Monday, July 14, 2008

Practice + Anna's presentation = Confidence, Montana

All over the country, people are coming together to participate in trainings to enhance their teaching skills. Here is a report from the summer school in Montana. One thing that is most striking is how even a small amount of preparation and training can give a teacher so much confidence and enthusiasm.

Despite increased gas prices, this year's Montana Summer School had the most participants in a number of years. People came from Arizona, Washington, Michigan, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana. The focus of this year's program was the Institute Process, with the adults studying Ruhi Books 1, 3, 3A, and 6, and the youth focusing on Book 5. The junior youth learned about growth and studied the December 27,2005 letter from the Universal House of Justice and the September 30, 2007 letter from the International Teaching Center. They learned about intensive programs of growth, reflection gatherings, and putting into action the teaching plans they developed with their Area Teaching Committee.

The Book 6 "Refresher" class was expanded to include reviewing the recent guidance from the Universal House of Justice and the National Spiritual Assembly. There was also a presentation shared by a junior youth for some of the adults.

Throughout the Book 6 class, the facilitator stressed the importance of memorizing the first paragraph of Anna’s presentation. By having the material memorized, it allows one to focus on being a clear channel through which the love of God can flow instead of trying to figure out what to say. Two days into the class, one of the summer school participants shared her experience. A resident of the area where the summer school was held asked her what “church group” was meeting there. She confidently replied with the first sentence from Anna’s presentation. The resident then replied, "That makes sense." The believer was aglow with the success of teaching. Before the refresher, she had expressed her reluctance to teach because she never knew what to say when someone asked "What's the Bahá’í Faith?" And now she was astonished at how easy it was. She also became confident that engaging this person later would be easy, and went on to invite the resident to dinner and some of the activities.

The class had an opportunity to see the effectiveness of the Book 6 Presentation. During a morning break, the facilitator, went to the kitchen to request a pump pot of coffee. She complimented the cook, on the wonderful the food this year. The cook replied, "Thank you. I so enjoy cooking for your group. You are so appreciative. You are also so radiant. I can't believe how loving, and supportive you all are of each other. What group is this?". The facilitator. replied "The Baha'i Faith, which is a world religion." The cook then said, "That's really interesting. I would like to know more." So the believer then asked the cook. if she would be interested in hearing a presentation that was being learned by the class that she was facilitating. The next day, the cook and another camp staff member listened to Anna’s presentation. During the presentation, members of the class were praying. At the end of the presentation, when the facilitator asked if they would be interested in receiving information on how to become a Baha'i, the cook said yes and declared her belief on the spot. Thank goodness Ms. D had a declaration card nearby!

This new believer had never heard of the Baha'i Faith before the Summer School started. Fortunately, there are Baha'is who live nearby that she met and they will be following up with the deepening themes from Book 2.


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