Peace Starts with Me: Hard Working Members in Vienna

By Dong-yeon Kim

The Peace and Family Festival, “Peace Starts with Me” will be held on April 29 in Vienna, Austria. Kim Dong-yeon, assistant director of the Youth and Student Department at the International Headquarters, is currently in Vienna leading a team of Korean missionaries and students who are on the streets every day inviting local people to the event and preparing for the inauguration of YSP Europe. He writes the following reflection on the local atmosphere of daily life preparing for the big event this Sunday afternoon.  [ Click here to read this story in Korean ]


I am currently working at the headquarters here in Vienna. Many people are coming and it is becoming increasingly crowded. Many Austrian family members come to pick up sheaves of flyers and tickets to go out to invite people for the event. Also there are many members and leaders from other European countries who have come to help and support. They came on their own, paying their air ticket fee and other expenses, wishing to give their support, however little. They have been here already for one month, going out every day.

I would like to introduce few of them:

Mario Magaz, a Pastor in Madrid, Spain. He is from the 30,000 couples’ Blessing group and he has been working as a church leader for 15 years. He came to Vienna in early April. Because of his serious eyesight problems, he wears very thick glasses. Yet he goes out every morning, with leaflets and tickets in his hands to meet people downtown. He also takes care of the VIPs and family members coming from Spain.

Chatiboot Babi is the president of FFWPU in Andorra. It was the first time that I heard the name of this country. I looked for it on a map, and I found that it is a very small “city country” wedged between France and Spain. She is from Thailand, blessed with an Andorran man in the 6,000 couples’ Blessing 35 years ago. She also distributes fliers and sells tickets for the event, as well as helping prepare for the WFWP event as well.

Robert Torok is a church leader in Scotland. Born in Romania, he has involved himself in many activities over the past 7 years since his university days, and last year he received a mission in Scotland. His wife is a Ukrainian, and they have a 2-year-old daughter. All three of them are here in Vienna. The family is working together. When this cute daughter comes to the headquarters, she brings everyone a dose of happiness and helps everyone forget about their fatigue from the heavy activities. I proposed to send him some of the young college students from Korea, USA and Japan to work with him. And so we introduced him to the Cheon Il Guk youth missionaries.

Yureon is a blessed sister from Austria. She is responsible to make lunch and dinner for the staff, who work hard every day. She has big hands and she is a very good cook. Her food is so delicious and colorful that you do not want to bother to eat out in a restaurant! She also uses some Korean words that she learned when was a pioneer in Korea. She says she is proud that her son is working hard with the European STF. She makes an effort to greet new people specially and she creates meal time into a joyful time full of pleasant energy.

Dieter Schuler is an executive of UPF Germany. His wife is Korean and I was so happy to meet them. Surprisingly, he served as coach of Seongnam Ilhwa Football Club in Korea for one year, from 2005 to 2006. At that time, Seongnam Ilhwa (True Parents’ soccer team in Korea) reached the final for second time (2006 championship). Dieter recalled those times and told me happy stories from his days in Korea. There is also a UPF event this time, and so he is working to prepare for that event as well.  He always shares joyful stories when we take meals together.

Theresa Kittel is the wife of Dr. Robert Kittel, International President of Youth and Students for Peace (YSP). She is from Austria. And before the Blessing, she was working as a nurse. After the Blessing, she left her hometown and lived with her husband in America, Thailand and Nepal for more than 30 years. She came to Austria early to prepare things before True Mother arrives. When she is in the office, she prepares tea, coffee, and snacks for the staff every day. Theresa is also guiding leaders from all over Europe and she leads the evaluation and action plan meetings every evening.

Akira Nakamura, was until recently the president of FFWPU Lithuania. After receiving the Blessing with the 30,000 couples he left Japan and spent more than 15 years in Lithuania. He recently received a new mission and returned to Japan. This event in Vienna is the last activity in Europe for him before he returns to Japan. He delayed his departure so he can be part of this event. For him, every day is really special. He also talks with young people, gives out fliers and sells ticket. I wish him to be a successful leader in Japan when he gets back there!

Gudrun is the wife of the president of FFWPU Finland. She said she is part of the 2,075 couples’ Blessing. She was born in Germany and after the Blessing, she worked for 25 years as a waitress in Finland for her family. She said that while she was working she suddenly had problems with her legs, so she decided to stop working and devote her whole life for God’s providence. She planned to go back to her hometown in Germany. But she said God instructed her to go to Albania as if it were her own homeland. Gudrun was preparing to go to Albania when she heard that True Mother was coming to Austria. So she came here and began helping everybody. She will be going to Albania right after True Mother’s event. Her voice is so strong and she is full of passion to speak out.

There are many people who came from the Czech Republic, Turkey, Israel, Romania, Moldova and so on. I cannot introduce them all but I would like to say I am so proud of these brothers and sisters. Yes, I want to be proud, not just one who introduces others! These people are here to serve True Parents, shedding sweat, without name or any visible image, in the streets of Vienna every day. And they cry while praying every evening. Even though nobody called them to come, they came naturally on their own, paying for their air tickets, board and lodging.

From 1995 for 10 years because of the Schengen treaty, True Parents had difficulty entering Europe. This was resolved in 2006. This was 10 years of han (bitter anguish) for those members who wanted to attend True Parents directly but could not have that experience. And it seems to me, that is why their voices are so strong and they speak so fast. Even though it is not their nation, they feel it is their country, as it is the same region of Europe.

In fact, the faith of these people, with their different facial features, skin colors and languages, gave a tremendous impression to me as a Korean. I could also realize how great is God and True Parents’ will and teaching that goes beyond any borders. Our Korean seniors’ continuous public life is continued on here by these brothers and sisters.

I pray that the health and the blessings of heaven will be particularly connected to the lives of these people while True Mother is in Vienna, and forever after.

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