Thursday, November 11, 2010

04 NOV 2010

Josh returns...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

17 OCT 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Miracles are happening here. So last week as you know we had been planning this big transfer. My batch is going home and we were just trying to determine how to close a ton of areas. There were going to be so little elders that we needed one companionship to cover an entire city, Like Coimbatore or Visak. Then maybe even Hyderabad. Ha it might be hard for you to understand. But when I arrived there were over 24 elders serving in Hyderabad, now there might only be 2. So the situation was not ideal in terms of numbers, but as you already knew- the Lord has been blessing us greatly and the work has been moving forward with power. We knew that would continue to be the case, but it was a little rough thinking about what to do when 14 elders leave with none coming. So we wanted to finish it on monday, but for some reason President just felt uneasy. So we talked and waited. On Wednesday night, after we returned to Bangalore from a great Multi-Zone Conference in Hyderabad, President got a call. 16 months ago, we were supposed to receive 6 American elders, but they never got their visas. We haven't has any visas since that time. But on Wednesday some one granted those 6 visas! Those missionaries were permanently reassigned to Nashville and Baltimore, but they called Church Headquarters and they got permission to come over here! So we are going to pick them up tomorrow night. They will serve the last 7 months or so in India.

Can you believe that? How incredible! It is so nice to know that Lord is mindful of us and the work over here in India. We are so excited for these Elders, but probably not nearly excited as they or their families. They are going to be great, so that was a big surprise and we have been making preparations for that. Good thing, it has added a completely different dimension to my last week. I just wanted to share that with you, it was just a great thing to hear. We have been waiting for a year and a half and here they come. We don't know anything about a change in policy, we just know that these 6 were granted their visas. Hopefully we will get more. But that is probably it for the e-mail. The past week was great, full of spiritual experiences and I will be sure to tell you in more detail about it when you get here. Love you all!

Elder Tuscano

03 OCT 2010 letter

Dear Family,

I cant believe that this will be one of my last e-mails home. I must admit, I really have enjoyed this correspondence. I know I have mentioned this before, but I feel that these e-mails have provided us with an opportunity to come closer together. Weird, right? I am on the other side of the world and we have had very limited contact, but I have never felt closer to any of you than now. So thank you for your uplifting and thoughtful e-mails each week.

This past week has just flown by, every week seems to be that way now. We are so excited for General Conference this weekend, I feel that it is a great blessing that I will be able to hear it at this special time. We have been in Coimbatore and Hyderabad since I last wrote to you. We were able to go down to Coimbatore on Thursday and do some interviews and training down there. President made some great comments about faith an miracles. It was appropriate because that is what is happening down there right now. When I first arrived on my mission there were 12 or 14 missionaries down in that zone. There is now 6, but those 6 are doing twice as much as those 12 when I first arrived. So the attitude and morale down there are just sky-high. I met some of Elder Jeppesen(one of my batch-mates) convert families. They were baptized just 18 months ago and she just became the District Relief Society President and her husband serves in the Branch Presidency. They are going to the Hong Kong temple this week to be sealed. I though that was the coolest thing, Elder Jeppesen was pretty stoked. It might be tough for you to realize just how difficult it is for our Indian members to get to the temple. If there is one thing I will never take for granted for the rest of my life it will be a temple that is close. After seeing the sacrifice members put forth here, I cant imagine living in St. George or Provo and not going to the House of the Lord on a regular basis.

So Hyderabad was pretty cool. I was able to go with one of our youngest missionaries, in fact he is the newest American. Elder Bennett is his name and he is the batch-mate of our beloved Elder Pope so let him know that I was on exchange with his boy this week. It was a great exchange, I was so happy to be with a missionary that is only 3 months out. I remember when I was 3 months out, it was easily the most difficult time for sure. I was able to comfort and encourage him and just let him know that everything would work out. That felt good. I attended church in Hyderabad 2nd branch on sunday, it was really cool. That was the branch where I started so it was cool to be back and see all the members. The branch is doing really well, I went with Elder Gantyada remember him? He is amazing, I learned so much from him. Just watching him and how much he loves others was an inspiration. Ok but I am done for this week. Sorry my individual e-mails are going to be short. Time is about to be out. We had ZLC today and there are a ton of other things pending. So we'll look forward to the word next week.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

26 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Things continue to move forward in this part of the world. We are in the beginning stages of the first "interview tour" When President Funk came to the mission there had been some significant changes to the missionary calendar. The change that is now affecting us is that interviews and zone conference are separate. So for the next two weeks we are going to be visiting all the zones and doing interviews with President. It is a great privilege to accompany him on this tour. We are going to see just about every area in the mission before next thursday. Lots of flying and travelling but it is worth it. We are now in Chennai! Ha I was here only a week ago, but we've got interviews tomorrow and we'll fly back to Bangalore on Wednesday morning. There we will catch our breath and then head out to Coimbatore and Hyderabad for the weekend. It is a great thing spending time with all the missionaries. I am starting to see great reasons for these schedule changes. They provide the Mission President more opportunities to see the missionaries and for everyone to be together. There has been a strong sense of unity as of late. We're all having a great time serving the Lord and his wonderful children in India.

