Rev. Randall Francis, May 27, 2012
Good morning, everyone. Good morning. Thank you. It’s an amazing pleasure to be here in New York. Thank you.
Wow, what a crowd. You came out even in the beautiful May rain this morning that is bringing out the flowers. I want to bring greetings to you from our senior pastor and her family and our True Parents. I was watching some of the Twitter feeds this morning from our international president, Hyung Jin Nim. He is in Lake Tahoe with True Parents, and it is amazing to see them in that big blue lake. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Lake Tahoe, but it’s such an amazing big blue lake. I think it’s somewhat like my blue eyes, in the mountains. Let’s pray for our True Parents.
Introducing Rev. Randy Francis and District 1
My name is Randy Francis. I am from the Washington, D.C., area. My wife Kumiko and I are the district pastor couple in District 1, which includes Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. We claim the District of Columbia as a state in some ways for the providence there. I am excited to be here with you in New York and with you all across the country: at all those 100-plus locations. The people here, including our incredible band, Sonic Cult, and the whole team here in New York, do an amazing job in putting together the Lovin’ Life worship service.
I had an opportunity to go backstage to look around here and see what was going on, to see the prayers amongst small groups and the many support activities. It is just fantastic. I know that is what helps make everything run here, and it is building a ministry that we can be proud of.
In District 1 we have locations in Norfolk, Virginia, led by Pastors Akira and Yoko Ota and assisted by Rev. Levy and Claire Daugherty. Also, in Richmond, we have Father Bayo and his wife, Ayano.
In the northern part of Virginia near Washington, D.C., we have Pastor Judie Lejeune and her husband Roland, and they are co-pastors with Ernest and Keiko Patton. I want to give a shout-out to you all.
We have our big, big community in Maryland, and I know they’re watching. And some of you are here. They’re led by Pastors Matthew and Marianne Goldberg, who are supported by an incredible team that is putting together a lot of new initiatives every day. Every week, one of our goals is to do something new, so that when people walk in, they feel and see something new going on, and they can find a place to connect.
Our creative team in the D.C. metro area is led by Kaeleigh and David Moffitt. They have an outstanding team, including our band, working with them. We’re trying to mimic the Sonic Cult in Maryland and to inspire the budding musicians from throughout our community. Our band, led by Jin Soon Stephens: and George, you’re there occasionally singing. We love your voice. We love to see anyone who wants to find a place to contribute. There are so many different places, with greeters, ushers, the welcoming team, the care teams, and the Sunday School. We have a large group.
Last year In Jin Nim, our senior pastor, encouraged us to worship together as a unified community, as the united D.C. metropolitan area, and we’ve been doing that. There are 400 to 500 people sometimes on a Sunday morning, so it’s a large group, but we’re working at it. We’re getting ready to launch perhaps a new location where we can be stable at another school. Right now we’re meeting at our New Hope Academy. Some of the things that go on there are kind of mind-blowing to me.
I was standing one time after church out on our patio, the entranceway to the school, and I was talking with a young man. All of a sudden, he said, “Hey, where did all these little kids come from?” These were one-, two-, and three year olds. I said, “Oh, those are your nieces and nephews. They’re our third-generation running around amongst us.” When we stop to look back, we see that everything we’re doing has a specific purpose: to bring about special growth and establish a tradition that is our legacy that will can carry us on throughout the years unto future generations.
Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Monday
This weekend is quite a busy one, if you hadn’t noticed already. As Victoria mentioned, it is Memorial Day weekend and Monday is Memorial Day. Today is also Pentecost Sunday for Christians. Yes, let’s give it up for the Holy Spirit coming 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection at Easter. Today commemorates for Jews the day when God through Moses gave the Torah, including the 10 Commandments, to the Israelites camped at Mt. Sinai.
I went yesterday to the UTS graduation for the class of 2012. Are there any of those new UTS graduates here today? Congratulations. From Washington, we have Bill Selig who has worked through the different levels at UTS, from the master’s degree to the doctorate degree.
Since it’s Pentecost Sunday, you graduates have to pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will come down and work through you and guide you, to continue this ministry as you’re going forward from here. Also just because it is Memorial Day, it is not really the beginning of summer, even though sometimes we think that. And it is not the end of the school year. Let’s not forget that Memorial Day is a time to remember those who served our country in the military.
