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Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We had a wonderful Christmas program today. Our entire branch was the choir seated where they were as Sister Tanner put together a series of scriptures read by members with Christmas carols sung by the congregation in between. For us it brought the spirit and that is all you expect or need in a service. After our block was over, we had a baptismal service, the first since August. The Kol family, and another first for our branch, a complete family, was baptized. The weather even cooperated as the sun was out and it wasn't as cold as it had been.
Joseph, Dennis, and Robin, members of our branch and Melchizedek priesthood holders, performed the baptisms. They had all been to the Kuls with the elders during teaching visits and the family recognized they had the same priesthood as the missionary elders.
The four members in front, are cousins, a sister, and mother, the Peters, from the Delhi Dwarka branch who came to Noida to support their relatives. Vishal Peter, left front, was on the youth service project the day before.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We met at the Vasant Vihar building at 8:00 AM to assemble hygiene kits that were then to be delivered to 109 children at a home in Gurgaon, the Deepalaya Gusbethi. The children there are not all orphans, some came from "distressed" homes, others had been picked up from the streets and the railway stations. At the home, they have a school, are being taught life skills, and have food and a place to sleep. This was the first Area initiative humanitarian project we had undertaken, but only because our plate was already full with major initiatives. Sister Tanner, the District YW President and the District YM President, Praveen Beesa, wanted to have a youth service activity before Christmas. Sister Tanner turned to a good missionary she knew to work up a project request in order to obtain funding. It took a little time for the project request process to be completed, but we got approval and then went after the needed goods. Actually, the timeline was such we went after the goods and still haven't gotten the money, but it is there. Just some of the behind the scenes things that are not apparent in the blog posts.
After we arrived and went to the courtyard, the children, who had been involved games outside, came in. After everyone was settled and introductions completed, our youth sangs carols to the children and we were serenaded in return (see a video at the end of the post). That was followed by a couple of hygiene demonstrations, then some fun and games together. After all of that, our youth distributed the hygiene kits and blankets to some excited young people, some who showed it more than others.
We see so much abject poverty on the streets and children living in horrible conditions that it was good to see some that had been rescued and were being given hope through the charity and love of others who founded the Deepalaya organization and raise funds to keep this home and several others going.
One other vignette to share. Max, 7, the young son of Brother Beesa, came with his father and on his own initiative brought his best toys and gave them to some of the boys there. He really was into the spirit of the project and did something that speaks volumes. And a little child shall lead them ...
Each hygiene kit had 2 hand towels, 2 toothbrushes, a tube of tooth paste, 2 bars of soap, and a comb.
Bagged and ready to load the bus.
Sister Tanner and I both wished we could take some of these little ones home with us.
The children were given instruction in washing their hands for as long as it took to sing Happy Birthday, a song they all knew. It gave a time reference for how long you should rub with the soap on your hands. Here they are following Sister Tanner by washing their hands to the song.
A couple of our young men provided instruction and a demonstration on the proper way to brush your teeth. Up and down.
See the hokey pokey video at the end.
I don't care what language they speak or what age they are, Sister Tanner has a gift for teaching and connecting with the young.
In addition to the hygiene kits, each child was also given a blanket. Here they are being readied before being distributed. These were really good quality fleece like blankets that were oh so soft to touch, but heavy enough to provide warmth on cold nights.
There were smiles and excitement from many when the hygiene kits and blankets were distributed.
And we couldn't go without a treat as each child was given a piece of Christmas cake.
Our youth standing behind the children after they all got organized for this group picture.
Sister Tanner said she saw several of the young ones who were sitting on their blankets that had worked a hole in the plastic carry bag and had their hands inside just stroking the soft blanket with their fingers.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The Smith Family left a Christmas tree behind so it is now the branch's Christmas tree and we had fun sharing the basics of making paper chains for our tree decorations. I think the elders were modeling some of the completed chains, but I'm not sure. We played games, sang Christmas carols around the tree with the lights on, were surprised by a jolly old guest, and enjoyed some wonderful treats. When the branch president returned, everyone told him about the Santa Claus that came while he was gone. Too bad he missed the jolly old guy.
For many who were there, Christian and Hindu, it was their first Christmas tree experience and many took the opportunity to take group pictures around the tree. It was a very successful activity. Enjoy the pictures and have a few laughs, we certainly did!
Having some fun with the "chain gang".
Two smiles to warm your heart.
Roma, her friend, and Nittin doing the chains.
Decorating a Christmas tree was a new experience for almost all of the branch members.
One of the relay races scooping up and carrying candies on a spoon to the other end of the room.
A group shot of those who attended including 2 of the building's security guards.
Joseph and Santa
Think she's impressed with Santa's beard?
Archana's little girl is not impressed with a Santa who can't put his beard on right.
Subash and Usha. I think Subash was worried about breaking Santa's knee.
Rikki Kul and Sister Sheila Hukil. The Santa gig was fun and I was surprised by how everyone really got into the spirit of it.
Uma doesn't need to worry about breaking anyone's knee.
Anil Verma, a good friend of E/S Tanner who came with Sonu and Gauri, his niece and daughter.
Come on Sangita Kul, lighten up. She did and actually has a beautiful smile.
Rajat Kul is a little better than his sister in the smile department.
Hmmm, what do you know Dennis that I don't know?
Gauri, you definitely are the life of the party.
Brother and Sister Kul to be. The serious smiles seem to run in the family.
This young man I need to apologize to since I forgot his name.
Nitin, Santa wants your hair for Christmas.
Barnad, love the hat and belt buckle.
Dhirendra (Robin), now there is a smile that won't quit.
Roma Hukil, a young member who brings joy with her smile.
Mena and her friend.
Ajit Singh and the Claus guy.
Sonu, usually Ms Serious with a break out photo.