Wednesday, November 25, 2009

transfer to Visak

Dear Family,

Happy Thanksgiving! We actually celebrated Thanksgiving two weeks ago at one of the American families’ homes. So my day tomorrow will be quite the same, but oh wait....I got transferred!

The Chennai chapter has come to a close and I will forever recall my time here with fondness. It was a great place to serve and I am grateful that President allowed me to stay here for this long.

I will be going to Visak; but even better than that...ELDER WARD is my new companion. Do you remember him? I haven't seen him in 8 months and now I will be his companion. When I got the call from Elder Mehan on friday I was overcome with joy. I think I got a taste of what Ammon felt. Elder Ward is my boy and I look forward to doing work up there in Andhra. I am going to be a zone leader. I hope that I can do a good job. I look forward to setting an example of obedience and hard work with Elder Ward. I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better transfer.

I am excited to go back to Andhra and eat biryani. It is the specialty there and I am pumped. I will miss Chennai very much though. It has been hard to say bye to people though. Especially the people I prepared for baptism. But no problem I will see them down the road I am sure.

This past week was just short of incredible. We have been focusing as a companionship and district on the message of the restoration. A lot of times we will only teach the restoration first to those with a christian background. But recently we changed that. As stated in Preach My Gospel, The Restoration of the Gospel is our unique message to the world. So we are sharing it with everyone we meet, regardless of their background. We have seen some cool things happen.

We met a less-active member, Jonathan, his cousin from Bombay recently moved here. He was Hindu, but we shared the message of the restoration. At the end he told us that for the past few days he had been having these spiritual impressions, but he couldn't figure out what they meant. He then expressed his feeling that this message was the real explanation he was searching for. On saturday we met a brother named Rajesh on the bus. He invited us to his home right then, I was so surprised I almost said no. We went to his home and taught him and his friend the restoration. They were both hindu. At the end of the message, his friend told us that he had received some "divine inspiration" while we shared… sounded a lot like the Holy Ghost to me.

These reactions happened because the restoration is real. Joseph Smith saw God. That experience changed the world and if it did not happen we would not know all the other things we teach. That is why the restoration is lesson one -- I guess I have a hard head. But it does feel good to finally understand this for myself.

Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

solid finding...

Dear Family,

We have been doing some solid finding lately. One of my favorite parts of finding is just being able to meet all kinds of people. You NEVER know what kind of people you're going to meet. We have been meeting some crazy people lately. On the bus over here I was talking to a brother name Rajan. He was going off about how dogs are much more faithful than human beings.

On saturday we met an interesting family. Vijayanand and Sonia. They are married and have two children. They attend a church called the brethren assembly. They are very strong members of the church and have many insights on religion. We sat down and began to teach the restoration. While my companion was teaching about how the gospel blesses families, she cut him off. She said we were wasting our time because we were teaching them the basics. She went on for about 10 minutes lecturing us and questioning our reason for being there. Needless to say, she lacked patience. I proceeded to politely cut her off and began to teach about prophets. When she understood that we were now teaching things she didn't know, she relaxed a bit. We shared Joseph Smith and the first vision. She loved it actually. But my favorite part of the appointment was the end. We taught them how they should pray and ask God if our message was true. They said OK. Then Sonia asked the question that I think all missionaries want to hear. "So if this is true, what should I do?" It really caught me off guard. She then continued and said something like, "do I need to be baptized again?" I tried to be as polite as possible and started talking about proper authority. She cut me off, repeated the question, and demanded that I tell her straight up. I answered, "Yes." She smirked and said "OK, if God answers me." I was surprised. We’ll see what happens... she is going to california in a few weeks and she said she wants to go to SLC and meet the Prophet. Interesting discussion.

We met a guy who lives in Uganda! He was taught by Elders there. I did not know we had Elders in Eastern Africa!

Thank you for the compliments. I am proud of the changes that have occurred in my life and hope that I can preserve them for the rest of my life. While I have changed a lot, I still feel there is so much more I need to change. But I guess that is a common feeling with those who have a goal to be like Christ.

That will be my email for this week.

Love you all!
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

monsoon time!

Dear Family,

Hello there. This week was a wonderful week. We got wet! At long last the monsoon decided to visit Tamil Nadu. It was crazy. I have never seen so much rain at once. I have also never truly been grateful for good city drainage while at home. They could use a new system here, when it rains-it floods. I might be able to send some pictures, but when we came out of Priya's house on friday night we were in water almost to our knees. I was happy though, I had been anticipating the monsoon for over a year.

We have been meeting some cool people lately. On sunday we met with a brother named Johnson; a referral that was passed over to us about a month ago. I had been trying to meet with him since that time, but only sunday were we finally able to meet him. His house is clear outside of the city though. There is no chance I would have found him through my own efforts because I would never go that far from the church. But it was a referral, so we went and took Madhu with us. He was so happy to meet us and just seemed so prepared for the message. As a missionary, it is so refreshing to meet with people who have been truly prepared. At the end of the appointment he told us that he would read the book of mormon everyday. We called him last night and he said that he has been reading every morning and night. He sounded very happy.

I am astounded at the difference that the Book of Mormon can make. I couldn't imagine doing missionary work without it. All you have to do is read, and you will be happier. That is a great witness to its divinity, and the people who actually read, realize this. That is when true conversion starts to take place.

