Monday, April 19, 2010

On Our 19th IPG Comes to a Conclusion: This weekend's photos & last weekend's stories

Here are photos from the concluding weekend of our very memorable 19th Intensive Program of Growth; video soon to come. Below are the stories in print from our first weekend of teaching, to go with video clips already shared. -gw

One team went to an apt. complex, there were kids all over the place.  They chatted with a lady walking her dog.  She is committed to the care of her community and is open.  They gave the presentation and talked about the core activities.  The woman shared all her contact info.  They gave her website info and she would love to visit again.  They met a Vietnamese man, 88 yrs old.  He did not speak enough English for them to communicate well, but he didn’t want to let them go.  He brought out his Bible with pamphlets from many religious groups, so he understood that they wanted to share about spiritual matters.  They felt he was a seeking soul and felt sad that they were not able to communicate.  They will return with some information in Vietnamese.

A team went to a group of townhouses and met a man and started talking with him about building spiritual community.  He invited them into his home with his wife and 2 year old daughter.  Children love to congregate in this home.  They gave 2/3s of the presentation and got his contact info.  He was very enthusiastic, not attached to other faiths but in tune with the need to build spiritual community.    They met an African Am.  woman with a 23 yr old son.  They saw her rush by twice, so they spoke to her.  She said she had a church and that’s she’s very involved.  She wanted to confirm that we believe in Christ.  She invited them into her apt. and had many questions while listening to the presentation.  She was supposed to go to ministry school but was dissatisfied with the system.  One team member said that in their conversation she was like a rubber band – she would resist but then be pulled back in.  She was moved when she read about Baha’u’llah’s suffering.  They gave her lots of info including the leave behind booklet; she wants to do some research and talk more. 

Another team with a Spanish-speaking member went to an apt complex with many Mexican folks, but also SE Asians and white folks.  They came back with several interest cards for children’s classes.  One lady who listened to the presentation lives on the east side and wants to start a children’s class in her home.  They met an 13 yr old and would like to join a jr youth group.  A young woman with children wanted to know about the Faith – people do want to know the context:  what is Baha’i?  They called it a “thrilling 2 hour race.”

Three teams went to the neighborhood where a local believer is very involved in the wider community and it hosting core activities in her home.  When her name is mentioned to folks being visited, people are much more receptive and say they have heard about the children’s classes, that they know her, etc.  One team met an acquaintance of the believer and might have her children walk home with the Baha’i friend after school so her children can attend the class.

Another team, including the local believer visited friends including a Samoan family.  Since the other team member had been to Samoa, she was able to share stories with them and talk about the King of Samoa.  They were very excited to meet someone who had been to their country.  She wants to visit with them again. 

The teacher of the children’s class and her teammate visited families involved in the children’s class.  At one woman’s home they asked what she needed today and she wanted to share some things that were going on in her life.  They shared prayers together and the woman shared a poem she had written, and then accompanied the team to the next house.  They visited a 17 yrs old young lady and her aunt.  The girl’s grandmother had passed away last week and they had offered prayers with their children’s class for her.  The aunt (daughter of the deceased) is visiting from S Carolina.  She wanted to know more about the Faith and was “right there” with everything that was shared.  They will revisit on Sunday.   They went to visit two more families whose children are in the class.  There is a feeling that trust is building and that people are open.

The next day teams went out again.  One team went back to the apt they had visited the day before.  They met four  African Am. Christian moms outside who were somewhat aggressive in their response.  One team member said they were not there to argue and one of the women seemed interested in what they had to say.   They met a Vietnamese woman who wasn’t able to communicate with them, but they were able to visit with her radiant 20 yr old son.  He said that they were Buddhist but did not attend a temple and that he thought she would welcome visits from someone who could speak Vietnamese.  He directed them to visit their Vietnamese friends who lived in the same apt complex.  They met a mom and her 4 yr old son; she was very warm and radiant.  She was just starting to play a game with her son, asked them to come back some morning when he is in preschool.  She gave them her name and phone number.  They had a nice conversation with young single mom with a 4 yr old son.  She and one team member made a connection; she has an open heart and is interested in children’s classes.  She may want to start a book 1, so they will revisit on Monday.  This is not a large complex but it has lots of potential.  A learning for this team is that it works well to make the visits more conversational and natural by letting both teachers join in the conversation (as opposed to one talking while one prays).   Also, if the team is feeling uneasy, it is good to stop and say some prayers.

