The Words of the Dubois Family
Ann sews a garment for True Mother.
As brothers and sisters of the same family, I am sure that at some time each one of us has wondered how we can love True Parents more, and know them more fully. I remember when I first joined the Family, I asked one sister: "How can I love these two people whom we rarely see or speak with?" She told me I must pray and ask God to help me love True Parents more than anyone else I'd ever loved. I longed to feel that, since before I met the Church I already had a relationship with Jesus which gave me so much joy and courage. I thought how wonderful it would have been to know Jesus when he was alive, in his everyday life. It would have been like seeing God face to face.
In my early days in the church I wondered what it would be like if I ever met True Parents. I believed they would be able to see right through me, all my good points and all my faults. But it was four years before I could see Father for the first time. How I was longing to see him! The day True Parents arrived in London in May 1978 I happened to be working at the Church Headquarters at Lancaster Gate. When we found out that Father was coming with Ye Jin Nim and some of the other children, it was so exciting, but I think we all also felt very nervous.
Everyone had jobs to do in order to prepare for their visit. As I worked I could hardly concentrate; it was hard to believe that Father would actually live in this same house. I tried to pray all day, but I was like a child waiting for Christmas Day.
My life before the Church had not been an easy one, and I felt myself one of the least worthy persons to meet the Messiah. I felt I was the worst sinner, with no hope of ever meeting God. I know that Father always tries so hard to help us to feel like true sons and daughters, able to stand before God and see ourselves with pride. To them we are their children and God's children, to be loved and respected. All of these things I tried to grasp within the limits of my heart and understanding.
The day passed and evening came. Father should have arrived in the early evening, but we received a message that he was being delayed at the airport and probably would not be allowed into the country. We were willing to pray all night if necessary, and gathered in the ballroom of Lancaster Gate to begin strong prayers. A message came at midnight that Father had been allowed in and would arrive within half an hour. We all gathered downstairs to bow to Father when he arrived. As he walked in the door, cheers rang out and everyone began to clap loudly. Father's face burst into the biggest smile, and as he climbed the stairs to his apartment he waved to us all the way up. He prayed in his room and then we all gathered again in the Ballroom. Father spoke to us a long time, until 4 a.m. Actually, we were a small group that night -- around 20 or 30 -- and it was a very intimate feeling.
The next evening, there was a meeting for the entire English Family. I happened to be in one of the first rows, very close to Father. It was a dream come true. I wanted to watch Father's every movement. At one point our eyes met and instantly I thought to look away, but something even stronger said, "No! I want to see him!" I felt at that instant he could see my innermost character and heart. It was a matter of seconds, yet it felt so long. Finally Father looked away.
Later the next day, I was asked to serve taking care of Father's room with another sister. I was not blessed so I felt uncomfortable, yet I was so happy. We had many different jobs to do: cleaning, carrying food from the kitchen to the apartment, preparing the table, making flower arrangements, shopping. It was the beginning of a most incredible five months.
Each day, Father awoke early, around 4 a.m. One brother used to bring in all the daily newspapers for Father to read. Breakfast began at 7 a.m., so we would begin to arrange the table around 6 a.m. There were always many leaders arriving from all over Europe, and of course the leaders for each region in England. The IOWC was in England at that time so there was a lot of action. The meals were really more meetings that mealtimes. Our main goal was to make sure that the food arrived at the table quietly, carefully, and beautifully, without disturbing the conversations,
Anyone who knows Lancaster Gate will know that the kitchen is downstairs in the basement. Father's room was on the second floor, two floors above the kitchen. We had a system which may sound a bit crazy, but in fact worked quite well. Lady Doctor Kim [Shin Wook Kim] and a team of sisters prepared the food in the kitchen downstairs; there were two people to serve in Father's room, and then there was a team of "runners". As the word suggests, that is exactly what we did. We would pick up the food from the kitchen, beautifully prepared and set out onto nice trays; then we would go through the long corridors between the kitchen and the reception area, and next the two very long flights of stairs to the apartment, going through all the swinging doors from one floor to another. We had to do it as quickly as possible, without upsetting the well-prepared food. It was like those famous French waiters racers who run as fast as possible with full glasses of wine, trying not to spill a drop.
