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Getting Out : Inside Out

Cult Memories 1992-1993

from Phoenixkidd - Wednesday, February 20, 2008
accessed 897 times

Cult memories ahh

Today I have nothing to do so I thought I would write of some of my memories.
I wrote this for my other blog, open to the public, so please excuse me if I overly explain details, terms etc...

Cult Memories: April 1992 to October 1993

In late 1991, I was living at the HCS (Heavenly City School) in Tateyama, Japan. This was a huge settlement for the cult with about 250 people living in various buildings owned by a rich benefactor of the COG, there were many children and classes or attempted classes were held there for children as well as a “video ministry”. This was even featured in a tour guide book as it was an anomaly to have all these foreigners living in this beautiful compound in the hills about 100 miles outside of Tokyo, but seemed much further because the transportation in Japan is not as good as in the West.

The leadership decided their commune was getting too big, and it was too much to support, everyone wanted to live there as that meant you didn’t have to rely on various proselytizing means, which amounted to begging to get by, but were supported by the cult. So all the “unnecessary” people were liquidated to other homes.
A Mr. Abeno as I will call him, was a 1st generation member of the cult, an absolute wiz when it came to anything technical or computer related. He had just inherited a house in Tokyo, Kitami to be exact near Komae on the Odakyu line which ended at Shinjuku. It had 4 subdivided units at the top to be used as apartment units, very common in crowded Tokyo. We had no shower or tub so we went to the local bathouse, Osento to take showers, then Josh installed a tub and rigged the small water heater over the sink so we could take showers in one unit—ahhh.
The house was about 40 years old and in many old Japanese homes basically slapped together after the war.
This was a boone for the cult to have a rent-free “home” in the actual city limit of Tokyo! So 12 of us, 4 of which were in the same family, would make a new home! This was in April of 1992. There was Thaddeus and Cherish (1st generation) and their two adolescent children, Jeffrey and Chris, Josh (Grandson of David Berg the cult founder) and Laura ( 2nd generation) and their newborn child, 14 year old David and his sister Almond, (Both of which I would develop a crush on—ha) 16 year old Amber (daughter of Ezra my Dad’s best bud for the last 33 years) and Me, I was 15 at the time.

