Mel Allen Silva: A Preacher and the Persian Girls

Mel Allen Silva: A Preacher and the Persian Girls

Mel Silva is right of the person with the black shirt and behind the person holding the left-side of the banner. (our left)

It was April 1981 when I found myself, once again, on the island of Antigua Leeward Islands. I had celebrated my 18th birthday on the island just a few short years before. I recall carrying a note in my pocket from my mother giving me permission to travel outside the United States on my own.  On that day, I took the note out from my pocket and deposited it into the garbage, whereby declaring myself a free man. That was a magical trip, of which I will write about at another time.

 

There had been an appeal from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the Virgin and Leeward Islands for Baha’is to come and help with the formation of a new national jurisdiction of the Windward Islands autonomous from the Virgin Islands. At the time, I was serving as a pioneer to Puerto Rico. A fellow Puerto Rican pioneer by the name of Bob Bolta and I traveled to Antigua to aid in the election of the Local Spiritual Assemblies of the island.

 

Ruhiyyih Khan

In order for there to be a separate national jurisdiction there had to be a minimum number of local assemblies formed and reformed by Ridvan of 1981. Amatu’l-Bahá RúhÍyyih Khánum (Hand of the Cause of God and wife of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi) was to attend the National Convention on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, so you can imagine there was no pressure to achieve these goals.

 

For the most part, everything went very well. We met with the Baha’i communities beforehand and planned a time and place for the election of the various Local Spiritual Assemblies.

 

Afsaneh Mouzoon, Mahvash Musaghi, Seema Aidun and Mel A. Silva (not in order)

There were two wonderful Baha’i Pioneers to Antigua by the names of Afsaneh Mouzoon and Mahvash Musaghi, who had pioneered to Antigua just after the revolution in Iran in 1979. These two angelic young women could light up any gathering with their love of the Baha’i Faith as well as any seeker they came in contact with.

 

The three of us had been working in the various villages around the island.  I must say, being in the presence of such remarkable servants of Baha’u’llah, to this day, brings a tremendous smile to my face and the realization of this splendid bounty rewarded too few.

 

One afternoon, we had finished with our work in the villages on one side of the island and were on our way to the other side of the island, so we took the liberty to stop in St. John’s to have lunch at a restaurant that we all liked; it was just a couple of short blocks from the National Baha’i Center. In particular, I love their papaya milkshake. As a kid coming from an Indian reservation in Southwest Colorado with no papaya to be found, it was like an exotic manna from heaven.

 

 

St. John’s, Antiqua

We entered the restaurant and found a table, and immediately placed our order, including papaya milkshakes and conch chapatti. The family who owned the restaurant were East Indians who we had become very good friends with and we always enjoyed their company. By now, it was a little after lunchtime, so there were only maybe three tables of customers – all West Indians except for us.

 

What a great memory to think back to a time when we were so young and so full of love for our Faith. I still remember that day being in the presence of these two remarkable Servants of Baha’u’llah, I remember it as if it was yesterday, their beauty surpassed only by their spiritual radiance.

 

We talked and laughed and enjoyed the wonderful day of service that we were afforded by the Blessed Beauty.

 

All of a sudden the girls looked down and turned their faces away; it was quite shocking and I asked what’s the matter. They immediately said, “Don’t say anything, don’t talk to him!” I asked, “who?” They turned their eyes towards the door and said, “Don’t say anything”. I looked towards the door and saw a nondescript middle-age West Indian man coming through the door. Under their breath they told me, “He’s a minister of a church and he always attacks us, so don’t say anything to him!” The man walked up to our table, gave us a harsh look, and then sat down at the table nearest to ours. He looked at me and he asked me, “Are you a Baha’i?” I took the cue from the girls and decided not to engage him. I looked at him and responded in Spanish. He immediately jumped out of his seat and said “Oh, so you don’t speak English”; then he launched into a diatribe against the Baha’i faith, jumping up and down shouting at the top of his lungs all sorts of ridiculous lies about the Faith. Everyone in the restaurant began to look at him, and from the looks on their faces they thought he was Looney Tunes.

 

It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. The girls kept their face turned away from him, as I stared at him with a smirk of what must’ve been disbelief, and with a sense of – this can’t really be happening.

