Unification News for December 2000
Everyday Workshop: A North American Memberís Odyssey through South America with God and True Parents
We were with True Parents in their everyday life teaching and living Godís everyday workshop. We departed the White Plains airport in the Challenger jet at 6 p.m. on November 28 and slept through the night on its soft but narrow seats, losing two hours in the proposition. Around 6:20 a.m. we touched down in the western Brazilian city of Campo Grande. It took us about an hour to wade through customs, with an oh-so-friendly official behind the plastic shield hunting and pecking at his computer. It was raining, but a decent restroom afforded us all a chance to put our faces on.
Once cleared we boarded another jet, the "Pilatus" PC 12, made in Switzerland. It seats eight squeezed tightly, which we always do. It is the SUV of the air travel world, able to land, the pilot Chris told us, on a runway as short as 140 meters. The next day, we needed just that. From Campo Grande we flew on to Jardim and drove to New Hope East Garden. There we were greeted by nothing less than a John Phillip Sousa-style marching band, decked out in bright yellow and white uniforms. It was made up of students at our New Hope School. They played "When the Saints Come Marching In" as we, well, marched in. A crowd of about 300 gathered with the band to welcome us. The school now educates through eighth grade and has 200 students.
True Parents went upstairs into the new quarters. I looked for the cute little hacienda that once was there, in vain. Itís gone, as gone as the old buildings at Chung Pyung Lake. Whatís there now is much better. Upstairs, we kyung baeíd, enjoyed some fruit, and Father spoke.
Father spoke to about 15 leaders at first, in the new house. Then he invited in the other members who were waiting, about 50 or so. He spoke at length to the Japanese missionaries. One couple is doing well in their town, gaining 120 members. The husband is a medical doctor.
On our way out after lunch, we drove to the new athletic building. Father and Mother cut the ribbon for the structure, and signed a soccer ball and basketball. As we left, I saw something else new, a small refreshment stand across the street, called "Bela Batock." It was wonderful to be back at NHEG, even if just for a couple of hours.
We boarded the plane and flew over the new land of 1.2 million hectares, about which Father was speaking. It is a rectangular property, approximately 60 km high and 140 km wide (about 3,382 square miles by my calculation), centering on a community named Puerto Casado, which has a population of 3,500, a post office and police station. It is entirely in Paraguay, in the Chaco province of Alto Paraguay (upper Paraguay).
We departed the Jardim "airport" at 2 p.m. to do an aerial reconnaissance of the new land. It is forested heavily, with large areas cleared of trees for the sake of cattle grazing, although no cattle were visible. We flew low over the land, mostly flat but with a few clusters of hills scattered about. Along the river are concrete plants, quite visible because of their smoke. After the tour we touched down in Salobra. The party checked into the hotel that we own there, freshened up and drove up to True Parentsí house on the hill.
The land between the hotel and house has been bulldozed almost completely, with perhaps forty trees left standing. The vision is to build a nature park, with a variety of fauna and flora, water works, trails and so forth. We sat next to the swing, near the swimming pool. From that house, one has a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside, unobstructed for hundreds of miles in any direction. Mr. Koo Bae Park showed Father an approach book for a business group. The book emphasized ecology and featured a smiling local in a hard-hat with the slogan in English "a new concept of work." It also had a map of South America with lines centering on Jardim. A port in Montevideo is envisioned connecting the continentís vast inland to world markets. More on that later.
I reflected to myself, while in that little airplane, that our True Parents could be flying in their private jet to Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, Rio, Paris, Milan and so forth, living a high life. They deserve it and probably would do the world some good that way too. But here they are, flying around the wilderness of South America, trying to create a nation out of the rejected land, that can be offered to God, trying to feed the world from a sources that God can bless and befitting the Garden of Eden, with youth of all nations participating selflessly. The heart of a dreamer. The legendary Don Quixote comes to mind. It is too touching to deny; Fatherís heart is too pure for words.
The Salobra meeting moved on to a long report about soccer teams we have purchased in Jardim (called "Cine," pronounced "seenay") and Sao Paulo (called "Sorocaba"). The Sao Paulo team sold a player for $20 million (!), and will use the money to build a stadium. The team, I am told, has their own hotel and medical center, plus a scientific system for scoring goals and defending. Father was inspired by Rev. Heung Tae Kimís report, encouraging him to reach the top within three years.
