The Words of the Okoda Family
Elaine Ward Okoda, born Elaine Ethel Ward on August 13, 1957, weighing in at 5 lbs., 8 oz. was the fourth child of Harcourt and Betty Ward.
She had two sisters, Carol and Janice, and a brother, Paul. In her early years, Mom and Dad did their best in training and instilling the values of life as they understood them to this lively, energetic little girl. Through her school years, she was a good student with many friends. In high school, she was on the track team, specializing in the 400 and 800 meter. Elaine loved the summers, the beach and swimming. She also took up skateboarding. She was a Girl Scout, progressing from Brownies to Girl Scouts to Juniors with Mom as one of her leaders. After high school, she attended Harcum Junior College. She was first string on the badminton team, and became Class President in her second year. She started studying guitar in high school and practiced continually, becoming quite accomplished. She continued to play until her illness.
She and several friends took two camping trips across the country. In Seattle, she and her friends were invited to a dinner and lecture by a member of the Unification Church there. And so began another phase of Elaine's life, during which she continued to accomplish many things and work very hard for what she believed in. On September 1, 1978, Elaine joined the Unification Church in Seattle, Washington.
In December of 1979, she came to New York with Mr. Neil Salonen's International One World Crusade team, the IOWC. In 1980 the IOWC became part of New York Church.
On July 1, 1982, Elaine Ward was blessed in marriage with Mr. Yutaka Okoda in a ceremony with 2,000 couples in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In January, 1983, she joined a new IOWC mobilization under Reverend and Mrs. Reiner Vincenz. Rev. and Mrs. Vincenz, now in Germany, sent the following remembrance:
Before Elaine joined in January 1983 the new IOWC mobilization, she had been working in the Headquarters fundraising team. During that time, she prayed a lot for a change of mission to do witnessing. Then Dr. Mose Durst allowed her to join our team.
Elaine was a very gifted sister, representing America in a very outstanding way. She did all the secretarial work, public relations, fundraising, and witnessing. She supported and served with a very sacrificial heart, always showing much love for God and True Parents. Starting with the IOWC in 1983 in Los Angeles, Elaine gave her best through crusading in 18 cities.
In the spring of 1984 in Chicago, Elaine was called to New York to work in Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak's office. We always stayed in close contact, and of course we were shocked when we first heard about Elaine's illness. Now her suffering has come to an end and we wish her much happiness in her new life.
In 1984, Elaine became Rev. Kwak's personal secretary. She had a short break from that hectic schedule when she went to the IOWC mobilization in Ohio for four months. When she returned, she became Mr. Shunichiro Yoshida's secretary. During the latter part of her stay in this mission, she was able to accompany Rev. Kwak on a trip to Korea as his personal assistant.
In 1987, she helped run the office at the 16th ICUS, the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1988, she joined the staff of the International Cultural Foundation where she worked until she was no longer able to because of her illness. While she was there, in November of 1988, she worked on the staff of the 17th ICUS in Los Angeles taking care of True Parents' rooms under the direction of Mrs. Mija Baughman.
Rev. Kwak expressed these words about Elaine:
Elaine truly gave of herself and sacrificed for the sake of her mission. Her warm spirit was and still is an inspiration to those who worked with her.
The spiritual world is the world of true love, which is the origin of God and True Parents. Even though her external situation was so difficult, she kept this vertical true love relationship with God and True Parents so purely. This is so amazing. She continued to serve God's providence during her sickness. This example of filial piety is very precious to Heavenly Father and True Parents.
True Father shared, "In our way of life and tradition, spirit world and physical world are one, and by our living up to that kind of ideal, we bring the two worlds together into one." I pray that Elaine can help bring the two worlds into grater harmony.