Friday, August 28, 2009

Core activities "constructed with loving care, influence and dedication"

Here is another wonderful example, this time from East Valley, AZ (A), that shows how the institute process empowers new believers to take an active role in the teaching work and in contributing to a new civilization.

Dear all,

The cluster reflection meeting this last Sunday was conducted by a new believer, who joined the Faith this last April. Below also she has shared her story of becoming a Bahá’í. She has completed Ruhi Books 1, 2, and 3 so far and is among the active teachers in the cluster.


After many years of testing and exploring many religious faiths that I easily identified with, I came to the conclusion that I can take messages from each religious Manifestation and learn something from everyone of them. I couldn’t believe that there was a faith that recognizes what I knew all along with the purpose of serving humanity. From the very first day, I‘ve been welcomed with such open arms in the Bahá’í Faith and everyone made sure that I was greeted with kindness and happiness. . . .

The study circles, devotionals, children’s classes and firesides are all constructed with such loving care, influence and dedication from tutors, Local Spiritual Assembly and Bahá’í community members that it has given my life such direction and influence when I was spiritually directionless before. Practicing the word of Bahá’u’lláh has also gave me a new spark to understand the messages and lessons to know God, Bahá’u’lláh’s message of humanity, and my capacities and strengths—all which inspired those who surround me in daily life.

I have met people from so many backgrounds and explored so many cultural experiences that I could have never experienced in a classroom or without living outside of the country. Becoming a Bahá’í has become the greatest most important decision that I have made in my life and with that I continue to grow spiritual in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and to spread the message of humanity to every man, woman, child, regardless of ethnic background, social-economic, religious faith, etc.

We’re all one human race, “So powerful is the light of Unity that it can illumine the whole earth.”

Teaching in the park

This joyful story from Lower Maine-New Hampshire (A) just came across our desk. It shares the story of a group of Bahá’ís from Eliot, ME who visited Portsmouth, NH to engage in direct teaching in a park. You can see the power of prayer and unified action and the confidence that you will meet a receptive soul. Also note how having core activities in place set the stage for following up after an initial encounter.


Thanks to everyone who prayed for our teaching success today! A group of us plus children had a picnic in a park in Portsmouth. We said a few prayers together. Then some of us went walking around searching for receptive souls while the others stayed to sing prayers. . . .

We came across a woman with her father and introduced ourselves. We started talking about my young niece who was with us and one thing led to another and pretty soon we were talking about the Faith and she said, "Well, I think I'm a Bahá’í!" And I offered to talk more about it, and she said she would like to get together sometime soon. We exchanged contact information and I invited her to L and G's devotional gatherings and she said, "I hope you have a lot of room because I'm gonna bring all my friends!" I also invited her to the upcoming concert at Green Acre Bahá’í School and invited her to come early so we would have a chance to talk more. I gave her a little introductory booklet and some prayers.

She was the sweetest lady. What a great experience. This kind of stuff happens every time as long as you have the intention and rely on God, and it was so natural.

We want to make a point to go regularly to Portsmouth for the purpose of meeting people and teaching. Next week some of us are going to meet in Portsmouth again around noon. Feel free to join in! And keep up the teaching prayers because they are obviously working!



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bulls Eye in DC

A report from Washington, DC (A): THIS IS WHAT THE FIVE YEAR PLAN IS ALL ABOUT—raising up and empowering human resources to build a new pattern of community life.

Last Thursday night several people participated in follow-up teaching and consolidation activities in J and S's neighborhood. Among those participating was __, a new believer who declared her Faith in March of this year during a neighborhood teaching effort. __ lives close to where S and J live. . ..

__ has completed Book 1 in a study circle and is in the middle of studying Book 2, Arising to Serve. I have been working with her as the tutor. __ plans to take Book 3 as soon as it is offered so she can teach children's classes, and she attended the recent gathering on children's classes at the Bahá'í Center as preparation.

