As I watched True Mother's 'plane taxi to its stand, I was very aware that her visit to Britain came on the back of a number of difficulties that the European church is facing in getting permission for True Parents to enter, and I was wondering if I would have to organise an immediate exodus of the 100 or so National Messiahs and National leaders that were awaiting True Mother here to the next country on her itinerary.
There is an agreement (the Schengen treaty) between 11 nations in Europe to have a borderless zone where no passports are necessary. With this new agreement came an immigration law which included a blacklist of persona non grata, and various reasons were found to put True Parents on the list. Fortuitously for us, Britain is not part of the treaty, and although True Father was not allowed into Britain in 1995, the decision to disallow him from entering the country was ruled to be unlawful, and as a result True Parents are not banned from entering the country. To secure a visa for True Mother, we had to apply a while beforehand and were delighted to hear that she had been granted a visa on the day of her application. However, we were still wary in case the Government, fickle as governments usually are, should decide on a reversal. You can imagine my partial relief when True Mother stepped off the 'plane and into her car; partial because instead of one potential disaster, now there were almost limitless opportunities for things to go wrong over the next day or so!
We have a beautiful house on the edge of London which was built for David Livingstone, the famous explorer and missionary. It was later used as a convent, and bought by us and prepared as a house for True Parents. The staff at Livingstone House were preparing the garden and house 6 weeks in advance; there was so much to be done, so many things to be repaired and painted. There was damp in the walls in a number of places, dirt and dust everywhere, windows to be cleaned, rooms to be repaired and prepared, and the gardens to be tidied up.
Over the visit weekend, meals had to be arranged for True Mother, her party, the 40 staff in the house, not to mention the European leaders (who descended on us for a European level leaders conference) - who had to be accommodated in, and transported from a nearby hotel, and fed in a marquee in the garden. In spite of the fact that most mobilisable members (at least another 80) were involved in preparing the venue where True Mother would speak, we had to arrange transport for the European Leaders from various ports to Chislehurst, their hotel and the venue, and run the leader's meeting itself under Pres. Sa and Rev Kwak's guidance.
The leaders meeting and Hoon Dok Hae were held on the morning prior to True Mother's speech in a room originally used by the nuns as a chapel. Many people commented on the beauty of the house and its gardens, which is a credit to all those involved in its preparation and those who have taken care of it over the years.
The mobilisation went off to a slow start - the PA dept. after having sent 500 letters out, only received 7 replies after ten days. The Women's Federation who brought in a large number of guests also had very little response at the beginning. However on the day of the event there were 1300 people including around 440 guests and VIPs.
I arrived at the speech venue an hour early, to find great activity (to put it mildly) and tension as people rushed hither and thither trying to put the finishing touches, and even starting touches, to the flowers, stage, sound system, cameras, lights, seats, stage, refreshments, True Mother's room, VIP reception room, World University Federation Inauguration meeting room, children and parents room and anything else that could be set up or taken down.
As the starting time drew closer, the preparations were as complete as they could be and our MC Mr. David Hanna began the proceedings. At first it seemed as though all was going well, until all 1300 of us discovered together that the backing tape to the first song wasn't going to play. Sound problems stayed with us during the introduction to True Mother's video, and as I sat in the front seats trying to look calm, all sorts of ghastly scenarios floated unbidden through my mind, the worst being one in which True Mother had to shout to the audience. Thankfully, due to a great twiddling of knobs and checking of leads behind the scenes, most of the problems were resolved. True Mother didn't have to shout and everything afterwards went smoothly.
George Robertson, our media man, who was at the back of the hall commented: As True Mother read her speech the lady sitting beside me grew very excited. "Praise God" she said and "yes! yes!" she turned to me at one point and looked very carefully over her glasses "This is from heaven. Are you listening deeply?" I assured her I was trying. Half way through Mother spoke about God's tears and my earnest companion clutched my arm. I thought she was going to hug me instead she whispered loudly, "Tears! Jesus weeps through Mrs Moon." I was curiously struck by her insight.
Some people had travelled far to be there. A Scottish man, guest of an Edinburgh member was enormously impressed with the whole event. He said it was a "grand wee ceilidh (Gaelic for party)". When the bagpipes started he said "if I had been a wee bit closer to the stage I would have asked her (True Mother) to join me in a Highland fling"
Marshall de Souza, our interfaith man wrote: "Overall, I think the event was very successful; the spirit was good; the attendance was great; and it seemed that Father and Mother were happy with the occasion.
Two things made me especially happy: firstly my guest (and college supervisor), was able to make a heart-felt (and beautifully inscribed plaque) presentation to True Parents in recognition of their inspirational youth work, notably the Religious Youth Service. It's a shame the inscription was not read out aloud!
And secondly, I sat next to an academic during the satellite link-up celebration. I asked him what he felt about the idea of Father and Mother sharing like that after an event. He very positively said, "It's great!", and something else like, "that's how families should celebrate across the miles..."
A close English Christian guest of ours, well known for her 50 years of interfaith work commented, "The satellite communication between Mrs. Moon and Rev. Moon was delightful and so loving and spontaneous."
After we had returned to Chislehurst at dinner and during the breakfast on the last day, we were able to get some positive feedback about the whole stay. Peter Kim remarked on the beauty and tranquillity of the house and its grounds, and True Mother was happy with the event. Pres. Sa, the European Continental President, was happy with the overall result, and despite the technical setbacks also felt that the whole event was a success.
As we drove True Mother to the airport I was thanking whoever is working with me from the spirit world for pushing me to double the estimated journey time; we were quite stuck in a traffic jam and arrived at the airport just in time. I could finally stop worrying when I saw True Mother's little jet whistle overhead and disappear into a bank of inevitable English clouds on its way to Holland.
I was relieved that True Mother could enter the country, and amazed that we could pull the weekend off as well as we did; many people had good and also difficult experiences in the time prior to and during the visit, and a lot of lessons could be learnt. I gained a deeper insight into True Mother's character and even got a personal telling off from her for not being strong enough (when I read her speech at Hoon Dok Hae) - for which I'm grateful. After all, it's not often that we can get direct guidance from the Messiah.
ITPN Tim Read