Day 11: Q&A with the Balcombs

Today Dr. Michael and Fumiko Balcomb stopped by and shared their testimonies, followed by an encouraging and enlightening Q&A session.

Thank you Dr. Michael Balcomb and Fumiko for sharing your testimonies and for the great Q&A session.

Posted by Global Top Gun on Thursday, February 11, 2016

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Faces of Top Gun

My Loving Mothers – by Nicole Thurner

 
Upon arriving here it’s been clear to me that I want to connect to True Mother, so I’ve made it my goal to build a deeper relationship with True Parents and with God. Over the course of the first week being at Cheong Pyeong I realized so many things. I’ve met many new people from all over the world and I tried to offer several conditions in order to prepare my heart for this week. 
 
Every day something new happened and we received many blessings already, from going out together to Seoul with In Sup Park to receiving our clan T-shirts and eating great food, and all of this came from God and True Mother. I came to see True Mother’s heart and how she is constantly sending us all her love and messages of encouragement. Several speakers have shared with us her direct message of love for us. Slowly, bit by bit, I’ve come to believe that she truly does. 
 
For me, a mother figure has always been strong, straightforward, and would point out all the things I should change and improve about myself. I would agree with my own mother on many points but sometimes I was too arrogant to accept such blunt guidance. I’m really making efforts to understand True Mother and I’m starting to love her as her daughter and trying to understand True Mother’s sacrificial heart behind all her messages. 
 
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One year ago I had a beautiful experience at the Tree of Blessing on the mountain here in Cheong Pyeong. I was praying to God and True Parents and the snow was softly falling down from the sky. I said to God, “I love to see the beautiful snow falling. Thank you!” and then it snowed harder and I could feel God’s love. 
 
Being together with my Global Top Gun family here has made me really happy. I realized that all of them remind me of people and friends I have met before in my life. Before finding out the members of my Global Top Gun family, I asked God to put me in a group that can help me and who I can help. I realized God put me with people who I could work through to restore relationships I have with those back home. My family members are like mirrors of them, so it was easy to love them and through that, forgive the people in my life. God gave me the chance to restore certain relationships in my life within a safe, comforting environment. I am really grateful for this guidance from heaven. 
 
God and the angels here listened to my daily prayers of connecting to True Mother’s heart, spoken as I walked up the mountain. They helped me realize that the only block towards my goal was my lack of acceptance of and respect towards my own mother’s heart. The motto for the first week of Global Top Gun is: make a substantial relationship with True Parents. I felt God opened the door in my heart to my own mother and taught me to be grateful, repentful, understanding and respectful and most of all, full of love for her. When Mrs. Song visited and gave her testimony, I started to cry a lot. She described the hardships she had gone through and in that moment, I just thought of my own mother, how much she gave up, how sincere and pure she is and I felt she didn’t deserve to suffer so much in her life. I then thought of True Mother and felt I had made a substantial step towards connecting with her through my tears and love for my own mother. 
 
When our relationship with our own parents is emotionally blocked, it makes it difficult to relate to and build some sort of heartistic relationship with True Parents. I am humbled now before my precious, dedicated, sacrificial and loving Mothers.

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Faces of Top Gun

Meet the Miller’s. I know, the apostrophe ‘S’ is not exactly right, but that’s my Global Top Gun family! We’re such misfits. The first two days of the workshop, I took a look at my family and thought, could this be more odd? Huge age gaps and a range of personalities. It took us four days to attempt eating one meal together! Sound like a family you might know?

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Hi, I’m Shinyoung. I’m a picky person. Trying to get me excited about anything is not a very easy task.  I tend not to show what I’m feeling or going through on my face. You’d have to be extremely perceptive to know what is going on in my heart.  So when I say I’m excited about this year’s Global Top Gun workshop, understand my picky heart has been moved. 
 