At the last Book 2 session __ gave a presentation on the deepening theme about the Eternal Covenant to a group of Book 1 study circle participants, several of whom are seekers. Before doing so, we had practiced several times going over the presentation until she felt comfortable with the content and progression of ideas. Although she said she felt a little nervous in front of the group, she made a clear presentation and felt very happy about it.

Afterwards, she was encouraged that the next step in doing the practice of Book 2 is to present the deepening theme in a more conversational manner in the home of new believers or those who are interested in the Faith. An opportunity to do this came up quickly, since there are people waiting for visits as part of the consolidation phase for this cycle. I invited __ to assist in such a visit, and asked her to be prepared to offer the deepening theme. __ accepted the invitation and practiced going over the deepening theme so she could, as she put it, "do it in my own words and be eloquent."

Thursday night she came, and after saying prayers at S and J's home, __ and I visited a woman whose granddaughter is in a children's class that has recently been formed in the neighborhood. I had visited this lady before, and when we arrived, I asked if we could say some prayers and for __ to do a presentation on the Eternal Covenant. She asked, "What is the Covenant?" to which __ responded, "It is God's pact with us, with you and me, that He will never abandon us and He will always send a Manifestation to teach us His Word and Bahá’u’lláh is the latest Teacher." The lady invited us into her home.

What followed next was an hour of connecting with the lady, talking about different subjects, laughing and praying. During this time __ spoke about the Eternal Covenant in an eloquent and forthright manner, answered questions about the Faith and in the process described how she became a Bahá’í and the joy and calm she feels since becoming a Bahá’í. She spoke positively about the Bahá’í community and how she is on a path of intense learning about the Faith and how she wants to tell others about it. __ talked about the theme of Book 2 which is to serve humanity. She invited the lady to investigate the Faith further and offered to come back and read from the Bahá’í scripture with her and answer her questions. The lady liked this idea. We said a few healing prayers and the visit ended.

Afterwards as we were reflecting on what happened, __ said she really loved this experience and felt the spirit was truly guiding her. We talked about why we teach, to which she commented that we teach not because of any rewards but because the act of teaching is sacred and precious, and then she said, "Isn't this the theme of Book 2?"

Last night in the Book 1 study circle at our home (where she had initially practiced making the presentation), __ told everyone how the home visit went. This was good not only for her but also for the Book 1 participants: They were able to see how these practice components of the training institute courses can help build community by making this kind of visiting and spiritual discussions part of the normal pattern of life.

Warm regards,


Bonds of true friendship

Here is a supplement to our earlier posting about Aurora, IL (A). More than a year ago, the friends discovered a very receptive population consisting of several families from Burma, and an individual believer shares an update of some of the activities in this regard. What is really inspiring here is that bonds of true friendship have been formed between the Bahá’ís in the cluster and this population. This is not a superficial or fleeting connection, but something substantial that has grown over time. The friends are in it “for the long haul”.

The families continue to be in active contact with S and B, who have been holding Bahá’í children’s classes with the children on a weekly basis for more than a year now. S and B are absolutely stellar teachers. The children are memorizing passages from the Writings and learning Bahá’í concepts. . . .

Some if not all of the adults consider themselves Bahá’ís and have spoken of “making application” to “join the Temple” at some later date. They want to do this all at the same time. We have given them Burmese translations of the registration card and reviewed it with them.

One of the adults is teaching the Faith to another Burmese friend. He is interested in the Faith and wants copies of the prayer book and Ruhi Book 1 in Burmese.

One family had not seen me in a while and asked about me. So I made arrangements for myself and another Bahá’í to visit them. We did and prayed together—a little home visit, really.

The families were participating in a Burmese community event and so I arranged to attend with them. It was an enjoyable gathering, kind of like a “Taste of Burma”; one of the family’s daughters participated in a dance performance.

We also had Thanksgiving dinner with the families at S’s house last November.

It’s clear that over the months friendships between the families and various Bahá’ís in the cluster have been solidly established.

