Unification News for May 1998

South American Providence - New Hope Farm in Brazil

by Paul Carrie

On returning to Europe from New Hope Farm in Brazil, I came to realize that not so many members know much about the farm, or how it is developing and what we are doing in the surrounding area.

I joined the church as a full-time member in England in May 1994. From the very first day, I remember struggling not only with fundraising but with just about everything else concerning church life. As the first year was drawing to an end, I found myself reflecting on what had been my contribution toward the development of the church. My answer was, "Close to zero, or even less." I thought of becoming a part-time member again; but before doing so, I shared some of my thoughts with one Japanese sister, Akiko.

We set up a 40-day prayer condition between us. The two points of the prayer were: 1) to see things from Godís viewpoint, and 2) to meet True Parents. Halfway through this condition, my national leader (then Mark Brann) asked if I would like to go to South America to help with a new project Father had started.

I finally concluded the final day of that condition on my own at over 10,000 meters up in the sky. I remember looking out the window and seeing the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, thinking what an incredible, beautiful world it is and how mankind had messed it up so much. I was wondering if we could ever put it right again.

I felt the first part of my prayer condition had been answered. It was as if God had literally put me up in the heavens to see the world from His viewpoint. I felt the joy of creation, the sadness of the mess the fall had brought about, and the hope that one day things will be restored back to what they should be. On arriving at the farm the following day, the second part of my prayer was answered (again literally): I met True Parents for the first time! I will share more about this later.

I think that many people imagine the New Hope Farm to be a place in the middle of the Brazilian outback with a handful of members from around the world. They think that we are all living in tents, plowing the fields by hand, using buckets and old paint pots to irrigate the crops with water taken from the river. If I can help your imagination along a little, maybe you can see a handful of us digging with pickaxes and shovels four or five meters into the ground looking for drinking water, or a number of us going to the forest area to drag out bamboo, stripping down and making bamboo houses to replace the tents and all this activity taking place while fighting with mosquitoes under the subtropical sun. If this is your imagination of the farm, it is not wrong-just 18 months out of date. We have come a long way since then. Moving out of crowded storm-battered tents into bamboo houses and the coming of hot showers were only the beginning.

I think a better name at present for the New Hope Farm would be "New Hope Construction Site." By the end of this year we will have enough houses completed to sleep 600 or more people comfortably, a hall which can hold over 3,000 people or more, a two-story restaurant, a university complex consisting of six buildings-each with six large classrooms. The university will be connected to the University of Bridgeport in North America. In addition to this, there has been extensive roadwork as well as the current construction of a new bridge, which will make the farm more accessible.

Alongside these projects, the landscaping on the farm is now beginning to take shape: the area put aside for a large sports-field is being leveled, a large lake which we are digging out with heavy machinery is close to being completed and a number of further lakes are planned. These lakes will not only be used for landscaping, but also for fish farming. In addition to this, there is a large-scale tree-planting project which is still in progress.

Living on the farm there are about 300 outside workers from the surrounding towns who are helping to realize this project. As each week passes, more and more of them are becoming members (pre-blessed couples). Who knows-by the end of the construction work it may be possible to say that all the work was done by members!

I found Brazilians I came to know both on the farm as well as in the local town of Jardim to be proud people, not rich (some very poor) but with generous hearts. The language difference was no barrier in making new friendships.

Father is not only investing on the farm itself but in the whole of the surrounding region (Matto Grosso do Sul). Father has already given one ambulance to each of the 33 towns in the area. A few of these towns did not accept the ambulance, and a few of those who had accepted took the Unification sign and Rev. Moonís name off the ambulances. This backfired, because when the people see an ambulance, regardless of whether it has a Unification sign or not, they speak of it as being an ambulance given by Rev. Moon, knowing that the authorities had taken the Unification markings off. This actually leaves the impression that we have given more ambulances than we actually have.

The UTS students who graduated from Barrytown last year were sent to pioneer the 33 towns around the farm. Part of their mission is to acquire land to build schools within these towns, which will be connected to the university currently under construction on the farm. The local authorities have already donated much of the necessary land. As well as UTS graduates being involved in their own mission towns, they are also responsible, with the help of other members, to build one of the university buildings on the farm.

Just recently, Father has sent a medical team comprised of Koreans, Japanese and American members to give free treatment within these 33 towns. This team also spent two days on the farm treating members as well as the many outside workers.

Within the region surrounding the farm, an incredible amount of land is being bought. On top of this, Father is personally researching both the land and rivers in South America, trying to find ways to develop and bring prosperity to the South American countries as well as to find solutions to end world hunger.

All this is taking place under the eyes of the media. At the farm we have had a number of newspaper and TV crews visit. Not all their reports have been good, but as the farm is developing more and more it is becoming harder not only for the media, but also for those who have been opposing the project from the beginning, to speak against us. The rumors are losing ground as ordinary people come to perceive a different reality. The last TV crew that was on the farm gave very good coverage on national TV during peak-time viewing. They not only reported on the farm and the surrounding projects, but also showed Father speaking at conferences alongside former President Bush.

My own experiences on the farm

In the time that I have spent on the farm, I have been involved in ploughing the fields, digging for water, building bamboo houses, working with cows, driving trucks, helping with the building of the university and creating a lake. I also had the chance to see the Little Angels performing while on their South American tour. But what I remember most are the times that True Parents have been on the farm. I remember standing alongside other members in the early hours of the morning holding a stick with a flame to give light as True parents crossed the river, and sitting at the feet of True Parents after Pledge Service or late in the evening. I remember spending time as a driver at Salobra Hotel, where True Parents have been fishing, working at night on the construction while Father walked around checking the progress, or the Holy Day spent with True Parents at their house in Salobra. I knew these moments to be precious and yet each time I was close to True Parents, I began to feel more and more that as our time comes to an end in this world, it will not be the time we spent with True Parents that counts, but what we did for them.

During the last two weeks of my time on the farm, my wife came to visit. I am not sure whether she came to see the farm or to bring me back to Europe (a little of both, I hoped). While showing her around, I felt this project to be in good hands (those of Pres. Yoon Sam Kim, to be exact). I trust that it will continue to grow and that one day in the not-too-distant future it will become too big to be called just a farm.

On flying back over the same Atlantic Ocean about two and a half years after I first flew to Brazil, some of my final thoughts focused on Thomas in the Bible. He could not believe in the resurrected Christ until he saw proof. A week later Jesus appeared to Thomas showing him the proof of who he was, saying to Thomas: "You believe because you have seen; blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen." I think I know something of what Thomas must have felt at these words.

My lasting impression of True Parents is that not only is it true that they sleep very little and work incredibly hard, but the longing the members have in wanting to meet and share with True Parents is surpassed by the longing that True Parents have to see and be with the members, particularly those they have not yet met.

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