Two weeks before I decided to come on as Media Staff on behalf of FFWPU USA’s National Ministry Team, a sense of something great would happen bubbled up inside me.  I don’t know what caused it; I know only that it was this feeling that confirmed in me the decision to be part of Global Top Gun. Again.  That’s right, I was here last August.  It’s not easy deciding to come to Global Top Gun again once you’ve done it. It’s literally a training ground. An in-your-face, every moment of every day struggle with yourself to get up off the hard floor that is your sleeping ground and make it through a 17-hour day of lectures, praying, spiritual conditioning and mostly, learning how to relate to a room full of diverse personalities and levels of maturity. I’m thirty-eight years old, so having to deal with a nineteen year-old who happened to end up in my family grouping is just not something I volunteer to do, ever!  So, like I said, a daily moment-to-moment training ground. 
 
I’m happy to be here, though other participants will say, “I can’t tell if Shinyoung is a Grumpy Monkey today, or just exhausted.”  I won’t always participate in the daily sing-a-song-before-lectures gaieties and you’ll hear me say often, “I miss my bed.” But I’m not sorry I came. 
 
My happiness stems from the sheer fact that there are people from about 24 countries spending all day with each other for 21 days.  
 
That’s amazing. Think about it.  
 
Did you think about it? Really? 
 
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I’m not talking about 24 ethnicities like you’d see in large cities such as Boston and New York, mingling about all speaking English and getting along with a sense of common etiquettes and cultural mannerisms.  I’m talking, English is a second language for fifteen percent of us, forty percent of us are from African countries who were born into this faith, twenty percent are from European countries, a handful of us are Korean- or Japanese-born and the rest of us are North American.  How often does this happen anywhere, let alone within the Unification faith, that talks a great deal about us being one family under God? 
 
I’ve never been to Africa, though my parents have. I thought my eldest sister so brave when she didn’t hesitate to go to D.R. Congo for three months, even though my parents had told us how dangerous it could be.  She was only 21 at the time.  I thought surely she would come home sick. Instead she came home changed in her heart about the world, about how she saw people of this world and her heart had broke over the stark contrast between the poor who were literally starving and the rich who spent so much at fancy restaurants and expensive cars. The reality of the situation in Congo has never left her. I recall her feeling helpless to do anything.  
 
I’ve always been afraid to visit that part of the world.  So I’m very grateful to meet so many brothers and sister from Africa here in the safety of Korea. I don’t think my heart is brave enough to go to Africa to meet them all yet, so, again, I’m very grateful.  
 
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If you joined us today and went from person to person and asked, “What aspect of this workshop stands out as the best for you?”, I’m certain ten-out-of-ten would make some comment about the cultural melting pot this Global Top Gun workshop has become and their answers would invariably be filled with expressions of surprise over it and joy.
 
We’re still in the thick of it, learning how to relate to each other, figuring out how to mesh as as family, a real family, and desperately attempting to create emotional ties so strong, we can go back to our homes and take each person here with us. We still have half a workshop to go. I hope you get to hear more stories from us before it’s over. 
 
Contributed by Shinyoung Chang
Editorial Coordinator, FFWPU USA 
 

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Faces of Top Gun

Yuki Asanuma, 22, USA

If I had the opportunity to share my experience here at this Global Top Gun workshop with True Mother directly, I’d want her to know this: over the course of the past few years I found myself alone. My close friends left me, my community became a place where I felt no love. Each day was just grinding. Despite knowing, believing and having experienced the capabilities of faith, it was faith that made my life difficult. While others seemed so happy and carefree, I felt alone. The challenges I faced made me question my value as a human being and the validity of God. Before coming here, I felt abandoned, backstabbed and broken hearted from many events that all occurred to me in a short span of time.

Despite all of this, I want True Mother to know I am grateful to have gone through all of those terrible situations. I don’t believe necessarily that God intended the difficulties for me, but I do know that He wants the best for me.

I came here skeptical, confused and frustrated. Yet, I wanted to be open to anything. With my head full of questions and a heavy heart I came here. I heard someone say miracles happen here, which I completely discredited, but in just a week’s time, I feel so much has changed. Questions and responsibilities I burdened myself with for years were lifted. This happened in less than one week. I came hoping to get answers to minimally 1-3 questions but I was given so much more and beyond that. I am excited to know there is still another week or so to go.

Thank you,True Mother, for caring about someone like me.

