and forests around our house stretched as far as I could see. My mother came from a prominent cultural family of Seoul. She had wanted to study in Tokyo after her marriage, but she got sick and so had to follow my father to the faraway land. It was very hard for her.
When I was six years old my father built a beautiful school near our house, and so I can say I had a most lucky childhood. Many famous people liked to come to our house, and I was eager to learn and do all the things that older people do. But also I could see that having a lot of money does not bring real happiness -- oftentimes thieves stole our best possessions.
In our area Christianity was well established, and not far from our village there was a large church. However, under the Japanese occupation it was very difficult to be a Christian. The ministers and many believers of our local Protestant church therefore came together in our house, and often it was like a little church. My mother also counseled bright and intelligent young Koreans about how to pursue their studies. One of these students later became my spiritual father: Mr. Hyo Won Eu. I think that our region must have been a special holy place for God, because only 10 kilometers from us our beloved True Father was born, and the first wife of True Father was one of my classmates.
Although my family did not suffer directly from the Japanese occupation, it was a tragic time for my family, because within a short period almost all of my relatives caught an unknown illness and died. But my immediate family was not affected, and we could live in comfort because my father was a rich man.
Two of my aunts had been very pious and prayed every day, and one of them shared my room with me for a long time. One day when I was about seven years old, I heard her speaking about God and heaven, and I asked her, "What is God and heaven?" She told me then that heaven was a most beautiful place, where flowers bloom all the time and people sing beautiful hymns and are very happy. Then I asked her who can go there and she answered me, "Only those who go often to church, pray deeply to God, and read the Bible every day. That made me very happy, and at that moment I promised myself to go this way with all my heart.
I went to church very eagerly, and when I was alone I prayed to find God and heaven. Before I earned my first degree from primary school, I had read the New Testament from beginning to end two times; and so I continued until I finished high school. The high school I attended in Pyongyang was a very famous school and most girls in Korea wanted to study there. But the principal of this school didn't like Christians and allowed us have only one hour-long worship service per week, on Sundays. At this time nearly all teachers were Japanese and so we had to learn the Japanese language first, and only in a few spare hours could we study Korean. Because of the many difficulties Christian students had in Pyongyang, I decided to go to Ehwa University in Seoul to study music, for there I would be able to meet more freely with other Christian students. This university was founded by American Methodist missionaries and was famous throughout Korea.
After some time at the university, however, I lost interest in religious life and began to criticize many orthodox Christian explanations, until finally I couldn't understand or really believe in the existence of God or Jesus at all anymore. As a student of the music department I was also a member of the choir, and so I had to attend church every Sunday. However, I had no interest in the sermons; I preferred to read worldly and nonreligious books.
After finishing school I lived a fashionable life in Seoul and never went to church or read the Bible. But when World War II ended on August 15, 1945, I heard that all the property of my family was lost to the communist army, and I became very depressed. Many people at this time fled to the southern part of Korea and hoped that the communists would not come down there, but then the Korean War began on June 25, 1950. During this terrible war I lost my parents and brother and sister; only one brother survived, and even he died a short time later.
After this I felt helpless and had no more hope for the future. I understood that human life is sorrowful and lonely. I therefore visited many Protestant churches and also the Catholic Church, trying to find out what happened to God and His original love. But I couldn't find the old warm, spiritual atmosphere which I remembered in my heart. Also I couldn't believe in the holy Virgin Mary and the illogical sermons which were given in these churches.
So I looked around further and one day a good friend invited me to a special group which had made their own church on a famous hill outside of Seoul. I went to this church on the following Sunday, and one of my early classmates at the university welcomed me there. At first I was very happy with these serious people, for all of them had graduated from universities. We studied the Bible, and our discussions together always reached a high level. But if intellectual people are always alone together they cannot really receive the Holy Spirit and the spiritual world. In many ways this group was interesting to me, but many of the members were very arrogant. At that time I wanted to come closer to God and feel more love and faith, and so I suffered over this.
