Sunday, October 31, 2010

Church in India

I have so much in my heart. So much to say about my time here in India, and so I'm going to write four posts today that sum up some of the things most important to my heart. Let's begin with that which is most recent...

It's interesting going to church in another country. Because of the way my church is organized, I can attend anywhere in the world and the teachings are the same; the organization is the same; the scriptures are the same; and the general feeling is the same. So, sometimes it's easy to forget that you are in the middle of a different culture while at church. Today was no different, but there were a few wake-up calls along the way.

Some of the same: Today was the Primary Program for the Chennai 1st Branch. For those who are not LDS, Primary is the name of the organization created to teach the children (ages 3-11). Periodically, the children make a presentation for the whole church congregation. Today was that day here in Chennai... and it was wonderful. Half of the children I know from the school. The other half I met last week. Despite my short time here, I got to work with these Primary children as their chorister. I love these children. I don't know how to explain how you can love people you've only known for a few hours, but I do. I love these children so much. I am so grateful for the two Sundays I had to work with them. I'm grateful for their enthusiasm for music. I'm grateful for their willingness to follow and for their trust in those who lead them. I am grateful for the chance to look in their beautiful eyes and offer encouragement to them. As I sat looking at them, I was humbled and saddened by the thought that so few of them would ever be able to go to the temple about which they are so diligently learning. The thought brought tears to my eyes because I wanted them to have these blessings, and gratitude to my heart for my multitude of blessings.

The wake-up calls: A few things happened at church that reminded me that I was in India. First, getting to church took almost two hours on very bumpy roads.

Second, the power went off in the middle of Sunday School, and people just sat there. It was pitch black, and yet we just kept going on. If this happened at home, people would immediately try to fix the problem and harass the person in charge of the building. We would possibly get angry and wonder why we were having such a difficult time. Here it's just a part of life. They're grateful to have any electricity. I know a young women  here in India who graduated not long ago from high school. She studied by a kerosene lamp every night in order to finish her homework. She was one of the top students at school.

Third, the piano playing was fairly basic because the pianist has only played for 4 months. He has already mastered the basic version of 20+ hymns. Application of Luke 1:37? I think so.

Fourth, one of the women at church spoke briefly about her love for Jesus Christ and his gospel. Her husband did not want her to join the church; and he has beat her because of her attendance at the church. He wouldn't give her permission to join the church. She said that it couldn't stop her, even though he threatened to kill her. Instead, she's prayed and sought a miracle from the Lord. Her husband is coming around.

I'm so grateful for my time here. I'm grateful for the chance to love and be loved by those who were strangers in India. I pray I never take the ease of my worship for granted again.

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