The Words of the LaGrotteria Family
My Greatest Treasure
July 24, 2003
On March 21, 1988, I was provided with the most wonderful opportunity of my life outside of my matching and blessing. During a Leader’s Conference at East Garden (with State Leaders, Regional Leaders, ALC Leaders, and Business Leaders), True Father opened the floor up for questions. The truth is I did not actually have a question that I have always wanted to ask True Father, but when the opportunity arose, suddenly a question filled my mind. I raised my hand and asked. Here is the actual transcript of the tape of that encounter, as translated by Dr. Bo Hi Pak:
My name is Frank LaGrotteria. I am from North Texas. I am the state leader there.
I can’t understand how you can keep all of the things that you are doing organized without a secretary or a notebook. [laughter] I would really like to know your secret of organization. [more laughter]
Father indicates something about his head and then says in English:
Everybody says, "Rev. Moon is a strange guy." (Your) question is answered (as follows): He has a special custom-made computer in his brain.
The amazing thing is that human beings, when you are completely selfless and your conscience is clear, then you don’t have to worry about what to do or how to do it because the answer is already there.
When you say you are a conscientious person—when your conscience is alive—then you are always in harmony with…the rest of the universe in the same level. In other words, (through) vibration (the universe) is always communicating. (There are) no strangers in any circumstances, (therefore) immediate decisions (can be made.)…A conscientious person is harmonized not only horizontally and vertically, but rectangularly and every way possible. Therefore, there are no strange places.
That’s why when Father walks in, (the) vibrations (in the room) tell Father (what he needs to know). Before you even open your mouth or even say the first word to Father, Father already knows the first 1000 words of what you are going to say or what kind of state of mind you are in because of the vibration. Because Father is always in harmony with the circumstances of the universe. When you walk in, immediately Father sees your state of mind. So, Father always can say the proper words for that person. Also, Father knows whether certain things can be accomplished or cannot be accomplished. In other words, he can forecast the outcome.
But Father does not want to be absolutely judgmental by saying, like a judge, all right you are sentenced to death, 10 years in prison, 20 years in prison, you belong to hell, you belong to paradise, or you go to Heaven. If Father is judgmental like that, nobody would come. Even among you, none of you would be able to come even near Father because he (would be) so fearful. So, Father always relaxes and tries to be very casual, "Come on in. Sit down. All right, did you eat lunch?"; but, within that causal conversation, always there is a deeper meaning, if the clever person can catch it.
[At this point, Father described the founding of the AFC movement. Father explained that, at the time, January 2, 1987, he "knew that the time (had) come to start something like that." However, there were those who felt the venture might be too risky for our movement, and that it could potentially "explode in our faces…(destroying Father’s) reputation…and credibility." However, just one year later, it was clear that "Father’s judgment…was absolutely correct." Through this example, Father showed how a person who has the public good as primary in their life could make such a hard decision to move in that way. The result was that AFC has flourished.]
So, the only concern Father has today is this: all you have to do is listen to Father, obey, and (maintain) an absolute standard, then it will happen. The problem is (after) Father’s instructions have been issued and Father’s desire has been given, then everybody wants to interpret (them) their own way and do (them to) their own degree. That’s the problem. (There have been) so many cases. Father does not want to talk about anybody. He does it himself—he does it all by himself. So now, (there are) so many things Father is doing right now, here in America, that you don’t know (about). In Korea, in Japan, in Germany, (there are) so many things going on (that) Father is actually doing without your knowledge.
So you have heard how Father organizes himself. Would you like to have that skill for yourself?
Father has given you the answer: (You must be) totally selfless—only God centered—only concerned about the well-being of God, Heavenly Father. Also, (you must have an) absolutely clear conscience, then (the) vibration will take care of everything. In that way, you will be the most organized person. Your closest teacher is not even God. Your closest teacher is your mind or your conscience. You (must) love your mind…Nobody says this kind of thing. It’s almost a weird statement, but it’s a true statement. If you love your mind, then your mind will love your body.
