Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year...

Dear Family,

It was so nice to talk to each of you on Christmas. You all sound the same as I remember, but it has not been too long. We'll see if I feel the same in May. Transfers went down on saturday; we got to take a nice A/C bus to the airport. Elders ward and evans came with me. My new companion is Elder Doss-Johnson he is from Santa Clara, Cali. The same place where andy benton is from! He is an OG, really a cool guy. He is very chill, but down to work hard. In our short time together we have experienced quite a bit of success.

Yesterday we taught the first muslims either of us has ever taught. We contacted them in an area called Karkhana and went over to one of their homes. They are auto drivers, but both of them are well educated and intelligent. It was quite an experience. They were very receptive. I feel like you all may be thinking that muslims are dangerous or something and we need to stay away from them as missionaries. That is not the case; they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. I hope that I can teach a lot more during my mission. Last week there were two baptized in Chennai.

The work is going good; the Branch President asked my companion and a new elder fabrizio to speak in sacrament last sunday. It was great, the whole sacrament was a huge emphasis on missionary work and the members are starting to get better about it. I had a few members walk up to me and give me referrals last week. I am really excited for these upcoming weeks.

I realized something last night about the people here. We were sitting in an investigator's little one room house, and talking with them. They kept bringing us food and drinks as the people here will always do. I realized that these people will give you everything they have. If that means just water, they will be sure to give you it. They simply love everyone and care for them. I have learned so much about service and compassion from these wonderful people.

Love you all
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual family letters)

We are continuing to work with Brother Singh; he came to church fifteen minutes early this week! I have noticed that people's perception of time here is very different than back home. No such thing as punctuality… I am trying to emphasize to people that things start when they’re supposed to, not thirty minutes or a half an hour later. But singh will be ready for baptism very soon and we have others who have dates as well and we will work hard to help them progress.

I bought soy milk the other day and it tastes way good! It was nice to have something close to milk, I just can’t get over the fact that the milk here comes from water buffalos, too weird for me to want to drink it.

The work out here is definitely moving forward, the branch is starting to become more excited about missionary work. There is just so much gossip out here in the branch it kind of tears people apart. There really is a division of loyalty.

Virtue is a really cool topic. I was studying it a few weeks ago and there are some cool lines you can draw between it and power. Look at the story of the woman who touched christ's garment and was healed. See what power healed her.

India is crazy; boys and girls here are not allowed to talk to each other really (referring to dating). Most marriages are still arranged…

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Call

On Christmas Day we talked on the phone with Josh. It was so good to hear his voice and to listen to him describe his experiences. He didn’t sound homesick yet he mentioned some things that he misses; hot showers, clothes dryers, a pantry filled with foods that he enjoys, and the taste of beef. It appears that he is nicely adapting to living in India and getting used to the traffic on the streets as well as the insect/rodent traffic in their apartment. He already speaks with a fondness in his voice for the people of India. His English contains a hint of an accent (his words are more clearly enunciated). He spoke enthusiastically and optimistically about the challenges and joys associated with being a missionary.

Although we miss him, it feels wonderful to know that he is immersed in this life-impacting experience.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas week

Merry Christmas Family

Sorry about last week, it was disheartening to see that you weren’t going to see any of the e-mail I penned last week. It was a good one, but no problem, hopefully this one works out...

So, It was really nice to hear your voices today on the test call, I never realized how easy it was to just call across the world. Life here in India is going well, I’m finding missionary work to be really fun, there are so many people to meet and the members here are great. I have made good friends with a few of them actually. One of them, Sri Kant, is like 21 and he is the smartest kid that I have ever met and he is so good for exchanges. I am trying to convince him to leave on his mission as soon as he can. Maybe I'll get to train him!

This past week was good, except for my companion being so sick. He was seriously on his death bed for like two days in a row. He is still pretty sick actually, but he did get out of bed for e-mail so that is pretty lucky for me. I’m trying my best to take care of him, and make sure he gets better. Last night I was trying to think of what Mom would do if it was me that was sick. Ha but I couldn’t really remember what she would do. We gave him a blessing and I think that he will be getting better any time now.

We were able to meet with Singh a few times and he came to all our ward activities, except CHURCH! It was a little frustrating, because that means we have to postpone his baptism another week, hopefully he will gain a stronger testimony of church. This week I have a good lesson about the sacrament prepared and I hope that the spirit will testify the importance of that ordinance. He is still a great guy, and his wife is so good. Only she just can’t understand english that well, or hardly at all actually. We have a few others who are close to baptism. I know that they will come soon, there are still so many people out here that have been prepared and I know they are just waiting to be found, taught and baptized. Speaking to the Indians is getting a little better for me. For the most part they are able to understand me, or at least I think so...

