Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Monday, December 30, 2013

Let's try this again: Hey everyone!
What a week!!! Christmas flew by; it hardly seemed like it was here. Elder B. and I are still keeping the tree up at least until new years, maybe longer. I haven't gotten the package yet, but maybe it came today while we were shopping. What does the USPS Tracking thing say?
Of course the highlight was Hensy's baptism on Saturday!!! Everything went perfect, up until the actual baptism. H.  wore the same white dress that her mother wore when she was baptized a couple months ago, and no one anticipated any hiccups. I went down into the font, raised my arm to the square, said the prayer, put her under the water, and....her toe came up. Tried it again. This time, the air inside her dress kept her dress from going under the water completely. 3rd time: tried it again. Same air bubble. Finally on the 4th try, everything was under the water for a split second. I wasn't embarrassed. I just thought it was so coincidental that on my first baptism, this would happen. Mostly I was worried what her nonmember friends and our investigators were thinking after this going down four times! But afterwards, a little nonmember kid said that he never wanted to leave the church, and the rest of the family is really interested about the church too. Hopefully we'll start teaching them this week.
Oh, and thanks to the handy-dandy calendar, don't forget to tell Dodo and Jimmy happy birthday for me!
I'll also tell you about another family we're working with. They're the B.  family: a part-member, returning less-active family that has three daughters who're getting baptized in a few weeks. They're super fun, and we've been really helping them all progress in the gospel. The husband is less-active, but he's committed to living worthy of being able to baptize his daughters - we're really praying for them! His daughters are his motivation to stay worthy. This week Elder B.  and I committed the whole family to live the Word of Wisdom, and they're really progressing! Every day we send them texts of encouragement, and they're doing great! On Friday night we did a Gingerbread House building contest, and guess who won? This elder! They may be texting you a picture of it in the next day or two. And tomorrow evening we're gonna have dinner with them again and commit them to live the Ten Commandments.
What Elder B.  and I have started doing in this ward is going around to the active families and giving them a list of our investigators. We share a spiritual thought about miracles, prayers, and faith, and then invite them to join with us in praying for these individuals (and for us) by name every day. It's been working great! This week we received a lot of member referrals, and so this week we'll be spending a lot of time contacting these people. The work is great!!
Elder Nissinen's new palace.  Pretty fancy!!!!
It was awesome seeing and Skyping with you all! I'm always gonna remember my first Christmas away from home. I hope everyone's safe and has an awesome last week of break before school.
Love you all!
Elder Nissinen

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hi everyone!
Sooooo much has happened since Elder B. and I arrived in the Mojave River ward. Where to start...
Well, the first night we were here, we met with an investigator named H.  She's 12 and the daughter of a recent convert who was baptized a month ago. Her brother got baptized the Saturday before we showed up. So we met with her and flat-out asked her when she wants to be baptized. And she's getting baptized this Saturday!!!!! And guess who's gonna be baptizing her? Me! My first baptism!!!!! There's a funny tradition/curse that's happened with that family. Every time one of them gets baptized, the missionary doing the baptism gets transferred the week after. So.....if the tradition still works, my visa should be coming soon haha. But I'm super excited. This ward is AWESOME when it comes to missionary work. Our ward mission leader is on fire, and our bishop is a spiritual giant. Our most solid investigators have come from members! In fact, we have 3 more baptisms lined up for January 18th. They're daughters of a less-active family. Basically, there's a TON of work to do in this area, and I'm loving it!!
Elder B.  is a fun character. If you imagine an Elder Bieber with a ukulele, it'd be him haha. He's pretty laid back, but he's an awesome people-person and is really good at connecting with them. Our different strengths click, and we've hit the ground running here. There's still not a lot of street lights around, so we try to avoid riding our bikes at night. It's really hilly here, so it's fun cruising downhill.
Remember when I said that All Dogs go to Outer Darkness? They struck again. A couple nights ago we were biking home, and I started speeding up going downhill. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw 2 or 3 little dogs run right in front of my bike. I slam on the back brakes, but they weren't strong enough, so I slammed on the front brakes too. Bad mistake. I fly over my handlebars, doing a 180 in the air. Next thing I know, I hear Elder Browning laughing and the little dogs running away. I wasn't hurt, just a little scrape on my knee and bump on my cheek, and my gloves took most of the damage. My pants got a little torn, but it wasn't all the way through the pants. I'm just grateful that it was all in the dark, because it was pretty embarrassing. Elder B. won't let me forget haha.
For Christmas day, we're going to spend most of the day at a really cool member's house. We'll get to Skype, but it'll be in the evening sometime. The member has a couple missionaries Skyping his family, so we'll be able to do that in the evening. Other than that, it's a pretty low-key day. We'll try seeing some people, but most people just want to spend time with their family, if they're home.
I sent your Christmas gifts on Friday. They should be coming today or tomorrow at the latest. They're not wrapped, so don't open the box until Christmas. :) I got a present from Grandma and Grandpa. Has the other presents been sent yet?
The members here have really welcomed both of us. One random lady in sacrament meeting gave us each a present. Most of the people in the ward are "newly-weds and nearly-dead's," so it's fun working with the older and younger members. Some of them even brought their nonmember friends to church yesterday!    
Has the Nissinen family been doing the Christmas Jar this year? Brother Nelson was telling me that you're doing some kind of anonymous giving. :)
Anyways, I'm super excited to see you all in two days. Christmas has come so fast!!! I hope everyone has a great Christmas morning, and we'll talk to each other soon!
Love you all!
Elder Nissinen