When we reached Father's room, we would exchange the tray for another tray with empty dishes and dash back to the kitchen. There were two of us on the "runners" team and as one went up, the other went down through the second set of stairs. Most people in Lancaster Gate knew the system, and were fully prepared to jump back to make room for the oncoming runner. I don't remember any disaster, which shows the wonderful cooperation from the brothers and sisters and maybe a few helping angels to clear the way.
After the meal was served, the tempo slowed down a bit and we caught our breath as we cleared most of the dishes. Usually after breakfast Father would go out with the leaders to visit somewhere. It would soon be decided if Father would be there for lunch or not.
When everyone had gone, that was our chance to go into the dining room and clear the last of the dishes, tidy up the room, and put a beautiful clean white table cloth on the table, ready for the next meal. After we would clean the rest of the apartment. The cleaning was done in peace and quiet, and was a very wonderful time for us.
If there was no lunch, that would be a day for extra shopping and making new flower arrangements for the apartment. We had fresh flowers every two days. But there were always bouquets to be made for visiting guests who arrived at the airports. We had a good relationship with the people at the nearby flower shop, who appreciated the sudden burst of business. We could order any amount of flowers and in any colors we wanted and it seemed we were their first priority. Shopping was also very special. We tried to buy the most beautiful things we could find, and we soon learned where the best shops la ere.
Most days Father was home for dinner, and the same system began again. When the meal was all served, we would wait in the corridor next to Father's apartment until we were needed.
We shared some wonderful moments outside the apartment. Father often came out to speak to people. One day he came out with two of the girls, In Jin Nim and Un Jin Nim; they were both about the same height, and Father measured them against the door post, to see who was the tallest. At times like that, Father was most relaxed and his face glowed with joy. It was easy at those rare times to see Father's simplicity. Usually, Father was busy with meetings and speeches, which took up so much of his time. But when Father was with someone, he gave all of himself to that individual for that time.
Father and Ye Jin Nim on an outing in England.
Father was in England for two weeks when he announced the European Blessing. People were arriving day and night, Father was matching for two days. The Blessing took place on Sunday, May 21. The stairs were filled with brides and grooms as they waited to file into the Ballroom, which had been decorated in white and gold. Many of the parents and families of the Blessing participants came to witness that big event. Father and Ye Jin Nim did the Blessing. It was a very special time in Lancaster Gate. There was a powerful spirit everywhere. But it was not an easy time for many of the couples nor for Father, who said later that it had been heavy and difficult for that particular Blessing, which became an incredible victory for Europe.
Father went up to Scotland for some time, and it seemed that my time with Father might be at an end because I had to go to the hospital for an operation. When I returned from the hospital to Lancaster Gate, many of the True Children had arrived and it was very busy. I knew I wouldn't be "running" due to my operation, so I never imagined I would be with the True Family again. But one day Mrs. [Doris] Orme and Lady Dr. Kim asked me if I could sew something for Ye Jin Nim.
Father had bought the children some clothes and they needed small alterations. I was very happy to do that. After that came a relay of clothes to be altered for several of the children and some leaders.
Ye Jin Nim stayed fairly constantly in Lancaster Gate, but the other children came in turns from America. For all of us it was quite an experience to work and live with the True Family. At that time not too many people were blessed or had children, so True Children seemed a little bit like imaginary beings for us. I don't really know what we all expected, but actually the True Children were like any other children in many ways, and totally unlike them in others.
The boys especially were young and very alive. They would race through Lancaster Gate like on a football field, crashing open doors. They often ate in the kitchen because Father's table was full of members. The children were very sensitive and giving. Once, In Jin Nim went to visit one sister who'd just had a baby and asked very concernedly how she felt. Ye Jin Nim would always offer fruit or cookies to the brothers and sisters. Pledge was a must to the True Children, even the smallest of them. Once, one of the girls was sick, but she went into Pledge; it was too important for her to miss.
Towards the end of July, Mother arrived. She had just had her tenth child. Her new baby was only three weeks old. I felt sad that she had to leave him so young, and I wondered if I would be able to do that. The boy, Young Jin Nim, was a big baby of more than ten pounds at birth. The birth had been difficult, Mother told me later. She was very tired and her health was not so strong at that point so she took much herbal treatment. Mother never shared this difficulty with anyone. She was so radiant and always giving out, and so supportive of Father. Her genuine love and concern for everyone was very stunning.
