Thursday, November 11, 2010

04 NOV 2010

Josh returns...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

17 OCT 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Miracles are happening here. So last week as you know we had been planning this big transfer. My batch is going home and we were just trying to determine how to close a ton of areas. There were going to be so little elders that we needed one companionship to cover an entire city, Like Coimbatore or Visak. Then maybe even Hyderabad. Ha it might be hard for you to understand. But when I arrived there were over 24 elders serving in Hyderabad, now there might only be 2. So the situation was not ideal in terms of numbers, but as you already knew- the Lord has been blessing us greatly and the work has been moving forward with power. We knew that would continue to be the case, but it was a little rough thinking about what to do when 14 elders leave with none coming. So we wanted to finish it on monday, but for some reason President just felt uneasy. So we talked and waited. On Wednesday night, after we returned to Bangalore from a great Multi-Zone Conference in Hyderabad, President got a call. 16 months ago, we were supposed to receive 6 American elders, but they never got their visas. We haven't has any visas since that time. But on Wednesday some one granted those 6 visas! Those missionaries were permanently reassigned to Nashville and Baltimore, but they called Church Headquarters and they got permission to come over here! So we are going to pick them up tomorrow night. They will serve the last 7 months or so in India.

Can you believe that? How incredible! It is so nice to know that Lord is mindful of us and the work over here in India. We are so excited for these Elders, but probably not nearly excited as they or their families. They are going to be great, so that was a big surprise and we have been making preparations for that. Good thing, it has added a completely different dimension to my last week. I just wanted to share that with you, it was just a great thing to hear. We have been waiting for a year and a half and here they come. We don't know anything about a change in policy, we just know that these 6 were granted their visas. Hopefully we will get more. But that is probably it for the e-mail. The past week was great, full of spiritual experiences and I will be sure to tell you in more detail about it when you get here. Love you all!

Elder Tuscano

03 OCT 2010 letter

Dear Family,

I cant believe that this will be one of my last e-mails home. I must admit, I really have enjoyed this correspondence. I know I have mentioned this before, but I feel that these e-mails have provided us with an opportunity to come closer together. Weird, right? I am on the other side of the world and we have had very limited contact, but I have never felt closer to any of you than now. So thank you for your uplifting and thoughtful e-mails each week.

This past week has just flown by, every week seems to be that way now. We are so excited for General Conference this weekend, I feel that it is a great blessing that I will be able to hear it at this special time. We have been in Coimbatore and Hyderabad since I last wrote to you. We were able to go down to Coimbatore on Thursday and do some interviews and training down there. President made some great comments about faith an miracles. It was appropriate because that is what is happening down there right now. When I first arrived on my mission there were 12 or 14 missionaries down in that zone. There is now 6, but those 6 are doing twice as much as those 12 when I first arrived. So the attitude and morale down there are just sky-high. I met some of Elder Jeppesen(one of my batch-mates) convert families. They were baptized just 18 months ago and she just became the District Relief Society President and her husband serves in the Branch Presidency. They are going to the Hong Kong temple this week to be sealed. I though that was the coolest thing, Elder Jeppesen was pretty stoked. It might be tough for you to realize just how difficult it is for our Indian members to get to the temple. If there is one thing I will never take for granted for the rest of my life it will be a temple that is close. After seeing the sacrifice members put forth here, I cant imagine living in St. George or Provo and not going to the House of the Lord on a regular basis.

So Hyderabad was pretty cool. I was able to go with one of our youngest missionaries, in fact he is the newest American. Elder Bennett is his name and he is the batch-mate of our beloved Elder Pope so let him know that I was on exchange with his boy this week. It was a great exchange, I was so happy to be with a missionary that is only 3 months out. I remember when I was 3 months out, it was easily the most difficult time for sure. I was able to comfort and encourage him and just let him know that everything would work out. That felt good. I attended church in Hyderabad 2nd branch on sunday, it was really cool. That was the branch where I started so it was cool to be back and see all the members. The branch is doing really well, I went with Elder Gantyada remember him? He is amazing, I learned so much from him. Just watching him and how much he loves others was an inspiration. Ok but I am done for this week. Sorry my individual e-mails are going to be short. Time is about to be out. We had ZLC today and there are a ton of other things pending. So we'll look forward to the word next week.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

26 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Things continue to move forward in this part of the world. We are in the beginning stages of the first "interview tour" When President Funk came to the mission there had been some significant changes to the missionary calendar. The change that is now affecting us is that interviews and zone conference are separate. So for the next two weeks we are going to be visiting all the zones and doing interviews with President. It is a great privilege to accompany him on this tour. We are going to see just about every area in the mission before next thursday. Lots of flying and travelling but it is worth it. We are now in Chennai! Ha I was here only a week ago, but we've got interviews tomorrow and we'll fly back to Bangalore on Wednesday morning. There we will catch our breath and then head out to Coimbatore and Hyderabad for the weekend. It is a great thing spending time with all the missionaries. I am starting to see great reasons for these schedule changes. They provide the Mission President more opportunities to see the missionaries and for everyone to be together. There has been a strong sense of unity as of late. We're all having a great time serving the Lord and his wonderful children in India.

Sorry to report but for various reasons the mission was not able to achieve the baptisms we had projected. We had 18 which is still a good week, but I expect to see the mission out do that before I leave, The missionaries are just tearing it up. I wish I could explain to you the wonderful miracles that are taking place over here. Though we have lost so many great missionaries, the work just continues to hasten. It is a testimony to me that the Lord will take care of his work. All we have to do is have faith and do our best to be a part in helping it move forward. When we set high goals and do all we can to be effective in achieving them I have learned that Lord will see our goals and the efforts we put forth towards achieving them and He will make up the difference.

We spent alot of time in Bangalore last week as we conducted another Leadership Training Meeting and it was wonderful. Each time we gather together I am so impressed. Our missionaries are top notch, I feel that in meetings together that I am truly surrounded by greatness. Well I wont spend more time writing this general letter. I love you all and thank you for your prayers, they truly do sustain me.

Elder Tuscano

Sunday, September 26, 2010

19 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Well as always it is great to hear from you. Things back home seem to be moving right along, everyone sounds happy and like things are going well. That makes me happy too.

This past week was full of departing and incoming missionaries. The mission works out that way, every 3 weeks or so we have either new missionaries coming in from the MTC, coming in to be set apart to go to the MTC, or missionaries coming in to depart for their homes. This past week we had all three of them, so it was quite busy. It is a privilege to see these wonderful missionaries at such different stages of their service. The wide eyes and sheer excitement that beams from these new Elders as they walk out of the departure gate. It is almost as tender as the tears that fall from the Elders on their last night as a full-time missionary. It is quite a sight, to see these tired Elders with looks of satisfaction concerning their service and uncertainty concerning their future. Ha, but it is a good time. We sent off two of our finest Indian Elders this week, they were both from Visak. Sad to see them go, but at the same time it was good because they will be quite a strength to their branches at home.

After the week full of arrivals and departures we were able to get out of Bangalore and head over to Chennai. Elder Naulu served there at the very start of his mission and he hadn't been back since, so that was a cool experience for him to be back in the city. It was especially rewarding to be there this weekend because it was District Conference. I got to see quite a few of my converts, including Priya's Family. They are doing so well, just like when they were baptized they showed up 30 minutes before everyone else. There were others that I also saw, they were very surprised to see me. It was a pleasant change of pace. Usually when we show up at church on sunday all the members just can't figure out what were doing there. We commonly get asked if were the new elders, or from another branch in the city. The other question we get alot is if we( Elder Naulu and I) are brothers. That's funny huh? You all have seen him right? Maybe I need to send a picture.

