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.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I am still in Abhishaik's area. I'm actually teaching his family now. His sister is doing really well, and her mother is too... but she doesn't speak english :( Oh well, we ignore rules and teach people the gospel, jk. The gospel is for everyone she just will have a hard time understanding in church, the mother I mean. Abhi is still doing great. He's my first baptism, but I've two more... haha, yeah. I baptized Siva and Rameni last sunday, it was a real treat. They had learned the lessons for 8+ months now and were finally willing to be baptized now.

I guarentee that India is dirtier than any American city, maybe even twice as dirty. Mother, the sewers are open on the sides of the roads. I don't remember if I told you this but my OLD bike fell into one of those ditches. It was perhaps the grossest thing you can imagine. Fortunately I have a new one, completely new and amazing.

Your grasp on the hymns sung by newly formed branches in foreign countries is exactly correct. There are creative timings and unrecognizable tunes sung for the 5 different songs that they know and cycle through every week. They sing "repent and be baptized..." every single week. It's cute (and annoying.) We're teaching our converts how to broaden their repetoire and sing songs correctly and so are the couple missionaries. I don't play piano in sacrament, two or three have enough piano skills to play the hymns. I play for district meetings though.

Here's something for my blog, which, as the emails I am receive are telling me, everyone is really liking so keep up the good work!
1. First of all, we as members represent the church, that's true, but remember that the church is JESUS CHRIST'S. If you really believe that, then you should be able to overcome the hypocrisy you see around you. Trust me when I say that nobody is perfect, not even me. Only to Jesus Christ can we look to as a perfect human example as we try to be perfect "even as [our] father in heaven is perfect." People will make mistakes, and may make the church look bad, but that in no way means that the church IS bad, rather that it is misrepresented. We were provided the atonement because we are mortals, we will make mistakes, but through the power of His mercy we can be clean again. That opportunity is extended to ALL, including members of the church who profess cleanliness but practice uncleanliness. Therefore, when you go on a mission you do not represent the sins of all the church members, but rather Jesus Christ and the opportunity of reprentance that he gives to all men.

2. I'm a *pretty* straight shooter. In this case, I'll be direct and to the point. EVERY PERSON IN THIS WORLD MAKES MISTAKES. I make ridiculously stupid mistakes and you've made mistakes too. When we recieve forgiveness for our mistakes, when we truly repent and cease to continue in unrighteousness, then we are clean, and our sins are forgotten. WHATEVER sin occured in your past, if you can accept your repentance, if Jesus Christ accepts your repentance, and if required church intermediators have told you that your repentance has been accepted, then I will join in saying that you are not only clean enough to represent the church, but more prepared than countless others, because you have a firsthand knowledge of the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers in its fullest.

3. Go on a mission. There are so many reasons to do it. There are a lot of selfish reasons not to. Believe that there is a life after this one and that we will be infinitely rewarded for our devoted service to the Lord. Know that the blessings that are extended to us on a mission cannot be completely provided by any other means than by serving a mission. Your testimony will increase tenfold, your knowledge of the gospel will increase tenfold, and your love for the Savior and capacity for charity will increase tenfold. I do not regret coming on a mission, and I never will. You will regret not going on a mission. All worthy males are provided the duty, all worthy females are extended the opportunity. The sacrifice is not a small thing, but it's not the whole world. The blessings ARE the whole world. GO ON A MISSION.

I love my Savior and have a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I love that I have the best family in the world, life sure is easier that way. Thanks for everything!
I love you soooo much.

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