Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Diagram of an IPG: Seattle Day 1

The friends in the Seattle, WA (A) cluster are currently in the middle of their 10th expansion phase, and are sending day by day reports of successes, challenges, and profound teaching stories. Because of the volume of learning they are generating, we have decided to share these reports as they come in, to give friends in other clusters an idea of what one expansion phase looks like. We’re all rooting for you, Seattle!

Dearest Friends and Fellow Servants of Baha'u'llah,

The first day of the expansion phase of Seattle's Intensive Program of growth has been, in the most simple terms worthy of such an endeavor, a raging success. It can only get better.

Today, nearly 50 individuals participated in the Cluster Reflection meeting which consisted of devotion, service, and practice. After some discussion of community statistics, an opportunity to pledge acts of service for the consolidation phase, and short workshops on how a teaching team actually works, the group reconvened to be divided into their own teams for direct teaching!

These teams reported to the "Peace Room" for their assigned portions of the neighborhood and a folder literally bursting with materials to pass along to those who were interested in hearing a little or a lot about the Baha'i Faith.

Thirteen teams made up of three people each knocked on the doors of approximately 400 homes between the hours of 1 and 4 pm this afternoon. While many homes chose the Seahawk's game over answering the door; several dozen homes engaged in extremely positive visits with the teachers. Approximately one dozen homes requested return visits tomorrow, alone! And we've still got eight days ahead of us!

Numbers abound about today's experiences. More important are the actual interactions:

One team learned to follow the promptings of their heart. After knocking on the door of one home, a woman answered and declared herself satisfied in her faith after the teachers' introduction to the Baha'i Faith. The teaching team thanked her and left, until one member stopped to ask the others if they thought the woman would at least appreciate an invitation to the activities at the Baha'i Center. When the teaching team knocked on the door again, and presented the invitation, a conversation began again leading to a warm 45 minute visit.

Another team learned that practice really does make perfect. Many individuals felt quite nervous at the outset of their venture into the neighborhood. As doors opened and opportunities presented themselves for practice, the team reflected on their growing level of comfort and desire for more chances to introduce new contacts to the Faith.

Others felt so nervous that when their team knocked on the door of the first homes on their block, they hoped no one would answer! Again, after the confirming experiences of teaching those so willing and genuinely interested in hearing about the Baha'i faith, that same hope turned into a prayer for receptivity.

Even chance encounters confirmed the teaching teams. A young man walking down the road was engaged by the kindness and gentle nature of a teaching team. His reply to their introduction was, "I love the Baha'i Faith! My girlfriend and I have been interested for a long time!" He hopes that he and his girlfriend will attend an evening program at the Baha'i Center this week.

While many successful encounters were taking place on all streets immediately surrounding the Center, a great deal of positive interactions also took place at the Baha'i Center itself.

One young man came through the Center door during the afternoon when most people were out and about. He engaged in conversation with a young man from the community, subtlety conveying his interest in becoming a Baha'i! The young Baha'i went in search of a declaration card! In the meantime, another Baha'i woman engaged in conversation with the young man. She sensed something and felt the need to ask, "Would you like to become a Baha'i?" "Yes!" he says! Our new member of the community returned in the evening to join us for a very joyous evening program. His voice could be heard above the crowd in songs led by several community members. This man had not been approached by anyone on a teaching team – he came to the Baha'i Center on his own, seeking to declare himself a believer in Baha'u'llah.

The intensive efforts of several dedicated individuals who spent the afternoon in prayer at the Baha'i Center, and those of you in the community who are keeping the teaching efforts in your personal prayers, clearly, were of assistance.

The evening program itself was an incredible success. Lively music and laughter literally filled the back room to capacity, conveying the joy of newly confirmed teachers of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and introducing what a Baha'i community spirit should look like to as many as ten seekers who joined in the evening's festivities. Approximately half of those seekers will be starting a Book 1 in the near future.

This is only day one of Seattle's Intensive Program of Growth. Please continue with your prayers for assistance and teaching.

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