Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joyful lessons from San Francisco

Here is a quartet of stories from the San Francisco-San Mateo, CA (A) cluster.  They show how simple and straightforward the teaching process is.  They show how neighborhood children’s classes form a natural foundation for sharing the Message.  And no matter how many times the children run in and out of the house, no matter how many times the phone rings, when someone is interested in the Message of Bahá’u’lláh no distraction can keep the heart away from learning about its Beloved.  And these stories show the simple joy that the Bahá’ís feel when meeting new people and making new friends.  Finally, if you ever wondered, “What do you do when you get to the end of Anna’s presentation?”, they also show the answer to that as well! 

Story 1 

The first presentation that I gave, with the support of my daughter and another teaching partner, went very well.  We shared Anna’s presentation with a young father of four, after we knocked on his door and asked if we could share a presentation with him.  His oldest son participated by reading the quotes, and he seemed very interested in the content of the presentation.  Before I knew it I had finished sharing the presentation with the visual aid, and so I asked my teaching partner, "What now?"  He suggested that I invite him to join the Baha'i Faith, so I did, and he agreed.  We then helped him fill out a card for himself and his son.  He asked when the Baha'is meet.  I said every 19 days.  A few days later, other friends returned and gave a presentation to his wife, who also joined the Baha’i community together with her daughter.  Since then, a couple of us now visit the wife every Saturday morning to complete several sections of Ruhi Book 1.  We gave the family some prayer books, and informed them about the weekly children's class. . . . 

Story 2 

The parents and family members of children who attend a Baha’i neighborhood children’s classes are usually very open to visits from Baha’i teachers.  One young man, whom we met in a previous teaching effort, is an uncle of two children who are in our children's class.  I focused on what we do in the children's class, and then the source of the content of the children's class, which very naturally leads into Anna’s Presentation.  He listened to the whole presentation, with interruptions of adults and children coming in and out, and the door slamming shut several times at the end of passages!  I asked him if he wanted to join the Baha'i community and he said yes.  He wanted to know when the Baha'is meet, so I gave him the booklet on Baha'i meetings. 

Story 3 

One of the homes that was approached during the teaching effort was the home of a family where two of the children regularly attend the Saturday afternoon children’s class.  We met a young man at the door.  He was very sweet and open to talk to.  He listened to all of Anna's presentation, through a phone call, being handed his baby nephew, and people coming in and out of the apartment.  I focused on the children and how we can all work together to help create a better future for the next generation.  At the end of the presentation, I asked him if he would like to join the Baha'i community.  We read the sentence at the bottom part of the card about accepting Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for today, and he agreed.  We shook hands and I welcomed him to the community.  Another friend was with me and was a great support through prayer. 

Story 4 

We met the father of some children in our children’s class at his home.  I asked him if he wanted to know what I was teaching his children and why.  He said yes. The quick explanation of the children's class program soon led to Anna’s presentation.  Throughout the presentation, I asked him to read the quotes.  As often happens, there were many interruptions from his family members coming in and out and the phone ringing.  We continued and completed the presentation.  I asked him if he wanted to join the Baha'i community, and he agreed.  I proceeded to explain that we need to fill out a card so that we can keep track of the Baha'is in the area.  Since I was still at his doorstep, I asked if I could come in to use his table.  He also registered his son and daughter.  I said that I would like to continue learning with him, and we said goodbye.  It was a great experience to connect with more members of our human family.  I felt the prayers that my teaching partners were saying the whole time. 

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