Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prelude to a Wedding and Conferences

February 4, 2009

We had an invitation to lunch with Atul Dev at the Gymkhana Club, a very upscale club that the British built back when and now is wholly Indian. Atul told me it takes about 13 years to work your way up the waiting list to apply for membership. It turned out the occasion was a combination business/personal lunch. We briefly touched on the Rotary/LDSC dam projects, but mainly just relaxed and enjoyed a storied setting and good food. The personal part of the lunch came later when Atul invited us, Tanners and Browns, to attend his son's upcoming wedding. Elder and Sister Brown became involved with Atul when they carried the check dam project until we arrived. The other person in the lunch photo is Atul's friend Premila. The ladies managed to arrange a shopping trip for the Monday after the wedding, so consider this Delhi trip a success all the way around.

Sister Tanner has a new friend.

L-R Elder Tanner, Premila, Atul, Elder Brown, Sister Brown, Sister Tanner

February 9, 2009 after District meeting we treated the elders to lunch at the Noodle Bar, one of our favorite eating places. It is in the Great India Mall in Sector 18. I think we managed to fill them up.

In preparation for Branch conference on the 15th, Sister Tanner persuaded the elders to sing a number in Sacrament meeting. Practice, practice, ... Sister Tanner has also been asked to conduct the music and organize a choir for District conference on the 22nd.

February 15, 2009
We had a full house for branch conference thanks to all the visitors from the District. There was standing room only in the back. It was nice to see our little room so full. The branch has struggled a bit for the past couple of months. The Noida Branch sustainings didn't take long, but it was a very spiritual meeting. That is one constant in our little branch, the spirit is always there, and the investigators that attend almost always comment on it.
Our elder's quorum president, Prabkhar, went back to his "native place" down south to obtain work that he could not get in the Delhi/Noida area. The good news is we've kept track of him and he connected with E/S LaDuke in Hyderabad. Last week I got an email that he finally was hired as a lecturer in a technical college. He has a degree in software engineering. Then this week we learned that our branch clerk is moving to the Gurgaon area to cut 1.5 hours each way off his commute to work. Can't blame someone for not wanting to live on a bus. He has already contacted people and will attend another branch on the Delhi side, but bummer again. We know there are elect people out there waiting for us to find them, and that will happen. Our elders are a dedicated group and we are blessed with some great young men. Elder Joseph, on the left in the picture above, was our district leader. He completed a successful mission and returned home Tuesday. Happy Elder Joseph. His smile was so infectious. Sister Tanner was in tears saying goodbye, shoot, count me in on that one too.
February 21-22, 2009
We had a visiting area seventy, Elder Subandriyo from Jakarta, Indonesia, as our visiting authority. Saturday, we had priesthood and auxiliary training sessions at 4 PM and an adult meeting at 6 PM. What great meetings they were. Elder Subandriyo is one who definitely can relate to the members here. His background and story is one of living in similar conditions, working construction for peanuts, finding the church, going on a mission, then marriage and living in a 1 room abode, etc. He shared a lot of personal stories with spiritual impact and had a great sense of humor. What a blessing it was to be able to attend. After the meeting, Sister Tanner had her one choir rehearsal. She had contacted someone in each branch and asked them to practice with those interested and we would have this one opportunity to get together before conference. Sister Tanner was really happy with the way the choir sounded. President Smith sang a solo for the first verse of "I Believe in Christ", 2nd verse the ladies, 3rd verse the men, each in unison, then we did parts for the 4th verse, something that doesn't happen in India, so we'd been told, but it worked this time.
Sunday's conference session was held in a rented hall and there were over 300 in attendance. It is going to take a larger facility the next time. The Noida Branch came in a bus, all 33 of us. The Smith family 9, 8 Indian members, 8 missionaries, and 8 investigators. It was a great meeting with Sister Tanner beaming on the platform and leading the music and Elder Tanner sitting in the first row beaming at Sister Tanner, ok, enough of that. All of the talks were excellent. The choir performed very well and there were comments about the Delhinacle choir. Sister Tanner just amazes me with her ability to get the best out of people and in such a fun and loving way.
Elder Subandriyo must have saved the best for last because he again touched everyone there and connected with them. One interesting wrinkle was a request that all members who had been in the church for less than a year were asked to remain after everyone else left. He held a mini-meeting with those that stayed. He had the branch presidents introduce each member and state their branch calling. A subtle touch/reminder to get them called and involved. I remember one family that was introduced and was going to be baptized that afternoon, Elder Subandriyo had visited them and some others in their humble homes on Saturday. What an outstanding man. One note he shared in his talk in an effort to encourage the members to seek to progress and to demonstrate that obstacles can be overcome - he received a law degree the previous week at the age of either 49 or 50, not sure.
We went home on the bus and then took a taxi back to the Browns in Dwaka and we went to the wedding together. After the wedding, we stayed overnight with the Browns. They had graciously invited us earlier to stay because it would be so late after the wedding and the sisters had shopping "game on" for Monday.

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