Contributed by Roger and Daniela Wetherall
“An experience of joy, community, and connection that transported us back to 30 years ago when we began this journey of True Love”
On the last night of our Caribbean Cruise, we gathered together onboard our ship, the MSC Seaside, for a private party to celebrate the 30 years of ups and downs that each couple has invested in their Blessed marriages. We showed a grainy video of our Blessing from 30 years ago and then admired pictures of our younger selves from that time. How fresh and excited we were to be embarking upon the adventure of joining our previously separate lives into one unit, called a Blessed Family. Many shared stories of the crazy situation in which our Blessing took place, within the McCol Factory south of Seoul, in South Korea where we slept upon sacks of barley or concrete floors in unheated rooms where the temperature often dipped to many degrees below freezing. From these humble beginnings, beautiful and loving families were born and have blossomed over the years.
The idea for this cruise started In January 2018, as we celebrated our 29th Anniversary. It occurred to my wife and I that we should do something special to celebrate out 30th Anniversary together and that it would be very special to share this experience together with other members of our Blessing. I decided to put the idea on Facebook in a simple post to see if there was any interest. There were many suggestions as to what we could do and eventually we decided upon a cruise. Kris Esplin, a member of our Blessing who currently lives in Japan, put me in touch with Gabriela Neuwirth, a travel agent in New York City who was also part of our Blessing, and after several conference calls, we decided upon a 7-day Cruise around the Bahamas, leaving from Miami. Eventually, 15 couples, including some from other Blessings committed to coming on the cruise. Many more expressed interest, but could not come for various reasons.
A cruise provided an opportunity for each couple to have their own private celebration and vacation while also giving us a chance to meet and share our common experience together during meals and casual meetups. There was a great range of entertainment and activities to keep everyone interested and a variety of ports to explore and excursions to go on that catered to both those who wanted to sit on a beach and do nothing or try something more challenging.
The Cruise was also a great opportunity to witness. The boat is mostly full of married couples and families. MSC Cruises, in particular, caters to a very international crowd and we were able to meet people from all over the world. Everyone we talked to was amazed to learn that we were all celebrating our 30th Anniversary together.
Each evening that we were on the boat, we were given a private lounge area where we could meet together as a group. During this time, we could each share our testimony of the matching and Blessing as well as something of our journey since then. Each couples’ story was so different and yet the common thread of an eternal commitment to building a family of true love, ran through each narrative. Blessed Couples are really special people. It is always a bonding and heart-warming experience for us to get together and connect with each other in a personal way. I was deeply touched to hear of the struggles and victories of each couple over the years. Nobody makes it through 30 years together without facing a few major crises, and yet in overcoming these difficulties, we have become like polished diamonds, shining with God’s love. This week of relaxation and celebration has been a precious memory for us as a couple and a milestone in our eternal blessed life together.
Sharing God’s love and blessing is second nature to those who really appreciate what they have received from our Heavenly Parent and True Parents and so while on the cruise and over the course of a couple of days, I felt drawn to a particular Italian family who could speak very little English and for whom I had offered to translate a few times while on excursions. Gianluca, Claudia and their five-year-old daughter Francesca, were really drawn to us and every time we met, Claudia’s eyes would tear up and she would get goosebumps when she was in our company and the same had happened when they had interacted with another blessed couple on the cruise, Victoria and Hoshin Maeda. I felt their ancestors beckoning us to give them the Holy Wine and thus I invited them to join us for the last evening celebration when we would celebrate our Blessing and amazingly enough, the three of them showed up right on time. As we showed the 1989 Blessing video of True Parents and various photos, this wonderful family was totally fascinated and kept asking a lot of questions. Nowadays, I never travel without our Blessing kit and so after the event finished, we introduced them to the Holy Wine Ceremony which they were simply elated to receive. We did the whole ceremony assisted by the Maeda’s. We clearly explained to them the meaning of what they were receiving, and Claudia had tears in her eyes as she and her husband were incredibly appreciative of the eternal gift that had been bestowed upon them.
We exchanged contact information and since they live close to Milan, where I will be going to visit my mother and family at the end of March, we promised to see each other again soon. Little did we know that the next day, we would meet again at Miami’s airport, and we helped them out with the many travel procedures they were having difficulty with because of their poor English. We spent quite a few hours together and when they finally boarded their flight back to Italy, they sent us a photo of the three of them sitting together with a note saying, “So grateful we are to you and Roger, for you are our guardian angels!”. I have been in touch with them in Italy several times already and do look forward to meeting them again in March and connecting them to our Church in Milan. I would like to conclude with the refrain of the precious Holy Song, “Light in the East”.
As we now receive the love of God, our boundless source of light.
Come let’s join together and in brightness we shall live.
We’ll shine like the brightest star to all of heaven and earth.
Congratulations to all the 1275 couples around the world who celebrated their 30th Anniversary.