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm sure you heard the news from the S. family, but I've been TRANSFERRED!!!
 I've realized now that a mission is always full of goodbyes, whether that be to your companions, leaders, or your area - or to everything!! It was a shock to all of us that our tripanionship was getting whitewashed. And Sisters have replaced us in the ward. Part of me wishes that I could stay and continue to help the ward change. It's made a lot of progress in the last few months, specifically in the last 6 weeks. But I think Sisters will be a great help, especially to our investigators. A lot are women or youth. But since we found out Saturday afternoon, we packed, said our goodbyes to the ward, and made "whitewash" notes for the Sisters coming in. I stayed up till midnight last night making them. Being transferred, whitewashing an area, AND being a District Leader was the last possibility that I'd thought would happen. But I guess the Lord is really trusting me with these responsibilities.
One of my favorite families in Granite Hills
I'm now in the Mojave River ward, serving with Elder B.  He's from Chicago, and is a HUGE Bulls fan. I told him about how much B is a Jordan fan, and he totally agrees that Michael Jordan is the BEST player ever :) He's been out 13 months now, and was actually trained by Elder P.  just like me.
Whitewashing an area is pretty stressful, because no one knows anything about the area until you dive on in it. I know the first week or two is gonna be rough, but I know I've gotta take it one day at a time. I really enjoyed my time with Elder P.  and Elder B.  They're both super fun missionaries, and we worked our tails off in that ward. I miss them already, but we'll all see each other again.
I'll tell you pretty much everything I know about the area so far. We're the only companionship in the ward, which will be nice without two different companionships covering the same ward. I'm on bike again, and it's a much larger area than in Granite Hills. And this area has a lot of hills, so I'm expecting my thighs to be huge by the time I leave haha. Our house is THE best and fanciest in the mission - and there's just two of us! I'll send you some pictures of it next week. It's definitely a lot nicer than the home on Quivero. Right now I'm emailing in the Hesperia Branch Library. One elder who left for home gave me his library card. From what I've seen in the area book, there's a couple baptisms lined up already for January. Elder B.  and I are gonna leave it all out here during these next 6 weeks. I have a feeling I'm getting my visa soon. Oh, forgot to say, one of the elders I served with in the Granite Hills ward got his visa, and he left this morning. We came out the same day, so it shouldn't be much longer. But I'm grateful that I get to spend a Christmas in the States before Brazil.
This is our Zone in Apple Valley during our Mission Christmas Party. One ward's Relief Society all got together and made beanies for every missionary in the mission. We're all wearing our beanies in this picture.
I've loved reading the 12 Days Before Christmas stories everyday. Ninnie is so awesome :)
I have no idea what's ahead, but I'm pumped to be serving as many ways as I can. There's a lot of change in missions, but it's so worth it. One missionary told me: "Be comfortable being uncomfortable," and my mission has made me stretch a ton so far. I'm excited for what lies ahead, and I know the Lord will help me.
Before I forget, my new home address is:

Hesperia CA 92345
Thank you for your emails and prayers. I look forward to Christmas this year, even though I don't know how it's gonna work. I'll figure things out this week with my new Ward Mission Leader, Brother Judd (whom I haven't met yet).
Also, happy early birthdays to B and Rosie. Expect a card to come to you both this week. :)
Thank you for everything. The Lord answers the prayers of His missionaries. I love you all so much!! Enjoy this last week of school before break.
Love Elder Fuss

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey family!!

