Sunday, February 28, 2010

"What we are really trying to do is transform neighborhoods"

Why are we doing everything that we are doing?  Where is it all leading to?  What is our ultimate goal?  We aren’t just trying to get an ever-growing list of new believers.  We are trying to build a new civilization.  The friends in Monterey County, CA (A) have been doing a lot of reflection (and action, and learning) about how to build a real community and create bonds of true unity.  The insights gained and stories shared are VERY inspiring.
One believer states:
One question that really struck with me from our last Cluster Reflection Meeting was, “How do you create community?”  So with this in mind, I headed to our focus neighborhood for some home visits and teaching.  Here are some of the things I learned from my experiences:
Building community starts with relationships.  We need to build trust and friendships, which take time and commitment.  This won’t happen from just an occasional visit.  It takes consistency, and it takes the efforts of many. . . .

We can’t wait until we are perfectly trained in all aspects of teaching and relationship-building.  It must be Bahá’u’lláh’s sense of humor that N and I were the ones meeting the Hispanic families in this neighborhood, as our Spanish is terrible at best, but it didn’t ultimately matter.  Before you know it, as other translators weren’t available, I was even making phone calls to the Spanish-speaking friends, and pretty soon I was the translator!  Now that is beyond belief!  But I learned that relationship-building transcends language.
While I’m happy for the relationships built over these past weeks, now I need to work on my ability for more focused and deeper discussion of the Faith, making the transition from casual conversation to one like Anna and the Book 2 deepening themes.  After these weekends I am confident this will happen, but only if I keep practicing.  It won’t happen if I stay at home.
This neighborhood is an incredible gift to our cluster.  We need to seize the opportunity to assist in building this new Bahá’í community, consistently, systematically and with unity, as well as build our own capacity as teachers and servants.
Here is a young believer who has facilitated a Book 1 study circle with other youth.  They went away on vacation for a month and then returned.  Here is how she describes the reunion:
I really missed them, but didn’t even realize how much until I saw them again.  I saw them walk through the door and my heart just leapt!  We enjoyed catching up with one another—5 girlfriends just hanging out.  And we laughed the whole time!  Everything we talked about in one way or another led to laughter and more laughter.
Particularly profound is this comment shared by a believer at the recent cluster reflection meeting:
What we are really trying to do is transform neighborhoods and this process takes a great deal of time, years to fully accomplish (which is hard when we live in a society that wants instant results).  Our clusters are doing great work, and we are on the right track.  We just need to remain patient and steadfast.

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