Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year!

The past week has been very eventful. There are a lot of people we are working with, but each one seems to have problems that stand in the way of their baptism. One family is Shyam and Monica. They have 3 kids, Shyam is an auto driver. They all have a desire to be baptized, but Shaym knows NO english. Everyone else does though, even Monica. So we gave him a blessing and are working with him. He has already made improvement and is able to pray simply in english. We hope that all goes well with that.

Another investigator, Deepthi, has been having some ridiculous family problems. It has been fascinating to watch her grab hold of the gospel during this difficult time. Even though she is experiencing some very rough things, she still has a smile. I think it is in large part due to her faith and devotion to the gospel. She understands that the best thing for her to do is be baptized. It has been very cool to work with her and see that.

Christmas came and went rather uneventfully, the new year will most likely be the same. The holidays that are celebrated here are the hindu festivals. The other holidays receive little or no recognition.

Anyway I gotta get going. Sorry to be so short. The server messed up and I lost my entire e-mail. It was done, and so nice, but now I have no time to write it again.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas week...

Dear Family,

This past week has been fun. We just had Zone Conference yesterday. In Visak, we have conference with the Rajahmundry Zone, so it has been cool to see some of them. Zone Conference was on finding people and it was excellent. It has made a huge difference in some of the other Zones and I'm sure it will here. Although we usually find a lot of people here, the struggle is helping them progress. Oh yeah, President is showing us the BYU vs. Oregon State bowl game. It is on in the church, which is upstairs. We watched the first quarter and came down to e-mail. BYU looks pretty good.

A few weeks ago we found a brother named Uday. He is about 19 and comes from a hindu family. We taught him once and he was mildly interested. We committed him to daily prayer, and he kept the commitment. We were only able to meet him the second time this past friday, but as we met him we could see a change in his countenance. He had been praying daily and noted how much of a difference it made. We taught again the restoration and his understanding was perfect! At the end we started to talk about baptism and he asked us when he could take it! It was sweet. As he said the prayer he told Heavenly Father he wanted to be baptized, I remember looking at him after he said Amen. He had the biggest smile on his face. It was way cool to see the change in his life. He quickly gained a testimony, but he is going to need that because his Mom said there was no chance he could get baptized. I'll be sure to let you know what happens with him.

I gave a talk in zone conference about finding by the spirit. It was a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences and see just how often the spirit was guiding us. I really am so grateful to be a part of this work. At times I catch myself feeling inadequate, like I might be unable to do all the things that are required of me. But as soon as those thoughts begin, I just remember that I have no reason to think that way. I have the gift of the Holy Ghost all I need to do is trust that He will help me. It is so comforting to know that we don’t have to make this journey by ourselves.

Anyway I am very grateful, especially this christmas season. I am grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ and the hope it brings into my life. I am grateful for experiences that help us understand that sacrifice, and for my opportunity to help these people understand it. Merry Christmas and I will talk to you soon!

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Andrah splits

Hello Family,

Last friday, Andhra Pradesh decided to split! We were so surprised. The district president called us friday morning and advised us not to go outside because the government announced that this state would split in half! The other state is called Telangana and I think it is the area surrounding Hyderabad. Maybe you can google it to learn more. President Nichols has been working with us and things seem to be cooling down. It was very interesting. I thought I would let you know about it.

We had a cool experience on sunday. On saturday night we counseled with President and he decided it would be ok to go finding on sunday. We called the Elders and let them know the good news. As a companionship we really needed to go because we had about half of the new investigators. We were excited, but sunday morning before church, President called and told us NOT to go. We were so sad because we planned the night before for a lot of finding. Anyway, after church we visited a family – our only appointment for the day and one of the little girl's friends came in. She spoke english and said she was christian so we were able to set up an appointment with her family for the evening. We visited a potential investigator who happened to actually be there! After the lesson he told us to go teach his neighbors and they were also interested. To end the night we visited that little girl’s family and they were way good, too! We ended up with more people to teach than we planned! It was just a witness to me that God helps us when we are committed to achieve our goals and even if you can’t "go finding," you can still find people to teach. That’s all for this week.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Visak beginnings

Dear Family,

This past week was very good. I left Bangalore on friday morning and arrived in Visak early that afternoon. I am finding Visak to be a very enjoyable place, wonderful people and atmosphere. I looked forward to serving here my entire mission and my hopes have not been let down. The work here is great.

We have been working with an incredible sister named Deepthi. Elder Ward met her about one week before I got to Visak. She comes from a Roman Catholic background and she is so good. She gained a witness of the Book of Mormon very quickly and has been keeping commitments like crazy. She even introduced us to her Hindu neighbors who are very interested as well. What impresses me most is her ability to keep commitments. I have noticed that when investigators actually gain a witness of the book of mormon, it is rare that they fail to keep the big commitments. There are always exceptions, but this is just an observation that I have made from my experience.

I was on an exchange last night with Elder Pritchett, the district leader in 2nd branch, and we met a sweet investigator. Her name was Manjusha and she was so prepared. She has a Hindu background, but when I was sharing about Joseph Smith she was finishing my sentences. As soon as we showed her the picture in the pamphlet she stated, "Oh, that’s Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ." I have not seen many people do that without hesitation. She was very impressive. Anyway I am having a great time here, and my testimony does not go a day without significant growth.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

zone council

Dear Family,

I am writing to you from Bangalore. We came here for a Zone Leader council and it has been so fun to see some of the missionaries I had served with. I am especially excited for tomorrow; we are going to set our goal for baptisms this next year. I am happy that I get to be a part of that.

This past week was great. Transfers are never easy. It was hard to say goodbye to Chennai. But I was very excited to arrive in Visak and start working with Elder Ward. We both couldn’t believe that we ended up as companions. We are excited for our area and the zone. The week before I arrived they had achieved their goal for the year, and we had to re-set it. We have high expectations.

Visak is a great city...Very small in comparison to Chennai and Hyderabad so it is something to get used to. There are 3 branches in Visak. The church has been there for almost 20 years. It is a great place for the church to be also, they just formed a branch in March called Gajuwaka. It is pretty far from Visak, but it is a beautiful place. We went out there for a baptismal interview yesterday and it was a cool experience. I interviewed this kid who is from one of the strongest member families in that branch. He was an Alma the younger of sorts. I was most impressed with his sincerity. He had truly repented and turned his life around.

Everything else is going well. My studies are excellent. Elder Ward and I are trying to improve our ability to follow the spirit.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

transfer to Visak

Dear Family,

Happy Thanksgiving! We actually celebrated Thanksgiving two weeks ago at one of the American families’ homes. So my day tomorrow will be quite the same, but oh wait....I got transferred!

The Chennai chapter has come to a close and I will forever recall my time here with fondness. It was a great place to serve and I am grateful that President allowed me to stay here for this long.

I will be going to Visak; but even better than that...ELDER WARD is my new companion. Do you remember him? I haven't seen him in 8 months and now I will be his companion. When I got the call from Elder Mehan on friday I was overcome with joy. I think I got a taste of what Ammon felt. Elder Ward is my boy and I look forward to doing work up there in Andhra. I am going to be a zone leader. I hope that I can do a good job. I look forward to setting an example of obedience and hard work with Elder Ward. I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better transfer.

I am excited to go back to Andhra and eat biryani. It is the specialty there and I am pumped. I will miss Chennai very much though. It has been hard to say bye to people though. Especially the people I prepared for baptism. But no problem I will see them down the road I am sure.

This past week was just short of incredible. We have been focusing as a companionship and district on the message of the restoration. A lot of times we will only teach the restoration first to those with a christian background. But recently we changed that. As stated in Preach My Gospel, The Restoration of the Gospel is our unique message to the world. So we are sharing it with everyone we meet, regardless of their background. We have seen some cool things happen.

We met a less-active member, Jonathan, his cousin from Bombay recently moved here. He was Hindu, but we shared the message of the restoration. At the end he told us that for the past few days he had been having these spiritual impressions, but he couldn't figure out what they meant. He then expressed his feeling that this message was the real explanation he was searching for. On saturday we met a brother named Rajesh on the bus. He invited us to his home right then, I was so surprised I almost said no. We went to his home and taught him and his friend the restoration. They were both hindu. At the end of the message, his friend told us that he had received some "divine inspiration" while we shared… sounded a lot like the Holy Ghost to me.

These reactions happened because the restoration is real. Joseph Smith saw God. That experience changed the world and if it did not happen we would not know all the other things we teach. That is why the restoration is lesson one -- I guess I have a hard head. But it does feel good to finally understand this for myself.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

solid finding...

Dear Family,

We have been doing some solid finding lately. One of my favorite parts of finding is just being able to meet all kinds of people. You NEVER know what kind of people you're going to meet. We have been meeting some crazy people lately. On the bus over here I was talking to a brother name Rajan. He was going off about how dogs are much more faithful than human beings.

