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, July 29, 2009


We just recently finished our Zone Conference. I absolutely love them. In my interview President Nichols and I discussed the way to quantify unquantifiable goals, like increasing spirituality or (like I asked) increasing the power and authority in my testifying. I was really lucky because he gave a wonderful training just yesterday on testimony and some signs that empower and give credit to our testimonies. The five that he mentioned are:
1. The testimony of the brethren and prophets
2. The scriptures
3. The natural world
4. The personal spiritual experiences we have
5. The results of living the gospel
The first three come from Alma 30, which he quotes from a lot, and the remaining are from D&C though I can't remember where, I think around 66. Anyways, it was really interesting. He also spoke on the importance and sequence of effective goal setting, which I completely agreed with. Sister Nichols spoke of the Reformation and the Restoration. It reviewed a lot of my European history and was taught to help us realize the timeline of the Lord and the perfection of the timing of the restoration. Very enjoyable. I bore my testimony afterwards.

I got to be reunited with Elder Shahi for a little, which was sooo great. He brought some baptismal pictures of Sunny, Bunny, Sandeep, and Bhadra Rao. They blew my mind. I also got letters from Soni, Sunny, Bunny, Chaitu, and Prasad. It was a beautiful thing

love you all,

Here's what I have to say about this week and Hyderabad:
1. Elder DJ is transferred to Kakinada
2. My new comp will be Elder Shaker (from
Chennai, my 2nd native comp and 3rd foreign one (President Nichols praised my ability to get along with anyone )
3. We are teaching an African from
Cameroon. He talks FOREVER, but it's cool that we're teaching him, he came 2 months ago.
4. There are tons of Muslims here, they are much nicer than America perceives them to be.
5. It rained again and I walked through mid-shin high poop water, soaking wet. Gross.
6. I just received an email that says I've got a package waiting for me. Thanks, I'm excited.

I love you!

So, this past week we popped out 11 investigators, 9 of which I found with Elder Sekar. Good things are happening with this companionship. I'm improving myself. My ab workouts are still helping me slim and shape my core, though I still have some weight to drop. The total weight dropped since my arrival is 11 pounds. I'm 80.3 kgs, or about 177 pounds. I would be optimistic about weight loss in my future... but I recently ate a whole chicken. Really. I bought a 140 rupee "grill chicken" that tasted like a rotisserie chicken and was delicious. It was about 50% bigger than the rotisserie chickens you buy at grocery stores. So... I'm cool.

So, I'll tell you about yesterday:
1. We got a call early in the morning that Vikas' mother would not let Vikas be baptized. :(
2. We met with Vikas and his mother with a Telugu speaker and explained things and she accepted! :)
3. We asked Vikas if he was following the
Word of Wisdom so that he can be baptized on Sunday (that was the plan.) Nope. :(

He'll be waiting another week. Sad, but it's for the best I guess.


4. We went to one investigators home for a birthday party! Her daughter Blessy was turning 16. We had a member with us, Elizabeth, a convert of about 2 years. She is probably 45 or something and comes from a strong Christian background and I guess has just brought her old ideas to her current, Mormon, beliefs. She asked if we would give Blessy a priesthood blessing, we said no, it wouldn't be appropriate (she wanted us to give her an OIL blessing!) So, we told her no. She called over Rachel and told her we would give her a blessing. NOOOO! We told the man FILMING the party to turn off the camera and I gave a blessing. THAT WAS AKWARD.

So, there's your story. I'm doing good.
I want to thank you for the package. I enjoyed it soooo much. I love the summer sausage, those Koalas are definitely delicious and gone, thanks for the extra effort for them! The socks are being put to use and I LOVED the letters. They were great, thanks to everyone. Good humor.

The pics are:
Unlimited kebabs and such at Barbecue nation
Me and Elder Sekar
Elder Sekar is cool

I love to hear from you!
Love, Kyle

1. Tell me about some of the missionaries... What kind of background did your companion come from? was he raised in the Church?

>Elder Sekar is from Hindu background (early in life,) then his family converted to Roman Catholic, and he was baptized LDS when he was 14, so ten years ago. His parents also, but I think later on. He was basically raised Christian, but only LDS by his two older sisters who were baptized before him and also served missions.
>Elder Ward (our district leader) is from
Idaho. His father's professions is raising cattle. He was a wrestler and has large, toned muscles. I'm not as strong as him :( but I could be if I just eat more protien and work out.
>Elder Michelsen is from Idaho also. His parents have a giant house and recently remodeled it to include a racquetball court. He has a few snowmobiles . He fancies himself a businessman and a philosopher and wants to go to Harvard...Good luck.
>Elder Cranney is from some smaller town in
Utah. He won a national shooting competition and is pretty much a country boy. He is a hunter type, I could see him with a full beard, a plaid shirt and jeans. He's cool
>Elder Lofgran is from
West Jordan, Utah. He played violin for hundreds of dollars at receptions and weddins around his area. He is paying for his mission completely on his own. We came from the same batch.

2. How often does your zone get together?

>Every 3 months for Multi-zone conference, that's about it. I have yet to attend a zone activity.

3. What did you do this past P-day and
on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday? I like hearing about your teachings to others.

>Last P-day we ate lunch at SUBWAY and then we headed over to the church with monopoly and a ping-pong table. That's it. It was fun, but kind of a waste.
>Sunday we went to church. Unfortunately we didn't get to have Vikas' baptism because he wasn't following the
Word of Wisdom, but he's good now, his mother agreed and he is being baptized this Sunday.
>Monday we had Weekly Planning Session until 12:30 or so. I then cooked Dahl. It's like a thick split pea soup that is good on rice. It turned out REALLY thick, too thick. Then we went out and ended up meeting with very few people when they didn't answer their phones and weren't home.
>Tues I had an exchange with elder Ward. He was fun to be with, we got two member-present lessons, a new investigator, and helped one awesome member (Michael Moses) prepare his talk on the sacrament.
>Today (Wed) we moved from our old junk apartment to an amazing new one. We are not done setting up and unpacking but it's nice to be in a CLEAN apartment, it will help a lot. We had lunch at Paradise, a "fancy" "hotel (it's only a restaraunt but they are confused about the use of that word here)." I had fried rice.

4. Is the weather any cooler with the monsoon season?

Yes, but only because it's a whole lot windy-er

5. Are you being careful to stay healthly... WASH your hands, don't get bit my mesquitos, do you sleep with that mesquito net?.. make sure you drink clean water. Remember and ounce of prevention is worth a ton of medicine.

> I'm doing my best to stay healthy. I garuntee that I eat healthier than most of the other elders. I remember my vegetables (carrots, tomatos, potatos, and onions) and I eat oranges and mangos mostly. I DO wash my hands. I avoid mosquitos, I don't sleep with a net though. I take vitamin C every day, multivitamins, and anti-disease medicine.

6. Are you able to keep in touch with anyone of your group from the MTC? Do you still have about 80 missionaries in the mission?

>We have something like 88 missionaries now, but we will only be losing them throughout this year. Visas aren't coming through, the elders that should be here now are in
Maryland and... somewhere else now as they wait for visas. I only keep in touch with Elder Lofgran and Elder Riley because they are close by in Hyderabad. I'm not supposed to email other elders.

7. Are there any missionaries in Bangalore?

> Yes. Elder Addagabottu (my trainer) is serving there as a Zone Leader with his comp and I think there are another 4 there.


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