Saturday, March 30, 2013

Carl, this one's for you...

Birthday Dinner with my new cricket bat
Years ago, Carl and Gloria Howard and their family were in our ward (church congregation).  Carl was a big man (literally).  He was about 5' 10" or so and weighed about 350 lbs, but I think it was all muscle.  From his actions I could tell Carl loved his family and family history.  It was not uncommon to see him every Sunday in the Family History room doing research on his ancestors.  What I didn't know was his love for cycling, until one day while out riding, Bryan and I caught up with him.  It was a sight to see Carl on his road bike riding on the skinnest tires available (19mm).  He was riding alone, so we rode with him for a ways.  As we were talking, I asked him about his cycling and he said he was riding his age that day.  Carl was about 52 at the time and I was really impressed (I think Bryan and I were out for our regular 25-30 miles).  I rode with Carl several other times that year.  With his big frame, I would easily pass him riding up hills, and he would zoom pass me on the downhills (amazing what mass does).  Carl passed away quite some time ago, but I have never forgot his goal of riding his age on his birthday.  So today, on my 60th birthday, I got up early, hopped on my stationary bike and rode 60km before our 9 am meeting at the church (that's like forever on a stationary bike. I'll have to wait until next year when I can get on a real bike to do the miles).   

Now you might ask, "what does this have to do with India"  Nothing, it's just the ramblings of a "middle-aged" missionary thinking about good times many years ago.  Carl, thanks for the memories...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dinner with Brother and Sister John

Friday night we were invited to have dinner with Trija John, her husband and their two children.  Trija is the office employee that handles the mission expenses.  Financially their family is considered to be above average.  Both she and her husband work and have good jobs by India standards.  They live in a normal apartment of about 400 square feet consisting of two rooms roughly 15 x 10 feet and a small bathroom and a "turnaround" kitchen (that's a kitchen where you go in turnaround and come back out).  One room functions as a bedroom for the family and the other room is the living room, tv/computer room, kitchen, study and anything else you can think of.  The apartment is up 4 flights of steep stairs and is un-air-conditioned.  The family is the ideal church family.  Trija works with the young women as a counselor in the District Young Women's organization, and her husband, Gagan, is a district high councilman, responsible for providing leadership to the congregations in New Delhi.  Both of their children are great kids and are doing well in school and church.  Boomika is looking forward this year to being 16 and San is a typical 9 year old (10 in May as he reminded us).  We had a great meal of India prawns, dahl (lentils), salad, and papad (a spicy crisp bread that is fried).  We ate at 8 pm (late for us, early for them), and of course Angela and I had indigestion all night, not because the food wasn't great, just because we can't eat that late. The Johns are the type of family that will help the Church grow and flourish in India.  We really enjoy working with Trija and being friends with her and her family.      

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We're Back...

Not back home, just back on the blog.   It has now been 1 month since our last post.  My blog writing reminds me of my first mission where I was pretty consistent with my journal writing until I got to Hump Day.  What I think happens is all those uncommon things that you experience the first half of your mission become common and it's just part of life.  I'll try to do better. 

During the last month, I have been working to get the 2012 Mission History completed.  Given that I haven't maintained a journal for most of my life, I'm not the ideal choice, but there weren't many to pick from in the mission office (Sister Stevens just kept her head down and went temporarily deaf).

So for posterity, I have included some of the mission history narrative below and a few pictures.

2012 was a year of change for the India New Delhi Mission. 

Senior couples began serving in the mission for the first time in many years.  Elder Jerry and Sister Sue Ann Capener and Elder Clark and Sister Brenda Crookston both arrived within two weeks of each other in February.  Both were assigned as member and leader support (MLS) missionaries and served in the 1st and Dwarka branches respectively.  Subsequently, Elder Paul and Sister Angela Stevens arrived in late June.  Their assignment was changed from MLS to office support since previous to their arrival Sister Jackson was doing all the mission office support.  They were assigned to the 3rd Branch.  Elder Bill and Sister Rebecca Black arrived in November as Public Affairs missionaries and were assigned to the 4th Branch.  Unfortunately, both the Capener’s and the Crookston’s could not get their visas renewed and were transferred to Cambodia and Malaysia to complete their missions.  Their good nature, service and commitment will be missed.  
Apartment house purchased to be retrofitted for a
church meetinghouse and mission office/mission home
The Church bought proper 3 adjacent properties in Vasant Vihar that will be the center for future church growth.  The 4 story building at F-48 Poorvi Marg is being retrofitted to be a combination meeting house, mission home and mission office.  The mission home and mission office were completed in July.  Construction on the basement, first and second floors is ongoing and will be used to house the New Delhi 2nd and 3rd Branches when completed in 2013.  The building directly behind the mission office building is a 4 story apartment building, previously occupied by the El Salvador Embassy.  It now houses missionary couples on floors 1 and 2 with the Assistants to the President on floor 3.  The ground floor still is occupied by the El Salvador Ambassador and the basement houses the embassy offices. The lot directly behind the apartment building was also purchased by the Church.  As of year-end 2012 it was an abandoned building site and was affectionately referred to as “the hole” because it consisted of a large 30 foot deep hole that had been previously excavated for a building site.  Plans are to fill in the hole and fence the property until used in the future. 

