The Words of the Gottesman Family
In May 1975, three of us started our work in our assigned country together we wanted to serve the people of this country learn to love them and entrust them with the precious ideology of the Divine Principle, and with it the new heavenly tradition set as an example by our True Parents.
"Even though I must admit that we are very irritable, critical, and often express our feelings -- our good ones as well as the bad ones -- too extremely, believe me, my daughter, we have a good heart. You can feel at home here."
These were the unforgettable words of a woman who gave us shelter and cared for us in the beginning, without asking for any material compensation.
Through all the heights and depths of our mission times, Heavenly Father revealed to us again and again His longing to find also here a home in the heart of His children.
Our eventful daily life together soon made us realize why our True Parents had intentionally sent us out as representatives of three completely different nations and cultures [Japan, USA, Germany]. Our first task -- to create unity -- turned out to be a very special challenge. Personal character, history, cultures and customs separated us. Not only we, but also our ancestors met one another, so there were many conflicts in the beginning, many desperate hours, to such a degree that each of us sometimes thought we had approached the limit of what the human heart can bear.
Through each other, we became aware of our own shortcomings and realized that we had first to change ourselves before we could unite with the other, and together with him, the nation.
When I look back today, I am so grateful also for the value of the Cain/Abel relationship. Especially in this relation one comes to know the human character in its heights and in its pits, in its depravity and in its divinity; especially where pain exists, a true purification takes place. In one who is often selfish and forgetful of Heavenly Father, how can human maturity be achieved? Isn't it by overcoming pride, by the courage to humble oneself, and by the slow but solid development of a love which is impervious to criticism, reaching out to the people around us?
By this, don't we learn to center our hearts spontaneously on God? Only together we can learn to serve our True Parents. Often we have to overcome things not only for our own sake, but perhaps for some higher purpose unknown to us but seen by God. Sometimes tears rolled down our cheeks, and only after a long time would we realize the actual cause. To my great amazement, if my heart wrongly refused to accept something, God and our True Parents would show me -- in prayer, in dream, or in daily life -- that this attitude had to be revised.
Looking back on our confrontations and difficulties, all three of us realize how through all these experiences, locked horizons have been opened up within ourselves; we discovered the unique value and infinite richness of mutual exchange on so many different levels. Formerly sharp corners have become rounder, and after enjoying the abundance of God's presence, we would realize the emptiness of the moments of misunderstandings.
I think the great heavenly secret for any unity, for any success is the ability to forgive and to serve; on this foundation love can emerge. This is true not only for our situation, but also for overcoming all sorts of barriers between different systems, cultures and customs in this world. Only in this way can the good and the divine in people be manifested and developed.
All this became possible only through the living Divine Principle, through the personal example of our True Parents, who have shown us the direction through their sacrificial lifestyle. Even the simple thought of them would often unite the three of us into one person in spirit.
Through this report, I do not want to give the impression that we are in the center of the affairs. All the accomplishments are to the merit of our True Parents, who accompanied us day by day, protected us with tilt it prayers, and who had to confront far greater problems than our difficulties.
The best part of the hearts of the people was touched by the Divine Principle and our way of living together; it was astonishing how much each one could give when he felt love, attention and encouragement like he never felt in his family, his culture or elsewhere.
Even we ourselves were overwhelmed by the spiritual power coming from Divine Principle. God really tried by all means to attract the people with spiritual phenomena, to compensate for the external pressures.
One doctor to whom we taught Divine Principle dreamed about a table standing in the darkness. On the table was a book surrounded by a shimmering golden light, and a voice told him almost commandingly, "Read." When he hesitated, the command was repeated: "Read." And then a third time: "Read." And he read. It was the Divine Principle.
Our initial problem was how to find a way to witness, but the spiritual world had already found a solution: the people contacted us. Sometimes they were strangers on the bus or in a shop, or someone who had heard from his friend about us, or a relative of a person whom we knew, who expressed a desire to get in contact with us. Even those who were not so prepared to understand Divine Principle we treated kindly and welcomed warmly. And it happened that through such a person we could find another very prepared person. We also had dreams about our guests, indicating whether they were prepared or not.
