8.15.2017

home group growth and kitchen adventures (food poisoning and tomato rice - separate issues)

the Vijayawada elders, with our investigator Krishna!

"Elder Tuscano, are you still healthy despite your apartment mates all being sick/injured?"  Good question, I am now!  Haha.  This past week I got food poisoning, unfortunately, perhaps from eating some expired bread, so I was down and out for about 24 hours but now I'm back to 100% again.

This past week was good, we are continuing to teach the wonderful families that we're working with, two of which are progressing towards baptism.  We also started teaching two new young men and they're awesome, one of their names is "Baktha Singh" I thought that was a cool name haha.  They invited us to come teach their families this coming week.

I also learned how to cook an Indian dish called "tomato rice" this past week, I've made it a couple times already and it's turned out fairly well (important side note: me in the kitchen and me getting food poisoning are two separate, unrelated events haha).
 
Yesterday our little home group's attendance exceeded the room!!!!  we didn't have enough chairs for everyone haha.  So please pray for us to get a building soon.

Hope everyone has a good week, keep the faith!

Elder Tuscano

8.08.2017

Weekend of Celebrations

 me and Gandhi-ji.  Haha this is a cool set-up at one of the malls here in VJW.
 "did you all plan to wear red ties?"  yes.  It was my birthday, I thought it would be fu.
don't know how well you can see this one, but this is one of about six identical connecting bridges to the city of Rajahmundry.  It is surrounded by a river, it's kind of like Pittsburgh, but Indian version
 me and E. Ramishetty outside the Rajahmundry chapel on Friendship day.  There's a whole ceremony that goes with it, remind me to tell you about it when I get home haha.
 happy birthday, Manoj!  Manoj is one of our member's, it was his birthday this past Tuesday.  In India, it is the custom to feed the birthday person a piece of cake haha.  It's a lot of fun.
E. Tahiliani is taking the selfie, then from left to right: E. Ramishetty, myself, Krishna (one of our investigators), and Elder Kommalapati.  This was my birthday lunch, the food was life changing Chef Ajay (Elder Kommalapati) cooks really well.

 me, Elder Kommalapati, and Sam, one of our recent converts.

Hello all, how goes it this week?

This past week was awesome, we found two new SOLID families to teach, both of which are strong member referrals and they're awesome.  Cool little background story about one of the families: the husband and wife were both strong Hindus before and right after their marriage, until one day, something happened (I don't remember what exactly, the story was relayed in Telugu) and the wife fell from a three-story building.  She called out Jesus' name and was not injured or even harmed from her fall.  From that day forward they have been strong believers in Jesus Christ.  I think that's pretty cool.

This weekend was a blast, it was a weekend of celebration: Saturday was my birthday and it was so much fun.  Elder Kommalapati, serving in Vijayawada A (haha), made ghee rice and chicken fry upon my request for my birthday lunch.  That afternoon we traveled to Rajahmundry and had a small birthday celebration which consisted of eating beef kebabs, Arun brand ice cream (the best ice cream in the world, the one I got was caramel, banana, and cotton candy flavor), and drinking Artos (a drink that strongly resembles red creme soda haha).  Then Sunday was Friendship day, which is a big thing here in India, so that was fun.  And today is Raksha Bandhan which is like Sibling day I think, so shout out to my siblings, I love 'em.

Lotta photos comin' your way this week, enjoy!

Have a great week and keep the faith,
 
Elder Tuscano

7.31.2017

a humid happy birthday... to me?

 a beautiful yet common scene from Vijaywada: a family of cows walking down the street in front of a Hindu temple in front of a beautiful sunset
 Rajahmundry zone conference
 we had a FEAST yesterday this is a picture of us with our feast
 there are some cute little kids who stay on the lower floors of our apartment building, they are all Christian.  this is me reading the Old Testament stories to them.  They loved it and I loved it 
an area in our area called Housing Board colony


NAMASARKAM, everyone, how goes it?
This past week was alright for us here, unfortunately, three of the four elders here are either sick or injured right now (I am the only healthy one, perhaps that's my birthday present from above haha) so the work was a little slower.  However, we still found two cute new families to teach and we had a couple investigators attend our little home group meeting which was awesome.  We had over twenty in attendance yesterday, that was a great blessing.  We will be getting an actual building sometime in the future, we believe.  We hope at least haha.  That's the goal.
Cool experience from this week: we are teaching a minister of another church here, he is currently housing one of our members, out of the goodness of his hear, as our member is trying to provide for his family that stays in a nearby village.  This minister is so humble and is quite receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  On Saturday we were talking about Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice for us and, naturally, we started talking about where Jesus went for those three days and nights (the spirit world).  This minister said yeah, the wicked go to prison and the righteous to paradise.  His eyes were then opened as we talked about how Jesus bridged the gap (Luke 16:26) and how his ancestors, who had not received the gospel in their mortal lives, could now do so because of what Jesus did!  We also talked about how he could be baptized on their behalf in holy temples (not Hindu temples haha, LDS temples).  It was like a wave hit him.  He was so happy.  There's a lot more detail to this story, I've given the executive summary haha, please remind me to share the details with you when you see me.
We are going to Rajahmundry this week for fast Sunday so that will be fun.  And long.  But fun.
Hope everyone has a great week, keep the faith!!
Elder Tuscano
pic 1 - a beautiful yet common scene from Vijaywada: a family of cows walking down the street in front of a Hindu temple in front of a beautiful sunset
pic 2 - an area in our area called Housing Board colony
pic 3 - there are some cute little kids who stay on the lower floors of our apartment building, they are all Christian.  this is me reading the Old Testament stories to them.  They loved it and I loved it haha
pic 4 - we had a FEAST yesterday this is a picture of us with our feast haha

