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.

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.

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