Boston Unificationists Reflect on GTG Youth 2017

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After completing the 2017 Global Top Gun Youth workshop, three young Unificationists shared about their experiences with their congregation in Boston when FFWPU USA President, Rev. Richard Buessing, visited the community on August 27, 2017. 

Right off the bat, when I arrived at Cheongpyeong, I was chosen among the American Unificationists to perform “Mujogeon” for True Mother the next day. The thought that I was going to be right in front of True Mother dancing really made me jump out of my skin. It was probably one of the best experiences in my life—seeing True Mother’s smile even though she was tired, having just come back from America after the Madison Square Garden event and concluding her world speaking tour. In the closing ceremony, luckily, I was able to sit in the second row in front of True Mother. I was really close and I could see her looking at me sometimes.

The theme of the workshop was to become global leaders with a hyojeong heart. This theme really resonated with me when True Mother told us that the young Unificationists are the last puzzle piece in fulfilling God’s desires. It made me feel like I have my own responsibilities that I have to establish and work hard at. I felt that I really needed to apply the Divine Principle to my life and show the world that through our lifestyles we can change the world to a peaceful one that God and True Parents desire.

I got to connect with God and True Parents through the True Parents’ life course lectures, but also through the pilgrimage and seeing all the suffering that True Father went through. I couldn’t get to know True Father too well while he was alive, but seeing True Father’s past, I could really feel his heart. This made me so grateful for having True Mother with us here right now. It made me want to embrace True Mother, make her proud, and see her smile again. That is my main motivation. 

Takahiro Kudo, 21

 

Two things really stood out for me during Top Gun. The first was the pilgrimage. We were able to visit many historical sites for our movement, including the Rock of Tears. When we visited Cheon Jeong Gung, we visited True Father’s grave and prayed there. It was really moving because so much devotion went into everyone’s prayers. There was also an exhibit, with two rooms that were like a museum a visualization of True Parents’ life course. It had special items True Parents used for the Holy Blessing Ceremonies, copies of the original Divine Principle, and more. I learned so much about True Parents and our movement from that. It was amazing.

The second thing that stood out was meeting True Mother. We heard True Mother speak at the beginning of the workshop and at the closing ceremony. She told us that we, the second gen[eration Unificationists] are the last puzzle piece. She told us that True Parents laid the foundation and it is our responsibility to finish the puzzle. It really inspired me to actually help with the Providence —not just by going to church and listening to sermons, but also witnessing to my friends and showing people that the principled way of life is the right way.

Luc Jean, 14

 

After all the participants were divided into four tribes (Happiness, Unity, Freedom, and Peace), I was put into the “Freedom” tribe. From there, we were divided into clans and then into families. I was given the role of family leader, so I was doing a lot of translating and leading discussions. It was a leadership role. I think I was chosen as family leader because I could speak three languages and because it was something that God wanted me to do. I realized that I still have a lot to learn in terms of being a leader and having a leadership role.

Through this workshop, I made a lot of relationships from around the world. It was really eye-opening for me to see people from South America, Africa, and Thailand and to see how passionate their hearts are for True Parents. I was so inspired by their passion for the church.

I realized also that I still need to work on my vertical relationship with True Parents and that I still have a long way to go in terms of my faith. As we learned about True Parents’ life course, the Divine Principle, and how to develop our hearts of hyojeong or hearts of filial piety. Being at Top Gun, meeting all these people, learning more deeply about True Parents, made me think about our movement not just on a local level, but on a global level. It made me want to feel even more connected to True Parents.

Reika Hiroi, 21

Click here for more testimonies from this year’s Global Top Gun Youth workshop. 

 

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Testimonies from GTG Youth 2017

From August 1 to August 21, 1,300 young Unificationists from 76 countries attended this year’s Global Top Gun Youth workshop to cultivate hyojeong (“heart of filial piety”) leadership. Through this workshop, participants had the opportunity to better understand the heart of True Parents, networking with other young people from all over the world who shared the desire to contribute to humanity and support True Parents. In the following testimonies, two of this year’s participants share about what they learned during Global Top Gun Youth.  