Yesterday we had an incredible experience. We were called to an apartment that is opposite to a member. There was a four year old girl, and apparently she was possessed. Her mother was talking to us about it, and telling us how she would have outrageous outbursts when the night came. But, at that time she was relatively calm. I looked in her eyes and I could just feel that there was a darkness there; I sensed that something was there. We sat her down to give her a blessing and she began to cry, I anointed and Siyyadri sealed. It was amazing; the spirit truly spoke through him. He said that whatever was within the little girl to come out. After the blessing I looked at the girl and literally there was a light replaced in her eyes. It was so cool to have an experience like that. It helps me to further realize that we truly are at war with satan and his forces, but more importantly it helped me to realize how much stronger the priesthood is than any power that he has.

Anyway, that’s it for the general epistle this week.

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

…Christmas time out here is a lot different than back home. Christ is certainly not the center of attention at this time of year. The christians will celebrate but there are so few that it’s hardly making a noticeable difference. To tell you the truth it does not feel any different than any other time of year out here.

…I love to think about how I have friends all over the world right now doing the same thing I am. It is such a comforting thought. I know that the work we are doing is making such a big difference and I am so glad we all get to be a part of it.

…We will still be proselyting on christmas day, but we have a party in the morning and at night I told you were going to President Guti's house. So that will be good. But I think christmas will be a great day to get work done in between functions.

…there are so many monkeys around right now, but you have to be careful because they will steal your food and run away if you don’t pay attention.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

email "brief" - internet glitch


So...Bad news. If you didn't recieve the e-mail before this, then this little e-mail is all you will be getting this week! Sorry, but I guess the internet in India is all messed up today and I don't know if it sent. It was a good letter, too. Anyway, since time is short now I have to hustle. Still gotta write Anj. Let me know if you want me to call christmas eve for you, or on your chirstmas morning. I wil give Dad a test call on his phone this week I think, SO be ready for it. It was so good to hear from you this week. Brother singh didn't come to chruch because he was sick, but he will be baptized january first week.

I love you all, sorry about this. Talk to you next week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hyderabad Happenings...

Namaskaram Family,

Thanks for spelling Namaskaram right for me dad. we don’t see much written out here, so the spelling is always gonna be a little sketchy. you would actually be surprised that most people out here can speak like 3 or 4 languages but really can’t write or read many of them - only their native tongue. but it actually makes sense because all the languages are so different; telegu and tamil are nothing alike and written, they are very different. people up here in Andra Pradesh speak a telegu but its like mixed with english and hindi. my companion always brags that he speaks "pure" telegu. the cities are so diverse so the mixture of language is inevitable.

this week was good. brother singh came to church (which is like monumental)! when you get people to church here it’s a big deal. actually this week we did really well for church. we had like 7 investigators there. but only 4 counted because 3 were late. India Standard Time is far more distorted than Mormon Standard Time. so you take what you can get. but anyway millusingh came and was able to meet a lot of members and learn about the priesthood. i am so grateful we were able to find him, please keep praying for him. he is working towards the big day on dec 21. we have a few more people who are progressing towards baptism. one is brother santosh, who my companion taught like months ago, showed up at church. we taught him the next day about baptism. we had a recent convert named manoj there and he shared his experience with baptism and it was so powerful. i think santosh will be baptized soon.

the past few days we have been walking a lot! we are searching so hard for an apartment, but we can’t find one. we need to have one by monday because we have to be moved out by the end of the year. actually that brother singh knows people here and is helping us find an apartment. the two main problems are the fact that we are bachelors and christians. Indians have no problem being prejudice. anyway, we really are having trouble finding a good apartment. but ya there has been a lot of walking in attempt to find one, and people to teach as well.

i have mentioned the lack of unity here and i continue to see manifestations of it daily. yesterday was a muslim holiday here, I’m not sure what it was called but its a fairly big one. so what the muslims do on this holiday is basically try to irritate the hindus. and they do a good job. we were walking down the street and passed a hindu temple. right next door there was a group of muslims slaughtering a cow -- like in the open. not a pretty site for me, an american who has spent his whole life enjoying hamburgers and steaks. imagine a hindu who holds the animal sacred and is vegetarian watching that take place right next to their temple. the conflict between religions here is huge.

last week i got a chance to give a training lesson in district meeting and it went really well. i think all the members of the district were able to get something out of it. i taught about the pre-earth life and God’s purpose and plan for us. it was nice because I’m used to only teaching basics to investigators, but when you get a chance to teach people who already know, then you can go deeper. i really enjoy that. the scriptures are so incredible. I’m really finding that they truly can unlock the mysteries of God.

