One afternoon in Tikipunga, Whangarei
Bella’s class had 10 children come this lovely August afternoon with a touch of spring battling the last chills of winter. It was a busy and joyous time with prayers, memorisation, snacks, stories and painting. Some of the children were new, others have been coming for terms, but all felt very welcome. They were studying truthfulness and sincerity – Grade 1, Lesson 8 specifically!
All the “Tiki” classes are unique, and there were some special moments at this one. Two young boys who sometimes come, stay for the snacks and then depart as the class settles down to study, this time decided to stay for the whole class! Not only did they participate but one of them recited a short prayer from memory at the end of class – he has been listening and absorbing! Some of the regular students recited the whole prayer “Oh Thou Kind Lord! I am a little child…” from memory for the first time.
There were three new children today, and it was a joy to watch the “regulars” take care of them at art and ensure the paints were shared and there was plenty of clean water to rinse the brushes in. Sharing and caring! Bella always encourages these emerging spiritual qualities – the developing sense of unity is the most important outcome of her efforts.
All the children come from the houses near Bella’s family home in the heart of Tikipunga, and all walk to her classes. Sometimes, like today, the teachers have to be very careful and ensure the children have told their parents where they are, and spend time home visiting new parents. These new students had told “Uncle Johnny” they were coming to class with their neighbours’ children, but when Grandma Sara was walking them home to greet the parents she found out Uncle Johnny hadn’t passed on the message. Nevertheless, the parents were happy to hear about the class, and the mother would like to become involved.
Bella is a student at the local high school and has been running this class for 18 months now, since she completed study of Ruhi Book 3 at an intensive wānanga (she started in a study circle in her neighbourhood but completed it with a cohort of youth over a summer intensive). She has been accompanied by Sara (a seasoned campaigner), who now just brings the snacks and helps when individual children may need special encouragement. Tim, another youth graduate of the wānanga has been assisting from outside the neighbourhood. It is a goal of the little group to invite one of the young mothers to study and take over the class; then Bella would be able to introduce the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme to her community – as she has completed Book 5 at a recent intensive wānanga.