Monday, March 7, 2016

7 March 2016

This week was characterized largely by a couple really exciting events, with lots of dull backdrop. On Tuesday, we didn't do much out of the ordinary, besides finding a very promising new investigator and going on an exchange. On Wednesday, not much happened. On Thursday, we had weekly planning, and had quail for lunch, which was interesting. Friday was where things got interesting. We had zone training in the morning, where a number of announcements were made. One of the biggest ones was that a large batch of mission calls just came in! And even more so, one of them was for one of our branch members. We got to hand it off that night, amid much partying and rejoicing. Arun Nataraj will soon be Elder Nataraj! The branch presidency and us went over to his house, along with a couple of his relatives, and read his call letter with him.

Saturday was where things went from interesting to downright thrilling. The day was uneventful: lots of finding. We met with the new investigator in the morning, Sudharshan. He is from Sri Lanka, here on a student visa, and is very interested in learning the gospel. He only speaks Tamil, but since Elder Kommalapati also speaks that, it isn't too big of a problem. He is now officially on date for baptism! That night, things got even more exciting. We were at a bakery, getting a quick drink, when we were approached by a random guy. He told us is name was Immanuell, and that he was a former Christian. None of this set off any alarm bells. Elder Kommalapati and he started speaking in Tamil, and I let my attention drift a bit. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. When I next looked up, five or six guys had shown up. This did set off some alarms in my head, so I grabbed my cycle and tried to leave. One of the guys grabbed it too, and held it in place. That was when I figured out that for sure we were in trouble. In no time, a group of 50-60 Hindu extremists had formed, blocked us in, and were verbally abusing us. What crime were we charged with? Hold your breath, this part is exciting! Handing out a pamphlet! Cue collective gasp of horror and disbelief.  None of the mob members wanted to touch us, but were more than willing to shout at us, take a million pictures and videos, and keep us from leaving while they called the police. Fortunately for me, I don't speak Tamil, and almost none of them spoke English. Elder Kommalapati told me afterward that the abuse was pretty graphic, though. Anyway, the police eventually showed up (the mob had gathered in no time flat, but the police took a while). They quickly disbanded the mob, and got in an argument with them, even. We were told to just go, but then the mob got even more angry, so the police let us lock up our cycles, and took us down to the station. There, we had to give them our information a dozen times, had even more pictures taken, and got threatened by the head officer there, who told me that he would cancel my visa. I think I faked serious pretty well, but I'd been cracking jokes that whole time (not to anyone who looked or acted like they'd harm me) , and when I heard him make that claim, I nearly laughed in his face. Fortunately, I held it back, and we had no adverse consequences except being told to report back in the morning with my passport.

Sunday went about the same, just less exciting. We went to the station right after sacrament meeting, and got asked more questions and had our pictures taken again. They copied my passport and gave it back, and we were let off with a final warning. What we were being warned against isn't clear, but the inspector was very definite that if we repeated it, bad things would happen. We spent most of the rest of the day in church, meeting with people there. We aren't locked down, but were told to wear nonproselyting clothes and no nametags. President Berrett is considering a transfer, based on the fact that all of the Hindu radicals in the city probably have our photos by now, but his decision is still pending. That's the news for the week; exciting, huh?

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