7.27.2017

Rajahmundry, Red Creme Soda (?), and tender experiences.

my companion and I with a member that visited our home group from Hyderabad.

Namaste, everyone, how goes it?

This week was as quick as it was humid haha.  We had zone conference this past week in Rajahmundry so we took a bus and traveled four hours to get there.
Rajahmundry is a pretty amazing place, it recently became a stake in December and currently houses the largest Church building in India.  All of this is interesting because Rajahmundry is a straight village haha, it's awesome.  I have heard about Rajahmundry my whole mission so it was fun to finally travel there and see what all the hype is about.  One of my favorite things about the place is that they have this soda called Artos that is almost identical in taste, consistency, and color to Red Creme Soda, so that's rad.

The coolest experience this week: Elder Ramishetty and I were walking around our area and felt impressed to walk down a certain road.  As we walked, we saw a home with a sign outside that read, "Zion Home for the Blind and Differently Abled," which naturally caught our attention.  Outside the gated home, we saw a handicapped man and spoke with him about who we were and what message we share.  He was so excited that he invited us in and introduced us to the director of the home. The director then gathered the twenty plus residents of the home, all of whom were either lame or blind, and sat them down on the porch of the home.  We sat down with them and taught and testified of God's plan for them, that they are children of God, and that as part of His marvelous plan, they would one day receive perfect bodies.  They loved it and invited us to come back this week.  It was one of the most tender experiences of my mission, I was nearly in tears.

I hope everyone has a great week, keep the faith!!

Elder Tuscano

7.20.2017

a week of miracles!

  the crew at the birthday gathering
photo from the birthday gathering, before everyone arrived

YO.  The weather here in Vijayawada is not necessarily ideal, it's been rainy and muddy all week, however, the climate for missionary is IDEAL.

WOW.  THIS WEEK WAS NUTS.  Seriously everyday this week something or things happened that were just absolutely miraculous.  I will do my best to relay just a couple of the miracles.  I will also do my best to be concise haha, please bear with me.
For starters we divided the area haha, we cast lots for who gets what side of the city, so that was fun.  Our proselyting area is literally half of the city haha.  Crazy.
Also remember that hill I sent a photo of last week?  We went door-knocking on that hill this past week (which was as awesome as it was tiring because of all the steps we climbed).  While up there, I made eye-contact with a sweet old lady, waved to her, and felt impressed to go talk with her, so we did.  It just so happened that nearly two years ago to that date, her husband had passed away.  We shared the message of the plan of salvation with her and that she would see her husband again.  She was greatly comforted and so thankful that we'd found her.  God really is great, isn't He?
Also both elders in the other companionship had birthdays this past week, so we had a small gathering to celebrate.  Who attended?  NINE INVESTIGATORS, all of which are potential priesthood holders.  And they brought gifts.  One of our investigators came up to me at the said gathering and asked, "Brother, where was I before this life?"  Great question, brother, we actually have a message about that.  This same brother has a baptism date now, we taught him about the plan of salvation.  He's an amazing guy, I'm sure I'll include details at some future date.
We found a peculiar investigator this past week, he's a boss.  His name is Ravi.  Where is he from?  Texas, haha.  His parents are from a nearby village but moved to the US after they got married.  Years later, here Ravi is, by himself in Vijayawada and what is he doing?  He's going to medical school here.  There's randomly a bunch of medical schools in Vijayawada by the way.  We just thought it was funny that we're teaching an Indian-American in India.  He has an overseas citizenship, like me.  Which is cool.
Last of all, remember how in Malachi 3:8-10 the Lord promises so many blessings to the faithful that they wouldn't have enough room in their house to receive it?  We witnessed an literal realization of that on Sunday.  Remember how last week only eleven souls came to sacrament meeting?  Yeah, not the case this week: TWENTY-SEVEN PEOPLE came to sacrament this past week.  There was literally not enough room for everyone in the little house where the meeting was held haha.  There was also no power, so no fan or A/C which made the Spirit burn within us and without us haha.  But it was an incredible experience, so there's a little glimpse of how the work is going on over here.
This isn't even half of the miracles we witnessed so please remind me to tell you all about this week when I get home haha.
I hope everyone has a great week, and enjoy these photos from this week, sorry there's so few.
Keep the faith,
Elder Tuscano

7.15.2017

Vijaya-what?


 here is a picture of me on the Fourth, we thought the lighting was cool
  the Vijayawada elders.  My companion is on the opposite end, he is a cutie pie.
this is the view from our apartment
 this is one of the biggest hills in our area, it's near where we live.  
There are a lot of Christians that live on and around this hill.