GABBY VON EUW

After completing my year at Generation Peace Academy, it was very difficult to keep my life of faith going. But I have been blessed this year to have been able to participate in the Global Top Gun Youth Workshop. 

First of all, I now truly admire True Parents’ commitment to God. They made this commitment when they were in their youth, and since then, they have never wavered. They never complained and kept moving forward toward that goal. When I look at my life, I’ve been all over the place. I’ve questioned many things. But because True Parents are so committed, I want to follow that example and be committed with my own life of faith, too. I want to share all of this love that I have felt from this workshop. I want to go back home and spread that love. If I had to put my emotions after this workshop in one word, it would be gratitude. I am so grateful to True Parents for all that they have done. 

I was also grateful for the workshop because I had a chance to meet my global family. I really enjoy being with many different people internationally and learning about their Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) chapters, their lifestyles, their passions, and their dreams. In the end, it all connects back to wanting to share God’s love and sharing the vision of True Parents of creating an ideal world. Although at times, my heart ached because I could not verbally communicate to some people because of language barriers, I found that we can still love each other even more, just through body language, being next to each other, smiling, and various other expressions of love. This is even stronger than words. At GTG Youth, I made stronger than words can express because of this love and the common vision we all shared. 

In my group from this workshop, which we called our family, there were people from Japan, Korea, USA, Nepal, Thailand, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain and the Philippines. We all spoke different languages, although most of them can speak a little bit of English. There was, however, one person who didn’t speak English at all. But she was the one that brought us all together because of her laugh, and as soon as she opened up, everyone started laughing and coming together. Again, love is stronger than words.

YASUTAKA OZAWA
 
Walking over to the Ponhyangwon, I was thinking of the word “Hyojeong.” Then, suddenly I got the thought that over recent years I have been working very hard on my relationship with True Parents, but I did not have the same heart toward my own parents. I came to understand that True Parents cannot be happy if I don’t have a filial heart toward my own parents.  The reason for that is because True Parent’s own teaching is about creating a happy families to create a happy world. If I can’t bring happiness to my own parents, then all the work I put in for True Parents cannot come to complete fruition. When we arrived at Ponhyangwon, I offered a prayer of repentance. I repented the fact that I wasn’t giving my parents the love hat they deserve for raising me and for everything else that they do for me. Then, in my prayer, I made the determination that I will love my parents more than I have. Once I made that determination I felt as though True Father was happy to hear my renewed heart.
 
During our reading of True Parents’ words in our meeting with True Mother, I saw her facial expression and she had her eyes closed. She looked as though she was in pain. The reading was about how the Israelites and Romans did not accept Jesus. At that moment, God’s heart must have been in incredible pain, and I could feel that True Mother was feeling the same pain. It was incredible to see that True Mother’s heart is united with God’s heart. Seeing this gave me a new perspective in reading True Parents’ words. From now on I want to try read True Parents’ words every day with the intention of trying to understand God’s heart behind their words. It is by meeting True Mother that I was able to have these two very important realizations, and for that, I am so thankful.
 
For an in-depth look at this year’s Global Top Gun Youth workshop, read the GTG Youth blog here 

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Day 18: Finding Inspiration, Posters for Peace

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Projects. So many projects.

Today we had an opportunity to actually work on our projects by making posters.

Before that though, we had a series of talks to inspire us and help us work on our projects. The first speaker talked about the dream of reunification between North and South Korea. He talked about his experiences working on projects for reunification and personally volunteering in North Korea. He told us to love people, have hope, and make True Parents’ dreams come true.

The second speaker talked about living for the sake of others. He talked about his experiences working and volunteering in other countries. His main message was that ‘living for the sake of others’ doesn’t mean to only do that within the church, but also find a way to connect that to business and social problems, too.

