Youth from all over Europe gathered together in the city of Porto to learn more about the Ocean Providence, experience a glimpse of that rich legacy and learn a new skill. See below a report from one of the coordinators – our very own Simran R.
New Hope in Porto
Written by Simran R
From the 30th June to the 5th July, a fishing workshop – the first of its kind in Europe – was held for 13 participants from 6 countries in the Porto Church Centre in Portugal.
We created daily themes to guide the experience of participants. Things such as ‘faith as my anchor’ or ‘old as the sea’. One day, I gave a morning service titled: ‘the ocean is a mother’. I encouraged participants to reflect on what they could learn about a mother’s heart from the ocean. We offered the fishing on that day as a condition for True Mother to come to Europe.
This workshop was an idea that Alma and I spoke about two summers ago, sat in the field in Cleeve House during a HARP UK workshop.
She wanted to share her Dad’s passion for fishing and the ocean providence. As well as bringing a revival to the Church Centre in Porto, her old home, which has been inactive for seven years now.
For me, this desire stemmed from a place of curiosity. I had never been fishing before (I’ve lived in London my whole life) but I have always loved the ocean and open waters. I value the emphasis True Mother places on environmental care, having worked for IAYSP EUME for some years, and currently working in the science communication field.
The workshop was a combination of testimonies, practical guidance on fishing and problems/solutions surrounding the ocean and fishing – each time at a different location of the estuary of Douro, the main river of Porto, or at a beach near it. We tried to mix it up each time, having one time fishing at night, another at sunrise, and also seafood picking and learning about other forms of wildlife when the tide was out. A combination of intellectually and spiritually stimulating activities.
The practicalities of fishing sites, licensing and equipment were co-ordinated by uncle Dan, Alma’s Dad, who is still based in Porto. Content was led mainly by uncle Clive, an Ocean Providence veteran, former professor of Marine Science in Cornwall. He was supported by my Dad, uncle Ajay, who shared his experience of fishing with Father in Alaska. Uncle Ian and his wife, Harumi-san, flew out to Porto for one day to speak especially to us, sharing their testimony and experiences. I was incredibly moved by how receptive first generation members who had experienced Ocean Providence with Father were to our initiative. It became clear to me that Europe has been waiting a long time for something like this.
The most valuable thing for me was the opportunity to listen to and inherit such a legacy from these first generation members. Uncle Ian shared in his talk about a dream he had. He asked Jesus: “How wide is the path of faith?”. Jesus took the fileting knife out of his hand and pointed at the bloodstained rim. “The path of faith is as narrow as this blade of blood.”
For me, this workshop was about remembering that blade of blood. The investment from True Father, True Mother and all the early members who invested so much of their early mission life on the water.
Some might argue that the era has passed for the Ocean Providence. That it’s too late or that this investment is wasted. I firmly believe that as long as these members are still alive, there is SO much to gain from hearing these stories. As a second generation member myself, there is nothing more empowering to me. I believe these experiences will fuel many generations to come, and the significance of the ocean will never cease.
We would like to extend our thanks to uncle Sergio, the national leader of Portugal, who allowed us to stay in the Porto Church Centre and visited us on the last day of our workshop to give a closing address. Thank you also to auntie Carla, head of properties in Portugal, for her support and help.
Our thanks also to Un Hee and Osman B., who represented uncle Sergio at the workshop and who’s practical and internal support helped us greatly.
When the Porto community heard that we would be holding a workshop in their community church centre, after such a long hiatus, they were immediately inspired and held a prayer vigil and a prayer condition for the success of our workshop. We were welcomed with tears and open arms. Our sincerest thanks to tia Leonice, tia Fatima, tia Verita, tia Cristina, Laura, Miguel and the whole Porto community who pulled together to prepare the centre, cook for us and make us feel so welcomed and supported – this meant a great deal to the participants too.
Lastly, my personal thanks to the Gaina family for their generosity and eager spirits. This workshop required a great deal of emotional, internal and financial investment as an independent initiative that did not apply for any funding. I will forever be grateful to them for making this experience possible for us all.
This investment was made with the intention of this not being a one off workshop. The more I share about my experience, the more first generation members come forward telling me their experiences of the ocean providence. There is so much to be shared.
Looking forward, there is potential to have a workshop in Cornwall where we already have some boats and where uncle Clive is familiar with the conditions. We’ve also had interest expressed by the Angelucci couple in Lebanon and uncle Sergio has invited us to Lisbon.
Porto will remain a strong base for us though, now that we have some foundation there. As long as uncle Dan is looking after his mother this is the most feasible option, also because of his extensive knowledge of the fishing scene and locations in the city.
I personally will be investing in a powerboat course and license to expand the scope of what will be possible on these workshops. One participant from the workshop, with previous fishing experience, has already put himself forward to join the core team for our next workshop.
As we look to improve and expand, we may be enquiring about funding – so watch this space!