Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Last Week, Last Letter

Dear family and friends, 

I'm not really sure what to say in this letter. It's the letter I've been looking forward to write for a long long time, and now that it's here, I'm at a little loss for words. It might be best to save a large part of what I want to say for my homecoming talk in church in 2 weeks. 

I have done a bit of reflecting the past few days on how my mission has changed me and blessed me. As expected, I'm a lot different than I was when I came two years ago. Slowly and surely, whether because of companions, areas, or members, I've been molded into the man God would intend for me to be. The list of lessons I've learned here is endless, but if there's one thing that's really made an impact on me is that there's a lot of people out there with tough situations, and I'm extremely blessed to have the life I have. Living in America 18 years sheltered me from what real life is like for a large part of the world's population. Being literally immersed in Ghana for two years has opened my eyes and softened my heart. I get to (somewhat) live in humble circumstances for two years and go back to first-world lifestyles. My friends here don't. That will be hard to get over. 

I might have touched a few lives, but without realizing it, so many of them have touched mine too. I pray to Heavenly Father that I never forget the people I've crossed and their stories. 

It's been said that a missionary's most important convert is themselves. My mission has given me the opportunity to be closer to God through studying the gospel and teaching it. As I've read and taught the Book of Mormon, I've come to know it to be true, without a doubt. My mission has helped me to see God working in His children's lives, my own and those I've come across. I know that He lives and that He loves me. Throughout this difficult two years, He's been there to guide, comfort, and confirm to me that this is His Church, and that He loves me. That sweet assurance has blessed me tremendously. 

Last of all, I thank you for your support. Missions are hard enough with a loving, supporting family backing you up. There's a lot of missionaries I've served around who don't have anything near the support I have. The occasional package or letter has really helped me stay sane at times. I especially thank the immediate family for their weekly letters. I realize you are all very busy and tired, and to write me every week was probably a bit of a burden, but know that news and pictures from home - no matter how little - goes a long ways! Thank you. I don't think I could have done it without you. Heck, I barely did it with you! 

My time has come. I will miss the people of Ghana very much. I'm sooooo grateful that I could serve here. This is the best mission ever! 

The Church is True, the Book of Mormon is blue (and true). God loves and wants the absolute best for ALL His children, and is ever-ready to bless us when we do what He's asked. 

I only hope that God will accept my two year offering and find my service worthy. Although I've fallen short at times, I believe I've done my best. I believe I can walk on the airplane feeling like I've made the world a little better. My greatest joy hasn't come from baptizing converts, but rather knowing that I was an instrument in God's hands to carry forth His work. I suppose the baptisms is second! 

Have a wonderful week! Can't even believe I'll be with you all in just one week. Time flies doesn't it? 


Love always, 

Elder Nissinen

Monday, July 10, 2017

By His Grace

Dear family and friends, 

I'll try and keep it short for now. I don't really know where to elaborate or condense the story...

... but it's been a rough week! Long story short, I have tonsillitis and an abscess in the tonsil, resulting in four pretty miserable, painful, boring, long, tiring days in the apartment. 

Yesterday morning I was able to go see the Area doctor at the hospital. The abscess was drained, my tonsil was cut across (with a pair of stinkin' scissors, but I'm not bitter) and a lot of pressure was relieved. It was expected that I would be admitted to the hospital for 3 to 5 nights, but to our surprise they released me that evening, and I've been at the mission home since. I'm on several different drugs, so hopefully that kicks in soon. 

That was the first Sunday I've missed my whole mission! 

I was quite worried that I'd have to stay on my mission for extra time until my health was better, but it looks like I'll be fine. I'm just glad I can swallow food again (after two days of not being able to).

During the climax of pain, the city shut off our water for 24 hours. I so badly just wanted to throw my hands in the air and beg God to leave me alone (or to stop leaving me alone, whichever), but I exercised faith and patience that things would eventually work out and I'd be back in America with my family in 2 weeks. It was one of those moments where I really had a heartfelt conversation with my Father. Truthfully, I hadn't had one like that in a while. It felt sincere, and it felt good. 

Also, because I couldn't do much other than sleep and breath for about 4 days, I was able to read a lot of Church doctrine. I read a lot of "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W. Kimball and a neat book called "In Defense of Truth". It also gave me time to catch up on some postponed, needed journaling. 

I'm so grateful to God for helping me through all this. As the locals say, "I'm fine, by His Grace". I'm grateful to Sister Jones, the mission nurse, for all she's done. I know I haven't been easy for her to deal with. Also Dr. Anderson - he spent most of yesterday in the hospital with me. I'm especially grateful for Elder Ackley - he's been very patient and helpful during all of it. Because I couldn't speak, he took all the phone calls for the zone and investigators the past 2 days. Being sick sucks, but having a sick companion is almost just as bad! 

