The Words of the Oliver Family
I was assigned to Minnesota by True Father in December, 1972. At the time he assigned me, I was in Berkeley California attending my brother's funeral. He was only 24 years old when he died tragically, and I was 21. We had just completed a Day of Hope tour on the One World Crusade bus team, and Father needed some new state leaders in various states.
I was grieving for my brother, and battling a vicious virus, while running a fever. However, once I was assigned by Father, I felt I shouldn't wait to go to Minnesota. It would only give Satan more time to do his thing. One night, I quietly left the Berkeley center a few days after Christmas, totally alone. I had to leave my grieving Mom and sister behind.
The journey took several days due to dangerous inclement weather. I was still sick, eating only cucumbers, yet I felt an invisible wall of protection around me, like I was traveling with angels. The horrendous snow storms delayed travel, and at one point I changed from the bus to the train back to the bus again to get there. It was Minnesota or Bust for me.
I was so thankful to make it to Minneapolis all in one piece, where one sister, named Betsy O'Brian, was waiting for me. I was fortunate to begin the pioneering work with my assistant, Betsy, who had prepared a little room in a small house for me. Betsy would work for income, while I witnessed downtown and on the campus.
Unfortunately, the shock of the biting cold Minnesota weather was too much for my California born body. I ended up getting sick for several weeks. Thank God for the help of Betsy O'Brian who took such good care of me.
I remained in Minnesota as the state leader from January, 1973 through April, 1976 -- exactly 40 months. At one point, in the middle of this time period, people were requesting to Father that I be sent to Africa to do missionary work. Father had to refuse three times for me to leave Minnesota. He wanted me there, as it had become one of the most successful states with members joining one right after the other.
It was like a spiritual phenomenon of sorts. I had absolutely no great leadership talents or skills. Teaching the principle was my main "occupation", and the truth sold itself to the people.
The highlight of 1973 was in November, when True Parents came to Minneapolis for the 3 day "Day of Hope" program. Father was to speak for 3 nights in a row. I was responsible for all media and public relations. Success was crucial if we were to break through in this state. Father coming through Minneapolis was like a whirlwind Pentecost. The turn out was superb and Father couldn't be happier. The media also received Father well. The joy was ineffable when Father proclaimed a victory there. Victory was mandatory for this 21 city tour, simply due to the fact that Minneapolis was the 11th city, in the exact center of the tour. Its success or failure determined the way the rest of the tour would go. That is exactly how father explained it.
I am eternally grateful for the members of Minnesota that revived this beautiful state through total commitment and dedication. So many that came through its doors, and on to other missions in the country and the world, are imprinted on my heart forever. Of course, I am eternally grateful for the pillars of Minnesota that held me up through difficult, arduous times. These "pillars" were nicknamed the "three archangels", namely Gordon Anderson, Bill Baum and Roy Morgan. (Roy Morgan's beautiful daughter is now married to my son.)
I truly often felt as though I was "Eve" restoring the lost Garden of Eden, in the land of 10,000 lakes. No doubt, without the support of key members, along with the archangels, such as John Foss and Dorothy Percic (Hill) (to name a few more), we would have fizzled into the sunset with little foundation.
The key to success in Minnesota during those 40 months can be summed up in one word: Unity. May God bless Hugh and Nora Spurgin who were assigned as the IOWC leaders in Minnesota during 1973 -- 1974. We created a loving family atmosphere that surely had something to do with drawing people. One day, in Belvedere, Father asked me if I was getting along with Hugh and Nora. I happened to be wearing a pants suit that Nora had made for me by hand, and I pointed that out to Father. He had such a relief on his face when he realized we were truly as one family. Later, after my 40 months in Minnesota, father assigned Nora as my mentor when I became an Itinerant Worker.
Yes, it was the unity that created the foundation for success. With that unity true love could flow between all of us. Overcoming differences in personalities and learning to respect each others point of view can do wonders in facilitating success.
I will always think of Minnesota as my home away from home. It was a place where key lessons of life, that Father has taught us all along, were experienced at the utmost grass roots level. With this note, I send my love and prayers to all the Minnesotans that are there now, and all that joined from 1973 on. You are always in my heart!
May God always Bless Beautiful Minnesota!
With Love submitted to In Jin Nim, January 2009
Susan (Hughes) Oliver