On saturday we met an interesting family. Vijayanand and Sonia. They are married and have two children. They attend a church called the brethren assembly. They are very strong members of the church and have many insights on religion. We sat down and began to teach the restoration. While my companion was teaching about how the gospel blesses families, she cut him off. She said we were wasting our time because we were teaching them the basics. She went on for about 10 minutes lecturing us and questioning our reason for being there. Needless to say, she lacked patience. I proceeded to politely cut her off and began to teach about prophets. When she understood that we were now teaching things she didn't know, she relaxed a bit. We shared Joseph Smith and the first vision. She loved it actually. But my favorite part of the appointment was the end. We taught them how they should pray and ask God if our message was true. They said OK. Then Sonia asked the question that I think all missionaries want to hear. "So if this is true, what should I do?" It really caught me off guard. She then continued and said something like, "do I need to be baptized again?" I tried to be as polite as possible and started talking about proper authority. She cut me off, repeated the question, and demanded that I tell her straight up. I answered, "Yes." She smirked and said "OK, if God answers me." I was surprised. We’ll see what happens... she is going to california in a few weeks and she said she wants to go to SLC and meet the Prophet. Interesting discussion.

We met a guy who lives in Uganda! He was taught by Elders there. I did not know we had Elders in Eastern Africa!

Thank you for the compliments. I am proud of the changes that have occurred in my life and hope that I can preserve them for the rest of my life. While I have changed a lot, I still feel there is so much more I need to change. But I guess that is a common feeling with those who have a goal to be like Christ.

That will be my email for this week.

Love you all!
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

monsoon time!

Dear Family,

Hello there. This week was a wonderful week. We got wet! At long last the monsoon decided to visit Tamil Nadu. It was crazy. I have never seen so much rain at once. I have also never truly been grateful for good city drainage while at home. They could use a new system here, when it rains-it floods. I might be able to send some pictures, but when we came out of Priya's house on friday night we were in water almost to our knees. I was happy though, I had been anticipating the monsoon for over a year.

We have been meeting some cool people lately. On sunday we met with a brother named Johnson; a referral that was passed over to us about a month ago. I had been trying to meet with him since that time, but only sunday were we finally able to meet him. His house is clear outside of the city though. There is no chance I would have found him through my own efforts because I would never go that far from the church. But it was a referral, so we went and took Madhu with us. He was so happy to meet us and just seemed so prepared for the message. As a missionary, it is so refreshing to meet with people who have been truly prepared. At the end of the appointment he told us that he would read the book of mormon everyday. We called him last night and he said that he has been reading every morning and night. He sounded very happy.

I am astounded at the difference that the Book of Mormon can make. I couldn't imagine doing missionary work without it. All you have to do is read, and you will be happier. That is a great witness to its divinity, and the people who actually read, realize this. That is when true conversion starts to take place.

My studies have been great. Last week I gave a training on exercise. I discussed the spiritual blessings that flow from it. They are quite similar to those associated to the word of wisdom. I have been working with my Elders and Sisters to improve their exercise. Not simply for the physical blessings but also the spiritual, which is something I only learned on my mission. When I worked out at home my purpose was only temporal. So I only received temporal blessings. But I have learned that spiritual motivation is a lot stronger than physical. Does that make sense?

The work is going very well. I feel that Heavenly Father is teaching me a lot about how to love and care for others right now. He is using the example of my companion to do so. My companion is so concerned for the welfare of others. I honestly don't think he spends much time thinking about himself. I need to be more like him in that aspect. He is always looking for an opportunity to help another. I am not always doing that. So I am grateful for my chance to serve with and learn from Elder Gantyada.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Thursday, November 5, 2009

04 NOV 09 letter

Dear Family,

This past week was Zone Conference. We had it here in Chennai and it was a great experience. We don’t see President very often, so it is always nice when he comes to town for conference. It was centered on extending commitments. President was explaining how extending commitments is how we as missionaries "cry repentance." It was very inspiring and I will never prepare for a lesson again without first deciding what commitment to extend.

Elder Elliott and Elder Cunha have been working with some brothers from Nepal. One of them was baptized two weeks ago and his friend will be baptized on sunday. As I have had the chance to conduct their interviews, I gained a lot of respect for them. They have pure hearts, their desire to do what is right is inspiring. I am learning so much about the gospel as I watch other people prepare to make and keep covenants with God.

My studies have been incredible lately. I am reading in Alma. Ammon and the sons of mosiah dominated. One of the most prominent of their christlike attributes was patience. I believe that is why they were so successful, throughout their many afflictions they never lost faith or cursed God. I hope that I can emulate their patience in some part.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

28 OCT 09 letter

Dear Family,

Days go by. I can hardly believe it's another wednesday. As I was sitting in sacrament this past week, I realized that I have only a year left. It was a somber moment. I am glad that I have completed a year, but not so glad that I only have 1 year left. As the time passes on my mission, it becomes more precious to me. I hope that I can use it wisely.

No baptism this past week, but Sherman was confirmed. He brought his brother to church with him and to a fireside we had on saturday evening. His brother really enjoyed church, but he leaves to work in Australia in a few weeks. I plan to give the referral when he goes. So who knows maybe Elder Chris Christiansen will be the one to tract him out down there.

Yesterday I had a cool experience. We were teaching Shameem, a less active member. Their family is so good, but they will just not come to church. We sat down and began to teach Lesson 3 (the gospel of Jesus Christ). When I started teaching about repentance I chose to read from Alma 5. As we were talking about the "mighty change" I learned something. It's not that feeling this mighty change is a one-time experience. If that is the case, we are not enduring to the end. It must be something we continually strive to experience. Otherwise we will become complacent and lose zeal in following the commandments, and when zeal is lost it is not long before we stop following them altogether. This is what happened to Shameem, and I think it can happen to any of us if we are not careful. That’s why we must continually ask ourselves what Alma asked those people in Zarahemla. "If you have experienced this mighty change and felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can you feel so NOW?"

My personal revelation was a spin off Dale G. Renlund's talk. I am eager to receive the Liahona for November. I want to read that talk again, it changed my life.

Sorry for preaching. I just thought it was cool.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

21 OCT 09 letter

Dear Family,

Things in Chennai are still on the up, and so is the temperature. We just moved into the apartment with Elder Cunha and Elliott. Their AC actually blows cold air, which was quite opposite to the AC we were using in the other apartment. Elder Gantyada is having a hard time at night. The other Elders were unwilling to turn up the temperature, so they bought him a blanket so he can survive the night. It's not that bad, but I think my natural temp of 98.6 has risen a few degrees since I've come here.

This past week Sherman was baptized. What a wonderful day it was. We had our Branch mission leader perform the baptism, and he did a beautiful job. Sherman was so happy. I don't know how many times I've expressed my gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. I will be sure to maintain contact with him throughout my mission and my life. I expect great things from him. Also, Madhu came to church for the first time in a white shirt, black pants, and a tie. I was shocked; I took a picture and will send it to Elder Schmidt today. I think he will die from shock. It really was so satisfying to see him in priesthood attire, on time for church.

We had a cool appointment this past friday. A brother named Saravanan that Elder Gantyada and Brown met while they were on exchange a few weeks ago. We met him once before. He came to the church and we taught him about the plan of salvation. Now, I have been in some edifying discussions before but this was particularly uplifting. We taught the lesson as usual but it was so smooth. He was asking many questions along the way. But when I would answer it was automatic. I didn’t take much notice during the lesson, but in reflection I realized that it was like pure intelligence coming into my mind and I would just turn and speak. We all felt the spirit. We challenged him for baptism and he accepted. At the end of the lesson, he was trying to express to us the good feelings he had inside. We just assured him that it was the Holy Ghost. I am not sure what we did to experience that, but I hope I can figure it out soon so we can do it again.

The sister missionaries are a great addition to our district. I have been doing my best to support and encourage them. They are very good though. The last two this mission will see for a long time also. I am glad to have the opportunity to work with them. I left them some of the spices I use for cooking when we moved. I got a call that night in which they told me that my spices were junk and they would never use them it in their cooking (and I thought I was a decent cook). But apparently I was wrong. Sorry Mom, I'll learn how to do it properly before I return.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Monday, October 19, 2009

13 OCT 09 letter

Dear Family,

Sri Devi (Sri Raj's sister) was baptized this past week. She was so happy and it was a good baptism. Sri Raj did not perform this one. I had to do it, but she was a little scared of the water. So I made sure to be slow and careful. Everything went fine. We had her baptism service between sessions of conference on sunday.

Before conference began on sunday we had a live broadcast from Bangalore in which, President Nichols formally organized the 3 new districts here. Chennai, Visak, and Coimbatore. It was cool to see that happen, I don’t think I will be here to see the temple built, but the work we are doing right now is certainly laying the foundation for it. I feel privileged to be a part of it.

Sherman is doing so well. It is so amazing to see how the gospel is changing his life. Apparently his Mom had been just his best friend, and when she died it was very difficult for him. Only ten days after the tragedy he happens to meet the Elders and hear about the plan of salvation. What's more, he is absorbing all of the doctrine that we teach. His desire to know and do what is right is an inspiration. Sunday night we met him and he took us over to his in-laws house. We didn't ask him for the referral, he just took us there. And it was because he truly values the gospel and what it does for him. He wanted his friends and family to feel the same.

Now, his situation may be somewhat extreme. But his desire and zeal to share the gospel is pure. I think each one of us can learn from that. We should share the gospel out of love. Simply because we understand how greatly it has blessed or changed our lives. Then with that understanding, the next logical step would be to share that knowledge with the people we love.

