5/29 – We got out of the elevator and there were the Japanese CARP students welcoming us with applause and shouts of excitement. They were lined up on both sides and high fived us as we walked into the “Shibuya Mission Center.” This is Shibuya’s main outreach center where people can come to learn more about themselves and the Divine Principle.
Finding My True Self
Today, we got a chance to experience the outreach system in Japan. We were divided into groups of 6 (3 Americans and 3 Japanese students) to go out in the bustling city of Shibuya to reach out to people and invite them to a seminar entitled, “Finding my True Self.” When we approached people, we invited them to take a quick survey where we asked them questions like, “How satisfied are you with you life currently? What brings you joy in life?” This opened up interesting conversations with them and we invited them to follow-up with attending the seminar.
American and Japanese students doing outreach in the local area.
Some students even went out to distribute flyers. Although it was busy, people took the time to hear us out and took interest in our seminar. Many of the CARP America members could not speak Japanese so it was a struggle to communicate and connect freely from the heart.
“I was talking to the people and there was so much that I wanted to say but due to language barrier I was not able to fully get my feelings across. That reminded me of some of the Japanese mothers back in America. Even though they could not understand or speak the language so well, they still poured their heart out into trying to connect with the people. Through this experience, I could understand how hard these mothers have worked as missionaries in a foreign land.” – Pedro
Visiting Holy Grounds
Two thirds of the group did outreach and the rest visited a Holy Ground in Meijingu. We were told that the original holy ground had been an area near a shrine but this area was eventually blocked off for other uses so people could not access it anymore. Rev. Kuboki, the first President of Family Federation Japan prayed to God to find another place for the Holy Ground and then found this tree.
There was a deep cut in the tree from when communists tried to cut it down years ago.
As the story and history goes, while some CARP members were praying there, some communists tried to cut down the tree to prevent people from praying there. However, the CARP members created a barricade together to protect the tree. The tree was left with a deep gash but it still stands tall today thanks to the great determination of the early CARP members.
After hearing this story about the CARP members risking their lives to save the tree and this holy spot of prayer, we immediately started praying at the tree.
“I was inspired by the story of the CARP members who fought to protect the tree. The communist group was so intent on destroying the holy ground that they even used violence. The Japanese CARP members could have gotten hurt but they still chose to protect the Holy Ground. It made me realize how deep their heart is for True Parents and for God. It made me want to work harder to be more passionate.”
This is the site where CARP members used as a holy site to pray.
All the groups gathered back for dinner at the center. There we shared pizza, fun, laughter, and songs. Everyone showed their talents through singing, playing piano, playing yoyo, and dancing.
At the end, the President of CARP America, Naokimi Ushiroda, presented an English text of one of the Holy Scriptures to the director of the Shibuya Mission Center, Mr. Hori. Mr. Hori concluded the evening saying,
“This is a very historical and happy day. This center was built to be able to host parties like these. So today, the purpose of creating this mission center was realized thanks to you!”
5/28 – Everyone woke up in high spirits today despite the pouring rain outside. Some of the guys went running in the rain while others did exercises indoors. We gathered in the morning to read some words from the autobiography of CARP’s Founder and our True Father. One of the passages that stood out was,
“Today I tell young people to experience everything they can in the world. They need to directly or indirectly experience everything in the world, as if they were devouring an encyclopedia.”
For many of the CARP students from America, this is their first time visiting Japan and for some it is even their first time travelling out of the United States! One of the main motivations for organizing this trip was to have young students experience CARP in Japan, in a culture that is different from America’s, and to connect with people who have different customs and speak a different language.
Sightseeing in Odaiba.
Today we were supposed to go to Waseda University where True Father went to school as a young student, but due to a change in schedule, we ended up spending the whole day exploring Odaiba in our groups. Imagine 35 students getting on-and-off trains during Tokyo’s bustling rush hour. It was very hectic, but we all arrived safely to Odaiba.
From there we moved around freely in groups. Odaiba is a really big shopping area, so we had different options to explore: aquariums, trick art museums, science museums, and a wide range of restaurants.
Sightseeing in Odaiba.
I asked several people about their experiences, and they shared their favorite part of hanging out in Odaiba:
“I liked the ‘One Piece’ restaurant. I am a big fan of the manga, ‘One Piece’. We cannot have that kind of experience anywhere else so it was very precious.” – Atsuki
“My favorite part of the day was seeing a different world than the one we live in, being somewhere we’ve never been before.” – Stephanie
“I loved eating the real authentic ramen. It tasted a bit different from the one in America.” – Gilbert
After a full day of fun, eating delicious Japanese food and getting to know our group members better, we headed home.