President and Sister Jackson completed their mission and President and Sister Sackley began serving.   Effective July 1, President and Sister Jackson were released as the Mission President having served from July 2009 to June 2012.  President and Sister Sackley from Calgary, Alberta Canada began their tenure.  After getting their feet on the ground, they attended the Mission Presidents’ Seminar in September held in Hong Kong.  Six of the 10 mission presidents in the Asia Area began their missionary service in July.  They subsequently hosted Elder Gong on a Mission Tour in late October and Sister Mary N. Cook, General YW 1st Counselor in early November.  President and Sister Sackley have been active in working directly with the missionaries both in India and Pakistan.  Having an office couple in the mission office has allowed more frequent travel to Pakistan to meet with the Elders and District Leadership.
Mumbai at night
Mission boundaries were realigned between the India Bangalore and India New Delhi missions with Mumbai Branch of the Church becoming part of the New Delhi Mission. In September, The First Presidency approved a realignment between the two missions that moved the states of Maharashtra (which includes the Mumbai Branch of the Church), Chhattisgarh and Orrissa from the Bangalore Mission to the New Delhi Mission. In early October, President Sackley initiated discussions of assigning full-time missionary in Mumbai with the Area Presidency.  Right before Christmas, President Sackley traveled to Mumbai to finalize arrangements to move Elders to Mumbai effective with the January 3, 2013 transfer.  Four Elders were assigned (Elders Aruldoss, Vuppadda, Chandrasekar and Bogati)

Elder and Sister Gong from the Asia Area Presidency
Sister Jalli and Sister Swarna
President and Sister Sackley
Sister Missionaries were assigned to the mission for the first time since the mission was created on November 1, 2007.  It was decided to begin having sister missionaries serve in the India New Delhi Mission.  Two sisters already serving in the Philippines were transferred to this mission on November 1.  Sister Swarna and Sister Jalli came from two different missions in the Philippines and became companions.  They served together until Jan 3, 2013 when two new sisters from the MTC came, giving the mission a complement of 4 sisters in early January 2013. 
Full-time Mission Status
Missionaries in Pakistan
In the year 2012 the Mission said goodbye to 29 full-time Elders and 4 couples (2 in Nepal, 2 in New Delhi).  They served with distinction and will be missed.  They took with them a wealth of experience and have left behind a very young Mission.  The New Delhi couples came and left in 2012 because of visa issues (Capener’s and Crookston’s).
During 2012, the India New Delhi Mission also welcomed 28 full-time Elders, 2 full-time Sisters and 6 new couples (2 in Nepal, 4 in New Delhi).  

Our year-end missionary strength is: 4 couple missionaries (2 in Nepal, 2 in New Delhi),  23 Elders in Pakistan, and 32 Elders and Sisters in New Delhi
Missionaries in India
Visa issues for foreign missionaries continued to be an issue for 2012.  While the mission was able to get senior couples for the first time in 3 years, two of the couples needed to be reassigned to other missions because they could not get their visas renewed.   In 2012, only 6 US elders were able to get visas to begin their missions in the New Delhi Mission.  At the end of the year, 3 additional missionaries were still waiting on visa approvals, as well as 2 senior couples.  We anticipate issues will continue.  Additionally, visa renewals (for the second year of service) for young missionaries are taking on average 5 weeks. 

The India New Delhi Mission celebrated
5 years on November 1, 2012

Well if you're still reading, I've done my job.  Until next time....

PS - If you're looking for a new use of old CD's,  tie one to the handlebars of your bike with the shiney side facing out.  It makes a great reflector.   Another inventive idea from India.