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, September 25, 2009

SEPT 2009

Sept 30th: Matt and Mark, 18 months... Crazy. I'm excited for them though. I'm sure they're doing great on their missions. I hear from each occasionally
Good work with Bill . He's a great guy. I'm glad that he came and visited me. I DO have a pretty easy time loving investigators and members. I'm not sure why it's easy. I DO have to try harder for some than for others, but that's life. We currently have about 9 coming to sacrament meeting regularly. About 7 of them stay the whole time. We have 8 people still set for October. It's going to be amazing, I hope it turns out like we're hoping. We have some wonderful families and individuals.

I'm actually focusing my reading on D&C now, I love it. I DID read Peter, I like Peter. I AM KEEPING HEALTHY. I'm looking better daily. I got an email from Emily, she's doing FANTASTIC. I'm proud of her. She's going to be a bigger name at BYU than I ever was :(But she's awesome. I'm going to have her get me permission to have long hair there ;)Beth is a fun girl, but she sure does sound busy. Now is the time for her to do all of those things. Marie... haha.

Here's what happened today. We had two meal appointments back to back. Breakfast at the Laduke's (Senior couple from AZ, funny couple,) then lunch at Mary's (a 1 year convert getting married to the Branch Secretary.) So my stomach is FULLLLL. Now I'm enjoying some emails. Did you know that Alexia is getting married in December? Did you know that Stephanie is going on a mission? I'm not sure about that last one, but Emily told me that was the case.Missionary work:We are teaching this new brother named Robert Richard. He's unemployed, so he has PLENTY of time to meet with us. The first prayer he said before reading the Book of Mormon he felt freed from his burdens, upon finishing he prayed again and felt the same sensation. He's being fellowshipped very well. I'm excited for him. I'm planning on sending you a video weekly, at least I'll try. It's fun

More news:1. I talked with Elder Tribbet's friend who is now finishing here in India (Elder Rees.) When I met his father the first thing that he said to me was: "Elder, your shirt is yellow." Doh. I'm planning on buying some new shirts, because he's right.2. A sister from Rajahmundry named Sowjanya is going to TACOMA WASHINGTON on her mission. Cool huh? Where do G+G live? If they happen to get a sister missionary named Sister Sowjanya who looks Indian they may consider asking her about me. I took her on exchange a few times.3. So, I've though about it, and if you're dying to send me anything else in that package I'll give you some good suggestions: 65% cocoa Ghirardelli chocolate chips and a package of jolly ranchers. Wow, that would be cool.4. Yes, I have that DVD of pics that I'm going to send you. No, I haven't sent it yet. I need to do that today. Furthermore, I plan on sending some shirts I bought unnecessarily that I don't need to carry around.5. Don't hate me, but I want to buy a custom-tailored white performance suit like Matthew Bellamy. It's like a tuxedo with coattails. It would probably cost 60 to 70 dollars. Like, 3 times less than it should cost. I'm sure that I shouldn't get one, but it would be fantastic. I'll let you know what I decide.

SEPT 23rd: There was a monkey outside of our door, it was fun. The first video that I sent was me eating a bug because I realized that the size of the video was small enough to send through email. Also, it actually featured me. Indian people don't eat bugs.

Thank you for your extremely thorough and thoughtful email. I Do remember that Green Eggs and Ham book. I'm not sure where it is now, but I do remember reading it. I promise to marry a wife that will read to my children and get them smart. Don't worry about that. You have a rational and intelligent son. My wife will qualify through personality, qualities, and prayer, and maybe socio-economic background similarities. I'll let you and dad give me an evaluation.

Petty Cash Guys basically reimburse elders for all expenses that we aren't expected to take from our regular funds (elec. bills, repairs, apt. furnishing.) I do reports, and receipts, but it's not an overwhelming responsibility.Missions ARE a wonderful time to read the scriptures. I hope to be able to study them as much, if not more when I get home. I figure that once I have this foundation here, my study will reveal incredible things.

We gave a blessing to a church member's friend's father who got hurt somehow. He was paralyzed (full body) and was pretty serious. We went and gave a blessing. He's sitting up now and can move half of his body and respond. Anyway, they're really thankful.We dedicated a home yesterday and cast out an evil spirit. In case you didn't know that's the SECOND time I've done that. It was interesting. I just read a section in D&C somewhere in the early 20's that talked about performing such ordinance only at the request of others. Well, they requested, so we performed.It really is nice to use our priesthood.I'm not sure if there's anything really interesting to tell you about this week. We made corndogs last Wednesday and I'm making pork burritos today. Elder Sekar really doesn't have too many desires, so I grace him with foreign foods that he can say that he's tried. I've made cornbread 3 times in the past week. I'm addicted. It's delicious. We found 3 families all around each other just recently. They are somewhat promising.

OH!South India is getting reworked. They are creating 3 new districts.Bangalore and Hyderabad are having their boundaries rearranged and new branches created.Historic.We are so excited.This will happen on Oct 11.Transfers are on Oct 16.We'll see.Mmmm, people are noticing the weight that I'm losing and the muscles that I'm gaining. I've been jumping rope a lot to try and lose weight, but I'm not sure it's been doing too much for me.That's about it.

