GTG Youth

Centered On God

“The second week of GTGY is a very important week, because this is where the education and content will happen,” said Naokimi Ushiroda, President of the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) USA, who spent the week sharing lectures with the Global Top Gun Youth participants. “I was reflecting on the purpose of this workshop, and what I see as the main purpose is for everyone in this age group, the future leaders, to align their goals centered on God, True Parents, and the Divine Principle. True Mother wants to make sure the next generation of leadership is centered on the right thing.”

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The five-day lecture series concluded on August 11, and according to one participant from Washington State, USA, Esther Pisano, “the lectures were amazing. It was definitely a new and creative expression of the Divine Principle.”

A typical day this past week opened with morning lectures, and then participants spent the afternoon engaged in various activities, appropriate for each age group and stage of life. Middle school participants took part in activities designed to promote bonding between them, and to instill a sense of self-value and self-love within each participant. The middle school youth emerged feeling more confident and more connected.

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For university-aged participants, activities included several ice-breakers, introspective assignments, and team-building exercises. Though many of the participants do not speak English, translators, singing and fun activities helped everyone to bond and create international friendships. In one activity, participants wrote down a list of walls that they tend to put up, which block their original selves and contribute to their personal vulnerabilities. They then wore a sign with their number one personal wall, and walked around the room talking to each other about it.

Justin Okamoto of CARP USA also led a vision statement exercise, encouraging everyone to envision the future that they want to see, and the future that True Mother wants to see in this world. “It was a very powerful session,” said Jinil Fleishman from Las Vegas, USA.

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In the evenings, participants had exciting clan-wide open mics and testimony sharing.

“In each group, we shared our testimonies,” explained Jinil Fleishman, “then we joined all together as one clan to share all these experiences that we’ve had. I think each participant is taking away a clear vision and a hope for the future that we can create.”

“Participants have been exploring the Divine Principle, taking part in leadership training and creating a global family,” said Kenji Sugawara and Tamami Sugawara from Worcester, Massachusetts, co-directors of the Global Top Gun Youth middle and high school group. “The energy has been growing every single day; the participants have been getting louder in their singing, louder in activities and cheering, and feeling very free. They feel empowered in the commitment they are making for True Parents and for the live they want to live.”

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Logic Of Love

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August 7 was our first day of lectures at the Global Top Gun Youth workshop. After a long pilgrimage journey throughout Korea, participants are ready to engage in thought-provoking discussions and internal growth activities. The interactive reflection periods here are anything but quiet introspection; they are high in energy and loud with love, giving youth a sense of identity as young Unificationists and allowing them a chance to connect in heart with more of their brothers and sisters around the world. They’re getting a daily dose of self value, confidence, fun and laughter.

“I just love my brothers and sisters so much!” Said Kengo, a GPA participant at GTGY. The love generated here across borders with other young Unificationists around the world is priceless.

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To open the Divine Principle lecture series, Naokimi Ushiroda, President of the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) USA, gave a presentation on the Original Mind to middle and high school participants. Justin Okamoto of CARP USA also spoke to participants, including the university students, who also began introductory lectures this week. Middle high school participants are encouraged every evening through intentional games and activities to realize themselves as children of God, being pushed ever inward to connect with their original selves. 

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Educators are striving to instill True Mother’s words from the first day at GTGY into the hearts of the young adults here: “You are the first in history. True Parents are happy because of you. I am proud of all of you. Please do not forget that; there will always be the blessing and love of True Parents in all of your hard work in order for all of you to reach your dreams.” 

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August 10 was Justin Okamoto’s last day lecturing with the university students. He was met with enthusiasm and encouragement. His lecture series was received by attentive ears and hearts eager to take away habits and practices to propel participants forward in their dreams. The day was spent leading participants toward creating their own vision statements to move their lives towards creating and fulfilling their dreams. The lecture series ended with everyone singing and praying in unison. In the evening, participants shared short testimonies within their clans and then later as a tribe.

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Lecture Testimonies:

My favorite experience so far has been listening to lectures from Naokimi and Justin. I thought commitment is what brings my mind and body to unite. Naokimi said, “If you love someone, you will do anything.” I immediately realized how right he was. Love is what unites our minds and bodies. I saw this truth in coming to this GTGY workshop. When I heard that True Mother was holding this workshop, I knew right away that I had to be here. I felt my heart pulling me here to help True Mother to accomplish her goal. So my mind directed my body and here I am.