 

He continued ranting and raving against the Faith, jumping into the air, waving his arms and pointing his fingers.  Then, he said something that was totally unacceptable to me and proved just how far away I still was from achieving a Baha’i perspective. He pointed his finger at the girls and said, “…and these Baha’i girls sleep with the West Indian man in order to turn them into Baha’is”. I came out of my seat, took two steps towards him and said in perfect English, “You can say anything you want about the Baha’i faith, but if you say one more word against these girls you’re going to deal with me!” He immediately took two steps back and I could see that he was frightened to discover that I understood everything he was saying. The girls came out of their seats and jumped on me, one on each side, holding my arms down and pulling me backwards. Thank God for their Baha’i behavior.

 

 

Now, I can tell you that it would have been very bad for me to beat up a minister of a Christian church on the island of Antigua. In that community, it would have taken 15 minutes for everyone on the island to know that Baha’is beat up Christian ministers.

 

As the girls held me back while begging me to stop and to let it go..a young West Indian, sitting with his girlfriend a couple of tables away, stood up and walked over to the minister. He told him, “Why don’t you leave these people alone! They haven’t done anything to you”. The minister started yelling at the young man, telling him how bad the Baha’is were. The girls seemed to have been given superhuman strength.  All I wanted to do was teach this guy a lesson, but I could not get loose from them. The preacher launched a myriad of insults at the young West Indian, and told him he was going to go to hell for sticking up for the

1981 First convention Leeward Islands: Mel Silva, Back row, second from the left.

Baha’is. The young West Indian man took his glasses off and set them on a nearby table, once again telling the preacher to shut up or else. The minister began to insult the young man and wave his hands in his face. The young man then stepped forward and threw one punch, knocking the minister unconscious.

 

The girls were beside themselves and tried to rouse the preacher. The young West Indian man told us we should go. I thought that was a good idea, so I took each of the girls by the arm and escorted them out.

 

 

Ruhiyyih Khanum and Violette Nakhjavani courtesy of www.bahaihistorycaribbean.info

We spent the rest of the day on the other side of the island raising the requisite number of Assemblies to form the new national jurisdiction.

 

A few days later, we accompanied Amatu’l-Bahá RúhÍyyih Khánum and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavání (wife of Ali Nakhjavání, member of the Universal House of Justice between 1963 and 2003) back to Puerto Rico, after successfully forming a new national identity. Sometime later, I asked the girls if they had experienced any more trouble from the minister, and they told me – not a peep.

 

 

 

 

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Tricia Hague-Barrett: MIRZA MIHDI (The Purest Branch)

THE PASSING OF THE PUREST BRANCH

(147th Anniversary on 23 June 2017)

  • This remarkable account of the sacrifice of the youngest son of Bahá’u’lláh
  • is shared as we remember the anniversary of this event,
  • which took place in the prison city of Akka in 1870
                              Photograph by Tricia Hague-Barrett, 2009

“It is not possible for anyone to visualize the measure of humility and self-effacement and the intensity of devotion and meekness which the Purest Branch evinced in his life.

 

He was a few years younger than the Master, but slightly taller than him. He used to act as Bahá’u’lláh’s amanuensis and was engaged in transcribing the Writings… When he had finished writing he was in the habit of going on to the roof of the barracks for prayers. There was a skylight, an opening in the middle of the roof near where the kitchen was situated. As he was pacing in a state of prayer, attracted to the Kingdom of Abha, with his head turned upwards, he fell through the skylight down on some hard objects. The terrific loud sound of the impact made us all run to the scene of the tragedy where we beheld in astonishment what had happened as decreed by God, and were so shocked as to beat upon our heads. Then the Ancient Beauty came out of his room and asked what he had done which caused his fall. The Purest Branch said that he knew the whereabouts of the skylight and in the past had been careful not to come near it, but this time it was his fate to forget about it.

We carried his precious person to his room and called a doctor who was an Italian, but he could not help… In spite of much pain and agony, and being weak, he warmly greeted those who came to his bedside, showered an abundance of love and favours upon them and apologized to everyone, saying he was ashamed that while they were all sitting, he had to lie down in their presence…(1)

 

Members of the Holy Family and some of the companions gathered around him and all were so distressed and grief-stricken that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with tearful eyes entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, prostrated Himself at His feet and begged for healing. Bahá’u’lláh is reported to have said ‘O my Greatest Branch,[1] leave him in the hands of his God.’ He then proceeded to the bedside of his injured son, dismissed everyone from His presence and stayed beside him for some time. Although no one knows what took place in that precious hour between the lover and the Beloved, we can be sure that this son of Bahá’u’lláh, whose devotion and love for the Cause of His Father knew no bounds, must have been exhilarated by the outpouring of bounties and love from his Lord.
[1 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.]