If you love your mind, and your mind loves your body, then harmony is created and the universe will love you. When plus and minus are totally and harmoniously united, automatically God will come there. You will become a center that draws in God.
Therefore, the best way for a fallen person—for fallen humanity—to be restored is to follow your own mind—your original mind, your conscience. That is the closest way to become a good man—not going to school or getting a university degree. These don’t have anything to do with (becoming a good man). (You must) follow your original mind, your conscience.
When you ask your mind a certain question casually, your mind does not respond, but when you become really serious, and seriously and sincerely ask your mind what to do, your mind will answer you go this way or go that way. That is the prayer. Actually, you know prayer. Your body is absolutely subjugated by your mind. (You) kneel down before your mind. Before you are talking to God, you are talking to your mind. Your original mind is always following a (love) compass. It is always following the road of love, the direction of love. Those who follow the direction of love…are following the direction of goodness. So, your good mind, your original mind, your conscience—the different degrees depend upon how much you are desiring for the direction of goodness. (Depending upon this), your mind reacts. Sometimes, your mind is totally numb doing nothing.
You see, that is exactly the way God works. Although God is invisible, he has a portion of mind and portion of body—Sung Sang and Hyung Sang. When God (asks a question, his) Hyung Sang ask (his) mind, then God’s true, pure, selfless love answers and gives the right direction. God is just like you; God works exactly like you. God is pursuing goodness (and the )direction of love, and (he is) always trying to communicate that direction to his body. By the same token, your original mind is always directed toward goodness like a compass. That mind is trying to communicate goodness and the direction of love to your body. However, many times the body says, "No, I do not want to go in that direction." That is the problem. That is actually (what happens when we) pray. Therefore, prayer alone is not good enough. (We must) do good things, act good, and in the meantime pray. Action and prayer (must) come together.
That is (your) training. That is your discipline. That is your schooling. For those who are centering on their original mind, the first impression is most important. (It) is most important, because the mind is always ahead of reason. I mean, emotion is always ahead of reason. So, (we) catch some feeling before (we) reason. (By the time) reasoning reaches the mind, the mind is already made up. Your mind has already (reached a conclusion). That is why Father said, for everything, the first impression is very, very important.
…Men and women that pray have really nurtured their mind, their prayerful mind. That (kind of) person always imparts a good impression. It’s not easy, but can be done.
I would like to relate a testimony in relationship to the words that True Father spoke to me and all of those who were present that day.
This story starts when I entered the final phase of the year 2002. Right after the IIFWP Governance Conference in September of 2002, our office was vandalized. Among the items that were stolen was my laptop, where I had stored my most precious and significant files. Items such as hundreds of emails, photos, conference services documents, and the like were taken. In a way, my computer was the fruit of my work of many years. It contained my "tools" honed to a fine point for the daily work I was performing both in my professional and personal life.
At the time, I was deeply affected and disheartened. I felt that I had been violated and damaged. After the theft, I was in deep spiritual need. I felt very vulnerable and off balance. When I first returned to work after the incident, I expected to be comforted. Instead, the intense demands and responsibility of our international mission continued unabated. Without much help or support, I dealt with insurance issues, police and detectives, alarm systems, and the general loss of spirit of our staff members. I felt pretty much alone.
To tell the truth, after many years of weathering great storms and high challenges, this particular event was, for some odd reason, devastating for me. In addition to a general loss of encouragement and spirit resultant from my situation at work, I also experienced some new challenges at home. So, you could accurately say, for the first time in a long time, I found myself alone in a crisis of faith without my usual positive enthusiastic feeling and the normal principle-based support systems (wife, family, central figure) often found around me.
Unfortunately, this darkness did not leave soon. After the incident in the office took place, I began to experience a thoroughgoing feeling of loss—loss of any position of value, loss of appreciation, loss of my will to be productive. I felt taken for granted; I felt that the only rule being followed was "no good deed goes unpunished." I felt un-recognized and invisible. To make matters worse, I got into a couple of very tense situations at work where I lost my temper publicly. I cannot remember the last time I lost my temper in public. All of these collective experiences eventually brought me to a serious point of intersection, which caused me to pause; "Was this a test from God, or just how things really are?
