Wednesday, February 25, 2009

...patience and faith

Dearest Family,

Man, it is great to hear from you guys every week. It is quite refreshing. I got a call from President Nichols last friday morning and he informed me that dad’s surgery went well. It was comforting to know that. Thank you for emailing him so that I could receive that information.

This past week has involved a lot of sitting inside the apartment. My companion got really sick last thursday. His voice started to leave and then he just got way sick all around. His throat was way swollen and he still can hardly talk. We took him to the hospital on sunday and he got some meds and now he is starting to get better I think. I got to go out on saturday though because the assistants came to go on exchange with us. But Elder Doss-Johnson was inside so I went with one for the morning and the other one after lunch. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from both of them.

Mahender is doing great and is continuing to prepare for his baptism in the coming weeks. It has been so incredible to watch his growth and progress over the past few months. I am very excited for him. His family is not that happy about his decision to get baptized but that is fairly common in India. Especially with hindus, leaving family traditions is one of the biggest set backs. But he is developing a strong testimony and he knows what he needs to do. It seems that over here when you extend an invitation to read and pray about the book of mormon the christians are unlikely to do it, at least the first time. But I've noticed that Hindus are quite receptive to the invitation and more often than not they actually do it.

This week Elder Leckington (AP) and I were finding in a colony full of christians. Every one who lived there had a huge dog. We were excited to see a neighborhood of christians because that means a lot of doors to knock. We got down to business, at one house we stopped outside the gate. Elder Leckington looked inside and asked me if I thought the owners of the house had a dog. I didn’t see or hear one and was like, Uh...No dude they don’t have dog. He pointed to a chain that was hooked up to the house. But in my ignorance and excitement to knock doors I was like no man there is no chance they have a dog. I flung open the gate and approached the door, Elder Leckington timidly followed. As soon as I got close to the door, the lady inside started yelling, she's all get out the dog will come! I ignored here at first and then the barking started. Actually it was more like a roar, this huge dog darts down the stairs. I push Elder Leckington out the gate barely make it out before mufasa got hold of me. Ha it was ridiculous, the dog was ruthless. Two seconds later and I would have been DONE! Anyway it was a funny day and literally every one of those christian houses had a monster inside.

I don’t really have anymore things to say this week cause I have been sitting inside a lot.

Love you guys!
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from email to individual family members)

The Book of Mormon is a wonderful book. Since coming on my mission I have realized how much of a treasure that book really is. I learn new things from it each day. Today I was reading Alma 32 and his discourse on faith. But it was interesting to note that before he touches on faith he discusses humility. How those poor zoramites were humble because their poverty compelled them to be. He said that those who are humble because of their belief are blessed so much more. I never paid much attention to that advice before. It caused me to do some reflection and decide why I try to be humble… So I am going to try and humble myself for some better reasons than I have been.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

the beauty of simplicity

Dear Family,

I was very surprised to hear about Dad's hernia surgery and I will keep him in my prayers for sure. That came out of nowhere. Dad, you better be taking care of yourself back there.

This week was great, Elder Toleafoa and I had created our musical medley of a couple hymns and it is quite a beautiful arrangement. My love and respect for music continues to grow out here, the effects of good music reach farther than I thought. We sang in the multi-zone conference and at sacrament on sunday. Multi-zone conference was so cool; we had Elder Watson the second counselor in the asia area authority come to visit with us. He is quite an impressive individual and gave us some great advice.

We have been working with a brother named Murty since I got here. Actually he has been meeting with the missionaries for over a year and attending church and all that stuff. His knowledge concerning the gospel is superior to mine. But, his wife is a hindu and doesn’t want him to take baptism. He was scheduled to over a year ago, but she said no. Recently we have been teaching her. I don’t know how we got her to sit down and listen to us. But it is going well. Soon we might see the two of them enter the waters of baptism together.

We found some more muslims yesterday. Three brothers who helped us find the house of an investigator. We stumbled upon them in a muslim community we were passing through. They seemed nice so I asked them for directions; they helped me and we got along very well. I gave them a visiting card. They called us after our appointment and asked if they could spend some time with us, it was cool. We taught the plan of salvation and it is interesting to note similarities between their beliefs and ours. The big difference is respect to Jesus Christ, which is pretty important. We will meet them again and I hope they can understand the importance of our Savior.

