Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Across Australia young people are participating in an endeavour that strives to give them a voice in today’s society. Through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, these junior youth groups are enhancing their power of expression, sharpening their spiritual perception, analysing the constructive and destructive forces of society and changing their surroundings through the service projects.
Mine Rich in Gems: Resources & Activities for Teaching Children & Junior Youth
Mine Rich in Gems is an incredible resource for teaching children and junior youth (from the ages of 2-14). Created by a family team made up of wife and husband, Lili and Wei, along with daughters, Kati and Christi, Mine Rich in Gems offers downloadable Baha’i-inspired activity booklets and materials in support of Feasts, Holy Day celebrations, children’s classes, home visits and other occasions. These resources are jam-packed with stories, games, puzzles and coloring sheets.
I got in touch with the team behind Mine Rich in Gems to find out more about how they came together and what they’re working on. Here’s what they shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
My first desire was to share my mom’s teaching materials with the world. Also, I have always wanted to build bridges between people and the resources they need to be fully engaged leaders of community. When my sister Kati offered to get on board with her strong project management skills, I became more interested in developing a family business. I was also at a career juncture developing marketing and business skills.
I’m a part of a family team of four, dedicated to developing resources. It’s been incredibly challenging and rewarding since we started on February 14, 2017. I’m constantly learning about our communication styles, and what makes us feel aligned with each other and our shared goals. I really love connecting with our customers and collaborators. It has been a constant learning effort. Love is needed, even if just a little at a time.
In 2014, my family and I moved to Iowa, and in that move, I could keep my employment in a job that I truly was cut out for and loved. In 2017, there was a change in management and I was told that the long-distance arrangement was no longer going to work. While I looked for other employment in Iowa, I did not find anything as inspiring as what I was leaving. It was in that same timeframe that my mom suggested that maybe this is divine intervention. Maybe this is an opportunity for us to share her and Wei’s decades of work. After much discussion with Christi, Mom, and Wei, we all agreed that this could be something very beneficial to us and to the world. We formed InnerPrize Group, LLC and the Mine Rich in Gems division was formed branding our Baha’i content.
Since Lili and I married in 2000, we have been blessed to serve the friends in one way or another, via study circles, children’s classes, creating and directing children’s plays for Baha’i summer schools and Naw-Ruz celebrations, etc. I am in deepest gratitude for Lili to have agreed to be my “consort through all the worlds of God” for spending the most of the last 20 years, minus a few years when she had to be with her father, helping my mother with her eventual transition to the Abha Kingdom. Recently, we moved from Singapore to Ankeny, IA. It is one her greatest joys in life to be close to her girls. I am glad that she can be close to two of her four daughters and that the four of us are able to dedicate time and effort to serve the friends via Mine Rich in Gems.
I am blessed to be able to work for the Cause in ways that serve the friends and then the double blessing of working with my husband and two of my children. When we agreed to enter this venture, we had no idea where it would take us. It truly has been a learning experience. It makes me really happy to have a purpose with Mine Rich in Gems.
Baha’i Blog: Could you tell us a little about Mine Rich in Gems?
The name “Mine Rich in Gems” came from my favorite quote, “The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems…”. We offered an illustrated poster of this quote as a free gift to commemorate the bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth. Originally, I illustrated this quote to be a puzzle. It was made to help 3 to 8 year old children understand their spiritual nature and prepare them for the lessons of grade 1. The puzzle was cut into 24 tiles. The quote is on one side and 24 virtues from Ruhi Book 3 Teaching Children’s Classes Grade 1 lessons is on the other (you can see it in this YouTube video). The puzzle provides a focus for learning through games. Seeing children light up with joy as they contemplate their spiritual reality as gems of inestimable value, discovering that their gems are within, and are their true nature, truly confirmed me that children can handle the direct study of the Word of God. It was magical.
At first we started publishing mainstream children’s books, such as Maxie’s Monster and the Jar of Stars,that we could sell say, at my nephew’s elementary school. We call this brand, “Auntie Lili’s Books & Things”, because the friends in Singapore called Mom Auntie Lili. But when we shared the Mine Rich in Gems poster, that gave us our name for our Baha’i-inspired creations imprint.