Anyway they week was very good, its always fun to sweat it out over there in Chennai. Tomorrow we are starting Leadership Training Meetings for the south side of the mission here in Bangalore so that will be fun. This past week was the Ganesh holiday, so our elders were on restrictions but it seems like it should be over pretty soon here. That is good, none of the missionaries seemed to like walking around without their name tags. But things are going very well, just to let you know our mission is preparing for 27 baptisms this coming week! That would be the biggest week I've seen on my mission. So pray for that and we're going to do all we can to make it happen. Things are really speeding up over here. Love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

12 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Hello there! Glad to hear from everyone this week. I thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes, I can hardly believe this day has come. Last year on my birthday I felt very comfortable, but I remember thinking "Gee, next year this time I'll be getting ready to head home. I'm sure glad that's very far away." Apparently not too far, ha but I am glad it is here. It is funny that Elder Naulu and I have such close birthday's, I think I could have done a much better job celebrating for him. I've been looking for ways to make it up. But he is great missionary and a wonderful companion. I think the best thing about serving in this position is the great quality of companions you get to serve with. Just wonderful, spiritual, and fun brethren. We're having a blast.

This past week was amazing. President and Sister Funk were in Hong Kong, so we got to hold down the fort in India. This week I got a small taste of the issues that President Funk has to deal with on a day to day basis. Wow, I really had no idea. So many decisions to make, I really am starting to understand the importance of having the spirit with you all the time. When you get a problem that comes to you and needs a solution or decision made immediately sometimes all you can do is say a silent prayer and follow the spirit. So far that seems to be working, I can't imagine what we would do without the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost.

We had to opportunity to go to a place called Coimbatore this week. I think you have heard me mention it before. It is a beautiful city down there in Tamil Nadu directly south of bangalore. We left on tuesday morning and travelled from the Airport to a place called Erode which is a smaller city two hours outside of Coimbatore. We have a companionship down there and I don't think AP's have been there for months. So it was good to be there. I had an amazing exchange with Elder Stephen. We first met a brother on the street named Velur, he invited us in. He was so excited to learn. As we taught we sought to discern his needs. We asked a few inspired questions and were able to know what we needed to do. He was a hindu but we taught him the principle of prayer and he really listened intently. He was so grateful that we taught him how to pray. As we left his home I felt strongly that this man would be baptized. We met alot of other families that were really good, I am seeing the influence of the spirit in many ways. More than anything, I am now beginning to see the spirit work in others. Everything just now seems to be coming together.

We conducted a few more exchanges which went very well. The trip was excellent, the church there is so nice. I think the church in India began in Coimbatore, so there is some sentiment there. The building is among the nicest I have seen here or in the states. We met a young man on the street and invited him to walk around the church with us. It was night and the grounds there just felt so holy. We stopped in the back where there was alot of green grass and big trees blowing in the wind. Elder Riley taught and testified about God and his creations. I remember watching the tree sway back and forth while listening to my friend testify to this young hindu brother. I can say honestly that in that moment I was back in the temple. What an experience it was. Very tender to me, it seems I am having those on a daily basis now. Perhaps it is because my time is winding down, or perhaps it is because I am seeking them. I am not sure, but I am just grateful for each day that I have to be in the Lord's service. Preach My Gospel is right, there truly is no more compelling work than this. I love you all and thank you for your support and prayers. Have a great week!

Elder Tuscano

05 SEP 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Well I am happy to report that today I will have a reasonable amount of time to e-mail. So each one of you can expect a sincere and lengthy message. It sounds like things are going well back at home. I am glad for your updates, to be honest with you I can hardly remember Utah and the USA. I feel like India is the only place I know, now that's not true- but I feel that way. I am not sure why.

This past week was a blast. One of the most spiritual and uplifting weeks of my entire mission. On monday morning we set out to fly over to Rajahmundry. Everything looked fine until it started to rain, and when that happens they shut down the airport in Rajahmundry. So our flight was cancelled at the last minute. Which would have been OK if it were just me and Elder Naulu, but we had President and Sister Funk with us. We had to do some quick work, and got a flight to Visak and drove down there. It is about a 3 hour drive, it was nice to see the Andhra countryside. We got President checked into the hotel down there, I was very impressed with their ability to adjust. The difference between the hotel in Hyderabad and Rajahmundry is extreme. One is the Ritz Carlton and the other Motel 8, or less. So I was happy to see that they're willing to go where He wants them to go. Ha.

We had this new set of training meetings called "Leadership Training." It has been prescribed by the First Presidency for all the missions throughout the world to do. It was a little difficult to implement in our mission because of distance, but we divided the mission in two and had all of the Leaders from the north side join us for a few days in RJY to have these meetings. It was a huge success, President trained on the "simplified curriculum" which is a set of lessons that teach Elders how to use Preach My Gospel and become more powerful teachers. Ha, this probably seems boring to you all but it was exhilarating for a missionary to experience. So we received training in the morning and were able to go out in the evenings to apply what we learned in real situations. I had some incredible experiences. One thing I learned was there is no harm in inviting people to make commitments. As we do so, we give them an opportunity to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. That is why we teach anyone anything, without the commitment invitation there is no purpose in teaching. They cannot trust Jesus Christ until they have tried to live one of his commandments. That goes for any human being, irrespective of religion. It is our responsibility, as missionaries or members, to provide people with an opportunity.

We were able to be in all of the zones in Andhra Pradesh this past week. It was nice to see all of the Elders. There is just a wonderful feeling throughout this mission, there is optimism and hope. Though the present circumstances might not be the most favorable in terms of number of missionaries, the Elders are moving forward powerfully. I am about finished with the report this week. There were many other things that happened, which are noted in my journal. I will be sure to give you details in the future. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. And the birthday card! It was very funny, It made me feel happy. Have a good week everyone.

Elder Tuscano

29 AUG 2010 letter

Dear Family,

Greetings from Rajahmundry! Ha we're posted up in the village for a few days. It is nice to be here and experience a change of pace from the city life. We arrived this afternoon. We had a flight from HYD to here but the airport is quite small and when it rains...No planes. So our flight was cancelled as we were waiting to board, we managed to get on a flight to Visak and get a car to drive us down. It took about 3 hours to drive and it was nice to see the beautiful Indian countryside from the car. President and Sister Funk are excited to be here, we told them well in advance that they better prepare for the full Indian experience. There is really no trace of western culture here at all. They call our church the "A/C Church." It makes me wonder how many other buildings here have AC. Anyway I am so impressed with both of them and their desire to be with the members and missionaries. I think they would go anywhere to help the mission progress. It will be nice to see that commitment tomorrow when they're eating curry with their hands.

This past week was incredible. The most General Authorities I've ever seen in one week. On Wednesday we had Sister Wixom and Elder Pratt( from the Area Presidency) come down to Bangalore for a member meeting. We were able to be involved with the meeting and got a chance to meet them and spend some time together. Sister Wixom's husband just finished serving as a mission president in the DC south mission. She was amazing and gave a great training. Her main message was "I will stay on the path back to my Heavenly Father." I learned how to teach doctrine in simplicity from her. She was very nice. On the weekend we were in Hyderabad for a District Conference. Elder Watson(from the Area Presidency) was there. He had come down. We were on exchanges friday and saturday and met him first on sunday morning. We got to visit with him a bit and that was really cool. He is from Cedar City, so it was nice to have the Southern Utah connection with a General Authoirty. He delivered perhaps one of the best sermons I have ever heard, it was about the Book of Mormon. He spoke about how it is a witness of christ. Many other members gave wonderful talks. The Hyderbad District is going to be a stake soon. I really believe that. I have never wanted a stake and a temple for these people more than I do now. Maybe it is because I get to meet such a wide variety of them and witness their faith and sacrifice.

I am really starting to understand our purpose as missionaries. We have been placed here to build the church. I fear that I have spent too much time on my mission worrying about selfish desires. But for some reasons, things are now beginning to click. These Indian people are amazing. The church is flourishing here and the missionaries are playing just a small role. I think that's what I am starting to get. When I arrived I thought the church was all about the missionaries, but now I understand that has nothing to do with us. It is all about the members. They are going to be the ones that establish a stake. I love and trust the members here, I know Heavenly Father has a big plan for his children in this past of the world. I have felt on multiple occasions that I really have no idea what I am a part of. It is hard for me to imagine the future. There are going to be incredible things happening here. Again, not because of the missionaries-but the faithful members of the church.