Vijaya-what?  VIJAYAWADA (pronounced wi-jay-uh-vada in Indian English haha).

THIS PLACE IS SICK.  It is unlike any other place in the mission.  Completely untapped and ready to receive the blessing of the Restored gospel.  I will explain in more detail later on.

I would first like to explain a bit about my companion because he is awesome.  Seriously, one of the sweetest, most understanding, loving, and enthusiastic missionaries I have worked with.  He is eager and willing to learn, super teachable, and so humble.  His name is Elder Ramishetty, he is from Hyderabad.  I will give a glimpse of my companion's character by sharing the experience of him coming to know that I would be his trainer: When new missionaries arrive, we hold a new missionary orientation to introduce them to the mission.  This time around we had two sisters and one elder (E. Ramishetty) arrive.  There we were--President Mortensen, E. Alaguretnam, myself, and the new missionaries--gathered around the table in President's office.  He informed the missionaries that he was going to introduce them to their trainers, starting with E. Ramishetty's because his was really exciting.  President proceeded to tell E. Ramishetty that I was going to be his trainer, training him in Vijayawada.  E. Ramishetty then stood up with a huge smile on his face, turned to me and said, "I love you, Elder!"  We had just met that morning.  My companion truly is full of love.

A little bit about Vijayawada: IT IS SO HUMID HERE haha.  Walk outside for two minutes and you will be drenched in sweat.  It's awesome, this is an experience I've been waiting for haha, I was sheltered in Bangalore by the nice climate.  But Vijayawada is absolutely beautiful.  It is a relatively clean and green city--clean because there's not as much trash as other places and green because there is vegetation everywhere.  There are also many scattered hills here, all of which are covered in greenery, it's amazing.  I will send pictures.  The food here is amazing (and also really spicy, but that's why it's so good haha), the people are incredibly nice and humble, and the climate for missionary work is ideal.  Straight up, E. Ramishetty and I just hop on our cycles and ride around the city looking for "those that will receive us," and people refer us to their friends and family out the wazoo.

How is the work going and what is the Church like here?  It's awesome.  Check this out: on Sunday, the other two missionaries here, E. Kommalapati and E. Tahiliani, went to the village/city of Rajahmundry, which is four hours away, to witness the first baptism of the Vijayawada home group (Rajahmundry is where the nearest meetinghouse is to us and consequently the nearest baptism font as well,so that's how we have to conduct baptisms for now until we figure something out haha).  But anyway, they were out of town, so E. Ramishetty and I had to conduct the home group service on Sunday.  There were eleven people in attendance, it was awesome.  I conducted the service and played the piano, then my companion and I blessed the sacrament and also gave talks.  We then had a sister give the Sundayschool lesson and the service was over.  It's only a one hour service, so if you're tired of your three hour services, hop on over here to VJW (;  This is an experience unlike any other.  It is humbling and I am just excited to get to work here.

Hope everyone has a great week, keep the faith!!  Stay dry (;

Elder Tuscano

7.04.2017

Happy 4th and an exciting transfer!


 they named him larry kumar

What's up y'all, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY this week!!!  We tried explaining the Fourth of July to an investigator family we're teaching in this way: it's like Diwali, but better.  TRU.

This week was pretty amazing.  Elder Raju got transferred to Visak and in his stead we received Elder Kimmings from Sydney, Australia.  He is a boss, he just arrived in India this past transfer and came to Bangalore from Visak for medical purposes.

The highlight of this week: so we have been teaching this investigator family from Hindu background, they are rad.  They held a memorial service for their son this past week who passed away a few years ago.  They invited us to come offer a prayer for their family, so we did.  After saying "Amen," the grandpa, who was conducting the event, leaned over to us and said, "Aren't you going to sing a song?" The three of us looked at each other just like, "Uhhh...yes."  So we pulled out our little hymn book and the three of us sang God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again to a predominantly Hindu audience.  They loved it.  We had three or four different families come up to us during the event and ask us to come visit their home and share a message with their family.  Super cool.

Also, in other news: I'm being transferred!!  I received a new assignment this past week to go help establish the Church in the city of Vijayawada, in Andhra Pradesh.  Vijayawada just opened up this past transfer with one companionship serving in the home group there--yes, not branch, home group.  There are about fifteen or twenty members in the city.  There is a lot of good work to do there.  Oh, also, I will be training a new missionary in Vijayawada, his name is Elder Ramishetty, from Hyderabad.  That will be great because he speaks Telugu and Hindi and those are the predominant languages spoken in Vijayawada.  Hopefully I'm fluent by the time I complete my mission (;

Hope everyone has a great week, keep the faith!

Elder Tuscano