Around that time I was working in the social department of our government which helped women in their social affairs. One of our department members was going to a newly-founded church which was called the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. One day she asked me, "Do you know Mr. Eu?" When I answered that he was my best friend from early childhood and from the time I had studied music at the university, she said to me, "Mr. Eu is giving the lectures about the Principle and he would be happy to see you again." Mr. Eu had studied in the medical department at Kyung Sung University in Seoul, which was the most difficult in Korea. But throughout his whole life his health was not good, and he suffered a great deal of pain from spinal tuberculosis.
I was very surprised to hear about my friend and decided to one day listen to the Principle lectures. On the first day I listened to the lectures for more than ten hours, and the next day I talked about the new revelation all day long with my friend Mr. Eu. At first I was not greatly impressed. I couldn't understand the human fall, and I couldn't believe in resurrection and the Second Coming of the Messiah. But Mr. Eu told me, "If you oppose the Principle you may deeply regret it later. Please study a little longer and try to understand it." I tried to overcome my preconceptions, but I was very doubtful. Many bad things happened to me during that time; my former church expelled me from its membership, but I could overcome this and in fact, it made me go to the Unification Church even more often. Still, my doubts were getting deeper and I tan into great difficulties.
At this time, as my spiritual friend was searching for the right way, a very shocking event happened. Because of a big campaign against our church by the Korean government, our True Father and several members -- including Mr. Won Pil Kim, Mr. Hyo Won Eu, and his brother and his cousin -- were put in prison on July 4, 1955. During that time I felt so great a loneliness -- it was as if I were alone on a small island. I also felt great anger against people who had no concern for God's grief, and resentment that the most important man of history -- the one who could save the whole world -- was in jail.
Because of that experience, I determined never to leave or to deny the Unification Church. From this time on I began to study the Principle as hard as possible, and went many nights without sleep. In these circumstances I received some wonderful revelations and inspirations when I prayed. I attained a state of letting go of myself and I could talk spiritually. However, I also suffered strong attacks from Satan.
One evening as I was going to our lecture hall I felt as if somebody were trying to kill me, and I suddenly fell nearly three meters from a bridge, but nothing happened.
Another day, when I was alone in our lecture room, an awful woman in a red dress came in and tried to attack me, but after three attempts I overcame her and she ran away. So I went through many tests. I prayed very strongly during that time and gave lectures on the streets and in the parks. Through all this I could understand the Principle more deeply and build a hearty faith in our Heavenly Father and His True Son.
Father meets with junior high and senior high school students in a Seoul church center. It was before his Blessing in 1960.
I lost my job in the social department and became a full-time member of our church. True Father sent me around the whole of South Korea to witness to the new revelation. Today it's nearly impossible to imagine the great suffering and tremendous struggles we endured at that time. Only because of our love for True Father and our desire to help him could we persevere through such tribulations.
We never had any money and many times we did not have anything to eat, not even a little bit of rice. Many of our first members left the church and it was our True Father who, on Sunday mornings, gave us new power and faith to continue in our important missions. True Father often said to us: "Now you are very poor and you give your whole life for me and I can give you nothing, but later I will never forget you."
When I preached and lectured outside in Chang-Chung Park in Seoul, many people listened to my speeches. I was by then about 35 years old. Every day we argued for God in the streets and parks against members of other churches and students of the university. Later I was asked by Father to go to a province in South Korea to help some young members who had quickly established a new center without knowing very much about the Principle. I was called upon to help in any affairs we had with police or government administrators. Then I was in Inchon for nearly one year, lecturing in different centers.
I was temporarily living in Seoul when suddenly we heard that the Blessing of our True Father would soon take place. A great rumor spread among all the women, and many asked themselves, "Could I be the one who is chosen by God for this most important mission?" Nobody knew exactly who would be the woman for this Blessing. Then suddenly on March 1, 1960, I heard that something special was happening in our Chung Pa Dong church and I ran there as quickly as I could, but I saw only the end of the engagement ceremony.