So thank you all for your support. I love my mission so much. I am so glad that Cody has returned home, he sounds like he was a great missionary. Give him my love. I think I will try to send him an e-mail. But I really am having no time these days. I forgot to tell you the reason why we came to RJY. We are holding a new meeting called "Leadership Training" we invited all the leaders from the north side of the mission here, because it is geographically convenient. Begin situated between HYD and VZK. So we are starting that early tomorrow morning and we have to go an prepare for it. So I am not sure that I will even be able to e-mail any of you individually these week. Know that I love you and pray for each one of you every night. Please continue to pray for me.

Elder Tuscano

22 AUG 2010

Dear Family,

Hello everyone, how are you all doing this week? Last week was quite an experience, certainly faith promoting. Elder Naulu and I have really been focusing on having faith lately. We have been reading some Spencer W. Kimball quotes and just getting pumped up to do work. We have been blessed with miracles here in the mission. Over the last few months we have seen alot of missionaries go home. In contrast to most missions throughout the world, departing missionaries have no replacements. So the number of companionships has been decreasing, but the work has not slowed down at all. Our baptisms per companionship is on the rise, I have learned that the way to battle losing missionaries is to focus on the ones you do have and make them more effective. That is what is happening here and the work is blossoming. I am so grateful to be here and be part of this, I will carry these experiences with me throughout my life.

We finished the transfer last week, that was a miracle in itself. There are so many transfers now, we really do have one every 3 weeks. Sorry, it is probably hard for most of you to relate to that. I'm sure Dad could tell you though, planning transfers is no easy thing. We finished this one just in time to start planning for the next one. Right now in the office we have Elder Evans and his batch, they are going home on Wednesday morning. We have their release activities tomorrow. It is hard for me to believe that they are going home. I remember meeting Elder Evans at our apartment in H-Town almost 2 years ago. I thought he was the oldest most experienced missionary. So funny, but it is a great opportunity to be here while he leaves the mission.

So please do allow me to share a faith promoting experience. This past week we made plans to travel to a place called KGF or Kolar Gold Fields. It is a small town about 3 hours outside of bangalore, we only have one companionship out there. The area has been struggling so bad for the past 6 months or so. Their zone leaders have been very concerned and a bit critical of the area because of the lack of success. So on friday morning we called up the zone leaders and asked them if they really believed in KGF. We told them we were not going to waste our time going down there unless they could honestly say that they believed in the area. They rose to the occasion and we rolled down on friday night, full of faith, ready for a miracle. We went out on saturday and worked hard. We found alot of new investigators which was great, but on sunday one of the brothers whom Elder Naulu had found came to church. He is hindu, but has a deep desire to learn about Christ. During sunday school we watched finding faith in christ and afterwards he asked us about baptism. We set him for Sep. 18 and he was so excited. His family is also going to come around. What a miracle. That area had not seen investigators at church forever, but with faith it looks like things are going to turn around. It is getting to the point where I am almost not surprised. God works according to our faith, I am starting to learn that and doing my best not to limit him by my doubt or fear. So I hope you enjoyed that.

Thanks for all your support, I love you so much. Have a good week. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

Elder Tuscano

15 AUG 2010

Dear Family,

What an incredible week it has been. I'm back in India and it is tuesday night. I did not get the chance to write yesterday, so here I am now. Again with little time. I feel bad that I am unable to find adequate time to write. It does not make sense really, I am in the office, I sit by the computer all day. There are just so many things to do. We are working right now on this new program called the simplified curriculum. I think I mentioned it before, but it includes a training meeting with all of the leaders in the mission. So right now we are trying to figure out how to bring in all the leaders from southern india and train them for 3 days. That is one of the many events we are planning for right now. There are so many things for us to do, I am just grateful each night for sleep.

Sri Lanka! What an experience. I loved every minute we spent down there. We arrived on Thursday afternoon, we took a flight down to Chennai and from there to Colombo. It was so exciting, it took me a while to realize that we were no longer in India. I would bobble my head in the usual Indian manner, and would get blank stares from the Sri Lankans. Many of the little indian habits we have developed over the past 22 months didn't make it down there. Ha for the first time on my mission when people would ask me where I came from I would say "India!" It was very strange, I could say this much. In Sri Lanka I felt more Indian than ever before. Does that make sense.

There were many miracles associated with this trip. But time allows me to only share one with you. So I selected the most inspiring missionary moment. Go figure! We spent 2 days in Negomobo visiting less active members. We went on splits with some of the brethren down there, we probably visited over 30 families. That was great, but on saturday night we rolled down to Colombo. It is about an hour south of Negombo, oh and by the way they are building a stake center in Negombo right now. Anyway we went to church in Colombo on sunday morning. It must have been the first time in 2 years that missionaries(Elders) had been to the branch. We were invited to bear out testimonies and that was fun. But after church we were introduced to a new family that just happened to be there for the first time. Their son is investigating the church in New Zealand and they found the address for our church on the internet. We met up with a return missionary sister and taught the gospel principles class together. The family of 4 were the only students, I think on a regular sunday they don't even hold the class. But this sister missionary suggested that we teach the Restoration. So we did, even President Funk joined in on the lesson and it was a great time. As we finished teaching about Joseph Smith the mother started speaking in Singhala to our sister friend. She got very excited at something she said, then turned to us and stated that this sister asked when she and her family could be baptized members of the church. Amazing. President Funk met them after the block and they organized a plan so that they could be baptized on september 4th. So how about that? The one week we go to church down there...I know that the Lord leads his children to the right place at the right time. We just need to be ready to receive them.

So that's a long experience. Sorry. But I hope that it was faith promoting, I would say it was a huge surprise but I have been on my mission too long. God is a God of miracles. My faith continues to grow stronger each day. Oh yeah, I don't know if you remember the experience I shared about Elder Shepherdson and I finding my former investigator SriNivas down in Chennai about 2 months ago. He was baptized this past sunday. Wonderful things are happening over here.

Thank you for your prayers, I love you all and hope that you are well.
Elder Tuscano

Saturday, August 14, 2010

10 AUG 10 letter

Dear Family,

Well, another week has come and gone. I can hardly believe I'm writing an e-mail again. I can't seem to keep track of the days anymore, monday becomes friday overnight and everything just seems to blend together. I actually like it that way. So today was a zone leaders council, we got caught up afterwards and now it is quite late and I don't have too much time to write. Sorry about that. We leaving tomorrow morning at about 4:30 to get down to Sri Lanka. Sorry Mom, perhaps I was unclear but we are going there this week. I am super excited about that, it will be my first international trip as a missionary. I hear that it is beautiful, but I don't think we'll get much of a chance to see it. The district president just e-mailed President Funk and noted that Elder Naulu and I will be visiting over 25 families on friday alone. So were pumped, you should look forward to next weeks e-mail. There have been no missionaries in that country for over 2 years now, so I expect some incredible experiences.

Last weekend was in Mumbai! I love going up there, it is always a blast. We stayed with the Branch President this time. His name is John Lee and he is the dean of a film making school up there. Remember that Mumbai is "Bollywood." So he has got the hook up. He and his wife really took care of us. We got to teach and prepare Joseph for baptism. He is an incredible young man with a rock solid testimony. He was never formally taught by elders. Only us, twice. So he developed this strong testimony on his own, with help from the members. Mumbai is a wonderful branch. They are so unified and determined to do missionary work, they take their responsibility seriously. It is mostly due to the fact that they have no missionaries, but I just get this great missionary spirit each time I go up there. That branch is going to flourish. A new American family from northern virginia just moved in to the branch. But the cool thing is they just came from Dubai. Did you know there was a stake there? I just found out last week and I was fascinated by that.

