January 23, 2012

"..make thy home a center for the radiation of light.." ~Abdu'l-Baha

art supplies kept on the window sill by the dining table
 our home is a refuge, a lending library, a study center, a meeting place, and a blessed spot where Devotions, firesides, deepenings and classes are held.  i've been witnessing the beauty of souls thriving in this environment that we call home.  it is fueled by love and requires just a bit of effort and coordination to ensure that there is a sense of order and cleanliness (which lead to peacefulness). :)

today is monday and mondays are the one day of the week we do not invite anyone over.  but i received a call this afternoon, after school, and it was Jude, one of the Gems of Justice.  he was calling to say sorry that he was late but could he still come -- as if we were having a class.  we have study sesions and tutoring on tuesday and thursday afternoons, a Baha'i class on fridays, and jr. youth group on saturdays.  i proceeded to tell him that we don't have anything scheduled on mondays but that if he wanted to still come he could.  at that point he tells me he's outside of the gate (which is guarded by security guards for our compound).  i laughed and thought how sweet -- this boy really wants to come over today.  he's walked quite a long distance and calls me right when he arrives.  he brought his brother and cousin, both of which are also in the jr. youth group.  they are good-hearted boys who have attended Christian school and they are therefore have been better educated than those who attend public schools..yet they are interested in furthering their education through fiction and non-fiction reading.
Baha'i story books to read, mostly for younger souls

our home was very quiet.  each of our children were busy with studies.  i asked them to find something to read or study, which they do each time they come during the week.  soon there was another knock on the door and it was Gideon who i am helping learn how to read English or complete his homework accurately.  i worked with him for a short while and then read him 2 stories from the 'My Baha'i Book' for 6-9 year olds.  near the end of study time all the kids were buzzing with whispers and giggles.  some were drawing on the white board; others were fascinated by Dyami's project on the computer.  it is never easy to get them to leave -- they are so happy here!

i have been noticing that these unplanned visits are occurring more often and regularly.  i love them!  they are spontaneous and natural..it's Africa and you don't need to be invited!  i've been wanting to document how often we have neighbors and the Baha'i friends coming by to visit us (recently, on a sunday, different people came 9 different times throughout the day!).  it's quite amazing to me because this is not life in most of America.  you may have 1 neighbor who always pops in but you don't have a wide variety and number of people constantly coming by uninvited.
Jude and his cousin, Solomon
these unplanned visits are a common way of life for us but at the same time the kids are good at observing our boundaries around time.  we often offer them a certain time that our home will be open, and that works well most of the time.  many times a child comes and it must be a very short visit because our family is busy.  other times we extend the time and the visit is very long..we're striving to find the balance between our own family time and time shared with others..

then, tonight, there was a knock on the door.  it was 4 jr. youth who missed saturday's session.  they came to find out what was going on and to hang out -- this is the first time they came by like this on a weeknight!  it was yet another sign of how our home is a place where the kids feel welcome, where they are blossoming, where they feel safe and loved, and most of all, truly happy.  by the time they left, an hour had swiftly passed by with lots of laughter, excitement for our upcoming outing and service project, and braids all over my head. :)
my bookshelf which helps organize my materials
i finally feel completely confirmed in my service to God here in Ghana.  one always has to be very patient in gaining trust and assisting others to feel encouraged or to make commitments or change their usual habits or way of life.  nothing comes easy or simply.  after living here 8 1/2 months, i can see that the jr. youth group has begun to spread its wings and is trying to soar above this world of matter..

it has been a very gradual process of spending time and focused energy on each one of them, little by little, until, as a group now, i can see the collective energy is now greater than each individual's limited capacity at any given time.  the group as a whole is now taking off and winging its flight.. without having a home to visit outside of the group session on a consistent, almost daily basis, i feel it would take a very long time for the group to reach this point of beginning to fly on its own. each one of those souls need a base, a launching site, that refuge and source of fuel for striving for excellence, for being reminded of one's gems, for being confirmed in one's talents, for being encouraged in all ways, and above all, for being loved for who they are as a soul.

"... Is any larger bounty conceivable than this that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well being, of happiness and advantage to his fellowmen. No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight."
~'Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3
"Independent of the level of their education, parents are in a critical position to shape the spiritual development of their children. They should not ever underestimate their capacity to mold their children's moral character. For they exercise indispensable influence through the home environment they consciously create by their love of God, their striving to adhere to His laws, their spirit of service to His Cause, their lack of fanaticism, and their freedom from the corrosive effects of backbiting. Every parent who is a believer in the Blessed Beauty has the responsibility to conduct herself or himself in such a way as to elicit the spontaneous obedience to parents to which the Teachings attach so high a value. Of course, in addition to the efforts made at home, the parents should support Bahá'í children's classes provided by the community. It must be borne in mind, too, that children live in a world that informs them of harsh realities through direct experience with the horrors already described or through the unavoidable outpourings of the mass media. Many of them are thereby forced to mature prematurely, and among these are those who look for standards and discipline by which to guide their lives. Against this gloomy backdrop of a decadent society, Bahá'í children should shine as the emblems of a better future."

    ~The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 9

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