Conference was incredible. Yes I did love Elder Holland's talk. I also loved Henry B. Eyring and the talk he gave in the priesthood session. I decided that he was my role model. But I think one of my favorites was given in the sunday afternoon session by Dale G. Renlund of the seventy. He spoke about how the natural man wants to reject a heart that is changed through repentance. He suggested things we could do to remain zealous in following God. I loved his talk.

Everything else is going well. Transfer calls came on sunday, but I am staying here with Elder Gantyada. Also the only two sister missionaries in the mission are coming into my district. We only have them for like 3 months, but they should be good for us. Hope all is well back home.

Love you!
Elder Tuscano

p.s. - I loved conference so much. I remember when I was young and I was very against watching all the sessions. I am sorry for that. But I am grateful that you and Mom made me do it. You set a pattern that I will never forget. Even though I resented it at the time, you had patience and vision. You probably knew that one day I would be sending you this e-mail saying something like this. What a stroke of parenting genius from you and Mom.

06 OCT 09 letter

Bad news. I wrote a big nice letter but it deleted. Sorry about that. So I am going to have to abridge it.

The week was good. Sri Raj baptized his brother. Watching that could have been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Seeing his family come around to the gospel has been such a cool experience. His sister is also doing very well.

Madhu is doing amazing. He wants to serve a mission as soon as he can. I love that guy. He is so innocent and just wants to follow Christ. He has a strong testimony of Joseph Smith too.
We continue to see miracles each day. I continue to learn lessons in humility from my companion. He is such a good example to me. I hope to be humble like he is someday. It sounds like Conference was good; I look forward to watching it this weekend.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

29 SEP 09 letter

Dear Family,

This week was wonderful. Kevin was baptized this past sunday. He is such an amazing kid. I am so impressed with these young single adults and their sincere desire to follow Christ, and to improve themselves. The whole Priya family was very excited to witness the experience. I don't know if I have told much about Kevin. He is Priya's very good friend and she was key in helping him make the decision to be baptized. He was worried at first because his parents are strong members of the CSI church. But he came around.

I think I might have got a small taste of the feeling Elder Bayzk had when he met Dad for the first time. Sunday night we went up to West Mambalam to meet a referral the other Elders had given us. This brother's name is Thiyagu. He is about 21 and he is s smart man. He speaks perfect english and is very quick. We sat down with him, his sister, and his Mom. While we shared the message he was very interactive. After the message was over he said something like "I have been searching for the truth for a while." He knew had found it, because he then asked us when he could become an Elder. It was incredible. I am constantly humbled by experiences like this. It really evidences the fact that God is truly looking out for us.

It has started to cool down a little bit. Not much, but some. I think the monsoon is really on the way so we are preparing for that. My studies continue to be very rewarding. I am truly enjoying my time here.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

22 SEP 09 letter

Dear Family,

This past week was incredible. We were able to baptize Madhu on sunday. He was so excited. I was sad that Elder Schmidt was not able to be here for it, but I will send him pictures. I think he will be surprised. The baptism was good; it had to happen twice though. He was very nervous about going under the water. After I finished the prayer I was trying to be cautious and careful. I attempted to slowly lower him into the water, but that was not his plan. He just plummeted down; it was so fast I almost lost him. The second time was much smoother though, so I was grateful for that. He called us that night and couldn't stop telling us how happy he was.

Sri Devi is Sri Raj's sister; I think I have spoke about her. She is doing so well. At first I felt that she was not interested, but we made a goal to get her to church. When she came she got awesome fellowship. Also she has been reading the book of mormon daily and saying her prayers. We asked her to pray and sincerely ask God about the book of mormon. She did. And she got her answer; the happiness that has suddenly entered into her life could not be attributed to any other source. Needless to say her level of interest is up. Also they have another brother who wants to get baptized. He came to church on sunday. I think he will be good.

I am blown away by the changes occur in the lives of the people we work with.

We had a sweet zone conference yesterday. It was about "My Purpose" and I learned so much. President helped us to understand truly what our purpose is. I don't know any other mission presidents, but I am so glad that we have President Nichols. His understanding of his purpose is so apparent. He knows we are here to do more than simply baptize people. I am so grateful for the leadership and guidance of an inspired mission president. There are 3 new districts being created here: Visak, Coimbatore, and CHENNAI! That is sweet news

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Josh!

Dear Family,

This past week was great. We have some amazing people we are working with. We had small birthday party for me at Priya's house last night. She set up decorations, her mom made Biriyani and we had big cake!

Cool story about Priya's family. I guess 3 weeks ago in Relief Society they had a lesson on temple and family history work. That family had just been baptized, so we hadn't taught them temples yet. It was the first time they heard about it. That night, Priya had a dream and her great-grandmother came to her. She informed her that she and about ten other relations of hers were waiting for them to do their temple work. Apparently in the dream her grandma gave the names and photos of the ten people, but Priya couldn't remember all of them. Anyway, we plan to get as much detail as possible and I will probably send the information to Grandma. I am beginning to understand why that family needed to be baptized. I think it was for many reasons, but this is surely one of them.

My companion is so great. I am learning so much from him, but especially humility. His desire is so sincere. He has great faith. Because of his example I am learning to put even greater trust in the scriptures and the basic principles of the gospel. I was coming to the point with some people where I believed nothing could help. My companion is helping me to see that in all situations Faith in Jesus Christ works. It’s such a simple principle, but really so powerful. He is good.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

08 SEP 09 letter

Dear Family,

I can't believe BYU beat Oklahoma. I was honestly shocked when I read the score; I about fell out of my chair. So what is their ranking now? They always start strong, but we'll see the real strength of the team as time passes. Or rather, you all will see it.

This past week was great. It was sad to see Elder Schmidt go. At first it was weird walking the streets and visiting people without him. But that transition is about through, and it feels great to be hanging out with Elder Gantyada. He is an amazing person. His dedication to the gospel is incredible. He is not scared to tell people the truth. I have been learning a lot from him.

We were working with Madhu since June. He was good, but he couldn't make it to church consistently. Then we discovered that he was receiving retribution from his family. They all attend the AG church. It's the biggest christian church in Chennai. But they told Madhu our church does not believe in Jesus Christ. Once we discovered this concern, it was a quick resolution. We pointed to the name of our church on our tags and asked him if the book of mormon was true. Problem solved. He came back to church, and I think this time he'll stay.

We have also been working with Sri Raj's sister. Her name is Sri Devi and she is about 20 – very smart, like her brother. She came to church by herself sunday because Sri Raj had a job interview. We were stoked to see her, but I was even more pumped to watch her receive great fellowship from Priya and her mom. This mission is sweet.

I read a great talk by Neal A. Maxwell about patience. I gained a lot of things from it, but one of the coolest was this quote: "Patience is the acceptance of a divine rhythm to life." I felt that was so articulate. I used it in a training I gave on patience. Anyway, thought someone might enjoy that.

Love you all,
Josh

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

comp change, priya's family baptism...

Dear Family,

I'll start with some sad news. The Chennai companionship, or in other words, Elder Schmidt and Elder Tuscano came to an end. Transfer calls came monday morning. Elder Schmidt is off to new adventures in the land called Visak. He leaves friday morning. It will be sad to see him go. We had a lot of good times together in the heat of Chennai.

I am now a district leader. I hope that I can be a good one. I took the advice you gave me a while back. I have been watching my leaders closely and I will attempt to emulate the good qualities they exhibited. My new companion is Elder Gantyada. He has been on his mission almost 3 weeks now. He was being trained by both Zone Leaders but some other stuff didn't happen, so he is coming over to my area. It will be fun. He joined the church only a year and half ago. He was referred to the church by the brother of my trainer, Elder Siyyadri. He was taught and baptized by the great Elder Toleafoa. Now he is my companion in Chennai. It is amazing how small the church is in such a big country.

This past week was great. We met a sweet new brother. His name is Sherman. We were at the train station in a place called Kodambakkam. I had never been there. There were some less-active members and we went to visit them. Upon our return to Mambalam, we found ourselves waiting for the train. Some man approached us that had apparently met the elders a few years ago. He was Roman Catholic and came across a bit obnoxious toward us. We had nowhere to go, so we listened and talked with him. It wasn’t long before a few other people walked up to us and introduced themselves as christians. We didn’t think much of it; gave them our cards and told them to call us. But one of them seemed different. He introduced himself to us, specifically Elder Schmidt as we boarded the train. I was kept busy during the ride by our catholic friend. As we got off the train, my companion turned to me and said "I've never felt so good about anyone in my life." He was so excited. He stated that he felt the man was just prepared. He was. We met him two days later and discovered that his mom had passed away just ten days ago. He accepted the message of the restoration. He came to church the next day and stayed all three hours, and also for the baptism we had that day. He also set himself for baptism in two weeks. My companion was right.

We had a great baptism this week. Priya's entire family entered the waters. I will send some pictures. It might have been one of the greatest days of my life. They were all so ready. And the branch did a beautiful job fellowshipping. I don't know why, perhaps it was because two of the daughters are cute. Maybe because it is a big family. But the branch really helped us. I look forward to seeing how much they progress as members of the church. Working with them was a sweet experience. We met them at the right time, in the right circumstances, and taught them the "right" message. It was great!

Love,
Elder Tuscano


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

weather cooling a bit...