These things happened not only once or twice, but during our whole time there. Once we met an English student in the bus whose whole family later heard Divine Principle. Only a short time after we first met her, father appeared to her in a dream -- she was so surprised.
Beside all our human relations, we paid much attention to cleanliness, organization and harmony in our center. Especially in an Arabic country, it is very necessary to set an example in this way. It so happened that our Arabic teacher, who is basically very bound to Islam, considered our way of living as exemplary for his family and could not but praise the universality and all-embracing love of the Divine Principle.
Already at that time, we started to work not only with single persons but with whole families. This proved to be the best possibility for meeting the Arabic culture in its very family-centered way of life. Foreigners could not live together with native people, but we were anxious to find some way of bringing them nearer to God and the Parents, in the heart of their own family, by serving them and by being together with them often until late at night, talking directly or indirectly about Divine Principle. In such moments we were like one single person.
Since we began attracting more attention, we separated for a short time.
Our brother lived with a very simple family: right next to his lodging was a sheep pen which was seldom cleaned. Drinking water was available only at the toilet, and sometimes people ate from the animals' containers.
Our sister left the country for a short time, because of a project of the company for which she was working. One evening, the daughter of our landlord warned us secretly that her father had received a message from the secret police, announcing a house check. As quickly as possible we started to pack all our tapes, photos, books, and speeches into a big trunk and took it outside the city to bury at nightfall. After we had covered everything, our brother went up to the road to see if we could get back to the car without being observed. He had hardly reached the street when the police discovered him. "What are you doing here?" they asked. He replied, holding the seat of his trousers, "Yes, you know, I am a little ill with diarrhea and was looking for some kind of toilet." 'And you do that at 11:00 p.m. way out in the countryside?" They took him to the police station.
However, not knowing anything about what happened, we stayed motionless as mummies in the low area where we were hiding. We heard a jeep departing, and then it was silent except for the occasional chirping of some insect. In my mind I saw us trapped in the blinding beam of a searchlight and then thrown in prison. So we stayed there in absolute silence for almost two hours, but these two hours seemed an eternity. I bitterly repented of all my past sins, and any possibility for ever continuing our mission appeared to be a wonderful blessing from God.
Then suddenly we again heard the jeep and voices, and after a while our brother shouted for us to come out. He stood along the side of the road, alone and totally exhausted. With completely numb legs, we struggled to climb up the slope. When we arrived back home, the restoration of our nearly-lost freedom seemed like a blessing, and in tears we thanked Heavenly Father for the protection He had given to us and to our mission.
The house check was announced for December 31. To provoke the least suspicion, I stayed alone in the house. All afternoon I prayed in tears, firmly desiring to continue the mission for the sake of the country. All of a sudden I sensed and saw someone sitting next to me praying; it was my sister, who was physically very far away at that moment. I took this vision as something natural and explained to her our difficulties. She put her arm around my shoulder and said, "Don't worry, they won't come." Together we shed tears and she remained with me for quite a while.
Then suddenly I saw . Seated in a beautiful room at the dining table, he saw us entering the door. We bowed down, and he came towards us and embraced us; looking at us with infinite warmth, he invited us to enter. And following behind us in the corridor was a large number of people from our country. I shed many tears after this. Father was so infinitely close in my heart. Finally, I noticed that the evening had fallen, and in fact, the police had not come.
During the next seven months, our existence was like that of a ball: kicked first in one direction and then another.
For a few months the two sisters lived in a hotel and continued our external activities. Because of the food we ate there, we were more often ill than well. But when everything was lost -- our center, all our precious educational material the possibility of open and active spiritual work -- we could feel the True Parents so close in our dreams, and God gave us stronger hope for the future.
In spring the relatives of some friends took us into their home. This direct experience of living together with a family with five children was very intense and the beginning of home church work. And even in such a time when we were unable to witness, God spoke His own language.
A major external constraint on our mission was the Arab understanding of family and morality. It is a society which prevents its members, especially daughters, from leaving the bosom of the family. Placing more emphasis on external moral purity than on the internal, the society could not always accept two girls living alone in a strange country. On the one side, it was very good for our work with families to be a girl. People would quickly take us into their heart and inner family circle and wanted to protect us. On the other hand it is very difficult for a woman (somehow we also had to carry the cross of the Arabic woman) to gain respect in official relations; especially in the case of landlords, we were dominated one hundred percent.