Another guy we are teaching is named Murthi and he has been getting taught almost a year now. he is great he has wanted to get baptized for some time now but his wife is really rooted in her hindu traditions. she even comes to church, but she won’t give up her old traditions. this week we will meet them, maybe you could pray for her heart to be softened? the members here are so great, they are always willing to go on exchanges and they spend a lot of time at the church. the chapel really is a sanctuary here.

i have realized a trend with the church and its growth here. the converts are mostly kids younger than 30. there are few families here compared to YSAs. The kids are the ones who speak english. the parents oftentimes do not. when we go finding, i try to pick out the smart looking kids. they are usually the ones most receptive to the message. so in twenty years there will be plenty of families to build up the church in India. but now it’s kind of disheartening because so many kids are having to go against their parents to join the church.

So, mom never told me this, but the indians are very affectionate and touchy people. only, not in the way I’m used to. they show their love towards members of their own gender. here, it’s very common to see grown men walking down the street holding hands, and women too. but to see a boy and girl giving PDA is unheard of. I’m getting used to it. members will always put their arms around me when we are walking and yesterday this kid, sudheer even held my hand, ya, i was like uhhhh this is really weird. but honestly, for now, i just pretend it’s a girl or something. sorry mom and dad, probably shouldn’t be thinking about that on my mission, but it’s the only way to keep my sanity! maybe ill get used to it. anyway that’s probably enough for the general letter this week. love you

(below are snippets from his individual letters to us)

…we took a video on the way over here today so maybe i will send that. It’s pretty funny -- it has us crossing the street and catching an auto (rickshaw) and stuff.

i hear gas prices hit the floor after i left! just my luck.

thanks a ton for the college bowl games info. we all loved that. that national championship game will be sick, so will utah vs bama. BYU in the vegas bowl. what's new?

anyway thanks for all the advice. actually i wanted to thank you and mom for being such great examples throughout my life. i see now how much i was privelged to have parents as faithful as you. there are so many members out there that don’t enjoy the same blessings. anyway love you and thanks for everything.

…i will probably call dad’s cell on Christmas, and i am not sure what the limit is. we get a test call like a day before though. I’ll know more details next week.

i am starting to gain a little fat on my belly and it’s bothering me. is it the rice? i have been drinking a lot of cool drinks (soda) so maybe it’s both? I’m not gonna drink anything but water and juice now. i don’t have that much time to exercise in the morning. when we move i will get a gym pass so that will be good.

my district has 6 people. five americans including myself. district leader is elder toleafoa from Hawaii. he is such a good missionary and a great example. he sings very well and we have fun writing music together. his companion is elder Sorensen. he was from my batch in the MTC but not my district there. so i didn’t know him that well till we got to india. he is from texas, he went to the same high school as Deron Williams! the other two are elder evans who you know about, and his companion is probably my favorite in the district, elder ward. he is from a tiny town in idaho called almo. i am trying to convince him to go to BYU when he gets back because i think he would be chill with all our friends. he served in chennai! mom i can’t wait to go there. apparently the people down in tamil nadu are tough but i don’t care.

the people out here are naturally flaky so i see where i got it from. but they are still good people. finding is tough and can get discouraging when no one wants to hear the message. but it’s great when you find someone who does want to listen.

there are so many cockroaches and they are everywhere. It’s hard to get away from them. and there are rats in the street all day man! still haven’t seen an elephant but I’m looking.

First Photos from Hyderabad

This first batch of photos that Josh sent from India includes his district, zone, his companion (those pictures taken on Thanksgiving Day at the Hyderabad Marriott) and a picture from their turkey bowl football game. Below is the text that Josh sent with the photos:

Ok, so these photos are of my district. my companion is the only brown one. elder toleafoa and sorensen are in the middle. they are the big dudes. elder evans has curly hair and ward is the other one. the other is basically our whole zone. the kid i am holding hands with is elder thompson and he is from my district at the MTC - he is sweet. the other is just me and my comp doin it big. they are all at the marriott. ha, dont get any false conception of india. that hotel was by FAR the nicest thing in india.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Settling into Hyderabad (H-town)

Dear Family,

Hi you all, how are things going back home in the USA? It sounds as if Thanksgiving went very well -- that was good to hear. This week was incredible actually. As far as my safety is concerned, I feel very safe. Mumbai is not that close and after the first day or so we could resume normal activity.