Another note of interest: The families have expressed an interest in visiting the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette. It may be a while before they are able to do this, but we are keeping this in mind for when the time is right.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Haven moves forward

This brief report from New Haven, CT (B) shows a cluster progressing on multiple fronts. Some innovative approaches to training institute courses are enabling a greater number of the friends to participate and to advance through the sequence of courses. The friends are trying to reach out to their contacts in a variety of ways, as well as respond to seekers that are directed to them.

Ruhi classes have been accelerated and organized to engage more tutors and participants. The cluster institute coordinator has organized and implemented a way to facilitate the rapid advancement of participants through the courses. Some people take the courses out of order, others take multiple courses. In other words, people no longer wait for a course to be completed to take the next course. We are also giving homework assignments and ensuring that the teaching activities and home visits that are assigned are carried out.

New Haven had a very successful beach party to which a lot of contacts attended. It was a huge teaching activity.

One of the Bahá’ís has shared Anna’s presentation with and said prayers with many au pairs from several different countries.

We have also received news of a seeker who is interested in the Faith. Local believers are reaching out to seekers and inviting them to core activities.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New resource: materials in Braille, large-print, and audio books

We are very excited to post, on our “Resources” section at the right margin of this page, a link to a very important site: The Bahá’í Service for the Blind. Here you can borrow a wide variety of materials in Braille, large-print books, and audio-books. (This link is titled, “Materials in Braille . . .”) This is an excellent resource that helps make the Message accessible to a wider range of people, as well as empower more teachers. An individual believer shared this link with us; her description follows:

Dear friends,

I'd like to bring to your attention materials available from the Bahá’í Service for the Blind. But wait! It serves so many other purposes than only for those friends who are blind! Materials of all types are available on cassette tape (using special tape recorders designed for this purpose), in large print, and in Braille. . . .

Those who benefit from these services include anyone who is visually impaired, at any level that impacts reading of normal-sized text, for whatever reason. Additionally, it covers those with cognitive difficulties, including learning disabilities which make reading difficult (such as dyslexia, etc.), or dementia. It also includes people who have physical disabilities where they cannot turn the pages of a book, or those who have allergies to ink or paper.

The number of books available on cassette tape is very large and comprehensive. (Books on tape are not available except to those individuals who qualify, as outlined above.) The large-print section is smaller but growing steadily, as are materials in Braille. The Service for the Blind is an agency of our National Spiritual Assembly so there is a charge for materials to cover production and material costs. Shipping is free due to postal regulations for these items.

Of special note is that all of the Ruhi books (except for Book 5, teaching junior youth) are now available in Braille, large print, and on cassette tape!

Here is the website [also posted in the Resources section of the blog]:

As our clusters grow, there are those Bahá’ís and friends who may benefit from these services.

Learning from successes and challenges in Kitsap County

We’ve just received a report from Kitsap County, WA (A), which just launched its intensive program of growth a few months ago. The friends there formed themselves into teaching teams and tried a number of different approaches (such as “door-to-door” teaching, direct teaching in a park, and making appointments with one’s contacts), and learned a lot from their experiences, both the successes and the challenges. The friends used the skills they developed in the institute courses (20 points to the first person who can identify where something from Ruhi Book 4 was incorporated into the teaching). It was very hard to select which stories to share here; we finally narrowed it down to 5:

1. We met a man who was not available to talk then, but he was invited to a devotional gathering, which he indicated he would like to attend. A team member will follow up with him to provide him with the time and date of the devotional.

2. Another man who was met by a teaching team was also busy. He asked for information and a way to contact the Bahá’ís. He said he lived in a different community, and asked for a telephone number. He was given an introductory booklet and information on how to contact one of the believers in the area, as well as the 1-800-22-UNITE number. . . .

3. A team met a woman who was very interested. She listened closely to almost the entire presentation about the Faith, asking a few questions, and when asked, read the prayers of the Báb silently to herself. Her young child was interested in the brief story of the martyrdom of the Báb, looking closely at the photo in the teaching booklet of the courtyard where the Báb was martyred. A member of the team plans to go back next Saturday to finish the presentation and invite her to a devotional that will be held in the neighborhood.