Thank you for your prayers and support on the homefront too. I appreciate it so much. Don't worry. Pretty soon this bad dream will be over and I'll be in America with a bacon cheeseburger and Reese's Blizzard against my tonsils. 

Have a great week! 

Love, Elder Nissinen

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Happy 4th!

Dear family and friends, 

Elder Ackley and I had a great 3rd week together! Our goal, as I've mentioned previously, is to baptize a few more investigators, and for him to be familiar with the area/members before I go. 

I was able to get several souvenirs last Monday, so I'm doing really well on that. The only problem will be the weight! I hope everything will fit. I'm a bit more nervous for home than I expected. I'll really miss this place. It feels so weird to image that I"ll be in America with you all at the end of this month. 

It's hard to focus at time with everyone around you constantly reminding you of when you're going home. I'm hanging in there though! I am enjoying every day, and taking lots of pictures. 

As for the exciting stuff of my week, I got a call from President Heid. His 16 year-old grandson Connor came to visit Ghana for two weeks, and he wanted us to take him out teaching with us for the day. You'll see from the pictures - Connor looks just like "Incredi-boy" from the movie Incredibles. I was with Connor, and Ackley was with another missionary. It was a really fun day! He reminded me of Joe - "slightly" cocky, funny, and easy-going. I took him around the area and showed him some of the cool stuff. He tried a few of the local foods. He did a good job teaching the Joseph Smith story for a 16 year-old. 

That night was a multi-stake YSA activity at our chapel. Because we lived at the church, we stayed for all of it. It was kind of a dance party/dinner/social. I'll try and upload a video or two, but it was really fun! I'm a bit sore - it's been a while since I've danced like that. 

Sad to say, but President and Sister Heid are gone! President and Sister Keyes flew in Saturday, and the Heid's left that night. I haven't met them yet, but I will Wednesday at MLC. I feel a little bad for the couple - they have 3 years, and I have 3 weeks. I guess they are really gung-ho about this calling. They're a bit younger, and their energy will be useful. 

Looks like you all are soaking up the summer sun with all the fun you're having! That's great, keep it up. Have an explosive 4th of July! Blow up one of those Excalibur's for me. 

Love, Elder Nissinen

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Never Thought This Would Happen

Dear family and friends, 

It's been another great week! Elder Ackley and I are working hard. As we visited members, we found a few new people to work with, so we're excited about that. Ackley is learning the area small small, he should have it down by the time I go. 

I lost my balance riding my bike the other day and flipped over a gutter... that was pretty embarrassing for the 75+ people who saw it. 

Tuesday was a Multi-Zone Conference, President and Sister Heid's last. It was great to be with them. President had some great remarks about the covenants we make. He also talked about women marrying an "RM", which doesn't stand for "returned missionary", but rather "righteous man". That was a great lesson. Sister Heid talked about Navy SEALS, and their courage, strength, and determination to save souls, physically. We as missionaries, she noted, do a similar service, but spiritually. It was nice talking to the other missionaries as well. I haven't seen some in a long while.

On Friday we went on exchanges. Elder Ackley had to do some interviews for one of our DL's baptismal candidates. I was with a greenie Elder who just finished his training. It was a fun day. 

I somehow contracted this nasty cold last week. My nose is runny and I have a terrible cough. I even lost my voice for 1.5 days. I'm doing better though. I'm just surprised I would get a cold in Ghana. Rexburg will kill me. 

We did have a baptism yesterday for an 11 year old boy named Junior. He's a cute kid and had more desire to be baptized than anybody I've ever seen before. The kid asked me about it every single time we taught him. He must have asked me 15 times. The service went well, and we scored a whopping 8 investigators at sacrament!

Hope you all have a great week!

Love always, 

Elder Nissinen
This is what we ate last night for dinner.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Crunch Time!

Dear friends and family, 

I'm really shocked at how fast my mission is winding down. It seemed just a few days ago I was saying I had 5 months left, and now I have 5 weeks. I'm not sure if I'm more excited than nervous. I don't feel ready at all. I feel like there's a lot more I need to accomplish before I'm done. These next 5 weeks will go by super fast. In terms of baptisms, anybody that will be baptized in the next 5 weeks we've already met, and they must be prepared now. 

As I said already, my new companion is Elder Ackley. He attended the same high school as Elder Burns, and will go home the transfer after me. At home he was a skateboarder. He graduated a year before I did. Ackley is a really cool guy. We have a similar teaching style, and the people like him. The challenge is that I only have 5 more weeks to teach him the area before he's leading himself. 

Elder Ackley

We had a really good, productive week. Mostly I was showing him the area/members/investigators. We extended baptismal dates to two great investigators... and I hope they'll be baptized before I go! Thursday was MLC -President and Sister Heid's last one. It was great. We're just paving the way in preparation for the Keye's, who will be coming in two weeks. 