On Sunday we had a great experience. We were out finding in an area called new vasavi colony. We were not having very much success. The whole week in general had been fairly disappointing. But it was the end of the day, and we were both pretty tired. We started walking down this street and my companion stopped in front of this house. I recognized it because we had been there before. It was actually the first house I ever got into. On my first day we stopped there because he was a christian. His name is Vishnu and he was actually born a christian but his english is not very good. In fact I’m not sure how much he understood, but he said he would come to church back then, but he didn’t. But on sunday we stopped by and he let us in right away. His sister was there and also her husband whose name is Mallu Singh. Their family recently moved here from bangalore and he is a very smart individual. His english is good so we were able to communicate well. We actually started by teaching the second lesson, he really enjoyed it and he wanted to meet the next day. So, on monday we met him at the church and taught him the lesson. Man, was it sweet. The lesson was very good, the spirit was definitely there. One cool thing that happened...we were teaching the apostasy and how the power of God had been taken from the earth. My companion turned the time to me for teaching. I made an analogy about how the current(power) goes out constantly in India. And if you turn the switch without the current there the light won’t turn on. I was talking and I said that apostasy meant spiritual "darkness" as soon as that word came out of my mouth, the power went out. It was so crazy. We all sat there for a second and were like whoa. It came back on and even did it again when I was talking about the apostasy so it happened twice. My companion was talking about the restoration when it was still dark in the room and as soon as he mentioned a restoration of truth the lights came back on. then brother singh was like, wow you must be teaching the truth. It was amazing guys. But he was prepared i think because he really did accept our teaching and he committed to be baptized on Dec 21 so please pray from him and his family that they might be able to come to church and be baptized. I really hope so much it will happen. Sorry that might have been long winded but it was so cool. We are meeting with him tonight as well so I will give you an update next week. We also met another guy nameed naveen. He was sitting on the road on sunday night and I started talking to him. He has been a christian for a year. We taught him on monday and challenged him for baptism. He is committed to another church so we need to teach him some more so he can understand authority and power. Pray for him as well. Sister bagayamarry didn’t come to church but she is always willing to meet so we will see her this week and hopefully get her to church. This week has been good.

We are searching for an apartment. We found a few but last night we found a sick one. It is 20 thousand rupees a month though so we gotta talk the owner down to 10. But our agent is a boss so he should be able to get things done. Some of the apartments out here are bunk. mom, they really save space out here, huh. The bathrooms are so condensed -- like the shower head is right next to the sink and the toilet is right next to the shower head. So when you shower everything in the bathroom gets wet. It’s wonderful, and we hardly ever have hot water so I’m getting used to waking up with cold showers in the morning. The food is delicious you guys. Hyderabad is famous for its biryani and we always get it. It’s money with a little curd. I chow on that for lunch like it’s my job.

My companion is sweet actually. We are getting work done together and it is improving our unity so much. The people here are so cool. The other day I’m getting in an auto and i whacked my head on the cover. i looked outside the auto and there is this hardcore looking indian wearing the all black get up and the huge red/yellow bindi just laughing so hard at me. It was pretty funny to see. Indians are so curious -- like if you stand outside and just look up in the air, honestly like twenty people will just stop by you and stare up looking to see what you see… i love it. India is great. I’m feeling good about being a missionary.

(below are excerpts from letters to individual family members)

We can talk to anyone. We just have to watch for BJP and RSS. Tonight there are going to be rallies in H-town because of the bombings up in mumbai, but we just have to be careful and avoid bad situations. Everything will be fine. Don’t even worry. Me and my companion fair well because he is Indian and I look pretty Indian, so we don’t get stared at too much. When we’re out with the white kids in our district people will seriously stop in their tracks and stare at them like they are a celebrity or something. It’s so funny. OK, normal day is this. we wake up and exercise for thirty minutes. From 7 to 8 we eat and shower. Then we do personal study till 9 and then companion study till ten. Then we go out. We usually find in the mornings and try to set up appointments for later. We’ll eat lunch around two. Then we go back out and find or meet with investigators. We skip dinner here cause its so good for finding. The evenings are usually good for appointments. Then we get back in by nine or nine thirty if were doing a lesson. I love telling people here my mom is from Chennai. It usually surprises them.

Our companionship is doing way good this week. We became friends now and the work is moving along nicely. He is a great guy and I respect him a lot. He is from visak. His mother is not a member because she can’t speak english and his father is dead. He was hindu all his life but then converted to pentecostal for a month or so, then found the church. his experience is so valuable when he shares it with investigators. He is way funny too. It took a while for me to adjust to him i guess but i truly value all he is teaching me. He is good for me so i can become educated in the indian ways. We are growing closer and being able to talk to each other helps a lot. I hope that we can continue to grow closer together. I feel like having success together builds bonds better than anything else out here. Our district is great We all get along so well. We played football last week and dominated. We easily have the most athletic district in hyderabad.

