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today was my first time helping out with children’s classes – Diana Cartwright’s “Shining Stars” class. it was an interesting experience; I liked it a lot. I think I might get the hang of it fairly quickly. We followed the basic format of the lessons from Ruhi Book 3; today, the lesson was on Courtesy. Everyone practiced being courteous (offering snacks, being polite during the activities, etc). The class is biweekly, so the next one will be on the 29th of September. I’m hoping to help out with children’s classes at the Suzanne Sabih Bahá’í School in Gloucester a little bit, just so that I can learn from some experienced children’s class teachers how they go about conducting their classes.

for those of you who are wondering, my weekend went very well (pics will be up soon). I got into Trois-Rivières on Friday evening and got picked up by Jeremy – it was Evan’s (Jeremy’s brother’s) birthday, so we went to see Resident Evil: Apocalypse with a bunch of Jeremy’s friends. I slept through bits of it. I was tired! I didn’t actually do much else until Sunday, apart from hanging around with Jeremy and Evan, playing lots of WWE Smackdown. On Sunday morning, the same gang of Jeremy’s friends were shooting a movie (!) and invited us along. Finally, later in the evening we gathered at the University of Trois-Rivières for an information meeting on Ruhi Book 1! That was awesome. We had three participants show up, all Bahá’ís; and they were really enthusiastic about starting the book and even talked about inviting some of their friends.

A little bit of background for those of you who don’t know: the Bahá’í community in Trois-Rivières has been mostly inactive for the past ten to fifteen years. There are enough Bahá’ís in the city to form a Spiritual Assembly, but there are no regular activities. What activities there are have been mostly one-shot events organised from outside to attempt to stir things up. The fact that a study circle is beginning that will bring people together to meet every Monday is a considerable achievement. We can only thank God for bringing about the proper conditions for this to finally happen! A new chapter really is dawning for the Bahá’ís of Trois-Rivières.

For those of you who are visiting this site from Ottawa or Montreal or some other big city where the Bahá’í Faith is well-established, it may be quite a shock to read the above. I was shocked when I moved out of Ottawa to find communities where I was the 9th member required to form a Spiritual Assembly, where there were no children’s classes to speak of, where 19-day feasts were sometimes cancelled, where I had to travel an hour and a half to attend a study circle. There are towns with two Bahá’ís, one Bahá’í, no Bahá’ís. Major towns like Trois-Rivières have no Spiritual Assembly. Many more large towns across Quebec are in the same situation. I think of Granby, Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Jérome, Joliette, Lévis… Other towns have Assemblies but have trouble maintaining basic activities like the Feast, Holy Day celebrations, devotional meetings… And to think that you can make a difference just by being there, by sacrificing a little bit of your time to be there and encourage people, by sharing your experience, strength and hope with them. I almost didn’t believe people when they told me how great, how valuable my contribution was in pioneering out in Quebec. Now I’m starting to realize that, yes, it was valuable, and I want to continue contributing, because I’ve done it and now I know that I can.

In other news, there are two fireside chats going on at the Howden/Cartwright place over the weekend. Martin B. will be giving a fireside on Saturday night’s Youth Fireside, and then on Sunday (the 19th), Phil Lane will be coming from Lethbridge, Alberta to give a talk. For those (like me) who didn’t know, Dr. Lane is “a member of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw tribes”, an “internationally recognized leader in human and community development”, and a “traditionally recognized hereditary Chief”. He has won several prestigious awards for his work with Indigenous people across the world, including the Americas, Africa, Micronesia, Thailand and India. So, um, come see him. And of course, Martin is Martin, so come see him too. You can also get in touch with Dave Howden for more info.

And in yet more news, Sector 9’s reflection meeting is on Sunday the 19th, too. Come bust it with the coolest cats in Ottawa, and help us get ideas on how we can light this focus sector on fire!

Last but not least, Anisa (Smith) forwarded me news of the upcoming Anisa-Fest: Black & White Party at 7 PM on Saturday, September 25th, at Anisa’s place in Kanata. It’s a potluck dinner, and everybody has to wear either black or white. Bring your pet zebra. For more information, see Martinsquest.com.

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