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Day 10: Evening Tea with Rev. Thompson

This evening, after a day of lecturing, Rev. Thompson got cozy on stage, sitting in a nice chair with a virtual fireplace on the screen behind him and a blanket on his lap. We gathered around him like children as he shared many stories about his experiences with True Parents.
 
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“I was really blown away by Kevin Thompson’s lecture and the amazing stories he told of his early days with True Father,” shared Global Top Gun participant Cliff Gaines. “Those stories are so powerful and moving that they just bring us all to tears. I can’t help but reflect on how incredibly hard it must have been for True Father to establish so much and to go through so much struggle.
 
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As Rev. Thompson was telling his personal story, I was amazed by how human we are and sometimes our focus is on the simple things like, “What time is lunch?” while True Father focused amazingly in one direction: towards God. It was so amazingly powerful. I think there should be a time where all Unificationists, especially of the early days of the movement, should get together and record those stories and archive them.
 
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I have never, ever heard so many stories from so many Unificationists until this workshop, and they’re all amazingly powerful. It just adds proof that True Father had God’s complete attention and that he had one focus throughout his whole life. I just wish I could be like that. Wow.”

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As we get ready to celebrate True Parents’ Birthday this weekend, stories like these remind us what the Holy Days are all about.

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Day 9: Our True Parents, Who Love Us

At the beginning of this second week of the workshop, our focus shifted from deepening our awareness of God to deepening our awareness of True Parents. This made Yeon Ah Moon’s and the Songs’ visits yesterday particularly opportune, as they could each share unique perspectives on the life of True Parents and the roots of the Unification movement.

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Today our newest lecturer, Rev. Kevin Thompson from the Bay Area Family Church, spoke about these themes as well. He gave two lectures on the early experiences of True Parents in order to help us better understand who they are, where they came from, and what they have done.

Many of us were very inspired and moved by Rev. Thompson’s presentations.

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One participant, Adam Gottlieb from California, shared, “A lot of what I’m hearing is that we should learn to love True Parents. I was a Christian before I became a Unificationist, and I loved Jesus—I really loved Jesus—because the message of Christianity is so simple: If you believe in Jesus, then you’re saved. We know with the Divine Principle that it doesn’t really work that way. It’s good enough for spiritual salvation, but not enough to have what we want.

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So I used to really love Jesus and feel like he was really looking down at me and loving me, but I had a hard time feeling that about True Father, because he came with such strong conviction to change people and to change this world, teaching that we can’t just change by believing, we have to change by fixing ourselves. Since I came here to Global Top Gun I’ve been trying to embrace that idea, to feel like True Father actually loves me, and a song we sang together earlier really got me feeling how much True Father has gone through and how much he really, truly loves each one of us.”

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Rev. Thompson is the third lecturer for our workshop after Gerry Servito and Christine Froehlich. So far we’ve learned something unique from each of our presenters: about the heart and nature of God, the ins and outs of a spiritual life centered on True Parents, and the historical foundations on which our movement stands.

But our lecturers have shared something particularly precious with us as well. They have shared personal testimonies about their experiences with True Parents. They have so many stories about sitting right in front of both True Father and True Mother—just as we’ve been told that someday, future generations will come to us and ask for our stories about True Parents.

True Parents have come alive for us in a new way—their heart is clearer, their sacrifices and hopes more real, and their love closer than ever before.

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Day 8: How to Fall in Love

Written by Miyoung Eaton

A surprise visit by Yeon Ah Moon, President of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), in the evening was by far the highlight of our day.


Listen to the Podcast


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We were trickling back into the main hall after dinner, stomachs full, heads pleasurably drowsy, when Demian took to the stage and announced suddenly, “Yeon Ah Moon is coming!” All our prior plans were swept aside as we rapidly began to prepare for her arrival.

As on the first night we met her, we welcomed Mrs. Moon with wild applause and cheers. From her very first words, her calm, quiet and gentle spirit mellowed the atmosphere in the room, garnering our attention, uninterrupted, for a full three hours.

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Mrs. Moon began her remarks with a scriptural reading from True Father, addressing us as future leaders.

She exhorted us, “Become people who have Heavenly Parent and True Parents first in our souls—you won’t have to think about going the right way, you simply will. You need to learn to love Heavenly Parent and True Parents and you need to learn to love more.

