Visakhapatnam on the Indian East Coast

Hello and greetings from Visak!!!

Visak (or Visakhapatnam or Vizag) is so rad!!!  I love it here so far, it is beautiful.  Visak is a little port city that is cut off from the rest of India by green mountains covered in jungle, it's pretty awesome.  The city is busy with so many shops, stands, and people.  The surrounding colonies (neighborhoods) are painted with vibrant colors--teals, fuschias, corals, and crimsons.

My companion is Elder Thambi from Bangalore!  He speaks English and Tamil. Before coming out on a mission he signed a contract with a local professional soccer team in Bangalore to play for a few years for them, but then decided to go on a mission so pretended to have a leg injury saying he wouldn't be able to play.  He is awesome and we are doing some serious work out here, this week we found like five new investigators and three new families to teach!

Also, nobody here speaks English haha, everyone speaks Telegu.  Everyone knows, "Hi how are you," and "I'm fine," but that is the extent of it haha. So whenever we go out we have to take a member that knows English well enough to translate what we're trying to say to our investigators.  Even our branch meetings are all in Telegu.  I'm learning slowly though haha.

The coolest experience I had this week was (finally) meeting people who know Josh! On Sunday I had to speak and one of the guys I spoke with was one of Josh's trainees!  His name is Gantyada Raju.  He said Josh had trained him in Chennai and that he was one of the hardest workers he'd seen.  He came up to me after that meeting and told me if there's anything I ever need, just to ask.

We are going sight seeing for zone p day today so I gotta go!  I'll try to attach some pictures!  Everyone keep the faith!!!

Elder Tuscano


Luggage arrived. Camel curry consumed. Hello India. Let's get started!

Greetings from the Garden City (Bengaluru, India)!  Wow, this week has been one of the most diverse, confusing, interesting, hilarious, awe-inspiring, and spiritually edifying weeks of my life thus far.  I guess I will just start from when we (Elder Magnusson and I) landed.

We touched ground in Bangalore at 2AM on Thursday.  After we got off the plane and after being rigorously interrogated by a fellow just outside immigration (whom wanted to know every detail of our intentions) we discovered that our bags had not come with us for whatever reason, which was an inconvenience for just about a day.  Lufthansa generously compensated us for the mistake.  President Berrett was there to greet us and we finally arrived at the mission home at around 5AM, just in time for the Muslim call to prayer.  Elder Magnusson and I took a short nap then were transported to our temporary areas in Bangalore (we will be receiving our actual assignment tomorrow along with other new missionaries).  My current companion is Elder Doyle from California, he's awesome.

Later that day we ate camel curry for lunch, yes actual camel curry, the meat is tough but not too bad hahaha.  Then we went to my first appointment in India with a recent convert who relapsed into a drinking problem.  He's trying really hard to become sober again and he really liked me for whatever reason so he had me give him a priesthood blessing to have strength to quit, it was awesome. I will send a picture of him.

The next day we had another appointment, though this one was a little unusual.  A member's daughter had (apparently) been having fits in which she was possessed.  He asked us to come cast out the devil.  This was a little daunting as this is the first time any of us (myself and two other elders) had come across this problem.  We prayed fervently to have strength and comfort as we went to fulfill the task.  When we arrived at their home, the daughter was normal but something didn't seem right with her.  The family fed us lunch: some of the best sambar I've had and fresh fish masala.  Apparently it's ok to eat the little fish bones (or so they said) so I did.  I don't reccommend it.  Afterward, we gave the daughter a powerful blessing.  She was so so grateful, though she spoke little English, and has not had any issues since.

On Sunday we went to the newly made Convent Road WARD!!!  Bangalore got a stake last week!  Elder Robert William of the Seventy (I believe the only Indian general authority) was in attendance and the bishopric called me up to bear my testimony.  It was a super cool experience, a good portion of the ward is deaf so there was a little section of the chapel where the hearing impaired sat and watched a translator.  I've never had a translator for anything that I can recall, and of all the languages to be translated to in India--sign language?!  It was awesome.

