“Awkward,” was the way Jake described walking into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints children’s class in Chennai where he knew no one and most of the gospel instruction was conducted in Tamil. “There were a few English words thrown in and the kids were really nice,” he added.
“The highlight of my trip so far,” was Mike’s response to seeing the beautiful LDS church building that had been erected in Chennai (the last time we were here a tiny branch was meeting in an old YMCA building).
“Awesome,” was how Taylor described going to Sunday school with Max and Ellie and visiting with all the Indian youth (it sounded like class allowed plenty of time for chatting). 😉
“Inspiring and Touching,” was how I felt about relief society and about standing in sacrament meeting singing “Come Follow Me” with my Indian brothers and sisters. I loved hearing Indian accents quote from Elder Holland and President McKay. I loved the unique examples they shared on how to apply the Bible and the Book of Mormon to their lives. I loved the ride from Chennai down the bumpy dirt roads to Rising Star with cows at every turn and “Honk Please” or “Blow Horn for Safety” on the back of all the cars.
The Rising Star Campus is much nicer than I had anticipated. We have air conditioning in our rooms, which is heaven sent (when the electricity is on), and safe drinking water in one spigot in the kitchen. The kids took their first bucket shower, which they were thrilled about, and even found a frog in the toilet. It was so fun to watch the kids go out and play on the playground with the 150 kids that live here. Mike and Dave joined in an intense cricket match and the Rising Star kids obsessed over Elle and Taylor’s braced. They couldn’t figure out why they would do that to there teeth. At dinner, the kids tried to teach us how to properly eat with our hands, but I failed miserably. My rice was everywhere. Their customs and table manners (can you call it table manners when you sit on the floor??) made my kids look like angels. I loved the light in the kids’ eyes and how excited they were about life. They embodied pure joy.
Bucket Showers- The boys favorite-they didn’t miss their hot showers.
They DID, however, miss their Western toilets.
All the female volunteers are required to wear Chudidars each day. This traditional Indian clothing is incredibly comfortable–you feel like you are wearing your pjs. By wearing this modest native attire, one avoids inadvertently offending the locals.