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

6.28.2017

busy busy bangalore

 Raj Kumar's domain where we played cricket #cricketselfie
"Raj Kumar: the Indian Bald Eagle"



HAPPY RAMADAN!!!  Ramadan is a widely celebrated Muslim festival that is basically a forty-day fasting period to show devotion to God.  Today is the last day of Ramadan, it's basically a HUGE party.  And no Muslim party is complete without beef biryani, so we are looking forward to having some beef biryani later today.

This week was crazy over here in Bengaluru haha, so many things happened.  I will just touch on a few of the highlights:

Speaking of Ramadan and Muslims, does anyone remember Zia?  Zia is a Muslim investigator that Elder Jensen and I started teaching about a year ago.  He actually lives in Coorg, a beautiful scenic town about six hours southwest of Bangalore, and meets with us whenever he's in town.  Fun fact, he also owns a large coffee plantation in Coorg.  Zia is one of the kindest and most understanding people I've ever met.  He is very open-minded and loves learning about the gospel.  This week he asked us what the difference between churches and temples is and about the fundamental differences between our church and other Christian churches.  He also gifted me my very own Qu'ran!!!!  Which is sweet.  I just thought that is cool, in light of Ramadan.

So remember Brother Amul Paul from last week?  He is a boss.  He is an incredible member missionary who is not yet a member haha.  He called us on Thursday and said, "Elders do you have time that I can show you some few families to teach?"  YES.  YES of course we do, Brother Amul.  He then took us to the homes of seven new families to teach.  So sweet.  Unfortunately, however, we learned that these families do not live in our area, so we referred them to the Lingarajapuram elders, our neighboring area.

Also this was crazy: we were playing cricket with some young men and less-actives this past week at a dusty lot in our area.  The first crazy thing is that there was a bird that looked exactly like a bald eagle.  By the way, the only difference between an American bald eagle and an Indian bald eagle is that the latter's name is Raj Kumar (; But anyway the other crazy thing is that this same bald eagle kept swooping down trying to snatch something in the same field where we were playing.  We ended the game shortly after we found out that the "something" the Indian bald eagle was trying to snatch were large snakes.  By the way, "snake" in Tamil is "paambu."

We started teaching an investigator yesterday named Praveen.  He is awesome, he is from Hindu background.  We asked him what interests him about the Savior and he said, "I want to be kind, like Jesus Christ."  Same, Praveen.  Same.  More updates to come on Praveen.

Hope everyone has a great week, and HAPPY RAMADAN!!!!  Also shout out to my sister, Anjuli, happy birthday!!!!  Love ya, Anj.

Keep the faith,

Elder Tuscano

6.19.2017

Elder Cook, Hari and Diferently Abled...

meeting Elder Quentin Cook
with Hari at the Kerala restaurant 
instead of "disabled" they say "differently abled" in India

Namaskaram, y'all, what's happening?

This week I will just jump right into it haha:

Last Sunday we had a brother in his thirties walk into church.  He stayed for all three meetings which kinda surprised us.  As we talked with him, we learned that he is a chauffeur for the Marriott hotel here in Whitefield.  He passed by our church almost everyday on his way to work and finally decided to come in and see what it's all about.  He is very interested to learn more about the new things we discussed at church.  What also surprised us were the insightful comments he made in both the Sunday school and elders quorum classes.  He invited us to his home this week, so we went!  He lives in very humble circumstances with his cute family of ten (they are sort of a joint family haha, I'm still trying to figure out who is who exactly, but they're not all his immediate family).  We taught them the message of the Restoration and they were all so eager to learn more, it was amazing.  When I say "we taught," I mean that my companions taught them in Tamil and I played with/entertained the two children in the home--both of whom are handicapped/mentally challenged, it was so fun to play with them and show them pictures of Jesus and try to help them understand who God is haha.  I wish I had taken a photo or two but I will be sure to do so this week.

