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.


Monday, April 20, 2009


For all the recent pictures, go to Kyle's Facebook.

Sorry, this is reeeeal late but this post is a collaboration of the past few months so it may not blend well...

Unfortunately our mission is still facing opposition, especially in the intense times of elections. If the people's party wins, we are safe, if any of the anti-christian parties go in, ummm, it will be dissapointing for our missionary work. Like Elder Tuscano says though, we'll be protected, but like Joseph Smith said, if it comes to dying for the gospel, so be it. Hmmm, nevermind, I didn't mean to scare you. Your son is safe. Oh, and transfers happened, I'm still in Raj with Elder Shahi, and a little bird told me that according to the zone leaders, the APs, and the mission president that transfers have been frozen for 6 months, so I may be with Elder Shahi for 9 months in the same area for 10... crazy.

Oh, Chaitu says hi, unfortunately she's moving to Visak, I won't be able to see her baptism :( More news about investigators is that... we actually haven't had so much progress. Abhishaik's sister is still learning, she came to church and stayed, but she isn't gaining a testimony. She is having difficulty keeping her commitment to read the Book of Mormon, which is sad. Her brother should be helping her more than he currently is (he's still a solid member.) Sandeep is preparing for baptism after some parental opposition. He's great, he actually showed up at church and is REALLY preparing and following through with commitments. Likewise, recent convert Prasad is really helping his brother prepare for his baptism. Prasad sucks up information and retains it ridiculously well. He's going to be a Gospel Doctrine teacher at BYU in the coming years.

Laundry List:
1. I realized again via spiritual epiphane that testimonies are the only thing that set people apart from books, it's our job to testify.
2. I re-stitched my scriptures and they are doing mighty fine, but I may buy some small sized ones so that I can travel better.
3. On thursday some parrots got caught in the sacrament meeting room and flew around our heads when we went to set up for district meeting. It turns out that parrots have eaten AC wiring in the church and are building nests, it's getting fixed as we speak.
4. I've been reminded of caring for the wellbeing of others again via Jacob 2 and Mosiah 4. It doesn't matter if it's their fault for being poor... we have to help them out.
5. I've learned a little better that hell DOES NOT actually consist of fire and brimstone, its a metaphor. Somebody was really questioning that, and its true that the Bible doesn't clarify, but the BoM does a great job.8.
6. This church is the true church of Jesus Christ restored on the earth. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and is amazing. Helping other people make covenants with their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is amazing, a wonderful blessing. I'm so grateful to be out here in this ridiculous land serving these amazing people!

I'm glad that we have a traffic system though. In india that isn't the case. There are no traffic police, no laws, no lights. Just today we found out that the husband of one of our recent converts just died in a traffic accident. It's horrible the way traffic works here. I've been hit by buses (yeah, but only horizontally twice) and autos=satan, they are driven by 17 year olds and self-owned. There is a fend for yourself attitude and it's gross really, they don't care.

1. I am now making hamburgers, check the attachment for proof. It's actually mutton sausage, but it works fine. I stick in some sauteed onions and mushrooms, I cook a mean tomato sauce and use some American cheese (the only available) and stick it between bread for an amazing burger. I'm also frying yellow peppers and they are soooo good.
2. We found the best place to eat, it's in a hotel and they serve the closest thing to American food I've seen in Raj yet. I had fish and chips (I guess that's British) and a chocolate milkshake. Wow it was good. The problem is that the meal was 200 /- (rupees) and the milkshake was 70 /- that is WAY too much to be eating for. So maybe it will only be a weekly thing. They also have fried chicken... it's tempting.
3. It is currently "Holi" where everyone throws color at eachother. I, surprisingly, am untouched. But I'm sure I'll get hit today. Elder Chagoya got spanked with pink and it stained his skin.
4. Please tell Pres French thank you for the 10 things we should do on a mission, it's helpful.
5. I love you