 

It must be remembered that the relationship of Bahá’u’lláh and the members of His family who remained faithful to the Cause was not identical to the relationship which exists between members of other families. Normally, a father and a son at home have a very intimate and informal attitude towards each other. But in the case of Bahá’u’lláh and His faithful children, it was very different indeed, although that intimate relationship of father and son did indeed exist. However, the station of Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God completely overshadowed His position as a physical father. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf and the Purest Branch looked upon Bahá’u’lláh not merely as their father, but as their Lord. And because they had truly recognized His station, they acted at all times as most humble servants at His threshold. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá always entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh with such genuine humbleness and reverence that no one among His followers could manifest the spirit of lowliness and utter self-effacement as He did. The humility of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as He bowed before His Father, or prostrated Himself at His feet or dismounted His steed when He approached the Mansion in which Bahá’u’lláh resided, demonstrates this unique relationship which existed between this Father and His faithful sons and daughter.

 

In the light of all this we can appreciate how the Purest Branch must have felt when his Father went to his bedside. What expressions of devotion, love and thanksgiving must have passed through his lips on that occasion, we cannot imagine. All we know is that Bahá’u’lláh, having the power of life and death in His hands, asked His dying son whether he wished to live. He assured him that if this was his wish God would enable him to recover and grant him good health. But the Purest Branch begged Bahá’u’lláh to accept his life as a ransom for the opening of the gates of the prison to the face of the many believers who were longing to come and enter the presence of their Lord. Bahá’u’lláh accepted his sacrifice and he died on 23 June 1870, twenty-two hours after his fall.

 

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 3, p. 207)

   

With permission from Claire McGrath, an outstanding song was written and produced by her.

https://www.facebook.com/Bahaiinspired/videos/485645277107/

A chosen sacrifice of one so very young
The son of The Ancient Beauty, prince of meekness
He chose to give his life after a tragic fall
On the wings of detachment it was his fate that day

The tears from his mother were streaming constantly
His family beat their heads to see such tragedy
“Oh please will you heal him?” was his brothers plea
“O my Greatest Branch, leave him in the hands of his God”

His father went to his bedside and asked him of his wish
How such love and meekness did flow from his child’s heart
He asked his Lord to please accept his very life
As a ransom for the believers to see their Beloved’s face

So on that sacred evening, ‘crimson vesture of sacrifice’
When Mirza Mihdi chose to give his life
The cries rose up to the heavens, the casket was carried high
For such a holy being ‘the earth itself trembled in it’s longing to meet thee’ Oh Purest Branch, Mirza Mihdi
‘Blessed art thou and blessed he…that turneth unto thee…’

‘Were we to recount the mysteries of thine ascension,
they that are asleep would waken, and all beings would
be set ablaze with the fire of the remembrance of My Name,
the Mighty, the Loving.’

   

    

  • “BLESSED ART THOU AND BLESSED BE HE THAT
  • TURNETH UNTO THEE AND VISITETH THY GRAVE.”
  Photograph by Tricia Hague-Barrett 2009

 

“The death of the Purest Branch within the confines of the prison created a bitter commotion among the companions who lamented the loss of one of the most illustrious among the family of Bahá’u’lláh. The following is a summary of Husayn-i-Ashchi’s notes:

 

When the Purest Branch passed away, Shaykh Mahmud[1] begged the Master to allow him to have the honour of washing the body and not to let anyone[2] from the city of ‘Akká perform this service. The Master gave permission. A tent was pitched in the middle of the barracks. We placed his blessed body upon a table in the middle of the tent and Shaykh Mahmud began the task of washing it.[3] The loved ones of God were wailing and lamenting with tearful eyes and, like unto moths, were circling around that candle which the hands of God had lighted. I brought water in and was involved in washing the body. The Master was pacing up and down outside the tent. His face betrayed signs of deep sorrow…

 

[1 See pp. 65-7.]
[2 In Islamic countries the body of the dead is washed before being wrapped in a shroud. There are men in every city whose profession is to wash the dead. (A.T.)]
[3 Another person who took part in washing the body was Mirza Hasan-i-Mazindarani, Bahá’u’lláh’s cousin. See p. 216.]