-Sarah Takhar, USA

I’ve gained so much spiritually in these past couple of days that I have in this year. The lectures have given me a sense of clarity within myself and who I am as a person.

-JaYeon Mayele, USA

In the past I had not been interested in reading the Divine Principle from cover to cover. However, the lectures in this workshop made me want to study the Divine Principle more and read it in its entirety.

-Riki Egoshi, USA

Within the last two days of the GTG Youth workshop, I felt that I was really enlightened through the Divine Principle lectures. I was inspired and learned so many new things that I didn’t know about before.

-Wonja Kim, USA

During this workshop I’ve realized that I really didn’t understand the Divine Principle in such a practical way. I couldn’t imagine that the Divine Principle in itself, excluding True Parents’ words, could touch my heart so deeply. So many questions I prayed to receive the answer are now appearing in front of me just by looking things in a different way. It’s so amazing to think that the Divine Principle applies to all our situations and life. 

-Jens Fernandez Muhlke, Dominican Republic

Naokimi said one thing that really hit me like a realization. It was one of those things that are so obvious and logical but we don’t see it until someone tells us. That the secret to mind-body unity is LOVE! I always would think that mind and body unity is such a hard thing, and that you need to make so many conditions to achieve it. However if you love, then you no longer need to force yourself to do it. That really resonated with me and I almost cried.

-Yann Taupier-Letage, France

With regards to lectures, I just find them some of the best lectures I’ve ever had and that’s truly sincere. I’ve heard Divine Principle lectures a lot, but I feel I learned how practical and logical the Principle can be. And maybe also a way that I can explain the Principle to others.

-Yvonne Marsh, UK

I am amazed by the way the Divine Principle has been broken down and brought to everyday experiences. The methodology of teaching is very convenient as we come to understand how Divine Principle can help us and thus we can find easy experiences to share with the people that don’t know Divine Principle. I understand that I cannot convince anybody to understand or to study Divine Principle if I myself cannot understand it or see real examples of how it has helped me.

-Virgilio Leitao Muando, Mozambique

I really appreciated the lectures, especially the ones in the morning. It will really help me when I will be witnessing to someone, as it really teaches us how to outreach.

-Nadal Noel, France

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The Pilgrimage Continues

We continued into a second day of pilgrimage on August 4, stopping at Holy Ground sites in Busan and Mungyeong, respectively.

The group that visited Busan had the opportunity to visit the Beomnaegol Memorial Hall, which was built around the outcropping where True Father and one of his earliest disciples, Won Pil Kim, built a hut out of mud and cardboard in which True Father would complete the original manuscript for the Divine Principle.

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A few minutes walk from the memorial hall, we came to the Rock of Tears, where True Father as a young man and later True Parents together, have offered intense and tearful prayers of devotion to realize God’s will for humankind. Connecting to that same, deep spirit of prayer, many of the GTGY participants were similarly moved to tears as they placed their hands on the rock in prayer.

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Continuing up the mountain, christened “Mt. Cheonbu” by True Mother in 2001, we finally reached the summit, where you can look out over the whole of the Port of Busan and two, large pagodas stand, each representing True Father and True Mother. True Father was said to walk up to the summit, after a day’s work down in the port, to meditate and reflect on his mission and God’s heart.

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The Heart Of Our Holy Sites

Today we got up bright and early for our pilgrimage throughout Korea. Since there are so many of us, we split into two groups and charted separate courses.

Group 1 started with Cheongae or “Blue Sea” Garden in Yeosu. The site on which Blue Sea Garden is built was selected by True Parents to be the central location for the Ocean Providence in Korea in January 2003, after an extensive search for an appropriate site around the length of the Korean peninsula. During their stay there, the GTGY participants visited the local church and True Father’s Hoon Dok Hwe (scripture reading) room. Afterward, the group went to the Ocean Resort, where they enjoyed the sauna and swimming at the beach.