The third speaker was the Executive Director of YSP (Youth and Students for Peace) Japan, Mr. Koji Matsuda. He told us to think of the world’s problems as our own problems, and reminded us that True Mother said that we need to be the light of the world. He had four main points to share with us: practice HyoJeong (filial heart toward heaven), have a purpose in your life, do and say things based on love, and study True Parents’ words and make their goals your own.

And lastly, our fourth speaker of the day was the YSP Secretary-General, Mr. Masahiro Izawa. He told us to not just say ‘live for the sake of others’, but to live it, too. We learned that we need to live the Divine Principle, have a bigger heart for the world, and achieve True Parents’ dream.

All of these speakers helped us to get our projects started. Mr. Izawa even helped facilitate the process when we were making our posters. He said we should break down our projects into three parts: the problem, cause, and solution, and work on each part accordingly. He also told us that passion is the starting point for any activity, so we each shared why we were passionate about our topics.

The rest of the day was spent on working on our projects and making our posters. It was nice to see us working together in our teams and how beautiful they turned out.

Tomorrow, we’ll spend the day looking at all the projects that we made. We can hardly wait.

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Day 17: Peace Designer’s Table

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What is Peace Designer’s Table, anyway? That’s what we found out today.

In the morning, we learned about how True Parents contributed to peace and one global family, mostly focusing on their NGO and NPO (non-government, non-profit) work. We talked about Father’s inter religious activities as well as his economic activities (Ocean Providence, developing technology). We were reminded that he did not do this to make money, but for the sake of the world. This inspired us to create our own NGO and NPO projects.

We then had a talk on issues that surround us and thought about how we could solve those issues. We learned that people who make the biggest change think differently, and then saw examples of young people making a change in their communities. We then thought about what we wanted to solve in our communities.

In the afternoon, we went more in-depth into the issue we each wanted to solve. We asked ourselves what the root of the issue was, who is affected, and how we can help them. Afterward, we had long discussions in the groups that we had made yesterday and chose one issue that we wanted to focus on. We then discussed how we would structure these projects. We were told that GTGY wanted the best groups to turn into actual projects and receive funding to do so. This inspired us to really take this seriously and reminded us that if anyone is going to solve the world’s problems, it is going to be us.

In the evening, we had another special guest speaker: Hoon Sook Nim. She has been doing ballet for over 30 years and she was considered the best ballet dancer in Korea. She basically gave a testimony on her experiences with ballet. To her, ballet was a path of faith and something that she ‘practiced religiously.’ She also mentioned that ballet is a very principled form of dance, and True Father even called it a ‘dance of heaven.’ Lastly, she closed by saying that culture is a way of life and that it is culture and art that moves the world, not politics.

And that’s a day. Tomorrow, we continue with the Peace Designer’s Table, piecing together our group projects into a presentable form. There are 163 groups in total, and it will be amazing to see what each group will create.

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Day 16: Interesting and Eventful

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Interesting. And eventful. That pretty much sums up the day.

We started off the day with creating groups for Peace Designers Table. We’ll be focusing on that in the upcoming three days.

Afterward, we practiced the dance ‘Mujogeon’, which is a dance that was performed at Madison Square Garden and a dance that True Mother likes. We are planning to perform this in front of True Mother when we see her again, so we practiced with all our heart and passion.

We also practiced a song called ‘Baramgebi’, which is another song that True Mother likes. This song is about aligning our dreams with True Parents’, and we’ll also be singing this in front of True Mother.

In the afternoon, we had a series of special talks. The first one was about Gijeok-Sori, which is a Korean music contest. The purpose of this music contest is to inherit Hyo Jin Nim’s heart. The other purpose of this is to create a Heavenly culture through heavenly music. To prove that, they sang a few of their songs (and rap) that they wrote, which were all about Heavenly Parents and True Parents. This was great and inspiring to see, and it reminded us that we need more of this to spread our heavenly culture.