We also met a sweet referral up there. Here name is Betty, she is anglo-indian. That means Indian, with british or irish heritage. Anyway, she lived in the states before. She was married but got a divorce. While living in California she had some LDS neighbors. They really seemed to have a great influence on her, she always had a great desire to learn about the church but her husband never let her investigate. So after the divorce she moved back to Mumbai with her mother. I have no clue where the referral came from, but we got it and went over there with President Lee on satruday afternoon. It was an amazing experience. This sister was so sincere and prepared. I could just tell that she was so eager to learn more about this church that made her neighbors such incredible people. We taught about the Book of Mormon to resolve one of her concerns and the climax of the appointment was this. She asked, if this church is true and good, why is there so many bad things surrounding it? We simple asked, well is what you have heard consistent with the lifestyle your LDS neighbors had? The answer was no. When she realized that I could see a light in her eyes. I feel like she will be baptized, but not because of anything we did. It will be due to the great example set by her neighbors, and its not like they did anything incredible. They just lived the gospel. What a profound impact we can have on others by simply following the commandments and reaching out to serve others in a christlike way.

So...My time is officially run out. I sincerely apologize. I have not even had time to write Mom and Dad individually. But guess what, our mission just changed the Preparation day to Monday. So although I do not have a P-Day it would be best if you could e-mail before every monday from now on. So if you get this soon, please write me again before monday. Sorry! I love you all.

Elder Tuscano

03 AUG 10 letter

Dear Family,

Hello! Before I start I just wanted to thank each one of you. The e-mails this week were the best I've had on my mission. I really appreciated them. Thank you so much for caring about me, It is such a comfort to know that each week my family will write and have good things to say. But this week, there was something different, I'm not sure what it was. I'll just say that they were very powerful, so whatever you all did last week keep it up! I think its working for you.

This past week was full of surprises. More for Elder Naulu than for me though. We knew he was coming in to be my companion, but he had no idea. The transfers were going out on friday, and Elder Singh was done on saturday. So we needed to pull him in, but hadn't told him anything. Mind you, he was serving as a District Leader here in Bangalore 2nd branch. So President pulls him in on Friday morning and extends the calling. I wish you could have seen Elder Naulu's face. He was floored! Ha but it was sweet, he has really impressed me with the way he is handling all of this. I remember when I was trained in the office and there is a ton of stuff to do. He is just soaking it all in and doing a wonderful job. When God calls you, he will qualify you. I have felt that many times on my mission and seen it in Elder Naulu as he steps into this new assignment. So continue to pray for him when you pray for me.

Early Monday morning we sent home 11 of the greats. Elder Singh and his batch are gone and that is hard to believe. I am just learning to be grateful for the time that I have. As I hear about all my boys getting back and about to go home. I realize that my time is going to end soon, but I am so grateful for the time I've had and still have left. Elder Nixon's parents came to pick him up and they went to church with all of us on Sunday. That was a nice experience for them, they were very proud of their son. As they should be, he has done a wonderful job here. It was a riot having all of those elders stay at our place for a few days on their way out. I love listening to the things they have to say. Missions are incredible. I like how Mom put it, they are a University where we learn how to live our lives. I feel lucky that I was admitted.

The work has been busy recently. We are just in the office here in Bangalore, but there are plenty of things to do. We are going to Mumbai on Friday, we have a baptism! So I am pumped for that. Next week, we will be going to Sri Lanka I am so excited for that. Things are going to get pretty crazy here. That's good though, I like it better that way. So I think I will end there. Have a great week!

27 JUL 10 letter

Dear Family,

A warm hello to everyone back on the home front. I am happy because it is thursday and I actually have some time to e-mail you. What a great thing. Again, I apologize for my inconsistency and will try to improve. I hope that everyone is doing alright and its not too hot down there in the STG. It has cooled down a lot here at least in Bangalore, the monsoon is pouring on us this year.

We spent the last week in Hyderabad. It was a wonderful trip, we departed last friday and were able to get a lot of things done. It was good for all the members to meet President and Sister Funk. They are really adjusting so well, and the members love them so much. It is really cool to see that. Indian people really do have an incredible capacity to love, its almost a inherent trait. Their transfer of love from President Nichols to President Funk seems almost instantaneous. I really admire their example in that way.

We were able to conduct a few exchanges while we were in Hyderabad. We went with the Zone Leaders, I went with Elder Talk. For any of you that know my BYU counsellor, Lavay Talk, that is her son. He is an incredible Elder, he went to harvard before his mission. He has just done miracles out here. He was a zone leader in Coimbatore and now in Hyderabad and both of those Zones are on fire. So I was excited to go on exchange with him and stay in their apartment all week. He is a quiet guy, but he reminds me of that phrase "Speak softly and carry a big stick." So while on exchange with him we wanted to work on teaching from the scriptures. We had an appointment with a lady who did not speak much english. We asked her to open her telegu bible and we tried to stop her occasionally and expound the verse while she read in Telegu. It was quite the experience, I wish you could have seen us trying to translate and expound simultaneously. Ha but anyway were having a blast.

Zone conference went really well in Hyderabad. A lot smoother than Bangalore, it was also great for President to finally meet all the Elders. It was tough to do that first transfer when he had not meet any of them. So this morning we finalized the coming transfer and it felt really good, my companion is coming into the office this morning but he still does not know that he is going to be called as the next assistant. So I cannot tell you who it is yet...

Anyway I love you all and hope you have a good week.

21 JUL 10 letter

Dear Family,

So right now I am at the church in Hyderabad. It feels great to be back, it is President's first trip here. He is loving it. Ha I never had the opportunity to train someone in the field, but I now feel like we are training the Mission President. Ha, that's true in a lot of ways but he is still training me on a lot more stuff than I do him. It is a great experience though. The trip to Visak was very successful and it was so cool to see everyone again. Swarna Lata is now the Primary President and I was so excited to see her at church. President and Sister Funk won the love of all the members on saturday evening when they ate dinner at the church. There were some training meetings and afterwards they served some rice and chicken curry and they ate with their hands! They are naturals.

We had Bangalore zone conference this past week and it went very well. Except for some major technical difficulties, we made it through just fine. It was a lot different than Zone Conference with President Nichols, but the elders really enjoyed it. President Funk really knows how to conduct a meeting, they are truly revelatory meetings. You know in the scriptures how it talks about meetings being conducted by the holy ghost? Yeah, President Funk has got that on lock. But that's about all this week, sorry if this e-mail is bland. Next week will be better. Just for an update, Elder Singh goes home this next saturday so I will be getting a new companion. I am excited for him, I think it will be a surprise to him and to all of you as well. But I will tell you next week who it is.

Thanks, love you!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

appreciating both ministration and administration

Dear Family,

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to e-mail this week. Sometimes things get crazy and we just don't have any time. I am in Visak right now, we came up here yesterday. It was President's first trip out of Bangalore, so it was fun to be with him for that. Things have been going well. This past week was a blast. We got to see a few missionaries leave and had one come in to get set apart. Missionaries leaving is the trend right now in this mission. We are going to lose 11 missionaries when Elder Singh goes home in 2 weeks. Three weeks after that we lose 10 more. No replacements. So I have been constantly thinking about what we are going to do. It is an interesting experience. I am confident that things will work out, but it will be a unique situation for some time. Even with so many missionaries going, the morale is very high. The elders are baptizing all over the mission, it is just an evidence that we have quality missionaries. They are working hard until the last minute.

I am learning and experiencing so much. One of the things I love to see is how the church really works. I never saw that much when I was in the field. But now I am really learning about how it works. It is an incredible organization. President Funk has spent a lot of time with and around the Brethren, so I am learning a lot about them too. What a cool organization we belong to.

I am learning a lot about ministering, I never really understood that principle until now. I have many opportunities to minister to my Zone Leaders especially in our nightly follow-ups. Though I cannot see them very much, I feel that through our phone conversations I am able to counsel and uplift them. I am grateful for that. They do the same for me.

Recently I have been thinking about the trips we would make to see all of your family member in New Castle. As a kid I did not like to do it so much, but now I realize how important it was. That was a cultural experience, thank you for sharing those people with us. I want to go back someday soon and see everyone. I think it would be a great experience.

Things are going really well. I am really enjoying every minute. Being with President Funk is a wonderful opportunity. The spirit I feel while serving in this responsibility is incredible. That's good too, because I couldn't see myself fulfilling this calling without the sustaining influence of the Spirit. I am grateful for my time to serve, and for your prayers and support. I love you all and look forward to hearing from you in a few days... I'll try to get back earlier next week, but I cant make any guarantees.

