Project Phoenix went international in May of 2019. The first seminar ever held overseas took place in Bad Camberg, Germany from May 25-26. In some ways, this Project Phoenix event was similar to previous ones conducted in the United States and in other ways, it was different. What was similar was the amazing spirit which infused the participants from the very opening welcome to the closing activities. Over 80 people came from all over Germany and a number of nearby countries as well to enjoy the interaction between younger and older Unificationists in an atmosphere of honesty and trust.
“I learned more about myself and how to approach others to make deeper connections with them. I was provided tools how to make this happen. I got to know people on a deeper level. It gave me the motivation to improve important relationships in my life and how to create new ones. It inspired me to create a community that cares in my city.”
“This experience for me was one where I was reminded to express myself openly and be more authentic and clear with myself. I have realized that I am enough and I need to remember that I am the creator or my life. If I disagree with someone then I should listen and be respectful of their views.”
The differences included starting the event on Saturday after lunch instead of the usual Friday evening beginning. Also ending on Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday evening which enabled some who had driven long distances to make it home that night.
The emcees for the program were Catherine Ono and Matt Rogers, an elder and a younger, who worked together in a seamless fashion to keep the program on time and with an easy flow of activities and breaks. Both emcees had significant personal stories which brought the attendees immediately into the gathering in a deep way signaling that this was not going to be an average church workshop. David Young and Sancha Ogden conducted the opening session which prepares everyone for the rest of the program by sharing about the importance of listening to others, confidentiality, and proper sharing techniques. Participants got to practice their listening skills as part of the interactive session in order to use those skills during the rest of the weekend.
After dinner, the evening session was called Honoring the Generations. This activity allows the group to be divided into two groups; elders and youngers. The two groups meet separately to answer a series of questions about their perception of the other generation and vice versa. The groups reconvene to share their insights with each other. Often, many in both groups are surprised by the answers and people’s minds are open to learning more and seeing others in a new light.
Sunday began with a reading from one of Rev. Moon’s speeches which highlighted the importance of church members really loving and respecting each other. This set the tone for the next exercise after breakfast which was Through Our Lens. The activity consisted of four testimonies that were given by two elder members and two youngers. This was a time for those sharing to be vulnerable and express their heart through their life story. Following the testimonies, each participant gave a testimony in their small family group. The opportunity to be in an environment where people felt safe to share is a rare experience and the tears were flowing as each person took their turn and their family carefully listened.
Following a delicious lunch, there was a time for some games which was a time for people to enjoy just being together and having fun. The highlight for many was the next activity, called Going Deeper. This time, a mother and daughter sat on stage in front of everyone and answered a series of questions designed to reveal insights into their relationship. The honesty and love that flowed between the parent and adult child moved everyone and created a desire in many hearts to repeat this exercise with their own relative.
Another unique exercise was next. Each person in a family group was appreciated by the other members of the group. In our daily lives, there is often a lack of appreciation and for many, this may have been one of the few times in their life that they were appreciated with the sincere comments of their family group members.
“I personally had a deep learning experience to see how we can find ourself in many things that were showed. I felt that I could relate much more to the 2nd gen and be more open to understand them.”
“I appreciate how loved I felt here. So many people, who are willing to try. Try to understand. I am grateful that I could receive all this inspiration, guidance, I was able to understand myself more. But I also understand the relationships at home more.”
Finally, the group split into smaller groups based on geographic areas and conversations occurred as to how to continue the Project Phoenix experience in the future. Leaders were chosen and follow-up plans were made. Everyone felt excited to experience the transformation and to continue the heartistic breakthrough and new-found relationships.
The American Project Phoenix staff were grateful to have been invited to Germany to conduct this event in conjunction with the local Germany team. The local team consisted of a number of members of the Blessed Family Department. The venue was a wonderful church training center located near Frankfurt in a beautiful nature setting. A special thanks to all those who attended and supported this unique and special gathering.
Huge thanks to the staff who flew all the way to Germany focused on the program, bringing their full heart into it: David Y, Grandma Lucia, Sam, Sancha, Sunder, Matt, Benito, Klein, Theresa, Catherine, David B, Mark A, Mark B