Dear Family,

This week was money. We had some really cool experiences. The rain is off and on here. It is nice though because it is not quite as hot. We were excited the other day when we went to Shri Raj's house. Since we met him, he has been in a terrible financial situation. Due to a variety or reasons he had virtually no money. His parents refused to help him, too. His only hope was some money he had coming to him, but he was supposed to receive it years ago. On monday he told us that it finally came! We were so happy. he was even able to purchase a cell phone. Things are turning around.

In India many christian people send text messages of Bible verses to each other. Because of our christianity we tend to be the recipients of many bible verses. This morning we got our first BOOK OF MORMON text message. Shri Raj sent us 1 Nephi 9:6. Elder Schmidt and I were pumped.

Priya's family continues to progress. They are amazing. We went over yesterday for Vinod's birthday. They made Biryani. Either my mouth was confused, or it tasted exactly like old Paradise back in Hyderabad. It was delicious. Priya's progression in the gospel has been amazing. I don't know why, but she just understands it perfectly.

I am preparing a talk on sunday. I am addressing the apostasy. I hope that I am able to present the information in such a way that people recognize the need for a restoration. I've noticed that it is not only investigators who don't understand the apostasy. Many members want to follow their old ways still.

I am so glad my parents understand the gospel so well. I never really appreciated it while I lived at home. That is because my testimony was lacking. But now I can see your devotion to the gospel, and the reasons behind it. Words cannot express my gratitude for the example you set concerning your love for the Savior and His gospel.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Friday, August 21, 2009

18 AUG 09 letter

Dear Family,

I wanted to share a little about one of the less active families we are working with. I have mentioned them before. It is Peter's family. They were baptized awhile back and haven’t been to church in years. We went to visit them on monday evening. The family was in disarray. They have so many conflicts, it was very sad for us to see them in this condition. Granny was begging us to find her a room where she could stay by herself. Peter was saying he had completely given up on God. Anitha was so mad, she feels targeted by the other two. Their boy is deaf and they blame him for many of their problems. We sat and just listened to their problems. They all hate each other. We had no idea what to do. Eventually we had to leave and all I could say was "We love you." I don't know if that helped, but I had no idea what to do or say. We talked about it after we left. In discussion we both determined that their problems were not really a direct result of their inactivity in the church. If they had stayed in the church it is possible that the events could have transpired in the same way. But we came to the conclusion that the present condition of their family was a direct result of their inactivity. Does that make sense? If they had been living the gospel, they would have had adequate tools to help. We just hope that it is not too late for them to come back into the light.

Sri Raj was confirmed and even received the priesthood last sunday. We were so happy for him. It was so cool to see the light in his eyes. It wasn't there a few weeks ago.

Something cool happened at church on sunday. We were standing at the door greeting people as usual. Every week a lot of americans come to church, they are the volunteers out therein Chenglepet. Just like abbey. So the wave of white people came in and I was so astonished to see a friend from school. I had no idea she was even coming here. She was just as surprised to see me. She knew I was serving in India and thought she might see me, but didn't know for sure. Her name is Karly Kimball. It was so tight to see her. Right after sacrament meeting I introduced her to Priya and her family. They loved her. She came out and took them to relief society too. I thought it was so cool. I never would have guessed that my friends from BYU would be giving fellowship to my investigators in Chennai!

My studies continue strengthen my testimony. I have been reading the bible daily, but I have realized how much I miss the book of mormon. So I stopped neglecting it and made sure there was time in my study for both bible and book of mormon study. It has made a difference.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Saturday, August 15, 2009

commit and follow up...

Dear Family,

I was very glad to hear about Jonathan's ordination. I remember when I was first a deacon. I, too, was scared to pass the sacrament. But the Lord really does strengthen us over time. The picture was nice, everyone looks the same!

This past week was full of excitement. The crowning event would have to be the baptism of Sri Raj. Working with him was such a blessing. Shortly after our first visit with him, we both felt that he was truly prepared. In retrospect I note two factors that influenced his preparation. The first is his intelligence. He was smart and he had a thirst for knowledge, thus the book of mormon was gold to him. The second factor was certain events in his life which brought him into the depths of the humility. Elder Schmidt and I happened to met him at just the right time.

Another brother I had worked with during a transfer also got baptized this past sunday. It was a great sabbath. There are many wonderful things happening in our area. We are discovering the value of following up. We are working with a ton of people and it is easy to lose track of who is supposed to be doing what. We made a companionship goal to be consistent in organization and following up. We found that people are much more likely to keep their commitments with follow up.

We were having trouble getting new missionaries from the states over here. Something was held up with the visas. We just received word that all is good, so I think we will be getting some more Americans in the next week or so. We were all relieved to hear that. It worried us to think that we all might be the last American missionaries over here for a while.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Thursday, August 6, 2009

chapel groundbreaking in Chennai

Dear Family,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jono! Congratulations my friend. I am so excited for you. I remember this birthday of mine like it was yesterday. Moving out of primary was the best. All of my friends were older than I was and I remember being so excited to move on up. The best thing is you get the priesthood. I am so excited for you. You and Dad will be able to go to priesthood session together. Make sure that you always take your responsibilities seriously.

This week we were in Ooty. It is a mountain town located in the western gats mountains. It was a strikingly beautiful and it was nice to get out of the city. There was NO pollution and the air was crisp. I was actually cold – I couldn't believe it, but it was a nice trip.

We had been in Coimbatore for two days. We had zone conference there. Chennai is a small zone and there is no chapel so every other zone conference is a multi-zone conference in either Bangalore or Coimbatore. It is a nice city – much smaller than Chennai but they have a pretty chapel there. The trip takes about 7 hours by train and travelling is always fun. We get time to hang out and get to know each other. We got to do some contacting and finding while there and it proved to be very fruitful.

This past saturday was the groundbreaking ceremony for the chapel here in Chennai. It was amazing. I was so touched to see these long time members taking part in the event. Some of these people joined the church in the 80's and have never had the opportunity to worship in a chapel on sunday. They must be so excited. It will be a large building, two floors, underground parking, and three bishops’ offices. Only the first branch will be meeting there. I learned from President Nichols that the Brethren have approved only 5 building plans in all of asia recently. 4 of them are in this mission. Chapels will be built in Sri Lanka, Bangalore, Visak, and Chennai. I think the Brethren have high hopes for this country. And they should.

We met a family about 3 weeks ago that is incredible. Mom and the kids are christian converts. They have a great faith in Jesus Christ and they also have humility. They have been so receptive to the message of the restoration. One of the daughters, Priya (23), has been especially open. She reads more from the book of mormon than we ever ask. They all came to church on sunday and received great fellowship. We plan to meet with them today and are so excited about it.

Last week we were walking to an appointment in Ice House – the place is full of muslims (probably the highest concentration in all of Chennai). When you walk down the street all you see is women in black burkas. Anyway, we were stopped by an older muslim man. Neither of us recognized him but he sure recognized us. He said he knew the church very well and promised to come on sunday. We were skeptical, but he came. Apparently he has been working with our church since the early 80's. He used to help the couple missionaries around and he was so tight with all the old members of the branch. His name was Ali, I'm not sure how seriously he investigated the gospel but we plan to go over there next week. I love teaching Muslims. I also think he is planning to make us beef – it could be the best appointment of my mission.

I try to find common ground with all the people we met with. I realize that there is something fascinating to learn from everyone we met everyday. When I think of it that way, everyday contacts turn out to be a lot more interesting.

My studies are still going great. I am learning much from the Bible and I am continually inspired by the missionary example Paul sets. I love his zeal for the work. I was reading a verse this morning and the people were warning him not to go to jerusalem because he would be killed. He states that he’d be glad to die for Jesus Christ. He had no fear!

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July 30, 2009

Dear Family,

This past week was cool. We have been working with a brother named Ashok for over a month now. He is a deep thinker and gets off topic very easily. With that combination it took over 4 visits to get through the plan of salvation. But he loves it. Actually we just discovered that he was 50. He looks maybe 35 and he used to live in Miami. Anyway My companion and I regard him as our "favorite" investigator.

We have also been working on something as a district here in Chennai 1st. Contacting females. For the first 9 months of my mission I never contacted a girl on the street. Ha I'm not sure why. I never saw other missionaries do it, so neither did I. Maybe its culture, but after talking to some lady members of the branch we all decided it was time to change our ways.

We are going to Coimbatore next week for a multi-zone conference. Also we will do a zone activity in Ooty. Sounds like an interesting week. The heat is on the decline here. The rains are coming in. Not the monsoons, but it has been raining almost everyday. It is nice.

My studies are amazing. I have been reading the book of Acts. It has no become apparent to me why Jesus spent so much time instructing the apostles during his ministry. From what I can tell Peter did a great job leading the church. I love the story of Paul; he is also a great missionary. I am finding joy in my bible reading. I was never familiar with it before, but now I can easily see why it is the foundation of so many christian peoples' faith. But Joseph Smith translation is sick.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

mini miracles

Dear Family,

This week was really cool. Elder Schmidt and I are continuing to notice the Lord's hand leading and guiding us wherever we go. Something neat happened a few weeks ago. We were at a bus stand in T-Nagar waiting to catch a bus out to Madhu's house. It was evening and the bus was just not coming. Naturally we got impatient and started looking around for things to entertain us while we waited. Just behind the stand was an apartment complex and a volleyball court! We saw a few people playing and decided to join. We played for a little and asked the kids if there were any christians around. They directed us to some houses on the other side of the complex. Right then our bus rolled in so we had to run but we came back another day.