Also, I’d like to remember all of our brothers and sisters – about 600 of our Unificationists and close associates, including members of our True Parents’ family I’ve found through researching online – who have ascended into spirit world before us. If you could, I’d like to take just a moment of prayer and remembrance for them.
Amen. Thank you.
In America we celebrate that as a 3:00 p.m. remembrance tomorrow on Memorial Day, but it’s always good to remember our past. In fact, part of my message today is about [1.] remembering and honoring our traditions. I’ll also be speaking about [2.] practicing the Divine Principle in our daily lives: how we can do that and make it a part of our daily lives while also having fun doing that. [3.] Having fun is a key element. I know that our senior pastor upholds those three things as core values for our young people.
Let me introduce some of our senior pastor’s words here:
Our life is a gift from Our Heavenly Parent and it is an opportunity to create beauty, to express love and to leave something behind that’s truly beautiful. If we come together as a community to realize how special each and every one of us is, then the world is our oyster, and we are going to reap many great blessings and harvests.
When I reflect on these words from 2009, I recall that it was a time when I had an opportunity to connect deeply with what our senior pastor was expressing to us. She made me think outside of my own self, my own box, to think beyond the normal and the tradition that I had already set up in my own life. She helped me go beyond that.
The Washington Monument Festival
Let me just give you a bit of my own background. I guess I’m a unique soul, like each of us. I was born in Washington, D.C. I’m a graduate of Georgetown University – the hospital. Here’s a slide about the Washington Monument, the God Bless America Festival in Washington, D.C. Over there by that tree by the monument is where I made my encampment with my cooler and my friends. We came to the God Bless America Festival, invited by the wonderful TV ads that were produced by our brother Gil Roschuni. So for all you around the country who are looking for ways to connect with and invite people, let me assure you that advertising works. Advertising definitely works.
I could understand the message deeply when our senior pastor recounted what Dr. Joseph Lowery said about the event: “I wish that I could have taken up an offering with such a big crowd.” Maybe the organizers of that festival wished that, too, and also they may have wished they had some way to contact the people who actually came to those kinds of rallies. That’s always our challenge, right? To find out who is there, who’s listening, who’s hearing these amazing proclamations that are coming forth. That was a big rally of 300,000 people.
I had some experiences throughout my growing-up years through which I made some good conditions, between myself and my parents. We often had a Unification missionary come to our door. I lived right outside Washington, D.C., in New Carrollton. They’d knock on the door and greet us. I once purchased a candle, a beautiful, purple brandy-snifter candle. Maybe some of you remember carrying those. I see some heads shaking. They made up a heavy box. One of you from somewhere around the country probably came to my door, and I bought that. I still have it. That was in maybe 1974 or 1975.
Also when I went down to the ocean, to Ocean City, I met some people who were giving out literature and different things. I purchased, or I donated for a Yosemite Sam pin, a cartoon pin. I still have that. So all those little conditions along the way seemed to add up and make it possible for me to join our movement. I came to the Washington Monument festival because of the statement, “Greatest fireworks on Earth.” That was repeated over and over and over and over. “Meet Us at the Monument.” “See the greatest fireworks on Earth.”
So we laid there on the grass after listening to a very impassioned speaker who was down on the stage, quite a long way away. If you recall that photo, you know the stage was way down there. But there was a very good sound system. There was no video at that time, but I could hear this impassioned speaker speaking in a foreign language I couldn’t understand, and I was surrounded by all these interracial, international people in the crowd. I was just a white kid from the suburbs in Maryland. I’d never been around that kind of community before. So for me it was mind-opening.
Over on the side there was a group of individuals who had red armbands and headbands and a big flag with a hammer and sickle on it. They were making a little ruckus over there. I was watching them, kind of curious, thinking, “What’s this all about?” Eventually the Park Police brought them out.
So I came there, and I left. No one knew that I came. But somehow at least I learned our True Father’s name, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. I learned that through the media beforehand and through attending the event, and it stuck with me.