Elder Tuscano

Sunday, July 11, 2010

08 JUL 10 letter

Dear Family,

Alright then, it is hard to believe that another week has come and gone. The past few weeks have been especially fun. It is a blast having a new mission president and showing him around the mission here in India. We have been in Bangalore for the past two weeks. President is finally getting settled in and we will be getting on the road next week. It will be fun to take him around the country on Kingfisher airlines.

So I’ll take a second and tell you about our new mission president. He is a great leader, and very different than President Nichols. It is a wonderful opportunity to see him and how he works. He has this humility about him. Perhaps it stems from his terribly green roots, but it really seems like he trusts and listens to our counsel. He is a man who likes to ponder and think about things before making decisions. He has a very warm spirit about him, many of the elders commented on the fact that he is very approachable. Though he has only been here over a week, I can clearly the mantle that has been placed upon him. We planned transfers with him these past couple days, but it’s important to recognize that he has only met about 20% of the missionaries. With that limited knowledge we counseled together and he was able to make some truly inspired decisions about where an Elder needs to go. In all that he does he depends on the Lord. One of his biggest principles for decision making can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 107:30-31. If you get a second, read that scripture and apply it as you prepare to make your next big decision.
We had a zone leader council yesterday and it was one of the best on my mission. He spoke about the purpose of meetings and why we hold a council. Much of the time was spent talking between the Zone Leaders and what we could do to improve the state of the mission. There was a unique feeling in that room as all of the zone leaders were engaged in discussion. The passionate discussion led to revelation. There were wonderful new ideas, goals, and plans that came into play. I really appreciated President and how he encouraged us to counsel. There is power in that kind of meeting.

My time in the office is really making me appreciate the opportunities I have to go out and teach. I was able to go on exchange last week with Elder Briggs. He goes home this coming Monday, but they invited us to go on a split with them. I remember when he was my district leader back in Chennai. I was so impressed with his ability to love these people. I am becoming more and more interested in the principle of love. I have seen on my mission that people begin to change when they can feel your love. The gospel is true and certainly the most powerful instrument to change lives. But that power can never be unlocked until we love the people we work with. I hope that I can someday understand love and charity. I have no idea what it really means, but I would like to have more of it in my heart.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. I really need them. I love you all!

Elder Tuscano

24 JUN 10 letter

Dear Family,

This past week was a fast and furious. So I'll clear this up at the outset. We e-mail whenever we find time. It might be wednesday, thursday, friday, or anyday. I can't say because it will change according to our schedule. So it is best if we don't change anything and you follow the same procedure that you've been following. If I get them on wednesday it is best. So don't worry if it takes me a few days to get back to you, I will. If you have any other doubts feel free to ask me.

So we spent the weekend in a place called Rajahmundry. I had been looking forward to seeing that city from the beginning. It is one of the closest areas we have to a village in the mission. It is a green and open land, lots of farmers and rural areas. The city has the kind of enchanting indian feeling about it. It just is the place you picture when you think of India. So close your eyes, if you can see the dirt roads, palm trees, and thatch roofed houses- you're there. I really enjoyed the experience. My favorite part was riding the bicycle. As I had spent my entire mission in big cities I never had the chance to ride one. But I finally got the go, it was great. As I sat back on the seat of this Indian beach cruiser I really felt that I had the complete mission experience. The roads were crazy and I was more concerned about hitting cows than cars, but somehow I made it through the days alright.

On monday we finally arrived in Bangalore. I really love travelling the mission, but it is nice to have a pillow to sleep on at night. Late tuesday night we were able to go to the airport and pick up our new missionary. We waited for quite some time, but I didn't mind. We had a great chance to talk with President about some things. One of the most incredible things we spoke about was his service here as the mission president. He shared with us the goals he had set when he began his service, they were pretty big goals. It was a tender moment while he shared a bit of an accountability if you will. I could feel his satisfaction as he put his arm around me and reported on the magnificent progress the church has made here in the past 3 years. He spoke about how he exceeded his goals, and how he did much more than he thought he could at the start. It was a special experience for us, and it taught me a lot about the importance of setting goals. The new missionary finally arrived and he brought back the memories of my first night in India. What an experience he has in front of him. We sent him off the next day to his area, which is Chennai! So we're just setting him up for greatness.

Everything is going just fine over here. I am really loving life and enjoying this service. If you would have told me 2 years ago about the things I would be doing here and now, I would been very skeptical. But I have learned that while we hardly realize it, the Lord is always guiding our lives. He guided me here, and I am eternally grateful for that. I love each one of you and hope that you feel the same about your lives. Have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

Saturday, June 19, 2010

18 JUN 10 letter

Dear Family,

It is friday night and we are in Visak right now. We just finished zone conference and are about to head down to Rajahmundry on the train. I'm sorry my time is short, but I will do my best to deliver an accurate report of the work here and answer your questions.

This past week was so busy. We flew out to Hyderabad last friday and were there for a few days doing exchanges. I really love being able to get around the mission and see all of these elders. It is cool because my entire mission I have heard all these great things about different elders, but because our mission is so big, I never got to be around them. Now I am able to get to know these elders and I am so impressed with the quality of elders that are here. When we were in H-Town I went on exchange with Elder Walther, he is a really cool kid from Utah. We had an incredible day. Probably knocked 5 doors total and we found 3 families. So that was pretty incredible.

The past two days we've been in Visak and it is so cool to be back here. I got to go in my old area yesterday with my replacement, Elder Mackay. He is from Solana Beach, CA and also went to BYU in 07. It was sweet, we met a lot of the people that I was teaching and Pushpa is getting baptized tomorrow! So I was so pumped that I could see her. We had miracles in finding yesterday too. We met a sweet Hindu family, at first only one of the sons would sit down. I gently but persistently invited his other brother and sister to join us. Finally they came in and we taught them how to pray. We invited the brother to pray because he actually spoke english. He said a great prayer, but as he finished and I opened my eyes, they caught his sisters. She had this look on her face, I wish I could explain it to you. It was a concerned look, I knew that she wanted to pray. So I stayed on my knees and invited her to pray. It took some convincing, sometimes Indian women can be very shy, but she did it and it was so sincere. I could just feel a spirit of compassion as she spoke to Heavenly Father. I was so grateful that the spirit was with us and we could discern the fact that she needed to pray. It was really cool.

That's about all for this week. I love you and hope you are all doing well.

Elder Tuscano

Thursday, June 10, 2010

10 JUN 10 letter

Dear Family,

It is good to hear that everyone is doing well back home. It is interesting to receive these e-mails. Each one of you has so many different things to say. While I lived at home I did not get this kind of information, at least not at this level of detail. I like it. You all have so many wonderful things going on in your lives. I feel that though I'm on the other side of the world, I know what's going on in your lives. Over this period of time I am able to see what things are most important to you. So i am grateful for this opportunity to communicate in a different way. I almost feel that I know each one of you better than I did before I left, especially Mom and Dad. Now that's ironic.

So this past week was incredible. We flew in from Chennai this morning. We had been there for the past 5 days or so. I had an opportunity to go on exchange with my MTC companion Elder Shepherdson. He is a Zone Leader down there and he tears it up. We had a miracle that day. In the afternoon we had an appointment fall through and I suggested that we go and visit a former investigator, someone I had taught while I served there over a year ago. We went and tried to find his house, and that took much longer than I thought because I got us lost. Finally we found their house and he wasn't there so they called him. Five minutes later he shows up with his best friend who happens to be a recent convert to the church. The former's name is Sri Nivas, anyway we sat down with them and it was amazing. Sri Nivas had not been baptized before due to family problems, but his friend had gone through similar problems to join the church. That example gave him courage and he had made a promise in his heart that if the elders ever came back to his house he would be baptized. Well, we came and he is going to be baptized. That was an amazing experience I thought to share with you.

