elephants everywhere... happy ganesh chaturthi!

 my last zone conference
our recent convert, Krishna, with President Mortensen


As far as I know, I think "chaturthi" translates to festival.  Or possibly birthday.  Either way, there are GIANT Ganesh statues EVERYWHERE and people are just throwing huge parties and also ceremonial Hindu rites of worship, also known as "poojas."  I wish I could take pictures but it is disrespectful to do so.  For those who are unaware, Ganesh is a Hindu god that has the body of a human but the head of an elephant.  Ganesh chaturthi is a nine-day celebration celebrating him, it's kind of like Hindu Christmas haha, everyone gives you sweets and stuff.

Anyway, we had a great week.  Kinda crazy though, it was the last zone conference of my mission (and also the last time I have to take the long bus ride to Rajahmundry haha).  The highlight of the week was setting a baptism date for the husband and father of a part-member family: we've been teaching this brother for a few weeks now and this past week we were teaching him and planning to extend a baptism date.  We discussed the plan of salvation and in the middle of the lesson he stopped us and said, "Brothers, I only have one doubt: your church says that marriage continues in heaven but the Bible says it's not so."  He then turned to Matthew 22:30 where the Savior says that there is no marriage in the resurrection.  I tried answering his doubt with 1 Peter 3:7, with a brief explanation about the nature of the Millennial reign of the Savior, and he was not having it.  I said a small prayer in my heart that we would be able to clear his doubt and help him progress toward baptism.  At that moment, I got a thought, I asked him, "Brother, do you remember God's promise to Abraham?"  He said he did, that God promised his endless seed.  I think asked him how that was possible if marriage doesn't continue in heaven.  He was stumped, and said that made so much sense.  At the end of the lesson he accepted a baptism date.  How grateful I am that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.

We also set another brother with a baptism date and his date falls on my two year mark: 23 September 2017 haha.  I thought that was funny.

Have a great week, don't worship idols, and remember that God answers prayers.

Keep the faith,

Elder Tuscano
P.S.  I anticipate that one of the most frequently asked questions I will get upon my return is, "Did you learn how to make the food?"  YES.  Yes I have haha, your boy has gone to WORK in the kitchen.  I can make a bunch of various veg curries and also a number of varieties of rice dishes (tomato rice, ghee rice, tiger rice, etc.) so let the dinner appointments start lining up! :)


a week full of firsts...

 Happy Indian Independence Day!
 for some reason, the city of Vijayawada has these RANDOM Avatar statues haha so me and my companion took some photos with them
 for some reason, the city of Vijayawada has these RANDOM Avatar statues haha so me and my companion took some photos with them
 a variation on Thank You!
 the island we went to, called Bhavani Island
an obvious resident on monkey island
 me and Krishna on a lion bench
 the Krishna Canal, where Krishna's baptism took place
 rare bird, indigenous to India, that I spotted while we were checking out the canal
VJW elders and Krishna (minus Elder Kommalapati, who took the photo and also baptized Krishna)


First and foremost, Happy Indian Independence Day!!  Exactly ten days after your boy celebrates his birthday, India celebrates her birthday (August 15th haha).  It was so much fun.  The subject of this e-mail reads "a week of firsts," and on Independence Day this past week, we were the first assigned missionaries ever to visit a nearby town called Guntur.  There's a part-member family that lives in Guntur, which is about 36km away and we received permission from President to go there and teach them.  Guntur is AWESOME, it is famous for its spicy chilis.  It's also famous for this dish called "Guntur chicken," which is ridiculously spicy and guess what: the member who lives there hooked us UP he made the most delicious Guntur chicken ever for us.  It was way spicy but that's why it was so good haha.  So that was cool.

But what was cooler?  THE FIRST BAPTISM EVER IN VIJAYAWADA.  As some of you may recall, Sam was the first person baptized into the Vijayawada Home Group, however, his baptism took place in Rajahmundry.  But Krishna, who was baptized this past Thursday, was baptized right here in Vijayawada, the very first ever to do so.  And where exactly was he baptized?  IN A CANAL.  Yes, a canal.  It was beautiful, but I'll get to that in a minute.  Why was he baptized in a canal?  Funny story: we asked all of the swimming pools in VJW if we could use their facilities for a baptism service but they all said no because they "would not allow anyone to enter the pool with clothes on."  But I think the real reason is because they're strong Hindus.  Anyway, we asked our home group leader what we should do and he said there's a canal near his office that is secluded and peaceful and relatively clean.  So we went and checked it out and it is a beautiful place.  It's literally like someone took the waters of Mormon and the River Jordan and combined them and placed the creation here in Andhra Pradesh.  So we got the okay from President, and Thursday night, just after sunset, Krishna Manelli was baptized.  There were six souls in attendance: the Vijayawada elders (4), Brother Rajiv (our home group leader), and Krishna.  The water level of the canal was perfect, but the Spirit of the Lord was overflowing.  The first outdoor baptism I have as yet witnessed, let alone the first in a canal.  Funny side note: the name of the canal is the Krishna Canal, haha.

This e-mail is lengthy as it stands, but just one more miracle: amidst our many travels this past week, we were waiting at the city bus station one evening to catch a bus back to our apartment.  While waiting, a lady came up to us and asked us if we were the elders from the Church, we said yes.  She was overjoyed and in her excitement she expressed to us that she is a member from Hyderabad and had recently moved to Vijayawada a few weeks ago.  No one had told her about the Church's new presence in Vijayawada and she was so sad because she thought she and her family wouldn't be able to attend church anymore.  But she said God answered her prayers when she found us at the bus station that night.  Also her husband is not a member, can you say part-member family?  We can.

God does His work.  I believe in and have witnessed miracles.  It is such a privilege to be where I am right now.

There are so many other stories from this week, of lesser significance, but remind me to share them with you soon because they're still great.  Also we saw monkeys on an island this week, I will explain later haha, but for now I'll just send pictures.

Keep the faith,

Elder Tuscano


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


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