That's when we met Sri Raj. He is a great man. I have never taught someone quite so intelligent yet humble. We met him and introduced our message. He was interested. Two weeks later we were on exchange with the assistants. We went up to his house and met him. We taught the plan of salvation. He had some questions. He ended up sharing a huge story about someone he trusted and loved a lot but was basically emotionally abused by them. He was obviously hurt by the experience. We spoke some comforting words and how this was an experience he could learn from. After a while we both just had nothing to say. I looked down so did Elder Hughes. After a minute or so of straight silence Sri Raj said "So what is baptism?" It was a great experience.

So we had a talent show on saturday night at the church. It was a hoot. We only went for about the last hour but it was a great time. Even we Elders prepared a small talent. We had practiced a little dance to the Michael Jackson song "Beat It." We were the last talent. We got up there and did our skit. They loved it. It was mostly a funny dance because anyone who knows me understands that I am a "funny" dancer, not a good one. So it was like that. But they were giving praise and accolades galore. One day I'll send you the video.

My studies continue to benefit me greatly. I have been reading the book of John. I love more and more the words of Christ. As I read the bible I realize that Christ didn't even baptize everyone he talked to. In fact a ton of the people he taught wanted to kill him...I never realized these things before. He was so bold and confident in speech. Through my studies and personal experiences I am learning more about those people God calls "elect" and "prepared."

Love,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

..it is such a miracle to get those cookies from you. Who would have thought that while I was on my mission I would still be enjoying your chocolate chip cookies. Thanks a ton. It really made me happy to think that those cookies were made at home.

We saw the Solar Eclipse this morning. It came here! I have some small photos I might send. We woke up early this morning and went to Besant Nagar beach with all the Elders to watch. It was sweet.

This week we had some really cool spiritual experiences. We are learning more about relying on the spirit and inquiring of the Lord. All of these little things really add up. They are helping me so much. My testimony only increases while I'm out here. There are tough times but these miracles always get us through. And they keep coming.

Monday, July 20, 2009

tender mercy coincidence

Below is a post from a blog written by Abbey (a friend of Anjuli's who is visiting India with the Rising Star Outreach organization). The branch of our church that she attends in Chennai is the same branch where Josh currently serves!
__________

Well first of all, here is a post for Anj! For those of you who don't know, my friend Anjuli's brother, Josh, is serving a mission here in Chennai. I have never met him but we have been planning this meeting since the day we discovered I was coming to India a month ago. Anj and her mom put together a package for me to take to him at church today. Here is the experience:

I walked in to church with my large "package" for Elder Tuscano and I instantly spotted him scanning for me from the stand. His smile looks identical to Anjuli's so it could not be missed. For some reason I became extremely emotional! Probably because when I said goodbye to Anj she cried and said, "Tell my brother I love him." It was so sweet and it was surreal to see him. Anyway, he waved at me from the stand and I had to wait the entire meeting to talk to him. By the way, the meeting was awesome. This branch has 2 missionaries going out in the next few weeks so they both spoke. It was honestly amazing. Conveniently they speak English in this branch so we understood nearly every word.

I found Josh after the meeting and got to talk to him for a while. He introduced me to some members and I gave him his package which was so nice to get off my hands because I was stressing about it! He was super excited, especially about the homemade cookies :) As we were talking another elder came up and asked if Josh would teach a lesson. he invited Chelsea and I to join his class while the rest of our group went to a young single adult class. The class was fitting for me, all about service. It was so fun to hear Josh teach. A few notes from the lesson that you might enjoy:
- Love is more than a feeling. When we love others, we want to serve them.
-Love doesn't fear, love does what needs to be done
- A list of "small and simple acts of kindness we can do":
1. give good advice
2. don't make problems
3. pick up garbage
4. pray and love the weak
5. have a helping mind

I only add this list because it was hilarious and Josh was literally pulling teeth to get them to suggest things. Everything they said was hard for even him to understand and interpret enough to write something on the board. It was hilarious.

Also, Anj, he talked a lot about your parents and their perfect service to him as their child. He talked about your dad and said that whenever he was having a bad day, your dad would encourage him to serve others and he would therefore feel better.

-Through service we increase our ability to love. When we serve, we grow close to the Lord.

It was a wonderful lesson and made me excited to finally get to the colony where I will be serving the people. In our meetings today we also talked about trying to see the people the way the Lord sees them. I have thought about that a lot coming into this experience and it is something I am trying hard to focus on. Though I have not encountered it yet, I am hoping I can see beyond the bodies and deformities of these people and see them as children of God.

I was so happy to go the church here in India and once again realize that the gospel is the same no matter where you are and that there are incredible members all over the world. Luckily I found out we will be attending that ward again next Sunday. Josh says he has things to send back with me that he didn't have today so that worked out well. It was such a neat experience to meet and talk to Elder Tuscano. He is darling and made me miss my dear friend Anj!

Posted by Abbey on July 19, 2009 9:25 AM

Anjuli said...
what can i say...i cry at everything. i can't even believe how amazing this whole thing is :) i knew you and josh would be instant friends. i am so happy right now and so proud of both of you!! i hope you are getting some sleep!! i love you!!

Posted by Anjuli on July 19, 2009 11:59 AM

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

gratitude, blessings, miracles...

Dear Family,

This past week was zone conference and it was incredible. President Nichols talked about how to recognize and understand the spirit. I had always been somewhat confused about specific experiences and whether or not the spirit was involved. I'm sure many people wonder the same thing. As I listened to President share experiences from his life I realized many things that I hadn't before. One major thing I realized was this; the more important the question we ask is, the more quickly Father in Heaven answers it.

We have been working with a sweet family. The father's name is Peter and his wife is Anita. They have a young son named John and he is deaf. Also Peter's Mom lives with the family. They are from Vietnam, but Anita is Tamilian. Peter and his Mom got baptized in our church many years ago and virtually haven't been since that time. His wife is a convert to christianity. But after certain trials in her life she had turned back to her hindu traditions. She wondered most why God would give her a deaf son. She asked us that question last week. I had NO idea what to say. But something told me to ask, what have you learned from this experience? She was then able to realize something significant about God and his purpose. We have been working slowly and teaching for understanding. But we both feel good about her and this family. With a lot of prayer and faith I think we can bring them ALL back to church.

We went out to the village on friday. Madhu has some family friends out there who wanted us to offer a prayer or something. Language problems often leave us in the dark. Details are hard to come by out here. So we make the journey to the village and it was sick. Ha we got to help some aunties make biryani. They cook in these massive pots. You just sort of throw all the ingredients in the pot and close the lid. Elder Schmidt loved it. I will send some pictures of the experience. We then had to offer a small prayer for the people there. The lady who was running the show was really nice. I think she was from the pentecostal church, but she spoke perfect english which was really a surprise to us.

We continue to see the hand of the Lord guiding us in our daily work. Little miracles keep occurring. We realize that as we express our gratitude for the blessings we receive, the Lord sends us more. What a concept! Anyway the studies are great and I find joy in feasting upon the words of the scriptures.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

I am doing my best to serve with all I have. There are setbacks and a lot of obstacles. But I have realized that as I trust in the Lord none of those things matter. I might not have the most baptisms, but I feel that the service I have rendered thus far has been accepted by our father in heaven. That’s really all that matters to me.

So one thing I wish I would have done before coming out here was go on exchange with the missionaries. We were encouraged to do that during my senior year but I just was not interested at the time. That’s too bad for me. This week we took an american who was visiting chennai on exchange. He is 18 and about to leave on his mission. We took him to an appointment friday night. I think it was a cool experience for him. I wish I would have done more of that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First 4th of July in India...

Dear Family,

Top of the morning! We met with a former investigator named Steven Raj this past friday evening. I had never seen him before; I hadn't even seen his teaching record. We met him at the church in Nandanam. We chatted and I was trying to gauge his level of understanding and even more just the lessons which he had been taught by the elders before. After we said the prayer I had no idea what I was going to teach the man. Something in my head was just like 3 Nephi 27. I didn't wait. We opened the scriptures and read. Pretty soon in the lesson we realized the man needed a baptismal date. We challenged and he accepted. It was a cool experience. Actually he didn't come to church sunday or answer our phone calls. Not uncommon behavior for investigators in this place, but I'm sure we'll talk to him soon.

Last night we met a sweet family. The other day we were finding in a place called T-Nagar. Elder Schmidt said that it had been tracted out but we still gave it a go. As we were walking down the street Elder Schmidt randomly asked a watchman if there were christians in the complex. He didn't have a clue what we were saying, but took us to the first door, a hindu woman who spoke english and directed us to a christian door in the back. We scheduled an appointment with the man's daughter. He has a crazy story. Born christian, but converted hindu...Ha I made him tell me that like 3 times because it’s completely backwards. The only direction for a convert starts with hindu and moves to christian. Anyway, he converted back to Christianity. He attends the AG church which is the biggest church in Chennai. They have a great concept like home teaching. We shared a little world history with him starting with Adam and going through the line of prophets. At first we thought he might be contentious but he was surprisingly humble. At the end he said he has a lot to learn from us. Ha I'll be sure to keep you updated on that.