The problem was is that they still had a tenant living in the bottom section of the house with her very old mother! This was completely detached from the 4 units we were occupying basically one room units that had a small kitchen, bathroom with no shower or tub. The lady at the bottom was a Buddhist priestess and had a detached unit where she would conduct prayer circles and burn incense. This was all in the middle of a typical Japanese residential neighborhood, upperclass as most people owned their own homes and in Japan houses are passed through the generations so you can imagine the spectacle we were when we moved into this place, constantly running back and forth between units. The local policeman did his usual rounds and asked who was living where and welcomed us into the neighborhood.
It took a very long time (it seemed ) to get the tenant to leave, we would pray against her and rebuke the evil spirits she would set forth through her Buddhist chanting. Finally around August she found a temple compound somewhere in Kanagawa-ken to live, She had so much darn junk and we helped her pack up everything and move which she seemed to resent doing.
Back to April 1992, the first time we went witnessing we met our first “disciple” Andy was 18 at the time and worked in a large corporation in downtown Tokyo, Shinjuku to be exact. He gave the team a generous donation for simply panhandling in the park, and came over. Even his sister quit her job and decided to join the cult, but finally backed out when she heard the “free love” concepts of the cult. We met his mother a few times a single woman who lived in a small apartment, they were definitely working class.
So in August we finally we had the whole house! The N’s, the Benefactors of the HCS decided to make some “add ons” to the house. That winter of 1992 some “Handymen” (cult-members) gifted in all sorts of construction built a complete face to enshield the front of the house from the elements, this was done with siding with no insulation and wooden and metal frameworking, very genius I thought at the time. The corrugated plastic added a beautiful greenglow over the stairway but it looked completely awful inside still as it was totally unfinished and we got a huge industrial refrigerator to cope with all the food we would get once a week.
The N’s built an extension to the house a glass enclosed conservatory looking thing which was wonderful, we decorated it with mismatched curtains and you could see the sky, although we usually hung laundry over the top from the rooms since we had no dryer, common for Japan. The new room was about 10ft by 25 ft square.
They also built a basement in one day, apparently without coding permission I found out, and quickly put 2 pre-fabs on top, all in 2 days this was made into a nice nursery and room for our new couple, Patrick and Sharon (2nd generation members) still 19 at the time with already one child and a second on the way, we also got Japanese Marco and Tabitha and her young child to live with us as our home was doing so poorly with no Japanese speakers and also single Clair and her 4 year old son. Then Amber decided she couldn’t take Thaddeus and Cherish anymore, they were quite eccentric and basically ran the place and let their 2 kids practice their music instruments all day while we hoofed it in the streets, witnessing and panhandling, so she begged her Mom (a big leader at the HCS) to take her back (which was very understandable, there were times I wanted to commit suicide or run back to the HCS or my parents and beg them to take me back).
Then Jay and Teresa moved in to help with our “money issues” we were becoming the talk of Tokyo as we couldn’t pay our bills although we had no rent! They had 4 children and Jay (American) actually seemed to like the privacy of the separate unit—I got along with Jay just great, he seemed so much more level headed than Thad, and we had a second driver to add to the house! and Teresa (Japanese and a singer) still looked beautiful.
Sometimes we rode our bicycles all the way to shibuya or in case Shinjuku and back to preach the gospel and try to get money. I was put in charge of finances at that time at the age of 15 and was so worried all the time over money that I think that’s why my hair started turning gray in the middle of forehead. At first the home did well with Thaddeus taking his kids night-singing at traditional Japanese eateries that stay open late and serve alcohol but then they decided to quit that and get into schooling and practicing with their children.
Anyways back to the garbage scenario, our house had “inherited” tons of garbage, and by tons I mean literally. We tore down the detached Buddhist house after using it as a dining room for a few months, we still had leftover garbage from the former tenant and the construction garbage and leftover cement wall from the side which we expanded for a full driveway. We installed a sliding gate to keep our unit private although it was a hassle because it was not automatic –one time it fell off the tracks as it wasn’t installed by a professional but by Josh. He worked so hard on that house! We nicknamed our house the 4 faces of Komae, as every angle you looked at it, it had a different style it looked like an Indian slap-on-add-on structure, just absolutely hilarious.
We had one van which was fairly new when we arrived a black Toyota something or other but by that winter it looked so so bad. Let me explain, the roof was picked and falling apart since we hauled everything from garbage to closets in it and all our music equipment for “busking” which we did on a regular basis. Cherish used the van and backed into something a few times, (driving in Tokyo is very hard) than Thad did the ultimate booboo and side backed into a thick black metal pole along a sidewalk to stop cars from parking there and completely ruined the side, with no insurance we had no means to fix this although Andy’s friend helped immensely with repairs and got the door working again since he worked as a car mechanic. The whole body started to rust, you couldn’t open the back hatch door, and since you couldn’t open the side door you had to climb through the window (which I am still very good at) to open the back hatch. I would do this on a continual basis during our busking escapades to Asakusa and even all the way to Yokohoma pier park. I would grab the main wire and yank it down all in a tuxedo suit which Andy’s sister had bought for our team.
Oh god back to garbage, since we were technically not in the city of Tokyo but in the prefecture of Tokyo we couldn’t take our garbage to “gomi-shima” “garbage island” located in Tokyo bay. The prefecture of Kanagawa wouldn’t take the garbage and the regular garbage men had a complete fit several times when we would try to get them to take our garbage since it wasn’t regular “house” refuse. A few times I walked with Josh in the night carrying bits of concrete and siding through the neighborhood on a wheelbarrow and we would dump it next to the river. By river I actually mean a very well constructed water way, complete with bicycle trails and flower beds on the side and tennis courts—just to give you an idea it wasn’t any old river! I felt so bad. Then we all agreed we should take the garbage to “Chiba” and get rid of it. Chiba is another city or suburb of Tokyo in Chiba ken on the other side of Tokyo. It had been known for years as a sleezy industrial town and a place to dump garbage. Although it had been trying very hard in recent years to rebuild it’s image by constructing a monorail, and a huge business district.
Anyway we rented a small Toyota pick up and lined the sides with Tatami Mats, 5 by 4 foot Thick compacted straw mats, standard floor cover for Japanese homes. And then filled it to the top with garbage it was so heavy the tires looked like they would fall off and would buckle when we turned it. We payed equivalent of about $200.00 in tolls there and back (I remember because I was in charge of the money) a huge expense but we had to. I went with Patrick and Cherish (who drove) but we had no idea where to go. We got there about 10PM at night and drove around till we found a small river creek overgrown with large bulrushes. Even though I knew nothing of “saving the environment” I protested a bit and felt so sick when we dumped everything from refrigerators to porta potties and tatami mats and siding into the river. We thought at one point a car was coming as we could see headlights but it was long the other side of the crossing street and made a turn instead of coming to us.
In June of 1993, just before turning 17, I finally was able to leave that rotten home, I jumped for joy when my request to relocate was granted by leadership and I was able to go to Fukuoka with Michael and (I forget her name) long time teen shepherds who I knew at the HCS the woman would crack how she thought my dad was so handsome—lol.
This request was especially granted because the N’s granddaughter was to go to Fukuoka for a 3 month visit to a home with a large teen population (about 18) and I was designated as her escort, since according to policy no teen was allowed to travel on their own even during flight. The N’s picked me up in their nice Mercedes and we went to Haneda, the old airport, and had a wonderful meal together in a nice restaurant before leaving. I was carrying my guitar which case had broken on the way there and my suitcase with everything. Mr. N. joked “wow I can sure feel the difference your suitcase makes in this car”. Me and Happy N’s daughter, listened to “system” music through headsets on the plane and thought Michael Jackson’s new songs were so beautiful. –LOL