It was great to be back in Chennai, it was raining so that was a saving grace. Zone Conference was really good and I like being able to hear it multiple times. It is President's last one and he is really giving a good training. It was great to see the elders down there and be with them. I am doing my best to pick up everything, I am grateful for Elder Singh. He is so patient with me, and that's not always the easiest thing to be when you're around me. So I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer holidays. Let me know if you have any questions. I hope these reports are sufficient.

Elder Tuscano

Friday, June 4, 2010

03 JUN 10 letter

This week has been alot different than all of the other weeks on my mission. For the first time in 19 months I am spending my days sitting in an office. At first it felt very strange but I am slowly getting used to it. There is so much to learn and alot that goes into this new responsibilty. I am grateful thought that I have a chance to learn how to do all of these things.

We just had zone conference here in Bangalore. The zone conference tour always starts here and then moves around the mission. We are flying to Chennai tommorow and I am so excited to be back there and see some of the people I was so close with. Zone conference today went really well, we ran a practice on how to help memebrs participate on exchanges and i think it went well. We learned alot about how to improve it though.

On monday we went down to this place called KGF, it is about 3 hours outside of Bangalore and used to be a huge gold mine town. Today the gold mines are closed, but there are still quite a few people down there. Anyway, we've only got one companionship out there and they're basically marooned. I have been waiting to see that place my entire mission and I was excited to get down there. It was a really cool place, a small town but most of the people speak english because it was settled by the British when they had struck the gold. But that night when we were getting ready to head back it started PORUING! It was raining like I have never seen rain before...I am really starting to understand what the monsoon is. It is dumping here in Bangalore also.

Oh yeah I forgot. On saturday night we sent off Elder Mehan, Elder Ward, Elder Brown, and Elder Bartlett. It was very strange, not as strange as I thought but interesting to be a part of. We got to go to the departure devotional and be with them for their last night in India. We saw them out at about 3;30 Am to go and catch their flights. They all seemed to handle it very well. It is just strange to me that when Luke gets here and I tell him about these Elders he will have no idea what I am talking about or who they are.

So one more thing. At chruch on sunday, we attend Bangalore 1st branch, a brother pulled me aside and asked if i was Sister Arunachulam's grandson. I was taken back, but then I realized that this was the guy Mom was talking about. He is a member of 1st branch! He invited us over after church and we went. His wife and daughter made a wonderful lunch for us and it was so cool to get to know him. We came to find out that he is a huge pioneer for the church in India. Espcially in chennai, he told me that he was the first member there and he knew all of the old members that I had met while serving there. He was an incredible man and it was a miracle that we were able to meet him so easily and unexpectedly. Cool huh?

Elder Tuscano

25 MAY 10 letter

I am very happy to hear the wonderful news! What a miracle that you are going to be able to make it out here! Surely something for each one of you to look forward to. India is a wonderful place. I am sure Luke is wondering about that right now...Ha I remember for my entire stay at the MTC I was just so eager to get over here. I was brim with anticipation, but I really had no idea what to anticipate. What I found was incredible country with truly incredible people. I love this place.

We are seeing miracles often here. This past week at church we had alot of new people come to church, it was pretty cool. Elder Cranney and I have been going real hard and things are really changing around. There is a renewed sense of excitement in the zone and the mission. I am excited because I think June is going to be a record month here, both for the zone and the mission.

On sunday there was a new brother that came to church with our recent convert Padma, who is just about the most active missionary I have ever seen. She can hardly speak english, but she just loves bringing new people to the church. So on sunday she brought one of her relatives named Vijay Paul. He seemed to enjoy church so we set up an appointment with him that evening at Padma's house. We went to go teach him and it was incredible. I have met alot of prepared people on my mission, but I think he might be the most so. He is a convert from Hindusm about 5 years back, he was baptized into the Lutheran church in Rajahmundry. But for some reason about 3 months ago he stopped going to that church. He had alot of questions about God and he could not find the answers. When he came to church on sunday he said that he had 3 main questions he wanted answers to, he told us that he felt God spoke to him and that all of his questions were answered. We procedeed to set him for baptism and he is so solid. He just says that he really feels different when he is around us and really likes it. There are alot of ways to do missionary work and help people progress, but it is always refreshing to meet people who are golden.

There are so many wonderful things happening here. I am sad to leave yet excited for my new assignment. I hope all of you are doing well. A big congrats to Mary for making it through SCHS, I know it was rough ha. But I am glad she survived. I am sorry, all my personal e-mails will be very short this week as time is less. I did not manage it properly becuase of few of the elders wanted to look at all the pictures that were sent this week. SORRY! Love you all!

18 MAY 10 letter

This past week was pretty cool. Right now I am in Bangalore and we just finished our last Zone Leaders Council with President Nichols. It was incredible. I honestly cannot express my gratitude for my opportunity to serve a mission and to serve under President Nichols. We talked today about stewardship and accountability. It was an inredible day and I hope that I can apply the things that I am learning now and will continue to learn.

Last week we found a sweet Hindu family. We had just waltzed into their apartment complex and this brother was sitting there with his wife. He had on this traditional swamy lungee(spelling?) but he immediately invited us in. I was a little apprehensive at his welcoming nature becuase I thought he was paka hindu. But it turns out that he was down and really thirsting for knowledge. As we shared the message of the restoration it seemed like we were just reminding him about it rather than teaching. I have only felt that way a few times on my mission. We went back for the return appointment and he had torn apart the pamphlet, he was telling us about the need for the restoration to end the great apostasy. Ha and his family is sweet too. His son has been going to churches for while. Check this out, his daughter has skipped about 5 grades! She is 19 and just about to finish her masters degree...Uh, I felt pretty dumb when I told her that I've only completed one year of school.

Great things are happening here in Visak. Transfers were postponed for a few reasons but they will happen next week, calls come this week though.

That is about all I have to say for now. Hope you all have a nice week!

Love you,
Elder Tuscano

11 MAY 10 letter

Hello there! It was so nice to talk with each of you on the phone. You all sound like you are doing very well, it is a great source of strength to actually hear from you. I spend all my time trying to help other families come closer together, but it is always so pleasant to remember that I have a family of my own and we are growing together, even now, through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This past week was full of excitement. We had some opportunities for service, that is especially exciting because we rarely get a chance to serve. Our investigators Sudhaker, Sharon, and Asyu were shifting their house. So we had to resist their attempts to prevent us from helping them and we were able to make the work go smoothly. As we set up their bed and couches and other household items I remembered Dad's words "many hands make light work." We told them that this type of service is what we promise God we will do when we are baptized, and even more when we receive the priesthood. The even really brought us closer together and I think now that they have seen the gospel in action they are beginning to take it more seriously.

Yesterday was an excellent day. We met a brother in the morning that was so prepared. I am really starting to understand what it means to "find them that will receive you." As we came to his door he immediately got up and welcomed us in. I believe that recognized us as servants of the Lord. I mean there have been many people who welcome us in immediately becuase we are American...Ha and that is not what we're looking for. This brother wanted the truth, and as he listened sincerely to the message I am sure that he realized he'd found it. Again, I am learning that there is great power in prayer. I am meeting with people who have never even heard the concept of a Heavenly Father. When they begin to understand that, and speak with him for the FIRST time ever it is literally a miracle. I feel so priveldged to witness it. It might be hot and I might be getting weary, but I do not think that I could ever become tired of bringing God's children to a knowledge of truth. The heat may be intense, but it is not enough to weaken my desire to carry these glad tidings forward.

Things are going well over here on my side. I am looking forward to welcoming Luke to the mission. He is going to do a great job. I love you all, have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

04 MAY 10 letter

How are you all doing this week? I am pleased to announce that Elder Cranney is feeling much better and we are going at it full boar once again. The heat is still on the rise, yesterday marked the start of the infamous "Kathri" or the time when heat stroke is a killer. The time period is two weeks, I spent the last one in Chennai so I am fairly certain I'll make it through this one. Ha.
The past week was refreshing. After a few less productive days, due to illness, we were able to get out and go. We have been trying to meet all the people we're working with, but right now our focus is finding. We are getting on the streets and looking for the right people. India is a great country to serve in. There are streets that I have walked down hundreds of times and I have probably contacted 5% of the people who live there. Ha and I know what you're thinking but its not because I am lazy. There are just so many people in this country. There is always another door to knock or person to talk to. I am so grateful for that.