There are many things occurring here in the mission and the work is constantly moving forward. I am trying my best to improve each day. This has been a great experience for me; I learn that through all the disappointments and discouragements that my faith and testimony only grow stronger. Opposition continues to motivate me.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from letters to individual family members)

I am learning a ton about the gospel. I am so taken back by the simple message the gospel delivers. It is so simple you cannot confuse it with any other doctrine and that is just how the Lord intended it. He is such a genius.

I am excited for your soccer games to start, this past week I got a chance to play soccer! There were a bunch of Indian kids playing in the dirt and they had goals painted on the wall. I had fun, as soon as I touched the ball I shot it from the other end of the field and it was a perfect hit in the far post bottom corner.

Thanks for your advice concerning discouragement, I remember how you always told me when I was sad to get up and go do something nice for someone else, so I will try to do that. The mornings are toughest for me and I think I will try to start out each day by doing something nice for someone else. I think that will help me to remain upbeat and happy.

Yesterday I was trying to remember what my room looks like, and I couldn’t do it for like 5 minutes. It was way sad, I'm like I haven’t been gone that long... but I guess India is just becoming home for me now. I actually kind of like it.

There is a lot going down with the work right now. We are working with so many people and it is an incredible process. One thing I have learned out here on the mission is patience. It is like the most important quality to have as a missionary. I have never been patient, so it has been hard. But so rewarding.

I was reading about President Hinckley the other day while my companion was sick. He was such an amazing man; I was inspired to do better because of him. Also it mentioned how he used to write a lot and that motivated me to start writing more. During my personal studies and at lunch I am writing just gathering my thoughts together. It is helping me a lot.

There are a lot of things for me to improve on out here. The mission is tough and I have felt very inadequate. But I have been learning of my need to rely on the Lord. I think it is wise for him to send us out here and put us to work. We have a ton of stuff to accomplish and a lot of skills to develop. But I am learning a lot about the power in simplicity. If you think about the gospel it is the most simple process known to man. Believe, Repent, Make Commitments, Follow the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. Strikingly simple isn’t it? The Lord wants us to realize our inadequacies and strengthen them by making correct decisions in wake of a firm belief developed concerning the principles of the gospel. Sorry about that, but I hope you can understand what I am trying to say...

School sounds good; I do not miss it at all. Well actually I do. The other day I was like craving a chemistry book. How weird is that? I have become fascinated with the relationship between science and the gospel. Last week President Nichols was talking about how truth is truth. No matter where we find it. He was comparing the law of conservation of energy and mass to how God organized the world and quoting all these scriptures. I ate it up. When I teach I always draw those kinds of relationships.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

...following the Spirit

Dear Family,

Well, as usual it’s great to hear from you all. It sounds like everything at home is going very well. This past week was a great experience for me personally. I saw the spirit do many incredible things and my testimony has increased because of these experiences.

We have been teaching a brother named Shastri. He is maybe one of the smartest people I have ever met. He is like a private detective or something and he uncovers corruption in the Indian government. He is born a Hindu, but has read the Bhagavad Gita, Quran, and the Bible. he already knew about the celestial kingdom and all sorts of things before we taught him. We went to his home a few nights ago and brought a member named Dasari for exchange. Dasari just got back from the Delhi mission a month of two ago, he served as an assistant to president up there. We taught shastri the gospel of Jesus Christ and it went well. We wrapped the lesson up and my companion bore his testimony. All of a sudden I started bearing my testimony, I don’t know why and I can’t remember what I said. But when I finished my heart was racing cause I knew I had to ask him some important questions. I looked him in the eyes and asked him if was willing to follow God. He said yes. I asked him to be baptized. He accepted, not a specific date but he is preparing now. I don’t know why I did that, I hadn’t thought once of challenging him for baptism during the lesson. But the spirit constrained me to ask.

I've noticed something this week. The promptings of the spirit are not always easy to follow. Sometimes I am very timid because it puts me out of my comfort zone and it can be down right difficult. But every time I act when prompted to, something incredible happens.

