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(Pacific – Tonga, February 2011)
A refreshing report from a devoted pioneer in the Pacific — filling her schedule with service: Taking the initiative to fill gaps she recognizes at the school at which she serves; spending evenings doing home- and deepening visits; and dedicating weekends to childrens’ classes and junior youth groups!
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NEWS FROM TONGA
So, I arrived last Tuesday night and went straight to a devotional in the house next to us – and of course I had to sing…talk about throwing yourself in so quickly! We got settled in that night and then went to the Ocean of Light school the next day. It’s a primary and high school and it’s run by Bahá’ís but it’s for non-Bahá’ís too.
I’m currently working in the Library in the school because it’s still pretty bare at the minute! Books are being donated all the time, so I’m helping categorize and shelve them…
I realised very quickly that there is like NO music whatsoever in the school… there was nothing structured for them. So I talked to the Director of the school and got his permission to start a choir! So basically at the minute, I’m just trying to find songs to teach them and working out different parts and harmonies, hopefully it will sound as good as it does in my head.
Also, after school some days there is a dance workshop so I’m helping out there! It’s a lot of fun and the kids are learning the steps really quickly.
Most days after school, we will go round the neighbourhood and home visit. At the minute we’re really working with a girl, like sharing quotes about the youth and what the youth can do to better the world and she’s bringing some of her friends to a devotional this weekend, so people around here seem to be really receptive and enthusiastic about the Faith. We’re having an event almost every evening, like devotionals and firesides and then children’s classes and junior youth groups at the weekend.
The children’s class I’m teaching has about 15-20 kids in it so it’s always entertaining! Also, we’re helping to improve their English in the classes, so we’re using games like ‘Simon says’ and singing songs like ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ which are fun at the same time.
I’ve been here a week and have done so much already. I’ll keep you updated on what’s happening next!
The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands, 52 of which are inhabited. The total population is only 102,000. In 2004 there were 29 local Spiritual Assemblies and 5% of the population is Bahá’í. The Bahá’í Faith was first established in Tonga in the 1950s. The National Spiritual Assembly of Tonga was established in 1976.
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O servant of Bahá!
Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar to enrapture the Concourse on High. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy.
I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.
– `Abdu’l-Bahá, Importance of Arts, #11, 12
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(Report is from the Northern Ireland Baha’i newsletter “CommuNIqué”, issue 154 – 1 March 2011, used with the author’s kind permission.) (Photos are copyright Bahá’í International Community, view here and here.)
(Haifa, Israel, 30 April)
These are the impressions of an onlooker to the announcement of the new membership of the Supreme Body of our Faith:
The humility present when the [membership of the] Universal House of Justice was finally announced blew me away. Each member would be announced one by one and would stand on the stage, head bowed to the ground in absolute reverance, these spiritual giants standing before us, now carrying a heavy heavy load, the weight of the Baha’i World on their shoulders.
Doctor Arbab briefly addressed the audience with speech which highlighted their “absolute unworthiness of this position” and reminded us that this is Baha’u’llah’s work, Baha’u’llah’s faith and that they are “just servants” of the Blessed Beauty.
(Used with the author’s permission)
The same, one might say, goes for our work as teachers!
O Lord, my God!
Praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for Thou hast guided me to the highway of the kingdom, suffered me to walk in this straight and far-stretching path, illumined my eye by beholding the splendors of Thy light, inclined my ear to the melodies of the birds of holiness from the kingdom of mysteries and attracted my heart with Thy love among the righteous.
O Lord! Confirm me with the Holy Spirit, so that I may call in Thy Name amongst the nations and give the glad tidings of the manifestation of Thy kingdom amongst mankind.
O Lord! I am weak, strengthen me with Thy power and potency. My tongue falters, suffer me to utter Thy commemoration and praise. I am lowly, honor me through admitting me into Thy kingdom. I am remote, cause me to approach the threshold of Thy mercifulness.
O Lord! Make me a brilliant lamp, a shining star and a blessed tree, adorned with fruit, its branches overshadowing all these regions.
Verily, Thou art the Mighty, the Powerful and Unconstrained.