Germany: Project Phoenix
By Patricia Wenzel, FFWPU Germany
On October 19 and 20, 2019, Stuttgart was host to “Project Phoenix”. There were 76 participants: five staff from the USA (two first generation and three second generation). The German staff were represented by four first generation and five second generation. Why have I stressed this in such detail?
One of the goals of this project is inter-generational cooperation; and this succeeded very well.
I myself did not participate in the preparation of the seminar, but in the center, the work of preparation as well as the team work in serving the food was excellent. It is difficult to de- scribe the shared experiences of two days and twenty hours, especially when so many emotions are involved. But what I can say is that this project opened our hearts and allowed us to experience as brothers and sisters more than just fleeting acquaintances. The many exercises in which we participated helped us to change the perspective from which we see and experience each other. We were able to experience a great deal and stimulate deep feelings.
How exactly do I listen? What do I think about when I listen to someone? How does this person feel that I perceive him?
What does our second generation think about us and what do we think about them? Many false concepts were brought to light.
What has this person already experienced in their life? Why is (s)he as (s)he is? Now I can re- ally embrace him.
Are we people who function according to our thoughts or are we people who act according to what our hearts tell us?
True Father first wrote the Principle in Chinese characters and the exact translation of individual perfection is “unity between heart and body” centered on God. Does that not have a deeper ring than “unity between mind and body“?
We were divided into groups and sat together at the same table for the whole weekend. Over the course of those two days, relationships developed which were before unthinkable.
One group even established a ‚family phoenix‘whatsappp group and will stay connected.
It is difficult to describe in words such a seminar, and therefore a few short reports of the ex- periences of participants are included. And I would like to encourage participation in any fu- ture Project Phoenix seminar (for example, the one planned for London next year)-it really is worth it!
The final statement was- Project Phoenix begins at home with us, in our hearts and in our daily interactions with each other.
I would like to thank Maike Tijsterman who brought Project Phoenix from the USA to Cam- berg and from Camberg to Stuttgart. She had experienced it herself and had the passionate desire to share it with us; again a thousand thanks!
The Phoenix workshop was also for me a good experience. The workshop team managed, over the course of two days to facilitate deep, honest and meaningful communication be- tween the participants. Even if many of the program points demanded much patience or were too long for my taste, I have to acknowledge that the goal of the workshop regarding relationships and communication was fully achieved. This is even more remarkable when one considers that the participants came from two generations and from very different life experiences. It was very moving to experience the great readiness for respectful and honest communication between the participants. Once the door to a person’s heart is wide open, we can recognize this person’s beauty and uniqueness or-to use religious terminology-we can see in him or her image of our wonderful creator. For me, it was a thoroughly ‘transcendent experience’ of a special kind. (Karl-Christian Hausmann)
Project Phoenix reminds me why I still love this movement. In the past few years, I have in- creasingly noticed how many of our second generation feel misunderstood and judged. In the same way, how many first generation are ageing and asking themselves who will continue to uphold the values of our movement when they are slowly losing strength to continue mission, community work and family responsibilities. Project Phoenix is above all for me: to understand how we can learn from each other and show that we value each other, so that our lifestyle can attract others because of this caring attitude in action. (Maike Tijster- man)
Initially I feared that this would be another one of these events where we stand in a circle, hold hands and are nice to each other. But on the way home, I was so full of impressions of the weekend, so sustained by the openness of the talks, the shared feelings and the ‘tools’ that we were given, that I look forwards with anticipation as to what changes the transformation will bring to my everyday life. Thanks to everyone in my group for the openness and empathy that allowed me to be me. I can really only recommend this seminar. (Arnold Raf- fin)
The Project Phoenix weekend was very interesting for me and contained a wealth of all kinds of suggestions to foster togetherness: information, exercises and moving experiences and we got to know ourselves and other brothers and sisters better and in a more deep way. For
example, I was straightaway impressed by the exercise about active listening and being pre- sent. I was made aware as to why my communication with certain people is difficult and what makes for disturbances. It would be good for me to repeat the project, ideally in German-in order to refresh and deepen the suggestions. (Ute Lemme)
It was great! It was wonderful to hear so much from other brothers and sisters and to get to know them better! Before, acquaintance was only superficial. Now I have heard at least some of the life stories and this is how one gets to know a person properly. (second generation)
I felt that God guided me to this seminar and to this group. A second generation member comforted me and I felt God’s love. I am very grateful for Project Phoenix. (first generation)
From my side, I can only say a big fat thank you! Phoenix enables one to get to know each other on a completely new and deeper level. One is challenged to live with more awareness, but in such a practically orientated way that comes across well. Thus I hope that as many people as possible can take the opportunity to attend a ‘Phoenix’ workshop. (second generation)
This was for me an intense and inspiring weekend with many practical tips and suggestions and getting to know and love many brothers and sisters and the second generation. (first generation)
I am really grateful to God and Project Phoenix for carefully creating a space where older and younger generations can safely begin to break down our barriers. There were many precious realizations and reminders in these two days. (second generation)
First of all, I was positively surprised at how honestly people who are almost strangers (alt- hough who meeting for the first time as brothers and sisters), can discuss their own deep problems. Our team established a firm trust even after a short while. It was a good experience to be listened to, understood, not isolated, and to share mutual human values on the basis of this trust. What I find is that we allow ourselves partly to be too much led by emotion. For example „Honoring the Generations“. Each person naturally has different opinions or feelings, but what was said on this topic was for me too negatively self -critical, something far from reality. I would have liked the seminar to have been conducted in German. Although German is also for me a foreign language, I would have been able to understand more. (first generation)
At our designated table were seven very different people regarding age, gender, nationality and length of church membership. Initially there was no trust and everything was a bit stiff. But this gradually changed-after prolonged eye contact with one or two people, when each person was asked the same questions and one received the sometimes very personal answers. The more we experienced about each other, the more we could open ourselves. Actually, a very banal realization, but in everyday life and in the family, such beautiful, peaceful moments of exchange rarely occur. This has to be first relearned, but is one of the most important things. (first generation.)
It was a very good experience for me. The exchange between the members of our ‘table family group‘ was very open and moving. And I will make efforts to be a better listener. (first generation)