Earlier this week Elder Stevens, my companion, and I were out in the farthest part of our area. It's called Kukatpally, and it's halfway between our chapel and the West Marredpally chapel (the other chapel in the stake). It’s probably an hour or 45 minute bus ride from our apartment. We were out there trying to locate a colony called Balaji Nagar, and then hopefully locate the apartment complex. It doesn't really help that that there are colonies called Bala Nagar and Bajaj Nagar nearby. It was just one of those days where you think nothing is going your way and we just couldn’t find it. We started going through the names of the people that live in Balaji Nagar and hoping we'll recognize an active member's name that we can call. No luck, but we do notice that an inactive has a number listed. So we decide
d to call the number, and she actually picked up!!! I know that might not be so surprising in America, but here it is!
The reason is, people here switch their sim cards so often! They are always changing numbers. She answers...and she speaks good English! So a blessing for us. She told us how to get to her house. She was at work but said her cousin and mom were home. So we headed over. We met the cousin, he is studying here and is a non-member! Part Member families! The best! So we talk to the mom, and they kind of went inactive because they were moving around so much that they just kind of stopped coming. They had actually only been to church in Madinaguda once! Then they moved and were there for a few months and then moved back and didn't know when church was so just didn't come. Elder Stevens and I are thinking 'Awesome! We can get an inactive family back to church, and teach their non-member family members!” So we taught the non-member cousin and set him with a baptism date.
We head out and before getting in an auto to get back to the main road, we decide to stop at a bakery on the ground floor and get something to drink. So we buy some drinks and the shop owner greets us by saying 'Hello Elders!” Now that's weird, the church isn't well known here so very very few people know what we do, and what church we're from, let alone know our titles. So we start talking to him thinking that he's probably a member. Turns out that he's not a member but has family that are members in Coimbatore! He's also not a member!!! What are the chances of that? I'll tell you, nearly zero! Especially when your area has a million or more people.
After that amazing find, we call that same sister who we called before and asked her when she would be home so we could meet her and talk with her. She said that we could come over Thursday at 7:30 pm. So that's exactly what we did. We came a little early so we could talk to the bakery owner again. He doesn't seem too interested but I know that we didn't meet him by chance on the ground floor running a bakery in a building that has an inactive family living in it. We'll start to work with him slowly. He really enjoys talking to us, so I'm sure it'll lead to lessons soon.
Back to the main story. We head up to the apartment and meet her. Her cousin was gone for a few days helping his family move from a different part of town, to a place where the family will be a little closer. So we just talk to her and she tells us that her husband is baptized too! We couldn't believe it, we didn't even have his records. So it'll be a little bit of a hunt to find his records. But there is some bad news to this story. Her husband shortly after being baptized had gotten into a word of wisdom problem. It's been growing for a while, and a few days prior she had given him 6 months to change and save their marriage. Well, then she told us how she had been praying for help and strength and a way to help her husband make the change. Then our call came. To us, we were just two frustrated missionaries trying to find Balaji Nagar. To her, we were the answer to her prayers. That's something that really hit me this week. When we find a long lost member, it's never by accident, but we find them when they are most ready to come back and when they most need the Lord. We were in Kukatpally on a Tuesday for the very reason of finding this sister and her family. To help her husband see that the path to becoming the husband that he wants to be is in the very church he was baptized into so long ago. That's why we're out here. Not just to baptize and get new members, but also to help those that have lost their way.
We found her cousin to teach and this sister and her husband to bring back to activity. This time with her husband by her side. I know I'm doing the Lord's work. He's directing us every step of the way.