Sorry to report but for various reasons the mission was not able to achieve the baptisms we had projected. We had 18 which is still a good week, but I expect to see the mission out do that before I leave, The missionaries are just tearing it up. I wish I could explain to you the wonderful miracles that are taking place over here. Though we have lost so many great missionaries, the work just continues to hasten. It is a testimony to me that the Lord will take care of his work. All we have to do is have faith and do our best to be a part in helping it move forward. When we set high goals and do all we can to be effective in achieving them I have learned that Lord will see our goals and the efforts we put forth towards achieving them and He will make up the difference.

We spent alot of time in Bangalore last week as we conducted another Leadership Training Meeting and it was wonderful. Each time we gather together I am so impressed. Our missionaries are top notch, I feel that in meetings together that I am truly surrounded by greatness. Well I wont spend more time writing this general letter. I love you all and thank you for your prayers, they truly do sustain me.

Elder Tuscano

Sunday, September 26, 2010

19 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Well as always it is great to hear from you. Things back home seem to be moving right along, everyone sounds happy and like things are going well. That makes me happy too.

This past week was full of departing and incoming missionaries. The mission works out that way, every 3 weeks or so we have either new missionaries coming in from the MTC, coming in to be set apart to go to the MTC, or missionaries coming in to depart for their homes. This past week we had all three of them, so it was quite busy. It is a privilege to see these wonderful missionaries at such different stages of their service. The wide eyes and sheer excitement that beams from these new Elders as they walk out of the departure gate. It is almost as tender as the tears that fall from the Elders on their last night as a full-time missionary. It is quite a sight, to see these tired Elders with looks of satisfaction concerning their service and uncertainty concerning their future. Ha, but it is a good time. We sent off two of our finest Indian Elders this week, they were both from Visak. Sad to see them go, but at the same time it was good because they will be quite a strength to their branches at home.

After the week full of arrivals and departures we were able to get out of Bangalore and head over to Chennai. Elder Naulu served there at the very start of his mission and he hadn't been back since, so that was a cool experience for him to be back in the city. It was especially rewarding to be there this weekend because it was District Conference. I got to see quite a few of my converts, including Priya's Family. They are doing so well, just like when they were baptized they showed up 30 minutes before everyone else. There were others that I also saw, they were very surprised to see me. It was a pleasant change of pace. Usually when we show up at church on sunday all the members just can't figure out what were doing there. We commonly get asked if were the new elders, or from another branch in the city. The other question we get alot is if we( Elder Naulu and I) are brothers. That's funny huh? You all have seen him right? Maybe I need to send a picture.

Anyway they week was very good, its always fun to sweat it out over there in Chennai. Tomorrow we are starting Leadership Training Meetings for the south side of the mission here in Bangalore so that will be fun. This past week was the Ganesh holiday, so our elders were on restrictions but it seems like it should be over pretty soon here. That is good, none of the missionaries seemed to like walking around without their name tags. But things are going very well, just to let you know our mission is preparing for 27 baptisms this coming week! That would be the biggest week I've seen on my mission. So pray for that and we're going to do all we can to make it happen. Things are really speeding up over here. Love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

12 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Hello there! Glad to hear from everyone this week. I thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes, I can hardly believe this day has come. Last year on my birthday I felt very comfortable, but I remember thinking "Gee, next year this time I'll be getting ready to head home. I'm sure glad that's very far away." Apparently not too far, ha but I am glad it is here. It is funny that Elder Naulu and I have such close birthday's, I think I could have done a much better job celebrating for him. I've been looking for ways to make it up. But he is great missionary and a wonderful companion. I think the best thing about serving in this position is the great quality of companions you get to serve with. Just wonderful, spiritual, and fun brethren. We're having a blast.