My studies have been great. Last week I gave a training on exercise. I discussed the spiritual blessings that flow from it. They are quite similar to those associated to the word of wisdom. I have been working with my Elders and Sisters to improve their exercise. Not simply for the physical blessings but also the spiritual, which is something I only learned on my mission. When I worked out at home my purpose was only temporal. So I only received temporal blessings. But I have learned that spiritual motivation is a lot stronger than physical. Does that make sense?

The work is going very well. I feel that Heavenly Father is teaching me a lot about how to love and care for others right now. He is using the example of my companion to do so. My companion is so concerned for the welfare of others. I honestly don't think he spends much time thinking about himself. I need to be more like him in that aspect. He is always looking for an opportunity to help another. I am not always doing that. So I am grateful for my chance to serve with and learn from Elder Gantyada.

Elder Tuscano

Thursday, November 5, 2009

04 NOV 09 letter

Dear Family,

This past week was Zone Conference. We had it here in Chennai and it was a great experience. We don’t see President very often, so it is always nice when he comes to town for conference. It was centered on extending commitments. President was explaining how extending commitments is how we as missionaries "cry repentance." It was very inspiring and I will never prepare for a lesson again without first deciding what commitment to extend.

Elder Elliott and Elder Cunha have been working with some brothers from Nepal. One of them was baptized two weeks ago and his friend will be baptized on sunday. As I have had the chance to conduct their interviews, I gained a lot of respect for them. They have pure hearts, their desire to do what is right is inspiring. I am learning so much about the gospel as I watch other people prepare to make and keep covenants with God.

My studies have been incredible lately. I am reading in Alma. Ammon and the sons of mosiah dominated. One of the most prominent of their christlike attributes was patience. I believe that is why they were so successful, throughout their many afflictions they never lost faith or cursed God. I hope that I can emulate their patience in some part.

Elder Tuscano

28 OCT 09 letter

Dear Family,

Days go by. I can hardly believe it's another wednesday. As I was sitting in sacrament this past week, I realized that I have only a year left. It was a somber moment. I am glad that I have completed a year, but not so glad that I only have 1 year left. As the time passes on my mission, it becomes more precious to me. I hope that I can use it wisely.

No baptism this past week, but Sherman was confirmed. He brought his brother to church with him and to a fireside we had on saturday evening. His brother really enjoyed church, but he leaves to work in Australia in a few weeks. I plan to give the referral when he goes. So who knows maybe Elder Chris Christiansen will be the one to tract him out down there.

Yesterday I had a cool experience. We were teaching Shameem, a less active member. Their family is so good, but they will just not come to church. We sat down and began to teach Lesson 3 (the gospel of Jesus Christ). When I started teaching about repentance I chose to read from Alma 5. As we were talking about the "mighty change" I learned something. It's not that feeling this mighty change is a one-time experience. If that is the case, we are not enduring to the end. It must be something we continually strive to experience. Otherwise we will become complacent and lose zeal in following the commandments, and when zeal is lost it is not long before we stop following them altogether. This is what happened to Shameem, and I think it can happen to any of us if we are not careful. That’s why we must continually ask ourselves what Alma asked those people in Zarahemla. "If you have experienced this mighty change and felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can you feel so NOW?"

My personal revelation was a spin off Dale G. Renlund's talk. I am eager to receive the Liahona for November. I want to read that talk again, it changed my life.

Sorry for preaching. I just thought it was cool.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

21 OCT 09 letter

Dear Family,

Things in Chennai are still on the up, and so is the temperature. We just moved into the apartment with Elder Cunha and Elliott. Their AC actually blows cold air, which was quite opposite to the AC we were using in the other apartment. Elder Gantyada is having a hard time at night. The other Elders were unwilling to turn up the temperature, so they bought him a blanket so he can survive the night. It's not that bad, but I think my natural temp of 98.6 has risen a few degrees since I've come here.

This past week Sherman was baptized. What a wonderful day it was. We had our Branch mission leader perform the baptism, and he did a beautiful job. Sherman was so happy. I don't know how many times I've expressed my gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. I will be sure to maintain contact with him throughout my mission and my life. I expect great things from him. Also, Madhu came to church for the first time in a white shirt, black pants, and a tie. I was shocked; I took a picture and will send it to Elder Schmidt today. I think he will die from shock. It really was so satisfying to see him in priesthood attire, on time for church.

We had a cool appointment this past friday. A brother named Saravanan that Elder Gantyada and Brown met while they were on exchange a few weeks ago. We met him once before. He came to the church and we taught him about the plan of salvation. Now, I have been in some edifying discussions before but this was particularly uplifting. We taught the lesson as usual but it was so smooth. He was asking many questions along the way. But when I would answer it was automatic. I didn’t take much notice during the lesson, but in reflection I realized that it was like pure intelligence coming into my mind and I would just turn and speak. We all felt the spirit. We challenged him for baptism and he accepted. At the end of the lesson, he was trying to express to us the good feelings he had inside. We just assured him that it was the Holy Ghost. I am not sure what we did to experience that, but I hope I can figure it out soon so we can do it again.

The sister missionaries are a great addition to our district. I have been doing my best to support and encourage them. They are very good though. The last two this mission will see for a long time also. I am glad to have the opportunity to work with them. I left them some of the spices I use for cooking when we moved. I got a call that night in which they told me that my spices were junk and they would never use them it in their cooking (and I thought I was a decent cook). But apparently I was wrong. Sorry Mom, I'll learn how to do it properly before I return.

Elder Tuscano