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

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