The Words of the Berndt Family

The Most Uplifting And Exciting STF Families Workshop Yet

Beverly Berndt
April 11, 2008

The excitement of the parents to see their sons or daughters was so pervasive as we rode to the Estes Park YMCA center for the 3rd Annual Families' STF Workshop. It seemed that the van was literally pulsating with anticipation and love. From April 4th-6th, 150 parents and siblings joined the 120 STF-ers for a weekend of Cheon Il Guk experiences.

Tears of joy and warm embraces marked the families' reunions. The STF members had already been in the beautiful conference center high above Denver hearing lectures and reflecting on their experiences in their first, second, and even, for a few, their third and fourth year with the program. I remember thinking, "Oh, this is what Heaven must be like. Oh, this IS Cheon Il Guk."

The theme was "Let's Experience One Family Under God, Aju!" Although the schedule was challenging and full, there was only a feeling of true brothers and sisters. One parent told me that it impressed him that he had seen no one fighting or squabbling during the entire weekend. The enthusiasm of the participants was deep-rooted and infectious.

Everyone deeply listened to Rev. Schanker's lecture on prayer, which stressed God's incredible love for each of us and many insightful points about growing meaningful prayer conversations with God. After dinner, opening remarks by Mr. David Rogers (chairman of the STF Parents' Board) and welcoming entertainment the STF-ers were delighted to introduce their parents and siblings to everyone.

Then we were able to really hear the testimonies and experiences of the young people. They shared about connecting to God's Dream and experiencing God's Heart as they tried to invest and love the people they met while fundraising. They spoke of understanding their parents' course and realizing their parent's incredible love for them because of their experiences witnessing.

The next morning we rushed over to the hall to hear Hoon Dok Hae and do exercises. Roland Platt, the director of STF USA welcomed everyone and explained the ever developing STF program in a constant state of improvement. He himself is sincerely moved to see the development of the 2nd gen as they take more and more leadership in the STF program as team captains. Tomeo Wise and Yuna Johnson gave an informative talk about the goals, educational contents, activities of the 1st year: the goals being to discover one's self as a Child of God (first half) and then Take Ownership of God's Dream (2nd half). Next Susumusan (witnessing coordinator) and Sammi Fleisher (4th year STF) spoke about Pioneer Witnessing in the 2nd year and how the program is developing.

Mr. Aoki especially spoke about the heart of Hyun Jin Nim behind STF to embrace all 2nd gen and transform the culture to a culture of heart. He spoke of his first hand experience of Hyun Jin Nim's filial Heart towards True Parents. Mr. Aoki shared honestly and openly about heart-wrenching difficulties, as well as victories that has been the foundation of STF.

As you can see, so much happened during this workshop. I was very moved by the parent's meeting in the afternoon. About 80 parents met to exchange ideas, concerns, hopes, and suggestions in a World Café format. My experience with STF has always been that the leadership is so receptive to suggestions of parents, based on a sincere goal to have the most effective program possible. Issues of safety and health have been taken extremely seriously. More testimonies and moving family entertainment lasted into the night.

Fittingly, the last day was True Parent's Day. A wonderful offering table and festive spirit began the day. After Mr. Ken Bates' morning service based on experiences of working closely to Hyun Jin Nim, Naokimi Ushiroda and Kensho Aoki shared about Jr. STF and CARP respectively. I believe everyone in our movement would be inspired about the content of their talks, but my sharing is getting really too long. The final inspiration was to hear the parents sharing their hearts. They were so proud of their kids and grateful to the very dedicated staff of STF. Cheon Il Guk was, in fact, all around us, and we all have brought a piece of it home.

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