Heavenly Father blessed us with a full week of harvest! After cleaning out our teaching pool and dropping investigators who weren't progressing or coming to church, we found 5 NEW INVESTIGATORS in one week!!! That's gotta be some record somewhere in this area. :) And they have a lot of potential. No baptismal dates yet, but it's our goal! One of these new investigators we've been trying to contact before I even got to Granite Hills. And she has a son on a mission! The work is going on great, and we haven't stopped working. And we're determined to make this last week together the best one! 

So for transfers, I bet that I'll be staying, Elder P. is going home obviously, and Elder B. is leaving. They won't have two visa-waiters together, because our money goes on Elder P's   debit card. And with other complications, there's a high chance that one of us will be going. And honestly, I don't want to be the one leaving. It always happens before transfers. You get the best weeks of the transfers, find a bunch of solid people, and you don't want to leave right when it starts getting good haha. But I know if the Lord wants me somewhere else, I must be going there for a reason.

Besides finding, a lot of people have been getting sick. It gets around 18 degrees at night, but with the sickness, it brings a lot of opportunities to give blessings. I gave two this week, both to investigators, and it was SO COOL!! And shortly after giving the blessing, honestly I didn't remember what I said. But the Spirit was definitely there. 

On Wednesday Elder B.  and I were able to help out the YSA elders we live with in a finding activity. We went to a community college, set up a table with pamphlets and Book of Mormons, and then talked to as many people we could about the gospel. It was really a lot of fun just talking to people my age about what our message means to me. 

And on Sunday we had the special calling of......teaching CTR 6! The teacher went out of town, and the kids begged to have us teach, so why not? Our lesson was on the Golden Rule, so most of the time we were either calming down the kids who missed their moms, or acting out stories about "doing unto others." It was really fun!!! And the kids are hilarious with their own answers. We asked them what their favorite toy was, and one girl said "Wrestling with my brother." Truly they are children of God haha.

This week I had......another flat tire because of thorns. We decided to take our bikes through the desert to make an appointment, and afterwards, my tire was full of thorns. When we walked our bikes home, a member stopped and demanded that we load our bikes in his truck so we could make it to our next appointment. And he waited outside the house until we finished the lesson so he could take us home. AND, another member bought me a new tube and pump. I tried paying him back, but he wouldn't let me. We had dinner with his family afterward, so I left a thank-you note. The members here are awesome! Even brand-new investigators give us cookies and stuff to take home. Our fridge is always full!! 

I'm sending the iPod home today. I tried putting music on it from a Windows computer with iTunes, but it won't work. It's because the iPod is synced to a Mac. So maybe if you sync it with a Windows computer (maybe through Dad's Parallel thing), I can add more music to it from members. And Christmas music is approved! Just as long as it's the classics like Bing Crosby, etc. 

This week is also our Ward Christmas Party and our Mission Christmas party. It'll be a blast!!

The Christmas tree and package are AWESOME!!! Elder P.  and Elder B.  aren't the biggest fans of the holidays, so I hung it up in my room. I'll send a picture and a card to Ninnie. Our family is just awesome :)

Anyways, I don't have a lot of time to reply today. There's a lot we have to get done with Christmas coming. But I hope everyone has a great week!!!! Love you all!!! 

Elder Nissinen 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hi everyone!! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

This last week has been a crazy one!! And Fast Sundays are the best! Yes, I did wear our awesome Fast Sunday tie. I'll send a picture I took last night of us 5 in the house. 

