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.

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.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

shortened message...

Dearest Family,

I am distraught right now because I worked really hard and formulated an exquisite letter to the family but went I sent it I got signed out of my account. The letter is gone. Man it was so good. The sad thing is now I have hardly any time to write. So let me do my best to get a watered down version of the things I said.

General Conference was amazing. We received so many blessings this week. Most of our investigators came to conference, which was especially nice because we have always had a little trouble getting investigators to church. The opportunity our investigators had to receive the messages of living prophets and apostles will be a huge blessing to them.

Our investigators are all doing well and progressing at their own rate. The work continues to move forward in our area. Murthy and his wife are making a lot of progress. The result of following the spirit in the lesson with them allowed me to understand that they both needed to be baptized together. So we withheld the planned invitation for baptism to Murthy. We are going to have them both baptized together in a while. She finally opened her mouth and expressed her concerns about leaving hinduism. It was a wonderful experience.

I have learned many lessons recently I wanted to share, but it will have to wait till next week cause I still need to e-mail anj and mary. But all is well with me. The Lord continues to bless my life every day.

I love you all and hope you have a good week,
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

the work moves forward...

Dear Family,

We get to watch the sessions of conference on saturday and sunday. I can honestly say that I've never been so excited to hear the words of the apostles and prophets. Here I am proclaiming the good news to people in India that we have a prophet on the earth and General Conference is the outward expression to the world of this truth. I'm so excited to sit down and indulge myself in some spiritual refreshment (note from family: if you never watched a General Conference or want to know a little more about it, click here).

This week was a great one. We met a wonderful family on sunday afternoon. They were a referral that we received from the elders out here in the 4th branch. They were teaching this man, Jason Babu's brother. They are all very smart and well educated. It is so lovely to teach people with proficient english. The language barrier consistently presents a problem. But not with this family. They were so excited to hear the message of the restoration. The father graciously accepted our invitation to read the book of mormon. I have a great feeling about this family. I am pretty sure their brother is preparing for his baptism out there in fourth branch, so we'll see if we can’t get his brother's family to follow suit in the second branch.

There is a little incident that happened a week ago from today, its kind of humorous actually. My new district leader, elder ward, and his companion elder mickelson, were walking to their area from our church. They were along walking along a busy road and a man on a scooter drove by. The scooter slowed down and the man reached out his hand and whacked elder mickelson on the back of the head. He proceeded to park his scooter and hopped off. He ran at the companionship while screaming telegu. Mickelson saw a bus crawling along beside him and took no thought, he jumped on the bus. Leaving his companion behind, the telegu guy tried to smack elder ward too, but he blocked it. Then the guy reached down for a huge rock, Elder Ward did not stick around to see what he planned to do with it. He sprinted the other direction. Anyway, the guy got confused and didn’t know how to react. The missionaries may have split up, but in doing so, they kept the disturbance to a minimum. Had they loitered, a mob could have formed and the situation could have escalated into something much worse. Anyway, there continues to be disturbances by certain groups of people here but the work moves forward...

Anyway that’s about all for this week.

Love you,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from individual letters to family)

There really is so much joy to be found in serving others. I never realized that before. I bet you wish that I would have though. It was great to hear that you enjoyed conference so much.

Brother Atun is really a great guy. His questions are so good and he is so happy when we answer them. When he prays, he always expresses his gratitude for our ability to answer his questions. We look forward to helping him enter the waters of baptism.

We are going to make sure we get a ton of investigators to attend conference this weekend. It will be so good for them to actually see the prophet.

It is interesting to see how the work continues to move forward here. I am gaining a testimony of working through members and other missionaries. Referrals are great! I am almost glad that we cannot find. I am urged to be more creative and use the resources around me. They prove to be better anyway. I am learning a lot about finding people to teach.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

preparation, faith, results

Dear Family,

How is everybody? Wednesday mornings are always a treat. Receiving email from home is a great experience for me. This week was great. The way we work has changed a little, but the spirit has not changed a bit. It is wonderful visiting with the members, as we build relationships with them there always seem to be referrals that follow.

This week we met with a new brother named Atun, he is the cousin-brother of an investigator the sister missionaries are teaching. Their family comes from northern India somewhere, but I'm not exactly sure which place. Anyway, he is a very interesting guy. As soon as we sat down to meet with him he started asking questions. His main concern was how we can gain salvation. We were pretty stoked to hear that. We taught him a little and gave him Alma 42 to study. We went back a few days later and he had created an entire page of notes and more questions to ask. That morning I had been studying 3 Nephi 27. During the course of our discussion a question of his came up, he basically asked, how do we clean our soul? Automatically I flipped open to that chapter and gave him verses 19 and 20. They tell us how to wash our garments through the blood of christ. Anyway, this brother does not have the best english but he definitely understood that verse. He was so happy to have his questions answered. I feel good about him.

Last night we met with a sister in our branch. Her name is Sister Sirisha, she is 1st counselor in the relief society. She served a mission and is one of the greatest strengths in the branch. She has had a difficult life and a very bad relationship with her father who left the family a few years back. She was having a lot of trouble. She claimed that God didn’t love her. She thought that according to her patriarchal blessing she had already fulfilled her purpose on the earth by serving a mission. We urged her not to think like that. But last night I really experienced the spirit of discernment. For some reason we had made a lesson plan that morning for another brother, it was on Hope. We didn’t end up meeting with that brother, but the lesson didn’t go to waste. Both Elder DJ and I felt prompted to teach Sirisha the doctrine of hope. She heard exactly what she needed to. It was obvious to see that the message we shared comforted and inspired her.

I see the Lord's hand in the work consistently. There is no such thing as chance out here. I have learned the value of patience and keeping an optimistic attitude. The gospel provides us a way to be happy in any circumstance. All we have to do is look for the blessings we've been given.

Love you guys,
Elder Tuscano

(below are excerpts from letters to individual family members)

General conference this next week... I am so excited for it, but we don’t get to watch until the next week. I have never been more amped for a conference before. I remember when you guys had so much trouble keeping me awake for the full two hours... man, I was a chump.

The weather is getting pretty hot. My branch is about 200 people big. But only 100 come to church on sundays. We are about to have a few baptisms planned near the end of this month. We have some cool people we are teaching right now. Serving the Lord is not easy all the time, but it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Bringing people into the church is the best man, I cant wait till you get a chance to do the same. I hope you are getting ready for it.