I have been continuing my bible study. This morning I was reading in Luke, the parable of the prodigal son. I never before saw the light it shed on the concept of repentance. I understood a little more about Heavenly Father's position in this process. I've realized that having the spirit while you study is so important. I learn so much more when I feel the Holy Ghost.

That’s all for this week. Love you.

Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

Happy 4th! We did as much as we could to celebrate. Whenever people asked us where we come from we made sure to tell them that it’s independence day there. Then we ate lunch at the american restaurant called Gallopin Gooseberry's. They had beef hamburgers. It was a day of days.

Before I came on a mission I had no idea what to really expect. You know people tell stories about their missions and how much they loved the experience. But I never really understood what they meant. I can't express how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve one myself. I could listen to people relate experiences from their service all day, but in the end it would not do much for me. I have already seen the benefits of doing this, and I trust that the Lord will continue to bless me now and throughout my life if I serve him faithfully. I can't imagine moving forward with my life without having that kind of assurance.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

still hot...

Dear Family,

Things in chennai are still really hot. Everyone said that it cools down about the middle of june... but not this year. I remember when I used to take of my pads off after football practice. They smelled so strongly of sweat; when I take of my shirt at the end of the day here it smells the same!

Madhu is moving right along. He actually moved this past week into the farthest reaches of our area. Clear out in a village like place. I've spent the past 8 months in downtown city. It was kinda nice to get out there and see some grass. But after we taught we sang the spirit of god and he LOVED it. At the part when we sing hosanna he joined in. He wants to sing it every time we visit. I've really enjoyed working with him because of his humility – it really is a strength.

We went to a marriage last night. I am growing to love Indian weddings more and more (mostly because of the food). There were a ton of people waiting for the bride and groom in the banquet hall. But they were taking forever, so they just pulled out the banana leaves and started eating dinner. It was late, so we ate and rolled. We didn’t even get a chance to see the couple...

I've been continuing my studies in that wonderful book we call the Bible. I am becoming more impressed with the teachings of our savior. I love the parables, and I also love his ability to be bold. He was not afraid of anyone, but he did it in a silent confident manner. That is something I hope to learn more about.

Anyway that’s about it for this week. Love you all.

Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

I want to thank you for writing me every week. I know you are busy and have a lot of things on your mind. There are elders who have little brothers your age and they hardly write them. I feel so happy to know that you are a consistent writer.

I love telling people about my roots – it always surprises them. It’s incredible how my ethnic background is a culmination of the major faiths here in India.

I am trying to understand how the time passes out here. Sometimes it’s fast sometimes it’s slow. Some days are better than others. We have been doing a lot of walking in the sun lately and at the end of the day I'm just exhausted.

I am so glad that I have this opportunity to become acquainted with your culture. I feel that it is now a part of me. I am starting to learn tamil with more resolve. By the time I get back I hope to be fluent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

it's true...

Dearest Family,

It’s great to hear from you all this week. I was especially excited to find out that Anjuli was able to make it to Janet's baptism. I would have never imagined that someone I taught would be getting baptized on the campus at BYU. Crazy! Teaching her was an incredible experience; her perspective was so relative to me. She understands the culture in Utah and I was able to prepare her somewhat for some things she might experience as a member of the church there. I feel really blessed to have been a part of that.

This past week was great. Kevin's family came to church. I keep meaning to take pictures of them and send, but always forget. Can you imagine that? They are excellent. The grandpa and granny don’t speak english. But grandpa has a rock solid testimony of the book of mormon. We were there last week and I asked him if he knew that the book of mormon was true. "It's true. It's true. It's true" was his reply (In tamil of course)! But the progress being made in that family is incredible. For their age and weakness, just seeing them make the journey to church on sunday morning is a miracle.

We have been working with a brother named Madhu. He is hilarious, we love him. SO humble. We were over there a few weeks ago and we also asked him if he had a testimony of the book of mormon. He said yes. Then we asked him how he knew, he opened to the first page of 1st Nephi, verse 3. Nephi says that he knows this record is true, so Madhu says know it’s true because Nephi said! We taught him word of wisdom yesterday, he said he did not know any exercise so we made him get on the ground and we showed him how to do sit-ups and push-ups.

My studies have been full of insight lately. I was reading today in mark about a young man who was possessed by a devil. The apostles tried to heal him and it didn’t work. Jesus came down and did the job. Later his apostles asked why they couldn’t do it. He said it took "prayer and fasting." I was reading Jesus the Christ also, and Talmage says that this applies to us also. Sometimes when we have a favorite sin or indulgence we can’t overcome, the only way to do it is through prayer and fasting. I am continually amazed at the modern application of the Savior's teachings.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

one in a million miracle...

Dear Family,

It sounds like the weather in old St Geezy is not too bad. Enjoy it. They say it cools down here after may here...and maybe it has. But I haven't noticed it. How cool it is that you met Elder Schmidt's grandparents! I have known about them since the MTC but I didn’t know they were in the 7th ward. It is weird, the more time I spend out here, the more little things I forget about home... irrelevant things like street names, ward boundaries… it’s kinda funny.

Elder Schmidt and I are having a great time serving together. This is one of the most enjoyable times of my mission so far. Not that it has not all been good, but now I'm really living it up. We took Jeremiah on exchange last night and it was amazing. I always thought he was sort of shy and I was a bit apprehensive to take him on exchange. But we were teaching him about missionary work last night. We had an appointment the next street over and asked him to come. It was SICK! He was money and not shy. He was honestly one of the best member exchanges I've taken. He was resolving concerns, testifying and promising blessings. It was so neat for me to see that happen.

I want to share an incredible experience. We have been in a companionship threesome the past two days with our boy Elder Naulu. On Monday, we were running a little late. We had to catch an auto from a far place in our area back to our apartment. The whole night Elder Naulu was carrying his bag around with him for the exchange (valuable goods inside). Anyway, the auto dropped us outside of our apartment at 9:29pm. We stopped to buy biscuits at the store for breakfast and Elder Naulu realized that he left his bag in the auto (which was long gone). Now just to put things in perspective, there are about million autos in Chennai... once he told me he forgot his bag I knew the chances of finding it were low. The only thing I suggested, and it was immediate, was that he'd better pray and ask for a miracle. We walked around the streets for a few minutes looking to see if the drive stopped nearby. No Chance. My logic started taking over, I thought maybe we could go back to that part in our area and see if he returned. Out of any ideas, all the chances of actually finding the bag were really low. It was 9:40 and we knew we should be in the apartment, but he needed his bag. We stopped in the middle of the street and I prayed. I asked for guidance and as soon as I said Amen, Elder Naulu said we gotta get in the apartment. We didn’t question, we just rolled. We got in the apartment and planned for about 15 minutes. Then the doorbell rang. I must admit, I was actually expecting this. Two guys were standing there trying to say "bag" in english. We went downstairs and there was the auto guy with his bag. I learned from the experience, obedience really comes first. Sometimes we have to step into the dark with it. We were obedient to the spirit and almost immediately – a miracle! Through faithful obedience we can expect miracles.

That story took up a ton… I love my studies. I’m learning more about the mysteries of Godliness. I have become really attached to Doctrine and Covenants section 88.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

Things out here are sweet. We have a huge area now and we spend a lot of time on buses. Here you have to run and jump to catch them and jump off when they are still going. This is a pretty athletic mission bro, so you better prepare yourself.

My companion and I were so pumped to hear that our families were chilling together in STG. It is cool that at home you can have that connection. I may be far away for now, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

Raja helped us out this week, our fridge was broken and he sent one of his boys to come fix it. It’s so cool having cousins up the road.

Thanks for the advice about charity and showing people that I care. It is such a true principle. I try to show them and I know that when they know we care then they will keep their commitments.

You're right; there are a ton of people to learn from and to emulate. I have been trying my best to do that throughout my mission and it has helped.

Our new area is huge and we are just trying to figure out how to travel in it and meet everyone. It’s fun though, and I love serving with Elder Schmidt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

companion change...

Dear Family,

This past week was transfers and we got a surprise. Elder Bhagwat got the call to Visak and another Elder named Cunningham also. Till now we had 4 companionships here in Chennai 1st. But they just reduced the number to 3. So... my new companion is Elder Schmidt. He is my batch mate. I was so surprised to hear that I would be serving with him. We both have to combine our areas now, so it should be an interesting experience. Needless to say, I am pumped to be serving with my boy from the MTC. We have been around each other so far in our missions, but I never thought we'd be companions. His grandparents live in St. George.

The work in our area continues to explode. We had a baptism this past week. I had the opportunity to perform it. Jeremiah was one of the most prepared individuals I have ever met. While his life has been very difficult for him and his family, it was incredible to see the peace the gospel has brought into his life. Teaching him was, and is a treat. Hopefully someday in the future, he will open a branch up there in Nagaland.

