When I was serving at the Baha’i World Center in Israel from 2006-2008, I needed to leave the country to renew my visa, and I was also due for a vacation. I didn’t have much money, so I decided to go visit my friend Lorenia, who I had met online through our blogs and who had just recently become a member of the Baha’i Faith. We had never met in person, but she was living on the northern coast of Spain at the time and I decided to take a chance and take a week-long trip to stay with her.
Luckily, she wasn’t a criminal, and in fact, has become one of my closest friends (oh my goodness, look how young we were!). The timing was great, as it was October and we were able to attend many Baha’i activities in the local Baha’i community. We went to a study circle, Feast, the regional unit convention, and the celebration of the Birth of the Bab in the week that I was there!
Attending the regional convention was a magical experience. We left Gijon when it was still dark, early in the morning, and drove to a farm somewhere in the country. The roads were winding, the fences were made of stone, and a light fog swirled through the farms and trees. When we arrived we went to this guest house where chairs and tables were set out and there were snacks. I couldn’t follow most of the conversation, but every gathering we attended was full of love…and really amazing food.
For the Birth of the Bab celebration, we went to the home of one of the relatives of the Bab, which made it even more special, where platters of food were shared and we spent the entire day hanging out, speaking a mixture of Persian, English, and Spanish, and meeting new people. They spent much of their time trying to convince me to move there…which was tempting, given how beautiful it was there and how lovely the people were.
The experience of being immediately embraced by this community of people who knew nothing about me is something that I have experienced my entire life, yet is hard to explain to people who don’t know what that feels like. It is like having aunts, uncles, and cousins where ever I go in the world, and I’ve never felt truly alone. This is a gift that I am eternally grateful for.