“Love more,” she continued, “but what is love? Love is an action. What do we need to do to fall in love with someone, with God and True Parents?”

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Mrs. Moon shared many insights into answering this question, but she drew the most memorable example from her time spent with True Parents. “To love a person you must know that person. To know everything about that person you must live with them.”

Citing another speech by True Father about how we can learn to fall in love with our Heavenly Parent and True Parents, Mrs. Moon also related that she asks herself three questions every morning, “Dearest Heavenly Parent, has your hope been realized today? How can we understand your situation? Do you stand in a position today where your heart is filled with happiness?” She encouraged us to adopt this practice, not only with our minds but with our hearts: to live and feel God and True Parents in this way, from the very first moments of our day to the last.

Similarly, Mrs. Moon asked us to study scripture more. Clearly speaking from her own experience, Mrs. Moon encouraged us to study regularly and to pay attention to the little things like the heart and circumstances of True Parents at the time of a certain speech or event. With enough practice in this, we can learn to see and feel the truth in scripture come alive.

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Earlier in the day, we had also met Rev. and Mrs. Song, an elderly Korean couple who joined the Unification movement over 50 years ago. Hearing Mrs. Moon’s address on top of the Songs’ testimonies of wisdom and sacrifice was incredible.

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“Mrs. Song witnessed profoundly, coming from the deepest place of her heart, with the essence of sacrifice and living for the sake of others,” said my fellow Top Gunner from Congo, Gee Doo Nguala. “I was really amazed. I really felt the heart of a mother, and I think we as young Unificationists need to understand that the deepest part of our hearts is the love of God, and that we can experience this in order to share it with others.”

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Day 7: Deeper

Written by Miyoung Eaton

Demian spoke to us first thing to set the tone for the day.

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“You don’t have to stress about perfection—you have to stress about effort and investment and doing your best. Yesterday was the first day you saw me starting to mingle as a participant. My experience was that we need to go deeper. We need to really ask our lecturers to challenge us more deeply.

“The average age here is 27, but in reality you are world leaders. Whether you knew it or not, that is what True Mother is investing in. We want to appeal to your deepest heart and minds and draw the best of out each of us.”

Deeper we went.

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Today is the first day of the lunar New Year, the day Unificationists especially strive to celebrate God, our Heavenly Parent. Throughout the day, we had time to reflect on our resolutions for the New Year with God in prayer and to share those resolutions with our families.

Our new lecturer, Christine Froehlich, helped us in this by educating us about very practical ways in which to grow spiritually. She delved into the contents of the Divine Principle and shared that the beginning of a spiritual life is to offer ourselves. This offering begins with the purification of prayer, in the process of honestly talking with God and inviting God to teach us every day.

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On the study of scripture, Christine shared, “I cleanse my heart and my mind through the study of the word of God. How can we cultivate happiness as we go through this process? By sharing, studying, and reflecting on God’s words. Chew on them, think about them, digest them. We are responsible to feed ourselves spiritually with what we need.”

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We’re still learning what that means. How do we feed ourselves spiritually and lead on that foundation of spirituality and relationship with God and True Parents? We’re gaining insight every day from the lecturers, from each other, and from this beautiful place. We haven’t met True Mother yet, but we’re learning that she and True Father and God are here with us—that they are always with us—in heart and in spirit; and that our lives will be transformed in proportion to our realizing that.

It’s both a scary and a beautiful opportunity. We’re doing our best to act on it.

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Faces of Top Gun

“It all started with one person, and the whole family joined in. You can see the smiles of joy and togetherness on our faces. What a day it was.”

-Walton Prince Shihyun Dito (center)

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“On top of being a person made out of a rainbow of beautiful emotions, Gerry Servito is an incredible lecturer full of sensibility and passion about Heavenly Parent’s heart. I’m literally amazed. Why? He just made me FEEL it more clearly.”

-Houngbedji So-Sheloba (left)

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“Our family time was really good today. We heard Masa sharing deeper about his life, and we wrote letters to each other. It’s a different feeling when you get to know your brothers’ and sisters’ feelings towards you through a letter.”