 

The body after being washed and shrouded was placed inside a new casket. At this moment the cry of weeping and mourning and sore lamentation rose up to the heavens. The casket was carried high on the shoulders of men out of the barracks with utmost serenity and majesty. It was laid to rest outside ‘Akká in the graveyard of Nabi Salih… At the time of returning to the barracks an earth tremor shook the area and we all knew that it was the effect of the interment of that holy being.[2]

 

Nabil-i-A’zam has said that he, Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji[1] and Nabil-i-Qa’ini[2] were in Nazareth when the earth tremor occurred. It lasted for about three minutes and people were frightened. Later when they heard the news of the death of the Purest Branch they realized that it coincided with the timing of his burial and then they knew the reason for it. Bahá’u’lláh, in one of His Tablets referring to the Purest Branch, confirms the cause of the earth tremor in these words: 

[1 See vol. 2.]
[2 See pp. 57-8.]

 

Blessed art thou and blessed he that turneth unto thee, and visiteth thy grave, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Lord of all that was and shall be… I testify that thou didst return in meekness unto thine abode. Great is thy blessedness and the blessedness of them that hold fast unto the hem of thy outspread robe… Thou art, verily, the trust of God and His treasure in this land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. When thou wast laid to rest in the earth, the earth itself trembled in its longing to meet thee. Thus hath it been decreed, and yet the people perceive not… Were We to recount the mysteries of thine ascension, they that are asleep would waken, and all beings would be set ablaze with the fire of the remembrance of My Name, the Mighty, the Loving.(3)

 

After his tragic death the saintly mother of the Purest Branch mourned the passing of her beloved son and wept almost incessantly. When Bahá’u’lláh assured her that God had accepted her son as a ransom, that the believers might attain the presence of their Beloved and that mankind as a whole be quickened, that noble mother was consoled and her weeping ceased.

 

The blood-stained clothes of the Purest Branch are among the precious relics gathered by the hands of his devoted sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and left to posterity as a silent witness to this great sacrifice.

 

Soon after the martyrdom of the Purest Branch many restrictions in the barracks were relaxed and several believers who were longing to attain the presence of Bahá’u’lláh did so. And about four months after this tragic event, Bahá’u’lláh and His companions left the prison barracks altogether. As we shall see later, Bahá’u’lláh resided in a house in ‘Akká, and soon many pilgrims from Persia came and attained His presence.

 

In December 1939 Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, in the face of great dangers and difficulties and in the company of a few friends, with great care and with his own hands, removed the remains of the Purest Branch, together with those of his illustrious mother, from two different cemeteries in ‘Akká, and at a profoundly moving ceremony on Christmas Day in the presence of a few believers, carried the caskets on his own shoulders and buried those sacred remains on the slope of Mount Carmel, adjacent to the resting place of the Greatest Holy Leaf and in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Báb.[1]

[1 See Appendix III. ]

 

The death of the Purest Branch must be viewed as Bahá’u’lláh’s own sacrifice, a sacrifice on the same level as the crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Báb. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, states that Bahá’u’lláh has exalted the death of the Purest Branch to the ‘rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn…'(4) In another instance, Shoghi Effendi states(5) that in the Bábí Dispensation, it was the Báb himself who sacrificed His life for the redemption and purification of mankind. In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, it was the Purest Branch who gave his life releasing thereby all the forces necessary for bringing about the unity of mankind.

 

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 3, p. 210)

 

“To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy — the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá’u’lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihran to Baghdad to join his Father after His return from Sulaymaniyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabi’u’l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.”

   

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 188)

 

 

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Tricia Hague-Barrett: To Fulfill A Dream (2004)

Tricia Hague-Barrett: To Fulfill A Dream (2004)
Recording radio programs for Marshall Islands, 2004.

Just recently I have come to realise just how important it is to record the stories of some of the adventures we have
had during our time as Bahá’ís. Time is slipping by and those memories, if not recorded,
will be very difficult to work out later on by historians of the future. 

MY TRIP TO THE MARSHALL ISLANDS

  (52 Radio Programs in a month)

 

Back in 2004, I was invited to go to the Marshall Islands to record 52 x 15 minute radio programs based entirely on the book The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh.  The national Bahá’í governing body (An elected Institution) had compiled the 52 radio scripts, each of which included approx 6 Hidden Words for each programme, and they were topic related.  The rest was up to me.  What they required was a method to properly record and compile them.  Each programme was on a theme.  The virtues were chosen.  e.g., Justice, Compassion, etc.

