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.