Thus it was extremely difficult to find lodging. After seven months of wandering about, when we finally found a small apartment in the basement of a house, it was the beginning of three not-so-easy years. During our three years in the small humid basement apartment, untouched by the sun, all our activities and every guest who visited us were most carefully watched and controlled by our landlords. Sometimes the family meant well and brought us some food, assuring us of the wonderful security we enjoyed in their house. It was the security of a prison.
They could do almost everything with us, since they knew that we could not find other lodging and we would have to stay with them regardless. So, at night they turned off the water, which the city turned off already during the day time. We used to joke about how wonderful a cold shower condition would be! A good relation between us and the other tenants of the house was successfully prevented, since the woman went so far as to tell arriving guests that we were prostitutes.
The spiritual atmosphere was also very low, so it was very difficult to pray. In order to have a deep prayer, we really had to fight internally. The situation was so difficult that our nerves were very tense; we were often sick because of the unhealthy humidity of the walls. When it became impossible to receive someone in our apartment our mission reached a crucial point. We could only teach in our car. We also lost spiritual children and absolutely could not do anything against it. We were like someone fettered and gagged.
How could we ever lose courage or give up hope in sight our Heavenly 's constant working? For us and our members the most precious thing we desired was to be able to teach the Divine Principle freely, without having to take precautions; to have books, tapes, and similar helpful things; to be able to witness directly. But if everything had been so easy, could we ever have experienced such direct closeness of our Heavenly Father and the True Parents? Could we ever understand (at least rudimentarily) the suffering of people in many parts of the world and the course our True Father has gone through? Because of the difficulties we experienced, we could gain internal strength.
Prayer was the most important part of our daily life, and one thing was very clear: a day without relationship to God and True Parents was a lost day, it was no day.
The second week in the country I began a fast. It was quite a difficult fast because I had not yet adjusted to the new climate. On the fifth night of my fast I had a significant dream which took place in front of a mosque. I hadn't yet visited this spot physically but recognized it later.
I was with seven of Father's children, but I remember most clearly Ye Jin, In Jin, Un Jin and Hyo Jin. We were cleaning the area around the mosque together, as there was so much debris everywhere. On the steps of the mosque, the sisters and I were picking up papers from dawn till dusk. Each time Ye Jin would pick up a paper, another one would be in its place, yet she would never lose hope. Her patience and perseverance were a model for me.
Meanwhile, Hyo Jin was leading the brothers in a clean-up campaign on the sidewalks around the mosque. He was so full of energy never discouraged by the heaviness of his task. His exuberance was also to become an inspiration to me. At the end of the day we were all so exhausted, some work still needed to be done but a large portion was already finished. We met together on the steps of the mosque, and then, with a child's heart of unconditional trust Un Jin offered me a world that she was holding in her two hands.
I realized through this dream that our work would only be completely fulfilled by future generations. I felt also that True Parents and their family would be supporting, us so much in spirit in the months and years to come.
On one occasion, I had to go to the police station to arrange some papers. After several minutes of questioning, the police officer asked for my driver's license. A very amusing thing happened. My driver's license was from the state of Wyoming, with a big rodeo cowboy on the front of it. Furthermore, the license was in my maiden name. The policeman put two and two together and came to the conclusion that I must be related to a great cowboy star of the same name. He called over all the other policemen who were so excited about the coincidence that they forgot about the irregularity of my situation. This story can serve as an illustration of how Heavenly Father helped us slip through the most potentially dangerous circumstances in a humorous way.
We made many prayer conditions at that time and despite the difficulties, we always felt Heavenly Father comforting us and encouraging us to continue. Once I met spiritually the women who saw the vision of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. They told me to have courage because God knew of our suffering here and that our voluntary suffering could be used by God as a condition to later help free people.
