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.

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