Thursday, May 19, 2016

Couples Conference

Elder and I were asked to help plan the first ever Couples Conference here in New Delhi.
The church doesn’t own/rent any building large enough for this type of event, so we held it at a resort within the New Delhi region (The Golden Tulip),
rented buses to bring everyone from all the different branch buildings, had 4 workshops, lunch,  games, and a concluding testimony meeting. We weren’t sure how it would turn out because we were asking the people to gather by 6:45 am (remember some people travel 45 minutes or more just to get to their branch building), and the buses to leave by 7. The resort was only a 30 minute drive from a couple of the branches but more than an hour from 3 of the buildings. We had scheduled to start the actual program (after registration/name tags) at 9. Would the people come on time and the buses leave on time? (Remember Indian Standard time is 1-2 hours late. Just the previous Saturday, the District YW activity’s buses left 1½ hours late.) Well the first bus rolled in a little before 8 and they just kept coming with the furthest one, which stopped by to pick up a second branch on its way, getting there just before 9. We were able to start by 9:15—which we all counted as a success! And we ended right on time at 5 pm! Another success!

For a few of the husbands who work night shift, some time on a couch in the lobby was a must!

Another question we faced was how many people would come? We had everyone fill out a preregistration form and by the Sunday before, 91 couples had registered! Oh my! How many would actually come? We expected a few drop outs, so were thrilled when 75 couples stepped off those buses! 

A huge concern for me personally was how many children would come. (I was over the babysitting.) We had asked everyone to please leave their children home with extended family or friends if at all possible. As the District President said, “This is a Couples Conference, not a Primary Conference or a Family Conference.” This is counter-culture to not bring kids—the first week here when we were invited to attend a District Branch Presidents Training and dinner for them and their wives, there were at least 5 children in attendance. Our pre-registration form had those same instructions on it, with the additional statement that there would be very limited babysitting available to those who would not be able to attend without it, and a place to list the name and age of children coming. I had been told that mothers bringing children less than 5 would never leave them, but keep them with them for the day. Not one person listed that they would be bringing children 5 and older. Still I had 3 YSA women lined up to help me and a full day of activities planned.
Well, we had a couple of pre-teens (great helpers!), about 7 aged 5-9,
and a few younger ones whose parent or grandparent usually stayed with them in our room for a break from the workshops. There were probably a dozen small ones who did stay down with their parents all day, with minimal distraction considering it was a long day. Another success!

Showing off macaroni necklaces and bracelets:

Elder gave the opening workshop entitled Building a Celestial Marriage, with a help of a translator, a 2-sided handout (English one side and Hindi the other), and role-plays by the Mission Finance Administrator and her husband. It got the conference off to a great start!

Then the group divided into three and rotated to each of the other workshops: Happily Now and Forever by Suresh and Pavani Ramakrishna; 
The Blessings (and Steps) of Being Sealed to our Families in the Temple by President and Sister Katuka; 
and Building a Strong Marriage on a Foundation of Self-Reliance by Shyam and Radika Lohat.
 They all did a great job! People were also able to sign up for Family Search.
All the presenters were all also on the steering committee, along with the District Councilman assigned to organize the conference, our good friend Raj Kumar Tamang, the previous branch president of Noida. He and his wife also planned and led the games—fun minute-to-win-it type games that people really enjoyed! The buffet lunch was also enjoyed by all! And then there was a moving testimony meeting to end the day, followed by many pictures—an Indian tradition!

This is five of the six couples from Noida Branch.

If you believe the surveys that 65 people turned in at the end of the day, it was a 4.7 out of 5.0 kind of day! It might have been the first Couples Conference in Delhi District, but we hope it isn’t the last.

A few other happenings: We spent Mother’s Day out in Noida and all women there were treated to a couple of roses and some chocolates. I wasn’t expecting this in India, but it was appreciated.

Dwarka Branch had a baptism and here are the people who stayed after church for it:

An 85-year old retired pilot from the Indian Air Force along with one of the planes he flew. He also had fascinating stories of before and after independence and the partition of Pakistan from India—he grew up in what is now Pakistan but his family moved south as they were Christians.

President Gygi (Noida Branch) and his wife had all of us missionaries working out there over for dinner and a FHE last Monday. What a spread! We also had a great discussion about the blessing of becoming a Stake of Zion and what each of us can do to help to make it happen.

Yesterday it got to 117 degrees, but that didn't stop us. We had a very busy day, visiting 6 different families, a few of which we took a picture of. First is a family whose mom works in Singapore as a cook. She gets to come home every year or two for a week or so and we happened to catch her there.

We also got to visit a couple of their neighbors. Everyone likes pictures, especially with Americans.

We went out to eat at Barbeque Nation to help celebrate the birthday of our good friend Ashish (means blessing) and his family.
Good food, dancing waiters, good company makes for a good time! We feel blessed. We hope you do too.


  1. I'm so glad the conference was a success! I love all the pictures too. It helps me picture where you are. Keep up the good work and don't overheat! Love you.

  2. The conference sounds like a success. I'm glad it went well.

  3. Sounds like a great conference! We enjoyed seeing all the pictures.