Work out here is so good. Being a missionary is so amazing. There is so much to learn and people are so easy to love when you serve them. I find myself just thinking like the next thing i can do to try and help someone. I have to get better at serving but i am making progress.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Letter re: Mumbai attacks

Hey guys,
i don’t know if you have been watching the news or if it’s on the news out there but apparently there was a big bombing in mumbai and they were targeting americans. i think that is why it is kind of a big deal for us. you will probably know more than me because you can read about it. but also, we heard that they are threatening to bomb bangalore and delhi next. i'm sure the government here is trying their best to handle the situation. so nothing really to worry about...but also we heard from a source that there was a bomb blast in secunderabad which is where we live. so that was kinda scary but we're not sure if that source was legit. the purpose of this e-mail is not to scare you! just to let you know that we are safe and nothing to worry about. i feel safe, even if there is all this crazy stuff going on. i feel bad for those people in mumbai. but ya, since we are american we have to be somewhat cautious. so we are not allowed to go out finding or anything. we can go to appointments if we have them but we have to take autos (golf cart things) - we can’t ride the bus. things will work out. i’m not scared so you shouldn’t be either. also happy thanksgiving! today we were so lucky because we got to go to the marriott hotel for dinner. it was bomb! i bet you were thinking, josh is probably going to have a sad thanksgiving, but we got hooked up! like the nicest buffet in India probably... turkey mashed potatoes and everything. loved it. have a great day, i’m just fine so don’t worry about me, love you guys.
your son- elder tuscano

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11/26/08 letter from Josh

Dear Family,

How are you all doing? It was so good to hear from you, getting e-mails and being able to write to you all – I look forward to it all week. this week was a good one for sure. adjusting to life as a missionary is more difficult than i expected it to be. president nichols keeps telling me that adjusting to life as a missionary is much more difficult than adjusting to living in India. he is so right. but still, i am learning so much and beginning to find this work to be fun.

So, I’m not sure what i mentioned about christians in the last e-mail, but we can actually talk to everyone we want. my companion is kind of reserved and doesn’t really prompt me to make contact with people on the street. in fact sometimes he would kinda discourage me from opening my mouth in the first place. but i talked to my district leader about it and asked him if we really aren’t supposed to talk to people that much, like my companion made it seem. but he told me i could talk to whoever i want. so that’s what i started doing and we have been contacting a ton. you should see me. i just walk up to whoever now. we have met christians, but the majority are hindu. we have appointments with new investigators this week and they are all hindus. it seems like the roman catholics here are just very stubborn and want to bible bash. ha i never thought i would be bible bashing in india, but i was wrong. except i really try not to be contentious and drive the spirit away.

so, we had this lady, sister bagyamarry marked for baptism on dec 7th but she didn’t come to church on sunday and you have to come 3 weeks in a row to get baptized, so we have to postpone it a week...if she is able to make it to church the next three weeks. she is a great lady, she seems to have a strong testimony but there are a lot of things going on in her life at this time, and she doesn’t completely realize the importance of this step in her life. i am praying for her to be able to recognize how much this matters. if you can, you should pray for her to know really how important baptism is. she also has a daughter named rosie who is like a dancer in all these telegu movies and is gone a lot. she is 18, but when she is home she really enjoys meeting with us. I’m not sure if it’s the message she really cares about though...i hope that the example of her mother will help her. we are teaching other families, a boy of 17 named prisanth and he is ready to be baptized but his father won’t allow it. the father is kind of rude and his mother just wants to bible bash when we go over. so we are really praying for his father’s heart to be softened. that auntie from last week actually told us not to come back anymore, that was my first real taste of discouragement on the mission, cause i really felt that the spirit was there and they realized he was testifying to them. but like nephi says, the power of the holy ghost can carry the truth unto their hearts. not into them. too bad. otherwise we have a few new investigators, i met a guy named chandu on sunday night. sometimes we just ask people if they “are liking jesus christ” and when i asked him, he got so excited and was like "i love jesus christ!" he is hindu but we are meeting with him soon. i hope it goes well.

this week my companion has been sick. he woke up in the morning the past few days and then just went back to sleep for the rest of the day. so i get to stay home and extend my personal study. but it’s not too bad, i really had some good spiritual experiences while studying. i have been reading jesus the christ by james talmage. that book is so captivating. he is such a good writer. but, today i think my companion feels better. i hope so, because the past few days we had some appointments i was excited about and we had to postpone.

church is always a fun experience here. you should hear the hymns during sacrament. indians don’t usually have musical training i guess, right mom? needless to say, the congregation does not really sound much like the mormon tabernacle choir. It’s an experience, we went to PEC this week ha and its really just like a huge argument. not like people are mad at anything, but i guess that’s just how things are done here. like people will be yelling at your face but they are not mad at you, they are just talking -- surely, something to get used to.