Also, we have an investigator from Kerala (a state on the southwestern coast where we do not have missionaries) named Hari.  HARI IS SO SWEET.  He works for Intel.  I told him that I always wanted to try Kerala food and so he took us to this random restaurant about an hour and a half away (yes, that's how big our area is) and the food was SO good.  THE RICE GRAINS WERE MONSTROUS haha I have never seen rice that big in my life.  It tasted a lot like Thai food because they use a lot of coconut milk and various curry powders (i.e. red curry powder).  Anyway.  Good week this week.

Hope everyone has a good week.

Keep the faith,
Elder Tuscano

6.06.2017

when it rains, it pours (monsoons and blessings)

 mission photo we took with Elder Cook
 GIGANTIC Hindu temple we visited in a village (Kolar Gold Fields).
Straight up there's over 1,000 of those little black statues you see around me
 an area we frequently work in

What's up, y'all?

This week was nice and cool (kind of) because monsoon season has arrived early. It's been so nice because it mostly rains at night, after we've returned to our apartments, and in turn, cools the city off for the next day or so.

Not a whole lot going on this week though, but one cool experience: we have been teaching this wonderful elderly sister for the past few months, her name is Devanamma. Devanamma is not so educated, she cannot read, but she has been coming to church faithfully for a few months. She struggles to retain what we teach (we teach her in Telugu), but she is sooo so so faithful. So we have been confused as to whether she can be baptized or not and when that happens you ask President--so we did! He gave us an insightful answer. He said, "I'm going to read something and you tell me the answer." He proceeded to read Doctrine & Covenants 20:37, which reads:


All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

After he read that, the answer was very clear to us that she not only can, but should be baptized as soon as possible. She now has a baptism date for the 18th of this month! Stoked.

In other news, yesterday Mayur bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting and said some profound things: "Our life becomes beautiful as we follow Jesus Christ." "Grow spiritually and give priority to God."

Also in funny news, I talked to this CRAZY media referral the other day, he refers to himself as Prince Immanuel (he is not a prince). He asked me over the phone how to spell my name, so I did. On Sunday morning, I received the following text: "Want to meet you Today Bro. Cusacano!" I died laughing. Funniest text I've received on my mission thus far.

I hope everyone has a great week and grows spiritually because God is their priority.

Keep the faith,
Elder Tuscano

5.31.2017

visit with an apostle!


  the kind 87-year-old man and his granddaughter
 Mayur sitting with the children
one of my favorite areas in our area

What's up y'all?  How was the week?

Our week was pretty solid.  I think I forgot to include this last week, but we had transfers and I'm staying here in Whitefield!  One addition to our companionship though: Elder Alaguretnam!  Remember him?  He is the one from Sri Lanka/Salt Lake City haha.  Anyways, he is back with us and he may be receiving his Sri Lankan citizenship sometime soon.

The highlight of this week?  Definitely meeting Elder Quentin L. Cook.  It was a little chaotic: THE ENTIRE MISSION came to AND LEFT from Bangalore in a day, but amidst the chaos was the stillness, sweetness, and surety that was present as we were taught by Elder Cook.  One cool part of that day, for me, was shaking hands with Elder Cook.  He looked me in the eye and said, "Thank you for your service."  It is such a cool thing to know that an Apostle is thankful for the service we as missionaries render.  Probably the other coolest thing is that, at the end of his address, Elder Cook said, "I bear sure witness that the Savior lives and is divine."  He made sure to place a special emphasis on the word sure.  As he said those words, I received an overwhelming assurance that the Savior does, indeed live.  As does Heavenly Father.  And because they live, there is a marvelous plan in the works, one of which we're all a part.  Our Savior Jesus Christ makes this marvelous plan possible.