4. W and B talked to a man who was in the park with his little girl. He was very interested and heard the entire presentation and took 2 registration cards and an introductory booklet. He was invited to declare; he said he wanted to talk to his wife first. He was given a local contact number, and he assured us he would be contacting us. W offered to come by and share a presentation on the Faith with his wife if he wanted.

5. Anna's presentation was used as a study circle: We arrived at the home of a seeker, but he was not there yet, only his son and daughter. So we began studying Anna’s presentation together. We were on the second page when he came home. He was so happy, pleased, and surprised that his son and daughter were willing to participate.

We completed all of the presentation together. We elaborated on the story of Bahá’u’lláh, and shared about the Maiden of Heaven, the conditions of the Black Pit prison, and the feeble and fanatical woman who wanted to throw a stone at Bahá’u’lláh and His response. The son said he likes the presentation and finds it interesting. They to attend a devotional gathering that will be held soon.

Three registration cards were offered to the group, and were all graciously accepted.

The next afternoon the seeker brought his card, already filled out, to our study circle. He said that studying Anna's presentation a second time gave him a better perspective, and that seeing his son and daughter in a study circle motivated him to declare.

The insights gained are just as interesting as the teaching stories that led to them:

The teams need to have information about when and where the core activities and firesides will be held. In this way, if after hearing about the Bahá’í Faith, a person expresses interest in learning more, the teachers are able to invite them to a local community activity during that initial encounter.

The teams were experimenting with opening statements, and are still learning which types of introductions work best when they first meet someone at the door.

3 people on a teaching team, unless one of the members is a child, can sometimes be awkward.

The more we practice sharing Anna’s presentation with the flipbook, the easier it becomes to talk about the Faith in a more natural conversation with a person and have more eye contact, an ebb and flow of discussion, and be able to respond to on-the-spot questions. When we can offer the presentation or conversation from the heart and memory, it can be very powerful and highly effective.

Prayers can unfold and take on further meanings and levels of understanding when offered in a teaching situation. The theme of teaching is essentially in all the Writings of the Cause.

We should have further discussion of what we do after we offer the presentation in terms of quotations we can start keeping with us to help us answer other questions that have come up during presentations, in addition to deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2 what other writings would be appropriate to the seeker that you can study with them or have them read, etc.

Using data sheets and organized packets for those that go door-to-door teaching can help to organize the follow-ups as well as keep accurate records for the teachers

A new approach to accompaniment

Here is an exciting preview of recent news from Aurora, IL (A), and the insights the friends are gaining about maintaining momentum across successive cycles of their intensive program of growth:

We tried a form of accompaniment. Small group facilitators at the reflection meeting followed up during the expansion and consolidation with the people in their groups. One of the facilitators did an excellent job with follow-up and encouragement via email. The next cycle will continue this focus on accompaniment, and we are hoping to encourage more believers to participate actively and thus expand the circle of believers who are actively engaged in the process.

We are still learning about maintaining the momentum that is generated during and immediately following the reflection gathering and launch of the expansion phase. We are seeing that the consolidation phase, though certainly not as intense as the expansion phase, still calls for a level or activity that tests the resolve of the friends. We are looking for ways to help active believers maintain their activity throughout the upcoming cycle.

More to follow soon!

Quick follow-up helps new believer hit the ground running

Here is a brief report of a new believer in a B-stage cluster in the Southwestern region. The local friends systematically followed up with him after learning of his online declaration. As you can see, he has hit the ground running!

__ is a student who read about the Faith on the internet and checked out a Bahá’í book from the library. He investigated the Faith thoroughly and registered online.

We received his contact information, emailed him, got his phone number, met him, gave him a prayer book, Ruhi 1, and other Bahá’í books, and set up a time to share Anna’s conversation. A few days later, he came to the community reflection meeting. A couple days after that we went over the basics of the Faith; he took a copy of Anna’s presentation because he is eager to share he new beliefs with his friends, and we will accompany him in these endeavors.