This past week was amazing. President and Sister Funk were in Hong Kong, so we got to hold down the fort in India. This week I got a small taste of the issues that President Funk has to deal with on a day to day basis. Wow, I really had no idea. So many decisions to make, I really am starting to understand the importance of having the spirit with you all the time. When you get a problem that comes to you and needs a solution or decision made immediately sometimes all you can do is say a silent prayer and follow the spirit. So far that seems to be working, I can't imagine what we would do without the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost.

We had to opportunity to go to a place called Coimbatore this week. I think you have heard me mention it before. It is a beautiful city down there in Tamil Nadu directly south of bangalore. We left on tuesday morning and travelled from the Airport to a place called Erode which is a smaller city two hours outside of Coimbatore. We have a companionship down there and I don't think AP's have been there for months. So it was good to be there. I had an amazing exchange with Elder Stephen. We first met a brother on the street named Velur, he invited us in. He was so excited to learn. As we taught we sought to discern his needs. We asked a few inspired questions and were able to know what we needed to do. He was a hindu but we taught him the principle of prayer and he really listened intently. He was so grateful that we taught him how to pray. As we left his home I felt strongly that this man would be baptized. We met alot of other families that were really good, I am seeing the influence of the spirit in many ways. More than anything, I am now beginning to see the spirit work in others. Everything just now seems to be coming together.

We conducted a few more exchanges which went very well. The trip was excellent, the church there is so nice. I think the church in India began in Coimbatore, so there is some sentiment there. The building is among the nicest I have seen here or in the states. We met a young man on the street and invited him to walk around the church with us. It was night and the grounds there just felt so holy. We stopped in the back where there was alot of green grass and big trees blowing in the wind. Elder Riley taught and testified about God and his creations. I remember watching the tree sway back and forth while listening to my friend testify to this young hindu brother. I can say honestly that in that moment I was back in the temple. What an experience it was. Very tender to me, it seems I am having those on a daily basis now. Perhaps it is because my time is winding down, or perhaps it is because I am seeking them. I am not sure, but I am just grateful for each day that I have to be in the Lord's service. Preach My Gospel is right, there truly is no more compelling work than this. I love you all and thank you for your support and prayers. Have a great week!

Elder Tuscano

05 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Well I am happy to report that today I will have a reasonable amount of time to e-mail. So each one of you can expect a sincere and lengthy message. It sounds like things are going well back at home. I am glad for your updates, to be honest with you I can hardly remember Utah and the USA. I feel like India is the only place I know, now that's not true- but I feel that way. I am not sure why.

This past week was a blast. One of the most spiritual and uplifting weeks of my entire mission. On monday morning we set out to fly over to Rajahmundry. Everything looked fine until it started to rain, and when that happens they shut down the airport in Rajahmundry. So our flight was cancelled at the last minute. Which would have been OK if it were just me and Elder Naulu, but we had President and Sister Funk with us. We had to do some quick work, and got a flight to Visak and drove down there. It is about a 3 hour drive, it was nice to see the Andhra countryside. We got President checked into the hotel down there, I was very impressed with their ability to adjust. The difference between the hotel in Hyderabad and Rajahmundry is extreme. One is the Ritz Carlton and the other Motel 8, or less. So I was happy to see that they're willing to go where He wants them to go. Ha.

We had this new set of training meetings called "Leadership Training." It has been prescribed by the First Presidency for all the missions throughout the world to do. It was a little difficult to implement in our mission because of distance, but we divided the mission in two and had all of the Leaders from the north side join us for a few days in RJY to have these meetings. It was a huge success, President trained on the "simplified curriculum" which is a set of lessons that teach Elders how to use Preach My Gospel and become more powerful teachers. Ha, this probably seems boring to you all but it was exhilarating for a missionary to experience. So we received training in the morning and were able to go out in the evenings to apply what we learned in real situations. I had some incredible experiences. One thing I learned was there is no harm in inviting people to make commitments. As we do so, we give them an opportunity to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. That is why we teach anyone anything, without the commitment invitation there is no purpose in teaching. They cannot trust Jesus Christ until they have tried to live one of his commandments. That goes for any human being, irrespective of religion. It is our responsibility, as missionaries or members, to provide people with an opportunity.

We were able to be in all of the zones in Andhra Pradesh this past week. It was nice to see all of the Elders. There is just a wonderful feeling throughout this mission, there is optimism and hope. Though the present circumstances might not be the most favorable in terms of number of missionaries, the Elders are moving forward powerfully. I am about finished with the report this week. There were many other things that happened, which are noted in my journal. I will be sure to give you details in the future. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. And the birthday card! It was very funny, It made me feel happy. Have a good week everyone.

Elder Tuscano