The Words of the Zahedi Family
I wanted to share with you about a remarkable woman whom I loved dearly.
Without her, my time in Iran would not have been nearly as fruitful.
She was married at 11 (1935) and started having her 13 children soon after. Nine survived to today. While most of them were connected to us in some way, today three are blessed and somewhat connected to our movement and they live in upstate New York The rest live in Iran and elsewhere.
"Maman" (mother) Kobra Zahedi was quite short, yet powerful in spirit. She had a friend when she was young who was like Nostradamos. His name was Karbalaie Sharif. He had a book in which he wrote his predictions. He would visit her and read them to her as she was totally illiterate. One in particular was about a family, whose six members moved to Teheran from the north to work for the messiah in the last days. She told me that she believed her family was that family.
At that time she and five others were supporting our movement, Essi, Abbas, Hassan, Maliheh (girl) and Manizheh (girl). Today Essi, Mali and Manizheh are blessed. Maman would cook for us, feed everyone and love us all. She understood many things about the Principle and grew in understanding each year although she never sat through lectures because she was always busy baking and cooking. She understood by the changes she saw in her own children.
We had workshops at her house in the countryside. There were no stores to buy things at in her village, she had to make everything from scratch. Yet everything was always so delicious. She would rise at 3 or 4 am to make the bread dough. Her husband had to help knead it down because it was so heavy. She then went out to the adobe oven and baked the bread, in rain, snow or shine. She raised a number of fowl and vegetables and traded with her neighbors for honey, milk and wheat. Her husband had to kill the fowl because only men are considered 'clean' enough to do the butchering. We brought the rice or she traded for that as well. There was no electricity in her house and the outhouse was over a stream. She would complain if we didn't visit her for a workshop at least once a month, even in the winter.
She was pushing me to do more all the time. Once I was quite ill and had a raging thyroid making me lose a lot of weight. I was resting one afternoon in Tehran and I awoke to her pounding on my chest saying, "I should be the one who is sick not you! You are too important to be sick!" Needless to say I got up and went to work. Healing? Probably not, but I got energy from her, and my conscience made me go beyond my situation. I eventually got medical help, but it takes even longer in Iran than in the States.
Her husband, "Aga Jon," ['dear sir'] was named Issa Zahedi meaning 'Jesus.' He was not at all like his namesake. In fact his children hated him completely. He had done many cruel things and lost their trust and respect. He didn't like us three missionaries at first but I eventually won his heart and in the end he told me privately that he liked/loved me more than his own children. His heart grew little by little as time went by. One day he asked me to give him his vitamin shot because Hossein, (a member who had medical training), wasn't with us that time. I knew this was a great compliment for him to think I could give him his shot. He died on his way home from visiting our center and his children in Teheran on January 1, 1980 just a year short of my leaving Iran.
Maman visited our home in 1989 in Virginia when my daughter Kaeleigh was just a baby.
It was hard to talk because I had forgotten so much of my Farsi, but also because with a new baby I was so sensitive to feelings and suddenly all my suffering which I had tried to ignore came rushing back to me. And I was so sad about the revolution in Iran and how many members had to flee. All my efforts in Iran had only a small footprint at that time. I talked to her one last time by phone but again I couldn't say much, my heart was so heavy even though I loved this woman so much. I do think she understood my heart, and even if she couldn't completely she forgave me all my shortcomings and was so glad that I came to Iran and saved her children.
I believe this woman to be a saint for the providence in Iran. She did a good job and told her children not to mourn her passing but to celebrate her life. See, she even understands about the spirit of Seunghwa! I will send money to Chung Pyung to have her liberated.