Just 11 days after declaring online, he is studying Ruhi Book 1 and has started Book 2.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Continuous, detached effort in Denton County

This report from Denton County, TX (A) is full of inspiring examples. The friends there are being detached, flexible, and dedicated. When one approach seems fruitless, the friends try another. They engage in continuous direct teaching regardless of whether or not they see immediate results, and include their children on the teaching teams. They are setting goals and starting core activities in a number of localities throughout the cluster. They are forming intimate connections with their neighbors and, just as the Universal House of Justice had promised, the teaching is drawing us into the lives and needs of the community around us. And they see everything they do, everything that happens (including a new believer who declared online) as part of one, connected framework.

This cycle is notable for a move to a mode of constant teaching on the part of one teaching team consisting of two families and their children. The team took to heart the advice given by Counselor Farzin Aghdasi a few months earlier, and so they began direct teaching and home visits for the entire 3 month cycle, visiting neighborhoods at least 2 days a week to share direct presentations about the Faith. They explore a potentially receptive area, teach at various times of the day (mostly in the morning hours) and then follow up with home visits to anyone who expresses interest. The children on the team (ages 5, 5 and 8) love the process and recite or sing children’s prayers for those they meet. The team makes 2 or 3 return visits to try to find people, and if there is no response, they will then leave them alone and move on. Although this has not yet resulted in any declarations this cycle, it is very likely we will see some during the next cycle. Further, the friends have reported 3 additional members of the community of interest. The team’s attitude is one of total detachment: complete reliance on Baha’u’llah and no expectations about the results. . . .

The team’s activities were put into the form of a skit and presented during this last Reflection Gathering. These efforts resulted in a sharp increase in the number of home visits.

In addition to this team’s efforts, the goals for the cluster during this last cycle were follow up with the community of interest in one city, to strengthen the children’s class in a mobile home park in another town, and form a junior youth group in a third community in the cluster.

In terms of the first goal, the community of interest list was reviewed and follow-ups made by phone, in-person visit or email. Many of the names were as old as a year or more, so the results were limited. The goal changed due to this experience and became the regular teaching effort described above. Therefore, we feel this is a success.

At the mobile home park, the team did visited homes to invite families to children’s classes. We were able to strengthen our relationship with another Spanish-speaking couple and their son. They had been having various personal difficulties. The team supplicated to Baha’u’llah for help, stayed close to them and invited them to dinner with two Baha’i couples and their children. During the cycle their son bonded with one of the team member’s children. They also decided to move to another town and will in fact be going to the apartment complex where a strong children’s class has been ongoing. This is a very pure-hearted couple. They shared their home with a family that had lost theirs. These are the type of people we used to read about that only pioneers used to encounter. We will continue to work with them and this will allow us to implement a Spanish-speaking Book 1.

In terms of the third goal, two cluster institute coordinators went to the intensive training in the Austin area for junior youth group animators. They returned and organized and started the first junior youth group. A musical concert was held with professional and amateur musicians. The residents took part in the percussion section. The next day the junior youth group started. The apartments now have 4 Baha’i families, a strong children’s class, and a junior youth group.

In summary, although the numbers aren’t great this cycle, progress is being made. We did have one declaration over the internet, someone who studied the Faith on her own. The seeker response regional specialist followed up with her carefully and wisely. Our team in that town is going to work with her and her family to continue the process of introducing her to the larger community. Even though we had no enrolments directly related to teaching during this cycle we feel the overall efforts attracted confirmations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This cycle is teaching us how to identify a receptive area

Here is an intriguing excerpt from a report from Sonoma County, CA. It is a B-stage cluster, but it is planning and carrying out its activities in 3-month cycles (including teaching and follow-up phases), just like an intensive program of growth. (There are many B-stage clusters in the country that do “practice IPGs” to prepare for the time that they advance to the A-stage.)

