After one of my children’s classes this week I went on a walk with some of the kids to the local rec-center. This is just part of my need to walk the baby, but it’s also great to hang out with the kids in the neighborhood. Anyway, while we were walking by the King Center, the kids told me about their “Goodness Class” that they have every Friday night at the King Center.
“Tell me about this class.”
“We talk about good things, and God.”
“Who is your teacher?”
“Miss Big Bird.”
Well I just stopped in my tracks. I have heard of Miss Big Bird before, though I have never actually met her. From what I can surmise, in the years that we’ve been here, she teaches kids about Jesus and she helps them with their homework.
“Does she talk about God or does she talk about Jesus?”
“It’s the same thing, right?”
“Yes, it is, but sometimes it might not be. I don’t always talk about Jesus in my class do I? Though we do talk about our love for all the Manifestations of God”
“We always talk about Jesus.”
There are two really interesting aspects of this. One, Miss Big Bird’s penetration. She has encountered several of the kids that we have worked with. How does she meet them? I have heard she has another helper, but beyond that I wonder if she’s associated with a church or school. How does she meet all these kids?
The other interesting aspect is the fact that she’s using the King Center on a weekly basis. From what I understand, private organizations cannot rent spaces regularly. If it happens to be open, then they can organize something that week. But it cannot be an ongoing thing. Unless the city is giving preferential treatment to this organization.
I plan on investigating more about this tomorrow at the actual Big Bird Class!
After all that, we came back to cuddle with dogs and feed Soleia pureed beets and blueberries and string cheese. It was a great class.
One of the interesting aspects of our neighborhood has come to light to me only recently. When Soleia was just born, it was so easy to stay confined to our house and entertain her with her toys here. Now she gets bored so quickly and taking walks is essential for her happiness.
These walks have been amazing (though I may be developing some minor back pains due to use of the baby bjorn). I walk to the King Center and around the streets where we have different groups and classes. I talk to lots of people who I have met over the years. And Soleia gets to play in the swing.
Kevin and I feel like we’re in a bit of a crisis. He and I, as well as a few others, are maintaining a number of activities, but it still feels like we are far from growing them more. We felt invigorated after the walk and running into so many of our friends. It’s a confirmation to see so many people we are connected with so easily. On the way back home we met with a family (father+mother+jy+child) who used to come to the children’s class back when Ruth Breton was assisting the activities here. It turns out the family is Salvdorian from Santa Ana. They invited us to a weekly session they have to share their church’s belief. I remember when we were doing the classes with their family, the mother felt uncomfortable since she did not know if her husband would approve of our Ruhi Book 3 lessons. I believe their church is up in San Bruno. It was interesting the way this man described his church. He says it’s more “independent” than the other churches in this neighborhood. I can only assume that means smaller. He told me that my daughter needed more God in her life…. Such casual affronts at people’s life styfles cannot possibly be effective in recruiting people to your belief system. We said our goodbyes and talked about the different confirmations we have seen over the years and this night.
In my Monday Junior Youth Group we gathered and said prayers like usual… and then made homemade nutella!
It was a healthier version, one that I found on the detoxinista website.
Basically roasted hazelnuts, water, cocoa, coconut oil and coconut sugar. The boys had a great time. It was definitely healthier tasting so it was a challenge to agree this was a good thing compared to the jarred nutella, but I loved it.
Today is an abnormal day on the homefront. It’s mid October and just cooling down from an incredibly hot few days. That’s not what is very strange. Today, on a very rare treat, my husband has stayed home from work. He works at a Tech startup that I’m a big fan of, though it can be very stressful for him. So stressful that he often collapses at 8pm, a few minutes after he gets home.
Of course, that’s not the most stressful part of his life. He also teaches Advance Placement Computer Science at our local high school in the neighborhood. It’s part of a new initiative to bring APCS to high schools in Silicon Valley. You would think it would be ubiquitous here, but alas it is not. He wakes up three mornings a week and teaches for 90 minutes, plus lesson plans and grades and does office hours at a local restaurant. The other two mornings he works out.
But he is home today and I’m taking advantage of it by working next to him as much as possible. That also included a 20 minute nap while he worked in bed.
All the while our cleaning lady is here and nanny and her three daughters. It’s a full house.
Speaking of full house, since I last wrote we added another member to our family. Meet Soleia.
Because of her I am inspired to share the adventures of our home-front pioneering life again. All the baby fun, neighborhood adventures and good times we have as a community. She is awake so I will write more later.
Today we had an incredible scare. Our nanny, Eydi, was here with her three daughters. The oldest was holding Soleia while I was working on cards in the back room. I came to the front of the house to recycle some paper and Eydi turned towards me and she was completely blue. She couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t know what was wrong. Her eldest came up to her and she started crying, while calling 911 and holding Soleia. I hit her back and ran to get my own phone. It was about a minute before she started breathing again. We were able to cancel the ambulance and everything was “fine,” but everyone was crying.