In the evening, we had a guest speaker, Mrs. Uchida, who came to speak about her personal experiences with True Father. She spoke about a dreams she had where, “True Father listened to our stories for hours and hours. He gave us love and responsibility.” She also conveyed to us the importance of the Divine Principle. “I recopied everything in the Divine Principle to help me study. I deeply felt how great the Divine Principle is. I was a student at the time, but after I heard the Divine Principle, I left school and devoted everything to the movement. I felt that the Divine Principle is very necessary.”
Students listen closely to Mrs. Uchida (on the right).
“It was amazing to see how many experiences she had with True Father,”said Yasutaka Ozawa.“I was moved by her dedication to her life of faith. She read the Divine Principle 210 times front to back. She tried reading the Bible in all three languages because she knew that True Father did that too. Also, when asked, ‘How can we connect to True Father?’ she replied that it is through reading his words and watching videos of True Father. It made me happy and gave me hope that there is someone who has gone through so much to build her own faith and still believes that we can build a relationship with True Father simply through reading his words and watching videos. That’s the foundation that we stand on.”
It was a long but exciting day. We got to experience so many different things and get to know each other better.
5/26 – CARP Japan welcomed us very warmly. In the morning, we joined their Parent-Child Meeting, during which the parents are invited to hear testimonies from their children about their CARP activities and experiences. There were four different testimonies about outreach and life of faith, where children acknowledged the love and dedication of their parents.
The group sings a beautiful medley, conducted by Sarah.
We had a chance to contribute to the beautiful environment by singing “Love the Lord” for the audience. Mrs. Naoko Hiraki also gave a brief testimony about her outreach activities in Los Angeles with her daughters.
“When I first started, many people thought I was crazy,” she said. “but this is something that True Mother was asking for, so I determined to do it no matter what.”
Naoko is a true example of parents and children working together to do outreach on campus. Her daughter, Hitoe, also shared about doing outreach with her mother. Jermaine from CARP LA also spoke about the difference that the Divine Principle has made in his life.
“Before I met Naoko, I was always searching for somewhere that felt like home; a group of people that I could call family,” he said. “So at the point when I met Naoko, I had already given up hope on finding something that would make me feel complete. I thought to myself that happiness was actually not something that everyone felt all the time. It was a facade.
Then, I met Naoko and after reading the Divine Principle, I could better understand Jesus and what I needed to do to feel love. I felt that the members of CARP and J-CARP were like my family. Wherever I went, I always felt at home. No matter what struggles you face, don’t give up because someday you will meet someone like me who really needs to hear what you have to say about God. Never give up!”
Everyone in the room was touched by Jermaine’s testimony. Later the CARP Japan President, Mr. Motoyama, shared that he was very moved and felt a lot of hope to see the efforts of CARP America and the opportunities for cooperation.
CARP Japan President, Mr. Motoyama, gives an engaging presentation.
In the afternoon, Mr. Motoyama gave a special presentation on the history of CARP.
“When CARP first started, we had no Powerpoint presentations at that time, so we would write down the Divine Principle on paper and stick it onto the wall all over the room. CARP must be the pioneer in leading students to have vision and ideals to resolve the realities of the world. The two are connected.”
Brotherhood and Sisterhood Ceremony
Confetti flew in the air and crackers burst as we entered the main room where the Sisterhood and Brotherhood ceremony would be held. The Japanese CARP students had lined up in front of the door to surprise us and welcomed us to the ceremony. They were full of smiles and laughter. Even the Dragon Ball Z characters, Goku and the Samurai, graced us with their presence. CARP Japan’s pure motivation to make us laugh and have a good time was very moving. They prepared everything from entertainment to foods and drinks.
Even Dragon Ball Z characters love CARP!
In the Brotherhood Ceremony, a Japanese and an American CARP member are united.
A bag with numbers was passed around. Each person picked a piece of paper with a number from the bag. When the number was called out, a Japanese student and American student with the same number went up to the stage, bowed, and then hugged each other. The way everyone hugged each other so tightly made it seem as if we had all been long lost friends, meeting again for the first time in awhile. Then, the two students signed a certificate of friendship and took a photo. The ceremony was beautiful and heart-warming. There was so much joy in the room as participants exchanged gifts, contact numbers, and laughter.
Pedro of CARP LA said, “It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. I can honestly say that it was one of the best days of my life. It was hard to communicate at first but we got help from other people and we could eventually communicate our thoughts and feelings more deeply.”