Now here’s where it gets interesting. When their expansion phase didn’t go as planned, the friends decided to prolong it—in fact extend it through most of the 3-month cycle—in order to gain the experience they needed to teach, as well as to start seeing some results. They have also learned more about how to identify a receptive neighborhood.

The last cycle began with the normal 3 weekends of direct teaching. During the first 3 weeks of this phase, we attempted to identify receptive neighborhoods. So we selected 4 apartment complexes that we had originally thought would be receptive; even though during initial visits this seemed to be the case, over time it became clear that they were not very receptive.

Since the initial three weeks were not successful, the Core Team decided to prolong the teaching phase. About two months into the cycle a team explored another apartment complex. This neighborhood seems to be different than the others we previously visited. There are a few households that are very friendly and have opened their homes to the teachers. The community is multicultural and there are many children playing outside. So this cycle is teaching us how to identify a receptive area.

"so warmly and immediately welcomed"

All over the country, people continue to reach out to the Bahá’í community through the internet. When someone asks for information about the Faith on the public Web site (or declares their belief online) or calls the 1-800-22-UNITE phone line, they are first usually responded to by a specialist working at the regional level. However, the goal is to put the seeker or new believer in touch with Bahá’ís near them. This is relatively easy to do if the person lives in a large city or an A-stage cluster. But no matter where they live, the goal remains the same and persistent efforts are made to ensure that a seeker or new Bahá’í can be connected with local friends. Here is how this process worked for a family who lives in a remote corner of a C-stage cluster in the South Central region. All it took was dedication and love.

First the “seeker response regional specialist” relates that initial phone call with a family, one of whom registered online.

Beloved Friends,

My heart is moved to tears. Tonight I had the honor and privilege to meet for over an hour with two beautiful friends. One had registered online yesterday and her husband showed up on the system as a seeker. In their comments they said that they have tried to find Bahá’ís that live near them but it has not been easy. . . .

I spoke with __ for about 30 minutes first. They learned about the Faith in their home country a few years ago from a pioneer couple. They also have a friend in Atlanta who has been teaching them also. His wife has already taken Ruhi Books 1 and 2.

As I went through the basics with __, I realized he already considered himself a Bahá’í. I asked, do you believe all that we are speaking about? He said yes. I said, would you like to become a Bahá’í? He said yes.

They are in a small town way out in the countryside. They so much want to be part of a Bahá’í community. I see my main goal tomorrow to find a team that will lovingly embrace and welcome them.

And that is what she did. After identifying Bahá’ís that lived near these new believers, she conveyed their contact information. She also noted:

__ should receive his membership card very soon. Please let me know how things are going. Love to you all. S.

Soon afterwards, one of the local Bahá’ís reported:

Good morning.

We had a lovely dinner at N’s home this past weekend with this new family and N’s parents and son. I showed a Bahá’í video after dinner and N gave them a Bahá’í prayer book and the Hidden Words, which they accepted happily!

We have organized a similar dinner next weekend for another two new believers.

Thank you for all you do to connect hearts to Bahá’u’lláh.

The regional specialist comments on the significance of this simple act of service:

Though this is a small announcement, it is so big. I wish every Bahá’í community could “roll out the carpet” to those in isolated localities. This young family had a long journey to find us, and they when found, they were so warmly and immediately welcomed by those believers close to them. B is a perfect connection in this area, and N planned this dinner party from the day he was told about this family. And there is now yet another new believer who registered online and is now enrolled. Prayers of gratitude to them . . . love to each one of you.


Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm a Baha'i, now what am I supposed to do?

When we are sharing the basic teachings of the Bahá’í Faith with people, one central aspect is the role of the individual in the Faith. At one level, this refers to the laws and teachings brought by Bahá’u’lláh and our personal duties towards God. At another level, this refers to how a believer will become involved in the life of the community and contribute towards it. In other words, “Now I’m a Bahá’í: what do I do?” Hence, this story from Las Cruces, NM (*C). It involves the local friends following up with a seeker who reached out to the community through the public Web site. One of the local believers worked diligently to connect with her. And as you can see, when she was sharing Anna’s presentation, this question was a central part of the discussion. As you can see, this individual’s yearning to be involved was answered by the core activities.

