The Words of the Pratt Family
My first trip to Heaven
Jonathan F. Pratt
August 28 - September 2, 2007
ILC Conference -- Kodiak Island, Alaska
As a new Ambassador for Peace I was honored and excited to be invited to my first ILC Conference. My journey began on Tues. Aug 28 departing from Norfolk Airport 9:30 in the morning. After a layover in Atlanta I boarded my plane for Anchorage, Alaska. Although my plane departed around 4:30 and the flight was over 7 hours I was lucky to be treated to a spectacular view of some of Alaska’s glaciers along the coastline bordering Canada from 30,000 feet.
After landing in Anchorage I was impressed by the sheer size of the mountains surrounding Anchorage. Those peaks have to be over 10,000 feet. It is part of Reverend Moon’s intention for us to experience the magnificence of God’s creation through nature. He was succeeding so far!
After about another hour and a half layover in Anchorage, I departed for Kodiak Island. While there was still some daylight I was lucky to see some more beautiful views from the air during the 250 mile flight over the Bay of Alaska, and some of the Islands on the way to Kodiak. I enjoyed a nice conversation with a woman traveling with her husband and cat who had just left the lower states to take a job with a fish hatchery on an island adjacent to Kodiak.
Arrival on Kodiak Island -- 12am Wed. Aug - 29
Two of the other passengers on my plane, Dr. Oromo and Dwight Graves were bound for the ILC Conference as well, but I did not start to get acquainted with them until we landed at Kodiak Airport around midnight.
I shared a room with Hillman Frazer at the Shelikov Lodge. Hillman was so tired from travel he had fallen asleep with the lights on; it was after 1:30 in the morning. I tried to be careful not to startle him, being a stranger coming into the room at 1:30 in the morning. The conference has a policy of double occupancy in order to lower expenses and encourage new friendships.
After breakfast the first day of the conference we went over several presentations and had discussions following each. Topics included:
A Vision of Peace:
One World Family Under God
Religion, Spirituality and leadership
UN Renewal: The Significance of Civil Society and Religion
Understanding the Root Cause of Conflict
The Significance of Marriage, Family and the Blessing
Presentations were made by Dr. Michael Jenkins, Dr. Thomas Walsh, Michael Lamson and Mark Hernandez
Also making special appearances at the conference on Wednesday were the Mayor of Kodiak, Carolyn L. Floyd and Dr. Hyun Jin Moon. The Mayor gave us a warm welcome to Kodiak, continuing her 10 year support of the Unification movement and affiliated organizations in Kodiak.
Dr. Hyun Jin Moon gave a very impassioned and rousing talk about the peace movement and his father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon's leadership. The 20 minutes address left us all very excited. Dr. Moon's oratorical skills greatly impressed me.
Thursday, Aug 30
In Thursday morning's spiritual service with the elder Rev. and Mrs. Moon, I was able to gain a fuller understanding and appreciation for the Unification movement. I got a better sense of Rev. Moon as a great spiritual leader and benefactor of humanity.
The agenda had been switched around somewhat because of the outstanding weather we were experiencing and it was decided that we would go fishing. Half would go sea fishing and the other half of the group would go river fishing. This day I went sea fishing. The tournament was for 3 categories of fish. Silver Salmon, Halibut and another I can’t recall.
Fri, Aug 31
We resumed conference presentations and discussions going over the following:
Principles of Peace Building and Conflict Resolution
"A Determined Man" DVD Presentation about Rev. Sun Myung Moon
The Middle East Peace Initiative
The Bearing Straight Project
The Northeast Asia Peace Initiative
Development of the Worldwide ILC program
Development of Ocean Resources
The Middle East Peace and Northeast Asia Peace Initiative discussions were very enlightening about what has and is being accomplished in those areas to move them toward peace and reconciliation. Also enlightening was the proposed Bearing Straight Project to link the Americas with Asia, Europe and Africa. I found Dr. Yang’s talk about UPF’s accomplishments in engaging with North Korea to be very interesting and engrossing. We enjoyed some moments of joyous song and dance as well.
Sat., Sept. 1
This was the second day of fishing; this time I got to go River fishing. After morning service and breakfast, my group left Angel Garden on 2 buses and enjoyed a scenic 40 minute drive through winding roads and gorgeous views of Kodiak Island to our first fishing spot.
We spent about 4 hours at the first spot: a few people caught some salmon, one of which we cooked fresh right out of the river which made for a delicious lunch. The mountain backdrop and scenery were just breathtaking.
