Monday, February 25, 2008

On Whirlwind Declarations: So our community has doubled in size

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha to all, as the sun sets through my work window. Here is a teaching story to celebrate, one of many during this time of celebration. -gw

And then came Saturday, and the home visit to some seekers that I'd been asked to follow up with. Being not entirely insane, I asked my friend Shahab to come along with me. Good thing. We drove out to one of the housing projects, walked up to the apartment and found "Allah-u-Abha,” the Baha'i prayer and greeting that means "God is All-Glorious," written in chalk on the molding above the apartment door. We went in and spoke with the wife (who was raised in a Baha'i home but said she hadn't paid a lot of attention as a kid) and her husband, who had begun to learn about Baha'u'llah from his wife's parents. The family is Puerto Rican, and the complex where they live is nearly entirely Spanish-speaking.

We listened to their story, including the husband's explanation that he'd been raised Catholic but “it didn’t really take,” and when his mother-in-law told him about Baha’u’llah, he “felt that” (spoken as he thumped his fist against his heart). We walked through the statement on the declaration card with them, and found that at each step, they were offering up things they knew—the date of the Bab’s declaration; His station; Baha’u’llah’s place and date of declaration; ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s relationship to Baha’u’llah; and some of the laws, such as noninvolvement in politics. They lit up all over when we said they could register their kids at the same time--they have five under the age of 10, and filled out cards for all of them.

These incredible people called their older son (college-age) down from his room to be their when they signed their cards—although he is not sure that the Baha’i Faith is for him, he said he “had an open mind” and would listen to anything. And when we gave them some new prayer books and a copy of Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, they wanted to read prayers with us right away. Not only did the wife, Shahab and I each read a prayer, but the son asked to read one for youth, and then at his father's request, he read a prayer for unity (his dad does not read English fluently).

This couple has already been teaching the Faith to their neighbors, including one woman who knocked on their door to talk to them about Christ and the Bible. When she finished, the husband told her that there was something she needed to hear, and he proceeded to tell her about Baha’u’llah. She asked if she could come back and have him tell her more. Now, he says, the neighbor feels that Baha’u’llah is the truth and considers herself a Baha’i. That is just one of the neighbors who will be invited to the Spanish-language Ruhi 1 study circle I’ll be tutoring at their home (wish me Spanish is rusty!). Meanwhile, Shahab will be starting children’s classes for the kids and their neighbors. And upon learning that Troy has only about nine Baha’is, the husband said, “That’s not enough! We will have to talk to more people!” So our own community just doubled in size. And went from zero children to five of them. When added to a mother and her two children who enrolled as Baha'is late last week in a nearby city, our cluster grew by 10 percent in three days! And potentially more to come...!

Needless to say, the rest of Saturday was taken up with phone calls to members of our local community, our Auxiliary Board Member, and e-mails to members of the regional Baha'i Council. Plus a run to the grocery store with my friend Samantha, dinner out with Abby, Shawn and ART (who I introduced to refried beans and guacamole, because her parents and I are probably slightly warped). And then a few hours with my friend Dawn, both in her official LSA liaison capacity and mine as the cluster's data liaison, and also just as my pal who was cheering me on toward seeing a bit more of "that guy" regardless of my overwhelming inferiority complex and gigantic fear of rejection. :-)

JoAnn Whirlwind and Declarations! Goin' Up: My personal kitchen party. C'mon in. Pull up a chair.

{Re-posted with permission}

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