Vanuatu: The Country with the Happiest People Tour
Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, UPF Secretary General
August 16, 2006
After a three hour flight from Sydney, Mother Moon, Hyun Jin and Jun Sook arrived in Vanuatu, welcomed by Rev. and Mrs. Chung Sik Yong, Rev. Myung Dae Kim and family, Rev. Andy Lausberg, Mrs. Aila Anneli Willitts, Mr. Steven Osborne, and others, including many Ambassadors for Peace. This was the first visit by Mother Moon and her family to this beautiful island nation, rated by one British polling company as the country with the “happiest people.” “Losing” one hour from Sydney time, we arrived only a few hours before the program started.
Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands. Port Vila is the capital. Formerly known as New Hebrides, Vanuatu was an “Anglo-French Condominium” until independence in 1980. One of Oceania’s Melanesian islands [others include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, etc.], Vanuatu has a population of 200,000.
Vanuatu was an important military operations base during World War II. US forces left behind much material, much “buried at sea” and forming the basis for famous dive sites such as “Million Dollar Point.” Author James Michener was based on Vanuatu’s Santo Island in World War II and thought Ambae Island the most beautiful island in the South Pacific. The “Bali Hai” in the musical “South Pacific” was modeled on that island.
Vanuatu also has an island known as Pentecost Island where the tradition of “bungee jumping” started as a ritual related to planting and harvest; these the jumpers leapt off platforms 30 meters high holding onto vines.
The main program began at 3:30 PM. Following the Holy Wine Ceremony, and the Chairman’s Address by Dr. Yong, the Prime Minister, Ham Lini, who attended with his wife and the Speaker of the Parliament, gave the welcoming remarks, extending his personal welcome to Mother Moon and Hyun Jin, expressing his regret for difficulties last year which affected the decision to exclude Vanuatu from the 120 Nation Tour. [At that time, several Christian groups were stirred up prejudicially and emotionally, creating an inappropriate environment. However, Ambassadors for Peace countered effectively and courageously, turning the tide.] The Prime Minister spoke of the need for religious freedom, affirming all the peoples and citizens of Vanuatu. He spoke about the importance of dialogue and cooperation, citing Vanuatu’s opening of relations with Libya and its relations with Indonesia, another Muslim country. The Prime Minister and his wife stayed throughout the program, and afterwards he did a brief interview for Peace TV, citing an article he had read some years ago which spoke of a prophet from the East who would come in 2006, and he said he believed the Father and Mother Moon were probably those people.
Welcomed enthusiastically by the 500 leaders assembled, Hyun Jin delivered the Founder’s Address and Mother Moon the Keynote Address with usual elegance, dignity and power, and a touch of the joy of being in such a wonderful place with such wonderful people who were attending so respectfully, especially former Prime Minister Ati George Sokomanu and the Minister of Labor.
Following the main event and Blessing, there was a VIP dinner for 40 Ambassadors for Peace. Several shared their inspiration, echoing the theme of receiving such as great blessing from True Parents and True Family. Several expressed their apologies for Father and Mother Moon not being able to come in 2005.
The following morning, Mother Moon said, “When I look at the environment here in Vanuatu, there is so much of God’s beauty. The pattern in history has been one of conflict, where the victorious nations subjugate and dominate the defeated nation and peoples. However, after World War II, the victorious nations did not subjugate the defeated nations, but helped them be liberated. This meant there was a providence to create a brotherhood of nations. In the past, so many efforts could not achieve solutions to the world’s problems. So, when Ambassadors for Peace see the possibility for lasting solutions through True Parents, they are so inspired. I want you to be able to expand this message and this blessing so that this nation, which is so much like the kingdom of heaven externally, can also become the Kingdom of Heaven internally and spiritually. Parents love all their children, but some are more near and dear to your heart as they unite with you. Among all the nations of the world, Vanuatu can be the special child that True Parents and God can love so much. You have been named the number one nation in the world for the happiness of its people.”
Japanese volunteers sang a song about happiness. The Oceania Leadership Training Team sang a Vanuatuan song, “My God Can Do Anything.” Ambassadors for Peace sang a Vanuatuan Christian song.
Mother Moon had been encouraging children’s choirs throughout the tour. “After hearing these great singers,” she said, “I would like to start an Ambassadors for Peace choir.” Hyun Jin sang an American song about fulfilling dreams, with back up provided by Dr. Thomas Walsh and Jin Man Kwak.
Afterwards, Mother Moon, Hyun Jin and Jun Sook walked on the beach for 20 minutes. As they walked along the shore, there were large schools of small fish swimming parallel to them. Very fascinatingly, thousands of these fish would leap up in the air, like dolphins, and splash back in and under the water. The water was crystal clear, allowing 100 percent visibility. Many starfish were scattered on the bottom.