Learning about the Breaking News
Eventually, Jonathan Diamond and Luis Patino, witnessed to one of my friends, Camille Lloyd. Yes, is that Mike? Mike Diamond is a budding ballroom dancer here. He’s the son of Jonathan and his wife. Jonathan is a very persistent guy, and I’m glad that he is. He did a one-on-one kind of presentation with my friend: Overnight he taught the entire Principle. That was his style, just to give and give and give and pour it all out. Eventually she came to the church. She knew me a little bit and at an Aerosmith concert in Washington, D.C., (it was my last concert in that realm of my life) she outlined on a napkin the ideals of the Principle of Creation and then the Fall of Man.
It stuck with me. I said, “It sounds logical; it feels true.” So eventually, knowing that I had some money because I was working a fairly good job, she asked for some money to pay for her workshop, to be able to attend a seven-day seminar. I gave her the money and I guess that’s another example of the kind of the good conditions that we lay as we’re going along in life. While she was at that workshop, I kept getting phone calls at my home. This was long before cell phones, even before beepers, for most people. I would get phone calls inviting me to dinner. “Why don’t you come over to dinner?”
This sister, Laura – Taylor at that time, now Hiyashi – was inviting me to dinner continually, and two or three times I said, “Well, I’ll think about it.” Finally I said I would come, but actually I was way, way down by Annapolis on the South River, water-skiing at that time. It was right around this time of the year and I eventually picked up a pay phone, called her, and said, “I’m sorry, I said I was coming but I can’t.” That happened twice, but on the third time I finally showed up at Upshur House in Washington, D.C., and I ended up staying for the weekend. As they say, “The rest is history.”
I’ll mention one of my experiences on the first night at Upshur House. They put me up in a bedroom right next to the prayer room. Wow. Brothers and sisters at that time were coming into the prayer room, and I could hear them praying. I was in an adjoining room, and the crack under the door was very thick. Later I learned this was True Parents’ residence when they stayed in Washington.
The intensity of their prayer and their concern for me really moved me. It kept me up all night. Right around dawn, I had a dream and I heard a knock. I think it was in the dream. There was a door, but I think it was in the dream. The door opened, and Jesus was standing there. He said, “I’m glad that you found a good home.”
One of the things I learned through thinking back on how I came to connect with our True Parents is that trying three times to get hold of somebody is important. Another lesson is that it doesn’t have to be very much of a professional situation that is set up. My weekend workshop consisted of somebody putting a videotape in the video machine and sitting there with me. That guy went to sleep, so I laid on the floor because I hadn’t slept all night. People had been praying. I laid on the floor for what must have been a couple of hours. But I guess subliminally I got the message.
I think the main thing is, just let’s do it. Let’s share the breaking news with people in whatever way is possible. It will work.
Matched by the Ultimate Matchmaker
To fast-forward a little bit, again, right around this time in 1982, 30 years ago, I was called to come forward to prepare for the possible Matching and Blessing. As you know, our True Parents are the ultimate matchmakers. Now there’s match.com and different things that are becoming very popular, but True Parents are the ultimate matchmakers in the world. The only thing I knew at that time about matchmaking was from “Fiddler on the Roof,” the movie or the play. “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.” So I envisioned it would be something like that, but it was actually right over here in the New Yorker Hotel in the Grand Ballroom. I know many of you have experienced that. Coming in there, I was 23 years old and three years in our movement.
I’m the kind of person who usually likes to sit in the back and just watch what’s going on, to see what’s happening and see where I can fit in. It was sometime after lunch. Several Japanese ladies came tearfully scurrying into the room. They sat there, and our True Father was going around and talking to people. All of a sudden he reached through the crowd. I was standing about three rows deep. He reached through, pulled me out, brought me over, stood my future wife Kumiko up, and asked her, “How old are you?” Then he asked me. Then he said to me in English, “You take care of her. She’s very smart.”
Every day I’m learning how true that statement is. She’s much smarter than me. I love you, Kumiko. She had applied for the matching two other times, but again, this victory came on the third try to make it happen. So I’m grateful for our True Parents and for everything that they have done for us. That’s hard to remember, 30 years ago.
Let me read these words from our True Father. It’s from “The Way of the Ocean.”