Next, we had a special talk from Dr. Michael Balcomb, who is now the Continental Director of Europe. His message was very simple and consisted of three points. First, change is probable because of True Parents. Second, we can make that change if we’re determined, just like True Parents. Third, we need to have a strong foundation to stand on, so we need to find that foundation. Because of its simplicity and brevity, many people liked this talk.

Then we had a special talk from the very distinguished Yeon Ah Nim. She spoke for a long time, but she had a few main points: think that God is very close to you; marriage is the training of love; live for the sake of others; take responsibility for the results of your actions; and grow up beautifully, happy, strong, and safe, just like our True Mother said.

She then talked about True Father’s and True Mother’s favorite foods. Through this, we could connect and understand more deeply about True Parents’ life. After her talk, Yeoh Ah Nim stayed and took pictures with every single clan and shook hands with everybody. It was a heartwarming experience and it really showed how she deeply cares about all of us.

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Day 15: Second Day of Blessing Education

In the morning, we learned about the Family Matching Process as done in America. This was based on many years of trial and error, and suggestions in the book are what American Blessing Department thinks would work best. One thing to note is that verticality (higher purpose, shared ideals, and strong faith in God) and horizontality (connection, friendship, compatibility, and attraction) are both important in the Matching Process. The other important point is tomake sure to create your Family Matching Plan with your parents so that everyone is on the same page.

Afterward, we set goals for ourselves, whether or not they directly related with the blessing. This was great for us because it gave us clarity on what to do after the workshop.

In the afternoon, we had a special lecture from Mr. Sakurai, who is the Vice President ofthe Family Education Department in Japan. His message was so simple; there were just three key words that we had to remember: pride, joy, and hope; pride for my identity as God’s child, joy for our community and culture, and hope for our dream and mission. Because of its simplicity, people enjoyed it a lot.

He also mentioned films and stories like the Lion King and the Ugly Duckling, and how these are closely related with Blessed Children’s lives.

“The story of the Ugly Duckling was the most impressive today. The people of our church are very much forbidden (from doing things) unlike the other people of the world. When we heard the story of the Ugly Duckling, we were impressed to realize that this is a mirror image of our lives; we are the children of swans.” –Jin-Gyeong, Korea

Afterward, we had a (Il-Shim) purity ceremony. Though this was for the Seonghwa (high school) students, all the CARP students supported them in this ceremony. We first started this with meditation and reading True Parents’ words. Then we got to the main part of the ceremony, the purity pledge, where we vowed to keep our purity until the Blessing. We ended the ceremony with a prayer and a giving of gifts to the Seonghwa students from the CARP students. It was a moving experience.

To end our day, we heard two testimonies. The first one was about an education program created in Korea for the purpose of educating our Blessed Children. The main point was that if we don’t educate our second generation, there will be no one left; that is why education is so important.

The second one was about DONE, a gap-year program in Europe. We learned about what goes on, but the most important thing we gained from this testimony is that God’s love for us is unconditional, and our value doesn’t depend on success or failure.

And that’s a day. Though the Blessing Education phase is over, good times are still ahead. But less than a week remains.

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Day 14: Blessing Education

Intense. That pretty much sums up the day.
Today, we had some Blessing Education. But this isn’t your typical Blessing workshop; it was heavy, but insightful, information to absorb.

We first talked about the Blessing in our life. We first all wrote what we were committed to (what you want in your Blessing). Then we talked about what may get in the way of our dreams: circumstances. We were explained that we need to have dominion over our circumstances; in other words, you should be the subject, and circumstances should be the object. Lastly, we learned that love is not meant to be taken; love is meant to be given and received.

We then talked about the Blessing in a wider context: how it will save the world. All God wanted us to just be able to fully love, and throughout all of history, we were unable to do that. But because of the advent of True Parents, we are now able to fully love and create God’s lineage. This is why the Blessing is important for 2nd Gen too: we need to continue the lineage and continue to purify ourselves. Lastly, we talked about the importance of integrity in the Blessing.