I'm loving each and every minute I'm here and am more excited and motivated with each day.

Keep the faith!
Elder Tuscano


Idaho to India! I'm here but my luggage isn't!

Greetings from Bangalore!

Elder Magnusson and I arrived in Bangalore safe and sound at around 2:00 this morning.  We ran into some trouble with our bags, apparently they were not on any of the planes to Bangalore with us, but Lufthansa generously compensated for their error, 4000 rupees.

This morning I go to the Convent Road area until Tuesday where Elder Magnusson and I will receive additional training, along with other new missionaries, then be sent to our assigned areas.

Love you guys, I'm safe and SO happy to be here!!

Elder Tuscano


On To India...

This week has gone by quite slowly.  I think it's the Lord's way of telling me to slow down and enjoy the comforts of the States before I forget all about them.

This week has been pretty crazy though!  We had an Elder finish his mission, so Elder Smith and I were in a trio with our zone leader for the weekend.  We covered three wards and ourSunday was crazy hectic with all the meetings, leadership meetings, sacrament meetings, and stuff we had to go to. We were straight at the church from 7:30AM to 4:30PM.  It was fun though.  In our ward (Timber Creek) our second counselor randomly called me up from the congregation at the end of sacrament meeting to say the closing prayer, so that was fun haha.  Never done that before.

Also never winterized a garage before until I came here haha.  Winterizing garages takes FOREVER.  We've spent the past three or so Saturdays helping people move things into their respective garages.  But the people are wonderful here, so genuine and appreciative.  I really will miss it, it's bittersweet to leave.

But on to India.  I feel like I know what I'm getting myself into, but in reality I don't think I have a clue.  And I couldn't possibly be more excited.  This will be, honestly, among the most unique experiences one could possibly have: to preach the restored Gospel to the people of India, primarily a pagan nation.  Come sickness, legalities, success or lack thereof, I know the Lord will be with me. I have no inhibitions about sharing what I know is true and what has brought me such joy.

Thursday I will be in an entirely different world.  Come what may, I'll love it.  Keep the faith and stay on the straight and narrow!

Elder Tuscano


Documents received! On to India next week!

This week was SICK.  Incredibly productive.

We found a new investigator that wants to be baptized!!!  His name is Chris.  He's 34-ish and has four kids.  We hope to get his family on board soon enough!!!  We will be teaching him in a member's home on Wednesday, hopefully that goes well!  It is unfortunate, however, because I think I will be in India if/when he gets baptized :/ When I say "unfortunate," that is really the only context for which it is appropriate because I'm going to India!!  Woohoo!! Finally haha!  I really will miss Idaho though.  It's beautiful here and the people are wonderful, it'll be hard to just jet on out of here.  But India is where the Lord has called me and I'm anxious, excited, and more than willing and ready to go.  

I received my itinerary this week!  I fly from Boise to Denver, Denver to Frankfurt, Germany, then on to Bangalore.  A total of about twenty-one hours in the air. I'll be going with Elder Magnusson though!  Good thing we're cool with each other haha.  

Oh we also committed an investigator to start taking the lessons!  She is awesome, her name is Tina.  She is going through a lot of emotional turmoil in her social and family life and was so grateful for us finding her.  She came to church on Sunday with us and loved it!  My hope and prayer is that she will be baptized.

Speaking of prayer, it is AWESOME.  Thank you to all those at home and abroad who are praying not only for me, but for all the missionaries.  Your prayers are working miracles.  This week I was on an exchange with our district leader.  We went to a recent convert's house whom is struggling with overcoming addiction and was having a really tough time with withdrawls.  He prayed for Heavenly Father to send angels to minister to Him and then we showed up.  Heavenly Father placed us in his life in his very hour of need.  He truly knows and loves each one of us and knows our needs.

