My service in the Kolkata Branch Relief Society Presidency dates back to the year that I was baptized.
The memories of the two young missionaries, Elder Daniel McCay from the USA and Elder Rakesh Kumar from Republic of Fiji, proselytizing, teaching and finally fixing a date for my baptism is still so vivid in my mind.
Born into a dual-religion (Hindu /Christian) family did not pose any restrictions whatsoever over my choice of faith. Being educated in a Roman Catholic Convent and growing up in a secular environment further enriched my exposer.
However, I have to admit that I was rather drawn towards Christianity since, as young girls, both my sister and I had frequently accompanied our mother to services in the local Baptist Church; to which my father, being a very loving, tolerant and liberal man, never objected. He later, himself converted to Christianity.
Many years later, when the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came knocking on our door, I was no stranger to the gospel except that I was introduced to the restored Church of Jesus Christ and the most amazing plan of our Heavenly Father for me.
The organized pattern under which the Church functioned under a living Prophet and the sense of belonging, which each member of the Church feels was, I guess, the turning point of my conversion and since then, there is no looking back.
As the Kolkata Branch Relief Society President, there were many challenges that stared me in the face. Being a “sapling” of a branch then, and with very few members, there was hardly any scope for functioning as a full-fledged Relief Society Presidency. I had no counselors. But that did not deter the spirit and desire to contribute towards the growth of the branch as a “one-man army”.
Meeting in my home after the missionaries were re-called from Kolkata, made it easier to achieve this goal as I had numerous opportunities to serve and minister amidst my hectic work schedule. This was one balancing act that I so enjoyed. I am forever grateful to my late mother and cousin who always whipped up a meal after services for the entire branch, whenever we had visitors at branch on Sundays. This continued over the next few years until we found an address where we now regularly meet.
Now, 25 years down the road, with “Sisters-Power” having the majority membership in the Kolkata Branch, Relief Society has finally gotten the first ever official counselors in its Presidency. On 30th June 2019, we were blessed to sustain, set apart and induct two very special, capable and strong women of faith – Sister Manasi Kundu and Sister Rita Chatterjee as first and second counselors in the Relief Society Presidency. As a new team, we continue to have our teething phases, but that has given us experience, unity and strength to grow further.
Relief Society along with the Branch Presidency has been involved with the Church Humanitarian services in serving and ministering to the needy. One such service was distribution of blankets to “Prabartak Samgha Home” in Salt Lake, Kolkata by the branch members.
Sister Rita Chatterjee, Relief Society second counselor, along with her son, Debdeep, volunteered to represent the branch in distributing blankets to the needy in Sunderbans, Ganges Delta, West Bengal, in association with “New Life Charitable Trust.”
Sister Chatterjee, along with her extended family, also raised funds during the lockdown to buy essential commodities and distribute them to the needy on Mother’s Day.
A project with the Bidhannagar Rotary Club is still pending owing to the pandemic. We are, however, hopeful that we shall be able to resume with serving the needy physically in the near future.
In these unusual and difficult times, the Relief Society sisters have been ministering to one another and also to family and friends. Social media has played a key role in achieving this.
Sister Manasi Kundu, Relief Society first counselor, has recently enrolled in the BYU- PATHWAY program and has set a precedent for others to follow suit. This knowledge, which will be acquired by her, will be beneficial for all in the branch.
Though our journey as a Relief Society Presidency may have just taken wings, we are confident of achieving greater heights. May Heavenly Father continue to guide, inspire and bless the Relief Society Presidency so that He can use us as an instrument for His plans.