by Joe Kinney
Grandmother: her humility, working in the kitchen, working in the garden
These days we hear testimonies from the members who attended the Chung Pyung Lake workshop. The central person in these workshops is known as Daemonim. The testimonies we hear focus on members’ experiences at Chung Pyung. Perhaps it would be useful to learn a little about how this great spirit spent her life on earth. In her physical life Daemonim was known as Soon Ae Hong, or Grandmother Hong. She is our True Mother’s mother. In the mid-seventies, this testimony is from my limited experience with Grandmother Hong from the time I had the good fortune to be the maintenance man at East Garden.
Grandmother Hong arrived at East Garden without any particular fanfare and was assigned a room in a corner of the top floor of the main house. Because it was practically an attic you couldn’t stand upright in parts of the room, and it had an irregular shape because of the dormer windows. Grandmother’s furniture was whatever was no longer good enough for the True Children. I didn’t know then that in Ho Ho Bin’s church she had done three hundred, and sometimes three thousand full bows a day as indemnity for the messiah to come. .
Grandmother dressed in the most humble of clothes, like any poor Korean Grandma you see on the street. She worked as if she was part of the house staff, helping in the kitchen and around the house. She didn’t take her meals at the table with True Parents, rather she would help clear the dishes and eat together with the kitchen staff. I didn’t know then that she helped to sew the garments that Jesus never received, to comfort Jesus’ heart and lay the foundation for the messiah to return. Three stitches and a prayer, three stitches and a prayer, three stitches and a prayer, for endless hours.
One of my main memories of Grandmother was of her garden. One spring grandmother summoned me to a plot of land out of sight of the main house and told me that this was where she would grow Korean vegetables for True Family’s table. This was a pretty good size garden about 100’ X 35’. After I broke the soil with a rotary tiller, Grandmother did all the rest of the work, sometimes with help from whomever she could collar on any given day. So that year and every year Grandmother would plant, cultivate and harvest this large garden. Muddy shoes, dirty hands, and soiled dress, working hour after hour in the hot sun like a humble farmer. I didn’t know then that this woman offered her daughter to True Father, but was not allowed to remain in her daughter’s new home. I didn’t know that on the occasion of her rare visits she had to enter through the back door like a servant and unseen like a thief in the night.
I encountered Grandmother around the house and grounds, drove her occasionally and sometimes went to her room to fix something. She always said I was too skinny and tried to shove some Korean snack into my mouth. If I did any little thing for her at all she was so grateful. I was so stupid and she was so humble, I felt like I was just helping out a fellow staff member. She was really at the bottom of the list when it came to special treatment.
I didn’t know then that she was the only person in history to participate in all three churches that prepared the foundation for the Second Advent: the Holy Lord Order, Ho Ho Bin’s group, and the Unification Church.
Grandmother Hong was always taking care of the needs of others, whether it be True Family, the never ending stream of guests, or the staff. She didn’t take care of people by strutting around in fine clothes giving speeches and reminding people of her position. She took care of people from the back of the room with a comforting smile or from the kitchen with a special snack, or from the prayer room with tears. Grandmother never spoke publicly at all until one day, without warning, Father asked her give her testimony. She stood erect in the middle of the room in whatever humble clothes she happened to be wearing, and because it was Father’s order began to speak about herself for the first and only time. I don’t remember the words Grandmother spoke that day, but I’ll never forget the tears she shed. From the first sentence the tears streamed forth from her eyes. For the entire time she spoke in sobs and wails. It was impossible for the translator to translate because he too was sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t know then what Grandmother was like. I thought that she was almost like me. She acted more like a staff member than a True Mother’s mother.
The motto of our church is “Let us go forth in the shoes of a servant, with the heart of the Father, shedding sweat for earth, tears for man, and blood for heaven.” Soon-Ae Hong lived this motto quite literally. I didn’t know what that meant at all then, but grandmother Hong knew.
I didn’t know then that this humble grandmother who worked in the garden and ate in the kitchen would become the designated mediator between heaven and earth, giving rebirth and liberation to our members. Do you think Soon-Ae Hong knew?