In 1976, a prominent family offered to let us live with them until we found something better. It was a very deep and sometimes difficult experience, one which drew us closer to understanding the traditions and basic attitudes. We lived with this family four months, during which time we tried to serve them as much as we possibly could. In retrospect, I realize that this time was the beginning of our home church providence.
One night during this time, my sister and I decided to keep an all-night prayer vigil, alternating every two hours. I must add that this was the first time that we made a condition of this sort. I was praying around 2:30 a.m. when I heard some noise in the hall. I wasn't too alarmed until the door opened and a strange man started to come in our bedroom. With uncalculated courage, I stood up on the bed and began jumping up and down on it screaming that there was a man in the house. The man was horrified and fled from the house. Nothing had been stolen. It was apparent that this man had come to assassinate the husband. The family knew that I was awake because I was praying and that God had worked through me to save his life. To this day we maintain a close relationship with this family and look forward to the time when they can see True Parents.
In our mission, we have received so much love from heaven; we had many dreams and spiritual experiences, too many to be able to share in such a testimony. Perhaps because of our difficult external circumstances, Heavenly Father let us share in a special way spiritually with True Parents' family. We were always told by dreams when True Parents had a new child. Sun Jin came to me in spirit right after she was born. We shared spiritually in a celebration for Hyung Jin's birth -- Father was so happy when he told us the significance of the new child's name, All is going well."
Once I dreamt that True Parents were coming to visit us in our dank basement apartment, and I was so upset that they were coming to such a place as ours. However, as they came down the stairs to the entrance, suddenly our apartment was transformed into a beautiful very large Arabic-style house with high white walls and spacious windows that looked out onto beautiful Arabic gardens. The floors were covered with royal blue carpeting. We were in the house with Father, Mother and several children. Ye Jin was holding a new-born baby (Young Jin). Father and Mother told her to let me hold him, since I too was an eldest daughter -- of my country. It was a most beautiful, peaceful moment, representative of the precious spiritual care we received at this time.
One occasion, on my way back to my country, I was once able to spend three of the most special days of my life with True Parents in London. I was able to report directly to them about our experiences. When I told Father about the spiritual guidance and protection we had received, he said that because we needed this support, heaven helped us in this way. He also gave me very good advice about how to carry out our work. Through the experiences I had with True Parents at this time, I realized how much our relationship to them had deepened because of our mission. I returned with renewed determination to lay a good spiritual foundation.
Because of the general atmosphere where we lived and also because of police surveillance, we rarely could invite people to our apartment. Outside a few contacts that we trusted deeply, we mostly visited people in their own homes. Later we realized that what we were doing was very similar to the home church providence. This kind of activity was and still is the most effective way to work.
Whenever we found a good contact, we made friends with his or her family as well. The society is very family oriented, and had we isolated our members from their families we would never have been allowed to stay. Therefore, Heavenly Father helped us raise the physical families of our members to provide protection and support for us. Through them, by serving old and young alike, we came to understand all ages. Our members have been proud to introduce us to their families, ways people find us different from most foreigners who have never made an attempt to associate with the native people, eating their food, and speaking their own dialect.
As time went by, our brother's command of the language greatly improved, so now many of the misunderstandings that had occurred because of the language barrier could be overcome. I decided never to criticize or speak strongly to him even though there were many things about his lifestyle at that time that I didn't agree with. I prayed regularly for him and brought many gifts as Rev. Kwak had suggested. I also did a seven-day fast for unity. Gradually the rift between us began to go away.
In February 1979, his wife came to join him. It was shortly after her arrival that we had a confrontation with the police. As it always happened when we were confronted with an external crisis this served to draw us closer together. We really needed each other's support at this time. In November his wife lost a baby she was expecting. This was a heartbreaking experience for all of us, but it served at the same time to draw us all closer together.
In order to come to this new level of unity, we had to all make compromises within our own characters. We had to forgive one another many times, even though we had been deeply hurt by one another. Through prayer, forgiveness and service, we were able to overcome so many barriers. Heavenly Father helped us so much to see each other's value, despite our differences.
I can never thank Heavenly Father and True Parents enough for the support they gave us during these five years. There is still much to do but we know their love and guidance will always be with us and that with their help our spiritual foundation will become more solid in time.