April 6th, 2011 by admin

23 Comments

A Pillar of Faith in New Delhi

A Pillar of Faith in New Delhi

Swarupa Katuka

At A Glance

New Delhi, India

Swarupa Katuka was born and raised in India, joined the Church in 1988, and currently lives in New Delhi. In 1995, as the mother of two children, Swarupa decided to give her third child to family friends who couldn’t have any children of her own. In this interview, she shares an intimate look into her daily life, the state of the Church in India, and the relationship she has with her adopted daughter.

Tell me about yourself and your family.

I was born on May 10, 1964 in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India, to my parents, Appa Rao and Siromani Kommu. I completed a double bachelor’s degree in Science and Education at the Womens College in Rajahmunry, and a Master’s degree in Science from Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

I currently teach Science to 11- through 15-year-olds in a government school. I have been teaching for 16 years. For fun, my hobbies include reading, cooking and stitching.

LDS_woman_photo_swarupa2

My husband, Suvarna Kumar Katuka, is an immigration specialist and provides legal services to multinational corporations. We have one son, Joshua Kumar, age 19, who is currently serving a mission; and one daughter, Timnah, age 17.

What is an average day like for you?

Mornings start with prayers and then I make breakfast and prepare to go to school at 7:50 a.m. The school I teach at is very close to our house, within walking distance. I get home from school at 2:15 p.m., make lunch and usually rest for a while. Sometimes I accompany my daughter to her afternoon seminary class; otherwise I stay home and clean or wash clothes.

In the evenings, our family of three has Family Home Evening and then we have dinner together. Then I prepare for the next day; I don’t usually go to bed until 11 p.m. or midnight. Before going to bed, I read my scriptures and write in my journal. Then I go to sleep. That’s my basic routine; some days we visit other members, and some days I teach seminary too.

How did you prepare your son to serve a mission?

Joshua is serving in Chennai, India, more than 2,000 kilometers away. He writes us wonderful letters and he loves the mission. He is happy; he wanted to serve a mission from the beginning. I think the teachings at Church, and meeting missionaries who served in our area, influenced him. To prepare him to serve a mission, we usually had Family Home Evening and family scripture study when these kids were young. We attend church meetings 100% in our life time.

My husband joined the Church in 1984, and served a mission in India from 1985-1987. In fact, he and his companions were the first Indian missionaries to serve in India.

How did you first learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

I had been searching for a church to be baptized into; I knew that baptism was necessary for salvation. My husband’s family is LDS, and his sister was my friend long before I married him. She introduced me to the Church. I went to the Church a few times and felt good about it. I liked the Church organization and its systems. The LDS Church in our hometown was very small with few members, but I felt something and I joined right away without even telling my father.

I read the Book of Mormon after a year; the first time I read it, I didn’t understand–I came to understand it slowly. Now I understand it fully with no doubts. The teachings and examples and stories are wonderful and good. We read as a family and my children love the gospel because of the Book of Mormon. It truly affects our lives.

We read as a family and my children love the gospel because of the Book of Mormon. It truly affects our lives.

What is the Church like in India?

We have two missions in India: India Bangalore and India New Delhi. There are three districts in the New Delhi mission. We belong to New Delhi India District; there are seven branches in our district with about 1,050 members in the district total. I belong to New Delhi 1st Branch. We have about 80 members attending regularly.

We have regular activities outside of Sunday meetings, like a recent School of the Prophets conducted by our mission president, President Jackson. It was a wonderful meeting for all auxiliary leaders. I was really impressed and came to know better my responsibility as a member and as a leader.

LDS_woman_photo_swarupa4

As a Young Women President I accompanied Sister Dalton [current General Young Women President] to visit some families in New Delhi, India. I was also asked to give the opening prayer when President Hinckley visited India in 2005; 600 saints from all over India attended the meeting. For security reasons we were not able to shake his hand, but I sat on the dais where he was sitting. We felt that he was a chosen leader and God’s prophet.

What has been your favorite calling?

I have served in several auxiliaries like Primary, Relief Society and Young Women. I’ve liked all the callings, but I like Primary most, because I learned more in Primary. When I was baptized 20 years ago, the Church was very small in New Delhi and there were very few Indian members. We weren’t able to learn as much because there was no one to teach us. Now, serving in Primary helps me learn a lot with their songs and short stories; because of my limited English language skills, teaching in Primary is easier for me. Our branch conducts Sunday services in English; I use English and Hindi while teaching my lessons.

In 1995, you gave your third child up for adoption. What led you to do this?

My husband and I had had our second child in 1994 and felt that we were done having children. A short time later, we found out we were pregnant with our third child.

A man named Brother Luther was a childhood friend of my husband’s; he is also a member of the Church and had been married for 13 years but he and his wife were unable to have children. I knew they had been trying to conceive but they were unsuccessful; when I found out I was pregnant, I felt in my heart that our baby should go to them but I didn’t tell anyone. I thought it was God’s will that I had become pregnant again and that maybe this child would be for them. I didn’t even tell my husband; it is not easy to give a child away.