We also have been working with Kevin and his family. They are incredible! Basically, this past week Kevin asked when he could be baptized a member of this church. The only problem is they have strong loyalty ties to another church and they don’t see the importance of going to our church every week. Other than that they are ready to go…

We met with Prakash and his wife Annie. I think I told you about them, he has been a smoker for 20 plus years. We have been working with him, but not too much progress over the past three months. He is a great man and my companion loves that family so much. It was nice to be there with my companion before he was transferred. We planned to watch a DVD about temples, but it didn’t work, so I had the “reflections of Christ” DVD also. I don’t know if there was divine intervention involved but the lesson we had was incredible. We just bore our sincere testimonies of the savior. My goal in the lesson was to put a smile on Annie’s face. She always seems so down. And we did! So I was pumped, and I think it gave them a little more encouragement to have faith in the atonement.

I spent the past week studying the last few chapters in the book of Matthew. It has been quite the ride – especially chapters 26 and 27. I never really took much time and studied them. The story itself is a miracle. But I was so impressed with the strength of the savior throughout the experience. As I think about my trials and worries compared to His I really get a new perspective. Elder Holland was right when he mentioned in his recent conference talk that the surrounding circle he had got smaller and smaller. But he stayed strong. That example means everything to me.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

I’m excited to get started on a new transfer but I’m just a little worried because of area splits. My area may be given almost completely to two new elders. Now my companion and I are trying to work out a compromise so that we can keep some of my area. It would be tough to just hand over all our good investigators. But whatever happens will happen. I'll be happy no matter what.

I have not tried the brownies yet. In fact, the reason I asked was because there are some members in our area who wanted brownies but did not have an oven. Actually his name is ruskin and he is a returned missionary. His father had been sick for a long time. This past Sunday, we went there and gave him a blessing. I said that he would have peace and gain joy in knowing where he would go. He is not a member. I told Ruskin to talk to him immediately about the plan of salvation. He was sick and basically incoherent. He died two days later. We went to see ruskin and he told us how after we left on sunday he explained the plan to his dad. His felt that his dad understood and felt peace, and started to act normal. I have seen the spirit do things through me that I had no idea were possible. I am out here counseling all kinds of people and, in reality I have no experience or any idea what they are going through. But I always know what to tell them. Crazy, huh?

I have been thinking a lot about my mission lately. I have been trying to give it my all. Be obedient and work hard. I have seen success, but I want to be better. Are there any suggestions or insights you have from your mission experiences about improving yourself as a missionary?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

study, spirt, strength

Dear Family,

It is still burning up on the streets of chennai but we are lovin it. You can sometimes wring out your tie at the end of the day!

This past week was great. The fifth sundays here are "missionary" sundays and we were in charge of the sacrament meeting. It was pretty fun; we sang a song together as a district, missionaries gave talks and I was the chorister. Anyway, everything at church is fine except for attendance. This branch is huge on paper, but not that many are coming to church. It’s been said the reason is the holidays and because people are out of station. But those days are coming to a close pretty soon here so we'll see how valid that reason proves to be. I hope it does.

Jeremiah is doing so great. I told you about him. I talked with President Nichols about him this past week. He keeps all his commitments and is prepared for baptism. But his family lives in that dangerous area of India called Nagaland. So I was on exchange with Elder Siyyadri (ever heard that name before – he was my first companion and now home from his mission) and we talked to him about how joining the church is a life long commitment and about how it should be a determining factor as to which places he chooses to settle down if he wants to be near the church. I was impressed at the strength of his testimony, because he knows this is right. He committed to live in an area of the country where the church is. I was very excited to see his sincerity. I understand that he is 19 and nothing is set in stone, but he understands the importance of the restored gospel.

We have been spending more time than usual working with people who struggle with the word of wisdom. We taught a few lessons to people in the past week that were actually under the influence at the time. It was amazing to notice how when we were just talking to them, we did not have much control over the situation. But as soon as we said a prayer and started teaching, the power of the spirit became extremely evident. Those people became completely subdued and listened intently to every word we spoke. I have truly gained a stronger testimony this past week about the power the spirit has.

My studies have been great lately. I have been spending some time reading the parables in Matthew. They are amazing. I find that as I read and study from the bible and keep the book Jesus the Christ open beside it, I learn so much more. I was reading today from the 22nd chapter of matthew and came across a parable I'd never studied – the marriage of the king’s son. There are some amazing implications in that parable. I was especially intrigued by the concept that we all have to "put on" the wedding garment to enter the kingdom. You should check it out.

I’ve grown to know more about other denominations of christianity since coming on the mission. I remember dad showed me that chart which told about different beliefs of christian sects. No one else believed pre-mortal existence right? How is that possible? Revelation is pretty plain in explaining it…

Anyway, all is well and I'm lovin my time here in Mom's hometown.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

chennai is hot...

Dear Family,

As always it has been a pleasure to hear from you all. The wednesday e-mail session gives the week a boost for me. I am sorry I may have been confusing in my explanation of my visit with our family last week. I was in a hurry as usual, and sadly I did not take my camera that night. I plan on seeing them sometime this next week, probably tuesday. At that time, I will surely bring my camera and hold a photo shoot.

This past week was great. Chennai is not getting much cooler, but the work is about as hot as the weather. We have been blessed, like I was in Hyderabad, with many people to teach. The Lord has truly been mindful of us and led us to different families who have been "prepared" to receive the message of the gospel. The hard part of missionary work is helping them SEE that they have been prepared for this.

Yesterday we met a guy named Prakash. He was contacted a few months back by the elders here. He has a big problem with drinking. He is married and has a son. When we went yesterday, he was a little past tipsy. We sat down for a while and he started telling us how bad his life was and how much he disliked his wife. I felt bad because his wife was sitting right next to him. She doesn’t speak english, but I'm sure she could get a feel for the conversation. He was going off saying tons of ridiculous stuff. I was just looking around and didn’t know what to think. I kind of wanted to leave, feeling as though I should not be there. But then I remembered when Christ said the healthy have no need of a physician, but it is the sick that he visits. Yeah, that was perfectly applicable in this situation. The whole time he was going off, my companion was trying to read from 3 Nephi 14 about how they can fix their marital problems. But it didn’t go too far. I was just waiting. Then all of a sudden the spirit took over. I was led to say a ton of stuff. It was all way good and none of it came from me. The spirit helped us take control of the situation and help him understand that his marriage was failing because of him, not his wife. I feel bad for his wife. Anyway, we set a return appointment on sunday and he is really excited for it. He has a desire to change, but we will see how sincere it really is over time. I hope everything turns out well for this guy, mostly because I feel sorry for his wife and the future of his son.

We are teaching Jeremiah and he is getting closer to his baptism. He is doing so well. He comes to church early and even takes notes in gospel essentials class. I love seeing people who have a real desire to learn and change. These are the kind of people who are elect.

I have been spending some time studying the parable in Jacob 5 about the house of Israel. Actually, I have nothing profound or spiritual to share about it this week. But it is interesting and there is a lot to it. If any of you know a lot about this parable I would love for you to shed some light on it. I am nervous because I have to sing a duet with another missionary at sacrament on sunday. I never sang at home. But I am spending a lot of time singing out here. I am growing to love it, but still pretty nervous to do it in front of people.

Anyway, by and large this week was a success. Chennai is the place to be in the mission right now (no political problems). It’s all good.

Love ya'll,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

Tamil is coming along; it is actually really difficult compared to Telegu. The sounds you have to make while speaking are difficult and there are a lot of characters in the alphabet. I will try. Most of our investigators are actually from Kerala. I don’t know why that is. They are christians and that is who we find. But, I will try harder to learn this language as I go. Most of the men we talk with speak English. I do feel badly for not being able to converse in Tamil with the women because most of the indian women we talk with do not speak English.

So it sounds like the memorial day block party was a success. I remember going to that thing, it was always fun and the neighborhood had a good time. I was just thinking about what the outcome of a neighborhood block party in India would be. I honestly don’t think it would be pretty – the muslims on the corner would probably be avoiding the hindus up the street, who would be busy try to insult the christians next door, but I am glad that in shadow mountain everyone is CHILL.

I am glad for scouting and young men’s activities. While I might have been less than excited to participate during the time, I am happy to have the memories now. It seems that way with a lot of things in my life.

It is cool to hear that the St. George visitor center is starting the "Why I Believe” firesides like the ones at the DC visitor center. I always loved them. I planned to do it in Hyderabad, but I got transferred before the date. I plan to start them here in chennai. Nearly everyone in India is a convert and the have some pretty incredible stories. I want to get it started because I feel it will strengthen the members, and also provide our investigators with inspiration.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

first visit with relatives

Dear Family,

It was great to hear from you all and it sounds like time is just flying by back home in the STG. I must admit, I feel the same way about time here in Chennai.

