9. Inspiration/Guidance for the Future: I don't know what I want to do with my life. I mean, I know parts of it. I want to go to college. I want to support my self. I want to give back to the world, and be of service to humanity. Its the particulars that get me. How, exactly, will I be of service? How will I support myself? What do I want to study in college? I've given it considerable thought, and I still draw a blank. So I'm hoping that my year abroad, during which I will spend time praying for guidance, will give me some direction in how best I can use my life to serve the Baha'i Faith and humanity.
8. Adventure! Ecuador is an amazing place, and I've only started researching it. I love traveling, and am so excited to meet new people and gain a different perspective on the world.
7. More specifically, I am eager to see a different Baha'i community and learn the way their teaching efforts function; maybe I can bring some learning back to Alaska (and Portland!). I cannot wait to assist in teaching efforts and see how this part of the world approaches Teaching.
6. A new language will be so exhilarating, and challenging. I am so lucky to have taken Spanish in school, and I hope I will be able to speak and understand it when I leave! I also am (somewhat) looking forward to the immersion I will undoubtedly be exposed to. I have heard that immersion is the best way to learn. I have never really had to struggle with something as simple as speaking, which brings us to reason number...
5. Tests. Baha'u'llah says:
"O SON OF BEING! Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants."*
Tests and difficulties are what help us to grow. I understand that learning a new language, living without my family, and fully devoting myself to service, full time, will be ferociously difficult. But I feel that the potential for the growth that will come from overcoming these tests will be great and rewarding.
4. Shogi Effendi says:
"Reliance on God is indeed the strongest and safest weapon which the Bahá’í teacher can carry. For by its means no earthly power can remain unconquered, and no obstacle become insuperable."**
In my period of service, I want to develop a reliance on God that hasn't really been tested yet. I mean, it's all very well for me to say I rely on God while I live in a comfortable home, surrounded by people that love me and with relatively few worries. Moving to Ecuador has already created a lot of unknowns, which has already caused me to rely on God. For instance, I need to rely on God that my finances will work out, and that taking this time away from school will give me an experience of more value that going straight into college. This kind of detachment is difficult, but it is a skill that I want to learn.
"And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good. 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 fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight."***
This is pretty self-explanatory, and the words of 'Abdul-Bahá are much more eloquent than my own. I want to become a source of social good.
2. This speaks mostly to why I chose to teach. Actually, the decision to teach at the school was not a very definitive one on my part, it kind of just fell into place. But I was reading quotes on service, and this one, by 'Abdul-Bahá, embodies exactly the reason I want to teach:
"God has given us eyes, that we may look about us at the world, and lay hold of whatsoever will further civilization and the arts of living. He has given us ears, that we may hear and profit by the wisdom of scholars and philosophers and arise to promote and practice it. Senses and facilities have been bestowed upon us, to be devoted to the service of the general good; so that we, distinguished above all other forms of life from perceptiveness and reason, should labor at all times and along all lines, whether the occasion be great or small, ordinary or extraordinary, until all mankind are safely gathered into the impregnable stronghold of knowledge."****
Some of you have thought it ironic that I, who have never really enjoyed being around children, would choose to teach a bunch of children at this school. I sometimes find it ironic myself. And one of my goals in Ecuador is to learn to like children (I've already progressed! I compliment and interact with children that come to the ice cream booth, and I cooed at a 2-day-old baby yesterday!) and enjoy being around them. But.
I guess the reason I chose to teach is that, even if I don't personally enjoy teaching, that doesn't lessen the worldwide need for education. And it is incredibly hypocritical for me to say "Oh, I think every child deserves an education" and then decline to put forth an effort to teach them. And I want to be able to "like" kids, and I think the more you get to know something (generally) the more you like it. So I am going to get to know these children, and hopefully learn to love them.
"The day of service is now come. Countless Tablets bear the testimony of the bounties vouchsafed unto thee...Thou must show forth that which will ensure the peace and well-being of the miserable and the downtrodden. Gird up the loins of endeavour, that perchance thou mayest release the captive from his chains, and enable him to attain unto true liberty."*****
"With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together, and dedicate the precious days of your lives to the betterment of the world and the promotion of the Cause of Him Who is the Ancient and Sovereign Lord of all."******
"We must now highly resolve to arise and lay hold of all those instrumentalities that promote the peace and well-being and happiness, the knowledge, culture and industry, the dignity, value and station, of the entire human race."*******
This is probably the most important reason. The Writings of Baha'u'llah ask us to serve humanity. I want to follow the Writings, and promote the Cause of God, and aid the progression of peace and well-being and happiness. I hope my year of service will enable me to do this.
Thank you for reading! (If you stuck through to the end, I don't blame you if you stopped. Its long. I will probably put something lighter, and shorter, in tomorrow to balance out the length and depth of this post! I was just feeling pensive at 2:30 in the morning!)
* Bahá’u’lláh: Arabic Hidden Words, Page: 55
** Shogi Effendi: The Power of Divine Assistance, Page 221
***'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 2-3
****'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 3.
*****Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of, p .92-94.
******Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of, p. 184
******* 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 4.