Basically, I could not move after this and came to work in a fog without energy or determination to complete my mission. I felt all these issues remained open and unresolved. For about two months, I would not even work to solve the theft of the computers. Eventually, I did purchase computers for other staff members, but I refused to purchase one for myself. I think the reason was that I saw a purchase as a re-entry into the work of the organization from which I felt estranged and confused.
One of the unique challenges in our life of faith is that God’s Providence moves forward with or without us. Although painful to realize, it is up to our own sense of responsibility and our own faith to remain consistent and thereby helpful and vital to the Providence. If we fail in this we will quickly find ourselves on the side roads and out of the mainstream. Thus, the announcement of the IIFWP God and World Peace Conference provided a necessary wake up call for me. When it was first proposed, I had to make a decision as to how I would proceed. Would I get on board, or would I remain in my dark, confused state? Despite my unresolved feelings and issues, I determined once again to engage in full-fledged conference preparations. In a way, you could say my work "saved me". Some people claim that their work is killing them. In my case, the work itself called to my faith in a higher sense of purpose and the need of God’s Providence at the time. Through this, I was able to engage once again in a meaningful way.
Conference preparations by nature are intensive and fully sacrificial. In a short time, by necessity, I had returned to my former level of effort and passion for the work and fully participated in the process and preparations. I even bought a new computer and began to rebuild my system and my document base.
These events are the backdrop for my testimony regarding the value and reality of public work, as well as, what I have been working on since I asked True Father that question back in 1988.
As I explained earlier, I asked True Father how he stays organized under such a complex and extended area of activity and relationships. His basic answer was that when a person is conscientious, public minded, and has a clear conscience, then this person naturally knows what is first, second, and third. They can tell what they need to do at any given moment; they can see what the priorities are.
When I reflected on the contents of the speech that day, the other comments, and my own intuitive sense, I realized that True Father was truly speaking to me. Each of us can claim that True Father has guided our lives in very personal and unique ways. One such obvious way is through our matching and Blessing. Another way is through his guidance to us as leaders and followers. And, on occasion, True Father may address us directly. As in this case, where, by some good fortune, I asked what seemed to be the right question. True Father’s answer was for all and exists in the public domain of his discourses, but for me, that day was a significant day in my life.
As followers of True Parents, we have the unique position of receiving the benefit of True Father’s guidance, success, providential timetable, ceremony, and many other unique blessings that are available to our members. However, sometimes we can feel that these activities or events are not so personal or have a cognizable direct impact to ourselves. Although profound and deep and high in terms of the preciousness, still so many times the personal acknowledgement or interaction is not apparent. You are one of many, sometimes a hidden, one of many. So, for me this chance to ask a question, this personal interaction, this moment when True Father listened to me, looked at my face and maybe my spirit and answered my question, was the most personal and precious and significant moment in my life. It was in some ways similar to the moment when I was matched. That was also such a time. True Father looked at my spouse and asked her questions. He looked around at the brothers and made the match. My life for the past 20 years, my children, and present circumstances are all a direct result of those few moments.
I am a 28 year member and follower of True Parents, and although I have been to Belvedere, East Garden, and Chung Pyung Lake many times, still the moments when I had a personal interaction, where I was specifically under True Parents direct attention are limited to just these few moments. In the larger scheme of things, these are but brief moments in time, nothing but a flash or sparkle, as fleeting as a short breeze, no more than a twinkling of an eye…and yet, for me, this counts as one of the most significant and precious moments in my life. These words, this guidance, this direction established and settled my life. His words became the foundation for how I looked at life and reality. For how I interacted with my peers and executed my mission. In short, I began to build my life around these words.
However, try as I did, work hard as I could, it was only until recently that I had a truly deep and fundamental break-though with the simple words which he spoke. He said, "For the person who is public minded and lives with a clear conscience…for this person, it is very easy to remain organized."
