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Ambassadors for Peace

UPF Picnic in Ontario, Canada

Clearstone, Canada - It is customary for UPF Central District (Toronto) to arrange a family picnic for its members and guests at Clearstone Lodge; Roseneath R2, Ontario, at least once in a year. This time it was different because I have been waiting to attend the occasion with full UPF spirit and fervor. This auspicious occasion was arranged by the joint efforts of Dr. Chae Hee Lee, Chairman of UPF-Canada, and Dr. Hoossen Auckbaraullee, Chairman of the Central District. Of course those who attended made it splendid by their presence.

More than a hundred individuals showed up on this sunny day, and Rev. Mitch Dixon and members of his family greeted us with open arms. Notable among the guests were Mr. Nasir Hussein, Chair of Human Resources and Development Canada (Ontario Region); Rev. Earl Smith, Church of Scientology; Mr. Syed Nazir Hussein, guest from Pakistan; Rev. Stoyan Tadin and Mrs. Lilly Tadin, President of the Women’s Federation for World Peace-Canada; Willie Nabus, Leader of the Philippine community in Toronto; and many other distinguished guests.

To the amusement of arriving guests, quite a few peacocks present in the lodge echoed their welcome by squawking loud enough to attract everyone's attention. Peacocks are surely among the most beautiful and gorgeous pheasants in the world. They were all around the lodge and in good numbers.

Leaving aside a few late arrivals, most of the guests arrived by 10:00 a.m., and we were all geared up to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day. Different cultures, religions, and colors could be seen mingling and admiring nature's beauty in the form of green topography and the spectacular scenery of Rice Lake. We were all invited to a conference room in the lodge to entertain ourselves with religious songs followed by spiritual enhancement through the speech of Rev. In Jin Moon.

People of different ages assembled as a flock of peacemakers; they were ready to listen what Rev. In Jin Moon had to share about peace within families and between parents and children. A pre-recorded video of Rev. Moon was shown where she spoke about her vision for peace, especially the power of families to change the world.

Rev. Moon ended by conveying a depth of heart and conviction that profoundly touched the parents and children alike. "When we have children, it is our duty to create a home where the children can feel empowered and experience peace so that when they grow up they want to be, or will even call themselves, the Generation of Peace. This is what I am working hard to accomplish." By the time the speech and supplications were over, it was time to share the food which every family brought to this picnic.

Under the shade of maple trees, all of us engaged ourselves with decorating food items one by one and notables among us, such as Rev. Brian Winters, took the charge of roasting at least three different varieties of fish and meat.

I being a Muslim was curious enough to look for Halal food, which was available in abundance and variety. Beef biryani, chicken biryani, plain rice, pasta, chicken curry with different kinds of bread quenched the hunger of everyone. Fruits of different kinds, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry, were nicely cut and decorated to attract the attention of one and all. The organizers always respect the food requirements of diverse religions, which is a strong basis of UPF.   

After lunch, it was time to walk, talk, and laugh. We visited the on-shore huts next to Rice Lake. Muslim families took time to offer their combined Salat Az Zuhar and Salat Al Asr. Later, they joined the rest at the lake shore. The road starting from the lodge took us by the shores of Rice Lake where calm and clear waters seemed a swimmers' paradise. I was tempted to take a dip, but no one else came forward; probably after consuming food it was not a healthy idea. "Well there will be another occasion," whispered a beautiful lady next to me.  

Wild geese could be seen while everyone wanted to capture the sceneric beauty with their cameras. Some of us sat near the lake for poetic reflection, some were anxious for a boat ride, while some admired the forests all around. Those left behind near the lodge made them busy with sports and enjoying the fresh air. The atmosphere was not only friendly but brotherly, and relationships among the guests seemed symbiotic.

By 3:00, someone reminded us that it was Father’s Day and they wanted to share the beauty of this day with their family and friends at home. Most of our esteemed guests such as Mr. Franco Famularo, Mr. Daniel Stringer, and Mr. Alan Wilding were not able to attend for the very same reason. We missed them all.

Most of the families started hugging and exchanging pleasantries of the day as they said goodbye. Quite a few of the families stayed behind to share ethnic songs accompanied by the musical talent of Rev. Paul Tamale. Such a mood attracted many singers, of which Indian, Kenyan, Ugandan, Congolese, Serbian, Korean, Filipino, and Sri Lankan were but a few. By the time we finished this round of entertainment, it was already 05:00.  

We all offered our gratitude to Rev. and Mrs. Dixon for their hospitality. Their children were instrumental in facilitating the well being of all UPF guests. One thing which mattered most is the sense of brotherhood among the UPF members who attended the picnic. This is the basic teaching which UPF inculcates among its members who come from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Those who missed this occasion today would be warmly welcomed at future family picnics.
 
Qamrul A. Khanson is a freelance writer and author of several books on spirituality and interfaith studies. He could be reached at www.qamrulkhanson.net.
 

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