Sunday, December 28, 2014

Around the India Bangalore Mission

Our mission is wonderfully diverse in cultures, peoples, and countries. Today as we were traveling to an adjacent city to attend Church, we saw a inter-city bus with route information written in four different languages utilizing four completely different alphabets.

Today's post will illustrate some of the places we have seen and the people who live in the India Bangalore Mission.


On the main highway between Bangalore and the airport is an old Hindu Temple. Recently I noticed that a portion of the complex has been painted, indicating that it again is being used.

Old Hindu Temple on the outskirts of Bangalore
The streets of Bangalore are a crazy, eclectic mixture of automobiles, lorries, auto-rickshaws, motor-scooters, animals, ox-drawn carts, pedestrians, bicycles, and vendors. Traffic seems to move, though not always as smoothly or as quickly as we would like.

Bangalore Street


Southwest of Bangalore is the city of Mysore, which used to be the seat of government for the Raj or king of what now is the State of Karnataka (where Bangalore is located). In the early 1900's the Raj constructed a magnificent palace. Karnataka no longer is ruled by a king, but the palace continues to be a reminder of the history of this portion of south central India.
Palace at Mysore

On the east coast of India is the city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras. Like Bangalore, the streets of Chennai are full of people, engaged in a wide variety of pursuits. We constantly marvel at the beautiful colors worn by the women of India.

Street Corner, Chennai, India

Rural India:

On one of our trips out of Bangalore, we attended a Hindu wedding. For a detailed description, see the blog post dated13 July 2014.
Women and children enjoying breakfast following a traditional Hindu wedding
On one occasion, while traveling from Coimbatore, a city south of Bangalore, Terry and I decided to take a "back" road, rather than the main road. We marveled at the rich agricultural areas and the smiles on the faces of many of the villagers we passed.

Rural India, between Coimbatore and Bangalore

Hill Country above Coimbatore:

All of our missionaries serve in or around populations centers. We emphasize building from centers of strength. Coimbatore is a gateway to the hill country where Indians vacation in an effort to escape the heat of the lowlands.  The hill country also contains many national parks and wildlife reserves. Sister Berrett and I took a "preparation day" (actually about a day and a half) to visit the area above Coimbatore.
Sweeping the grass in municipal park, Coonoor, India

Wild elephants in the Mudumalail Tiger Reserve


Our most distant missionaries are located in the city of Visakhapatnam or Visak (also called Visag). This city is about 1.5 hours by air from Bangalore. We have a wonderful district with four branches there.

Visak street vendor selling pomegranates

Also located in the northern portion of our mission is the city of Rajahmundry. We have a large district of the Church there. Rajahmundry sits on the Godavari River.
Bridge over the Godavari River
We are told that in July of 2014, millions of Hindus will come to Rajahmundry to take ritual baths in the river. This event occurs every 12 years.

Sri Lanka:

Our mission also includes the adjacent country of Sri Lanka. We meet with the saints in Sri Lank every two or three months.
Muslim school boys in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka is the city of Galle. This city was a Portuguese trading center in the late 1600's, then was captured by the Dutch, came under British rule, and finally at independence, became a regional center for the country.
Church and lighthouse, Galle
On one of our trips, we joined our two senior missionary couples to travel to the Wilpathu National Park. We enjoyed seeing many wild, native animals.
Wild elephant, Sri Lanka
We do not often get the opportunity to be "tourists". But, when our responsibilities allow a few minutes to visit the countryside, we continue to be fascinated by these wonderful countries and the people who live here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sri Lanka Branch Builders

Last week was Thanksgiving. Sister Berrett sent a letter to our siblings and children. I am posting it here as it may have wider interest.

27 Nov 2014
Dear Family,

We will be thinking of each of you this Thanksgiving and will feel grateful for each of you.  Hope you have a wonderful day.

We let ourselves get so crazy busy and so today my goal is to send an update to let you know that we are still alive.

It has been a busy time.  We spent last week in Sri Lanka welcoming young branch builders again after 6 years.  We view them as "branch builders" as their assignment is to work with people already members of our Church, but perhaps not attending, with relatives of our members and with good friends of our members. Four Elders (native Sri Lankan) were brought back to work in their home country after each had served a year or more in the Philippines.   

