Hyojeong Family Award Recipients Share Testimonies
In True Parents’ birthday celebration in Korea last month, four couples received the Hyojeong Family Award for a lifetime of dedication to the mission of God and True Parents. Two of the couples–Michael and Marianne Irwin of California and Dan and Susan Fefferman of Maryland–share their humble testimonies, speaking to the heart of True Parents and explaining what has fueled a fire that still burns after so many years.
Michael and Marianne Irwin
One morning we were attending a meeting after Mother’s speech on a speaking tour. She seemed very serious before the meeting started. Soon someone came out and gave her a message. Immediately, her expression changed so much and she began sharing with us the content of the message: True Father had been in for a surgery and had come out of it well. She shared deeply with us after our local children’s choir sang. It was really a family meeting. She felt the love expressed by the children’s songs and shared deeply about True Parent’s need to establish God’s sovereignty. Again and again, every time that we have had the opportunity to be in a more personal setting like this with True Mother, she has shown us how deeply True Parents were united with one goal and one heart.
In 2012, a short while after the time of True Father’s ascension [to the spirit world] and once we began to settle down from our distraught state, several members asked our opinion about who would be leading our movement from now on. For both Marianne and I there was no need to discuss this point with each other. It was very clear that our True Mother would decide how things moved forward as she, by herself, represented the eternal True Parents. When we heard that we would be receiving an award we were taken aback. There was no real reason that we should receive this award, as so many others have more exemplary families. Our results have been so small for True Parents through the years. We felt more like survivors than flourishers.
Upon arriving in Korea [to receive the reward] and talking with the other recipients, we saw that the feelings were mutual. One sister shared her feeling that True Mother was looking for some couples to represent those couples who were following True Mother with the same heart that we had for True Father. So we felt that we could accept the award with a grateful heart, representing all those who had maintained their faith.
At the same time though, we felt that True Mother was encouraging us to reach for a higher standard and to re-energize our families to actually become a family of Hyo Jeong, a family with a filial heart to heaven. Many times in the past, True Father made proclamations which were so hard to understand at the time. He declared victories where we couldn’t see substantial results. But it was up to us and the next generations to realize the substance of the these proclamations.
Wasn’t it in 1989 that True Father proclaimed to our worldwide community the era of Tribal Messiahship? We have been so busy in our lives and in providential work that we had seen this as just something else in the providential spectrum of things to be fulfilled. In reflection, we have fallen so short of True Parents’ hope for us in this area. True Parents need the substantial realization of Tribal Messiahship!
True Mother has gently been reminding us, as only a heavenly mother can, of how important this condition is both for the providence and for our own families. Our couple feels stimulated to redouble our heartfelt efforts in this area and to strive to someday be worthy of receiving this great honor that has been bestowed upon us.
Dan and Susan Fefferman
The first time I saw True Mother was in January in 1972. She was walking along the hallway and I was up on a very tall ladder putting the finishing touches on a mural. One might not have noticed me as I was way up near the high ceiling, quietly doing my work. As True Mother came back along the hallway, she grabbed up her skirts and began to run. She must have thought that she could run unnoticed because there was no one to see her, judge her, or frown at her. She was free for a few minutes and she gave a little hop as she ran out of my sight.
From then on, I only saw the official True Mother: dressed perfectly, hair perfect, posture perfect. She was always listening to True Father, always giving him support and love. She was there every step of the way, seldom showing how tired she was. She must have been exhausted after giving birth so many times and trying to keep up with True Father. Yet she always had kindness and love to give. I never forgot that image of the young woman that I saw when no one else was looking. How often did she feel free during those early years?
Mother was isolated and alone with only her own mother for company. Then she lost her child. How miserable it is for a mother to have empty arms after nine grueling months and the difficulties of giving birth? It is enough to crush one’s spirit. I remember when I had my first child, Donsu. I was shaking after 18 hours of a difficult birth. I asked the nurse to bring my baby to me in the middle of the night. I knew instinctively that holding my beautiful baby would heal the trauma of giving birth, and she did heal me. Then I remembered that True Mother had empty arms and no one to heal her after the loss of her baby. I cried for her sacrifice and pain and knew her offering was made for women like me who found giving birth difficult. As I held my darling, I thanked True Mother and was grateful that she had several children to hold to comfort her, even if it was just for a while.
Father and Mother went through countless suffering and sacrifice as a couple, but we always received their love. True Parents lost a daughter and three sons, as well as two grandchildren. I was there on the day that Heung Jin Nim’s coffin came in at his Seonghwa ceremony. How could she [True Mother] keep it together? If I lost a child or a grandchild I would be crushed deeply. I doubt that I could keep loving and serving as I do now. Yet True Mother continues to love and to give and to be what is needed now. Our True Mother, having the strength, purity and determination that attracted Father to her in the beginning, stepped up amid a storm of opposition and dedicated herself to continuing the work of True Father until the time of her own passing into the spirit world.
For Dan and me, we try to keep giving, forgetting, and giving more. (The forgetting is getting easier.) But, I think beyond my missionary work 43 years ago in Iran and 4 months spent in Turkey, it is the two songs Dan wrote for True Mother that keeps him in her heart. She wanted Dan and I to be included, so she arranged for the songs “She Stepped Up” and “Begotten Daughter” to be sung in church. They were written from the heart of a filial son who wishes to support and comfort his mother.