Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Phone Teaching Team 1

Team 1 met to do Team Teaching during the Expansion Phase of Cycle 7. They met at the Austin Bahá'í Center, said prayers, and began. Phone numbers were selected from the White Pages of the phone book. Homes with the same zip code as the Center were selected, 78723, because the Center has been a place that so much love has been expressed from all the devotionals, prayers, Holy Days and Feasts. There have also been teaching projects over the years in the area, and people are receptive in the area.

Basically what the team did is called homes. If you don’t reach a live person, you hang up and call another number. If someone answers you say, “Good afternoon. My name is ________ ___________, a Bahá'í. You don’t know me; I’m calling to say a prayer for you, or someone close to you. Is that okay?” If they say “Yes”, you say a prayer. If they say “No”, you say, “I’m sorry to have bothered you. Thank you for your time.” It pretty amazing, folks are very polite when they decline.

One lady wanted a prayer for her and her daughter. Another knows a Bahá'í in Florida. No one asked why this was being done. They accepted the offer, and after the prayer, this was said, “It was nice reaching you and saying a prayer together. Is there anything else I can do to be of service for you today? (No) Okay. God bless you. Good bye.”

The Teaching Team members had taught together before, but it had been several months. One had done Phone Prayers before, and one had not. The one who had not was the prayer partner. The prayer partner of the team is relied on heavily.

Phone Teaching-Team 2

Team 2 was at the National Bahá'í Center in Evanston, Illinois. A couple of youth in the Teaching Office heard about Phone Prayers in Austin and were curious about it. While discussing it, there was some thought that residents might not be receptive, since Illinois is not in the South were people are often polite and friendly, even to strangers. They knew that by relying on God, things would turn out all right. They decided to try, said prayers, and began.

Again, phone numbers were selected from the White Pages of the phone book. Chicago did not have zip codes listed but they had the city next to the phone number, so the team of three decided to select homes near the National Center. Five numbers were called and no one was home. The next call was answered by an elderly person. It was not obvious if they were ‘ma’am or sir’ so the caller was careful not to refer to gender. When asked if they would like to have a prayer read, the answer was a simple, “Yes” and a general prayer was said. The next call was from one of the youth who works at the National Teaching Center. The first call was answered by a man. His answer was also short and to the point, “Yes.” After that, we felt pretty excited. It was easy to do, and no one said no!

The Teaching Team members were at work, so we they just tried Phone Prayers for 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dos Mujeres

Teaching Team: 2 Women
11 years working together – 2 years as an identified team!

Our collective plans for teaching what we have come to see is a receptive population – women! We are Persian and American, speak different languages, have different educational backgrounds, and share a deep love for our fellow women, their plight and station. It was easy to come together and see a vision for how we wanted to make a difference in our world, one as manager of many women and one serving in a therapeutic capacity. All around us were women in need of the Faith.

It is an unlikely pairing in the cynical world we live in, and even more compelling for those who come to view our team as unified, and deeply committed to one another. The first step was our friendship, and sisterhood, then a teaching team! Oh yeah, and we’re both trained tutors who have completed the sequence of courses which allows us to immediately engage individuals in the institute process if they are interested in the Faith. Here’s how we’ve decided to manage out teaching team:

1. Consultations continually revolve around covert and overt signs from women attending ACT Women gatherings and/or women friends wanting spiritual guidance, how we introduce them into the core activities, or move into quickly improvised firesides. We are very flexible and try hard to be attentive to the seekers needs.

2. An email list of all seekers is vigilantly maintained with encouragement, stories, and quotes from the Holy Writings, which reinforce previous conversations or stimulate new conversations.

3. We tag team one another’s leads, decide how far we can go with our overt suggestions into the core activities, or simply pray hard. The needs of the seekers are omnipresent in our minds.

4. Regular devotionals are held before our meetings, praying for guidance, sustenance, leads, and inspiration.

5. We decided at some point that our team needed to walk the talk and so we gave one another permission to spur on each other’s spiritual growth, and have held one another accountable in this process.

6. We connect women with other women who might best help them. We elicit help where needed and aid in focusing the declarents into core activities that best suit their needs and wants.

7. We have learned, firsthand, that the receptivity of a declarant naturally extends to their respective family members and initiating loving overtures to include the family becomes a top priority. This process of respecting the family as a unit, building up trust within their paradigms has been a full circle realization for our teaching team.