“It was nice that Japan prepared some entertainment and food for us.” – Stephanie
“It made me realize why I am still in this movement. I realized the reason why I am here is because everyone welcomes you like family. So much love is given. As soon as we were partners, we felt like brothers. We clicked from the get go. It was so nice to be able to embrace someone.” – Seong Yeon
CARP was established by our founders for students to come together, think up solutions to the problems of the world, and create world peace. Today, through the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Ceremony, we came one step closer to realizing this ideal that the founders had for CARP – for students from all over the world to unite, feel like one family, and to use our passion and enthusiasm to heal the world of its suffering.
We finally arrived at Narita International Airport in Tokyo!
After the long 14-hour flight from Los Angeles, we made it!
We were warmly welcomed by two of our Japanese hosts, Taka and Yumika.
Despite the long trip and time difference, everyone was in high spirits.
We got on the bus for another 2-hour ride, sang a few songs in Japanese, and admired the night lights of Tokyo City. We also passed the Tokyo Tower as it was beaming bright in the night sky. It was amazing to be able to see these city highlights in real life after only having seen them in pictures on the internet. Some commented that it looked shorter than they had thought!
We had lots of fun on the colorful bus!
We ended this long day with gratitude for having arrived safely in Japan and with hope and joy, knowing that we have a great adventure waiting for us the next day!
Participants close the night in prayer and gratitude.
Karen and Jermaine, members of CARP Los Angeles (LA), served as emcees for the trip orientation prior to take-off. They welcomed the 36 excited participants from all over the nation who will be joining this cultural exchange to Japan from May 25 – June 6.
Purpose of the Trip
The group met in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 24th and reviewed the resources in the booklets that had been prepared with much love and care the day before. These booklets included the purpose of the trip which is to:
Visit Japan where the founder of CARP (Rev. Sun Myung Moon, affectionately termed our True Father) spent much time, devotion, and prayer, and
Experience a cultural exchange by learning about the traditions of Japanese CARP students, and
Share CARP America’s support, friendship, and best practices.
During the last two days of the trip, students from CARP Korea will also join to take part in an international conference. The purpose of this two-day conference is to provide an opportunity for students from Korea, Japan, and America to connect, network, and learn from each other to create a common vision for the future together.
Welcomed with Love and Care
Founder of this Intercultural Exchange, Naoko Hiraki, beams with joy during the Orientation.
Naoko Hiraki, the main organizer for this trip and Advisor for the CARP LA chapter, shared a few words on the importance of this trip:
“Thank you so much for coming. When you go to Japan, you will feel the difference. There are many difficulties there, but I want you to encourage CARP Japan. That is the greatest goal and motivation for this trip. Japan has a lot of history, so we also want to inherit the spiritual treasures in Japan.”
CARP members who had flown in from different regions all over America to attend this trip were warmly welcomed and participated in ice breakers by teams, giving participants the chance to meet each other, introduce themselves, and assign roles for the trip.
Tour Through Japan
The emcees explained that our American CARP students will be able to meet Japanese students in different cities, chapters, and regions in Japan. The group will arrive in Tokyo, spend some time sightseeing with the students and then do similar activities with CARP students in Kyoto and Osaka. The group will then return to Tokyo where students from CARP Korea will also join them for the 2-day international conference. Part of this experience will be visiting Waseda University where True Father studied as a student.
The orientation ended with a touching prayer, moving the participants with gratitude for being able to go to Japan and spread joy and hope to the CARP students there.
Day One – Our Journey Begins!
LAX Airport – Take-Off Testimony by Nina Urbonya, Trip Coordinator
“Today is finally the day that we go to Japan. Some students are teasing and laughing at each other’s passport photos. “You show me yours, and then I’ll show you mine!” Others are talking about their favorite Japanese food. Everyone is impressed with the amazing customer care displayed by Japan Airlines. The agent even came out to personally escort us to the check-in desk. We are already feeling the warmth of Japan, where the “customer is king.”
While waiting in the security line, I got a chance to talk to Ilya Hack from CARP Las Vegas. When I asked him what inspired him to come on this trip, he replied with two main reasons:
“To meet CARP students in Japan and learn about the foundation of CARP established by our founders in Japan. Also, my mother is Japanese, so this will be a good opportunity to understand the culture and better understand my mother.”
There is only one hour left before we take off. Those who missed the orientation from last night are being briefed on the schedule now.
One by one, the students take out their snacks and pass them around; we had chips, chocolate and, combo rolls. CARP is all about sharing and these students are really embodying that!
Everyone is tired from all the preparations and traveling but you can see the excitement in their faces pushing past the fatigue.
Our journey begins with a 13-hour flight on Japan Airlines. Guessing from the customer care at the check-in desk, we will be well taken care of on the flight. It will be a time for fun but also reflection as we prepare to meet our friends in Japan.
Please send your prayers and support. We’ll continue to keep you updated along the way! 🙂