How does true love begin? Does it begin among brothers or friends? The origin of true love comes from God. Therefore, the fundamental and basic relationship of mankind is to be united with God. God and man. However, when you say mankind, you mean both men and women. The most dramatic relationship happens between men and women. When that relationship is centered upon God, that is the trinity of true love. God, man and woman. This is the basic and most essential relationship which fulfills all of mankind's needs.
I won’t go completely into the rest of our family’s story, but we have four great sons. My wife would say, “Oh, boy, four great boys!” The youngest one is getting ready to graduate from high school next week. We’re all happy to be working together. I know for myself I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing as the district pastor but for the support of my family, especially Kumiko, who takes care of all of the family needs. I’m again really grateful for that.
I’m also grateful for True Parents putting us together. Through the years our interactions have helped me a lot in understanding the flow of the providence, which we’ve read about in some of the Peace Messages and heard Father talk about – coming from East to West, across Europe and to America, and then making a big circle back through Japan and breaking down the barriers there. I feel like our marriage blessings are an opportunity to break down the cross-cultural barriers and bring harmony and peace to this world.
“A Kind of a Waterman”
For part of my sermon, I’d like to reflect on a bit of my life. I had the opportunity to share my testimony with True Parents in Kodiak, Alaska, back in 1992. To do that with True Father sitting there in the midst of a small gathering after he asked everyone to share their testimony made me feel when I talked with him directly that I saw in True Father a mirror of my own physical dad.
When I was growing up, we had a lathe in the basement of our house that we used for both work and play. When I heard the stories about Father focusing on the lathe with our members building the base for different industries that are now providing support for our movement in Korea as part of the Tongil Foundation, I expressed to Father that I felt a complete synergy between him and my father. I also felt this connection in the way that my father and I went fishing together. I grew up on the lower Potomac in the Chesapeake Bay area. I grew up as a kind of a waterman down there where we went fishing.
Even though my parents came from land-locked areas in Missouri and Pennsylvania, for some reason they bought a boat. So we lived on that boat for every weekend that I can remember in my early teens, from 10 years old on. We lived on that boat, fished on that boat, fished and ate dinner, and then threw an anchor out in the cove, and we slept on the boat. We got up the next day and did the same thing again. It was an amazing experience, and through that I could have an opportunity to connect with my own physical parents.
I learned a lot of heart and tradition from them. We didn’t go to church so much. I think like many people in America we considered ourselves Christian but we only maybe prayed at Thanksgiving and went to church maybe on Christmas or Eastertime. But I felt my parents were giving me a sense of religion within my heart. I call that the Waterman’s Creed.
A Master of Tea
When I met Kumiko, my wife, and we started talking, I gradually learned a little bit more about her background. She studied to be a tea master; she studied the way of tea. I have learned that the way of tea connects with the basic principles.
Wa is the state of harmony and beauty that creates the feeling of goodness.
Kei is the attitude of respect for all things.
Sei is purification.
Jyaku is like a level of enlightenment when we are in oneness with universal principle. At this stage it is like tranquility within our heart.
That sounds like the right place to be. We’d like to be able to live that kind of way of the tea. It’s probably healthier than my side, where Chesapeake Bay crabcakes are my thing. But Kumiko studied to become a master of the way of tea. I have seen videos from Korea in which our international president, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, visits tea shops and also he visits families and loves to serve them a cup of tea. That kind of tranquility and that essence of the way of tea is something that I always try to look for within myself.
My wife spent hours and hours as a part of a team learning to be tea masters. This art form involves about 200 different procedures required to prepare to serve that cup of tea in the right way. All of that training is cultivating the heart of attendance, the heart of love that goes beyond yourself because in each step you’re thinking only about how to prepare this as an offering of attendance to the person you’re there with. That, I think, is the essence of what we’re learning even from the True Children here in our movement at this time. They show us that even in the way they’re attending True Parents in Lake Tahoe. They show us the heart of wanting to be there to serve and attend.
Kumiko never thought she would be serving as a tea master in America, so she has been surprised to find that her hobby is now fulfilling a purpose by bringing peace to the diplomatic corps in Washington, D.C. The different embassy communities in Washington, D.C., can be very political and very unstable – anything can happen at any time. Those officials can be powerfully moved when they come to share in a cup of tea and experience this very impassioned, attending heart.
