Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Work

I thought perhaps I should share some about exactly what it is Elder and I are doing day to day on our mission—what part of ‘missionary work’ do we do?

We are called as Member Leader Support missionaries. Before I start describing our core work, let me first define some terms. Our church’s congregations (200-500 people) are called wards and usually 6-10 wards combine together to make up a stake—all these are geographically determined.  Each ward is led by a bishop and each stake by a stake president. Here in New Delhi, there are less members of our church so the smaller congregations are called branches led by a branch president and the 7 branches combine to make up a district led by a district president. All these positions are filled by lay priesthood and some with just a few years of membership in the church. Our mission president is over the three districts in Pakistan, the one district in Delhi, as well as the branches in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kolkata, and Mumbai. He and his wife visit each of these places several times a year, being gone for up to 2 weeks at a time. 

We have been assigned to two of the seven branches here in Delhi, Noida (with only about 80 members and 12 attending) and Dwarka (with over 300 members and 80 attending).
Our core work involves working with the branch presidencies and other branch leaders, encouraging them to hold all their leadership meetings and teaching them their purpose and how to run them. We teach other leadership skills and encourage them to love and visit the members. We also visit members in their homes, many of whom may not be regular attenders, listening to their story, and inviting them to join us again. There are also a few people we have visited who are not yet members but are still learning about the church and who have invited us to come. (Here is a picture of a Noida branch activity.)

Delhi is a huge city with a metropolitan area of 25 million people. Our flat is somewhat centrally located, right next to the mission home with its lowest three floors home to 2 of the 7 branches. Each of the other branches’ meetinghouses are located about 30-45 minutes from here in good traffic and at least double that in bad. And travel within most of the branches’ areas can add another 30-60 minutes to our initial travel. We travel often by those green & yellow autos in good weather and during the day. We usually call a taxi if it’s cold or dark. We also travel by Metro—Delhi’s train/subway system which is very inexpensive, very frequent, at times extremely crowded, but still under construction in some places so doesn’t go everywhere we need to go. We also ride electric or bicycle rickshaws if it’s a short distance, like from the Metro station to a home.
Often we call the person we’re going to visit and have them tell our driver how to get there, especially since our driver’s English is usually as good as our Hindi. And this week one member came to guide us to their home on a motorcycle and all three of us rode it back to his home, me sitting side saddle right behind him and Elder behind me--similar to this family on their way home from the branch Christmas party--and yes, they are all on one motorcycle. It’s all part of the adventure!

Most people love to tell us how they first came to know about the church and it is for social reasons most quit coming—either pressure from extended family members or lack of fellowship from church members. A few have taken offense from something that happened years ago, and then we have the privilege of listening, absorbing some of their pain, and inviting them to forgive and join us once again. We find this work very rewarding, but also both emotionally and physically draining.

As the only senior missionary couple, we are also involved in a few other things. We are members of the District Self Reliance Committee and are excited to support this program. It teaches principles of both spiritual and temporal self-reliance and has classes to help participants find a job, start a business, or obtain needed education/training. We are hoping to play a bigger role by facilitating classes ourselves plus training more facilitators so more people can benefit from this powerful program.

I have begun handling the applications requesting assistance from the Temple Patron Fund for anyone in our mission, with most members in Pakistan going to the Manila Temple and those from India going to the Hong Kong Temple.
Without assistance from this fund, most members could never afford the trip to be sealed as a family.  As it is, most couples/families pay several month’s salary, saved over a couple of years, as their part. Once at the temple, they stay in the patron housing and attend many sessions over their 4-day stay. They are also encouraged to bring family names with them, so they get the complete family history/temple experience. For many, their trip to the temple is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It makes me realize how blessed we were to have a temple in our stake boundaries!

We also do a bit of Public Affairs, attending an Inter-faith dinner this past week and being asked to attend a day-long conference later this month representing our church and even making a short presentation.
We also hope to increase our involvement with the Young Single Adults in the area and may end up teaching an English class as well.

Christmas Day

I must first include a picture from the Dwarka Branch's Christmas Party on December 23. The Primary did the nativity story, so look closely for an angel, Mary, Joseph, wise men and shepherds. It was delightful! Sorry the man in front of me stood up just as I was snapping my picture. 

Christmas morning was spent with the missionaries, mainly doing a service project of tying 45 fleece blankets to give away.

Then we had two single sisters over to share some food and time with us, Melanie and Mary. Melanie was baptized 7 or 8 years ago along with one brother and active for a while, but her Catholic father soon forbade her to attend so she stopped coming until just a month or so ago. She lives with one of her sisters now, since both of her parents are now expired, but her sisters were in London for the holidays. Mary shifted from Nigeria (people here don’t ‘move’, but ‘shift’) four years ago with her family. However, her father expired suddenly from a heart attack about 6 weeks ago, her mother had to go back to Nigeria, her brother is at BYU-I and her sister on a mission. We enjoyed having them with us. We had a simple but sweet Christmas.

I was surprised that Christmas Day is a holiday here, and public schools are closed for 2-3 weeks starting December 24 so some people still have not returned.  However, I just took down our little tree and put the few decorations we had away for next year (including a sketch of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus by our artist friend Dev).
For us, the New Year has begun and we are excited to discover what it holds for us.


  1. God bless you both in the work you're doing. I think about you often, and hope the Lord is with you as you strive to serve those you've been called to minister to during your time as representatives of Jesus Christ.

    He lives! All glory to His name!

  2. It is so nice to read of your experiences. You are doing a great thing and may the Lord bless you in this work.

  3. Thanks for sharing! You sure are doing a lot of different things. That's cool that you get to look at applications for help from the Temple Patron Assistance Fund. I had no idea how people got help from it! What a neat experience to help people be able to go to the temple.

  4. It is wonderful to read your blogs. So interesting, I'm learning things about India I did not know. It also sound very challenging. You two are strong and brave and cheerful. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I love reading this Mom! I notice Dad looks tall in all the pictures. I love reading about your work. Thanks for being a great example to all of us. Stay safe! We love you.