This was just a taste of what the Blessing is about. Afterward, things got intense. We first talked about sexual integrity: this is for everybody, including Heavenly Parent, to trust you and having nothing to hide—it is living a high noon life. We were told that without sexual integrity, you have nothing.

Then, we learned a bit about the science of pornography, and how pornography is a direct attack on the Three Blessings. Through science, we learned how pornography ruins the mind, ruins relationships, and ruins the world, creating a culture of selfishness and individualism. For people individually, we learned that porn creates a loss of hope and faith in yourself, and further distances yourself from your true self.

As difficult as this was to convey, many people needed to hear this. But what was probably more impactful was when people gave testimonies of their struggle with pornography. This was truly an eye-opening experience, and from this, many of us felt that we’re all in this together, and nobody has to go through this alone.

In the end of the day, we all shared what we learned today, and what we’re grateful for. “I am so amazed with the dramatic change taking place in the world today because True Parents are truly guiding the Divine Principle ideology.” –Michael, Zambia

As challenging and uncomfortable as these topics were, it was important to discuss. We’re all thankful for that. Tomorrow, we continue with Blessing Education, but more on how we can deal with these issues. We’re in this together.

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Day 13: Visiting Cheon Jeong Gung

After a long three days of traveling around Korea, we finally got to spend our day in Cheongpyeong again.

That being said, for the morning, we went to the Cheon Jung Gung—again. It was a little different this time, however, since we actually walked there all the way from Cheongpyeong. We considered this as the final part of the pilgrimage, and we did this, once again, to experience True Father’s heart. In the 1970’s, Father walked from where is now Cheongpyeong to where is now the Cheon Jung Gung every day. Since that is difficult to do, we experienced just a little of True Father’s heart by doing it once.

After the long and difficult journey up to the Cheon Jung Gung, we visited True Father’s resting place again and paid our respects. Then, we had a chance to look at the exhibition hall of True Parents’ life. We later went to the prayer hall and offered our prayers, and we each got a unique prayer card containing True Parents’ words. For many of us, the words we got on the card was surprisingly relevant to what we were praying about.

We were explained that the reason why the Cheon Jung Gung is so important is because God was looking for a dwelling place on earth throughout history, and that could finally be manifested through the Cheon Jeong Gung. Therefore, it was important to regard the Cheon Jeong Gung as not just any ordinary place, but a sacred place where God can dwell on earth.

In the afternoon, we received a special lecture from Rev. Cho. He is the Director- General of FFPWU International Headquarters and is very close to Mother. He explained that Mother hears reports every day from all around the world on the efforts that we’re making, and how she is always concerned about the 7.4 billion people of the world. He emphasized the importance of studying the Divine Principle and True Parents’ words.

But probably the most impressive thing was when he talked about what is going on around the world. We learned that in countries like Nepal, Cambodia, and Thailand, the government is working with us to conduct Blessings. We learned that in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Senegal, leaders with millions of followers have come to accept True Parents, and are now working on conducting Blessings to their followers. Lastly, we also learned that 30 countries have launched IAPP, and it now holds 4000 current parliamentarians.

Hearing all this news gave us hope, and it must have given True Mother a lot of hope, too. He concluded his message by saying that we need to align our visions and dreams with True Parents’ visions and dreams, and then we can stand as the heroes of Cheon Il Guk. We need to become representatives of True Parents and one with True Parents.

In the evening, we had the auditions for culture night. We watched over 30 performances representing all different kinds of countries and cultures. This was really a time to come together as a workshop in unity but also respect and observe each other’s differences. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Through going to the Cheon Jung Gung and hearing Rev. Cho’s lecture, I was able to understand True Parent’s heart for the future and how much they prepared for it. As for tonight’s culture night, I was really able to appreciate the God-given uniqueness of everyone through all the performances, regardless of what culture or place they came from. I really hope that through  everyone’s uniqueness, we can all somehow contribute to True Parents’ Will.” –Mika, Japan

We’ve been through a lot this workshop. But tomorrow, an important phase of the workshop begins: Blessing Education. 

