by Joe Kinney
The big scolding after six months of difficulty, accepting it, than getting victory. Father called for the bus, and then we went to Chinese, movie, and the beach.
July or August 1977
A great privilege of working at East Garden was having direct give-and-take with True Parents and developing a personal relationship with Them. I had been at East Garden for a couple of years and was fairly confident of my position and relationships. Then a brother who was blessed to a Korean sister became my assistant. His wife worked in the kitchen. They were physically and spiritually senior to me, and I was still single.
The Korean sister thought that her husband should have my position. Since she worked in the kitchen and spoke Korean, it was pretty easy for her to give bad reports about me to those that would pass the information on to True Mother. Since I had (and unfortunately still have) a good deal of fallen nature there was material available for these reports.
Over a period of six months my relationship with True Parents went from pretty good to terrible. Father and Mother refused to look at me or speak to me and wouldn’t acknowledge my presence. Peter Kim told me Mother wanted me out of East Garden and that I would be gone soon. To say I was having difficulty and struggling is an understatement. The question that rang out in my mind was “In our church where do you go after True Parents kick you out?” When True parents are scowling at you for several months it is definitely a challenging experience.
Finally everything came to a head. Father called a meeting to combine the East Garden and Belvedere staffs and operations. This was shortly after we had bought the New Yorker and many offices that had been located at Belvedere were directed to relocate to the city. Father would call on each person, they would stand up, answer a few questions and get Father’s direction. Father spoke one or two minutes to each person, no longer, except to one English brother, Chris Kilengback – and me.
When Father spoke to Chris, He assigned him to be the first Western member to go to Tong-Il Industries in Korea. I had been dreaming of that mission literally since the first day I joined the church. My heart sank; I felt that “my” mission had been given to someone else. Chris fell away soon after this meeting, and I went to Tong-Il company in February 1978.
Father called my name and began shouting at me red-faced and gesturing angrily. He repeated all the accusations of the past six months. I was the most selfish, most Cain-type brother. I couldn’t get along with anyone and nobody liked me. But the last words Father said were the worst possible for a single brother to hear. Father said “Your personality is so difficult that I don’t think I can ever find a wife for you!”
The room was absolutely silent. Everyone was looking down at the floor. In my heart I believed in Father and knew that he was acting on false information. I had no complaint and redoubled my determination. However, to say I was devastated is an understatement. The meeting ended about 2:00 pm on a Saturday. I went outside and tried to continue to work, but by 4:00 pm I was in my room asleep. My usual Sunday morning schedule was 5:00 am pledge and then attending Father’s speech. I slept through both.
At about 10:00 am Sunday somebody was knocking on the door of my room shouting “Father needs the bus, Father needs the bus!” I was the driver for Father’s bus and driving True Family on that bus was absolutely my favorite job ever. So about 15 minutes later, low spirit, unwashed and unshaven, I pulled the bus up to Belvedere’s front gate. I stood by the door as Father boarded. I was pouting so badly that my lower lip was nearly dragging the ground. Father looked at me to make sure I was still alive.
Usually when I drove the True Family and leaders on the big bus, I would remain with the bus for security when we reached our destination. This day Father asked one of the regular security to stay at each of three stops, and I enjoyed a ride on the New Hope, a meal in a Chinese restaurant, and a movie together with True Parents.
The next Tuesday, Father called me to the breakfast table, gave me a sample of a lead weight and asked me to make 5,000 within a week to use on the fishing nets at Barrytown. (Which I did, but that’s another story.) After that business was done Father and I just chatted one-on-one for 45 minutes. The conversation and atmosphere were wonderful. It was one of the high points of my life. After I left the dining room, the couple that had told so many stories about me were called to the dining room and directed by Father to a new mission. (Just for the record: this couple is still active in our movement and doing very well.)
Father may have spiritually known that the stories were unfair, but He had to hear them and act on them because that was his responsibility as leader. However, if I could receive such a strong scolding without resentment, then Father could ask this couple to transfer without any accusation. To this day, this episode remains a turning point in my life.
Kitchen sister crying because of mission change, then True Parents bring her back to main house.