The seeker response regional specialist conveyed this story:

Dear everyone,

__ contacted the public Web site This story was sent by the cluster institute coordinator for the Las Cruces cluster:

I received the email from the seeker response system. I contacted her by email. She was enthusiastic that I had contacted her and said she would enjoy meeting me. It took several emails, some mishaps with wrong phone numbers and then both of us on vacation (Excuse me, I went on PILGRIMAGE!—and yes I did pray for the cluster!). Long story short, we met this morning at a coffee house near the University. My son joined us for part of the time.

I wanted her to talk first. On pilgrimage we were reminded that few people listen these days—listening is a real service to offer. She had known about the Faith since she was a teen. She is looking for community and is wanting a spiritual element in her life. She remembers the Bahá’ís from her younger days and had always wanted to learn more. . . .

I proceeded to go through Anna’s presentation, slower than usual, but that is my way of doing it. When we got to the page with the picture of the mirror, she proceeded to explain Progressive Revelation to me! She was smiling through most of the presentation.

At one point when we were talking about the individual the community and the institutions she asked how does one find out what they are supposed to do. I told her we had individual responsibilities in this Covenant (e.g. the laws}, but she would find her own path of service for her family and community. She pressed me for more information, and I suggested things such as hosting a devotional gathering for her neighbors, sponsoring a youth group, or teaching children’s classes. She then said, ”Children’s classes I can do.” She was very excited about children’s classes and the fact that we had a training to prepare people to serve as teachers.

By the time we got to the end, she wanted to know what the next step was. I asked her if she believed Bahá’u’lláh was the Manifestation of God for today and she said yes she did believe in Bahá’u’lláh. She was radiant. I told her, “Well, then you are a Bahá’í. Welcome!” She filled out and signed a registration card. I gave her a small prayer book, a postcard from pilgrimage and a bookmark with the shrine of the Báb. She was very happy!

She is in another community in our cluster, about 50 miles from my home. There is a Bahá’í couple there. On Saturday I will introduce her to her neighboring Bahá’ís. Our plan is to have several meetings in the coming weeks. She is very ready to work hard so she can help with children’s classes. I believe a community close by is trying to get their children’s classes going again, so this may be an opportunity for her. I am also trying to organize a Book 1 study circle with her, perhaps with a couple of other new Bahá’ís. We will also send out some friends to visit her at home and share the Book 2 deepening themes.

Joyful direct teaching in South Hampton Roads

Just across our desk: A report of a spirited and successful collective, direct teaching effort in South Hampton Roads, VA (B). The friends came together (from near and far) in a spirit of unity and joy, they reached out to their neighbors, and read on to see the results! One interesting aspect is that they organized a “consolidation team” BEFORE the teaching even began—this is systematic planning.

In a very flexible, coordinated and spiritual effort, 3 weekends of collective teaching finished Sunday afternoon with singing and celebration.

Throughout the effort, we prayed for divine assistance, followed the guidance of our Auxiliary Board member, and served together as a team. Friends came from the North Hampton Roads cluster, North Carolina and Northern Virginia to help. A community BBQ, a reflection meeting and daily morning prayers all fanned flames of faith.

Then it happened . . .

Sunday afternoon the teaching teams met new seekers, and 3 adults and 4 children registered in the Faith. Thank you Bahá’u’lláh!

In addition to this, 15 children were signed up by their parents for a new neighborhood children’s class. 7 children came the first week, and 7 came the second week.

More than 30 people would like to receive home visits to learn more! A consolidation team had been arranged before the teaching effort started, and this team will start visiting the homes of the new Bahá’ís and seekers this weekend. We need you to join us in this phase.

Thank you to everyone who helped in some way! Love to all!

With love,

Your cluster core team