From June 7 - July 17, my family attended the 40-day workshop in Jardim, Brazil. We were members of the 9th graduating class! Since the training programs began last year in July, about 1,000 families have graduated so far.
From Washington, DC, the first family to respond to Fatherís direction was David and Vickie Phelps. They attended the first workshop in July 1998. The second family from DC was Bruce and Rhonda Williams in early winter, 1999. We were part of the third wave of families including Antonio and Kyoko Betancourt, and Caroline Betancourt. This summer, 10 other families from DC traveled to Brazil.
We were very happy to have participated in this special providence. It wasnít easy. Like everyone, we faced the twin challenges: money and time. When Vickie and David came back last summer the seed of the idea was placed firmly in our minds to somehow go. I knew it was my time to go. Spiritually, I felt stuck in the mud. I needed something radical to get me back on track. Jardim, I was sure would be the answer.
By Thanksgiving, we started a special savings account (begging and borrowing) and began to prepare in earnest. Several airline broker companies, as well as Go World were called for rates. After Blessing í99 in February, more information, testimonies, custom requirements, immunizations, and maps were collected. In April, we asked Go World what would be the best dates to travel in order to have the lowest airfares. Until then we told our friends we were "thinking" of going, but from that point, we were definitely going. We made to-do lists: shopping, stop the newspapers, mail, cut the grass, watch the house, take care of the dog, etc. Finally in May, we bought the non-refundable plane tickets. We were committed.
Like most people, we had certain concepts of what to expect. Even though weíd read various testimonies by Michael Kiely, Jorg Heller and others, still we thought we were going to a place like Camp Sunrise, a sort of rustic, by-the-lake resort. Nothing surprised us more than to see the actual facilities. They are modern and first-class. Since we arrived early in the summer, there were only about 20 other Westerners. The few adults and older children would sit around in a circle for Hoon Dok Hae. Tyler Hendricks finished on the day we arrived. Jackson and Kyoko Bowman assumed leadership of the Western group.
As more people arrived in the weeks ahead, particularly when school vacation began in late June, a huge number of families arrived from America and Europe. As the numbers increased, the dynamics of administering to the needs of upwards of 500 Westerners changed radically. We needed to organize. People had to be in charge and teams organized for cleaning, sports, youth, activities, photocopying, school, teachers, day care, tour coordinator, etc. We were tasked to build an ideal community centered on God!
Father says there are three major problem areas facing humanity: (1) immorality, (2) starvation and (3) environment. Father wants to resolve these issues on a community level and multiply a successful model throughout the world.
Donna volunteered to coordinate room assignments and be a one-person welcome committee. I helped in the office by maintaining the data, as well as to transcribe various messages given by guest speakers. Our daughter, Hannah was busy making new friends from around the world, riding horses, attending art classes organized by Joe Willitt, and helping the Brazilian sisters in the candy store for some extra spending money.
Like most families, we agreed to give a daily allowance to Hannah as she did her chores, which included: attend Hoon Dok Hae in the morning (8:30 am - noon) and evening (7:30 - 9:00 pm), make her bed, and empty the trash basket in our room every day.
Father said the daily curriculum should focus on three areas: 1) the Principle of Creation, 2) spirit world, and, 3) True Parents. The meaning of this training is to inherit Fatherís victory at the family level. Families must be taught how to attend God and True Parents. God wanted to educate Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Father established a condition to bring God to Pantanal. Thatís why we can call it the Garden of Eden.
After 21-days of Hoon Dok Hae, I would have to say we succeeded greatly in accomplishing the first goal. Through daily study, prayer, and reading the Jardim Declarations, we gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation of Heavenly Father, His nature and situation, as well as the depth and implications of the Principles of Creation.
In terms of spirit world, we read several volumes of Fatherís speeches on this topic, along with Dr. Leeís first and second books. The latter, I believe is entitled, "the Crimes of Lucifer," and is especially powerful and revealing. I saw no angels, but like at other times in my life I could see spirit worldís hand at work. For example, when Iím busy at a conference or campaign and need to talk to someone, then all of a sudden that person would walk into the room. Or if Iím in a hurry and need to take the elevator, then bingo, the elevator door opens comes. You feel everything is connecting for a higher purpose and there is no such thing as a coincidence. Thatís the way it was in Jardim. Everything sort of flows together in harmony.
As True Parentsí vision for the project is explained and we took pilgrimages to several locales where True Parents shed blood, sweat and tears, we couldnít help but acknowledge for the umpteenth time, the genius and heart of our True Parents. So by that standard, the workshop was a total success. We also read a translation from Korean of a newly published book of prophecies, "Who is He?" which definitively identifies True Father as the Messiah.
On July 11, True Parents actually came to Jardim for a visit. It was a glorious day. Members lined the road leading to the house and welcomed them upon their arrival about 9 am. We gathered for a "sisterhood ceremony" about 2 pm. Our family was matched with a beautiful family from Japan. Then we lined up to have our picture taken with True Parents. We have an amazing photo of True Parents with our two matched families, and a second one with just us and the True Parents. At 6 pm, Father spoke to us in the temple for about 3 hours on mind-body unity, his vision for the Americas, and spent a long time speaking directly to the Japanese. At the end, we sang "Um Maya" while Father danced in the aisle. Hannah, Donna and I raced over. As he passed us, Father gave me one of those famous love whacks in the ribs Ė a badge of honor I will wear with distinction. They left shortly afterwards for Salobra and an arduous schedule the next few days.