Recently, the entire membership of the Unification movement was encouraged to participate in the Chung Pyung Lake activities (Blessing and Coronation). Many memos were sent from our church headquarters, and many calls were made to members all over the nation and the world. We all felt strongly pushed to go to Korea and participate in the Cheon Il Guk award and the Holy Blessing. This push was so strong that even our loyal and faithful IIFWP staff members, who normally would never question the fact that they would be asked to sacrifice and just remain on the mission, were wondering if they should participate in the Chung Pyung Lake providence and mobilization. They were trying to find out what to do. At home, my wife was asking me if she should go, or how our family should respond to this new providential demand. At church, the leaders were relentless in calling us and pushing us to go and participate in the event.
Although such serious and strong pressure existed in my environment, I was still under Rev. Kwak’s direction for the preparation of the VIP conference. Under these conditions, I had to prepare for the VIP conference that was being held in conjunction with the providential event at Chung Pyung Lake. I quickly decided in my heart that I would stay focused on my mission, preparing for the VIP conference and not worry about the internal church functions. We had hardly finished the God and World Peace conference and our God’s Day celebrations, when we had to launch once again into a major Providential event. Although we had begun preparations for the VIP conference in late November, it was really only in the first week of January that we could focus on our preparations for the event that would be taking place the first few days of February.
Invitations went out, and the process of receiving confirmations was slow and tedious. At one point, we had only twenty or so confirmations with about two weeks left to go for the preparation. At that time, I had to plan the staff members for this event. Can you imagine the difficulty I had in suggesting staff for this event when only twenty guests had registered? Any international conference requires a good deal of manpower to handle the myriad functions of hotel rooming, ground transportation, meeting rooms, finance, etc. My list of potential staff members was growing longer and longer. Eventually, we had to make decisions about who we would bring with us. The problem was that the guest list did not grow, and the time was rapidly approaching. To make matters worse, tickets to Korea were becoming more and more scarce as the many thousands of members began booking seats over those same days. My job became a sort of middleman ,where I had to contact potential staff members and say something like this:
"We need to know if you are willing to work as staff for the upcoming VIP event in Korea, which will take place over the same time period as the important internal church functions. We realize that you probably want to go to those events, however staff members for the VIP conference will not participate in those events at all, they will need to care for the guests. Are you willing to be a staff member, even though we make no commitment to you at this time, knowing well that if you do not buy an airplane ticket for Korea soon you will loose your opportunity to do so and also the lower rates? In the end, we may not take you at all, but are you willing to remain available?"
This was sort of the kind of position into which I was placed. I actually had many such conversations with potential staff members. Some said: "No, I am not willing to do that, I will go to Korea instead." Others said to work for the conference would be a good opportunity to participate in the "atmosphere" of the internal events even if on the periphery. Some asked if they could do both.
My situation was that I had to hear everybody’s opinion or feeling about the internal events versus the public work of IIFWP. Some staff members were eventually confirmed, but most of them had to wait until the very end. Some who were confirmed were then removed. It was a very hard job to perform. I had to hear each person’s personal situation or personal concerns. In other words, once I made up my own mind that the events at Chung Pyung Lake would pass me by, and that I was going to work only for the conference—in short, to do my mission—then, when each person came with their own unique personal situation about why they remained in a quandary, I experienced the fence sitting and in many cases the inability to simply accept the mission and not worry about their own situation. Please understand what I am saying. I do not want to pass judgment on others, but from the place I sat, based on this rule of placing the public good above all else, I could see those who were conflicted and could not think straight about what to do. They were torn between their sense of doing what was right for their spiritual lives—that is attending and participating at Chung Pyung Lake—or doing the public work, which eventually become a very clear direction from Rev. Kwak: not go to Chung Pyung Lake because the staff members were needed to stay and care for the guests.