So, first things first. I spent the evening last night with Raja (note: Raja is a very close cousin of Usha). It was a great time! My companion and I somehow found their home without too much trouble. They live in 2nd branch area, but in an auto it is only about 30 minutes travel time. It was wonderful finally meeting them. I met Raja's wife Geetha and his mom, Saradha (she only speaks tamil, so I'm going to have to learn quickly in order to communicate with her). It was so fun to be there, they fed us idly and sambar. And yes mom, it did taste familiar. I felt so happy to be there. Raja and Geetha are both amazing. They showed me pictures of Sita and Curtis when they came to visit. They said they had a great time with them and were impressed with curtis’ ability to adjust to the culture. So a big congratulations goes out to big uncle curtis for embracing the indian ways. They also showed me photos of Mom and Dad when they came here for young ambassadors... Dad, you look great in a doti. Ha

We have an investigator here by the name of Jeremiah. He comes from a place in India called Assam. I actually don’t have a clue where that is. But, north is my guess... His family now lives in a place called Nagaland. Apparently in that area of the country people live in tribes and they are all christian and are constantly fighting. His family had to flee their home for saftey. They are in a different place now, but Jeremiah lives in Chennai and works as a cook. He is so prepared for the gospel. Every time we meet him he accepts and keeps the commitments we extend. He obviously had a difficult life but the gospel, and especially the principle of repentance, is working a marvelous change in him. He is preparing for baptism. We have to talk to the Branch President because he has a little bit of a "unique" situation.

There is another family we are working with, I can’t remember if I told you about them yet. The son is Kevin and he lives with his mom and grandparents. Basically only kevin knows english. The grandfather has been reading the book of mormon in Tamil daily though and expressed to us recently that he feels he is "learning the gospel for the first time." We bring a member for exchange and do some translation while teaching. But this week I talked with Kevin's mother during the lesson. She is very sad and stressed because her husband left her and kevin alone. She has a job as a teacher and is worried that she won’t be able to support herself and Kevin. She feels bad because she has to live with her parents. I bore my testimony to her about the gift of the holy ghost and how he can help us overcome our trials and sorrows. She expressed to me that she didn’t know much about feeling the spirit and I told her about receiving that gift after baptism. She really understood the concept, even though a huge language barrier was there. Further proof to me that the spirit speaks in a language that is universal.

One last thing... something I gleaned from my gospel study this week – actually, today. I read a line in the Preach My Gospel manual. It was in a story from a convert and he made a statement: "We know who we worship." I felt strongly about that. Here there are many people who worship Gods they know little or nothing about. I am so grateful for modern day revelation and scriptures which testify of the nature of our loving Heavenly Father. And for prayer, so we can build an intimate relationship with him.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

Mom, it was great to meet our family. You know I always knew we had family in Chennai, but until yesterday that was an abstract statement. Now I actually have met them and enjoyed spending time with them. It was a miracle that we were able to find their house so easily. The Lord really guided us there. Raja is so funny and I can tell that he is Alagu's brother.

Hey dad, you looked like a natural Indian in those pictures! Raja thinks highly of you and told me how much he enjoyed spending time with you when you came to India. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at pictures of you on the streets I walk on every day. Crazy, right?

I have developed some goals, but I like how you said to look specifically at your ultimate goal and make little goals each week to try and achieve. I will work on that. Having a goal makes doing hard work a lot more meaningful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day

Dear Family,

It was great to hear from you all on the phone on Mother’s Day. Everyone sounds good, just like you did when I left. Jonathan's voice is getting a little deeper so it was good to hear that. I am so happy to hear that everyone is doing well. I think it is incredible how much Heavenly Father has blessed our family as of late.

I'm writing from the mission office in Bangalore. The past two days have been a great time. We had a great zone conference yesterday. It was about goals. I realized that I didn’t really have any good specific goals. Like there were certain things I wanted to accomplish on my mission but I never really considered it so deeply. Now I have been thinking a lot about specific goals that I can set for myself. I know that a good goal will help me be a lot more productive.

Chennai is wonderful. It is not cooling down anytime soon, but I am just getting used to it now. We are working with a wonderful family; the father's name is Prakash. He has been smoking for the past 20 years or something. They have been teaching him for months, but never came to church. This past week his wife and children came. It was so good to see them there. They had a great experience and I feel so good about them. Prakash has some financial problems and his word of wisdom is obviously an issue, but I strongly feel that with the strength of the Lord he will overcome these problems. That’s all for this week.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

chennai arrival

Dearest Family,

This email is coming to you directly from the heart of Chennai baby. I arrived on friday morning last week. After walking through the airport doors to the open air here, it was not more than 3 minutes before my body was wetter than my shower that morning. It is hot here and it is humid. Mom mentioned that my timing to be here was perfect and she was right. Starting on the 4th of May till the 18th of May is a period of time they call "Karthri." Or in other words, the two weeks of time when most people die because it’s too hot. Ha but I am coping.

I really feel so blessed to be here. It is weird to say it, but this place really does comfortable. I always felt drawn here, especially since I arrived in India. But, being here is such an amazing experience. I love knowing that, in a way, this is my hometown. People are so surprised when I tell them that my Mom is from here. I love holding them in suspense when they ask my origin. I always tell them about Dad first and how he is Italian and Arab, then, while they are still trying to sort that out in their minds, I drop the Chennai bomb on them. It’s funny to see their faces.

The branch here is great, I am serving in the first branch and it has a huge membership. There are a lot of active and less active members in our area. So we have a lot of work to do here. I am just trying to sort out all of the people we have on our plates down here. Since this was my first transfer ever I didn’t really know what to expect. Getting to know a new area is difficult. Learning all the people, places, and members here is a big task. But the Lord is helping me out – my mind is clear and I am focused.

I would tell you all about the investigators we are working with, but I don’t have that great of a handle on the situation yet. I have not seen the majority so far. I will give you that update next week. Everything is going great, Chennai is an amazing city and I am looking forward to spending some time serving here.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

first transfer

Dear Family,

I am so, so sorry but this week is going to be a really short email. It is 5:27pm and I still have to get a haircut before P-Day ends at 6. I wrote you a nice email, but it was lost, again. Actually I have spent the majority of today in the FRO (note from parents: we think FRO is the Foreigners Registration Office) because I am getting transferred... TO CHENNAI (the area where Usha was born and the majority of her parents’ family live)! Can you believe it? I was astonished. I could only think about Mom when I found out. How happy are you Mom? I am so excited. I am going to do my best to light it up down there for you Mom.

I am going to be serving with a guy named Elder Bagwhat. He is half-indian too. He was a senior at Stanford university and a convert of just a year. I am going to be serving as his senior companion. I bet he is really intellectual. I hope that he doesn't think I am dumb.

This week was really great. There are a lot of families that are going to be baptized soon in my area and I am really excited to have that happen.

This week has been hard, too – knowing that I am leaving Hyderabad. It’s crazy how you grow to love people.

Love,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

gratitude and perspective

Dear Family,

I have noticed something incredible in the past week. A principle that I wish I would have discovered long ago. Gratitude. I have been trying to spend more time reflecting on things that happen out here. As I do this, it becomes increasingly more clear just how much the Lord intervenes in this work. And in my life. I noticed that as I make a concerted effort to express my gratitude each day, the Lord just sends more. Its an amazing concept.

This past week was one of the best in my entire mission. Things were really tough the past month or so because of our situation. It was tough to find families to teach. I began to plead somewhat with the Lord, to somehow give us people to teach. That is exactly what happened. Through former investigators we had, referrals, and a little creativity we are now teaching quite a few good families.

One brother named Prem, whom we had never met before this past Sunday, made a huge sacrifice to come to church. Apparently he had been doing some work in a village about 4 hours away from Hyderabad. We did not know this information, but we called and invited him to church. On sunday he was there, he met with us after and shared how he has left the village at like 3 in the morning just to come to church. He is an amazing brother and I am sure that he will soon be a member of this church.

We have been working with the brother of a member lately. His name is Hilkias and he is such a good man. He is about 24 I think. He used to live in Bangalore, but recently moved back to H-town. We taught him for awhile but he was not showing much interest. He wouldn’t come to church either. We dropped him. Last week we went back and read from the book of mormon with him. Something had changed; he came to church and also started reading the chapters we assigned him. He came to church two weeks in a row and two days ago he bore his testimony to us. We set him for baptism in two weeks, if I am around to see that I'll be real happy.

There are so many good things happening here now. It is amazing to see what a little resiliency can do for an area. This area is looking the best it has since I got here. I am so grateful this week for the blessings that have been given to us. Also, my study has led me to some interesting conclusions lately. I have been thinking about perception. How everyone perceives the world around them differently. Then I think about how God sees the world. He sees it how it really is. He sees the truth. The only way for us to see the world like that is to be continuing in his word and allow the truth to set us free. Check out D&C 93:24 and John 8:31-32.

Love ya,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

Thanks a lot for including the information about our syrian family. They sound like a really hard working and faithful family. Islamic people continue to impress me. Their faith is incredible. The women especially, I don’t know how they get through the heat out here in their full burkas! Faith has got to be the only explanation. They really are a wonderful people with a beautiful culture. I am proud to be a quarter muslim. I tell people that all the time.

A typical day is like this. Usually we try to have some appointments in the morning. If not we go to the church and do some study. But we really try to have somewhere to go. Then lunch and back out to some appointments. In the afternoon we usually go to members houses because no one is really awake. Everyone takes huge naps in the middle of the day. At night we are somehow full booked with appointments. Such a blessing. So what you can understand from this is we go to appointments only. We still don’t wear ties or tags or talk to people outside. But President Nichols said that the restrictions would be progressively removed over the next two months.

Pictures I have been taking, sorry for not sending more home. I usually forget my camera at the flat. I will try to get some to you next week ok. And the CD will come, I am just waiting to get some more. So sorry for being bad about this, I'll try harder.