 

Previous Methods:

The recordings they had tried to make in the Marshall Islands were very difficult to create on a tape recorder.  We tend to forget that recording with the old equipment was very difficult for a number of reasons.  A person would start to read, make an error, then stop, rewind the tape, and then have to do it all again. Sometimes, by accident, they would overwrite the previous recordings of somebody else.  I would imagine that would be very frustrating.   At first I suggested that they send someone to New Zealand to live with us to learn how to create the programs so they could take that knowledge back to the islands, but this was not to be the case.  Instead, they invited me to come to the Islands and record each person in English and in Marshallese.  Not knowing the language would slow me down somewhat, it was a wonderful opportunity to serve the Faith in some small way.   I left New Zealand on a cold winter’s day in August 2004.

        Image result for Where is the Marshall Islands located on the map?

The Marshall Islands:

Atoll – coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely

To give you some information about where I went, I gathered and edited the following information from Wikipedia, as my memory is not as good as it was back then.  There are 29 atolls (each made up of many islets) and 5 islands, which can be divided into two island chains, Ralik Chain and Ratak Chain. Along with other Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands were then consolidated into the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands governed by the United States. Self-government was achieved in 1979, and full sovereignty in 1986, under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.  

This island group consists of over a thousand flat coral islands with white sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons.  They are situated between Fiji and Japan.  

 

On My Way:

I traveled firstly to Fiji, where I stayed overnight, the change in temperature was very noticeable.  I went from 8°C (46.4°F)  to 31°C (87.8°F) in Fiji, and I remember getting on the plane and all of my pores opening up, and boy did I perspire.  (Men sweat, ladies perspire eh?) I slept fitfully while I listened to the frogs outside and saw geckos up close and kinda personal in the hallway to my motel room.  A very early start the following morning I boarded a plane to my destination, Majuro.  All I had seen from the plane on the way to Fiji was vast ocean.  I was going to be in for a wonderful surprise after take off.  The back 10 seats on either side of the small plane was loaded with boxes piled one on top of the other and tied down in a cargo net.  I found out later that these were supplies for one of the outer islands.

     

Oh the gorgeous views

These, as I was too soon discover, were truly magnificent Islands, beckoning visitors with all the promise of a tropical paradise. My view of many islands from the air after leaving Fiji, proved that.  However, I was not there as a tourist but given a missionary status on a temporary 31 day visa.  I would have no time at all for sightseeing.  

 

Picnic on the Beach

A picnic by the sea, Marshall Islands August 2004

On my arrival in Majuro, I was taken to a picnic underneath the trees near the National Bahá’í Office on the largest and main Island of The Republic of Marshall Islands.    The picnic area was very close to the lagoon and even the shade was hot. The whole time I was there the temperature never changed.  

     

The National Baha’i Office

The building was a two-story building close to the Lagoon.  (Plans were in the making for a new building and may have been built by now). It was a very small place and it was situated close to the airport.   

 


Food Poisoning:

I was quite concerned about eating food that I was not accustomed to, having been warned to only eat what I prepared for myself, but at the invitation of the Friends, I ate a spoonful of the raw fish which was in some kind of sauce included with some breadfruit. That turned out to be the worst thing I could have done.  I became very ill that evening and for the next 10 days I had a stomach bug and ended up vomiting, along with other associated problems.  I had to fight to keep working on the project from day one. Talk about being tested, but like all things hard to do, I remembered the book written by Mr. Faizi about the passing of The Beloved Guardian, and the story of Magellan and the statement, “Carry on, go forward!” paraphrasing as I cannot find the book to quote it.  

     
On my arrival:

I was very tired, and the conditions under which I stayed were made bearable with a cooling unit in the motel room that they put me up in, although the first morning I awoke frozen after having slept with the cold air wafting over me all night. I brought my computer to the islands, along with CDs full of Baha’i songs and music, microphones, cords and empty CDs.  The Bahá’ís of Majuro had purchased a brand new computer which I was able to use as well.  

     

The weather 

Well, the weather was amazing.  From clear blue sky to raining many times a day leaving puddles in the street (there was only one street).  I was amazed that the puddles would dry up in such a short amount of time. The biggest problem for me, apart from my illness, was the heat and I just did not become acclimatized to it while there.  