During the staff reorganization meeting mentioned above, one Japanese kitchen sister was transferred from Main house kitchen, where she could serve True Family directly every day, to the training center kitchen to cook for members. She bowed humbly, accepted the transfer, and went out in the foyer outside the room and cried and sobbed so loud that everyone heard.
Now, this sister wasn’t hurt because she lost some position or out of pride. Her pain was only because she would miss serving True Family so much. About a week later she was transferred back to the main house where she served for the next twenty years.
True Parents are always moved by sincere heart and God-Centered emotion. I love you very much, alone with Mother in the sewing room.
August 31st, 1977
After a difficult period at East Garden (described above) when I had not been seen favorably by True Parents for several months, I graduated from that course and was again on good terms. I was doing some work in the sewing room in the basement when Mother entered. Just the two of us were there. Mother looked at me work for moment and said, “Joe Kinney I love you very much!” I immediately went to my room and recorded the day, hour, minute and the exact words in my diary.
Showing Mother Pictures that I took
Towards the latter part of my time at East Garden, I became the unofficial photographer. You might never guess it, but even though our official photographers took dozens or hundreds of pictures of True Parents at occasions both large and small, True Parents rarely got to see any of the photos. When I had a new set of photos I would look for an opportunity to show them to Mother. Mother was always so happy to see them and used to order prints. By the time I left East Garden staff there were six or eight of my photographs blown up to poster size hanging in the various rooms in East Garden’s 2nd floor. For me the best part was sitting next to True Mother, usually on the steps of the stairs, shoulder to shoulder and listening to Her comments about the pictures.
Mother always feeding me at celebrations
One of the blessings of being part of East Garden staff was that I was allowed to attend all the celebrations held there, like birthdays, etc. It seems that at nearly every celebration, after Father began talking and I was kind of hanging out in the back, Mother would appear and grill me to make sure that I had eaten enough food and she would usually try to stuff a piece of dduk (Korean rice cake) in my mouth. Parents really took care of the staff like they were their own children. I loved it.
Walking on the beach in the footprints of True Parents that were washed away seconds later. Seeing True Parents’ intimate moment.
One time, perhaps the summer of 1976, some of the Staff and a few guests went to Jones Beach with True Parents. It was one of the few times I saw both Father and Mother in bathing suits. The group was gathered on the beach well away from the ocean and Father and Mother were walking together along the edge of the beach unaccompanied by security or anyone else. I decided to follow Them about 50 feet behind. It was just Them and me. Parents were walking together, leaving footprints in the wet sand to be washed away by the next wave. My delight was to step in these very footprints before the waves removed them, knowing I would be the only one ever to do so. It seemed like a metaphor for all of us who are so lucky to be UC members while Parents are alive and on this Earth. No one will ever have the opportunity to walk in their footsteps again.
As we continued along the beach, Father and Mother passed by some rocks and a freak wave splashed over these rocks. I could see from behind that this wave had knocked the swim suit strap off of Mother’s shoulder and one side of the top had dropped down, revealing more that the suit was designed to show. Let me be clear, Mother’s back was turned to me and no one else was around. What I saw was an incredible moment of respect and intimacy between True Parents. Father turned quickly and helped Mother fix her suit, serious to preserve the dignity of the woman he loves. The look of love and tenderness that They had for each other in this moment showed me that They were really head-over-heels in love with each other. It just reaffirmed the genuineness of True Parents as loving human beings.
Joking with Mother about carpet padding and In Jin-nim saying “Joe, I think you are very naughty!”
I occasionally drove True Mother to Macy’s Clearance Center in White Plains, NY to shop for household items. In Jin-nim was along on one of these trips, and one of the items we were shopping for was a piece of carpet for the staff prayer room. Mother selected a carpet remnant and considered the sale complete. I said “Mother, you should buy padding for the carpet.”
Mother did not agree with my opinion, and several times she said that padding wasn’t needed. Each time I came back and said it was. In Jin-Nim did not appreciate me arguing with her mother. Mother was getting exasperated with this stubborn brother and had had about enough of my opinions. Finally at the end of her patience, Mother asked “Just give me one good reason that we should buy padding for the carpet!”
