Hare Krishna (Merry Christmas)!

 skype with the family on Christmas morning
  skype with the family on Christmas morning
  skype with the family on Christmas morning
 Madame Nazarena and her class of schoolchildren with whom we shared the Light the World
three cute kids we showed the Light the World video this past week!
 this is a bunch of tractors in our area, it reminded me of Staheli Farm in Washington haha.
a typical scene in our area.  This specific area is where we found a new family to teach!

Merry day after Christmas everyone!  I think just generally speaking, the day after Christmas is usually pretty anticlimactic, or maybe that's just me haha.  Anyway.

This week was pretty jam-packed with Christmas festivities and activities and lighting the world and whatnot.  There were quite a few highlights, I will just mention a few:

In the month of December in India, Christian families will hang a colorful, lighted, paper star outside their home in anticipation for Christmas.  Elder Poleboina and I took advantage of this and used it as a finding opportunity.  So on Thursday night, we went to an area, knocked on people's doors, and asked them if we could share a short Christmas message.  In a space of 2 hours or so, we found four new families to teach.  Almost everyone we spoke to invited us in and absolutely everyone loved the Light the World video.  That was an unforgettable experience.

On Christmas Eve, in the afternoon, the missionaries in the Bangalore zone got together and had our Christmas devotional.  We watched part of the First Presidency Christmas devotional, had a small testimony meeting, exchanged white elephant gifts, and had homemade chocolate chip cookies and ice cream afterwards, it felt like a little slice of home.

Later that evening, we had our ward Christmas party--it was a crack-up.  The party was supposed to start at 6:00PM but as things go in India, it started at 8:00PM.  Ten minutes or so before the party started, the Relief Society president approached me and my companion and asked us to be in the Nativity play.  She asked yours truly to be Samuel the Lamanite.  Hahaha.  It was awesome, I got to stand on a chair and hold my hands above my head and read the prophecies of Christ's birth in a loud voice.  Everyone got a kick out of that.  My costume consisted of a baptism jumpsuit with the Relief Society president's shawl wrapped around me like a toga.  It was so funny.  I wish I'd taken pictures, I will have to find some and send them.  My companion was the angel Gabriel.

Sacrament meeting on Sunday was great.  Our ward had a special Christmas program where each quorum or auxiliary (i.e. Primary, Relief Society, Young Men, etc.) would sing a song, then the leader would speak.  Unfortunately, the Young Men AND the Elders' quorum had designated a chorister beforehand and, in the middle of the meeting, asked me to come be the chorister.  It was awesome, I loved everything about this weekend.

Important Christmas side notes:
  • Our Christmas dinner consisted of green chicken biryani and dhal, it was delicious.
  • Our mission had twenty-four baptisms on Christmas Sunday!!!
I hope everyone had an exciting, spiritual Christmas.  My prayer is that we will all Light the World in 365 ways over 365 days not only in this coming year but every year that follows.

Keep the faith,
Elder Tuscano  


wHO, wHO, wHO is that in the Santa suit and other holiday treats!

 The look that this kid is giving me is exactly how I felt to be Santa Claus
 sharing the Light the World message with everyone!
 Sister Bhargavi's baptism!
 Elder Poleboina and I with Brother Davidson at lunch!
young kids playing cricket.  We shared the Light the World message with them after the match!
 service project with elders' quorum

"Merry merry Christmas, happy happy Christmas!" everyone!  That is the chant you will hear as the members here go caroling, it's pretty funny.  And cool.  Fun traditions.

A lot of stuff happened this week and it went by pretty quickly.  There are a few highlights I will address just briefly so that this won't turn into a novel haha.

On Friday night, Elder Poleboina and I went on splits in an effort to share the Light the World message with as many people as we can.  I went with a young man who is preparing to go to the India New Delhi mission later this month, his name is Karthik.  We had a wonderful evening planned, but unfortunately, everything we had planned for fell through.  Even our back up for our back up for our back up plans.  We didn't know what to do.  By chance, we ran into some members who were doing a service project at a sister's home nearby.  We followed them and when we arrived there were quite a few people doing quite a few things and we thought, "Oh there's no way we'll be able to share the message with all of these people."  But we asked the leader of the project if we could share a quick message with everyone and within two minutes or so we had everyone gathered together in one home and shared the Light the World video and message and they loved it!  It also just so happened that a bunch of small children came to hear the message.  Afterwards, we asked one of the cute kids, Wilson, where his home was and he said, "Come!  I'll show you!"  Then he led us right to his home and his family with whom we then shared the same message and they loved it!  They invited us to come back and teach them again this week.  I will send pictures from the experience.

Bhargavi's baptism was yesterday and that was seriously awesome.  She loves Jesus so much and is just ecstatic about following Him.  I will send photos.

The other highlights may not be as exciting but they are still fun.  For example, on Saturday, we went to lunch at the Marriott with Brother Davidson, a good family friend here in India.  He is an amazing person and also a pioneer here in India!  It was so cool to chat with him about his experience of seeing how the Church has grown since he joined.

Also, this is interesting, in the middle of our elders' quorum class yesterday, the Young Women's president called me out and asked me to be Santa Claus for a gift giving activity they were doing as a last part of their class, so that was pretty funny.  I will send a funny picture.

