The Words of the Kennedy Family
Some of the workshop organizers and their guests. Yun Sun Park and Jin Kun Chai are standing first and second from right. Robin Marsh is standing far left. Sitting on the floor is Dayna Kennedy. Hwa Sook Chai is sitting third from left.
It's always an exciting challenge to do something for the first time. You think, "Are we following the right tradition? How would Father do this?" These thoughts might go through your head a hundred times! Last fall, some of the members in Region 9 had just such an opportunity when the first Divine Principle workshop organized completely by blessed children was held in Tacoma, Washington, from October 23-25, 1987.
We knew this would be no ordinary workshop. The older blessed children in our region had just come home after weeks of fishing, studying, and praying during their summer Ocean Challenge training program in Gloucester, Massachusetts. All of them spoke with great fondness of the times Hyo Jin Nim had come to speak with them and give them special guidance. In response to everything they felt Heavenly Father and True Parents had invested in the blessed children, Jin Kun Chai, son of Mr. Joo Chan Chai of International Seafoods in Alaska, and Yoon Sun Park, son of Rev. Do Hee Park, regional director of Region 9, decided to organize a Divine Principle workshop for 13 of their friends who are members of the congregation of the Korean Evangelical Association in Tacoma, Washington.
Jin Kun and Yoon Sun took care of every detail of the organization of the workshop, and Hwa Sook Chai, Jin Kun's sister, took charge of the cooking. Then they simply invited Robin Marsh and myself to give the lectures. From my experience organizing many workshops, I could feel the prayer and incredible effort that they poured into their preparation.
The workshop was the first one to be held in the new KEA-Tacoma center that had been beautifully remodeled by several KEA families and Tacoma center members.
Every lecture began with a sincere and tearful prayer by either one of the blessed children or a guest. Then immediately Jin Kun would man the video camera to catch the spirit of the workshop on film as an offering and inspiration for his model, Hyo Jin Nim. Several times during the workshop Robin and I were pulled aside by one of the blessed children and given explanations about the situation of a particular guest. I have never seen these teenagers looking more "grownup" than when they were sacrificing and caring for their friends in the very tradition of being a spiritual parent that Father has taught us.
Both Friday and Saturday night we continued until very late, and we barely managed to end our lectures before midnight. But the teenagers were still ready to keep going! Robin shared with me that in the brothers' room things finally quieted down when Jin Kun lit a "Heung Jin Nim Candle [a candle given to all the blessed children after Heung Jin Nim's Seunghwa Ceremony] and he and Yoon Sun shared personally about their experience with Hyo Jin Nim that summer. Into the wee hours of the morning on both Friday and Saturday nights, these brothers shared about filial piety and the need for the unity of the blessed children with the True Children and the church members. Robin told me he was struck by the incredible influence that Hyo Jin Nim had on these brothers, even down to the very mannerisms they used.
Meanwhile, in the sister's room, Hwa Sook Chai and her sister Bong Sook Chai sincerely searched their memories for every detail about their summer experience in Gloucester in order to recreate for us the insights and the victories they had gained. Hwa Sook told how Hyo Jin Nim boldly scolded the blessed children for the lack of unity among them that he sensed at the beginning of the summer. Later he reprimanded them even more strongly when he saw no marked improvement. Yet Hyo Jin Nim did not outline any condition for them; they realized they were to resurrect the situation themselves. So they began on their own initiative to go to the holy ground and deeply repent and ask guidance on how to come together with Hyo Jin Nim and each other in unity. One idea that resulted was to create a publication for blessed children so that they could be more connected internally even when separated by miles. By the end of the summer, when Hyo Jin Nim came back to meet with them again, Hyo Jin Nim said that he could now feel the blessed children's unity and commitment to each other and to God and True Parents, and he said he felt very proud of them for having made such a victory.
If you have heard that blessed children can stay up late and get up early and still have boundless energy all day -- it is absolutely true. On Sunday, they wanted the first lecture to begin right after pledge! This day also included a wonderful lecture by Rev. Delbert Gault, an ICC Alumni minister who frequently lectures for our church.
All too soon the workshop came to its conclusion. Robin and I would have been quite content to stay in that new center and just continue pioneering with our youthful companions! But, high school awaited them all the following day. As we hugged and said our good-byes, I recalled many things from our unforgettable weekend. I realized that these soon-to-be leaders have a simple trust in us to build the Kingdom of Heaven with them. They have faith that we will sincerely study the Principle and take responsibility for our spiritual growth and for understanding and continuing Father's tradition. They trust that we will be able to teach and guide and love the friends they witness to during that most tumultuous time referred to as adolescence.
I am inspired and challenged by this trust. Both Robin and I have made a commitment to improve our study habits and to deepen our lecturing skills for the sake of whatever the future holds. As for these very capable teenagers, the Kingdom is not something they choose to believe in or not believe in -- for them it is nothing less than a goal that will be achieved.