The Words of the Saito Family
The movement in Cambodia has grown from being an outpost of dedicated pioneers to having sixty members. People continue to join. Mr. Saito, the national leader, has observed this growth himself, having been assigned there as a missionary in 2006 after three years as a Service for Peace representative in that country. He credits others with the successes, but his descriptions here of the developments that followed the lonely beginnings of his mission evidence his deep commitment of heart.
Six years ago, I moved to Cambodia, to Phnom Penh, a city you can see in half a day. When I first came, living alone in an unknown land where I could hardly make myself understood caused my soul to wander like a ghost. Though nothing was familiar to me here, I couldn't leave this land. I stayed because I yearned for True Father. When I was nineteen years old, I encountered Father for the first time at the Central Training Center in Korea. At that time, I thought, "I want to be like him."
It might have been a vague feeling, but I felt excitement spreading through my entire my body as if it were electrified.
Though I once had job titles, an image to uphold and personal connections, as days went by, these disappeared and my "mere self" -- unchangeable from childhood -- became exposed. That surprised me. My essence is by no means interesting or beautiful; I have an old-fashioned, unattractive character.
Nowadays I sigh over familiar scenes wherever I walk. Sometimes when I walk down Phnom Penh's French-style streets and see deserted buildings, I find my heart wavering. I feel that I have been here a long time, and that as a Japanese I might be just an unwelcome guest surrounded by gray walls. Nevertheless, I can't help loving this city. Even if I may have been occasionally discriminated against by her people, even though fruitlessly walking around brings no result other than a blood blister, even if I have to order the same food repeatedly from a restaurant I frequent, I want to stay. True Parents' teachings, Rev. Sudo's life-of-faith lectures and the Mekong River support my heart.
I first came to Cambodia as a volunteer staff member with Service for Peace (Korea), and I continued to devote myself solely to voluntary activities for three years. I was lucky to have an opportunity to find God's heart within the Cambodian heart, through service activity. Through Service for Peace, I had many unforgettable experiences, most of which originated in the rock of bottom of hell.
For example, Cambodia is a nation with a serious AIDS problem. Before I came to Cambodia, I had never seen anyone dying of AIDS, but I have in Cambodia. Whenever I went to see them, I always felt I wanted to leave as soon as possible; seeing them was too painful for me. In Service for Peace, we did housecleaning for AIDS patients and sometimes gave them food in order to make a more comfortable environment for them. Actually, the patients are hopeless, just waiting to die, which made it painful to be near them.
A Cambodian woman volunteered to help Service for Peace with this kind of work, but she never did the actual tasks we expected. She would just sit by a patient's bed and cry. She cried from 7:00 AM to 5:00 I'm beside the patients. She didn't do anything else. Through her, I recognized what we needed to do. This was genuine service.
I understand that poverty is a social evil. Many patients contracted AIDS as an indirect result. What can I do about this? Do I need to study rural development, or economic development? Of course, this might help superficially, but it will not change the essence of society. What can change society is tears.
From this sister's tears, I learned many things. Her tears taught me about the four great realms of heart. Her tears taught me about the three blessings. From her tears, I could understand what Father cries for. Only tears can save Cambodia.
I once lived under the illusion that I was a rich tree that would bear abundant fruit in the bright sunshine. I have come to realize that I can feel warm not only in sunshine but amidst dull colors or scenes of decay. Cambodia was invaded many times; many people's identities have been invaded by evil. What echoes throughout Cambodia can creep into your skin and permeate your bones. It is very clear to me that God is living here and that He has wept abundantly.
My work with service projects led me to make "experiential learning" part of our new members' education. Those who join our service activities can then attend a basic workshop.
Cambodia has developed a lot but still people's living situation is not easy. For this reason, many of those who come to our workshops come with the motivation to gain something from NGOs. If their motivation is not clear, when they come to know that not only is nothing to be gained materially but that sacrifice is asked of them, they leave.
