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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Elder Tuscano