“Party for God”
Our hobbies, anything that we’re passionate about, can probably make a difference to the world if we can create it toward the bigger good. Our sister Heather Thalheimer expressed this to the UTS graduates yesterday. Following your passion is good. One professor in Harvard talked about this, saying that following your passion is good, but reaching out for a bigger purpose is even more important because then following your passion is not as completely self-centered; it’s offering it up to the higher and bigger purpose. Then you can bring change in this world.
Just as our international president has gone around visiting the different families in Korea and in Japan, our senior pastor here has done the same in the United States. She moved my heart back in 2009 with the first July 4th party that she hosted in the family area in the New Yorker Hotel. Our district pastor team was invited to share in a July 4th barbecue. We didn’t know what we were coming to. We were just coming along, thinking it was another one of our meetings. But actually we were brought right into her family; we were brought right there. The kids were forming the burgers, making the chili sauce, and flipping them. We had a party that just felt like we were part of the family.
Seeing and experiencing that love and seeing the dancing – that was the first time I had the opportunity to see and connect with the dancing from our young people, especially from Ariana. It took me out of my own box, my own shell, or you might say the rut that I often can get in. So I’m grateful for that opportunity.
Then, who knew that the next parties would come along? The Halloween parties, the galas, the Super Bowl party, the graduation parties. Eventually, I started thinking, “What is this, a party church? It’s a party church.” Then I thought, “Well, heck, why not? I’d like to join the kind of church that is a party church.” I think all of you would. So eventually I figured out that I’ve got to do something like that.
I love this one song: “Every day I’m shuffling, shuffling. Every day I’m shuffling.” The “Party Rock Anthem.” I love that. That’s about as good as I dance, by the way. But why not? Why not be a party church? Party for God. The purpose of life is joy, right? It took me a little while to get to that point.
I have to commend Rev. David Rendel. He’s not here today but he helped me go over that hill of all those galas coming along, but now I love them. I love the idea. A part of me is ready for the party church because I come from a hillbilly background in some ways. You can probably tell from my accent. When I’m talking to new people, they sometimes look at me and say, “Where are you from?” I have a mixture of a few different accents. But it was Reverend Rendel especially who helped me understand that it is not just about producing the programs and events, but it’s about the joy and the experience that each person gets.
Just like when I attended the Washington Monument rally without any of our members knowing it, we never know who we’re speaking to when we’re inviting them to those kinds of programs, but that unknown person can gain something there.
I promise not to do the shuffle up here very much. I do know a few people who can do it and help me through it.
Connecting to True Parents and True Children
I also want to highlight that we’re trying to honor our traditions and put into practice daily the practical applications of Divine Principle that we learn, while having fun doing it. In my experience, because I had a chauffeur’s license in the Washington, D.C., area and I grew up around there, whenever True Parents would come to Washington, I would often be called to do some driving. That lends itself to being in some very intimate settings, to understand the different give and take that’s going on behind the scenes, so to speak, at these major events.
Remembering our international president, again, we have heard our senior pastor, his big sister, say that she calls him “Lovey.” When I heard her start calling him that, I remembered back to those times when I would be behind the curtain with them, or in the car. He was constantly bringing the sense of joy and uplifting the atmosphere. Most of us can be kind of heavy around our True Parents at those kinds of events, but the True Children can bring a sense of attendance and uplifting that is just amazing to see. And I really encourage each of you, if you get the chance in these next few months and this year, please, please find a way to go to Hoon Dok Hae: these morning gatherings for reading and studying right at the feet of True Parents. It’s like being there with Jesus and listening to the parables that he’s speaking and receiving guidance directly.
It’s important for us the founding members of our faith in America to be able to connect both with our True Parents and through the True Children, who have something that is beyond our own narrow comprehension. True Children have that personal relationship with True Parents and with each other that we can connect with. Through our attending the True Children, we also can gain the ability to guide and raise up the people next to us, our own family and friends, to understand the heart of attendance. It takes time, and it takes effort to be able to do that. Just as the tea master has to learn the proper procedures and heart of attendance behind presenting the tea in order to make the environment full of love and respect, we need to cultivate these capacities in ourselves so we can pass these on to new people as they come to understand what we’re about.
Building a Ministry with Fisherman
As a final reading I’ve selected a passage from the Gospel of Matthew that may help explain why I felt God called me, as a waterman, a fisherman.
