Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Taking Stock

(Warning: This is kind of long and written over a week’s time.)

It’s hard to believe but the first six months of our mission are behind us already. Really? Wow! But yes, we were in the MTC during general conference last October. In some ways, that seems like a really long time ago. In other ways, it seems like yesterday. We are enjoying our work and still amazed by both the country and its people, but most impressed by the way we see the Lord moving ahead His work here.

Elder and Sister Adams are here! Yeah! We are so glad to have them here to help in the office! Now the president and his wife and the assistants can concentrate on other stuff and leave the running of the mission office to them. It is their second mission as office couples, so we expect to learn from them.

Also, the three missionaries who just returned from 7.5 months in the Philippines all have about 5 months left on their missions and they are super workers. They are even sharing some best practices they learned in the Philippines that should help us here as well. Two of them are out in Noida with us and the other one is in Dwarka with us. Now I just need to take their picture, but I’m not going to delay this blog waiting for me to remember!

On April 8, Dwarka Branch had a combined Young Women Relief Society Activity that was really fun! Our 22-year old Relief Society President is a PE Teacher at an elementary school so after a short lesson on the Word of Wisdom by one of her counselors, she lead us through some aerobic exercises and dance steps for about an hour.
Then we ate vegie pizzas and visited. It was lots of fun!

This last week we have attended another wedding—but this one was a Christian wedding so we actually got to see the ceremony. The son of a member of Dwarka Branch was the groom, so that is why the Branch President asked us to go to it with him. Besides, it was held in a church not far from our flat. The people here talk about something they refer to as ‘Indian Standard Time’—and we saw it in operation both at this wedding and at the memorial service we attended the next day. We were told the wedding was at 11 am. The Branch President and one of his counselors came to our place by 10:30 and started talking branch business. We left a little after noon and still were among the first to arrive. The Priest arrived around 12:50 pm, the Bride and Groom about 1. The wedding lasted 2 hours! Followed by an elaborate reception (which we skipped because we hadn’t allowed all day for this wedding). We were told that this wedding, like at least 50% of the weddings here, was an arranged marriage. Even in the Church, a lot of the marriages are still arranged. The Dwarka RS President shared that she trusts her parents to decide whom she should marry more than herself. It works for a lot of people here, though I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t back home.

On April 14, we took a little time off to go to Lodhi Gardens and India Gate with the Adams. I loved Lodhi Gardens! It is a beautiful park, planted by the English about a hundred years ago, but also containing the ruins of several mosques and tombs from the Sayyid and Lodhi periods (early 1400’s to early 1500’s).

Some have really fancy domes inside.
There is even a brick bridge from the mid 1500’s—I love bridges!
And lots of shade and benches and birds and quiet. So nice!

India Gate was just the opposite. No shade, lots of people including aggressive vendors who tried to sell you their wares whether you said yes or no! I guess most tourist attractions worldwide have these type of vendors.
Anyway, India Gate is an impressive arch commemorating the 90,000 Indian soldiers killed in WWI and the Afghan wars.  It did have a nice fountain on each side of it.

Here are a few random pictures:
The view from a bicycle rickshaw

A member with their pet baby parrot

A member painting my toenails bright pink!

And then serving us a yummy dinner--her husband is a chef!

A bridge under construction

Lots of yellow topped autos outside a metro station

A building under construction—notice all the bamboo supports

Self Reliance training for branch specialists on April 16—Now this inspired program should really move forward here and bless so many lives! It is powerful! Check it out on lds.org under Families and Individuals

Two of the hard working Noida Elders--the one in the back is Elder Allen John!

One Elder coming to say goodbye to us on his way home earlier this month

We found out today that we are getting 5 more missionaries in May! Three Elders from southern India and two IOC (Indians out of country—one from Malaysia and one from Australia). Yeah! And only one missionary is going home—a strong sister—so that is a net gain of 4!

Do you know how to tell it’s hot outside? When you are taking a shower and the more you turn it to ‘cold’ the hotter the water gets—our water tank is on the roof of our building so our cold water is hotter than our hot water lately! And it is only mid-April! It reached 108 F yesterday and 111 a few days ago! And when we get up about 6 am it is already mid-80’s. Yikes! I just checked weather.com and it is snowing back home right now! Go figure!

That said, we are very busy here with lots to do every day: visits to active and inactive members--teaching them about the blessings of being a stake of Zion; what being a Zion people means; and inviting them to do their part in making it happen. We are also helping to plan a couples’ conference for the district in May, continue to teach English class weekly and Temple Prep when we are in Noida. We feel it is an honor to work alongside these Indian members who are truly pioneers in the gospel here in Delhi.