(above is the family letter and below are general comments from letters that Josh wrote to each of us)

service does bring joy. little random things, like helping people out on the street and stuff. it makes me happy.

their english is very different than ours. It’s sometimes hard for us to have a conversation. i have to talk slowly. remember how you were teaching me tamil -- you were saying you have to like talk in different tones? you have to do that while you are speaking english to them or they won’t understand you at all. so i have been working on it, and also the head shake. that was the first thing to come, i can do that like a champ, but talking is a different story. I’m getting the hang of it though, like you have to leave out words and stuff. ya there are places to get American food, but they have like biscuits here and they are delicious, do you know what I’m talking about mom? i just get a rack of those when i shop, so ya you don’t need to worry about sending snacks. we are supposed to move by the end of the year. they want us to live in a flat with just our companionship. so we are looking for a nice one. It’s kinda hard to find a good one, but lucky my comp is indian so we don’t get ripped off by brokers. Ya, there are american restraunts here like kfc. my comp likes that so we eat there sometimes. mostly we eat at this bakery close to our apartment. they have samosa and cutlets that i like. we have biryani here cause its way good. we hardly cook. we don’t eat dinner in the mission cause that’s the best finding time. so we have like 10 minutes after 9:30 to eat something and there is no time to cook. i make breakfast and that’s always eggs and toast. elder siyyadri made dosa last night though and that was good. masala dosa is my favorite thing i decided. we have a thanksgiving feast tomorrow at the marriott hotel actually. they are hooking it up. only like 200 rupees ($5). it should be good.

i have learned this much lately, in the scriptures whenever jesus is talking, you need to analyze every word. he does not waste words, so every word is so important. being a missionary is tough. for some reason i thought it would be easy, but it’s not. I love it though. i work hard and at night I’m so tired, but i only have two years. when i get discouraged i just think of you guys and my other friends that are all around the world doing the same thing.

i have seen so many monkeys this week, there are stray dogs everywhere. also the other day there was a camel in the street! how crazy?!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

1st letter from 1st area - Hyderabad

Dear Family,

I think I will start to organize my e-mails like this: a general letter to the family explaining things about the mission and everything. Then I will write back to each of you respectively. So here it goes...

Wow. I knew that I had no idea what to expect coming out here. and i was so right about that. India is so so different than the USA. I am trying my best to adjust as fast as I can, but still, its a completely different world out here. As President Nichols mentioned, I am serving in Hyderabad, in the Second Branch there. Actually, there are four branches out here in Hyderabad. The first two are in the city and the other two are basically out in the villages. The church in India is the strongest here. The first branch has about 500 members our branch I think has close to 200 or something. but not everyone is active. So when they decide to create a stake in India...Hyderabad will undoubtedly be the host of it. So, I was very excited to hear that i was going to be serving here and also I felt very blessed that the president would send me here to begin my mission.

My companion is a native, and he comes from a city called Visakapathnam which is north of here maybe 350 miles or so. He has been out in the field for 18 months. He is a good trainer, obedient, and pretty hard working. I am learning a lot from him. I think maybe he is just a tad excited to go home though...hah I guess I cannot blame him though. He has served here in Hyderabad for 8 months, which is an unusually long time to be in one area, but he has been doing work so it’s chill. We are both thinking that after this next transfer, when he is done training your one and only, he will be leaving to another area.

Ok, so the city is ridiculous. There really are so many people here, you wouldn’t believe it. I'm sure that the videos you are watching give you some idea, but you really don’t have a clue until your trying to walk across the street, and you look up there is a bus literally about to run you over, or a motorcycle, or an auto-rickshaw, or even a car. Crossing the street is so scary. My first time, I knew I was going to die. Here, people are just as common in the middle of the road as cars. Traffic laws here are merely suggestions. But, I am starting to get the hang of it. There is a verse in 1 corinthians that this experience reminds me of, walking by FAITH and not by sight. Ha, you just have to go for it and hope they don’t hit you...and they usually don’t. Lets see, being so populated the cities are very dirty. The streets are pretty muddy and not very even, there are many areas that are very modern, but those areas are very few compared to the areas that are old and run down. It’s very interesting, here you can drive down the street and you will see a plot of land that is completely destitute with a few piles of bricks and mud and right next to it you will see a very modern edifice, like a designer store or something. The contrast here is so abrupt, there is poverty and wealth like any other place, but the difference that here they are one in the same. There are so many beggars on the street and it’s sad because we cannot give them money. In our area of the city it is largely residential, so there are apartment complexes and many houses. The streets are in very poor condition so you have to be careful when you are walking. The apartments we live in are very nice for India. They have marble floors, but that doesn’t mean they are way nice or anything. They are comparable to a decent apartment in the US. There are 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. There are 6 of us in our apartment right now. We have A/C so that’s nice, and we have showers with hot water...sometimes. Also, we have a washing machine but no dryer.