I had a most wonderful opportunity to be with Mother. I did some sewing and hairdressing for Mother and the True Family. I began to do Mother's hair almost as soon as she arrived, and the first thing I sewed for her was a lovely trouser suit made of pale green wool. The suit was well-tailored but the trousers were unlined and the material uncomfortable on the skin, so Mother asked me to line them. I concentrated very, hard on that lining, since it was the first thing I'd ever done for Mother.
The first time I met Mother closely was in her room. I was surprised at her clear English. She spoke well, with almost no accent, and she had a radiant smile that warmed your heart. A calmness and peacefulness radiated from her, yet she had a strong will and self- confidence. I could feel that she knew Father's course very deeply. She pioneered her own path as a true woman and understood the very essence of a woman's heart.
Another sister and I were asked to make some evening gowns for Mother with jackets to match. The other sister was a pattern designer and made patterns for the clothes. The new clothes had to be fitted of course, which is such intimate work. A lot of prayers were needed, and there were days when we felt so nervous while other days flowed and we felt quite relaxed. If there was a particularly difficult time, I could feel Mother praying for us, or she'd hand us a cookie or something and all the difficulty would go away. There were so many special moments.
During one of the fitting sessions, Father was sitting on the bed looking at the dress. His interest in Mother was beautiful. Father had chosen some of the materials for one set of clothes, and Mother had chosen the others. Father had chosen a burgundy velvet, with red and gold lace for the jacket, and the match was superb. We wanted everything to be perfect, and Mother knew exactly what she wanted and how the clothes should look.
For True Parents, it was normal to work alongside brothers and sisters. One day Mother decided it was time the boys had a haircut. They were so young and full of energy that the idea of a haircut did not appear to be so much fun. Mother must have known it would be an ordeal, because she also armed herself with a pair of scissors and put one chair between us in order that we could tackle the job together.
They really struggled and disapproved but we managed to finish Heung Jin Nim's hair, and then it was his brother's turn. He hated the idea of sitting still for a haircut and tossed and wriggled so much. We fought with all our might to make sure we cut the hair and not the ears. No amount of persuasion could calm the energetic boy, and all at once Mother said, "That will do, let him go."
As quick as a whistle, he was away with half a haircut. Mother and I stood looking at each other with smiles, not sure who had won.
The days and weeks passed quickly, always presenting something new with small miracles happening all the time, it was hard to keep your feet on the ground. It often seemed unreal to us.
At the beginning of September, Father invited all the brothers and sisters who'd been helping with True Parents' visit to a restaurant, along with many of the leaders. The restaurant was in Soho, a hot part of London. The cars were parked a few streets away from our destination. There was a whole stream of members walking in Father's footsteps to a very large Chinese restaurant with three floors. Father had reserved one whole floor for the party. I think True Parents ordered almost every dish available; there was so much food. Every now and then, Mother came around patting us on the back, encouraging us to eat more. That time, like many others, seemed like a dream. Watching Father and Mother's concern for the brothers and sisters made me feel like a very precious person. The experience and memory of those times gives me great strength in moments of deep loneliness.
Almost at the end of True Parents' stay, on September 15, Father did a matching in Lancaster Gate for younger brothers and sisters from all over Europe.
On September 18, True Parents invited brothers and sisters to watch the film of the Washington Monument Rally with them. Afterwards they divided us into two groups with brothers on one side and sisters on the other. Father came down the rows of sisters and Mother went down the rows of brothers. They gave some money to each of us, and told us to spend it that day. We could buy anything we wanted, but we had to spend it that day to celebrate the Washington Monument victory.
The children had already left some days before, so we knew Father and Mother would leave soon. As we waved good-bye to them, and watched their car go out of sight, we all knew it might be many years before Father and Mother would come again to England. And even if they did, we had no idea where we would be or if we would ever get the chance to see them again so closely. But it had been a wonderful five months.
For a long time, their powerful spirit filled the rooms and staircases of Lancaster Gate, and our hearts, too. We could feel their presence everywhere. Although it was sad to see them go, we were all filled with their warmth and love. We had been living in a world of unfamiliar circumstances, a world that should become second nature to us.
We had spent hours listening to Father's words, and we had been living and working with True Parents. They had given so much of themselves to us. It had been like magic, more than we could dream. I had seen God face to face.