 Four investigators showed up to church Sunday, and all four had baptismal dates. That was great. Little Priscilla was confirmed, and both her parents were there. Our hope was that her baptism would re-activate the family, and that seems to be the results! The Mia-Maids and Laurel's presidencies were created, and TWO of my recent converts were involved! Heck yeah. 
 It can flood really bad. The temperatures are a lot cooler. The people complain that it is too cold and they can't go out in it, even though it's at like 70 or 75. We ride in it, but the tires kick up dirt and mud sometimes, which wrecks our white shirts, so we tossed on rain jackets and persevered. It was fun. 

Anyways, that's really about it. We've got another busy week of the same thing as last week. 

Congrats on the Eagle Project Joe and the job Rosie. 

Have a great week. Smile! 

Love, Elder Nissinen

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

See Ya Elder Allen

Dear family and friends, 

 Last week was Elder Allen's last week as a missionary. He worked hard, right to the end, filling the teaching pool. I'm grateful for that. With him leaving, it really struck me of how soon I have left here. 6 weeks might come too quick! 

We found some new people to teach. A few of them are very interested, and the hope is to have them baptized before I go.

Sunday was one of the better Sunday's I've had in a long while. We worked all day Saturday to invite and commit every investigator we knew, and Sunday many of them came! The best was a family that we've worked with for quite a while. A mother, father, and daughter all came. When I looked behind to see if they showed up and saw the father sitting several rows behind me, I almost cried from joy. Man, that felt so good to see them there. I think they had a great time, and our plan is to baptize them next month if things keep rolling this way. 

Immediately after church was Priscilla's baptism. Priscilla is a 10 year-old girl who's parents are less-actives. She's the cutest little girl, and it was so nice to have the whole family there to support her. The only problem was... no water! The city shut off the water Saturday morning, so we could only fill the font to about 2 feet of water. Well, by Sunday afternoon, we were down to about my knee-length of water. Allen was the baptist and had Priscilla sit down, as he said the prayer on his knees! It was hilarious, but he nailed it first try. She was baptized by immersion. It was a perfect finish to Elder Allen's last Sunday: investigators and a baptism.

We still don't have water, and have been using rain water and the water left in the font to bath and wash clothes/dishes with. Hopefully the city decides to give us water back. That would be very polite of them. 

Allen left this morning. He's excited for home. He was a great companion, and I'm grateful I could serve with him. My new companion is Elder Ackley, also from Utah. He's a super cool guy, and I'm really lucky to have him too. Can't believe he's my last companion. We have a lot of work ahead. I just want to do as much as I can before it's too late.

Have a great week! Congratulations Rosie on finishing GHS! 

Love always,   Elder Nissinen

Fufu and fish from a member.
We thought that this cat was dead, but it's alive. Flies were literally eating it alive. 

Sardine sandwich. It's actually really good!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Thousands Down, Thousands Left

Dear family and friends, 

This week was a bit interesting... we had some unexpected duties that changed our schedules, but it was all fun. We were able to go to the temple for Elder Allen's last time, and that was a neatl experience. 
Guess what?! I SUCCESSFULLY DEFEATED A HUSHPUPPY SHOE! You'd think I'd be bummed out about that, but that represents a lot of work! I've also been wearing that pair of shoes every single day for the past 10 months, so that could be why too. Feels good! 

We've been getting some unusual rainfall the past several days. The weather might be changing. 

Our kitchen has a bad cockroach infestation, and we finally had enough of it. Allen actually spat one of of his chocolate drink haha. We bought moth balls and peppered that all over the cupboards, to no avail. We then bought two cans of cockroach killer spray, and that stuff worked like a charm. The only issue is that it kind of exterminated them out of their hiding spots, so cockroaches were literally everywhere. One night I woke up super early in the morning and flipped on the kitchen lights and sprayed probably a hundred. I think Allen and I have killed about 1000 now. My only motivation is the thought of killing them at a faster rate than they can reproduce. It's a game.

As you know, we've been working with a lot of people, a lot of good people. We even committed a family to baptism. Friday and Saturday were spent committing everyone to church Sunday, and it seemed as if many would. For one reason or another, NONE came Sunday. After sacrament meeting, Elder Allen and I had no class to teach or no class to really join, so we decided to leave and go visit less-actives and investigators that didn't come. I'll admit it's not the best thing to do during church, but you can imagine their surprise as two missionaries dropped a "hello" during church, expressing their concern for them and their families. I think that visit will stick in their minds. 

We're excited for what June will bring! 

Elder Allen and I work as if we're still young on mission.
 We get along great.

Have a wonderful week of school and work! Hope those of you who are sick (Mom and Jacob) feel better today. 


Elder Nissinen