The Arizona Project Phoenix event was very successful, internally and externally. 50 participants joined for the Saturday, Sunday event. In a new development, there were more younger participants than older ones. Tears flowed and hearts were impacted by the series of talks, exercises, testimonies and reflections. The following is a summary of the program.
The program opened with a catered dinner. This was followed by introductory remarks by the two emcees Mark and Mariana Boitano. The main activity of the evening was a presentation by Sam Orman. Sam talked about creating a space space and the games we play in our relationships. The exercises and pair sharing about listening stimulated an awareness in everyone of the importance of active listening. He went on to share about being in tune with our own thinking patterns and the effect these patterns have on our relationships. He asked attendees to also be in touch with their heart rather than just their mind. A number of the participants expressed appreciation for the unique concepts and the opportunity to learn more about this critical area of human interaction.
Sunday morning began with the Honoring the Generations activity. Led by Benito Rodriguez and Mark Anderson, the room divided into two groups. The youngers went into a nearby room and the elders stayed in the main room to answer questions about how each generation is viewed by the other. The groups came back together and shared the responses. Often, the generation being described is surprised by some of the comments. When the responses are shared, both young and old are impacted which leads to a great sharing in the family groups that have been established.
This exercise is followed by the Through Our Lens activity. This is a time of four testimonies that model being vulnerable and real. The four speakers were: David Burgess, Bonne Deshotel, Kym Guntermann, and Jonathan Golden. Each speaker expressed struggles and challenges that they faced and what it took to overcome. After these sharings, guests were able to share their own experiences with their family groups. This was very deep as many people never share with this level of honesty. Tears were flowing in all the groups as everyone experienced the common element of being human.
Through this process of listening and sharing, many participants experience healing and even the presence of God lifting their spirit. Some feel that they have a new perspective and a desire to continue the energy of the activity.
After this intense, emotional morning, lunch is served and after lunch, everyone joined in a game of fishbowl. This lightens everyone and the opportunity to have fun is a welcome addition to the schedule.
After the games, an exercise called Community Weaving creates an opportunity for people to engage with others from the community in meeting their needs. As people share their needs and listen to the needs of others, they realize that many resources exist in our own community that we were not aware of.
The final activity of the afternoon is called Going Deeper. It involved two pairs, in this case, both Mother-Daughter pairs, who share in front of the room answering questions about how they see each other. This exercise also often leads to tears and healing of the relationship.
Dinner is an opportunity to get to know other participants and digest the experiences of the day. After dinner, each participant shares in their family group something that they got out of the day. This is followed by other members of the group verbalizing their appreciation and acknowledgement of each person. Again, this not something that people do on a normal basis. Hearts open and those who are doing the appreciating as well as those being appreciated feel the positive impact of this interaction.
The program closed with a survey which allowed participants the chance to offer feedback and suggestions to improve events in the future. The next Sunday will be a follow-up meeting to organize any on-going activities in the local area.
Here are some testimonies from the survey:
It was a great opportunity to step into a space of vulnerability and courage. I appreciated the opportunity to look at the games I play in my life and to share some of my story to hopefully impact someone else. It was amazing. Y’all do incredible work. It was LIT.
I really liked having this opportunity to talk to older and younger generation. Everything felt heartfelt and raw. I was able to open up things that were inside that I usually struggle telling people. The mood and atmosphere was always made for every one of us to feel safe and loved.
A seminal opportunity to find personal space for renewed intention and vulnerability. The members all came to contribute in our “family”. Our love and trust grew over the 2 days to a point of deep acknowledgement and gratitude for honesty and the embrace of common suffering. This led us to a healing point, a new beginning. I am deeply grateful.
Project Phoenix is a beautiful place and space, where we can experience the love of true brothers and sisters, no matter our age differences. Through meaningful activities and deep sharing it was possible to gain great insight on how to overcome previous blocks in relationships, whether it be with ourselves or other meaningful people in our lives. A much needed project in so many communities.
At first I only came because I had been so away from church so when Lucia pushed me with multiple emails and a phone call I decided to put the little ounce of hope I had left in this church to the program. On the first day I realized I intended to say goodbye to the church and let go of the resentment I had towards the church members. Thru the second day I realized more about myself, why I was hurt, why the unification church as it is, was not enough, what I needed/wanted, what more I could do (outside the vortex we call church).
Project Phoenix was eye opening to me. I got to know how to build better relationship with the people who I really love.
In conclusion, it was a wonderful experience as the members invested themselves in the program with a strong desire to get something meaningful out of it. The local and national staff did a great job.