It was a young girl who was to receive the Blessing of God with our True Father. Many of us were very surprised by this. Young Hak Ja Han, who became our True Mother, was on this day very deeply inspired and many tears ran doff. n her face before she and Father went to a room over the sanctuary. Then on March 16, 1960, all the elder members gathered together in the Chung Pa Dong church for the Blessing of our True Parents. It was for us the most important festival of all, but of course we were very poor at the time, and so it was a modest celebration.
After this I had missions in many provinces in South Korea, and I stayed for four years in the province of Jeon-Ra-Nam, giving lectures. My mission in this area was sometimes very difficult. I had to walk everywhere on foot. One time I walked 32 kilometers until I could not take another step. This province is on the coast, and there was only one little ship to take to the islands. In 1969, after having spent 14 years in missions in the provinces, I felt that a mission in Seoul would be much better for me, for I had many relatives and old friends from the university there. I spoke about it with my spiritual father Mr. Eu, and then I moved to Seoul and started to teach music. I began in a little room and borrowed a piano. Soon so many children came that I could earn a great deal of money, which I donated almost entirely to the church.
I often taught the children of our first blessed couples, and as the children of our True Parents grew up, I also could teach them to play the piano -- usually at five a.m. before they went to school. Until our True Parents went to the United States in December 1972, I had the opportunity to teach piano to Ye Jin Nim, In Jin Nim, Heung Jin Nim, and Un Jin Nim.
I was active all this time in mission work, and went witnessing from house to house, on the streets and in the parks. I also became a teacher of music in our Tongil Theological School and was the leader of the blessed women's choir. I could find many new members, but I don't know how many are still active in our church. One of my classmates from Ehwa University accepted our church very early and her husband also joined. They are one of the 36 blessed couples.
The time was passing quickly, and I was growing older year by year. Many times I felt very lonely because nearly all of my elder brothers and sisters were blessed, and most of my spiritual children were too. I often wondered why Father never matched me. But in 1978 I got a phone call while I was at home. The person said that our True Parents would come soon and I was to come very quickly to our church in Choong Gu. I ran to the church and was privileged to sit together with our True Parents. Suddenly Father said to me: "Joo Hwa, it doesn't matter that you didn't receive the Blessing for many years." Then Father said to Mother: "That man who is an artist and makes sculptured figures should be the right man." Mother then said to me: "He is a good person, and there are many rivals for him." I answered only, "Yes."
At first I thought he was an American, but he turned out to be a strong German who never changed his mind once it was made up. When I said I could not speak German, and asked how I could speak with him, True Father said: "Don't worry about that; you can learn his language, and maybe it's possible that in time you can go together to America." Then I had to look for a good photo of myself, but none I had was good enough in Mother's opinion. So I had to have a new one taken and it was sent to Headquarters in America, and passed on to my unknown man.
After this event nothing happened for the next two years. In November 1980, when True Parents came to Korea, I summoned all of my courage to meet with them and asked Mother about my unknown fiance, mentioning to her that as of yet we had had no opportunity to meet. Then Mother said to me: "We can bless you soon here in Seoul." I waited with great excitement during the following days. As soon as was possible my Otto was in Seoul, and we had our first meeting -- fraught with many difficulties -- in the Lotte Hotel. We had to find out how much we could understand and like each other. In the evening we were invited to True Parents' home, and there Father asked us directly after a short conversation, "Do you want to live together for eternity?" We only said, "Yes." That was on a Friday, and True Father said to us, "Your Blessing will be on Monday morning." Then True Parents gave us money for new shoes.