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Meanwhile, the Luthers were called to serve a couple’s mission in the India Bangalore mission. Our third child was born while they were serving. The Luthers called and asked us about the child; they said they had a dream that they were raising her.

One day, after they returned home from their mission, the Luthers called my husband and brought up the subject of adoption–they wanted to adopt our baby.

My husband told me not to give them our baby, but I prayed to Heavenly Father in my heart and together with my husband. After much prayer, we decided to give our child to them. They took her when she was eight months old.

We don’t know why the Luthers approached us to adopt our baby, above all other families, but God knows. Maybe it was His will; I don’t know. We have never had any tension in our relationship with the Luthers since the adoption. We have good relations with them to this day. I’m happy we could provide them with such joy.

The Luther family with their adopted daughter

The Luther family with their adopted daughter

How did you cope with giving her up?

It isn’t common in India to give babies up for adoption, but I felt like this was what I was supposed to do. The decision to let them adopt her was a great pain to me, but I felt that our friends were happy and blessed because of our choice.

She knows she is our biological daughter, but I have told her she is on a mission. Her mission is to be part of the Luthers’ family, not ours, and provide them with happiness and joy. They are so happy with her in their lives.

When we gave the Luthers our daughter, I could see they felt much happiness as they had never before felt in their life. I knew she would be in good hands. Today, she is very pretty and a smart young woman. We call and talk to her often. She is a very good girl. She knows she is our biological daughter, but I have told her she is on a mission. Her mission is to be part of the Luthers’ family, not ours, and provide them with happiness and joy. They are so happy with her in their lives.

Knowing this is her mission, and that it is God’s will, comforts me. She is always in my thoughts and in my prayers. This was God’s intervention; I know the Luthers’ lives were blessed because of our daughter.

At A Glance

Swarupa Katuka


LDS_woman_photo_swarupaCOLORLocation:
New Delhi, India

Age:
47

Marital status:
Married on 19th Jan 1991

Children:
One son, 19 years old & serving a mission; one daughter, 17 years old in high
school

Occupation:
Teacher

Convert:
1st Jan 1988

Schools Attended:
Govt .schools in our hometown .

Languages Spoken at Home:
Telugu

Favorite Hymn:
“I Believe In Christ”

Interview by Lyndsey Payzant Wells. Photos used with permission.

23 Comments

  1. Lyndsey
    9:10 pm on April 6th, 2011

    From the Interview Producer: I loved getting to know Swarupa better through this interview; I thought it was so interesting to hear more about life in India and to compare and contrast the LDS lives she and I lead.

    Swarupa’s story about giving her baby up for adoption was so touching. MY baby boy is 8 months old, the same age Swarupa’s baby was when she gave her up for adoption, and my heart breaks to even imagine giving him up. But Swarupa had (and has) so much faith, and just knew she was making the right decision; to hear her talk about it now with such a firm belief that she did the right thing and that God wanted her to help the Luther family is really inspiring. I hope I can grow my faith to be more like her.

  2. Deila
    9:19 pm on April 6th, 2011

    A very interesting story and I am still trying to grasp the thought of giving a child away to be raised by another. Some things seem so hard, but I believe in a God that has direct interest in our lives. May you be blessed as one of the choicest of God’s daughters.

  3. Kait
    9:24 pm on April 6th, 2011

    What a great interview! This is a very inspiring story. It reminds me a bit of Samuel in the Bible, whose mother Hannah showed such great faith in knowing she was doing the Lord’s will when she gave up her son to be raised by Eli. What a good example of faith Swarupa is! And what a beautiful family.

  4. Vattikuti - Salt lake City
    9:58 pm on April 6th, 2011

    It was good to know their family converstion. I was the person who was encourage by katuka family to go on a mission 6 years ago. I loved reading it .

    Thanks

    Vattikuti
    from Salt Lake City

  5. Jay
    10:38 pm on April 6th, 2011

    An amazing family

  6. Praveen Kumar Beesa
    12:32 am on April 7th, 2011

    I knew Katuka’s since 1996, Awesome sister with awesome faith.

  7. Amber Flake
    3:06 am on April 7th, 2011

    Sister Katuka is an amazing woman. During our 3 years in Delhi, she touched my heart with her daily examples of kindness. It’s hard to believe any one could do what she did, but if anyone on earth was blessed with this kind of generosity and compassion, it is Sister Katuka. I had heard this story before, but not in such detail. Thank you, Lyndsey, for telling it to a broader audience.

  8. Nabendu Chakrabarty
    5:40 am on April 7th, 2011

    This is such an inspiring story. The Katuka’s are one of the few families I came close to after being baptised. I look up to this family for their obedience to the gospel. I have always felt the love of this family whenever I am around them. Sister Katuka is kind, gentle, loving and humble. Its so hard to give up one’s child to someone. This shows the kind of faith this woman has. Hats off.