Antony and his family ran into some problems and are probably not going to be able to get baptized anytime soon. Family problems got to be too much for his mother, so she is refusing to allow them to be baptized. We spoke with their aunt on the phone the other morning and she was quite angry. Very sad for Antony because he had such a strong testimony, but I am sure that his time will come. Anyway, like I said, there are a TON of people here and we're on our way to finding the next prepared families. That is about all for this week. I hope you are doing well. I'll keep you in my prayers.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

27 APR 10 letter

Dear Family,

It was another fabulous week here in Visakhapatnam. There were a lot of things that happened though and I am glad to say that I made it out alive.

We found a nice family the other week. It was a family that we had contacted about a month ago, but just had not been able to meet. Finally, on Saturday we were able to take Vinay (a member) with us. We sat down and taught the mother and her two sons. One of them is seriously disabled and he is really cool. She was very humble, they are hindu but she loves Jesus Christ. We taught her the first lesson and at the end we asked her how she felt about it. She said “I want to follow the gospel of God.” I have never heard that response so quickly in the first appointment. She is prepared, but her husband is the one we are having trouble with. He is not so interested and there is little chance of her progressing without him. So we are working on getting some people over there to help.

Oh yeah, Padma was baptized this week! It was a sweet service. We held it after the district conference here. This past Sunday was the FIRST EVER Visak district conference. That includes the 3 branches here, 2 in Rajahmundry, and 1 in Kakinada. It was broadcast from here to those other places. President was so happy about it and he should have been. The members here are doing a great job. The district president is an all star, his name is President Ratnam and he does a good job. He joined the church 8 years ago and at that time he didn’t even know English. But if you were to meet him now, you would never know that. He has progressed so much, not only in English but leadership also. His life is an evidence that the gospel really can change every thing. I am completely convinced that true disciples of Christ are blessed in every aspect of their lives. Anyway, love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

Sunday, April 25, 2010

20 APR 10 letter

Dear Family,

Greetings from Visak! Things here are going well and we are having a good time in the sun. Apparently some of the families here will take vacation to the Andaman Islands, it sounds like paradise. The islands are actually part of India, and that was news to me. Anyway Visak is just heating up and were excited about the miracles that are happening here.

I wanted to tell you about a member we are working with. His name is Manoj and he has been a member just over 3 years. He was perhaps the strongest member in this branch. He was always helping at church and just had a solid testimony. For most of his adult life he has faced a lot of problems. They are primarily financial but there are also legal problems that have caused his a lot of stress. He is divorced and getting a divorce here is a lengthy and difficult process. So he has been facing these problems but putting his faith in God and getting through them. A few months ago he met a guy named Bablu. He is actually an unknown distant relative to Manoj and is also a Buddhist. This man started to give financial help to Manoj and caused him to put his trust in him and not in God. Well at least not Heavenly Father. All the while he had been teaching him and coercing him into believing Buddhism. So we had no idea about any of this until we were able to find his new house (he moved) and visited him last week. He was a mess! His life had completely fallen apart. He told us that he felt he lost his agency. As we sat there and taught I discovered how right he was. He was living under the command of this Bablu character. I am still not sure why Mr. Bablu felt that he needed to force Manoj into these beliefs but it has, for the time, ruined his life. So we are trying our best to rebuild him, we started with the book of mormon. But his situation just seemed so consistent with the teaching and examples we find in the Book of Mormon. With Laman, Lemuel, Korihor, or Sherem it is apparent that the devil will not support you in the end. Manoj is experiencing that right now, and we just hope that we will be able to pull him out.

We met a brother yesterday named Mahesh. I was on exchange with my buddy Elder Schellenberg and we talked with this guy on the street. He is Hindu and he worships a god named Sai Baba. Sai Baba is very popular here, actually his story is similar to that of Jesus Christ… Anyway I wont go into detail, you can ask me about it later. This guy was very intelligent and seemed like he was interested in what we had to say. But there was one point which he couldn't seem to grasp. He told us that he thought all Gods were same, which is the basic Hindu belief in Visak. Then he stated that he prayed to Sai Baba and he got what he wanted from him. He told us that he was happy. He could not understand why we wanted him to pray to Heavenly Father. We told him that there was a difference and that he could receive so much more from Heavenly Father because he is the only true god. But he just was not satisfied. There's no lack of teaching to do...

Love you all!
Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

cousin Luke called to India!

Dear Family,

I made the mistake this week of reading your emails first. The one from Luke caught my eye so I had to open it. I already knew what it was going to say. President told us in Zone Leaders council last week that we would be receiving a missionary from the states in july or so. I had a feeling it would be my cousin Luke. How incredible is that? God always has surprises for us, doesn't he? Luke should be thrilled to serve in this wonderful country. He specifically should feel privileged. He should recognize that he is 1 of perhaps 4-5 missionaries that will be called to this mission in the year of 2010. What a blessing. I will write him an email and give him some pointers. He reports very soon. I will be sure to go back and forth with him.

This past week was, as every week is, full of miracles. I will share only one with you right now due to lack of time. You know that we have been working with Swarna Lata and her family. A few days ago we were discussing Kishore and the progress he wasn't making. We counseled and felt that we should teach him about prayer and invite him to say the prayer at the end of the lesson. We went there two nights ago and we taught as planned. We both prayed that it would work out. I had no idea what was going to happen. We finished teaching and then somewhat boldly invited him to our surprise there was no objection! He prayed and the spirit was there. After the prayer Swarna Lata said that it was the first time she had heard him pray. They have been married over 20 years! I left with a deep sense of gratitude for the help we received. Swarna Lata even called us yesterday and said that Kishore had been doing uncharacteristically nice things for her and their daughters. We consider this to be a miracle.

You asked for my thoughts on General Conference. The most personal part for me was President Monson's talk on sunday morning. When he testified of the savior and his resurrection and then the choir sang "He is Risen," I felt electrified. It was a huge testimony builder. I love our prophet, he is truly the man who speaks for Christ in these days. I also loved Elder Eyring's talk in the priesthood session -- it was so good. I want to give more while I am serving.

All else is going well. I hope that you are all happy.

Elder Tuscano

Saturday, April 10, 2010

new companion, new journal...

Dear Family,

We just got back to Visak. We spent the last two days in Bangalore for zone leaders council. It was a fun time, but it is nice to be back. Bangalore is a very cool place, and while we were gone the temperature here came up. That is nice though, I am growing to love the combination of heat and humidity.

My new companion, Elder Cranney is great. He comes from Cache Valley, Utah. I am so happy to serve with another Utah homie. It was a blast with Elder Schmidt and this one promises to be a great companionship. He is way humble and ready to work hard. He shoots competitively back home, he has a lot of guns. It sounds like he ranked nationally or something so that is pretty cool. We are having fun with Elder Evans who is with us for the time being. His companion has not come from H-Town yet so we’re covering both areas until his companion arrives.

Alekhya, who is a you girl from a recent convert family, was baptized this past Sunday. It was a nice baptism service and the primary president really helped us with it. We were at church a long time on Sunday; it was a nice Easter though. They handed out mosambi’s at the end of church so that was very festive.

We are working with a lot of good people right now. We have a Roman Catholic family from Gnanapuram (remember that place?). They are doing very well. The son is about 18 and he is tearing up the book of mormon. We have another brother named Ritesh we are working with. He is so humble and ready for the gospel. Elder Ward met him on a bus and gave him an OYM card and asked him to call us. And he did! So we met him and he came to church and even accepted the invitation to be baptized. Things are rolling forward here in Visak. We expect April to be a great month for the zone.

Many more things to tell you and discuss but we will save them for a later day. Good news, I finished my journal finally and it is time to buy a new one. So many things to learn out here, I just hope that I can record it all. Anyway, I love you guys. Thank you for your prayers. Have a good week!