Another cool experience: this one is kinda random haha, but here's the situation: I'm with Mayur on exchange.  We started teaching a new family that lives nearby an investigator family we've been teaching for a couple of weeks.  At the head of this new family is an 87-year-old man who has been through a lot in life.  It just so happened that as we were talking to this man, some neighbor children, whom we have been teaching, came in and sat down.  I introduced them to this kind elderly man and then asked them, "Of all the questions in the world, what would you ask an 87-year-old man?"  They all paused for a few moments and thought, then one of them said, "Do you know about Jesus?"  That was incredible.  What a great response, am I right?  That should be a question that occupies our attention each day.

Ok, we have an appointment we need to go to now, but I hope everyone has a good week and remembers to learn about Jesus.

Keep the faith,

Elder Tuscano

5.15.2017

Mother's Day greetings from India!

 driver was wearing a "Live to Ride" shirt.  I died laughing and had to take a picture.
 catching up with my boy Sunil after stake conference!!!
 Sunil and Gowtham.  Bosses
our "funny face" photo haha

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in the world!!  There is a saying in India, "Mother is god," which simply means that our mothers mean everything to us.  How true, India.  How true.

This week was good, we did a lot of planning, scheduling, and arranging for our coming visit with Elder Cook.  We received some crazy news this week that SIXTEEN NEW MISSIONARIES are coming to our mission!!!!  That is unheard of!!  And amazing.  That will be a great boost to the hastening of the Lord's work here in south India.  One reason this whole planning thing is crazy is because transfers are at the same time as Elder Cook's visit haha.  So our logistical skills are at their breaking point.  Kidding, but sort of haha.

One cool thing that happened: so the Visakhapatnam zone leaders came on exchange with me this past week and we visited one of our returning members homes, his name is Moses and we've grown pretty close over the course of my time here in Whitefield.  Anyway, we walked into his house and sat down and he said, "Hey I told my friends about you guys, do you 5 or 10 minutes?  He wants to meet with you.  Can you meet with him?"  YES MOSES!  Yes we can, that's what we do haha.  So we met with his friend, Suresh, and had a great experience.  He is from Hindu background so we talked to him about the nature of God and he was so touched.  We also taught him how to pray so he said the closing prayer!  He offered one of the most amazing prayers I've heard, we were all so impressed.  What great, simple faith.  I think one of the most beautiful truths that India has taught me is that it's okay to have simple faith.  The gospel has taught me that it's not just okay to have simple faith, but rather it is essential to spiritual progress.

That's really it for this week haha.  I will send some photos.  I hope everyone has a great Mother's Day!  I feel blessed beyond measure for my mother and it has been an absolute privilege to serve her people.

Keep the faith, have a great week!

Elder Tuscano

5.10.2017

Cinco de Taco in India!

 Elder Raju and I with some other elders in our zone and also Sam, a young man who comes on exchange with us every day because he's awesome.
HUGE light fixture of the goddess, Durga during a festival

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, this past week!

Haha we didn't do much to celebrate other than the fact that WE WENT TO TACO BELL.  I am seriously so stoked that they have a Taco Bell so close to us, it's been great.  It tastes really really close to the Taco Bell back home.  Key words: really really close haha, but something is better than nothing.

So unfortunate news this week: a youth age sister that we were teaching was scheduled and set to be baptized this past Sunday, but unfortunately she had to return to her hostel outside of Bangalore in order to commence her final year of college (important info: a "hostel" in India is basically like a dormitory where people stay while they study at the school, college, or institution they're attending).  So that was sad, but she is faithful and loves the gospel and we have no doubt that she will be baptized when she comes back.

Good news: when one door closes, the Lord opens another.  We visited the family of Kartheek, a young man from our ward who is currently serving in the India New Delhi mission.  While visiting his family this past week, we were introduced to his younger sister, Rani.  Rani is staying with her family here in Bangalore because she is on holiday from her school (fun fact: Rani just returned from her hostel.  How were we introduced to Rani?  We walked into their home and Kartheek's other sister, Maheshwari, said to us, "Elders, all are members in our family except my sister [Rani].  She wants to join our church."  We turned to Rani and asked her if that was true to which she responded with a strong, affirmative head-nod.  She is set to be baptized in a couple of weeks here.  She's solid, she reads the Book of Mormon and prays with her family daily.  She speaks limited English but her commitment to follow the Savior speaks volumes.  We are excited for her.