  9. elizabeth
    6:24 am on April 7th, 2011

    Wonderful story-thank you for sharing this with us.

  10. diane tueller pritchett
    2:22 pm on April 7th, 2011

    Swarupa likes everyone. Whenever I’m around her, she makes me feel like I’m the most interesting person there is and I know she does the same for others. She is a key ingredient of the wonderful church in New Delhi.

  11. Ritu John
    11:39 pm on April 7th, 2011

    Such a wonderful sister I admire her for her faith

  12. Raj Kumar
    1:34 pm on April 8th, 2011

    I came to know swarupa long before she was baptized. She is a wonderful daughter of God and a blessing to the Lord’s Church in India. She has a true love for the Lord and her fellow beings. May the Lord bless her and her family now and forever!

  13. Swagat Modi
    3:30 am on April 9th, 2011

    Before more than a year i knew about LDS church before baptism. i got baptised in 10.01.2010. Since, being member of this church i didnt know about sister katuka’s great sacrifies never heard this inspiring story before . i socked and realy felt spirit that directly touched my hearet soften when i read it. This is such a hard sacrifies in India. Really i admired

  14. Sridevi
    11:55 am on April 9th, 2011

    I am proud to say Swarupa is my own sister. I still admire of her faith and courage to do what is right and especially giving her baby. Choti was so beautiful when she was born and my parents and i too insisted her not to give. I know how much my sister and Br. Katuka love the baby, even though she is not with them.
    She is such a great example to our family, especially me. Each of our family goes to her for council, because she is wise and patient. I have seen her grow very strong inthe church. She is very deligent in her callings and service to others. Because of her faith her family is richly blessed.
    Josh is one of the first missionary born as mormon (in India). I know he is also like the young men in the BOM, taught by his mother. Because of Josh, my 2nd sister gained strong testimony about the church.
    Restored gospel is changing and blessing our lives so much. I am truely greatful to have it in my life and very thankful to have wonderful sisters and brother who are good examples to me. I love them very much!

  15. Swarupa Katuka
    10:24 am on April 10th, 2011

    Thank you very much for your kind words.

  16. Jerry Pulsipher
    2:41 am on April 14th, 2011

    Sister Katuka is one in a million. We served a mission in New Delhi and love the family. Thanks for your care of us while in India.

  17. Alka Tandon
    9:10 am on April 14th, 2011

    nice interview

  18. Archna Kalra
    8:07 am on April 17th, 2011

    I have known Swaroopa since she married Suvarna Kumar and moved to New-Delhi, its been a long time! Swaroopa and Suvarna are our dear friends and wonderful examples to us. If there is one family in India that lives the gospel of Jesus Christ it is them! They are truly pillars of the church in New-Delhi, helping to build up the Lord’s kingdom and serving faithfully in whatsoever calling given them by the Lord through his servants. Their lives are a testimony of the Lord’s promise that those that put his kingdom first will be blessed abundantly. I am excited to read this and do hope there will be many inspired by her life and good example like I have been.

  19. gayatri kusuma
    3:12 pm on July 14th, 2011

    sister swarupa…hope you remember me ..I know you and even sister agustus…it is such blessing to know both of you …your testimony and your courage ..your faith is allways a blessing to many …i had tears as i started reading …i met your children when visited rajamundary for youth conference…thank you somuch for shareing …it strengthened me somuch ..somuch i couldn’t stop crying …amazing …amzing…love you somuch …thank you somuch.

  20. Merinda Cutler
    10:31 am on July 18th, 2011

    What a nice surprise to happen upon beautiful Sister Katuka’s smile this morning after not seeing her for three years! I met Sister Katuka while we lived in Delhi, but I got to know her best when she and her husband showed me around her beautiful hometown Rajahmundry when our families were visiting there for Vattikuti’s marriage.

    During that visit, we had the opportunity to meet the Luther family and the daughter Bro. & Sis. Katuka so selflessly gave to them. They told us that Bro. Luther was Bro. Katuka’s brother. And they are—brothers in the Gospel.

    Sister Katuka ALWAYS has an infectious smile on her face, and I owe her a great debt of gratitude for her kindness to me while we lived in India. Her children Joshua and Timnah are stalwarts in the Gospel, and this is largely because of their saintly mother. We love you, Sister Katuka!

  21. Annapurna Murala
    12:47 pm on October 6th, 2011

    We came across this article today and were very delighted to see a family whom we admired and have fond memories of whilst we lived in Delhi. Thankyou for sharing this beautiful and uplifting story. The Katuka’s have been an integral part of the growth of the church in Delhi. It is nice to know that Joshua is on his mission.It feels like only yesterday he was in primary. Cant believe that time passes so quickly.Thankyou Katuka’s for your love and fellowhsip.

  22. Renu B Massey
    1:24 am on July 23rd, 2012

    Great Family!!!

    We love them

    - Renu & Benson

  23. Timnah Katuka
    1:47 pm on December 1st, 2012

    I am very blessed to have a mother like her and am eternally grateful for my family!

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