Wealth Builders

Report on the Wealth builder’s meeting

Team members: Husband and wife, and another Bahá’í in Round Rock
26 total attendees
16 not yet registered as Bahá’ís, (62%) with 3 first time non- Bahá’í visitors
total of 59 since starting in January 2005

The meeting was opened with a Bahá’í prayer, a short 5 minute introduction on a spiritual principle was given. All were invited to attend a fireside/discussion on the Bahá’í Faith and Biblical Prophesy. At the beginning of the meeting there was a request for the Bahá’ís to identify themselves with a show of hands who was available to respond to questions about the Faith.

A recent Sunday get-together was well received and there were 8 non- Bahá’ís who came to the house. We had Bahá’í literature out. One couple wanted to have a brief fireside. Then we had a follow-up fireside with the husband of the couple yesterday.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Team: "Swedish Auto"

Report from: Auto Teaching Team
Team: two men who work together, in Austin
Goal: To carry the message of Bahá’u’lláh to the community at large through direct and indirect means at the workplace and socially.

History of team: Outside the shop there is a 10x20 foot, two sided bill board mentioning the Faith. Inside the shop there is a poster of the Shrine of the Báb with the terraces. There is a photo of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá next to Shiidon’s computer and a prayer book placed on the desk just to the left of where the customers sit. On the walls are Bahá’í calendars. On the bulletin board there is a card with the Prayer for America and a post card with the location and times of Devotions at the Bahá’í Center. One works as the manager and main contact person with the public at the shop. The other is the owner. Being a Bahá’í owned business there are opportunities to aid in bringing up the Faith.

The teaching plan has been developed over the past six years or more. One of the men was often the first person to approach the customer about the Faith. Conversations follow with a clear understanding that the discussions are natural and sincere. When the Faith is being discussed the full weight of running the shop shifts to the other one, who ensures as much time as possible is available for the teaching work. This has been the method of teaching over the past seven years.

Changes in Patterns: Several events impacted the teaching work at the shop. The Institute process has been fully embraced and both men are fully involved in the process and practices. The development of “officially designated” Teaching Teams had an impact that altered the interactive dynamics at the shop.

Being identified as a Teaching Team, the understanding of the work being done altered as well. Now both have taken on a more active role in teaching at the shop and now both men flow between teaching and support as the occasion calls for. One Teaching Team member is an avid mountain biker, and has taken up the teaching challenge to his mountain biking community.

Through the course of the last year many copies of the Hidden Words, the Seven Valleys, Prayer Books etc. have been given to interested parties. “The Open Door”, a small booklet on life after death has been sent to customers who have shared the loss of loved ones with the shop.

One recent teaching experience will illustrate the extent of the teaching work being done. While one of the team members was taking a customer to their car in back he stopped in the middle of the shop and asked “as a Bahá’í, have you decided what prayer to say today?” The team member stated that there was one prayer that is said every day. After reciting the prayer the customer stated how beautiful the Prayer was. The Faith had not come up that day or the previous visit prior to this discussion.

The Faith comes up on a daily basis and there are plenty of opportunities to teach. Some are ready for a deep discussion and some are not. While writing this report a customer called and informed the writer that he wanted to bring his car in. He stated that he had purchased a book on the Bahá’í Faith and had read a lot of it. He mentioned that he appreciated our accommodating him getting a quick appointment. He said that he was still making a donation to charity in our name because of the service he experienced. He also stated that he looked forward to conversing about the Faith again when he came in.

Evolving Process: Referring to each other as a “Team” has altered the focus of the teaching to one of Team Teaching. A customer who is interested in the Faith had expressed interest in getting together socially with the team. The thought occurred to one team member to invite him and his wife to have “kabob” sometime. This was enthusiastically received. Several conversations came up with this in mind with little action being done. Finally, one day, one team member approached the other and informed him that the customer had called and asked about getting together. The customer informed him that he had already spoken to a another Bahá’í in the community (who was from the same country) and asked if he would be willing to come to a dinner. It was mentioned that this was more than one team member could do himself and asked him as a Teaching Team to help. The partner immediately responded with “I will do whatever I can to be of help.”

This was a challenge and alone or as co-workers this was not resolvable. By referring to each other as a team, an identity has been established and there is something beyond just two individuals but an effort of a team.

Results: Teaching has taken a more systematic and direct approach. Two enrollments have resulted through these teaching efforts coupled with interactions with other Bahá’ís in the community. People are being encouraged to investigate the Faith further and are being given material.