the fruits of our labours

pickin' berriesThis was one busy week for us, in a lot of ways. I mentioned before that Quynh and I are preparing for our first child to be born this fall, and that’s been taking up an increasing amount of our time: check-ups with the midwife, getting major projects finished up at work, preparing for baby showers, attending pre-natal classes, and so on. In the interest of shoring up our efforts to serve, we’re also preparing to move into an apartment that’s closer to the neighbourhood where our children’s class takes place. All of this has to be done soon, since the baby is due in October—so the stress level is starting to rise. Apart from personal preparations, though, I wanted to paint a little picture of what went on during this busy, yet joyful weekend—a picture bright with the colour of confirmations.

We received a text message just before lunch on Friday, inviting us to an “arts night” presented by a group of junior youth who had been attending a weeklong camp. “Please try ur best to come and support them,” the message read, “They are going to be sharing their reflections on what they learnt this week! It’s going to be great!” Although I felt exhausted from a long, stressful week, something told me that the best way to improve my frame of mind would be to enjoy the company of youth and junior youth. Thank goodness for that inner voice! After discussing with the rest of our teaching team, we all decided to attend together. We arrived just in time to take our seats and to enjoy a little chit-chat. A few of the junior youth we met in another neighbourhood were there, and we happily caught up with each other. They weren’t part of the camp, but were showing up to encourage one of their friends who was. The camp consisted of several groups studying two different books called Spirit of Faith and Power of the Holy Spirit, both of which cover Bahá’í principles and history in a fair bit of depth. Each group made several different presentations, singing songs, showing artwork, performing skits and dramatic readings. What was really special and heartwarming, though, was seeing several young people who were once a part of our children’s class taking centre stage, eloquently reading poems about the true nature of love, explaining the principle of progressive revelation, and more. Seeing how they had progressed from the moment we first met them, six years ago, until now reminded us how our time together was just a part of a continuing process of education that will eventually span their whole lives.

During the evening, we discovered that one of the junior youth—from the group we had met in another neighbourhood—was moving very close to the neighbourhood where we currently teach our children’s class. Her two younger sisters had attended a children’s class before, and her whole family, although devout Muslims, were very supportive of the program. After the presentations were over, we asked if we could come and visit the following day (Saturday) to meet her mother and invite her sisters to the class, and the answer was yes. And what a wonderful visit it was. Although they had only just moved into their new home ten days before, they welcomed us with extreme hospitality and love, offering us juice, coffee, cookies and fruits. Quynh had met the family before on her own, so the mother recognized her quickly (“but your belly’s so big now!”). We explained briefly about the class, but since the children had attended another one in their previous neighbourhood, there were no barriers and their mother quickly agreed for them to attend ours. We also asked their older sister—who had been part of the junior youth group—if she wanted to come and help out too, and she agreed. Since our one and only car was already full, the children piled into it while the rest of us walked together to the class venue, giving us a little more time to catch up before we arrived. We ended up having seven children present from class, all from a beautiful variety of backgrounds.

Things are looking up for our activities in the neighbourhood. Not only will we be moving closer to the neighbourhood—making it easier for us to be present there—but we have new participants for the children’s class. Some of the older children in the class will soon be of age to start a junior youth group all their own. And our current junior youth, who are now blossoming and coming into their own, and who are already involved in giving back to their community, will have reached the age of maturity soon. There is so much reason for hope! After a lot of patience, perserverance and dedication, the fruits of our labours are beginning to show. As always, we’ll continue to pray for God to confirm our efforts to serve Him, that He might continue to guide us towards whatever is His will. It’s an exciting time.

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