He asked each person present to donate $100,000 to the team, or if that is difficult, to send $3,000 a month. He chose a bus that he would purchase for the team. He called for the Washington Times Foundation to create a North America-South America soccer association. Rev. Kim also reported that one of the members of the House of Representatives of Brazil attended Fatherís speech at the UN and following that at East Garden. The man, who is expected to be the speaker of the house next year, gave an official report about the Assembly 2000 to the entire congress of Brazil, including Fatherís proposals.
And I was thinking, the main thing I want my children to know is who True Parents are. I want them to understand the value of True Parents in their life. Here I am, I said to myself, sitting for hours without understanding whatís being said, just because Father is who he is. Thatís all: he is who he is. I am sitting in a small Korean group with Father the same way I did the first time I had the chance, in the early 90s at East Garden, when Mrs. Gil Ja Sa Eu beckoned me into the dining room where I could sit with her on the floor. It is Fatherís love for the rejected land. It is Father calling for HDH at 9:45 p.m., with himself the first to nod off, just because he is who he is and he has to do it. He is duty-bound to God, and he himself is usuallyóno, alwaysóthe first to suffer.
It turned out that we did HDH in the evening because there was a tight schedule in the morning. I guess thatís a heavenly law, now: if youíre morning schedule is too busy, then do HDH the evening before. I was wondering what the busy schedule was going to be. After resting at the hotel, we returned to the house at about 5:30 a.m. The sky was just getting light. A few minutes before 6 a.m., True Parents walked out. There we sat by the swimming pool, to watch the sunrise. This was our pressing schedule. Beautiful.
After a quick breakfast we drove to the "airport" and took off at around 7:30 a.m. There is no waiting in these airports. In fact, there is no ticket counter, lobby, door, gate, metal detector, PA system Ö nothing, nada. It is just a small nondescript building and an empty field. But where we were going to that day made the Salobra landing site seem like JFK. We were heading for a place called Leda (sounds like "leather" as spoken in the Bronx). We circled Leda for a few minutes, at first, planning just a fly-over. But the two pilots, Chris and Alexander, are young and adventurous Brazilians. Father discussed with them several sorties, and it was inspiring to have Chris say, "Sure, why not? We can do it!" So there we were, splattering down in a cow pasture. Yeah, landing is great, I thought. What about taking off?
My worries were obliterated by the spirit of the welcoming party. From the other side of the fence came Rev. Kamiyama, Mr. Iino, Mr. Nakata, and about a dozen more National Messiahs, followed by 80 men in jeans and tee-shirts and a Paraguayan police officer. They were jubilant as they escorted us to a building they have just completed: True Parentsí house.
A year ago, there was nothing there but river, grass and birds. Now there are a dozen buildings in varied states of completion. There is a water purification system and an electrical generator, televisions, air-conditioners, leather sofas, SUVs, refrigerators, the whole nine yards. Everything is shipped up the river. There is a special house for the friendly policeman dispatched from the nearest city, about 100 km away. But most important is that in Leda we have a church.
No, there is no church building, yet. It is half constructed, built to hold about 300. But there are members. The young workers, who were referred to as "gypsies," have become Unification Church members. They study Divine Principle and our traditions. They bowed to True Parents and listened to Fatherís hour and a half speech. When we departed, they shouted mansei together with us. And they are working hard to build the Kingdom of Heaven there on that little corner of the earth. Thatís it; thatís what it takes to be a member. The people like us, Mr. Nakata told me. They feel abandoned by the government, being so far away. The Messiah went to find them.
Father spoke to them about the unity of the human race beyond nation, about True Family Values, and especially about the value of the sexual organs. These are universal solvents. Here was a man who recently addressed the UN, relishing this chance to talk to a group of gypsies. They were sunburned, many without socks, but he saw in them a universal humanity.
After a tour of every nook and cranny of Leda, which took about five minutes, we went back to the airplane and made the take off without a problem. Our destination was another cosmopolitan pleasure-spot: Puerto Olimpo. It is the kind of place in which the airport "terminal"óand terminal does seem like an appropriate word hereóhas the letters scrunched up at the end to fit. You know, like the birthday cards your kids write for you. We drove down the generous boulevards to our center. National Messiahs built it a few years ago, so I had seen pictures but never had been there. There are two structures with a small water tower, just on the other side of the riverís embankment. There is a row of toilets and showers separated by corrugated metal. Next to it is a room filled with large tables with blankets on them and a doctorís office style charts of the human anatomy covering the walls. Little children play at cleaning up, and sheep graze nearby. The omnipresent Japanese wife served us the inevitable and refreshing fruit at a small meeting table.