Also I got a Boise State shirt!!!  So sick haha.  Everyone have a good week!

Elder Tuscano


Holla-ween, Habaneros and meetings, meetings, meetings!

Our ward's chili cook off was on Friday.  Elder Smith and I have been trying to reactivate this older couple, and the husband claimed that he can eat five habanero peppers and not blink an eye.  So in an effort to get them to the chili cook-off, Elder Smith and I told him that we would make a chili that would make him cry because it was so spicy.  But he had to go to the cook-off to try it!  He accepted our challenge.  So Elder Smith and I put SIX habanero peppers, THREE serrano peppers, and a jalapeno (for flavor) in this chili that we made.  We also made a warning sign, so as to express that the chili was EXTREMELY hot and not for just any ward members.  We roll up to the ward party, put the chili (and the warning label, mind you) on the table, the couple shows up and we were pumped!!  He downed an entire bowl in like 2 minutes and didn't blink.  Didn't phase him.  What a champ, Elder Smith and I were super impressed.  We were not, however, impressed with the common sense of the ward.  The ward members saw our warning sign as a challenge, not an expression of concern for their health.  Our chili was gone in a matter of minutes just after the party officially started.  Everyone thought it was a joke and we got a few light-hearted complaints haha.  Good thing they love us!

Goodness, this week was rad!  Not super productive as far as numbers go due to a lot of meetings that were super rad and really productive.  They were also super lengthy, but it didn't seem like it!  I was engaged and attentive (somehow, who really knows how) the whole time. The highlight of the week was hands down meeting and being instructed by Elder Martino of the Seventy.  He spoke in conference!  He is super rad.  He is currently touring our mission, which I guess is a thing that general authorities do.  But anyway, on Tuesday, he went out with the zone leaders whom we live with and taught some less actives and investigators with them.  Earlier that evening, Elder Smith and I came home to eat dinner (we turned our leftover fajitas into a southeast Asian cuisine, call me Bobby Flay) and the minute we finished eating we hear a knock on our door.  I opened it and it was Elder Martino and the mission president just chillin'.  I let them in, we introduced ourselves, then Elder Martino asks us, "Why aren't you out working?"  And I didn't know what to say haha.  I mean obviously we'd just finished eating, but at the same time I was like, "Dang, we gotta get to work."  So that little encounter with a Seventy totally sparked and new flame within me and Elder Smith and I are gonna teach lessons like it's nobody's business this week.  Or at least we will try haha.

One of the long meetings was an eight hour training given by Elder Martino.  Yes, I stayed awake the whole time, it was crazy.  He was so engaging!  At the end of it I was so confused, I was like where did time even go?  His main focus was on 2 Corinthian 3:3 which was rad, I wish I could share my notes, but I took like five pages, so I won't.  He talked about how the Gospel should not just be spoken nor preached, but written on "the fleshy tables of the heart," it has to become a literal part of us or we are not true disciples.  He also talked about how to best work with members, but I liked his sermon on 2 Corinthians, it was inspiring.  

I had a follow-up new missionary training on Friday which was also something like eight hours.  Stayed awake for that one too, who knows how haha.  It was really good.  We watched Elder Holland's MTC version of his talk "The First and Great Commandment."  I would encourage everyone to go watch it when they get a chance because we must CONSTANTLY remind ourselves that we love him, and as such we are called to feed his sheep; missionaries and members alike.

Halloween was actually fun!  Our work day ended at 6:30 haha, but the shack was poppin'.  We played Risk, Scrabble and invented THE best game ever: Pictionary, but we used the red cards from the Apples to Apples game. So if you're ever looking for a hilarious activity to kill a TON of time, play that haha.  We did not go trick or treating, but somehow ended up with more candy than all the primary age children in the Boise Stake due to loving friends and family who are dope and sent us TONS of candy, treats, junk food, etc. that we binged on that night.

Remember to keep the faith, feed his sheep, and remember who you serve!!!  

Elder Tuscano