I put together a PowerPoint of photos which I found from my time in Linz 1990-1996. I could not find a diary or any other material, leaflets, just a couple of digital files and photos on synology. My external hard drive for WFWP does not even open any more :-(.
I had to resign myself to just doing what I can, not complaining about what I can’t. I was then asked to be the first speaker. So, no, there was nobody else with photos from the early days, or even any testimonies. I went through my PowerPoint and then Christl Scharf spoke. Therese spoke and then she invited Renate and Irmgard to speak about the UN work. Kasia Bauer was the MC.
Josef dropped me off at the door and then went to park the car. He arrived while I was making my presentation. I had reserved a seat for him beside me near the front, but he stayed at the back and took some photos. I had prepared my mobile phone with selfie stick to film, but when I was called up, left it on the table, hoping that Josef would come and film me. I went through my pictures and commented on the text. I had thought of making a few other comments on leadership, but then only made them individually to some of the guests. One greeted me when I arrived and she had read my blog. She said she too has lots of photos and no time to sort them. I said, I thought I was not alone and really wanted to write about it.
Now I am reflecting on it all and sorting through what to write next on my blog. I filmed as much as I could. My phone got too hot and then the battery was flat. I connected it to my battery pack and tried to continue filming. I was not sure what was working and what not as the picture appeared to get stuck quite a few times.
After the presentations Therese had a couple of bags and began making presentations of awards. I was the first to be called out. It was the Ambassador for Peace (AfP) Award from the Women’s Federation. I asked for the microphone, and even now as I write about it, am again moved to tears.
Elisabeth Riedl* and I had discussed the AfP awards. We really thought that all blessed couples of the Unification Movement should be honoured with an AfP award. We also both wanted to receive one. We have presented so many awards to others, to VIPs to conscientious people, to women, to mothers, to single parents and divorcees, to politicians and diplomats, to passionate world changers. We both thought it would be helpful if we could also count ourselves among them as Ambassadors for Peace. It was hardly even a longing for the acknowledgement and recognition of our own work, rather more a desire to be treated as a worthy counterpart and as a witnessing tool in reaching out to significant community and society leaders. We know that we have sacrificed and paid a big price, but the people we have honoured were truly moved and grateful to be awarded. They had no idea of the price we paid, or the sacrifice we made. We just wanted to meet them on an equal footing. We saw that some significant UC members had been awarded and felt that ALL should be honoured, not only those who are already recognised by society as significant leaders. Each one of us who has gone this unification path has a story to tell and I want to honour and praise and raise each one up as an Ambassador for Peace. I want Elizabeth Riedl to receive one, even posthumously. And I was just so grateful to receive it now. I dedicated it to Elizabeth. I mentioned how during the zoom conference in preparation for the Bratislava European Women’s Federation for World Peace Conference in 2016, when it was asked for nominations for awardees. We were even asked to nominate ourselves if we wanted to receive one. There was even an application process. I spoke up, but was not heard. I said I want to receive one. Later I spoke to Elizabeth, again expressing my opinion that all UC members should be awarded with AfP awards. She said that she wanted one too, but was convinced we will never get one. Now I was getting one and I want one for her too.
Of course this whole experience, last year, when I spoke up, but was not heard, has initiated another thought process within me. It is all about leadership and taking our proper position.
If I really wanted the AfP award, I should have spoken up again, and should have filled out the application form. Yes? Oh, no, “somebody” should recognize me and know that I deserve one too. Of course when we awarded our AfP, the accompanying verbage was often, “not for deeds already done, but as an encouragement to do more”. Many of our Peace Ambassadors have taken the award as a commission to do more, not in recognition of deeds already accomplished. So, now as I prepare to write my blog, as an Ambassador for Peace, I seek to fulfil my commission to promote peace in the family, peace in society, cooperation between civil society, NGOs and the United Nations. I realize how often and how easy it is to shrink away from fulfilling responsibility and just waiting or allowing or expecting others to do the job.
Take Toastmasters for example. Somebody asked me how I became President of the Toastmasters club at the UN. I replied: no-body else wanted to do it. I have been nominated to a leadership position at the new area level in Vienna, beyond the club level at the UN. I shrank back, saying, no, I don’t have time. My nominee pointed out knowingly, that even if I just do what I am doing now, it will be more than those who currently hold those positions.
This past year, in 2017, I have had some incredible mentors: Todd Burrier, Clare Josa to name just a couple. The other inspiration comes from my unification commitment, my UN job, my Toastmasters conviction. Each of my mentors has stressed selfless giving, living for the sake of others. As much as I am convinced that I can only do one thing at a time, and I should finish what I have started, I know that I CAN contribute and make a difference. Even if I’m tired. Even if I’m old. Even if I’m a retiree!
Well that’s really saying something isn’t it? This must be the next story. Old, tired and retiree?
No. I am the President of the V.I.C. Toastmasters Club at the United Nations in Vienna. I am an Ambassador for Peace for the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP). I am the Vice President of WFWP Austria, as well as of Family Forum Austria (Familienforum Oesterreich). I am NOT old wood. Look at me. I am writing a blog! At my age! I am busy working full time and commuting hours every day. Of course you do have to take the old adage which goes something like, if I could relive my life, I would clean less, a different version here:
But I must confess, I do not waste any time cleaning the house. Now that we have to move at the end of next year, it would be handy to know where everything is. But as long as I am working full-time again, there is no time to fuss over what is and what isn’t.
I am the mother of five healthy sons who all were Vienna Choir Boys. I am blessed with Josef Gundacker, the founder of Familienforum Oesterreich. We were introduced to each other by Rev Sun Myung Moon and blessed in marriage in Madison Square Garden, USA in July 1982. I am grateful for all I could experience in my life. And now, I want to be an inspiration, as an Ambassador for Peace.