Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hyderabad, May 25

This week some interesting occurences went on with a 22yo brother named Siddharth that we're teaching. The first time we met him about eight weeks back, he was wearing a Playboy shirt (though he might not have known what that actually meant) and was telling us how his primary purpose of life was 'to enjoy', along with rather lewd references about sisters in general and specifically his plans to visit his two girlfriends in Pune. (He's from Maharashtra, a place called Solapur.)

I sighed, took a deep breath, questioned how I could ever connect with this worldly person, thought deeply, and opened my Bible. We read with him a story in the New Testament you might know or remember, the Parable of the Talents. A brief review either way: one man is given five talents, another two, another one, the last buries it in the ground and is scolded severely, the first two take theirs and double it and are rewarded richly. He had a book his friend Lakshman, a church member friend, had left him, and we assigned him to read a chapter on the same topic, called "Developing Your Talents." We came the next day, Tuesday, and he was completely changed.

He read the chapter, he loved it, and he wanted to listen to everything we had to say. He stopped drinking 4 cups of tea a day, changed his plans with his girlfriend and his whole attitude and demeanor towards life, and started praying, reading the scriptures and coming to church and volleyball, also spending several hours in the hot sun searching for a new room for a church member named Vijaya whose family is kicking her out of her house.

This Friday, a chain of events started with his cousin-brother going and taking a couple thousand rupees worth of diesel from Siddharth's work site that he maintains (a cell phone tower). Siddharth let him take it - he thought it was a legitimate request and didn't realize his cousin-brother was going to steal it. His cousin-brother was caught and fired. Siddharth didn't get into any trouble but suffered several consequences like his work site being moved 30 minutes away - it used to be next to the church, so he would come every day to pray and play volleyball - and not being able to come to church and his scheduled baptism on Sunday. Siddharth was pretty let down and depressed about this. We were talking on Monday night. The conversation went something like this, in more broken English than this:

Siddharth: "All of my relatives are calling me and asking me, why Parmeshwar has come back?"

Me: "Did you tell them the truth?"

Siddharth :No, I just told them 'Job is not there.' Tell me, I did the right thing?"

Me: "[some hemming and hawing on my part because I had no idea what the right answer was.] Well, why didn't you tell them?"

Siddharth: "I was praying about what to do. Immediately after praying, the idea came to mind, don't tell them. It's the first time he's done that. If I told them, afterwards they would all be scolding him, 'Why did you do that,' 'Why did you do that." Then he might feel all embarassed by that and do it again." (Jacob omit this) [He later went on to explain how he spent 10,000 rupees out of his own pocket to erase the police complaint against him in case it ever came up for future jobs. And keep in mind this guy earns maybe 4 or 5 thousand rupees a month.]
Me: {deeply impressed} "Well, I think you did the right then Siddharth."

Siddharth: "He said, ki (='that' in Hindi), let me stay at your site and do other job. I told him. ki, you can't do that. Maybe some supervisor come, then they say, We trusted you Siddharth. And I kept telling him, ki, don't smoke, don't drink. (He used to keep coming to Siddharth's site 'fully drunk') He's my elder brother. Each time I told, he just tells, ki, 'I know what is right and what is wrong.' I was sitting next to him on Sunday and I told him about stopping the police complaint and that I wouldn't tell our relatives. I told him, ki, I'm doing this for you."

Me: "What did he say?"

Siddharth: "Silent."

Me: "It's so frustrating, isn't it? You love someone and you give them all of your help and attention and love and they aren't even grateful."

Siddharth: "So frustrating yaar!"

Me: "[laughs] Well I know how it feels too. We deal with that every day. Listen, I want to tell you something. Can I tell?"

Siddharth: "Tell."

Me: "I was asking my leader about that a while ago, and he said, 'Welcome to the club.' Every person who wants to do good things feels like this. It's part of being a good person. We can't feel the joy from helping others without feeling like that. It's all part of the package. [I open my scriptures].

Here, look at this in the Book of Mormon, a brother named Alma. "I trust that I shall also have joy over you, nevertheless I do not desire that my joy over you should come by the cause of so much afflictions and sorrow which I have had for the brethren at Zarahemla, for behold, my joy cometh over them after wading through much affliction and sorrow.'

Or here, a brother named Ammon: 'And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul, and we supposed our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.''

Or here, this brother is named Mormon. 'And my people began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of their blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land. And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abominations. Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.''

So you're not alone."

[Siddharth continues describing his brother's behavior and complaining about it, but it's clear he's happy to have someone to talk to, who understands.] Siddharth: "In world, 80 percent of the people don't care about other people. They only care about 'Myself.' I'm happy to be here with 20 percent." [He smiles, and slaps my knee.]

That's life - all's well.

With love,
Sam

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