Regarding our training program, I would also add a fourth goal about family unity. The program is designed to bring Heavenís blessings at the family level. As the Chung Pyung Providence was for the individualís growth, Jardim is for the family unit. Living together for 40 days naturally brought out a lot of feelings in each of us. There was many a day when we were not happy campers and did not relish the thought of hanging out in the middle of a bean field in Brazil. There were days when I thought for sure all the Koreans and Japanese knew that we were arguing, but yet it turned out that sooner or later, everyone was in the same situation. We were all dealing with the same issues of growth and development. It didnít matter what language you spoke or what title was printed on your business card. When it came push to shove, we were all one family. Many a day I would see an early member of the movement taking out garbage or mopping the floor. It was OK because we were families building the ideal community, and in a family, everyone has to carry his share.
Aggressions and nationalism were taken out on the soccer field. The first few Sundays we were soundly trounced by the Japanese and the Korean teams. I played the first game by trading off with an 11 year old boy from Ohio. Otherwise, the average age of our team was probably about 45! That all changed later when the Europeans arrived and the older second generation. We had so many players we created a second Western team. I was relegated to lineman and backup cheerleader.
The food was adequate. Nothing fancy, very simple fare that included rice, beans and kim chee, along with a meat entre and some side dish like lettuce or tomato. To supplement this diet we regularly went to the fruit stand owned by the local Brazilian church for fresh oranges, apples, mango or papaya. The candy store had everything else -- soda, candy, chips, ice cream as well as rubber boots, toothpaste, souvenirs, detergent, soap, etc. So between the regular meal, the fruit stand and the candy store, no one starved.
The accommodations were fine. Each room has 4 bunk beds, a bathroom, and an AC/heater. For the first three weeks we were by ourselves. It worked out great. We had our own key and total privacy. On week four, more families starting coming, so we took in another married couple, Zagery and Fumi Oliver. After another week, we were joined by Tom and Edy Iverson and their son, David. It was crowded but we managed. On week 7, there were just too many people arriving everyday, so the classroom building was converted into a dormitory. New bunkbeds were installed and we moved in college style; Donna and Hannah into the sisterís room, and me, into a corner area along with Mike Chapman and Ken Owen.
The Hoon Dok Hae was very interesting. At first it was difficult to keep focused. The lifestyle and schedule was too different, but after a few weeks I stopped thinking about the mortgage and how indispensable I seemingly was to the Providence, and just buckled down. Gradually, Fatherís words began to make sense. Whenever my mind drifted, a bell seemed to sound, I just knew that I was spacing out. Each time I had to make a decision: "Bill, youíre distracted. Choose. Space out or focus. Choose. Now!" Pretty soon I had trained myself (with the help of a supportive spirit world and my loyal ancestors) to "be here now," and learn from Fatherís words and training course.
Besides the 21-days of Hoon Dok Hae, there were 13 days of community service, 3 days of pilgrimages, and 3 days of fishing. The pilgrimages were extremely interesting. We visited Salobra about 3 hours away. Itís a hotel owned by the movement. We had an excellent lunch, visited Parentsí home, then went fishing. Another time we took an 8-hour boat ride up the Paraguay River along the Brazil - Paraguay border and visited the site of last yearís 40-day workshop, then to a very humble backwater hotel which Parents use as a jumping off site for their fishing excursions. It was a spectacular boat ride. We saw alligators, exotic wildlife and birds, and even extinct volcanoes. The boat trip was a delight and on the return, the Brazilian boat crew turned on the music and taught us the samba! There we were in the middle of nowhere dancing the samba with Nora Spurgin, Jackson Bowman, and Peter and Phyllis Kim. What a sight!
The community service was very flexible. Antonio Betancourt gave Spanish lessons in the school. Donnaís time on the administrative staff went towards her service. Me and a brother from Germany, Wolf, volunteered for more physical work. Each day we teamed up with Mr. Watanabe, a short but powerfully built 1800 couple. We filled pot holes, cut down trees, weeds, picked up trash. I enjoyed doing this work. In the end, I lost 10 pounds and felt very healthy.
The meditation was a great surprise. There are several fishing places. The farm is located where two rivers converge, and both rivers are within walking distance and filled with fish. There is also a man-made pond that was said to be stocked. We tried all three places. On the river there are two prime locations: Motherís fishing place and Fatherís. Both are magnificent and beautiful. The images are indelibly burned in my memory. Donna expectantly casting her line, while Hannah, armed with a net would target the minnow population. I, down the stream, just quietly grooving on Heavenly Fatherís magic. It is postcard picturesque. If the purpose was to think about God and the creation, again, Father in all his genius, chose the perfect hobby.
On the 41st day, we traveled to Campo Grande for the flight to São Paulo. In the candy store, at the counter, there were several "adult" magazines with nude women on the covers. It felt so sad and unprincipled to see Satanís version of civilization after the purity of Jardim. I stretched my sweatshirt on the counter to cover it up so Hannah wouldnít have to see this cultural trash. We landed in São Paulo airport and made a bee-line for the local McDonalds. We met a group of Korean and Japanese families there. It was like home time reunion. It was so good to see them even though only 2 days had passed.
We returned to Washington with a revitalized spirit and determination to spread the message, particularly about Jardim. Father wants everyone to attend the 40-day training. It is essential for registration into the Kingdom of God.
The next day back, I bought a fishing license and headed for the nearest lake. So far, so good.
Bill and Donna Selig were blessed at Madison Square Garden in 1982. They live in Rockville, MD with their daughter, Hannah, age 11Ĺ.