Ok, now on to the good stuff. We are teaching right now about 10 different people. We met two new families on monday evening and I think they will be very good investigators. They are both Christian families and are well acquainted with the bible. We taught to both of them the first discussion and with the first family we left a book of mormon. I think the auntie will end up reading, or at least I hope she does. We have a return meeting tomorrow. Finding people is exhausting, but really the key is faith. If I walk out the door in the morning knowing that I am gonna find someone today, I do. It’s seriously incredible. In another family there is a Brother Raj and he is the head of the household and was baptized 3 weeks ago by my companion. He received the priesthood this past sunday! His wife does not speak english, only telugu so we can bring members to translate, and with permission from the branch president she can be baptized, so we will work for that. We also have a few more families we are teaching, I haven’t met all of them yet, but i will soon. Man, teaching is so fun. It’s like the reward of all the hard work you do finding people. It's when you walk out of a house after a lesson and the spirit was there that you feel so relieved and satisfied. That is what makes it worth it.

Below are excerpts from individual emails that Josh sent:

So, when we came in the first day there was a parade here. It was the BJP party, I think you may have heard of them. But they are just like an activist group who hates christianity, when we came into the city everyone was staring at us like they were gonna kill us. We took off our name tags but once we got to the apartment we had to stay inside. Most of the people are very mild mannered but there are a certain few here that will cause a whole lot of trouble for us. So...we just have to avoid them. Consequently, teaching Hindus is a touchy matter. you cannot knock on hindu doors and we are very cautious in even approaching them on the street, when i say that i mean that we usually just don’t... the branch here is very good. the members are sweet. i have met a few i really like. One is Madhu, he is a convert of a about a year. he goes to school here and works at a call center so he can do an american accent, it is much easier to understand! he is funny and he comes to exchanges with us, i really enjoy him.

My first week here was very interesting and a lot of adjusting to do. I am trying to embrace India as much as I can, eating the food and eveything. I love the masala dosas here I always get them for tiffins. There are many sambars and curries to eat, but my stomach does still need to do some adjusting to food. Also, we have to be careful of water to drink. sometimes we go to houses and they bring us glasses of water. I drink some and then set them down. i dont wanna know what will happen if i drink the whole glass.

india is so crazy. the people here are so cool though. like if you walk down the street they will stare at you like you're an alien or something, but if you smile at them they light up and are so excited to wave at you.

india is so different than america. there are little kids running around in the street all the time. but they are all so smart. yesterday i met a young boy named krishna who was your age and he was so polite i was amazed by it, probably about as smart as you too man. the food is good here, very hot to eat, but you just have to get used to it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Arrival letters from Bangalore!

hey family-
How are you?! I am just sitting here at a computer in the office in Bangalore. We got here last night at about 1:30am local time. The trip was very long... too much time on the airplane if you ask me. India is incredible. There are so many people here and the streets are crazy! I'm glad we don't get to drive because I don't think I'd be able to go for very long before getting hit by someone -- it's crazy! We have interviews with President Nichols today and tommorow morning and we'll get assigned to our areas. I am kind of hoping that I go to Chennai at first (note from family: Chennai is where Usha is from). They say its the hardest area, but, whatever. So, if you send me a package make sure to keep it blank (don't put any writing on it or really indicate what is in it). Send it to the mission office and keep it under 4 lbs. I gotta go, so, love you, and talk to you next week.
-elder tuscano

(letter from President Nichols)
Elder Tuscano arrived safe and sound in Bangalore early this morning. We picked up he and his companions and brought them into Bangalore. They got to bed about 4:00 AM. We then had them come over to the Mission Home where Sister Nichols fed them a great breakfast. We then gave all the elders an orientation. Then we took this photo of Sister Nichols and I and your son. This afternoon we brought them all into the Mission Office and covered a number of items with each elder. I then had a wonderful interview with your son.

I will meet with him again tomorrow morning and give him his first assignment. He will be assigned to the Hyderabad II Branch, in Hyderabad, India which is about 500 miles north of Bangalore. His companion will be Elder Siyyadri an outstanding young man that I trust very much. He is a local elder from Visakhapatnam. Your son will be in good hands.

Hyderabad is a great place and the city where the church is probably the strongest. He will do well there.

Elder Tuscano seems to be doing well and adjusting though he is still suffering some from lack of sleep and jet lag. Thank you for sending us your wonderful son.