Soon the report was over and Father said, "time to eat." We clambered up and down the embankment to board a good-go. True Parents walked on a rickety ladder set horizontally, as there is no dock there. Our Japanese staff Futoshi knelt under the ladder, supporting the ladder, with Father on it, with his back. It was a crisp day with a bright blue sky as we headed up river about 10 minutes to the fabled Hotel Americano. It is a special place, truly. Carved out of the outback on the riverside. In front is the river, probably 1/2 mile wide, with several vegetation rich sandbars running parallel to the shore. The hotel has a main building and a string of rooms connected by a boardwalk. Everything is on stilts, set back from the water by about 25 feet of lawn. Behind is another 25 feet of lawn and after that is eternity. Right now, we donít go into eternity. There are too many mosquitoes there.
Father called Mother to him and together they led a long prayer on the porch. Everyone was eaten up by mosquitoes, and Father said afterwards, "we must work harder than the mosquitoes." It was about 7:30 p.m. on November 30, 2000.
After dinner we gathered in True Parentsí dwelling to hear stories about soccer and meet the Cine coach, the National Messiah from Israel, Dieter. Father gave him advice about soccer, Rev. Peter Kim translated and Dieter nodded. We again did HDH the night before, reading a set of recent messages from Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Augustine and Socrates, given through Hoon Mo Nim (Hyo Nam Kim). The messages came on October 14, 2000, the day that Father declared that all the walls in spirit world are broken down. On that occasion, these individuals expressed their gratitude to True Parents.
The next morning we returned by boat to Puerto Olimpo, then by the PC-12 to Campo Grande and from there on the Challenger to Montevideo. We drove from the airport in to the Victoria Plaza Hotel, now the Radisson Victoria Plaza Hotel. It joined the Radisson chain a year ago, partly to meet the competition presented by a new Sheraton Hotel in Montevideo.
The discussion moved to hotels, and then to the passing of Mark Wilenchik, Managing Director of the New Yorker Hotel. Rev. Peter Kim reported in some detail about Markís seung hwa. Father said, "He went to the spirit world right after the national level blessing and registration. He didnít pick up any sins, so he is lucky."
We then drove to Punta del Este, settled into True Parentsí beautiful house, and were off on the most unusual fishing outing Iíve ever had. We drove to a beach and walked to a small encampment of ice chests, soccer balls, fishing gear, umbrellas and a sleeping bag. There we sat down, about 25 yards from the surf. In the distance there stood 33 fishing poles, planted in the sand, leaning toward the water. They were like sentinels, or like the great statues facing the sea on Easter Island.
I talked with Jorge, an Uruguayan brother who takes care of the poles, together with part-time help from an Argentinian, two Brazilians and a Paraguayan. Every December-January since 1996-97, Father has set these 33 poles and they stay up 24-7. Each has two hooks. They are fishing for corbino. Some days they catch ten, some days one, some days zero. We watch the poles. We are famous locally for our consistency. The only problem is surfers who demand that we pull some of the lines for them.
We sat on the beach until after dark. It was cold and windy, and some of us tried to get the people talking to Father to stop talking so that Father would decide to leave. They didnít stop; I think they knew that Father did not want to leave and so provided Father an excuse to stay, to listen to their reports. Finally Father said, letís go and we scurried off across the sand to the cars. All except for the brothers taking care of the poles.
Punta del Este, Saturday, December 2: HDH started at 5:20 a.m., and Father spoke at 6:30 a.m. We fished from a boat all day Saturday. We caught few fish until late in the afternoon, when everyone suddenly started catching. After fishing we returned to True Parentsí house.
Sunday, December 3, 2000 Pledge Service Punta del Este: We gathered, about 60 of us including local members, in the beautiful and simple prayer room at the Punta del Este house.
Father asked Dr. Yang to give his testimony for 15 minutes. He did so and it was received so well that Father granted him two more 15 minute periods, the third of which he turned into half an hour.
There were 800 scholars from 20 countries; it was the 27th world peace conference put on by PWPA. The theme was that the family is the core of the culture of peace. Our UN foundation is effective at a major UN branch office in Thailand. We used the UN conference center there for this conference. The Thai vice-minister of foreign affairs gave the keynote address; he is a former prime minister. They requested that Rev. Kwak give the second keynote speech. The IIFWP is comparable to the UN in the mind of these scholars. It is ironic that eight years ago, our members were jailed by the military government of Thailand, and still the court case is dragging on. This conference demonstrated our international eminence.
