Monday, August 31, 2009

A Thought to End the Month

or to begin September with.

At district meeting today, one discussion had been on how to get members and investigators to church on time. As we were concluding, Elder Smith shared the following experience from his time in Dwarka.

Elder Smith and his companion noticed that an investigator and his family had come to church early 2 Sundays in a row, something that would definitely stand out here in India. In a conversation with the man, without the elders directly asking him why, he shared the following.

He was someone who made calls on clients in his job and always made sure he was at least 5 minutes early for any appointment because he did not want to waste their valuable time. He continued that he considered coming to church to be an appointment with God and he did not ever want to be late for his appointment.

As a postscript, the family did join the church and they continue to set a great example for others in terms of consistently arriving early.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Movie for You

I made a movie from some video clips shot on August 13th when we took an auto home from our interviews with President Jackson at the Lajpat Nagar, Delhi 1st Branch, building. We're still experimenting and learning to use the camera and media tools.

When you see our neighborhood, note all of the cars and how blessed we are to live in what would be considered an upscale sector in Noida. I included a little clip where you see me with a billfold. When I use it, there is never anything in it except money and very little of that on this day as you'll hear if you listen carefully.

Be patient, it takes a while to download the movie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August Wrap ... almost

We now have an online system, CHaS, to administer the humanitarian projects. I've had some fun getting certified and providing feedback on a few bugs and data problems, but it is a good application and will really be a help in handing off projects as missionaries come and go since the records will now be primarily online and available, especially the financial accounting information on budgets and expenditures. Love it!! This was something we heard about in the MTC almost a year ago, but it is finally in the field now in Asia.

We had a birthday dinner for Elder Schade Sunday, August 9th after church and were joined by l-r, Elder Shepherd, Francis, Elder Swanborough, Robin, Elder Barrick, Matthew, Elder Erekson, Dennis, Arpit, Elder Chilumula, Elder Schade, Elder Tanner.

We had real beef hamburgers with all the fixings and the elders were blown away by Sister Tanner's efforts and resourcefulness. First burger in over a year for us. What a great meal!!!

Elders Chilumula and Swanborough completed their missions on Wednesday, August 12th. They are great elders who worked hard in serving their Lord and we will really miss them.

For a long time Sister Tanner had wanted to capture one of our larger cockroaches. The other night she had her chance and made good with her pinned trophy. That is an American quarter for size comparison. Not the largest roach we've seen, but big enough to make me wonder when I walk into the bathroom at night barefooted in the dark.

The toreador didn't forget his cape, I was actually checking to see if the bull would look up, but it does make an interesting picture.

Our entire mission at Zone conference on August 14th. President and Sister Jackson are in the middle. Two seniors didn't get the memo on wearing coats - ha!

This is another long awaited picture opportunity. Sister Tanner had wanted a picture of some of the children going home after school in the bicycle "busses". Today we had the camera and the opportunity.

Back packs just like the states, but this mode saves the shoulders and back.

Another Sunday dinner and Sister Tanner outdid herself one more time. It was a swiss steak type main dish, with tons of mashed potatoes, real jello, sweet carrots (brown sugar does it), and blue berry muffins. Our new elders, Willie and Smith to my right, were blown away with the food. We ate 5 kilos (11 lbs) of potatoes and gravy and was everyone ...

completely stuffed or what?

Rakhi is a holiday in India where sisters give brothers a string they tie on their wrist and ask for their protection. Young women without brothers can give the string to a cousin or someone else that is close to them. The brothers in turn give the sister(s) a gift and a promise of their protection. This one of the little customs here in India that we both really like. Robin received over 20 strings from his sisters and cousins and Sister Tanner. He'll wear them until Diwali, the religious holidays in September this year.

Sister Tanner and her gift of "sweets" from her "brother" Robin.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Little Things That Count

Friday, July 31, 2009, the District elders organized a ‘workshop’ at the main entrance to a housing area in Sector 53. Elders Swanborough and Erekson had worked hard to get permission from the RWA (Residents Welfare Association) president to put this on. Its success or failure would determine whether they could get in to teach people in the housing area. They would not be allowed to knock on doors or cruise the area contacting under any circumstances. The activity would run from 5-8 PM and Sister Tanner and I and Robin were recruited to help.

Sister Tanner had an English lesson with Gauri Verma in the afternoon and her father, Anil, and Cousin Sonu came with her. We had a fun little birthday party before the lesson. It was Anil’s birthday and they brought their own cake which a chocolate lover would have died for. We had been invited to go with them to dinner at their club and we agreed we would do that after our commitment with the elders was over. Anil volunteered to drive us down and come pick us up. What a deal!

We arrived on time at 5 PM and there was a table set up just inside the entrance with all of the standard English pamphlets and a couple of them in Hindi. They had a TV and DVD player set up in a room close by to show Man’s Search for Happiness and other church videos. We manned the table and the elders went out to invite people over. The first hour was fairly slow, but then things picked up and the last 2 hours were non-stop. Our objective was to get people to agree to have the elders come to their flat to share more information. And that would be done by giving us their name and contact information on a slip of paper we had available. Robin is such a natural at contacting and talking to people, we sure hope he is able to somehow work things out to go on a mission. He would be fantastic and what a future leader when he returned. He got the first 2 contacts. Sister Tanner is a wonder when it comes to the ladies here. They love her and would come to the table when they saw her smile.

After a while you forget the heat, sweat, and flies that can’t resist your ears, and just get lost in meeting people and the conversation. There were a total of 17 contacts obtained - a very successful event. Once everything was packed up, we headed off with Anil and his family who had returned to pick us up. We were able to freshen up at the club and enjoyed dinner and their company. When we finally got home, we found a large Nestle gift package leaning against our door. It was an anonymous thank you from the District missionaries. We love our elders!

Sunday, August 02, 2009, was another milestone day for our little Noida Branch. From meeting last year as a group for 2 hours, Sacrament meeting and Sunday School, to being a branch with the full 3 hour block was a significant change, and challenge. Talk to the Smith children who went from a 1 to a 2 hour Primary, or maybe Sister Smith would be a better source. Today’s change was more subtle, but it merits being noted as a milestone. For the first time in Noida history, we had opening exercises in Priesthood meeting and then separated to our quorums, well, actually just separated those under 18 from the rest, but it was a separation none the less.

Last Sunday, one of our new members, Dennis, was called as the Young Men’s President with Ben Smith as his 1st counselor, and they were both ready to go today. Ben is no longer the Lone Ranger in the Young Men as he has been joined by Sourap and Kunal, brothers, and our investigator Arpit who yearns to be baptized, but cannot due to a family situation that prevents it. It was great to see the young men go to their own room and have a lesson. Some reading this might be wondering about our mental state going on about a separation, but we take great satisfaction in noting the little signs of growth as they occur. Think of parents going on about the first step of a child. Sister Tanner and I are grateful to see any and all steps in Noida of whatever size or means.

I’ll close the post with this note. Johnny and Mena Peter were confirmed today in Sacrament meeting, but that is only half the story. Johnny had been suffering chest pains yesterday and had been taken to the hospital, had not been released, and was being kept under observation. He checked himself out early this morning because he said he had to go to church. He did not want to miss being confirmed today.