Those were three crazy days, but at last on Monday morning we stood in front of our beloved True Parents. The Blessing took place in their living room in Chung Pa Dong on November 17, 1980. Also present were President Young Hwi Kim, Mr. Do Soon Im, Professor Dae Oh Son, and their wives, all in white gowns. After the Holy Wine Ceremony we received the Blessing and True Father put our wedding rings on our fingers. Our separation time was only four days; then we had our ceremony in the guest house at the Chung Pa Dong church. Our problem now was how to overcome the many difficulties for our official wedding in Germany After many complicated procedures, on March 12, 1981, I left Korea, visited my best church friends in Tokyo and arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, on the 15th. There my husband and his son Wolfgang welcomed me. After a three-hour car drive we came to the training center at Regelsmuehle, and there, in a short time, my husband prepared a little apartment with a very small kitchen and no bathroom.
Mr. and Mrs. Otto Waldner on God's Day 1982, at Regelsmuehle, West Germany.
For the first 14 days we had a real honeymoon and were very happy to be together. Then the first little struggles occurred and we saw the differences in our characters. Both of us were self-sufficient people who had lived alone for a long time in our missions. We had such divergent lifestyles -- both from our cultural traditions and our social levels. My health had not been the best during the previous few years, for I had never had one day of vacation since the Korean War. Many kinds of German foods I could not eat -- they were always made with too much oil or fat. I didn't like the countryside where I now live, and I felt very lonely; moreover I couldn't believe or understand German manners. Sometimes if I saw a river I wanted to throw myself in or if I were on a mountain I wanted to jump off it. Often I was so deeply depressed I couldn't move. I often went to bed with a stream of tears running down my face. I prayed to our Heavenly Father: "Please take your poor daughter to you; she has lost all joy and hope, completely. I can work no more."
In summer of 1981 our True Parents came to Germany and I could stay with them for a short time, and I could go to Italy for about 14 days with Mother to improve my health. One day I showed Father the artwork of my husband, and through True Father's explanations about the value of this art, I could better appreciate the special mind of my husband. We tried to understand each other more and more, but for the first year the most important thing was to overcome the many disagreements between us. This was our prayer every morning and night, as we prayed together hand in hand. Both of us believe strongly that True Parents are most heavenly and close to God; moreover we each have a deep personal connection with God.
In July 1982 my husband allowed me to go to America with the German members for the big Blessing in Madison Square Garden. I hoped to meet my old friends from Korea there and to meet True Parents again. After the first meeting with my friends in New York, True Parents invited many elder Korean members to stay at Belvedere and eat together with them at East Garden. It was a very memorable event for me. True Father counseled me and even scolded me harshly before all the leaders of the world. But of course I could feel the loving heart of my Father, who takes care of his poor daughter.
True Father said to me: "Don't think this was a simple Blessing; it is of special significance that I blessed you with a German man. If you are thankful and live truly in patience, Heavenly Father will help you every moment. Your husband is a tenacious person and he can be trusted to follow my guidance implicitly. Even though no one is interested today in his work as a sculptor for God, he continues with great faith and a joyful mind. Otto is a wonderful person. If I could have a little more time to develop a new heavenly culture, he would be a central person in it. He will follow me at the risk of his life. Respect him, love him, and take care of him. Don't do things with your own will. Pray for Germany and protect this land."
For more than a month I saw many beautiful places in America, such as Florida, California, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and at last Chicago and Niagara Falls. I came home to my husband and our little house in Regelsmuehle. Then I could change my mind step by step and prayed many times, "Heavenly Father, let me be patient, and please forgive me. Don't worry about me anymore." I could believe deep in my heart that Heavenly Father would never toss me away. I could feel strongly that if the give-and-take action within a blessed couple takes place according to the will of God it has high value, and the couple can deeply feel the harmonious love of God.
My husband and I are still working very hard to fulfill our responsibility for the restoration of the world. But we also know that we are not perfect, and that it will be a long, difficult time before we reach that point. As long as we have deep faith and great confidence in our beloved True Parents, and work every day for our Heavenly Father, we can feel happiness and thankfulness all the time.