Lastly, I made eggnog this week!  Miraculously, we found all the necessary ingredients to make eggnog so it's been nice to have a little piece of home.  Unfortunately we couldn't find nutmeg, but we did, however, find nutmeg in it's true nut form; so we had to grind it into our own powder haha, that was cool.  I will send pictures.  Lot of pictures from this week.

But I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and finds time to reflect on the true reason for this wonderful season.  Christ truly is the Light of the World, how blessed we are to know that.  I know that He lives and I can't express how privileged I feel to bear witness of His divine reality to the beautiful people of India.

Happy Holi-days (get it?  Because Holi is the festival of colors?).  Keep the faith.

Elder Tuscano


sweet (and busy) is the work...

 Us, the wonderful schoolchildrens, and a new missionary that came on exchange with us.
 This is the sister whose home we helped paint!  She is awesome and speaks Tamil only.
Elder Poleboina, myself, and our boy Elder Navaneethan!
He just came back from the MTC, we went to pick him up at the airport!
Vannakam, everybody, what is up?

This week flew by, there was a lot going on this week: missionaries departing, new missionaries arriving, ward festivities, etc.  But this week was a good one.

The highlight of this week happened on Thursday we went to a recent convert's home, Sister Babitha.  Sister Babitha teaches a nightly homework-help class for children ages four to fourteen or so; there are about twenty or so children in her class.  So on Thursday evening we went to her class and showed all the kids the Light the World video and they LOVED it.  They asked us to show it again so we did haha.  But the discussion afterward was probably one of the coolest experiences on my mission so far.  We asked them simple questions like, "Who has the light within them?  Who wants to have more light?  Who likes serving their friends and family?  Who wants to be like Jesus?" and they would all respond in unison with hands raised high and loud voices, "MEEEEEE!"  It was incredible.  I guess what made it so incredible for me was that a room full of children from diverse religious backgrounds--Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians--all made a commitment to be like the Savior and serve others as He did.  Many of them didn't know much about Jesus before, but as they watched scenes from His life they saw the light in Him, they recognized the light within themselves and wanted to be like Him.  That's how powerful and loving the Savior is.  I can't express how blessed I feel to be in His service.  I took some pictures of us with these incredible schoolchildren so I will send them your way.

Also, this past week, one of the Light the World days was "Jesus Visited the Lonely and So Can You." So, our elders quorum did just that by visiting with and re-painting the home of an elderly widowed sister who hadn't been to church in some time.  She just has a small home but was IMMENSELY grateful for the service and even came to church on Sunday.  I got a picture with her as well, so that's comin' your way!

Here are a couple of classic, one-liners from our favorite north Indian, Sunil:
  • Once a week, we play badminton or volleyball with Sunil because he loves sports.  After we finished our match this past week, E. Poleboina was, naturally, sweating profusely.  Sunil came up to him and said, "You look so sweet."  We later came to know that what he meant to say was, "You're so sweaty!"
  • Sunil was helping me teach a new investigator we found this week.  At one point in the lesson, Sunil said, "The Bible says there should be no terrorists."  I had to try as hard as I could to hold in my laughter.
I hope everyone has an awesome week and keep lighting the world!

Keep the faith.
Elder Tuscano


rainy, biryani and light the world

 Madinaguda chapel in Hyderabad.
this is me with a good family friend of ours, Brother Davidson!  His home ward is
Whitefield Road.  He is the one in the beige vest.  On the far left is a recent convert Raj Kumar,
and in the center is Brother Fisher, a counselor in our bishopric.

Hello hello, everyone!  How goes it?

It goes well out here in Bengaluru.  It was pretty overcast and rainy all week which is interesting because monsoon season is supposed to have left with the month of November.  It's been nice though, the rain has made it even cooler than it has been lately.  Bangalore's climate is pretty awesome, it gets down into the 60s (I believe in the evenings).  At night we don't sleep with the fan or the A/C we just open the windows.

This week started with an exchange to Hyderabad.  Hyderabad is also Elder Poleboina's hometown.  When Indian missionaries go on exchange to their "native place," which is rare, they are not allowed to visit with family.  Fortunately, however, the zone leaders serve in Elder Poleboina's home ward and were able to coordinate with his mother so that we could eat the food she'd prepared!  It was delicious.  I also had some of the most incredible beef biryani while there haha.

Speaking of biryani, for the Church's worldwide day of service this past Thursday, our ward got together and made a TON of biryani for a local orphanage here in Bangalore.  It was awesome, seriously such a sweet experience.  The children were adorable and so appreciative.  I'm working on getting pictures from the event, unfortunately my camera is having trouble focusing again so I did not take any photos.

A cool spiritual experience: we are teaching a sister named Bhargavi, she's cool.  This past week we were teaching her about the plan of salvation and God's purpose for her: to live with Him forever with her family.  As soon as we said that she teared up and expressed how wonderful that would be.  That was such a powerful experience, I hope that we all appreciate God's purpose and plan for us as much as Bhargavi does.

Sunil experience of the week: we were about to start teaching him when he stood up, extended his pinky finger from his hand, and said, "I have to sing the song." He then left the room and came back a couple minutes later, we asked where he went, he said he went to the bathroom.  It seems that, for Sunil, singing the song is code word for going to the bathroom.  We thought that was pretty funny haha.

Hope everyone has a great week!  Don't forget to light the world this week!
Elder Tuscano