Eydi as a serious health condition, of which she seems to be doing fine in. I will write more about that later, but part of the reason Kevin and I wanted her to help with our daughter was because of how well her family has done facing such terrible conditions. In my mother groups I hear such awful stories about nannies and baby sitters, and I am so blessed to have someone I love so much take care of Soleia with us.
It is a tough week because the eldest daughter is also to go into surgery this week. We will continue to say prayers for this beautiful family.
Though I yearn for the day the junior youth can plan and execute a service project on their own, I have to admit we are not there. There was a lot of preparation on our part to make sure that it was a success. And even though we tried to prepare, it was quite evident that the success of it was based on the help from the Blessed Beauty. Certain things just worked out really well, though we did not plan for it.
Today I got back to normal life. Bought groceries, made a real meal for dinner, worked on my company website and played with the kids in the neighborhood.
One activity that one of the kids is really fond of Chess. We have gotten a few boys to learn the game, and so far the girls have shied away from it. I happen to be learning along side them, so we are pretty evenly matched witch is good. This boy who came over today is the most considerate chess player I have ever met besides Kevin. He lets me know when I’m making a bad mood, and it tells me he’s sorry when he gets one of my pieces.
As a reward for those who took part in the service project, and as some exercise and relaxation, we took the junior youth to the dog beach at Half Moon Bay.
The kids loved watching Eli swimming in the ocean. Luckily there were fewer kids today, but also fewer adults to help out. We brought 12 to the beach and had a picnic lunch. Eli was so tired at the end of the day he fell asleep in the car ride home.
Eli tired after swimming at the beach
Afterwards we came home and watched The Avengers and Kevin and I fell asleep early. What an exhausting weekend. I hope that these experiences help the process of building community and unity with everyone. It is such a small subsection, but maybe in a few years these youth will be working with several times what we are able to do now.
When I study abroad in China, I met the most loving family there. They were Chinese Nationals, but had lived in Canada and the US for several years. The mother, Lijun, took me into her home and let me spend weekends there. This helped me adjust to life in China. It was so nice having a comfortable home there with a loving family around me.
Fast-forward six years, and Lijun’s oldest daughter is coming to university in North America. She starts at an art school in September, and she is here in California for the next month. She came with us to Feast tonight and also helped out with the children’s class this afternoon.
Amelia is really focused on developing human resources to help advance the Cause of Baha’u’llah. She has taken many of the Ruhi sequence and has practice with teaching Children’s Classes and Animating Junior Youth Groups back in China. Of course the experience of each core activity is unique whereever you are, it is the same process the world over. When she starts school in Toronto, I really think she’ll learn a lot about community development there. Toronto is one of the fastest growing centers of Junior Youth Groups in North America.
In the children’s class today we learned about having hope.
“Be thou ever hopeful, for the bounties of God never cease to flow upon man.” – `Abdu’l-Bahá
We colored, played outside and had a dance contest. This group really likes to dance!
About a year ago, some people who were serving with us in San Mateo spoke to an apartment manager of a large complex in our neighborhood. The junior youth spiritual Empowerment Program was explained to her, as well as the entire vision of working with children through adults in a community advancing movement that everyone can be part of. She was very interested, but for some reason everyone was too busy to put it to action.
A lot of the friends who spoke to her before no longer serve as much in San Mateo, so when she got in touch with us and told us a group of junior youth was ready to start getting together, Kevin and I -and Sarv and Aaron, got ourselves together for this group.
It’s a really really fantastic group of young people. They range in ages from 10-14.
The group has met 4 times now, and this is the first week we are meeting multiple times. It is such a wonderful group of junior youth. Especially when it comes to the reading exercises. They are precocious and too advanced for Breezes academically. However, they are able to delve into the topics discussed in a very sophisticated manner. In the chapter about talents, everyone had insight into how talents shape their spare-time but then how their spare-time must then shape their talents.
We made a craft project out of our talent list that they will hang up in their room to remind them of different acttivities they enjoy. When bored or when they need a reminder of how great they are when they put their mind to it.
Yesterday was the Observance of the Martyrdom of the Báb. A day in which Baha’is are encouraged to abstain from work and spend the day in prayerful meditation and commemoration. In light of this I said the Tablet of Visitation 5 times in morning because that was the number for the Báb. I also hosted a small observance for the community in our backyard where we read from The Dawnbreakers the story of His martyrdom, read the Tablet of Visitation again and read some prayers for teaching.
I think that light of this special spirituality flooding our home, I had a very special moment with some of the Junior Youth girls. They came over because they were bored, so I put them to work to make signs for the lemonade sale coming up this weekend.
While they were coloring, one of them remarked that she felt bad she had never prayed for the passing of her grandmother. We started talking about people we know who have passed away, and that it is important to say prayers for them so that they can spiritually progress. Then we each read a unique prayer for the departed from the prayerbooks. Each of us talked about who we were praying for so that we could each focus our thoughts on that individual.
It was such a wonderful moment. It was one of the first times I saw junior youth take ownership of prayers on their own. I believe the Concourse on High was with us then as well and it was such a beautiful moment.