I knew Father’s standard of praying on a hard wood floor, or on a rock, or in the snow covered frozen earth. My motivation was to make the floor softer for our staff. From Heaven’s standard my idea was ludicrous, and I realized how ridiculous it would sound to Mother. But I just had to try one last time.
So holding back my own laughter I said “Mother, so the staff’s knees won’t hurt.” We looked in each other’s eyes and both knew how silly this was and both started laughing. Mother really cracked up, and was laughing so hard that tears were coming down her cheeks.
In Jin-nim had had enough and stepped in between Mother and I and said with a pose and a voice straight out of a Shirley Temple movie “Joe, sometimes I think you are very naughty!” She was so cute and funny that tears of laughter started to come down my cheeks too.
Picking up a little chair with a big truck and joking with Mother. Driving Mother shopping and burgers
I used to Drive Mother every couple of weeks when she would go shopping. Mrs. Choi or Peter Kim would come as translator and sometimes we would go with True Children to buy their clothes. I don’t remember so much about the shopping itself because for a man, shopping with a woman, even a True Woman, is not exciting. The part I do remember is that we would nearly always stop to eat at McDonalds or Burger King. Mother, never a big fan of red meat, would nearly always order the “Filet ‘O fish” and a lemon lime soda.
I guess why I remember these times so much is that at lunch Mother would talk to me. It seems that the conversations always focused on my future marriage. “How tall are you? Do you want a Korean wife? What is your education?” Mother would also make suggestions about how I could change my walking style or clothes to make me a better ‘catch’ for my future spouse.
Mother expressed her concern about my graying hair several times and years later, when it was really white, asked if I thought about dying it.
From this and so many other experiences with True Parents, it is clear to me that they see themselves above all as our parents. They take a direct and personal interest in the well-being of those that are fortunate to be around them. They worry about your education, your health, your clothes, your diet, your marriage, and your children.
Father’s seriousness about security
Between the 21 City Tour and the 32 City Tour, all the IOWC bus teams and other members gathered in a large basement meeting room at a hotel in Washington DC. I believe it was in early 1974. This meeting closed one tour and kicked off the next. Father was speaking to us from the stage in the middle, facing stage right when without warning there was a loud crack that sounded almost like a gunshot from the other side of the room. I never found out what caused the sound, but what impressed me so much was this: Father was startled by the sound like everyone else, but while they jumped and were ready to take flight, Father stamped His foot down loudly on the stage and assumed a fighting stance and turned boldly to confront the apparent threat. His posture was erect and His expression that of a man ready to confront death and win over it yet another time.
Later when I was maintenance man at East Garden I received an emergency call of a fire in a room near Parents’ room on the 2nd floor of the ‘old’ main house. It turned out that an electrical outlet had shorted out with a few sparks and some smoke. As I knelt on the floor dealing with the electrical problem, Father appeared squatting next to me wearing a tee shirt and the long Korean style version of boxer shorts. Father was there because He had heard a report about fire and that represented a danger to God’s True Family, which was his mission to protect. He remained until He understood the situation and was completely convinced that it was OK.
These, and several other incidents when I was able to catch a glimpse of Fathers’ unguarded moments, revealed that Fathers’ words about being deadly serious about His mission might be inspiring talk for us, but for Him, it was the life and death business of every moment.
Watching “Jaws” with Father
I’m sure most readers have seen the movie “Jaws.” When it first came out several of us ‘Cain-type’ East Garden members slipped out and saw it one evening. The scariest scene is when Richard Dryfuss is swimming under the wrecked boat and a severed head appears as he is looking into a hole on the bottom. I nearly jumped out of my seat.
True Parents invited most of the staff to see it with Them several days later so I attended. This was Father’s first screening of the movie and I sat one row behind and to the right side so I could see Father’s facial expressions as He watched the show. When the ‘scary head’ scene came I made sure to completely focus on Father. I really wanted to see Him jump flinch or react somehow. Father’s eyes were open and He was definitely looking at the screen, but when everyone else was diving under their seats as the head appeared, Father didn’t move at all and His face showed no expression.
I still can’t understand that. I don’t know why. No idea. But Father was in a different state of mind than the rest of us as He watched the movie.
