Saturday, May 7, 2016

What's in a Name, Weddings, and Other News

Elder Allen and I are helping plan the first ever Couples Conference here in New Delhi District. We are excited for it and are getting to manage some of the logistics and become acquainted with even more people. That brings up the issue of names in India. Most people in the Church go by their first names. For example, in Dwarka Branch the Branch President is President Vijay. His wife is Sister Rani. On the Church records, they are listed as Vedan Vijay Kumar Micheal and Vasantha Rani Michael. He explained his name this way to me once “Vedan is my father’s name, my name is Vijay Kumar, and my grandfather is Michael.” Now his son Allwyn writes his name as Vijay Allwyn but he is listed on church records as Allwyn Michael. And quite a few wives don’t legally change their last name when they marry because it is expensive so even on Church records, they don’t share a last name with their husbands. For example, in Noida, Serah Crystal Doraiswamy is married to Ashish Pokhrel and Vidya Irene Purvshottam is married to Rajkumar (Lama) Tamang. Then there is the Dwarka Primary President. She goes by the name Sister Sunita Wilson. Her husband is Brother Wilson Franklin Peter and goes by the name Brother Wilson. The Church records have her under Wilson and him under Peter. All this makes matching husbands and wives a bit tricky. (Of course being of Danish decent, I have the changing last name in my family history—Jacobson and Jacobdaughter, etc. so I don’t mean to be complaining, just sharing our observation and experience.)

Now when the young people go on missions, most go by Elder or Sister last name, but not all. Both Assistants to the President right now go by their first names: Elder Vicky (Kumar) and Elder Rohith (Nagaraj) as does Elder James (Selvaraj). But we are all thankful that Elder (Shanmugasundaram) Arumugam goes by his last name because I’m not sure his first name would fit on the name badge.

I’ve been told that people’s last names often tell others what part of India they are from and their (outlawed) caste. The dowry system is still in use a lot of the time here in India, even in our church I’ve been told, and people still usually marry someone from their same caste. These things have been a part of the Indian culture for thousands of years and aren’t going to change quickly.

We did attend our first LDS wedding this last week. Since our Church isn’t officially recognized as a church yet here in India, our Branch Presidents, District Presidents and even Mission Presidents can’t perform weddings and members have to pay another Christian minister/priest to come perform their wedding. However, one of our Branch Presidents (who has been a member since the 1980’s) also works for the government and has somehow been authorized by India to perform weddings.  Lucky Delhi!
The wedding had an Indian flavor with rose leis, necklaces, and other items draped around their necks rather than exchanging rings. (The three men in the back row are the Branch President that married them, then an ex-Pat in their branch and their own Branch President.)
I also had to snap a picture of the two cute girls that helped with her veil. Also the reception that night looked pretty Indian as well.
What is most exciting is that this couple flies to Hong Kong this next week to be sealed in the temple. Congratulations Br. Kiran Nelapati and Sister Sidharthi Chadda. May the Lord bless your family.

Now I need to clarify our last entry. Elder Allen reported on our very busy schedule. Although this is our overall daily/weekly routine, not all weeks are equally busy. We normally see ten to twelve families per week in addition to our work with leaders and meetings related to the different initiatives we're involved in. We've noticed in the last few weeks that it is getting more challenging to schedule appointments. Part of it is we've now been here long enough to see people either progress or let us know they're content to stay where they are. An interesting fact is that we've had very few cancellations or missed appointments. We feel that as a blessing, particularly given the distances we travel. 

Something nice for senior couples—we pretty much set our own schedules. No one tells us how to spend our time or how many hours we need to work. We have lots of latitude to decide how to go about our work. Even Elder Allen is beginning to realize we don't have to be in overdrive every day. We've been more content with a little breathing room some days and now I have time to write this blog. Yeah!

Among our recent visits we celebrated a couple’s 21st wedding anniversary with them.

On our way home, we saw this family of five zip by on their motorcycle. There is a child in front of the dad, between the mom and the dad, and in the mother’s arms.

We visited my beautician friend and her family. She recently fell while getting off a bus and broke her foot or ankle in a couple of places and is in a cast for 6 weeks.
She was told not to walk on it the first four. She has a great attitude about it all, feeling the love and support of God through it all. As she put it, “What could be a big problem is only a small problem with His help.”

President and Sister Tanner, from BYU-Hawaii, along with President and Sister Funk from the Asia Area came and did a fireside for youth 16 and up through young adults (married or single) about a program in Hawaii specifically for Indian members. 
If one of the 5-10 selected annually from all of India, they will obtain an education virtually free through working 19 hours/week while in school and being forgiven their loans when they return to India afterwards and help build up the Church here.
There was also an Indian businessman who received his Masters of Civil Engineering at BYU, later marrying a member and converting from Islam to LDS. His name is King Husein and he has quite an interesting story if you are interested: credits a $500 loan from his Muslim community with allowing him to gain his education. I wonder if he is helping to fund this program. The place was packed!

I’ll close with a few random shots:

A huge crane at the end of our street as they start construction for the metro line to go through.

A busy street scene through a market on our way to an appointment.

This is a divided road but shows why you must check both ways before crossing any part of any street. The traffic should all be coming towards you.

There are tailors using this kind of treadle sewing machine everywhere here. I just finally took a picture of one.

These two young brothers are the best helpers in Dwarka Branch. They help with chairs, song books, cleaning white boards, whatever they see that needs to be done they do without being asked! They are the sons of the first counselor and so are often at church early and late and are a delight to know.

We took the Adams to our favorite Indian restaurant for lunch this last week.
Unfortunately they didn’t enjoy the Indian food as much as we did. But it was great to have them along for the company! And we hear the next senior couple should be here by the end of the month! Yeah! There is so much work for senior couples to do—at whatever pace they are able.


  1. Wow! Crazy names. I guess I can see why they go by first names! So exciting that couple will be sealed. Which branch are they in?

  2. The groom is the Sunday School President in Dwarka Branch. The bride is in Delhi 2nd Branch.

  3. Matthew: I like your pictures and the words you write.
    Megan: I like your post because there are a lot of pictures.
    Melinda: Hooray for finally seeing a wedding. That will be nice to have the Metro so close.
    Uriah: thanks for another post. I am excited to see it all.