We broke for breakfast then went fishing until about 1:30 p.m. The group enjoyed the rest of the day shopping with True Parents and having dinner at a McDonaldís.
Monday, December 4 Punta del Este: After HDH, Father spoke. The day was very windy, so fishing was not possible. Instead, we traveled about fifty miles west of Punta del Este, to an area called la Paloma. We drove to a harbor. There is a police or military building there and a small industrial park. There is a long breakwater creating an inlet about half mile long and quarter mile wide. Inside there is dredging going on. There our True Parents took us out onto the breakwater. As we shared some sandwiches and apples in front of the crashing surf, Mr. Koo Bae Park reported about his progress researching Fatherís idea to create a major deepwater port there. For an hour or more the discussion continued, regarding transportation routes and so forth. The problem is that international trade connecting the world with the South American inland is hampered by the lack of any deepwater port on the continentís eastern coast. This means supertankers cannot dock; they have to anchor offshore and have their goods brought in by smaller boats.
I was informed that he South Americans have never been concerned about this. They have been self-sufficient. The impact is that South American exports are minimal. Father knows that for South America to succeed in the new millennium, it will have to open itself economically. Part of that means trade, to open the vast interior to the outside world. So Fatherís travels took him from the hinterlands of Paraguay to the Atlantic shores of Uruguay, where 66 hooks (the number of books in the Bible) from 33 poles (the number of nations in South America, Central America and the Caribbean) are cast into the sea. Father is being faithful to his covenant with God made in 1965, when most of us were buying brand new Mustangs.
Tuesday, December 5, 2000 Punta del Este: After HDH, Father spoke. We then heard Hoon Sook Nimís report, via fax, about the recent UBC tour of Geneva, London, Vienna, Budapest and Athens. It was a great success, overcoming some prejudice along with way. The British press labeled their arrival a "Moon Landing" in the headlines, but came around to honor them as equal if not superior to the Royal Ballet. Thus their work redounds to True Parents. Next year the UBC will perform at the Lincoln Center and in Washington, DC. The tour was undertaken without the necessary number of dancers, so the lead dancers were overtaxed. Hoon Sook Nim herself was suffering from an injury in last yearís tour that she has not had time to restore. Yet the stress on the lead dancers forced her to dance, with injections to relieve the pain.
We fished that day by 1:30 p.m., then lunched at home. Rev. and Mrs. Jung Og Yu arrived in the afternoon, along with Rev. Heung Tae Kim and Rev. Yoon from Jardim. They had meetings with Father for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, December 6, 2000 Punta del Este: After HDH, Father turned his attention to the Japanese graduates of UTS, class of í99. They have been studying Spanish since they arrived in Uruguay, and now Father decided to assign them to cities in Uruguay as their mission fields, to build up the church. Four of the twelve were with us, but all were assigned to a city by lottery.
Father then spoke of a Mrs. Park, a North Korean who in the 1940s received a revelation that she was the wife of God. Father tried to work with her and with her son-in-law, who was one of the wealthiest men in North Korea. But she failed. Father also talked about an ancestor of President Hyo Won Eu.
We had lunch in Punta del Este, then drove into Montevideo to have a tour of our new house, called "National Garden." We have been restoring it for 18 months. It is not really a house; it is a chateau, almost a castle, that could qualify for the logo of Disney World. The Argentineans built 150 years ago as their embassy to Uruguay. Argentina could not keep it up in recent years and it fell into decay and we bought it. Now it is almost finished and is truly a magnificent building on a large parcel of garden land at a busy intersection in the city, about 10 minutes from the Victoria Plaza hotel. It is worthy to be a presidential residence.
We had dinner at the Victoria Plaza, during which Father said that the businesses should support the church. He asked the business leaders if they tithed every Sunday. He fingered Mr. Shin, who said that he gives $100 into the plate every Sunday. Father said that not only he, but all his employees should do so.
We departed the hotel after 9 p.m., heading for the airport and back to New York. I hope the reader has benefited from this glimpse into the life of True Parents. My grasp is not strong or deep enough, and itís cornered by the limitation of language, but at least Iím holding on. Keep your hands on the plow.
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