The political happenings are still a'happening. There are big rallies and parades through the streets as the People's (popular Actor) party, the BJP (Dangerous anti-Christians) and the currently ruling party duke it out. It's been relatively peaceful and I haven't been injured or endangered or anything like that. I continue to have as much fun as I can by staying busy and teaching lots of lessons. Our finding has slowed down considerably as our small area fails to yield more English speakers, though we are working hard to help some people get baptized. There are a few more people preparing. That C.H.Vijay I've told you about is preparing for his baptism on the 19th of April and has made leaps and bounds from a doctrinally confused petitioner of deep doctrine to a less confused petitioner of deep doctrine who reads the Book of Mormon.

Personal study has been particularly exciting as I have been priveleged of borrowing a book of BYU talks. Stephen R. Covey gave some excellent advice about deriving our worth from Christ (and God) instead of from a relativity with others. If our worth comes from a comparison of the people around us than we are limited, but if we focus on the worth that God assigns to us and our potential then we can praise others "abundantly, not scarcely" and build up others without losing any of our percieved value! Beuatiful. Also, Russel M. Nelson gave a talk about viewing others as Immortals and living by Immortal Principles. When we remove the mortal ideas of culture and random concerns than our perception of others is as the potential they have and the knowledge that their ideas may last for a season but their souls and happiness will continue forever. Let our actions in response to temporary faults not marr our relationships with eternal beings. Wonderful council.

I love you all and know through personal witness that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an eternal truth and a correct organization of principles that will lead us to a complete happiness. The message we share is not the continuation of stories to keep subjects in fear and obedience, it is not a humble attempt to explain the world around us through fictional characters. No, this gospel is a real and wonderful thing that brings peace and understanding into our lives. God is real, Jesus Christ is His son. The true church has correctly been restored and abiding the principles found in the scriptures and following modern Prophets and Apostles will bring happiness and safety. It's simple.

This week we had some fun. We were only able to find 4 new investigators by sunday but so far this week (mon+tues) we've found 5. Our lessons are going really well, Elder Shahi and I are good together. Our investigators are preparing for their baptisms. The biggest issue for us now are exams. I showed you that drawing I made about Exams. They really are the devil incarnate because they prevent people from attending church, lessons, and (they claim) reading the scriptures too. Last sunday we watched a video in church and all of the investigators really like it. We are still going to the gym, but we have mixed up some of the days now. We go running sometimes and this morning we played soccor. Its really nice to morph into good shape. My body is great except for my midsection. It is still shrinking, but much slower than before. Maybe that's because I'm starting to cook delicious things. Today I'm making pork burritos. I made tortillas and salsa last night and I'm getting the pork today. Wow it will be good, I'm excited.

It sounds like nobody cares about my brown pants, my white ones were finished and I picked them up last night. They fit really well. It's crazy how good quality clothes you can get here for soooo cheap.

Chaitu says hello, so does Abhishaik. C.H. Vijay is this funny old man, I'm not if I've told you about him or not. Two of his children are returned missionaries and he isn't a member. He has some different ideas that are difficult for him to change but as he's started to read the Book of Mormon (He's halfway through 2nd Nephi now!) he has undergone a change. He has become more receptive and is preparing for baptism on the 19th. I'm so excited for conference, but we don't get to see it until the 2nd week (we'll go to Visak.) I'm really excited to continue this missionary work. ESPECIALLY NOW THAT JOSUE IS GOING ON HIS MISSION AGAIN! THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR HELPING HIM OUT. I got an email from him this week that told me that his papers should be in pretty soon and that he's been going with the Elders. Wow that makes me happy.

This church really is true. Everything is incredible, logical, and exciting. I've concluded my research of Jacob 5 and the significance of blood. I'll send you some fun pictures that I hope you'll like. Keep raising those children so well. My sisters are going to be really grown up when I return. I just realized that I'll miss Emily's graduation. :( It's okay though. I'll see her at BYU!


Elder Shep

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