Della Reese was the featured speaker for the recent international Women's Friendship Conference in Los Angeles, California. Her magnificent, loving spirit set the tone as hundreds of women from the United States and Japan prepared to participate in a "Sisters of Peace Ceremony", pledging to "Build A Bridge of Peace and Reconciliation, and a Bond of Friendship" between our two peoples.
We were looking forward to being united with our Japanese sisters after our uplifting experience with the recent "Interracial Sisterhood Project". As the room quickly filled to capacity, the excitement grew. And then that magical moment arrived. The doors opened and these lovely women who had traveled all the way from Japan entered the room to cheers and applause. Meeting our new Japanese sisters was an emotional moment that will long be remembered. Many were dressed in modern attire, however some were wearing the exquisite traditional kimonos. In fact Darby's sister, Yuko, is a teacher who instructs Japanese women in the traditions of and proper wearing of the kimono.
As soon as everyone was seated, we greeted each other for the first time. Of course, it was then that we realized our new sisters did not speak English, and none of us spoke Japanese. Quickly improvising, each with our own unique form of sign language, we introduced ourselves, exchanged personal information sheets, family photos and gifts. Even without speaking, there is always a common form of communication . . . smiles, hugs and lots of laughs. That always works!
Next came the most moving moment of all, the crossing of the bridge. As the American women approached the bridge from one side, the Japanese women from the other, one pair at a time met in the center with a bow of respect and a hug, and then exited the bridge hand-in-hand as "sisters".
LOVE CAN BUILD A BRIDGE
Della told how her top-rated TV show, "Touched By An Angel", was a metaphor for unconditional love and forgiveness. She reminded us that we women are very special, compassionate, forgiving and nurturing beings who have always been a blessing to our world. Now, more than ever, we must step forward and unite our loving hearts to build bridges of hope, understanding, peace and love, so that others will take heart and find the courage to cross with us.
Crying as I embraced my beautiful Japanese sister, I made a declaration in my own heart for everlasting peace. I had been a frightened child during World War II. The awful memories had haunted me all these years in secret places in my heart and mind, and were washed away with my tears of forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, understanding and love. I felt true gratitude for this opportunity to take my personal stand for peace in the world. This was a stunning moment for me personally, and I felt part of something much larger - a part of transformation on my beloved planet earth toward peace.
As if this hadn't been enough excitement for one day, we all retreated to various areas in the hotel to visit while the ballroom was being prepared for a sumptuous dinner and program. Through translators, the use of Japanese-English dictionaries, and various forms of sign language, we continued to share . . . and to laugh!!
By now, most of us were starving. We entered the ballroom where a feast had been prepared, and were quickly seated with a translator at each table. As we enjoyed our meal, pictures were taken and we continued to visit, some of us practicing a few new Japanese words, and I must say, not very successfully, but we did try.
After a wonderful program including songs in English and Japanese, we were informed that something special had been requested. There were a number of Japanese men who had accompanied their wives to America, and were so moved by the Bridge Ceremony, they asked permission to cross the bridge and become brothers with the American men who were present. This was followed by several Japanese and American couples, who also crossed the bridge to become brothers and sisters. I found this to be one of the most emotional moments of the entire event, especially watching the men hugging each other and holding hands as they stepped down from the bridge. You could tell for most, this was something very new and maybe even a bit uncomfortable, however they all participated to the rousing cheers of everyone in the room. I still get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
The program had concluded, but the dancing had just begun. Within minutes the entire place was rocking . . . English and Japanese, men and women, young and old . . . people of all sizes and shapes, having a great time together. It was evident that the Japanese people love to dance, and boy can they do the Macarena!!
The tears started to well up as it was finally time to say our goodbyes. In our own ways, we attempted to let our sisters know what a wonderful time we had, what a joy it was to have met them, and reminded them to write!
As we drove home, completely exhausted from this incredible experience, we promised each other to tell this magnificent story to everyone with eyes to read, or ears to hear. Yes, we the women of the world want peace in numbers too big to ignore!!
Our compliments to all the many volunteers who organized this amazing event!!
In 1987 women of Asia joined in the cause of peace, founding the Women's Federation for Peace in Asia. Their aim was to find solutions to the human dilemma and contribute toward peace in Asia.
By 1992 the organization had grown to the point of launching a worldwide women's peace movement. In April of that year, delegates of 72 countries met in the Seoul, Korea Olympic Stadium, to launch a globally-based "Women's Federation for World Peace." During the remained of 1992, WFWP's Founder, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, from Korea, delivered inaugural speeches worldwide proclaiming the arrival of the women's era and establishing a network of WFWP organizations.
Often speaking in a different country each day, Mrs. Moon delivered inaugural addresses in Korea, the United States, Japan, Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia, Oceania, South America, India, China and Africa. She spoke before the United Nations, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and national legislative bodies in numerous countries where she strongly urged women to lead the way to world peace by using their natural disposition towards reconciliation to bring change.
In 1994, 1,600 Japanese WFWP members went to 160 nations to work with local women to establish WFWP chapters and open doors for communication networks among the women of every nation.
WFWP was founded to unite women in taking action to support the moral education and healing of our families, our society and our world. Based on principles of true love, WFWP seeks to establish a new value perspective which will stimulate a moral renaissance within the core of every family and society, and lead to a peaceful world in the 21st century.
WFWP calls for concerned women to dialogue and exchange ideas and take leading roles in political, economic, social and cultural life. We believe it is up to women today to alleviate the suffering of our society by creating a tradition of love, compassion, truth and sacrificial service which all future generations can follow.
WFWP is committed to service and addresses the problems of starvation, mistreatment and illiteracy by encouraging members worldwide to volunteer their time and resources.
For Further Information, Contact WFWP 761 E. Green St., Suite 9 Pasadena, CA 91101 (818) 395-7491 or FAX (818) 395-7494
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