Watching a movie about the Holocaust with Father
Fathers’ tradition when seeing a movie is to enter the theater at whatever time he arrived, watch the movie from that point and then leave at that same point at the next screening. He sees the movie exactly once, it’s just that He doesn’t necessarily begin and end His viewing when the movie begins and ends. I believe this has something to do with Heaven determining Father’s schedule, not a theatre manager.
One time several staff members attended a movie about the Holocaust with True Parents. It was a graphic, terribly sad and realistic portrayal of the suffering of the prisoners in Auschwitz. When we got to the point where we had entered, we all rose to go. Father remained unmoving and watched all the way through a second time. This is only time I ever saw Father watch a movie twice in a row.
For us, Father’s prison experiences are interesting and moving testimony. This showed me that for Father those experiences are in His bone marrow.
Mother shows me how to walk
I’m from Tennessee and my good-ole-boy walking style – toes pointed outward 45 degrees, loping along kind of like Goofy from the Disney cartoons – didn’t exactly fit True Parents’ image of the gait of a dignified heavenly man. Mother commented often about it and I made efforts to walk in a more dignified manner. Obviously my efforts weren’t completely successful.
One day True Parents and several staff members went on a day trip to a scenic attraction. I walked ahead of True Parents down a wide paved footpath through this park. I guess seeing my country boy walking style was disturbing True Mother, so She left Fathers’ side and ran up to me, grabbing my right arm with both her hands and holding us tightly together shoulder to shoulder, she started showing me how to walk properly, counting “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four! Now walk like this!”
I was amazed that True Mother would be so concerned with my personal behavior and do such a naturally motherly thing to try to correct my bad habit.
Renovating True Father’s bathroom, Father says NO! Mother says go ahead. Teasing Mother upon Their return and receiving a gift from Father.
I had this encounter with True Parents in 1976.
I went to Parents’ bedroom to ask Them to select some plumbing fixtures and ceramic tiles for a bathroom we were remodeling. Father and Mother were having lunch together alone.
They finished the selection and Mother started asking about Father’s bathroom. Father’s faucets were old and leaky, water spilled onto the floor when He filled His tub and there was no shower. The floor, walls, toilet, tub, and vanity, etc. were in good condition. It only needed changing the faucets and adding a shower.
Mother and I had nearly finished selecting the faucets when Father suddenly said
“DON’T TOUCH MY BATHROOM!
LISTEN TO ME!
DON’T DO WHAT MOTHER SAYS, DO WHAT I SAY!
I was blown away. Any thoughts of doing work in Father’s bathroom evaporated.
The next day I met Mother and she asked me how many days it would take to do the work and told me to prepare the materials.
I was shocked! The pat answer to every question in those days was “Just unite and follow True Parents.”
I wanted to follow True Parents, but I just didn’t know which one of them to follow!
Several weeks later, Parents left on a trip for several days and Paul Fontaine and I did the job. It turned out pretty well and was completed before Parents’ return.
The custom at East Garden was, if practical, to greet True Parents when they returned home. Parents arrived and as Mother entered the foyer She was looking at me for a nod of reassurance that everything went smoothly.
Being the wisecracker that I am, I looked down at the ground shaking my head indicating failure. This gesture definitely peaked Mother’s interest and put a spring in Her step as She and Father headed up stairs to see the “disaster.”
I went down stairs to my room and waited. It was less than five minutes before the message came: “Father wants you to come to His room right away!”
I headed up the stairs to my doom. I met Parents, and for the first time Father said “You did a good job!” They gave me a souvenir from their trip as a gift.
In this story Mother’s motivation was to make Father’s life more convenient by giving him a shower and a bathroom that worked well.
Father’s motivation was not to have his life and his capacity to do God’s will disrupted by construction work in his personal bathroom.
Even though the direction from Father and Mother was opposite, both wanted to accomplish God’s will.
I had to choose which True Parent to follow. Mother had to be willing to take responsibility if I screwed up this job. And I did too. I had to be ready to accept responsibility for disobeying Father.
We have to be responsible for the choices we make and for the results of choosing to follow someone.