Elder Tuscano

Saturday, April 3, 2010

29 MAR 10 letter

Dear Family,

It is nice to have this weekly opportunity to communicate with you. I hope that all is going well with you in STG. Things in Visak continue to heat up. I’ll be here to enjoy that heat for at least another six weeks. Transfer calls came last Friday and my boy Elder Ward will be leaving me. He is going to Goa to spend the last 9 weeks of his mission with Elder Naulu. It was a big surprise to both of us. Transfers were supposed to happen this Friday but they will be postponed due to some riots over there in Hyderabad. I know not the details of the situation but we are taking some precautions and making sure to stay out of trouble. Don’t worry though, everything will be just fine. Oh yeah, my new companion is Elder Cranney, he is actually one of the elders I have yet to met in this mission. He arrived in India a transfer after me and from what I hear he is a great hard working elder. So, I’m looking forward to some new experiences but also regretting that my time with Elder Ward is short.

We had a cool week last week. We had a lot of investigators come to church, as did the rest of the zone. Elder Schellenberg, who serves out in Gajuwaka, has a family of 5 entering the waters of baptism this Sunday. We are pumped about that. Our area is doing well. We got permission from President Nichols to set Pushpa’s Mom with a date. She is so solid and she even gave us a referral last week and brought them to church on Sunday. She can’t speak English, but she is definitely experiencing conversion.

We met an 87 year old man last week. His name is Luke and he is the coolest man. We knocked on his door and he let us right in. I was impressed most by his humility. He is Christian and has sons who run their own churches. But as we taught the restoration he listened with open ears and an open heart. He totally accepted it and in his prayer at the end of the lesson he thanked Heavenly Father for bringing back the New Testament church and sending these two angels to tell him about it. It was so sweet. It is not too often that you will find an older person who will actually listen to you here. So we thought it was amazing. Anyway, things are going very well.

Two American missionaries recently arrived to our mission. They came last night. We haven’t had new American missionaries for a year! They are both P.I.O. (“person of Indian origin”). They are just about the only Americans that can get a visa for missionary work in India right now.

Love you all,
Elder Tuscano

Thursday, March 25, 2010

time flies...

Dear Family,

My time here in Visak with Elder Ward is flying. We are having a great time together. I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work in this city with such a good friend.

This past week was fun. As I reflect on it there are not too many things that happened which would be that great for me to share with you. I received that Warrior Newsletter finally and I can’t believe how many of my friends are close to returning home. I hope that each one of them is able to finish strong and get all that they can out of their missionary service. I am grateful that I still have a significant amount of time left. I am working hard to savor every minute I have out here.

We have been doing a lot of finding lately. As I have mentioned previously, I love finding. It is always an adventure. In our zone we are working on finding and teaching Hindu families. Here in India it can become a habit for elders to only find and teach Christians. It is much easier to work with Christians. It is a different experience while teaching a Hindu family. They don’t understand the nature of God, but when they are able to understand it-something incredible happens. I have watched some people as we teach them the doctrine of prayer; how they can speak with God themselves and that God will respond to them. In Preach My Gospel it teaches us how prayer is “two-way communication.” We have been exerting our efforts with these people here in hope that they can understand this principle. There is literally some kind of light that turns on when a person is able to understand this concept. We all are children of God, and as such, we have the opportunity to speak with him at anytime. As I watch that light turn on in others, my testimony of prayer is refreshed. I’ve been inspired to put more effort into my prayers. I am pleased to say that in doing so I am growing much closer to our Father in Heaven. I love you all and hope you are experiencing the power of prayer in your lives.

As I observe families here and talk with elders about their families at home I have come to realize something I never did before. Our family is way solid. You have done an incredible job. I remember listening to Elder Bednar’s talk in General Conference and recalling how our family consistently did the things he mentioned. I know nothing else but these good habits so I will obviously instill them within my own family because they WORK! Thanks again for being so diligent with that.

Have a great week!

Elder Tuscano

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

persistence pays...

Dear Family,

I hope that all of you are doing well and enjoying the springtime over there. I think that the season we call spring does not exist here. It became very hot and sultry rather quickly, I am not sure that the weather here is much different than Chennai. But luckily the heat only adds to the fire of the work that our zone is experiencing.

This week was sad in that we lost a few of the families we were working with. Sister Lakshmi and her family were compelled to discontinue their investigation by the father. His name is Ramakrishna, their family is pure Hindu and it seems that he got scared because of some opposition they were facing. So he asked us not to come back anymore. Those other sisters, the ones we found because they had the picture of Jesus Christ outside their door, also dropped off. Their Father decided to harden his heart and insisted that we never return to his home. Elder Ward and I felt very bad. It really hurt when these families asked us not to come back. I have realized that my hurt was not because I felt that they didn’t like me or anything. It was because they were not willing to accept the message of the restored gospel. In 3 Nephi it talks about the 3 nephites and how they would not suffer- save it be sorrow for the sins of the world. In these experiences I am beginning to understand what that phrase means.

Don’t worry though! All is not lost. We have been working with Pushpa’s mother recently. She does not speak much English and at first we didn’t take her seriously. She is Roman Catholic and told us that she wouldn’t come to our church. But she would always tease her neighbors and tell them that they should come to our church. Then out of nowhere she decided to start coming to our church. I guess she saw the changes in her daughter prompted her to do it, but she has been coming to church the past three weeks. She knows it is true. Yesterday she told us that her parents and other family members were hassling her and telling her not to leave their church. She told them that she had been attending that church since she was a little girl and had never felt the spirit. She proceeded to tell them that she had never felt the influence of the spirit more distinctly than when she attended our church. I am learning not to doubt the power of the church commitment.

After church on Sunday we invited a member, Santosh, to go on an exchange with us. We planned to visit about 5 potential families. Each of the families refused us, claiming no interest in Jesus Christ. Santosh said the following. “Man, I always thought that missionary work was easy, but now I realize that it is hard!” Anyway he had the faith to stick with us to visit the last potential. It was a non-member referral we had received a few days before. Her name was Divya and she was there at her home and willing to let us in. It just so happened that she was extremely prepared to receive the message. She was so interested and Elder Ward and I were blown away by her understanding and desire to learn. We gave her the soft baptismal commitment and she accepted! It was nice for Santosh to see the how missionary work really is. How faith and diligence really do produce miracles. We felt very blessed.

I love you all. Have a good week!
Elder Tuscano

09 MAR 10 letter

Dear Family,

This past week was incredible. Swarna Lata, Mounica, and Suchitra were all baptized! It was a great day for them. Kishore was there and I think he really liked it, he is not ready yet but I think one day he will be. The actual ordinances were pretty tough. They have never spent much time around water, so they were all very nervous. I baptized Suchitra, 19 year old, and when I finished the prayer and tried to baptize her she refused to go down! I tried to speak some words of comfort and we did it again. It worked out the second time and that was a huge relief. But anyway it was very cool. I will send you pictures next week…

We went to Hyderabad, which is why I am e-mailing on Thursday…We had a multi-zone conference and Elder Perkins, the Asia Area President was there with us! It was a great experience for all of us. He conducted a few interviews before the conference began. Elder Ward and I were not part of those but Elder Schmidt and Evans both had a chance to sit down and visit with him. He and his wife are amazing people. His wife was very bold. In the morning we had a few elders give attribute talks. They were supposed to last about 3-4 minutes. All of the elders gave good talks, but none were able to stay within their time limit. Sister Perkins was scheduled to speak right after these missionary talks, but according to the program we had, her time was already finished. She stood up and read about the stripling warriors and how they obeyed with exactness. She stated that she would not give her talk because her time had been eaten up by the elders before her. It was a powerful lesson and I think we all made commitments to stay within the time we are allotted when giving a talk!

It was good that happened in the morning because I gave a talk in the afternoon. The assistants and the zone leaders were to come prepared with a 5 minute talk on how “inviting sacrament attendance blesses families.” There would be 1 assistant and 1 zone leader to give a talk, and I was the lucky zone leader. I was pretty nervous to speak in front of a general authority but luckily I was prepared. I made sure to be punctual and I think it went well. Elder Perkins really liked it, so that made me feel happy.

Have a great week!

Elder Tuscano