Wednesday, January 21, 2009

planting seeds...

Dear Family,

Every week here proves to be very rewarding and a growing experience. There are so many things to be done here, and I truly enjoy working all day. Our district has been working really hard to build strong relationships with the members and hopefully find good referrals from them. We have been to a few members’ houses this past week and they all feed us and we have such a great time with them. There are many who truly are such wonderful members of this church and understand the importance of sharing the gospel with others.

We visited with a brother named Shanth Kumar; he is a returned missionary of about one and a half years. We have a church membership record and we find people in our area and highlight them, but we don’t recognize the names of people on the record. We just call, set up appointments, and find out who they are when they open the door. It’s exciting, and this guy, Kumar, is great. His family is one of the strongest in the branch. He is experiencing a lot of trials in his life. He is married and has a child. His father was helping him financially since he got married, but his father died a few months ago. So he is really struggling to support his family among other things. But still, his love for the gospel enables him and his family to be so happy anyway. I am really starting to see how much the knowledge of the gospel can provide us with a solid happiness.

We met a wonderful family on friday evening in A-town (alwal) which is our favorite place to proselyte. The people there are just prepared. This family speaks great english and the father works for the king of Saudi Arabia. They are catholic I think, but were so open to our message of the restoration. We are teaching the father's sister's family too. So I really hope it is God's will to bring this family into the church. They would strengthen our branch so much. Pray for us as a companionship to have the spirit strong so we can invite them to enter the waters of baptism. His name is Alphonse, and his sister’s name is Edna. They treat us so kindly here, he even sent us home with arabian chocolates and sweets.

Things with Alex are definitely moving along, we met him on monday and afterwards he and his wife came with us to family home evening. His wife is Muslim royalty here in Hyderabad; apparently her grandfather was some king. Anyway, they are so wonderful. Noel is helping us so much; it is so nice to have him there all the time for fellowship so we don’t have to worry about that phase of the work. Alex even volunteered to bring the treats for FHE next week. He is so funny. He knows that the book of mormon is true. He is a very logical guy; he needed to understand exactly what the book of mormon was. And when we explained how it was a record of writings from prophets in the Americas, he was like "Ok, that makes perfect sense." Once he reads and prays I am sure he will receive a witness that it is true.

Our closest investigator Mahender is having a hard time in his life right now. His brother got in a bad accident on saturday and he was very distraught about it. But, he has been in contact with us continually asking us to pray for him and his family. I think this experience will strengthen his testimony. All in all, we are continuing to move forward. I am learning so much and time is beginning to move pretty quickly...

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

It sounds like the inauguration went well; I think there were many people here who watched it on television last night. It is amazing to me to see how concerned people are with things that are going on in America. But I guess America affects the world more than I realize.

I am beginning to realize that even though you are planning to have a baptism there really is so much that goes into it. I now realize the tenderness and delicacy we must use when approaching any baptism. I am looking forward to my first one; I hope it comes sometime soon. It sure would be nice to see fruits of my labor. I feel like I am working hard, but I think I have to learn a lot about being a missionary before the Lord will send great blessings.

One thing that has proved to be very helpful is the principle of teaching when you find and finding when you teach. When a first lesson goes well, we ask our new investigators if they know anyone who could benefit from the message we are sharing. We met Sister Edna through some little children we met on the street. They took us to the school they attended because their english teacher was christian. We walked into the school during the middle of the day, and met Edna. We set up an appointment that weekend; we came to visit and shared a wonderful message with the entire family. After the lesson, we asked if there was anyone she knew who we could teach. She wrote down four families and their phone numbers. Through that we have been able to teach quite a few new investigators. When we are out finding we talk to everyone we see, and if they are not interested we ask them to point us towards families who are christian, speak english, or have interest to hear the message. It is surprising to see that even though they might not be interested, they will give great referrals. Each day I try to walk out the door knowing in my head that I will find good people today. And if I work hard, I always do. Sure, you will be getting rejected ninety percent of the time, but eventually you will find that family. Patience coupled with faith can work miracles.

During personal study I read the conversion story you sent to me of the missionary who taught and baptized you, wow it was so cool. When I was halfway through I realized something. I was sitting there and it hit me that if this guy hadn’t had those wonderful experiences, you might not have joined the church. And I wouldn’t be in India on a mission. I realized the importance of growing and nourishing our testimonies. We really have no idea how many apple trees our seed can bring.

You asked if I’ve been getting any regular mail (non-email). I haven’t received mail yet from anyone except the packages from you guys.

Thank you so much for your insight about people getting baptized and making good choices. The statement you made about Satan's way and God's way hit me very hard. I wrote it in my journal. You are very right, God values agency in the highest regard. He was willing to lose 1/3 of his children in a struggle because of it. I think I need to follow his example and totally give people their choice. If we testify and invite the spirit they will then have to make some choices for themselves. I hope that we can meet a lot of people who are ready to accept the commitments we extend.

Things with alex are good; I realize that he is way too smart for me to try to reason with him intellectually. All we can do is bear testimony and explain the basic principles of the restored gospel. I feel good about him; I think he will make some good decisions in the upcoming weeks.

I have realized that the spirit hasn’t been guiding me as much as I would like. I realized that the reason for that was my pride. I try to rely on myself too much. I am trying very hard this week to humble myself and move past my pride. That way the spirit can truly guide me in His work.

Thank you so much for the jerky, missionaries treat that like gold out here. It is very hard to find anything beef, you already know that. So you can imagine my joy in being able to eat some beef each day.

Jonathan, you will be getting the priesthood in August and I am looking forward to that for you. It will be such a great experience. I am glad to hear that you felt the spirit while Grandma was reading the scriptures in tamil. That is the thing, even here the people can’t always understand what we are saying to them. But, the spirit doesn’t speak a specific language you know? It is universal!

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