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from Phoenixkidd
Monday, February 25, 2008 - 07:29

OMG I forgot to mention that Tabitha had a baby in that van! Yes she came early and didn't quite make it to the midwife, the seats were covered in blood so we would put a blue tarp down so we wouldn't have to feel like we were sitting in afterbirth! I was so embarassed once when we picked up Peter and Flo in our terrible van that had the blood and the side door that had to be kicked in to close it--I am still good at karate kicks because of it---ha yaaaaaaaaa
(reply to this comment)
from Conqueror of Uranus
Friday, February 22, 2008 - 23:11

I remeber "Cherish". She ruined just about every car in every home she lived in. She would always go on about how good her driving skills were, and how she drove a Buick station wagon in the States that was "as big as a boat".
I remember in the three years I lived with her, she:
Smashed the rear hatch of a Toyota Hiace (Delivery and light cargo van)against a garage door.
Side-swiped a Nissan Sunny (sedan) against a guardrail.
Broke the front axle of a Mitsubishi Galant (sedan) on a curbstone.
Crashed a donated Nissan Skyline GTS Turbo. (I'll never forgive her for that one.)
Rear ended a truck in traffic with a Nissan Prarie. (station wagon)

And yes, Chiba is still a sleazy industrial bedtown with a juvenile crime problem out in the sticks.
Disneyland, techno-city Makuhari Messe, Narita airport, Kawasaki Steel, Nippon Foundry, NEC super-server brain, etc... have not really helped this complacent prefecture out much.
(the wide straight roads with few traffic lights in Makuhari Messe immediately became the hottest sreet racing and drifting spots.)
But I don't care, I get the best surfing in Japan in Chiba. Just go on a weekday to avoid the crowds of inland "oka-surfers" from northern Tokyo, Saitama, and Gunma.
And for your own sake, do go further south than Kujukuri.
That strech of sea-line is embarassing for Chiba-jins.
(reply to this comment)
From Phoenixkidd
Monday, February 25, 2008, 07:36


My god you remember well Conqueror, Cherish was a bit eccentric I think, sometimes she would be happy and almost a little too happy the next she would get very upset at something as small as putting pepper in the soup because her husband had hemroids which we all knew about! ---uggh I liked Chiba ken a lot, a lot less crowded than Tokyo and Makuhari mesei was fantastic!--we would ride bicycles over there and play free video games at the sony building ha--This was later at the SC

(reply to this comment

From Conqueror of Uranus
Monday, February 25, 2008, 23:33

I remember I used to take the 23km bike ride down route 16 (now R357) from Hamano(SC) to Makuhari with the other teen boys to play free video games when I lived in the SC for a while, helping the clean-up after the fire.
We'd dump our tracts in a public restroom, and spend the rest of the time in the Sony building, or the Seiko instruments building playing free games, listening to Bon Jovi and the Offspring's latest albums, and watching Terminator2 and the THX re-release of Star Wars on the big screens.

The building staff must've thought it strange to have several foreign and Japanese looking kids in shabby clothes speaking English and hoarding all the media demos and exhibits for hours on end.(reply to this comment
From Phoenixkidd
Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 06:58


I actually had some of my best memories in the cult at the SC, 1994, with Abu, Tommy and Japanese Stephen and Abby those guys were a riot, and we got away with so much. I remember going to the Toshiba building I think, and watching a huge presentation about Liquid Plasma, I laugh when I think of these huge corporations showcasing their products to shabbily dressed long haired kids. Too bad the building burned down we lost everything and lost that nice, somewhat nice easy going home.

(reply to this comment

From Remember Cherish
Monday, February 25, 2008, 19:09


"Cherish was a bit eccentric I think, sometimes she would be happy and almost a little too happy the next she would get very upset at something as small as putting pepper in the soup."