SEPT 16th Yeah, sorry about last week.Before I respond I will update you on what's going on:o Elder Sekar and I are getting along very well. Although we run into difficulties we are always able to resolve them and invite the spirit into the lessons that we teach. We had a "branch mission plan coordination meeting" and worked with the branch president, elders quorum president, young men representative, and the clerks to plan out the efforts of the branch. We discussed all of the part member families and worked out goals for baptisms. We planned out 15 individuals that we feel could be baptized before the end of the year and currently we have 8 of those people set for baptism (all in October.) I just found out about 5 minutes ago that I will be the new "petty cash man." This has cast some doubts in my mind about being transferred. In fact, it seems to me that since I'm being trained two weeks into the transfer that it would be improbable that I would be transferred only a month after I assumed this role. Things never happen as I presume...o I did a heavy cleaning of our apartment today. I feel the spirit when things are clean and organized. I'm proud of the organization that I've been able to do so far.

We have a very detailed map of the area and most of the investigators marked with little post it notes. We have a bound copy of the branch directory with those people in our area color coded to let the viewer know they are in our area and which general area to find them. We have updated branch member addresses and phone numbers and made a running list of branch member visits to keep up good branch relationships with everyone in our area. The area book is clean and organized, updated and detailed. Seriously, I'm getting a little prideful, but the next elder that comes to this area is going to have no problem picking up the work.o I finished the New Testament and have started working on the Doctrine and Covenants. Currently I've read the Book of Mormon twice, the NT once, the PoGP once, and Jesus the Christ once. I'm in Numbers in the OT and halfway through Jesus the Christ again. I love the scriptures. I've never appreciated them anywhere near this amount before. I read the Book of Mormon twice before my mission and barely understood it (I got a B in Book of Mormon at BYU you might remember.) I feel MUCH more comfortable with them now and love to teach from them.o I've burned all of my pictures and movies onto a DVD and it's ready to send. I just need to get it packaged and send it off.o

I also love serving a mission. I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve and help express God the Father and the Savior's love to all these people!I'm VERY glad to hear that you and dad are discussing the scriptures. What are you reading now? What are your individual studies like? Does the family read together still?It seems that working in adjacent rooms would be distracting. It was tough enough at Verizon to keep from joining in on a good conversation and focus on the work that was given to me to do. When you are given freedom to do whatever and have to be self-motivated to get things done it would seem harder. I'm glad that you're getting it done though.I don't know how much "often" is to hear from Emily. I forgot, how often did I call you? Twice weekly? I did enjoy talking to you, I imagine I always will (unless you become a cranky old woman (which I'm positive will never happen.)) I'm glad that I have a thoughtful and intelligent mother.

Remember how well you encouraged me to read when I was a child? I'm extremely thankful that you got me to do that. The reason that I'm able to wax eloquent now is a result of your efforts to get me involved with good books. Thanks. Also, thanks for getting me to play piano. I made little to no progress when I resisted, but the skills that I somehow retained are still manifest in these last days. I'm enjoying playing Moonlight (and Elder Lofgran loves to hear me play it.) I still remember and can get through many parts of it. When it's perfect I'll make a movie of myself and send it over.Tell father to get healed. I don't want him in pain. On the subject of blessings, I get about a hundred chances to give blessings here. The faith of these recent converts and their friends is amazing.

SEPT 9th: I'm frustrated.I just wrote for 15 minutes.I'm using a public computer in not-so-perfect circumstances and unreliable situations. The computer just shut off and now I have to reconstruct my email without spending the same amount of time.I love that Dad is able to start his business and I'm praying for him and the family.I'm excited for Emily.I'm excited for Beth.I love Marie, make her have interesting things to say.I didn't draw the pictures on that shirt, but i bought it because it looks like I drew the pictures on that shirt.Unfortunately we only had 3 investigators at church this Sunday.

SEPT 2nd: You're right, the gospel is true!It's nice to hear about the family. Sorry that your kids are gone. You'll be okay.Utah sounds like it was a lot of fun! I miss my family and extended family too! I miss everyone, though I still have yet to get homesick, that's not bad is it? I promise that I was sick once at BYU, if it makes you feel any better. I have amazing parents.News:We had a baptism on Sunday and 14 investigators at church. We had a crazy awesome week. It's still raining like Noah's ark over here and the streets are pretending to be rivers. Silly streets, streams aren't for cities! Elder Sekar are working like well-groomed dogs and seeing the fruits of our labors. I love it when I get things organized and figured out, success quickly follows.Additionally requests:1. Check up on Jeffrey Scott, or have Emy do it on facebook or something. I need to know if he's okay or not. An email address would be nice.2. Please send the sheet music for Sonata Una Fantasia, either a copy of the sheets or a digital version I can print here. I want to play it!I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!I'm serious.This gospel does amazing things to people!The evidences are undeniable.

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