This blog is produced by the Shep Family... we post letters and photos that Kyle sends us from time to time...

A resident of Chennai is called a Chennaiite. As of 2001, Chennai city had a population of 4.34 million, while the total metropolitan population was 7.04 million. The estimated metropolitan population in 2006 is 4.5 million.In 2001, the population density in the city was 63,926 per mi, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The average literacy rate is 80.14%, much higher than the national average of 64.5%. The city has the fourth highest population of slum dwellers among major cities in India, with about 820,000 people (18.6% of its population) living in slum conditions. In 2005, the crime rate in the city was 313.3 per 100,000 people, accounting for 6.2% of all crimes reported in major cities in India. The number of crimes in the city showed a significant increase of 61.8% from 2004.

The majority of the population in Chennai are Tamilians. Tamil is the primary language spoken in Chennai. English is widely spoken especially in business, education and white collar professions.

According to the 2001 census, Hindus constitute about 81.27% of the city's population, and Muslims (9.37%), Christians (7.63%) and Jains (1.05%) are other major religious groups

Chennai is a major centre for music, art and culture in India.[77] The city is known for its classical dance shows and Hindu temples. Every December, Chennai holds a five-week long Music Season celebrating the 1927 opening of the Madras Music Academy

Among Chennai's festivals, Pongal is celebrated over five days in January, is the most important. Almost all major religious festivals such as Deepavali, Eid and Christmas are celebrated in Chennai. Tamil cuisine in Chennai includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Many of the city's restaurants offer light meals or tiffin, which usually include rice-based dishes like pongal, dosa, idli and vadai,


Chennai has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate. The city lies on the thermal equator and is also on the coast, which prevents extreme variation in seasonal temperature. The weather is hot and humid, for most of the year. The hottest part of the year is late May to early June, known locally as Agni Nakshatram ("fire star") or as Kathiri Veyyil,[32] with maximum temperatures around 38–42 °C (100–108 °F). The coolest part of the year is January, with minimum temperatures around 18–20 °C (64–68 °F). The lowest temperature recorded is 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) and highest 45 °C (113 °F). The average annual rainfall is about 51 in. The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north-east monsoon winds, from mid-October to mid-December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city. The highest annual rainfall recorded is 2,570 mm (101 in) in 2005.


Friday, January 9, 2009


So, my new companion is awesome. Elder Shahi is Nepali, but his ancestry is from China. He knows how to work very hard and genuinely cares for all of the people we meet. I'm starting to be able to do the same. I've almost got it down. He has not climbed mount everest, but you're right, it's in Nepal. He's 22 and was baptized maybe 5 years ago. He's a lot of fun and really wants to cook, so I let him... he cooks well. We're almost ready to move into an apartment. It's pretty nice. Marble and a full kitchen. Wood cabinets and guards. Its in a commercial area and should serve us fine if we get it approved. We don't, however, have a cell phone. We also don't have a landline. The other elders we're staying with just lost their phone... so it's VERY difficult to get a hold of our people, and since we just split our area, we really need to follow up with potentials that were ignored due to our previously less-than-satisfactory area book. I'm excited to get to work... again.

Here are the names of people I have been teaching...
Abhishaik: boy 18yo, I baptized him this sunday (yeah, I did it)
Chaitu: girl 19yo, INCREDIBLE testimony and now has a huge knowledge of the gospel. Wants to be baptized but her father will not allow it.
Naresh's Parents: They don't speak much english but we can teach them because they are a part-member family. We helped his father overcome alcoholism and they are finishing up getting over tea addiction, then they'll be good as far as the WoW goes. They love us and want to baptized, so they're doing their best to get eligible.

Since our boundaries just got split (4 elders in RJY 1st instead of 2) we have an incredibly small area and I lost many of the people I've been teaching previously. Some of them are:
Silaja, Amar, and baby Lucky: Silaja is a teacher and speaks english. She is soooo good, but is pregnant again and is getting sick, and is unable to attend church. She follows through with comittments well other than that. Amar speaks little english and went from tolerating us to really enjoying our lessons. He doesn't read the BoM as often as he should though. Lucky is the cutest little boy. Always smiling, rarely making noise.
RaShaker: boy 18yo Works out a lot and is starting to get built. He promised to come to church everyweek and sincerely meant it, came for 2 weeks in a row and then didnt come once. It was sad, but is very ready to overcome his parents unwillingness to let him get baptized and go through with it.
There are others...

Actually, yesterday we had a lesson with Chaitu and since there isn't anything left to teach her we discussed Corinthians 11 about the covering of our heads when we pray. One thing that isn't difficult for people to accept here, but is a culturally common practice is for women to cover their heads with their sari as they pray. No one knows why they do it, it's just that everyone does it so they assume it's the way it should be done. Well, Paul explains it away when he talks about a woman's hair is a covering for her and it is glory for her. Weird stuff.
Anyways, Chaitu asked me to bear my testimony to her, it was a little unexpected, but an awesome experience. The missionary work really is very exciting. I've managed to learn so many things and the gospel just gets more and more interesting the more I learn.

The doctrine that most people have trouble accepting is... different per person. Some can't accept that new prophets are called, they believe that revelations ceased with the death of Christ. Most often it's just confusion of what we teach mingled with things they heard from other people. If they are willing to listen to us and what we are actually teaching we can clear up concerns, but a struggle sometimes is getting them to let us teach what we believe, sometimes they would much rather tell us what we believe. Haha, we can only knock Christian doors for safety reasons and most of what we get is "I already know about Jesus and I've been saved, you aren't on a mission to save the people who already know about Jesus, go teach the Hindus!" That's the funniest, some of them tell us they already know everything about Jesus and that we have nothing to offer... those types of things. It's really quite sad, those with beliefs that are similar to ours seem to be our worst enemies. It obviously isn't the case every time. Many times we are urged to come in and pray for their family. Many want us to eat with them the second they see us, having never met them before. It's sad when we have to turn away people because there isn't a male in the house and we couldn't get a member to come, or because they only speak Telegu and we can't communicate. I'm hoping that we can teach in the native tongue soon.

I love you ALL!

Elder Shep

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