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Jesus called himself a good shepherd; and God in the Old Testament called people who were shepherds to help establish the tradition of the Israelites. But these words, which come right after Jesus had gone through the three temptations and also right after John the Baptist had been put in prison, inform us that as Jesus was stepping out to establish his new church, he didn’t call shepherds.
Jesus went directly to the fishermen. Fishermen go out in all kinds of weather. They go out every day, or they don’t get to eat. They are a special type of person that endures things but also is committed to bringing in the harvest. As disciples, fishermen are always reaching out to bring in new people. We’re called to reach out to share the breaking news and bring new people into this incredible ministry of Lovin’ Life that is growing strongly here in New York. The team here is amazing, and they need all of you around the country to help further this ministry in a way that is new and exciting.
Fishermen never know what they’re going to catch, unlike the shepherd who sees his flock all around him. I know we’re going to see some of the winners of the Peace King fishing tournament, but if you’ve ever gone out fishing, you know that you never know what you’re going to get when you go out on the water with your fishing rod. You can’t see what’s in the bottom, but you have to go out in faith. You have to be able to do that. Jesus himself called those people, the fishermen, to come in and help him build his ministry.
We’re like that, especially our founding members here. We don’t have to worry. God will send those people who are chosen: just like God sent me. I didn’t know it when I was laying those different conditions, but God somehow sent me into the waters of the Divine Principle and then helped me understand where I fit in, where I could make myself an offering.
Heung Kook Stephens’ Commencement Speech
Our senior pastor on Mother’s Day shared with us that we need to learn to celebrate life, both within our church and outside in the greater community. One of our ACLC pastors in the Baltimore area used to give me similar advice. He would always share with me, “Why don’t the Blessed Central Families just go have a picnic outside and let the world see what you’re all about?” We all together are amazing people and we have something that we can offer as we’re celebrating life together with our True Parents and making a difference in this world.
To demonstrate that, I’d like to conclude with a video of one of the graduates in the Washington area. His name is Heung Kook Stephens. Some of you probably know him. I don’t know if he’s here in the audience in New York. I don’t want to embarrass him too much, but he’s a great beatboxer and hip-hop dancer. Sometime you’ll be able to see him. He graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, with a grade point average of 4.0. That’s our goal, right, Victoria? He has set a wonderful example.
Heung Kook served in Peru with the Engineers Without Borders, and amazingly he did all of this while he was one of our great youth ministers in the Washington, DC, area and connected there. So let’s watch this video of his commencement speech.
HEUNG KOOK STEPHENS: President Loh, distinguished guests, and most of all, fellow graduates, welcome. I would like to share something about compassion and then tell a story that means a lot to me. Compassion for me is the motivation of our hearts to be moved to action. I believe compassion is necessary for a successful life and career. However, compassion is a difficult thing to master. Just like our mind, our hearts need time and effort to mature. I believe we need to develop both our technical skills and develop what I call our “heartistic” skills. We need to grow a mind that can help others, but also grow a heart that truly wants to help others.
A few years ago I traveled with the university’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders to implement a water purification system in a Peruvian mountain village called Campone. It was a great opportunity to get real engineering experience and add to my resume. However, I did not expect that it would become an opportunity to develop those heartistic skills.
One day a group of us were walking down a road in the village when a young boy came riding by on his bike. We greeted each other, “Hola. Buenos dias,” and he biked ahead around the corner. A moment later we saw the boy again, this time standing next to his bike, which appeared to be broken. He called us over, and we saw that the chain had just fallen off. While fixing it for him, we learned his name was Reynaldo. After we put the chain back on, Reynaldo said, “Gracias,” and rode off again.
A few days later we were doing a large excavation elsewhere in the village. We invited the community to help out with shovels and picks. I was working hard to do my share when some little kid kept running around me and making obnoxious noises. I looked up and saw that it was Reynaldo. He was playing around while the rest of us were working. During a break I decided to have some fun with Reynaldo.
For those who know me, I’m into hip-hop and I love to break dance, so during lunch I tried to teach Reynaldo how to beatbox, along with some dance moves. You guys know beatboxing, right?