Mine Rich in Gems was created as a branding for our Baha’i content. Mom and Wei had developed so many wonderful children’s class tools, games, plays, and activities over the years. Our goal has been to figure out how to make them available to Baha’i’s all over the world. We shared a few items on our website and started posting on social media. At some point, Mom shared an idea about giving Baha’i kids something to do during Feast. I was a bit hesitant at first because we were so busy with starting a new business, fine tuning lots of projects for Auntie Lili’s Books & Things as well as Mine Rich in Gems, and figuring out how to start and run a new business that none of us had any experience in. But the idea really resonated with all of us and seemed like a natural product for us to offer. We agreed with the understanding that if we were going to start, we had to commit to one full year… then two years… And what a year each has been! The structure, theme, and concept behind our little publication has evolved quite a lot and we have received so much wonderful feedback! We are so grateful that our little idea has been helpful to so many adults and children in Baha’i communities around the world. It is truly inspiring!
Baha’i Blog: What resources are found on the site?
We have the “Gems” poster and puzzle. We have a 47-page coloring and activity paperback workbook called “Blessed Is the Spot”. We have two full years of “19 Day Feast Pages for Kids” workbooks. That’s 40 workbooks. One set is theme “Introduction to the Baha’i Months and Holy Days”. The other volume is called “Lionhearts from the Time of the Bab”. These “Pages” are monthly 14-20 page workbooks containing a set of activities for each Baha’i month and one for Ayyam-i-Ha. Teachers and parents can download them all or individually or order them bundled together in paperbacks. Under “Auntie Lili’s Books and Things” we have children’s books that address spiritual and character development for everyone. Although the books are inspired by Baha’i teachings they don’t mention religions or scripture directly. Our first story book, Maxie’s Monster and the Jar of Stars, is based on the prayer, “O God guide me.” It was written for kids to understand their two natures and ask God to guide them.
We often refer to these 19 Day Feast Pages for Kids workbook pages as “FPFK”. FPFK provides fun activities and stories that kids can engage with during feast each month. The theme of this our first volume is the Baha’i calendar and special days we acknowledge throughout the year. The second volume’s theme revolves around stories of the “Lionhearts from the time of the Bab”. It familiarizes children on the key events leading up to the time of Baha’u’llah. Each volume can be used by communities, regardless of when they come across it. And they can be used year after year. We have heard the content is super helpful for Baha’i children and even many adults, new and veteran Baha’is alike.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned during the process of working on this site?
It is challenging to work in teams but is the best way to live! It’s amazing what we have created. It’s beyond our imaginations. “If any man were to meditate on that which the Scriptures, sent down from the heaven of God’s holy Will, have revealed, he would readily recognize that their purpose is that all men shall be regarded as one soul, so that the seal bearing the words ‘The Kingdom shall be God’s’ may be stamped on every heart, and the light of Divine bounty, of grace, and mercy may envelop all mankind.” There is so much to do together and we are learning how to work better as a team so that we can open up our family circle to include many, many more friends.
I don’t think we really understood what we were getting ourselves into when we started this. The learning curve has been overwhelming at times. With so many creative minds on this team, sometimes we need to pull back and think about the tasks that need to be accomplished to get an idea started and completed. This is helpful to stay on task. Sometimes we must move on from a good idea because we really don’t have time to devote to it. It is helpful to jot those ideas down in what we call our “Parking Lot” to return to it someday when our project load allows.
Baha’i Blog: How have people responded to the site?
We are getting more and more visitors and folks leave comments that really fuel our desire to do more for them. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that we are helping in some way. Slowly people have responded. We are learning how to read what people need and want. The emails or comments on Facebook, Instagram or even our website (minerichingems.com) have been so encouraging. We are learning how to pray, meditate, consult and act and reflect on real ways to help a parent, grandparent, teacher, animator or coordinator support spiritual education in their neighborhoods. We have been so confirmed in this work.
It is truly inspiring to hear from our subscribers new and old! We have heard from friends all around the world and it is always heartwarming to learn we have someone using our materials in another country. We have heard from friends in places like Japan, Australia and even Yemen!
Baha’i Blog: Thank you Lili, Wei, Kati and Christi for taking the time to chat with us.
You can find out more about Mine Rich and Gems and their products from their website: minerichingems.com Stay updated with their latest developments by signing up for their 19-day newsletter and following them on Facebook and Instagram.
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.