One team member had seen an apt the day before that looked promising, so they went there first.  The first door they knocked on was opened by a very friendly lady.  She was getting ready to go out to sing (which she does professionally), but was very open right away, said she had known Baha’is, gave her phone numbers, and invited them in to share some prayers.  They all sat together holding hands and sharing prayers for several minutes and the lady said she was really feeling them spiritually.  Many feelings of affection were shared, and several times she expressed that it was not an accident that they visited and found her home.  She also sent a blessing for their teaching that day and praised them for their courage to go and knock on doors.  The lady shared about her singing, and sang The Lord’s Prayer with her amazing Gospel voice.  When the teacher agreed with her that we are all going to the same place (next world), she said this was the first time anyone had agreed with her about that.  They tried to leave several times, but that was followed several times with hugs, more conversation and more hugs.  The team felt that this was probably the best visit either had ever experienced.  The local teacher and the lady will get together soon so she can hear the presentation as she wants to learn more.

Another team visited a woman who invited them in and showed them every room in her home where she had lived for years and raised her children.   She knows all the neighbors.  She is interested in Reike healing and practices this in her home.  This lady and one of the teachers connected around their similar upbringing (without spiritual education) and the Baha’i shared how she has come to see the need for religion and a religious community.  They gave her some prayer cards for her meditation bowl. 

While driving around in the neighborhood a team encountered a group of young men and boys whose car had broken down, so one team member jumped out to help push it to the side of the road.  He engaged in friendly conversation and shared in a very warm and inviting way why they were in the neighborhood.  There are three boys at the house who would like to begin children’s classes (one was carried out by his older brother to meet the teachers).

A team had left but went back to get some Vietnamese language materials.  When they returned to the house, they saw another believer who had been knocking at the door.  This believer had been praying about her involvement in the expansion phase as she wasn’t comfortable with door-to-door teaching.  She had wished in her heart that it she could go out with a particular friend to teach, because he enjoys it so much.  When she got to the house and everyone was gone, she was planning to stay and pray.  But when this friend appeared, she knew she had to join his team!  The three-member team went out together.  They met a young man who was very open and helpful with information.  They met a 17 yr old, very sweet girl who babysits her sister’s children.  She suggested they could have children’s classes there.  The extended family lives in the same apt building or just blocks away.  The new teacher wanted to see the other neighborhood where teams were teaching.  The experience teacher wanted to try the apts nearby.  It is a very large, mostly Spanish-speaking complex.  They met a young man from El Salvador.  There was a language barrier, but they shared pamphlets in Spanish while reading from the same one in English.  They were wishing that their Spanish-speaking friend was there to help.  They went into the other neighborhood and who should they see but their Spanish-speaking friend, so they took him back to the home and he was able to visit the young Spanish-speaker.  This seemed like a very receptive area for children’s classes.

Another team visited a family, the daughter and her husband came out to talk.  There are difficulties in the family.  They had tried the Mormon faith but it didn’t meet their needs.  A team member engaged in a discussion about relationships and said she would come back to help shed some light on how they can find some peace.  The team returned to visit to the single mom whose daughter is in the children’s class.  She really opened up to them about her struggles with her autistic son.  The son was very attracted to one team member and wanted to be very close to her and she prayed with him.  This was very unusual behavior for him and they were all amazed.  Trust is building.  They walked by a group of Samoan guys.  One team member knew a few Samoan words, as she had been there and is familiar with the religious practices there.  This group of guys is visiting in the neighborhood until the end of May.  They are active in their church, but it was a very friendly encounter and the team met the uncle who lives there. 

Another team met a man whose wife is in the hospital.  They have three children ages 5-9.  They gave a brief intro, he seemed open but distracted, and very friendly.  They said the healing prayer for his wife.  They met another woman outside her sister’s house.  She seemed aloof until they mentioned the Baha’i who lives in the neighborhood and then she warmed up.  She also works at the school and lives nearby, so she will ask her Baha’i friend about the classes.   


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