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Day 12: The Third Day of Pilgrimage

Today was deep.
After eating breakfast at the Ocean Resort, we departed for Busan. We first visited the newly-opened Busan Church, where True Mother came to visit for the Opening Ceremony. Then, nearby, we were able to see the rock which was alongside the original hut that was built when Father first came to Busan. The contrast between the two places was incredible. We could really see how humble Father’s beginnings were.

We then went to the Rock of Tears, which was also close by. This was the place where True Father prayed and shed many tears for the sake of humanity. We were all able to touch the rock that True Father prayed on as we also prayed with loud voices.

I could really feel the heart of True Father as I prayed on the Rock of Tears. I was also really grateful that despite some inconveniences that we may have experienced on the pilgrimage, we never complained. This reminded me of Father’s heart and how he never complained no matter how difficult the circumstance.” –Sakuma, Japan

On our last stop, we went to Moonjeong Saejae, which is a mountain pass in South Korea. The reason we visited this place was because Father passed through this place on his way south to Busan. Here, we were reminded that we did not come to this pilgrimage to have fun, but rather to feel the heart of True Father in the early days. This was important for us because it set the tone for this site.

Here, although there wasn’t much to see, we experienced True Father’s heart by carrying each other on our backs. We did this because True Father also did this when he carried Mr. Park on his back through this mountain. As difficult as this was, we only walked a fraction of what Father walked, so we could imagine how much harder it was for Father. When we got to the base of the mountain, we prayed again.

As if this wasn’t enough grace and blessings for one day, we all got to eat in a restaurant for dinner! We all ate Bibimbap with a heart of gratitude, and that was a good end to our day.

Today was interesting because we got to see the roots of our movement and how humble our beginnings were. But tomorrow, we’ll visit the Cheon Jeong Gung (again), which is basically the  culmination of all our efforts. We can hardly wait.

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Day 11: Second Day of Pilgrimage

Today, we visited more sites related to True Parents’ life course. Our first stop was Yamok Church. The background of this church is interesting: Rev. Cha, who was witnessed to by True Father in North Korea, created his own church in the South. When he heard of Father again later, all 120 members of his congregation joined the church. This church became a pivotal center for the early activities of the Unification Church, and many members came here for workshops.

As for the site itself, we had a chance to go inside the chapel of the Yamok Church (where workshops used to be held) and received a short explanation. Then we were able to see the place where True Father stayed when he came here, and also the place he prayed here, which was a little bit up the mountain.

Our next stop was Sun Moon University. There, we all received a presentation on the origins of the university, the obstacles they had to face to make it happen, and where they are now. We learned that True Parents created this university with the motto “Love Heaven, Love Humankind, Love your Country.” We learned that Sun Moon went through tough times, once ranking in the bottom out of all of the universities in Korea. However, with effort, Sun Moon was able to improve and become among the top universities in Korea today. True Father’s vision for Sun Moon is to become the “Harvard of the East,” and we could really see them working hard to achieve that. We then went all the way to Yeosu and first visited Cheonghae Garden. As beautiful as the view was of the ocean from there, we didn’t come here for that. Rather, we came here to experience True Father’s heart and how much devotion he invested in this place. We learned that Father spent many of his days here fishing, especially in the later parts of his life, and also how he did his longest Hoon Dook Hae session here (23 hours, 30 minutes). From this, we could really experience True Father’s Ocean Providence, and what he did to achieve it.

And to cap off the day, we got to eat and have sauna time in The Ocean Resort, which is another site that Father built up in Yeosu.

This day was truly amazing for me. I feel blessed that I can experience all of these things during my first time in Korea. I am really grateful to True Mother for letting us use the Ocean Resort. If this is what the Kingdom of Heaven feels like, I’m ready to do anything to achieve it.” –Benedek, Hungary

Through all of these activities, we really saw how much True Mother wants to provide for us. By knowing this, we could receive all of these things with a heart of gratitude. More sites are ahead  tomorrow. 

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