We met with a family that reminded me of Mom! They are christians and we contacted them last week sometime. It is a family that consists of the mother and her four daughters. They are all old though. The youngest daughter is maybe 35. None are married. I just thought it was funny to meet a family like mom's here. They are great. We shared the first lesson with them and they are all reading the book of mormon now. This week I have noticed the spirit a lot more than I have before. I don’t know what has changed. I am trying my best to increase my faith out here. Really its all we have going for us.

The more we rely on the Lord out here, the more success we have. It takes patience and I am learning a lot about that virtue. But when we "wait" on the Lord he really does come to help us out. When I follow the spirit I am happy.

Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from letters to individual family members)

Thank you so much for the package! I was so happy to receive it; really when I walk back in the apartment at night and the watchman has a package waiting for me it just lights me up.

That’s so cool that you went on splits with the missionaries and watched them challenge for baptism. You are definitely getting a taste of my life out here when you go on splits.

I made chicken curry for lunch on sunday. My curry was good, but not spicy enough so I learned my lesson about that. I'll be sure to put more spice in next time. I think I might try to do Dahl this week.

Have you been reading the scriptures? If so you should tell me where you are. I have been reading in Alma lately about the experiences of the Sons of Mosiah. They are so cool; it starts in Alma 17 and goes to 26. You should check it out bud.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 home in Hyderabad

Hey Family,

Another week gone in Hyderabad. Time is starting to pass by pretty quickly. I am becoming more adjusted to missionary life and life in India as well. It is beginning to feel more like home. It’s an interesting transition but it is certainly taking place. This transfer comes to a close this week and Elder Doss-Johnson and I are safe. We'll be together at least for another six weeks and that is great. We are working with a lot of families here and I hope we can see success with them together.

This past week was great. We had our missionary fireside on saturday evening and it went very well for an Indian fireside. It was scheduled to start at seven but in India nothing starts on time. We were lucky to get started before seven thirty. It was quite a good turn out, at least compared to firesides in the past here. The last one had about 20 people in attendance and this one had about 50. So it is improvement. Everyone who was there was uplifted and edified by the spirit. We are planning for another function at the end of this transfer and hope to really have a great turn out. We sang a few songs as our district. Next week we have a multi-zone conference and a counselor from the asia area presidency is coming to visit. He loves musical numbers and our district was selected to perform, so we are excited about that.

I think I have talked about one Brother named Mahender before, but this week was really good with him. He came to church on sunday and after the meeting he got to watch a baptism take place. He is very excited to take baptism and it has been such a cool experience to see him grow over the past few months. I have been working with him since my second week out. We will continue to work with him, making sure he understands exactly what he is doing before we baptize him. But, I feel that he will be a great member. He is so concerned with helping other people and has such a big heart. The priesthood will be a really big blessing for him, because it is all about blessing the lives of others.

We are working our hardest and having success. It is amazing to see how many people the Lord will put in our paths. One brother called us randomly last week and began to ask about the book of mormon. He owns a chinese restaurant and we visited him yesterday and gave him a book. He is very interested to read it; he says he has been searching for the truth in all different places. He has read the bible and Quran and many other books. I gave him a book and listened to his philosophy for a while and then I bore a strong testimony I could about the book of mormon and left. We invited him to read and pray, I am pretty sure he will read because he is searching for the truth but he needs to understand that the only place to find real truth is directly from God, not the philosophy of men. That’s all for this week.

Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from letters to individual family members)

Thank you for including that story about the concert violinist Joshua Bell in the DC Metro station. I have never heard it before but it has a wonderful principle attached to it. It made me think about how many people we talk to about this message of salvation but they disregard it in light of their business. Everyone has somewhere to go and is in such a hurry to get there that they miss so many important things along the way. Even the most important message they will ever hear. President Monson was right when he encouraged us to find joy in the journey.

I miss jazz music. I'm sad I waited so long to develop a taste for it.

To answer your question, I eat every meal with my hands. Even at the nicest restaurants we eat with our hands. It is a wonderful experience and makes the food taste better I think.