-Ermela Stena (right)

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“I’m having a great time at the Top Gun workshop. My highlight so far has definitely been hearing about other peoples’ faith and vision for the future, like Demian shared last night.”
-Kyomi Rebecca Muraoka

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“Today our clan was practicing our song which we will perform for True Mother. It was really inspiring to see how talented my clan is in music.”

-Nora Waldmann (left)

“Today we went deep within our hearts, and for me it’s difficult to share. I like to reflect on many things internally, but I rarely like sharing them with others. Sounds like a terrible first remark to a blog, but don’t worry, I like pointing out and sharing interesting things I experience. This quote (paraphrased) stood out to me today: “In order for spiritual mind and physical mind to become united, the heart must be the center… It is necessary for (us) to experience God’s heart and unite with it.” I like this because I do struggle with mind and body unity, temptations, bad habits, etc., and even if you know the side effects of bad habits, it doesn’t really matter unless the issue touches your heart. But at the same time, there’s not a clear solution; sometimes as time passes the impact an issue has on your heart gradually fades. Especially if you aren’t reminded regularly.”

-Kuninobu Miyazawa (right)

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“We got invited by In Sup Park to watch a movie and eat lunch together! Seeing him taking time off from his busy schedule to spend time with us made me re-discover the values that this movement stands on.”

-Amy Whitmore Takeuchi (second from left)

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Day 6: An Almost Perfect Day

Written by Miyoung Eaton

Have you ever had a day where everything went just the way you wanted? When you were on time for every commitment, inspired by every conversation, fulfilled by every moment?

We almost had that kind of a day at the Global Top Gun workshop today.

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Gerry Servito generously offered to give an additional presentation on the trends of intellectual history during the last 400 hundred years. He revealed the dynamic of conflict that has existed between schools of thought that defend and support God on the one hand, and those that challenge and deny God on the other.

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During the question and answer session that followed, many of us shared our gratitude and our frustration about the new understanding that this lecture brought. It was so good to gain clarity about the significance of the intellectual tradition but also alarming to learn how much God’s voice and heart have been pushed out of the universities all around the world—how we ourselves have inherited far more from the skeptical and cynical cultures of the world than we had realized.

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Christine Froehlich, our Divine Principle lecturer for the second week of the workshop, followed up on this content by discussing the reality of the culture war that persists around the world today. She emphasized that though communism as a political ideology was politically overcome in the 20th century, the effects of a subtle, subversive cultural invasion continue to affect us all today, especially those of us who live in America and Europe. By clarifying the reality of this invasion, she also began to reveal how we can respond as young men and women to the threats of the current, degrading culture of individualism that pervades the west today.

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Up until that point, the day was exactly the kind of day we’d always wanted. But God had a challenge in store for us: an uncomfortable challenge by which to grow our hearts.

In the evening, we were given more time to practice the songs we hope to offer to True Mother before the end of the workshop. Spontaneously, our workshop director, Demian, invited every clan to practice the performance in front of one another and challenged us on the spot to walk up on to the stage and to carry ourselves as if we were actually performing for True Mother.

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We were caught by surprise, but we all tried our best to perform as if True Mother was in the audience. Each clan poured their hearts out and sang beautifully, in several different languages, even though we’ve only had a few hours to prepare in total.

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After the performances, though, the question did come up: was it more important to sing only in Korean or in English, languages True Mother understands? Would be it possible to give as good an offering if our songs were in languages she couldn’t understand?

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We weren’t sure, and we’re still not sure, but these questions galvanized us to talk together, to wonder for ourselves what the culture of Cheon Il Guk (a Korean term referencing God’s Kingdom on earth) might look like, and to work our hardest, whatever our final answers, to give True Mother the best offering we can. These are two of the key themes that have been running through the whole of the workshop. How can we truly attend True Mother and honor all the work she takes on as True Parents? What kind of culture would we like to be a part of and how can we build it—even today?

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We’re moving forward with these questions in mind and heart together and hope that, with each day that passes, we can take steps closer and closer to True Parents, Heavenly Parent, and their deep heart of love, hope and joy for the world.

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