From my position, having settled this, it was clear to me what was the "public good". That is, what was the priority and what was secondary. My sight grew clearer and clearer, I understood serving the guests was clearly the priority, and going to Chung Pyung Lake was secondary. Thus, I could understand more of what True Father was saying: When you place the "public good" ahead of all else, then it becomes clear what you need to do. You get it. When you have no baggage or issues, or you are not caught up in any personal situation, then the right and wrong are clear—the order becomes clear.
This all took place prior to the event itself. However, the situation became even clearer later on when True Father directed that the guests should attend the Chung Pyung Lake event itself. Thus, staff, who had made the supreme sacrifice to work on the conference and not worry about their own situation, were now in a position to actually have it both ways—that is, to participate in the ceremony and take care of the guests. This looked like a truly blessed situation, but that was not the case. Yes, it was true that we received the direction to bring the guests to Chung Pyung Lake…We had to wake them up at 3 AM, load them on a bus in the cold of night, and send them out to the Korean country side to what? To a ceremony? A birthday celebration? A church event? These were government ministers, former and current heads of state, very high level guests were in attendance. They were to attend, but not just as spectators, as participants! They were to wear white robes and bow in front of True Parents! We had to convince them to come, and then make it happen in reality. That is, by waking up very early, preparing food and drinks for them, getting them aboard a bus, and preparing on the Chung Pyung Lake side to receive them in an appropriate fashion. Let me ask you a question: Do you think that Chung Pyung Lake is an easy environment for those over 60 years old, or those who have never been there before, or those who are not our members? Do you think that seeing piles of luggage and wall-to-wall people would be a good sight to see? Would it make a good impression? The story of how the Chung Pyung Lake side was prepared for their arrival is a long one indeed filled with many challenges and heroic tales! I hope someone tells that story in print for you to read someday. It’s well worth noting.
In my role as the facilitator or the conference planner, I am responsible for making things happen in reality. I must detail the plan, so that all bases are covered and all dimensions of the work are in place. Once again, as was the case prior to the conference itself, I had to deal with the situation of staff members. In this case, I had to make a plan that served the "public good" and was the very best plan for the action that was needed. This included sending staff to Chung Pyung Lake as well as keeping staff back at the hotel to handle other dimensions of our event. For example, after the Chung Pyung Lake morning activities, there was also a public celebration of the True Parents’ Birthdays at Jamsil Gymnasium. In addition, there was also a 1,000 person closing and celebration banquet planned for the same evening. In addition to all of this, we still had three Nobel peace prize laureates to take care of who were not going to attend the Chung Pyung Lake event because they were speakers at the Jamsil event. Thus, my role was to consider the larger reality and identify carefully the staff who needed to go and those who needed to stay.
As in the case prior to the event itself, I myself had to be clear on my own role and my own personal desire. I once again determined that I would remain at my post without regard for any personal desire or consideration and simply do my "mission". Once this was clear, I could then deal with each person and their role. At first it seemed like a hard task, because many individual staff members approached me with stories of why they had to attend the Chung Pyung Lake event, or that God spoke directly to them telling they had to be there. Or, that they were indispensable in their relationship with this or that person and thus they had to go. No one came up to me and said I need to stay back! Well, I started by thinking: What if there were no personal preferences? How would I staff this day, based on that thought? I went through my staff list dispassionately and reviewed the activities and tasks needed for that day and the departments and their respective roles. From this, I made a plan for each staff member.
My plan did not match many of the staff members’ personal preferences. In some cases, this was not easy to digest, in others they accepted understanding that their sacrifice was for the whole purpose. There was a small group of staff that, despite my plan and reasoning, decided that their idea was better and did not follow my plan. These staff members caused a great deal of trouble that day with certain key areas not being covered. For example, the staff members who were supposed to lead the VIP’s to Jamsil decided to go to Chung Pyung Lake instead. When it came time to escort those guests from the Hotel to the Gymnasium those of us who stayed back could not find all the guests. We did not have a guide to go with them; we did not have an advance team on site to greet them and bring them back stage and onto the platform. With this crisis, one key staff who was in charge of the overall transportation realized that, even if other areas suffered, someone must go with these VIP’s, if they were to make it at all to the gymnasium. Consequently, he went with them and guided them to their location. However, their arrival turned out to be so late, they arrived at the last minute before the first one was supposed to be introduced. With the transportation coordinator out of his role, I had to step in and cover, thereby leaving the overall coordination uncovered.