During the service activities, therefore, we observe the participants. Service activity allows participants the opportunity to take a parental position.
As a missionary, I concentrated on giving Divine Principle lectures. I was advised often that Cambodia is a Buddhist country, without God's point of view; nonetheless, I earnestly tried to deliver Divine Principle lectures from beginning to end.
I taught in English. I once had a mission in Canada. I found it difficult to lecture in English, so I memorized and repeated aloud the red parts of the colored Divine Principle book. At the very beginning, I just gave the lectures, but I couldn't answer the questions people asked because I didn't understand them. Through those experiences in Canada, God trained me. Nowadays, elder Cambodian members give the two- and five- day workshops and I teach twenty-one day workshops using Rev. Sudo's Divine Principle lectures, which he gave in the United States many years ago.
I have tried to follow in True Father's footsteps, as I imagined the scene when he was witnessing in Pyongyang. I wanted to be like True Father. The harder I tried, the more deeply I was shocked by the fact that I was so different from him. I am sorry that Cambodian brothers and sisters have been educated by a missionary who didn't understand true love.
I went through many turning points, but it was truly the Cambodian brothers and sisters who saved my spiritual life. At times during the mission, I wanted to give up because of family problems or financial problems. Sometimes, I even felt a lack of love from God. Through the love from Cambodian brothers and sisters, I could recognize God's love. When Cambodian brothers and sisters need me, I recognized God needs me.
Last July, I visited Malaysia with two Cambodian brothers to learn the Shim Jung [heart] Revolution System (SRS). This system focuses not only on teaching Divine Principle but also on cultivating one's conscience, which dwells in the deepest part of the heart. The three of us who attended from Cambodia were so excited to find God through our conscience. We found God -- Wow! Even though some aspects of the system are incompatible with the Cambodian style -- I think we are the first organization here to ask for such a high workshop fee -- a revolution of Shim Jung has gradually started breaking out.
One specific point of the SRS is coaching (counseling) participants one on one to help them take the next step in life. This instills ownership, allowing members to see into their hearts and discover, or rediscover, God and True Parents. This is effective not only for new members but also for elder members. Elder members refreshed in this way are able to more deeply inspire new members.
Our twenty-one-day workshop is held as part of the SRS workshop. On the final day of the SRS workshop in Cambodia, Dr. Yong instructed us to visit the killing fields to pray for the two million people who died with pain in their hearts. When those people died screaming, that was God screaming. So, at the end of each workshop, we find God waiting in hell. To offer prayers there has become a Cambodian workshop tradition. Since we have been doing this, the members have come to possess a parental heart toward the whole of Cambodia.
Cambodia was one of True Parents' stops during their 2005 world speaking tour. In Hong Kong, the destination after Cambodia, Father said he felt very sorry because the communists had killed so many people in the country he had just visited. When I relate this story to Cambodian members, especially to our sisters, they cry. Suffering has caused Cambodians to shed many tears, but few tears have been shed because of love. Through a revolution of Shim Jung, True Parents have given us all the opportunity to shed tears of love.
True Parents' teachings also inspire many Cambodian Ambassadors for Peace. At an International Leadership Conference, we introduced the slogan, "Let's spread a message of peace and unity in Cambodia!" We are also starting a Youth ILC, so that we can focus on the young as well as on older people. We held our third ILC in 2009 at a university with the support of Malaysian members.
University staff members worked with us to prepare for the conference. Later, the director of the university administration said, "We were so impressed to see how UPF members work. Even for us, it is difficult to work together, but I see that in UPF you have unity, even with people of different nationalities working together. By watching you, I understood what one family under God means." Afterward, some elderly Cambodian ladies came to me and said, "Because of this event, tomorrow it will rain."
In Cambodia, an agricultural country, a rainmaker is a peacemaker. When King Norodom Sihanouk was in power, many said that wherever he went it rained. Now we, too, have been acknowledged as rainmakers.