Later in the afternoon we drove to a second location which was a shallow river just chock full of pink salmon. There were so many fish and the water was so shallow, most of the poor salmon were hooked by the fins and released; but just about everybody got a chance to catch something here. We left around 6:30PM.
The bus ride back to Angel Garden for dinner provided for some amazing sightseeing, and our bus stopped at least 3 times to give people the opportunity to take pictures.
Sun Sept. 2
This day was very significant because in the morning service Rev. Moon discussed the Abel UN, a sort of parallel United Nations. In the service we participated in a ceremony marking the establishment of the Abel UN.
After breakfast in the conference, we also discussed establishing the UPF as an "Abel UN". We watched a video about the life of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s, the founder of UPF. Toward the end of the morning we had discussions.
Various delegates from Japan, Korea and selected Ambassadors for Peace made closing comments. I was very honored to be asked to speak about the week's events on behalf of the attending Ambassadors for Peace. Fortunately I kept the notes for my brief speech…
Who in here thinks being here was one of the most incredible experiences of their life?
I am one of you.
We have all been Salmon fishing in Alaska!
We have all been Sea fishing in the Bay of Alaska!
And most significantly, we have shared our hearts and minds with each other.
I can honestly say I have never been in the same room with so many people with enormous hearts and minds focused on achieving peace, to making the world a better place and to moving the earth in alignment with the Divine.
I thank Rev. Moon, the UPF and all of you for such a highlight in my life.
During the course of the conference, at mealtimes and during break times, I enjoyed conversations with many fellow Ambassadors for Peace. I got to know them and their backgrounds, and shared with them some of my work with the Human Relief Organization, particularly my involvement with a program called "Billion Stoves".
"Billion stoves" addresses a global problem in developing countries with indoor and outdoor air pollution caused by smoky and inefficient cooking methods. It is an underappreciated problem which the WHO estimates kills 4 million children per year, results in deforestation, carbon monoxide deaths and repertory infections.
This problem in Haiti for example has caused the near total deforestation of the nation and is causing major soil erosion resulting in deaths from mud slides. This very solvable problem affects up to half of the world's population of 2-3 billion people. Solutions exist in the form of cleaner burning cook stoves and methods like the Woodgas Stove invented by Dr. Thomas Reed of the Biomass Energy Foundation.
Dr. Reed invented the Woodgas Stove as an ultra clean burning and efficient cook stove that will burn a wide variety of locally available fuels and much smaller quantities of wood which would greatly alleviate deforestation problem caused by charcoal making and log burning over primitive 3 stone fires.
Billion Stoves makes this life saving little stove available at a large discount to NGO’s, Church missions, and relief agencies operating in developing countries and for refugees. Anybody wishing to contact HRO or participate in "Billion Stoves" can visit the site: www.humanrelief.net/Billion_Stoves.htm and use the contact form.
After lunch we had the opportunity to do some sightseeing of the Kodiak Island. We went to a seafood processing plant and to the Baranov Museum, the oldest standing Russian-built structure in Alaska (built in 1808). We then toured the Kodiak Military History Museum.
After touring the Military History Museum we went to the mountain behind the city of Kodiak. The bus could only go about halfway up. For those of us who wanted to go to the top, it was about a 45 minute hike. It was an exercise that was well worth it!
After such an incredible hike to the top of the world to cap off the day, we had an amazing banquet at an affiliated seafood restaurant in Kodiak. There was an incredible assortment of seafood and fresh fruit. I couldn’t believe how fresh and sweet the watermelon, grapes and cantaloupe were.
At the end of our meal we had a very delightful session of song and dance sung by different groups and individual participants of the conference. It was very energetic and uplifting. Then prizes were announced - about 45 boxes of fresh fish were given us to take home.
Because there were only enough boxes for a bit less than half of us, winners were picked by lottery. Initially, I did not get a winning ticket but, amazingly and generously Mark Hernandez gave me a winning ticket which had been given to him by Richard Fletcher of Australia.
Neither Mark nor Richard would be home for at least a few days and could not take the frozen fish with them. The next day I got two frozen Silver Salmon each at least 30 inches long, which carried back home with me and shared with friends. It was a rare treat for all of us to get these huge fresh Salmon from Alaska.
As we left the banquet, Rev. Moon had generously given each of us a 10,000 WON (Korean currency) bill to keep for good fortune and prosperity; it has not left my wallet since. This was the conclusion to an incredible day and week. I slept very soundly that night.
Mon. Sept 3
At 6:30PM on Monday Sept. 3 I left heaven (Kodiak) ironically by flying upward fully aware that my soul had grown from the experience.