The best way to attain nearness to God is to serve Him; we can do this by serving humanity. We should serve everyone, without considering their race, nationality, religion, status, or sex.
projects: The children can be encouraged to take on a service project to learn about the importance of serving humanity. Examples could include putting together care packages for disadvantaged families, weeding and/or planting a garden, cleaning the local Baha’i centre or other gathering place, and so on.
story of Lua Getsinger: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asks Lua to take care of a sick man. Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 5.
song: “Look At Me, Follow Me”.
drama/skits: The children can act out different scenarios of service, including the story of Lua Getsinger (without attempting to portray ‘Abdu’l-Baha, of course).
game: “Help the Sick”. one child pretends to be sick, while two others clasp their hands to form a chair and carry the “sick” child over to the “health center”. children can be taught various rescue carries in this way. Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 5.
drawing: “Tending the Garden”. Children can either colour a black-and-white drawing of someone tending a garden, or draw themselves tending a garden. The teachers may accompany this drawing with the quote of ‘Abdu’l-Baha given below.
reading/prayer for study
“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”
That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. (Baha’u'llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.250)
“To one who visited in Haifa, ‘Abdu’l-Baha said substantially, in likening the Cause of God to a Garden: ‘At the gate of the garden some stand and look within, but do not care to enter. Others step inside, behold its beauty, but do not penetrate far. Still others encircle this garden inhaling the fragrance of the flowers, having enjoyed its full beauty, pass out again by the same gate. But there are always some who enter and, becoming intoxicated with the splendor of what they behold, remain for life to tend the garden’.” (“The Garden of the Heart”, a compilation by Frances Esty)
August 4, 2007: ~2 hours, 2 children, average age 8.
With a little maternal help (thanks mom!) we weeded the garden inside the patio at the Baha’i Centre and planted a beautiful row of geraniums there. To give a little bit of context, we looked at a photo of the terraces at the Baha’i World Centre beforehand and explained how the Baha’is had created the beautiful gardens there for the entire world to enjoy.
August 16, 2007: ~1 hour, 4 children, average age 6-7. Outreach class. Our last outdoor outreach class during the two-week pilot phase. With a week and a half’s worth of experience with these children under our belt, we were able to manage the class better than before. We used lots of movement-based activities to accommodate the uppity ones; they all enjoyed learning the “rescue carry” maneuver during the game. The entire class was basically taken straight from Lesson 5 of Ruhi Book 3, including the song (“Look At Me, Follow Me”), the quote, and the story. I think the children liked it, although there was an incident where I had to physically restrain one of the children while telling the story to avoid allowing him to fight with others. I took him aside afterwards, before we played the games, and told him firmly that he was welcome to stay in the class as long as he cooperated in the activities and respected the other children in the class—meaning no more fighting. It seems to have helped, even though we still had to monitor him very closely to curb any further outbursts.
August 18, 2007: 1.5 hours, 8 children, average age 8. Our last regular children’s class before school starts again! We had five of our usual kids and three cousins, and the group dynamic was great—although there was a little too much between-cousins tousling for the spiritual atmosphere of the children’s class. After two weeks of daily outreach classes, though, I had gotten used to playing kindergarten cop, so it was manageable. Most of the children said prayers, after which we memorized “O God, guide me” for the sake of our new students (and to refresh the memory of the kids who hadn’t been around during the summer) and then sang the same prayer in Haitian Creole (since several of our children come from Haitian families). We used the “step game” to help memorize the quote, but we noticed a couple of problems with it: 1) the game doesn’t work so well when there are lots of children (say, eight or more) in a line; 2) the game doesn’t work so well when the children can’t read well. We may adapt it for use with this class, which typically takes place indoors rather than outdoors and has fewer high-energy children than the outreach class. One nice thing is that we involved the children in snack time more than usual; for example, one set out a plate of cookies and poured juice for the others, while another helped wash dishes afterwards, and others helped to put away the colouring materials before we went outside for the end of class. The child who washed dishes—usually a rather distracted child—even thanked us for letting him serve in that way. nice :)