Group 2 went to Paju Wonjeon, then to Cheonbok Gung, and then Cheongpa Dong. Our guide knew so much of the history, and shared about when True Parents spent their days here.

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Paju Wonjeon is a Unificationist burial ground located in the city of Paju, Gyeonggi Province. The approximately 500,000 pyeong (roughly 408 acres) of land at Paju Wonjeon was donated by Shin Shil Lee, a Presbyterian who joined the Unification movement in the 1960s.

For staff member, Shinyoung Chang, it was her first time going to Paju Wonjeon. “I had no idea it was so large,” she said, “and that there are already 10 members of True Parents’ family resting there. Having hundreds of us there at once made the experience more profound than it could have been otherwise. There are many paths and levels, very beautifully landscaped. The entire experience really felt like a true pilgrimage of faithful people paying their respects.

“Being an older second generation Unificationist, I cannot but cry when it comes to Hyo Jin Moon. This is was my first time greeting him at his resting place; Young Jin Moon as well. I said a little prayer at both graves, asking them to please watch over their younger brothers and sisters at this time and show them each how to connect to True Mother’s heart. What touched me most was individuals who took the initiative to go stop and pray alone.”

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At the Cheonbok Gung, the Unification Peace Temple in Yongsan, Seoul, participants again had an opportunity to pray on their own. True Parents officiated the dedication ceremony for the Cheonbok Gung in February 2010. The Cheonbok Gung currently serves as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) Korea Headquarters, replacing the original church building in Cheongpa Dong, Seoul in that capacity.

The “Cheongpa Dong Headquarters Church,” as the site was formerly known, saw many historic moments in the Unification movement, from some of the first educational workshops about the Divine Principle to the engagement and Holy Wedding ceremonies of True Parents, as well as the birth of several of their children.

The day grew hotter, and the holy sites we visited instilled a sense of seriousness and reflection. As we continue this pilgrimage, we sincerely hope to gain a deeper understanding of True Parents’ life and the history of the Unification movement, in order to better connect with True Parents and be able to share about their life with others.

Dancing With Our Sister

On August 2nd, Sun Jin Moon, International President of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) came with her husband In Sup Alexander Park, International Vice President of FFWPU, and sister-in-law Professor Yeon Ah Moon, International President of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), to spend time with the workshop participants.

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The Universal Peace Academy (UPA) band played a few songs to lift up our hearts and minds as we started our day together. Then the three guests walked up on stage, where they sat cross-legged on the stage floor wearing GTGY shirts! This set up made the participants particularly excited and open to hearing their remarks because it felt very familial and engaging.

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Sun Jin Moon guided the participants in a reading of True Father’s autobiography, A Peace Loving Global Citizen, then talked about her life and how the love of God and True Parents have helped her to address the obstacles she has faced.

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At the conclusion of her main remarks, there was an opportunity for question-and-answer, and a lot of the Japanese and international participants asked questions about True Mother and how to better understand her heart. They also asked how to serve True Parents well when they’re still so young. Sun Jin Moon answered the participants honestly and openly, sharing that True Parents, like our own parents, love us and want us to be happy and to excel in what we create.

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After the question-and-answer session ended, Sun Jin Moon then led a combined dance and exercise session featuring the famous “Bounce” song and also freestyle dancing. The international participants were particularly excited by the opportunity to dance together with Sun Jin Moon and the other GTGY participants.

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In the afternoon, all of the participants gathered together again to play icebreakers and get to know one another better. Because there are so many GTGYers here, it turned out to be a huge competition with games and prizes, and the winners were ultimately chosen by voting with rousing cheers.

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The participants then ended their day together as they will every day: practicing a song for one hour in the evening to be performed at the upcoming commemoration of True Father’s fourth Seonghwa anniversary.

Many are even preparing to continue practicing the songs once we go on pilgrimage tomorrow, August 3. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates about our adventures as we head out on the road!

Get Ready!

From August 1-21, one thousand youth will gather at Cheongpyeong for a special 21-day workshop hosted by True Parents. True Mother looks forward to speaking with everyone personally, and giving young people a unique chance to unite in heart with brothers and sisters from all over the world. Stay tuned to hear all about their experience. This blog will feature interviews, videos, testimonies and photos from GTG Youth.