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

Elder Tuscano


5.04.2017

Happy May Day!

in Banglore for a year without transfer
 Bengaluru Zone mission tour



Elder Raju and I took with the elders serving in the village we visited today


What is May Day?  No idea haha.  I think it's a made up holiday they have in India because there's like no other holidays in the month of May, so the first Monday of May is called May Day so everyone is off work for the most part.  For May Day, my companion and I have traveled to this random village in Karnataka to shop at a cool market where you can get things for pretty cheap.  However, the internet usage is also cheap haha so hopefully this email comes through.

Cool experience this week: we started teaching Rishebh this week.  We had kind of a rocky start with teaching him until this past Thursday.  I don't remember how much I shared last week about Rishebh, but he is a chemical engineer for Shell and is super sharp haha, probably the most intellectual person I've as yet taught on my mission.  He thinks in a very practical way and is adjusting to the spiritual things we discuss.  Anyway, we taught him the first couple of lessons and he was just struggling to wrap his head around the concept that God really is our Father.  On Thursday morning, during our weekly planning session, Elder Raju and I discussed what might help Rishbeh and we both felt impressed that we needed to share Joseph Smith's experience with him.  At first we sort of second guessed the thought because he's from Hindu background and we thought he may not exactly identify with Joseph Smith, nevertheless we acted on the prompting--and we're so glad we did.  He told us that he felt that he had been in spiritual darkness from his birth until the time he met us--like how the world was in spiritual darkness from the death of the apostles until the First Vision in 1820.  Since that night he's been progressing considerably faster and really coming to understand and live the gospel.

I hope everyone has a good week, and keep the faith!

Elder Tuscano

4.26.2017

dejection can become joy in a matter of minutes...

What's up, y'all?

It would seem that the coming month May bring a lot of flowers due to the showers we're getting in April (pun intended: "April showers bring May flowers").  It hasn't been rainy all week, per se, however we have received some pretty heavy, scattered rainfall over the past week.  It's been really nice, a nice break from the summer heat.

Cool experiences this week: on Thursday we had a pretty rough day.  All of our appointments for that day fell through and we were pretty dejected.  As we were walking back to our apartment to end the evening, we heard a voice behind us say, "Hello, elders!"  We turned around to find none other than our investigator, Hari!!  We had set a baptism date for brother Hari the night previous and were planning to meet with him on Sunday because he lives pretty far away.  But he happened to be in the area, eating dinner, and saw us!  We shared a short message with him, following which, Hari offered one of the most heartfelt, sincere prayers I've yet heard him say.  That was just a tender mercy that reassured me of God's goodness and that that day was not for nothing.

Last experience: On Sunday morning, Elder Raju and I were planning to go to church a little earlier than usual, to prepare to partake of the sacrament.  Our plan was to leave at 8:45AM but we ended up leaving at around 9:15AM because my companion was doing a few last minute things.  I was a little flustered, but kept to myself.  As we were walking down the hill to go to church, a man came up to us and expressed that he'd seen us a few times and was curious as to why we were always dressed up--especially on weekends!  He asked us if we were students or something.  His name is Rishebh.  We told him who we are and what we do and invited him to come to church with us that morning.  He said he was busy but he was interested to meet with us during the week sometime.  Fast forward to sacrament meeting: sacrament has just been passed, the doors open, and who walks in?  RISHEBH!  He attended church and loved it!!  He is so eager to learn more and both sides are stoked about that haha.  We will be meeting him tomorrow evening.  After our initial encounter with Rishebh, Elder Raju said to me, "Elder, this is called God's referral."  Hahaha, so true!  

This week I learned that God turns dejection to joy in a matter of minutes because that's who He is and that's what He does--if we but let Him.

Hope everyone has a good week, keep the faith!

