springing forward

steadfastnessSpring has been a busy thing this year! Apart from remaining active in teaching children’s classes, I’ve been busy completing what must be the most demanding personal project I’ve ever taken: paperwork for my wife, a native of Vietnam, to immigrate to Canada. Thankfully, the long process is over now, and we’re finally able to be together for good. It took a lot of steadfastness and patience, and I can’t help thinking it must have made us both stronger and more united. It also made me think a lot about humanity’s crying need for complete unity. As I considered the complicated bureaucratic system that kept us apart so long and was such a challenge to our relationship, I thought: “This is why the world has to be one country.” If all of us treated others as beloved members of one human family, and citizens of one world, would there be a need for borders, those arbitrary lines in the sand that keep us apart?

Thankfully, the influence of these concepts seem to be having a growing effect on the discourse of civil society, as we see many of the ideas and principles promulgated by Bahá’u’lláh popping up in the news: the establishment of various international unions and agreements, an international auxiliary language, even a world currency. By and large, though, most remain unaware of the source of these innovations, or how to go about implementing them correctly. Those who have tried have seen their hopes dashed by prejudice, corruption, greed, conflict, disunity and injustice. Without a proper moral foundation at its core, progress towards a better, just, and unified world is nigh-impossible. This is why teaching children’s classes, animating junior youth groups, and supporting the rest of those “core activities” of the Plans of the Universal House of Justice is so important for each of us: through our service, and the service of all those who collaborate with us, we are laying a strong foundation, an unshakeable core upon which will be built a new world that will manifest these principles for good—the “Day which shall not be followed by night.”

I just thought I’d share that reflection with you today. Summer is almost here, and together, my wife and I will be taking over a neighbourhood children’s class started by a friend of ours, hopefully to grow it past the handful of children who’ve been attending, and maybe, if we can find or train willing animators, to start a junior youth group as well. Also, I plan to finish a major improvement to this website soon, one that should make it a lot easier for readers to browse for the information they need. I know it’s been mentioned before but this time I mean it! 😛

unity (take 2)

Sorry I’m late – I’ve been trying to send out reports the day of the children’s class but this time I was lazy I think 😛

Last weekend’s children’s class went off without a hitch; we even got to the Vietnamese Centre a couple minutes after 2 PM and found that … had already come and opened the door, and that … had already arrived with her son. My co-teacher and I taught the first lesson from Book 3 again (on unity), mainly because we realized we hadn’t had time to photocopy the colouring page for the second lesson yet. As well, it gave us the chance to recap our work from the previous week, and to work on memorizing the song (“We Are Drops”) and the quote from that lesson. We played the game described in Lesson 1 together, with everyone taking their turn in the middle once. It’ll definitely be more entertaining once we have more children than adults.

An interesting and relevant observation was made: when the mother asked us if we knew of another song we could sing in French, we went ahead and sang a rendition of “O God, Guide Me” (that is, “O Dieu, Guide Moi”), explaining the French terms along the way. She seemed impressed and showed no objections to the term “God”, as we thought might have arisen from someone of her background. To end off, we sang a melody set to the quote—”So powerful is the light of unity”—again and encouraged each other to remember and practice it. Again, we encouraged both of them to invite friends and acquaintances to the class.

unity (take 1)

This Saturday’s class (Nov. 14th) was less quiet than the previous one as we got our first child in the class and were able to actually teach the class for the first time. yay! … and I arrived at about five minutes to two, and saw …’s contact walking outside with her “very mature” 4-year-old son, trying to see if the door was open (which it wasn’t). We waited a little while for the centre manager to come open the door, which he eventually did, and we passed the time by chatting and singing songs. It was raining, but thankfully we had umbrellas and a little shelter. … and … came by and shared their umbrellas with us too, and we were able to make a few more introductions.

The class was short and simple, which worked out fine. We started with a prayer for children, sang a song (“We Are Drops”) talked a little about unity. We read the story of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the Christian merchant, which both … and his mom seemed to love. It was a great teaching opportunity for her, who asked questions about the exile of Baha’u’llah in ‘Akka, about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and so on. Since she was present, we tried to explain the story a little more in detail than we might have otherwise. We skipped the game, but spent a long time colouring—all of us.

At the end, we discussed the class a bit and encouraged both the mother and son to invite ppl they know to come and participate in the children’s class. The son was so cute and told us he knows lots of the kids in his kindergarten class, so we told him to tell his friends in class that he goes to a really fun class where he sings songs and listens to stories and talk about unity.

Let’s hope that things keep on going like this, and that we get more and more people into the class in the coming weeks; still, this is a welcome development. Further to our great conversation this morning,  we should be able to make even greater strides. Thank God for giving us the opportunity to be part of this!