For more than 50 Unificationist couples, this year’s Valentine’s Day pales in comparison to the “Cosmic Blessing” ceremony that is to take place on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at The Grove in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. These couples are planning to exchange wedding vows through this ceremony, the trademark tradition of the Unification Church, which will be broadcast via satellite from Gapyeong, Korea by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon.
However, one Unificationist who will be attending the Blessing at The Grove has invested much effort into making this Valentine’s Day the most memorable for him and his match. In an interview with Unificationnews.com, Joshua Kang, 24, from Leonia, New Jersey, shared his romantic V-Day plans for his sweetheart, Melissa Gontigo, 24, from Douglas, Massachusetts.
The best part? Gontigo has no idea.
“Melissa and I agreed that it was going to be difficult to do anything for Valentine's Day given the distance between us and the holiday falling on a weekday,” said Kang. “It was unfortunate that we wouldn't be spending our first Valentine's Day together, but we felt comforted knowing that we would be seeing each other the next evening to finalize our preparation for the Blessing. At least,” he said with a touch of mischievousness, “that is what I allowed her to believe.
“Little does she know that since the beginning of the month, ‘Operation: Melt-Heart’ has been in motion! The objective of the operation is to render her heart incapable of feeling anything other than love, happiness and other positive emotions. Having a heart filled with love would truly finalize our preparation and allow us to feel ready to go before God and True Parents to receive the Blessing.
“The Operation was broken down into three stages. Stage one consisted of two surprises which would bring a big smile to her lovely face. I recruited her best friend and co-worker, Stephanie Perry, and asked her to drop off chocolates on Melissa's desk before she got into work. Next, sometime during the day, she will receive a flower delivery at work. Stage two is to ensure that stage three (which involves me showing up at her home and taking her out to dinner) could happen. To ensure that she does not eat dinner and that I do not give away any obvious hints, I used Skype as a method of deception. To make up for not being able to be with her on Valentine's Day, I asked her out onto a Skype dinner date. To ensure that she is dressed and ready to leave not long after I arrive at her home, I requested that we make it a nice Skype date by dressing up as if we were going out to a nice restaurant. To ensure that she would not eat, I requested that we have dinner together over Skype. I should be arriving at her home around 6 p.m., the scheduled time for our Skype date, and this is when stage three will begin. I made reservations to have dinner with her at “7 Nana,” a hibachi/sushi restaurant. Unfortunately, I will have to head home shortly after dessert because we both have work the next day. Her heart will be mush and ready for the Blessing! I love you, Melissa.”
Kang graduated with a degree in Psychology from Montclair State University this last month and has served in the National Guard for three years. He says that he joined the military because he loves to serve his country and aspires to be a military chaplain. He is also involved in youth ministry in the New Jersey Unification community and provides guidance and mentorship to middle- and high-school students, striving to be “a good role model” for young Unificationists. Gontigo graduated with a degree in English Literature from Worcester State College in December 2012 and currently works for Kahr Arms, a USA-based manufacturer of firearms.
On the topic of whether he, as a Unificationist, views Valentine’s Day differently from how non-Unificationists do, Kang said, “From a committed couple's perspective, I do not view Valentine's Day differently just because I am a Unificationist, but I do believe that our understanding of love encompasses more than that of those who are not Unificationist. Valentine's Day for me does not just include gratitude for each other, but includes gratitude for God, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, our ‘True Parents,’ and our parents.”