Thursday, July 16, 2009

Noida Branch Service Project

President Smith thought the branch doing service projects would be a good idea. On Saturday, June 27, 2009, we had a project to clean up the trash in a park through the block behind where we meet for church. It was well organized and our two newest members helped significantly in obtaining gloves and bags to use for the project.

You would need to understand the culture here to appreciate the significance of having 3 of our Indian members join in and pick up trash. A couple of things to note. It is endemic, at almost all levels of society, that when you unwrap something, the wrapping goes on the ground, no matter where you are. Even when we were getting ready to begin our pickup, several in the group unwrapped their gloves and not thinking just let the packaging fall where they were. I laughed and said are we here to pick up or put down. There were a couple of smiles and embarrassed looks as they realized what they had done. It is going to be a hard cultural habit to break, but I see signs of change as some have taken an interest in keeping the church building picked up. In addition, there were no trash containers (dust bins) in the park, so even if the practice could change, there are still barriers to facilitating that change.

The most significant thing is that what we were doing, picking up trash, is considered beneath most Indians. Sister Tanner in taking pictures invited the young men to join us and those that understood English immediately got a "you've got to be kidding" look on their face. I am so proud of Robin, who spoke to a group explaining what our service was about, and Kunal and Surap, for going out in front of their peers and working with us. Actually, not their peers, these three young men, in my book, are superior to those who sat and watched.

We met at the church and then walked around the block to the park. When the white faces showed up (7 missionaries and 7 Smiths), there were maybe 15 people in the park, mainly in the shade. Within minutes, people began coming over the wall on the far side, and from the street behind us, to see what was going on. We must have had a hundred or so watching us while we picked up and bagged trash for an hour. And did I say it was hot? Over a hundred, and only 9:30 AM.

Afterwards, we went back to the branch building to cool down, clean up a little, and enjoy some cinnamon rolls that Sister Tanner had made. Yummmm!! She performs miracles in her little Easy Bake oven. Overall, a very good time for those that could come.

Pictures from the activity:

Some of our audience observing.

Come on guys, it really is fun ... and it's your park.

Elder Erekson, Robin, Elder Shepherd

Grandpa Smith, living with the Smiths now and less than a week in the country, and Aaron, his grandson.

Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Hannah Smith, great young ladies!!

Sarup and Elder Swansborough (our Aussie elder)

Elder Barrick, Elder Erekson

Ben Smith, Elder Chilumula

Senior trash compactor.

Robin (Ammon) explaining what we were doing.

Kids and cameras go together. Can't use car tires for swings, they don't take them off the cars until they're shredded, ha! We been in several taxis that were running on absolutely baby skin smooth tires.
Note the boy with the cricket bat in the background, see below.

No matter how hot, when the work is done, you've got to play a little. I had wondered how I'd do at cricket. I did manage to get the bat on the ball on everything bowled (pitched) to me.

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