 

The National Council had asked me to record all of the Hidden Words during my stay and were expecting me to record everybody, take all the recordings back to New Zealand and make the programs for them. Working with radio since 1999, I had enough experience under my belt to know just how long it takes to make a radio program. The programs that we were making were 2 hours long in New Zealand at that time, so I was quite confident that I could not only record all the programs but complete them while I was there. as long as nothing went wrong. My first job was to put together a sample of how it would go together, which I accomplished in the first week. (Sick as a dog)
 

On the first night, I went to my motel room and I could hear someone singing along with a guitar. I went out onto the porch and, lo and behold, there was a group of children sitting below my deck singing beautifully. I stood there for a long time listening. At the end of the last song someone said, “Allah’u’Abhá!”. “Oh my goodness me!” I leaned over and saw the children chattering away to themselves in their native language.  I couldn’t help myself,  I said “Hello how are you!” and asked, “Are you members of the Baha’i Faith?”  “Yes!” someone replied in English.   I asked if there were many Bahá’ís in the area and they said, “Yes!”  that nearly every home in this area was a Bahá’í home and that there were about 500 believers.   

 

I realized that I would have to go in search of Voices to record.  At that stage, I didn’t have the programs and did not know the format. The secretary gave me 6 of the projected programmes and I started work.  I stayed in my motel room much of the time, and just put my back into it, so to speak.  I did have the opportunity to attend a Feast at the home of Irene Taafaki, the wonderful soul who had instigated this project.  She and her dear husband lived opposite the motel.  The warmth of these Island people was amazing, the joy they bestowed on me was heavenly.  

 

After a total 7 days of no recording, suddenly everything started working. As difficult as it had been to get people to start recording for me, we were now ripping through the Hidden Words.  I was excited to be able to attend a cluster meeting and hear all the conversations going on. The women made an amazing crown for my head out of the beautiful flowers they had collected and put it on my head at the end of the cluster meeting.  Quite an emotional trip this was turning out to be.

 

Baha’is were dropping in to start recording all day long. We recorded in both English and Marshallese. These generous souls were giving their time and effort to the Blessed Beauty. Thank God I was almost at the end of my illness.  Now it was full on, day by day until all 153 Hidden Words had been recorded.  I fell in love with these absolutely beautiful people.

   

I had the honor of meeting the very first believer in the Marshall Islands, and recording a conversation with her, although she became a Bahá’í while nursing in Fiji.  Unfortunately I cannot remember Betra’s other name now, but she wrote in my book, “Trish, I learned a lot from you within a few moments. I shall cherish all our moments, and working together for the Blessed Beauty.” Betra.
This wonderful singer would sing on the landing outside my motel room, and I recorded their music. One day I shall share them in a video presentation perhaps.

  

All I had to do was choose the music, and set up and record all of the introductions, in both languages, and finalize the programs and write the CD’s. You can watch a couple of samples of the radio programs on my YouTube channel here.  

 

Farewell Party

On the last night of my adventure, they put on a farewell party for me. As far as they were concerned, I had recorded all of the Hidden Words and they were being taken back to New Zealand to be created as radio programs. I finished the CDs and boxed them and tied them up with a ribbon and still had 15 minutes till the party began.  You see, as each program was finished, developed, and placed onto a CD and by the time the 31 days were up, the last program was completed.   I could hardly wait to see their beautiful faces upon receiving them.

 

An assortment of beautiful Marshallese Art

And what a farewell party that was. In addition to the Chairperson and Secretary of The National Spiritual Assembly of The Marshall Islands, a number of other people spoke in Marshallese which I didn’t understand fully. I was given a seat in the middle of the room, and slowly the friends got up and came and pinned their gifts on me.  Some necklaces were put around my neck, and other items were pinned to my dress.  Some of the most extraordinary artwork from their country including small bouquets of flowers were gifted to me, even Island dresses were given to me by one handmaiden of Bahá. They each hugged me as they said their farewells.  I was so overwhelmed with their love.

 

A necklace of shells

 

When it came time for me to present to them what they had achieved, I commented about their hospitality. love and willingness to serve Bahá’u’lláh along with a number of other things that I now cannot remember.  I gave a gift from the Hamilton Baha’i community which was a beautiful blue and green glass koru for the National Baha’i office and presented to the Secretary the box of the programs for a year.

 

A bread tray

I was truly overwhelmed by the love that they showed me and I was so excited about having completed the work that I had set out to do.  Tears were shed by me, and by many of the friends that evening.

 

I was to fly home the next day. One of the gifts that I received from one from the friends was 3 Birds created out of woven flax from the coconut tree I believe. The large bird was to ensure that I was safely returned to my home. The two baby birds were given to me to bring me back to the Marshall Islands in the future.

 

Oh how I wish I could go back there. I left my heart there amongst the friends in my newly found family.

 

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