It goes like – [makes beatbox sounds]. Reynaldo, he was actually pretty good so we entertained ourselves dancing to our own beatboxing.
On our last day in Campone we were waiting for a bus to pick us up when I saw a little figure running toward us in the distance. Of course, it was none other than Reynaldo. I could not believe how cool this kid was. Just for fun, I put my stuff down and started to breakdance my way towards him, and he copied every one of my moves as he was running, even the handstand. When we finally met up, I gave him a big hug.
I told him that we were leaving and he responded with a sad face. I tried in my best Spanish to tell him I would miss him, too, but then the bus came and I had to go. As we drove away, I looked back and thought, “Reynaldo is such an awesome kid. I hope he grows up to be an amazing person.” Then it dawned on me how terrible it would be if he got sick from drinking contaminated water. What if he wasn’t able to go to school or later help provide for his family because he was ill? It would break my heart.
It was those kinds of experiences that keep things in perspective for me and are some of the reasons why I want to always do my best. Reynaldo, and so many others like him, deserve the best. I believe in the infinite potential in everyone. We can all be great, either as scholars, professionals, or even just as individuals. But to make a big impact we will need capable minds and compassionate hearts. We need both because just knowing something does not always help someone, and good intentions alone do not always do much either.
I want to congratulate everyone here on reaching a huge milestone and I want to encourage all of us to continue developing our technical skills so we can overcome the challenges to whatever we are motivated to do. But let us also continue developing our heartistic skills, growing our hearts so we are motivated to use our expertise to offer the best.
Why is this important? Because what people need more than anything else is to be acknowledged and valued in a way that shows they are worth our full effort. Only after developing those heartistic skills will we be able to find greater success, but by then our success won’t really be the point anyway. Thank you.
REV. FRANCIS: What a beautiful speech and beautiful connection with his audience! He was speaking to 10,000 people at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland. He was chosen to represent the entire student class. I hope you saw the church symbol on his cap. That’s a novel idea.
“We Are Blessed”
So to conclude, our Washington, D.C., community led by Pastor Zagery Oliver and his wife Fumi is working to establish something new there. We have a beautiful church building that is getting ready to celebrate 35 years since it was dedicated by our True Parents. We want to turn it into a fantastic learning center, similar to what 43rd Street is here. We need help from all of us across the country to understand the best way to use that facility that is an important part of our True Parents’ legacy. Many of you have come to the Washington Church for different programs. Some of you have sung there with the New Hope Singers; some of you were there when True Parents danced on the stage back in 1977.
With Rev. Oliver’s leadership we’re working to formulate a plan to turn it into a state-of-the-art learning center. When I came here to New York, I went to that McDonald’s across the street. I was blown away by what they did inside there. It was such an ancient building before, but now it’s such a lovely cafe that it attracts me to just want to go in and sit and enjoy it, with the jazz music playing.
We want our church building in Washington to feel as comforting, warm, loving, and professionalized. In the coming months, as we formulate a plan for that, Rev. Oliver and the team will be concerned about how we can best make a new start with that facility that is so precious to our True Parents in the Washington, DC, area. Many of the other properties in the area were kind of sold out from under our True Parents, so we especially want to assure that the church building fulfills its valuable potential for serving all the new people that we’re meeting daily, even in that area.
Just as Heung Kook (HK) was expressing in his speech, we all have some infinite potential, but we need to have both capable minds and compassionate hearts. We didn’t see it in the video, but at the end of the speech the president of the university broke down a bit and cried. He said, “HK, you don’t know it, but I’m from Peru. That little boy could have been me.” That was the president of the University of Maryland speaking. Then he turned to the audience and said, “You don’t know it, but we are all blessed. We are all blessed. We are blessed, whether we have a degree or not.”
Just like our senior pastor said in her statement that I read at the beginning, “We are blessed.” We need to be the ones who through our infinite potential – whether it’s our hobbies like being a tea master, or we’re a truck driver, a student, fisherman, or whatever – find a way to give out our blessings and help other people realize that they are blessed. We have something that we can give to God and to his children that will help us live as one family under God.
So I just want to encourage you to live your compassionate way. And I’d like to thank this team for making me sound a little bit good, and maybe even look as good as I can look on screen.
God bless you, and have a wonderful week.