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