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