Elder Tuscano

4.19.2017

Happy Easter! The Jordan River in Bangalore?!

 the baptism of Vishnu's family!
funny picture I took of Elder Raju outside a mechanic shop

Hello hello!!  Happy Easter, everyone, hope you had a good one.  The only egg I encountered this weekend was the one we were fed at lunch yesterday along with our Easter feast.

This week was pretty solid for us.  We had transfers this week so there were a lot of people coming and going.  But guess who's staying in Bengaluru? You guessed it: me!  I'm stoked.  I love Bangalore.

The highlight of this week was definitely the baptisms of Sister Shamala and Vennila.  So the night before their baptismal service, I spent like an hour cleaning the font in hopes that the water would be clean and clear.  We had the security guard fill the font in the morning before the baptisms, and what color was the water?  BROWN.  We were so confused, and I was a sad for a moment, I thought I did an okay job cleaning the font.  We soon came to know that, for whatever reason, the pipes filled the font with recycled water.  Welcome to India.  Unfortunate though the circumstance was, we told the sisters to imagine they were being baptized in the Jordan River and everything went well.

I don't know how much I've mentioned about these two sisters, but here's a brief intro: Sister Shamala is the wife of our mission driver, Vishnu.  Sister Vennila is her sister.  After their marriage, Vishnu and Shamala joined a church and were members of that church for about ten years.  Vishnu found our church through one of his friends and was baptized about five years ago.  At first, his wife had no interest to learn about our church, let alone join.  But over the years, her heart has been softened as she's seen profound changes in her husband: Vishnu reads the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon) daily, he is kinder to her and their children, he attends church each week, etc.  Though it's taken a few years, she finally told her husband that she wanted to join our church.  So Vishnu invited us to teach his wife and a few weeks later, she is baptized!  They are one step closer to becoming an eternal family.  It is an immense blessing to assist Heavenly Father in His beautiful work of uniting families.

Also this is hilarious: we were meeting with Mayur, recent convert, about his study of the Book of Mormon, he gave this synopsis, "Nephi and his family got transferred [by God] from the Jerusalem continent to the U.S."

I hope everyone has a good week and keeps the faith!

Elder Tuscano

4.12.2017

General Conference in Bangalore and treats from home!





*note from parents: We and the VanGils family were able to send Jonathan hand-delivered packages of goodies thanks to the kindness of Lynn Rhodes who lives in our neighborhood and recently traveled to India!

What's up y'all?  Happy Palm Sunday yesterday!!

This week was good here in the good old BLR.  We had an inspiring mission leadership council (I will send some photos), a zone meeting, but the highlight of this week was undoubtedly general conference.  Oh my goodness. General conference was amazing.  Check this out: I had a PAGE of questions that I thought were pretty significant and needed answers to--but by the end of the Saturday afternoon session, all of my questions were answered.  I was like, "No way."  One might say that our leaders are inspired and I know that they are.  Some questions I had were: What can I do to more closely follow the Savior?  How can I know Him and not just know about Him?  How can I better listen to the Spirit and give heed to impressions I receive?  How can I know the Lord's will?  All of these were answered.  Amazing.

One experience: so, unfortunately, in India, general conference weekend is sometimes misinterpreted as a holiday from church, so attendance was pretty sparse in our ward.  Anyway, as we were watching the broadcast in our chapel, I surveyed who was in attendance, looking to see if any of our investigators were there--unfortunately, I found none (I later came to know that they were watching the Tamil translation of the broadcast in a different room).  For a moment I was sad, dejected even.  Despite our efforts, none of our investigators came!  Then I looked around again and saw all four of our recent converts, Sunil Kumar, Bhargavi, Mayur, and Venkat, all listening with fervor to the words of living prophets and apostles.  My heart was filled with joy.  A thought came to mind mind that this is why I'm here.  Incredible experiences in incredible India abound as the Lord's work rolls forward.

I hope everyone has a great Easter week!  Christ lives and so will we because the tomb is empty.

Keep the faith!

Elder Tuscano