-- Sounds rather bipolar, if they weren't bipolar when they went in, they probably got that way, as the result of being there.(reply to this comment

from rainy
Friday, February 22, 2008 - 22:27

'93 was when I arrived in Japan. I just had another short the time when we had a lot of young navy guys sort of almost 'joining' the family, (This is Greenfields, maybe 94-95) staying in the house, memorising the memory book, cleaning toilets, reading "the basics", etc. This one poor guy had been a vegetarian all his life. Not even the Navy forced him to eat meat, but we did...and liver to boot! He would manfully swallow it back somehow and manage to still praise the Lord about it. I think it was his crazy infatuation for one of the girls was the real cause. Then one day about 6 of the older girls left the family en masse. I was devastated...and so was he. He was completely shattered. Not to mention how his faith was shaken! Haha!
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from ErikMagnusLehnsher
Friday, February 22, 2008 - 20:51

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

That was interesting. The story about the garbage run made me laugh. I have so many crazy memories of getting rid of trash. It was this ever present challenge that was universal to almost every Home I ever lived in. We generated an inordinant amount of household trash by virtue of craming 5 times as many people into a house as there should have been and as if that wasn't enough, we exacerbated the problem by bringing home provisioned fruits and vegetables...half of which were rotton before they even arrived in our garage. In some neighborhoods we were only allowed 2 cans on the curb so we would compress so much garbage and rotton fruit into the bins, they would weigh about 80 pounds each. A couple of times I peeked through the blinds as the garbage men collected it and even from a distance it was apparent by their body language that they hated our house. Normally the garbage truck would slowly roll through the neighboorhood with 1 driver and 2 guys hustling to pick up the bins and run back to the truck. At our house the truck would have to come to complete stop and the driver would hop out to help pick up our hulking, garbage juice-dripping cans. If you happened to be raking the front lawn or sweeping the front porch when you heard the truck rumbling down the street, you always hustled back into the house in order to avoid an earful from the angry garbage men.

We would also conduct 1 or 2 garbage runs a week. Sometimes it would be an unabashed daylight run to some private dumpsters in a parking lot or outside a 7-11. Our instructions from the Leaders of the home were to "provision" the use of a gas station dumpster...usually by grossly underestimating the amount of trash that we had. The problem with this is it took a long time and wasn't always practical. Usually when caught in the daytime, we could simply act dumb, apologize, promise never to do it again and be on our way.

My craziest memories were of the night-time "black ops" missions where we would dress in dark clothes, kill the headlines and chuck a heap of trash into some ditch in some shitty part of town. Sometimes the areas were nice but rural and isolated woods were we would shamelessly dump half of ton a rotton household trash mixed rotton potatoes, plums, peaches and occasionally some Selah trash. When I heard Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" years later, I mused that it would have been pretty easy for someone to find some junk mail in the trash heap and trace it back to us.

The night runs were intense because if we were caught we knew we would be fined and busted by the police. If that weren't bad enough we faced the prospect of 'fessing up to the Home leaders that the carefully nurtured network of smiling Arab gas station contacts we had described to them had, for the most part, been fictitious. It was always much quicker to just throw it on some guy's property and then haul ass out of the neighboorhood before we were caught. After the adreneline rush of unloading all this trash there was usually an extremely tense silence in the van for about 1 minute followed by raucous laughter once we were confident that we had not been spotted. We would speculate about how pissed somebody was going to be when they spotted all this shit on their property the following day. Crazy times..crazy times.
(reply to this comment)

from shikaka
Friday, February 22, 2008 - 18:43


That was an interesting read, as I became very familiar with that shitty house/complex/den of iniquity when I left TF years ago.

I moved in w/ an ex-member couple who were renting it from "Mr Abeno", and we did alot of work on that house. I personally ripped up and re-built the upper laundry deck, as the wood had all rotted. We also ripped out all the plumbing and ran hot water to the kitchen, tiled the kitchen floor with marble, and re-finished all the flooring with wood panels.

The house was still an absolute shithole when we finished.
(reply to this comment)

from afflick
Friday, February 22, 2008 - 17:01

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Very interesting. In light of the fact that one of our main feuds with our friends still in The Family is the fact many of them do not want to reflect upon the past and emphasize "pressing on" for Jesus, I think it is significant that we have a forum to post memories and events from our previous lives in The Family. I met with an old roommate from my Family days yesterday. Just getting together and bringing up what we both remembered of our lives twelve years ago in this one particular home we shared was so healing. There were many aspects of our daily lives we had both forgotten but as each of us brought up details we held onto, we both formed a more complete picture of what our lives were like back then. I believe remembering your past aids in defining who you are, your struggle and what you've been through. Knowning that you got through difficult situations intact helps when you face difficult situations in the future. Since many of us have very little physcial mementos of the Family homes we lived in, the details of our daily schedule, etc, it's important that we recapture those missing elements whenever we can.
(reply to this comment)

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