Things were not smooth, and much of our plan was lost as we ad-libbed throughout the transportation period to and from the venue. The public good is the deciding line or factor. True Father said clearly, when your conscience is clear, when you have only the public good in mind, then everything becomes clear, what is first, second, and so forth. You know what you need to do. Unfortunately not everyone is there yet, and thus we need to compensate for one another as we collectively work on reaching the goal of total selflessness where our only concern is for the public good.
As it was, those of us who did stay behind to handle the many related duties of that day, tuned in via the Internet to the ceremony taking place at Chung Pyung Lake. We moved some desks in our office and placed white tablecloths on the floor. Later, we all put tablecloths over our shoulders, using them as holy robes, while we participated simultaneously with the event unfolding at Chung Pyung Lake. This, itself, was a very meaningful and deep experience.
What have I learned from this experience? Following the break-in at our office, I found myself in a crisis of faith and lacked clarity of purpose. My heart and mind were in turmoil. As I stated earlier, at that time, I felt completely lost in all aspects of my life. I felt utterly alone and couldn’t find a clear direction or purpose in my life. In a way, my particular situation is not too important, as we all experience certain crossing points in our life of faith, what is important is that once the call came for the God and World Peace conference, I found a God-given opportunity for revival. I determined once again to follow True Father’s advice and live my life thinking first of the public good, I found clarity and my faith returned.
At then end of the conference, I was thinking over the events that had transpired over the past few months and then I remembered True Father’s words to me and stopped for a moment and said, this is what he was talking about all along. It was not "strategy", or a "check list", or a "system," it was a state of mental freedom, which came only when one was unburdened by their own personal desires or ambitions or agendas, and when the accomplishment of the "public good" was all that was at stake. Such a state was very hard for me to come by, but I felt that for at least those days in Seoul during this event, I could come to a point of being clear and being "public minded for the sake of God’s Will." Thus, I could exert leadership, confidence, and direction to those under my command.
Taken as a whole, the events of last year that lead up to the VIP conference and the event itself, all seem to have been a course designed to help me realize once again the foundation of my faith, deepen my commitment, and recognize that true strength and comfort come only through the words of True Father. The heart of the matter is this: Only through the following of True Father’s advice given to me those many years ago, was I able to "save" myself. I was lost, longing for compassion and understanding from those around me—my superiors, my coworkers, my family, etc. However, my salvation was not to be found in the people around me; it was to be found in that moment of clarity, when I was totally living for the sake of the public good. There is clarity in that state of mind, there is purpose, and, for me, there was salvation.
I count my experience over the past year as one of the most precious experiences of my whole life and a sort of completion of those words spoken to me over 15 years ago. True Father’s guidance is profound, even one sentence, sometimes even one word, can change our life! True Father’s words breathe life into the lifeless. His wisdom is keen; his sight is clear. In my case, this is substantiated by the fact that something he said to me 15 years ago could have such a profound effect upon my life today. Father’s words are very powerful. Now, in this hour, after True Father’s long dark course, our entire movement is being called to the final showdown, the final hurdle. We must once again re-new our strength and re-new our faith. Just as in 1987, when True Father knew the time was right to act and founded the AFC, we have entered a providential time period where many new and exciting challenges lie ahead for those who can meet them with their absolute faith, love, and obedience.
I believe the words Father spoke to me during that brief precious moment in time 15 years ago are for all of us—to help us along our way, in terms of learning how to live according to the Principle and after the pattern of True Father’s own life-style. For me, these words remain the greatest treasure and most precious gift from my True Parents for my life now and into the future. I share them now in hopes that, during this providentially critical time, others can find life changing inspiration in them as well.
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