When I returned to CA from Las Vegas I was immediately assigned to a challenge team. The captain was self-disciplined, hard-working and organized. Our team was often #1 or #2 in the nation. We were usually traveling, on the road, sleeping in hotels, and we worked long hours. All of us respected the captain and acknowledged his high standard, but he could be quite ruthless with the members.
We had a heavily packed U-haul on the back of our van. The captain was driving late at night to another town; everyone else was asleep in the van. The captain may have been driving too fast, or nodded off and swerved; whatever happened, the u-haul and van parted ways after a strong swerve. The uhaul flew past the van and crashed off the side of the road into an embankment. The van was headed towards the U-Haul. If it had hit the U-Haul, the impact would most likely have killed some of our members. But right before the impact, the two brothers in the front seats said they felt someone push their knees up to their chest and push them into the second seat. Then the van turned upside down, crushing the roof above the front seat, and skidded to a stop.
I woke up as the van was turning upside down. My thought at that moment was crystal clear: If we live through this, it is really God.
Once the van stopped, we had to quickly crawl out the front passenger window which was shattered. As we stood by the side of the road, trying to figure out what happened, all I could say over and over again was: God really loves us. God really loves us. I must have said it 500 times or more. Finally the captain told me to shut up. Another car pulled over and looked at the scene. It was so dramatic, they didn’t think we were involved; they thought we were also spectators. They asked, “Were there any survivors?” Amazingly, none of us required medical attention. It was truly miraculous.
God really does love us!
Cold shower-tepid gift
This captain told all sisters on the team to take a 7 -minute cold shower every morning- just because we were female.
Three different times, he told me- I was the team mother- to take an hour- long cold shower because, he said, he didn’t like my attitude. The third time, we were staying at a roadside motel and I could not get cold water from the shower- only tepid. I finally decided it was a very thoughtful gift from God.
I had been assigned as team mother for almost my entire time on MFT. There was little to no responsibility other than being a good example of unity with the captain and having a good attitude and work ethic. But on this team, a few members approached me to speak to the captain on their behalf. One member asked that her cart be lightened. We used a wooden cart with wheels, stocked with oak-framed pictures with glass. I went to the captain with the member’s request. He was livid. How did I know what was best for the member? I was just thinking horizontally. How could I know what indemnity conditions were needed? I thought about what he said and considered that maybe he was right. How did I know what is best for a member? “Just focus on your responsibility,” he yelled.
After that incident, I took no more requests and avoided any effort at comforting members. I focused on my immediate and personal responsibilities. The captain would ask me to do unreasonable things, but I did them. One Sunday morning, he dropped me off in front of a church and told me to fundraise to the pastor. I said nothing, got out of the van and marched up to the church. I was concerned lest he was already preaching from the pulpit. Luckily he was greeting his congregants at the front door, so it was easier to comply. I asked the pastor about buying a picture and he politely asked me to come back after the service. The point was not the sale, but showing the members the standard of absolute unity.
In retrospect, a mother and father have different strengths and weaknesses. Both are needed in raising children. Team mothers could have contributed more. But at that time in our church women had little to no voice. Now True Mother is leading our entire movement; women are being asked to take greater leadership roles.
Even though I was exemplary in unity, I wasn’t up to his standard in other areas. But I am not sure what in particular.
After the morning run, each member (working in different areas) had to call and report their results. When I would give my report, the captain would commence his tirade at the top of his voice berating my shoddy performance. If I was in an office, borrowing their phone, everyone in the office could hear his yelling. If I was in a parking lot, people would turn and stare, wondering what was going on.
One morning and afternoon I had been especially diligent. I usually do not run with the cart, but that day I did run. I was also thinking about God and True Parents all morning. In spite of that, I had little to show for my efforts by the pick-up. The captain was certain I hadn’t invested sincerely. He began to berate me brutishly for being selfish and lazy, He told me to repent as though my life depended on it. I knew that I had not been selfish and lazy that day, but I had been selfish and lazy other times so I could still repent for those times. Afterwards, I was dropped off for about 1-2 hours on a house-to- house run; I made $600.00.
Our beloved commander, ZH, was needed in NY. He was truly a creative and loving leader. I appreciate him and his wife deeply.
A new commander was sent to our region, a young white American brother. I gained confidence to share my concerns with this new leader because he spoke English. I explained my captain’s habit of yelling and asked if I could just walk away and fundraise instead of listening to his diatribes. I was the top seller in our center. The commander thought my request was reasonable and said yes. The next time the captain started his tongue-lashing, I picked up my product and walked away.
He was shocked; I was known for my obedience. Now, I was empowered. I didn't have to waste time listening to his tirades. Bringing result was my main responsibility.
After a month or so, the captain convinced the commander that I was trying to drive a wedge between them. The commander rescinded his permission. It was very disappointing, very disheartening, but I had tried my best to improve a difficult situation.
Since that time, I have read True Father’s words: children can go to their grandparents if they are having trouble with their parents. So the commander and captain were wrong in denying me that right. But we keep learning and growing as we go. Also, True Father declared that we are no longer a leader-centered movement, but a member- centered movement (1981). The indemnity I paid was due to a specific time-period that required unity. In addition, many leaders had no training to be leaders and sometimes abused their authority. This is most likely inevitable during emergency periods. It is a blessing to learn and improve by studying past mistakes.
Since I had tried my best, but was now back to square one, I was determined to redouble my efforts to unite. In order to do that I needed God’s help. I prayed intensely, “I want to see my captain from Your point of view. I want to believe that You are speaking through him and unite with his direction.” This difficulty had been going on for more than a year; I needed this renewed point of view and powerful resolve in order to move forward.
That night before dropping me off for the evening run, the captain began ‘dressing me down’. I stood silently while he continued on and on. “God is speaking through my captain; God is speaking through my captain.” I reminded myself. Then he ended his tirade this way: “I hate you more than I have hated anyone in my entire life.”
His words were like a bullet in my heart. They were not my captain’s words but God’s. Although my body did not crumble to the ground, my spirit went into shock. My captain drove off.
I went to a restaurant and cried. I cried for the entire period, tears pouring down my face. I expressed my broken heart to God. I fell in love with God when I heard the Divine principle. I joined this movement out of my love for God. I know I am a fallen person but to be so hated was excruciating. I wrote my sorrowful letters to Him on napkins. The waitress was extremely sympathetic; she allowed me to cry undisturbed, bringing me more napkins as needed.
All along on this team, I had felt that I was like a prize race horse, completely loyal to my ‘master’- the captain. I wanted to race the fastest I possibly could, but no matter how fast I ran, my master was never satisfied. He beat me mercilessly, beat me until my flesh was bleeding, beat me until my bones were broken. Now my bloody body was finally dead at his feet.
The next day I rose, brushed my teeth and dressed, but I would just as soon have climbed into a coffin, laid down, never to get up again. I made the motions of a person who is living; I had the appearance of being alive. If anyone knew what I was feeling inside- I would have been immediately admitted to a mental ward. I was not in my right mind, but I said nothing to anyone.
God saw and knew everything.
A direction came down from the ‘top’. There was going to be an exchange. The Northwestern region with its center in Seattle was trading their top seller with LA’s top seller: me. I would go to ‘revive’ their region. If I had any sense of humor, I might have found the situation humorous: sending a dead person to bring life.
As usual I said nothing; I just packed my bags.