Our flight arrived in Sri Lanka around 10:30 pm on 18 Nov 2014, and then we waited at the airport until 1:30 am when we were joined by the District Pres and his wife.  A short time later the Elders arrived.  Dad looks pretty good for that early in the morning. 
Branch builders return to Sri Lanka for first time in 6 years
Sri Lanka has 3 branches, 2 of which are good sized.  The Elders were so excited to be back to work in their native country.  Dad/Dave says that to whitewash an area (opening an area that has not had missionaries, so no current contacts or familiarity with the area or members) is a challenge. These elders have to whitewash a country!  They are very hard working and dedicated and we feel they will do a great job. 
l-r Elders Wijendran, Rajan, Nugara, and Perera
 The weekend was district conference and our area president, Elder Gong, and his wife came to Sri Lanka to attend.  After the Saturday meetings were over, we went with a small group to a park in Colombo, where in Sept of 1978, Elder Faust dedicated the country of Sri Lanka for missionary work.  It was a very meaningful and sacred feeling as the former District President explained the details of the event.  He was a young man of 25 years at that time, and serving as the district clerk.  
l-r: Pres. Anton (district president), Sister Ann (his wife), Sister Gong, Elder Gong, Bro. Sunil (former district president), Sister Lilani (his wife), Sister Berrett, Pres. Berrett
 Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and it is always nice to spend time there.  We also have a senior couple serving there.  Sister Woodruff was telling us about the district girls camp she organized.  Even though she has lived the last 25-30 years on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, she could not face the tropical wilds of Sri Lanka, so they held camp in the church.  They sang songs, cooked in the kitchen and held classes on first aid, etc,.  Apparently, it was a big success and not one girl got a snake bite.

We will imagine you all having turkey, potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie and look forward to spending it with our family in a couple of years.

We love you all and hope the coming of this Christmas season brings happiness to each of you.

A Mission President's Birthday

My birthday was back in September. At that time, I sent a letter to all of our missionaries. I intended to turn it into a blog post, but failed to do so. But, since repentance is an eternal principle, I will repent and undertake posting the letter written two months ago. I hope it will be of interest.

22 Sep 2014
Elders and Sisters:

Over the past weekend, I passed my birthday. Many of you sent me a text or made a phone call expressing birthday greetings. Today the Assistants presented me with a book containing birthday greetings, cards, and notes from many of you. I have been overwhelmed with love for each and every one of you as I read the letters, text messages and other notes. 

During the past several months I have been reviewing Missionary Recommendation forms for new missionaries. As I do so, the Spirit whispers to me that the "noble and great ones" are being called to the India Bangalore Mission. I know by the confirmation of the Spirit that you are among the very best missionaries anywhere in the world. Each one of you has been called to serve in this mission right now because God knew that you were needed here. You are here because of direct revelation, not merely because of administrative process or because of convenience. Some of you may feel that you should not or cannot be here. Maybe you are overwhelmed because of what is being asked of you. Do not despair. Heavenly Father knows you and He sent you here at this time because this is where you are needed. Sister Berrett and I are blessed now, and will be blessed for eternity, to be able to work with you. We are humbled because of the greatness of your spirits and because of the contributions you will make to God's work now and in the future. 

Under USA customs, birthdays are a time to gather families together, eat too much food, and play with grandchildren. This year on my birthday, I left Sister Berrett in the mission home, flew to Chennai, spent several hours studying, pondering, and then writing study materials for the trainers of new missionaries. Then I went out for the evening to work with a missionary companionship. I enjoyed riding on a bus, walking, meeting with members, walking some more, riding on a train, walking some more, meeting with investigators, walking some more, and then eating cake with the Chennai Zone and several Young Single Adults. I think this may have been the best birthday I have experienced in many years. I loved it.

Thank you to all of you for your dedicated service. We love you.

President Berrett

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Heavenly Father Directs His Work

Recently I received letters from two missionaries which contain experiences which show that Heavenly Father is directing his work. I edited the letters slightly for privacy purposes.

"I had a pretty cool experience on Tuesday this week. My companion and I had just finished teaching this lesson with a member. We were waiting for our food we had ordered from a nearby restaurant. All of a sudden, this guy that was in line in front of me came up so me and shook my hand. He asked me if I remembered his name. I said no because I am not very good with Indian names. He told me that I spoke to him a month back while I was riding my bike and invited him to learn more. He said that he had felt peace when I talked to him, so he went home and read from the Bible. He said that he felt very good and that he quite the use of alcohol. He proceeded to tell me that he wanted to talk with us because he had some questions. It was quite an experience because what are the odds of me meeting a man that I briefly talked to a month back, at a side shop, in India? It was a real testimony builder that miracles really do still happen and they are wrought by faith. We got the opportunity to answer his questions at a later time this week and he seems like a pretty solid investigator. I can't wait to see what happens with him."

From another missionary:

"As a Zone we fasted for New Investigators last week. This week we were able to find many new investigator show up by themselves to us.

"One of them was Bro. R_____. As My Companion and I was in the clinic to get his shots, this brother showed up and asked if we were missionaries. We responded “Yes we are!!” He informed that missionaries visited him 5 years back and he wanted to know more about the message. We were glad to hear that. Unfortunately he is in different area. Hence took his phone number and forwarded to the Elders for further follow up.

"Another on the way home. His name was Ra________. He asked if we are teaching or conducting teaching of Christ!! We responded “Yes we are!!” He informed he will be interested to know more about the teaching. But again unfortunately he is in different area. Hence did the same as above for further follow up.

"Others were through Member Referrals, Part members and Walk-in's to the Chapel. My Companion was amazed to see that we are having teaching pool filled."

 We are grateful for the faith of our missionaries.