Friday, April 23, 2010

The First People I Met

The first time we visited the branch on the other side of town I met these young men. I was standing on the porch outside of Church and they came walking up the drive way. We talked for a bit because it was early. One of the things we discussed was parents. They all seemed to have them at least one. And it turned out they did, but later I found out that they were from an orphanage two hours south of the city. Many of the children there still have parents but the parents can not afford to take care of them. Every Fast Sunday these children come into town for church. The other missionary couple worked out at the orphanage four days a week. Now this couple has gone home. They started some excellent programs, teaching the children to handle money, primary, seminary and family home evening. what will happen now. Will the older children be able to keep them going?

Today Elder McKinley left the city and drove to this orphanage. He conducted a seminary graduation. He left this morning on the bus then rode the rest of the way with the CES man from another city. Elder McKinley has now become CES for Chennai. It is after nine now and he will be back soon. We talked a little on the phone and he said the graduation ceremony was good in many ways. I wonder if any of the young men I met on that long ago Sunday were one of the graduates?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things Are A Changing

Outfitting apartments for young elders took a lot of time when we first arrived in Chennai, India. This place had no ambience but really good prices and we needed six pressure cookers.

This is the check out line. Well not really a line. We didn't know it at the time, but crowding in is the Indian way. When paying your electric bill if you leave more than one inch, I am not exaggerating, between you and the person ahead another person will move in the line and he will be ahead of you.

This little boy had a new suit and his mother asked me to take his picture. She didn't tell me where to sent a copy.

Out of the crowded store to an even more crowded walking street. NOW think of this post as if it were a movie and run it backwards. Everything is closing down. We just closed a young elders' apartment and sold all of the furniture, the A/C, pots and pans, everything. Americans are not getting visas. It has been over a year since there has been a new visa. Ten couples have left with no replacements and their apartments are now closed. There are just two couples left. The other couple will come in June for a zone conference and stay with us for a few days. On June 30th they will leave their city and return home. We will be the "last man standing."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One More Pretty Thing

Whether you like the flavors in Indian foods or not no one can not like the beauty of saffron.
Gathered from the field and piled high in a basket just increases the intensity of its color.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Auspicious Days

One of the ads for the auspicious jewelry sale. The lady, looking very much like Audrey Hepburn except for the midriff top which is a sari top, tells you that to be glamorous you need lots of jewelry. The small print at the bottom reminds you of how to get what you want on credit. This is a common practice in India. Often a second loan is taken to pay off the original jewelry debt.

The need for gold and other jewelry condemns the poor. For instance in a wedding situation, especially if it is your family, you must buy gold jewelry for the bride and groom. If you have no money you will go in dept to do this. You reason that the bride and groom will bring gold to your daughter when it is time for her to marry. That might be in ten years and sometimes it takes that long to get out of the wedding debt you just put yourself in.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Valentines and Gold

The post on Sri Lanka took so many days that we have to jump back to February to begin to catch up. Valentines Day was yellow roses for us. They stayed in the bedroom where there is A/C and they were enjoyed for a long time. With all this sunshine color around it is a good time to talk about gold. We haven't mentioned it since we came to India.

Gold is a good thing for a woman in India. She gets it when she is born and when she is married. If her friends are wealthy she might also be gifted on her birthdays. Sometimes it is all that she has to keep her from starving. Many woman are widowed at a young age. The government pays a one time allotment to widows but it can be months before it is received. When we arrived in India the newspaper would report at least ten cases a week where a woman would be walking home and her gold chain would be snatched from around her neck. What a cruel crime to steal a woman's link to security.

Does anyone remember the story of Johnny Lingo and the Eight Cow Wife. He married a young woman who was disheveled in appearance. She had been called ugly all her life by her father and others. Everyone claimed that she was worth only one cow at most, but Johnny would not pay less than eight cows for her. She was taken to her new husband's home and not seen for many months. A traveler stopped at Johnny's one day and the wife came out of the house to offer food. Johnny's wife was now beautiful. She had become a woman of great worth because she was treated with love and respect.

Indian woman face the cow for a wife problem. (Only it's gold, TV's or cars and they have to bring them to the marraige.) If their gold chain is short and thin it can not be worn with pride. The long heavy chain on the bride says the man made a good deal when he bargained for her. No wonder India fights a sort of wife slavery problem. And if that were not bad enough, if you are over twenty-five you might not get married at all.

If you come to India and want to buy gold you might remember the standard gold prices. If you do you will be so surprised to see large banners on the front of four story high jewelry shops as they advertise their gold sale. How does it work? I don't know because I am too busy being a missionary. I do know that there is an auspicious day to buy gold. It is advertised for a week before the special day. Most people admit that they know this is just a sales pitch BUT
we happened to be returning home from the airport on that auspicious day last year and at jewelry store after store the counters were packed three deep.

Friday, April 2, 2010

End Of A Two Year Tradition

After our all day outing we had two days of spirit filled meetings. . .

Time for a swim at the beach and an evening laughing with friends.

We didn't forget out traditional handshake.

A quick breakfast and then the two year tradition for us ended, but

We still had plumerias all the way to the airport.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Masks and Puppets

One of our group really wanted to buy a traditional mask. The store was still open so we all filed in.

That person who wanted the mask wasn't with us but we gave...

Honor to him and stopped to shop anyway.

We searched upstairs and then went down in the basement and we...

Didn't stop until everyone had voted for their favorite mask. Shopping by committee is not the most effective but a good choice was finally purchased for someone special who was not there. And if this all seems cryptic it is. Ask for the full story when you see me in person.