Please do not hesitate to contact me.
President Melvin R. Nichols

Monday, November 10, 2008

Josh departs for India

Josh departed the Provo MTC today. He flew from Salt Lake City to Denver (we got to talk with him by phone at each of those airports). He flies from Denver to Frankfurt, then on to Bangalore and arrives on Wednesday, November 12. He sounded excited and anxious.

When Josh and the 13 other missionaries going to Bangalore arrived at the Salt Lake airport, they met an Indian gentleman traveling the same route. He was very friendly and acquainted with the LDS faith (for over 30 years). It was a great opportunity for the missionaries to experience the challenge of discussing differences and similarities among religions as they prepare to teach the gospel.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

another MTC email

Today we received from Josh what may be the last email before he leaves for India on November 10. He described a typical day at the MTC (below is the excerpt from his email).

My companion and I wake up just before 6:00am so that we can exercise before we have to go. Every day is a little different, but most of the time we have gym, first thing - that starts at 6:35. It is about an hour long. Since it's so early, it's usually dark and cold; therefore, I can't go outside to play soccer, which is what I would really want to do. Instead, I just play basketball, there are some chill kids that are pretty good so the games are fun. My companion plays four square. After gym, we shower and go to breakfast which is at 8:15. It lasts till about 9:00, then we go straight to class, which is where we stay till lunch at 1:00pm! ha, but it's not too bad... sometimes we have teaching appointments and the spirit is very strong so its not like i'm sitting in class counting the bricks on the wall or anything. Lunch lasts till around 2:00, and depending on the day, we either have a large group meeting, which is just instruction with a bunch of missionaries about different things pertaining to missionary work of course, or we go back to the classroom and have personal and companionship study. Then we have MDT, which is missionary directed time. During this time we decide what we want to do. You can study more, set up appointments in the T.R.C. or the T.E., but usually my companion and I walk around outside and teach lessons to elders and sisters. I taught an elder with the last name Hurst this past week! He is from slc and thinks he is distantly related to bryson. That made me excited. Also, during the afternoon, brother petersen will come in on most days to help us practice different aspects of teaching. He is so good. The best thing about him, is that he will tell you directly and specifically what you need to improve. I love that! So, because he comes in, we usually have our MDT time cut into alot more than the other missionaries, but that is fine with me. At 6:00pm we have dinner. After dinner, we will usually go to the RC which is the refferal center. It's where you call when you get pass along cards, so we get to talk to real people and share our testimonies with them. It's a very cool experience. Some nights we have class after dinner which lasts till 9:00. Then we stay in class till 9:30 and plan. We then go to the residence and get ready for bed, quiet time starts at 10:15 and this is when i write in my journal. i have been so good at writing in my journal lately. Also, we usually have to check people out of their rooms every night because we are ZL's.

...a day in the life of a missionary at the MTC.

Friday, October 31, 2008

1st MTC email from Josh

"Wow. This week has been quite an experience. It has only been seven days, but I feel like I've been here for years. Its hard to describe my perception of time, but its very much altered from how it was when I was at home."

Note: Above is an excerpt from a lengthy first email from Josh that was loaded with excitement. It seems that he's caught the vision of service and obedience and is enjoying experiences to solidify those principles. He and his companion were asked to be zone leaders while at the MTC, which inspires him to be a good example to others. He mentioned that the MTC president, at the request of General Authorities showed a particular interest in the district going to India. Josh leaves Utah for India on November 10.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1st MTC letter from Josh!

We received our first MTC letter from Josh today, which he wrote on his first day at the MTC. He mentioned that he already saw a few of his friends (Cody Monson from our neighborhood, and Erik Bloom, Cameron Harris from the Olney Ward in Maryland). He also said he has never wanted so badly to work so hard as he does being a missionary.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MTC mailing address

Below is the mailing address for Josh while he is at the MTC from October 22 - November 10:

Elder Joshua Tuscano
MTC Mailbox #197
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604-1793

MTC Day in Provo

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Farewell visit to Zion

Josh and Dad do one more hike in Zion National Park before his departure. It was a beatiful day! We enjoyed a "larger than life" object lesson about perspective and an "exercise in scale."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to all who were able to spend time with Josh and our family this past weekend. We appreciate your friendship and kindness. Josh will take to India with him fond memories of relatives and friends. He would love to hear from you while he's away!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Farewell Information

Open House
Saturday, Oct 18 7:00-9:00pm
1145 Shadow Pointe Dr, St. George

Sacrament Meeting
Sunday, Oct 19 9:00am
Valley View and 100 North, St. George

Mission Address:
India Bangalore Mission
Anjali Plaza, 2nd Floor
493 CMH Road, Indiranagar
Bangalore-560 038 India