So imagine three missionaries in white shirts and ties, on the roof! On Wednesday as we biked by, we saw an older lady with her two young grandsons trying to put up Christmas lights by themselves. We stopped and asked if we could give her a hand, and she told us she's actually a member of our ward. She's an active member, I guess I just didn't meet her yet haha. So while Elder P. was on the ground feeding us lights, Elder B. and I climbed on the roof in our proselyting clothes and helped put them up. Not to brag, they looked pretty darn good haha. Yesterday in Testimony Meeting, the lady bore her testimony of "three little angels" that helped her when she asked Heavenly Father for help. Called to Serve, right? 

We spent Thanksgiving playing football in the morning and eating throughout the day. We organized a Turkey Bowl with a bunch of missionaries, investigators, and members in all our areas. And a couple of our investigators came! We all had a great time! No injuries thankfully. Even though Oregon hasn't been doing so hot, I still sported my Ducks gear for the game :) 

And after the Turkey Bowl we went over to our first feast at the L's home. You know me: mashed potatoes, rolls, turkey, stuffing, and lots and lots of gravy!!! That's where it's at!!! And after finishing our lunch/dinner at the Landers, another member invited us to her place right after to eat with her family. Round 2 was definitely a smaller portion than the first. Elder P.  got a little sick from over-and-overeating haha. The best part of Thanksgiving isn't just on one day. Because of leftovers, who do you think they give it to? The MISSIONARIES! So we've been eating mini-Thanksgiving dinners since Thursday. :) 

I hope you got the 100 Things list. It was Elder P.'s  idea for us to create our own list and send it home to our families. It was hard to just narrow it down to only 100 things, and instead of just listing off random things, I decided to explain a little bit of why I'm grateful for each thing. There's so many things to be grateful for!

Thank you so much for the packages!! The cookies are fantastic, just the way Mom makes them :) And Ninnie has me stocked up with plenty of food, vitamins, and other fun stuff. Tell everyone thank you for me. Today I bought a Gingerbread house kit and Mickey Mouse stocking at Winco - my companions think I'm crazy haha. They threatened to hide my iPod if I started playing Christmas music before or on Thanksgiving. I'm the first to wake up, so I decided to "test" them by blaring MoTab Deck The Halls at 6:30 in the morning. Let me just say they're a bunch of "scrooges" hahaha. One of the elders in the house got a little fake tree in the mail that lights up. My Zone Leader told me that we're allowed to listen to Christmas music as long as it's not crazy or distracting (for example, not "Santa Baby" haha). So I might invest in a classic Christmas CD soon. 

With Thanksgiving and stuff this week, a lot of members and investigators were out of town, so even though the lessons were down, it means that this week will be a super effective week. As a ward we fasted for missionary opportunities to invite friends and family to listen about the gospel, and a lot of the ward joined with us. After breaking our fast, us 5 missionaries in the Granite Hills ward and our Ward Mission Leader watched the Work of Salvation broadcast that they showed last summer, but I learned so much! We're also meeting with the Bishop and Ward Mission Leader again this week to talk about it. Just looking at our history of baptisms and investigators, those investigators that were found through members had such a higher rate of being baptized than by tracting! 

This whole week I haven't stopped thinking about people I knew back home that were being prepared for the gospel. Our neighbor Tiffany came to my mind. Gosh I wish that we invited her to listen to the missionaries - I know that she was prepared! If missionaries randomly knocked on her door, I doubt she'd be as receptive as if we had invited her. That's why member-missionary work is so important and so much more effective. I'd recommend you all rewatching that broadcast again. We ALL are called! How is the work going in the Council Creek ward?

We're hoping to pick up some new investigators this week, one family tonight maybe. It's sad to think that Elder P. only has a couple more weeks left. Him and Elder B. are hilarious! We're all pretty different, and our backgrounds are even more different, but we're all brothers in this gospel and we love it. 
I LOVE being a missionary! This is HIS work. We all can thrust in our sickles and reap a wonderful harvest. Remember that feeling of baptizing Harvey? THAT is the spirit of missionary work: desiring the salvation of every person you meet. And it's one of the happiest feelings I've had in my life as we do our best and proclaim His gospel. I know that as each of you pray for opportunities, both individually and as a family, that they WILL come. Prepare by studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. Both are inspired and from God. I love this gospel!! After watching the broadcast, I'm more determined than ever to be the best and happiest missionary I can.

Thank you for your prayers and emails! I love you all! Hope to hear from you soon!!

I love you!

Elder Nissinen

P.S. I've already started my Christmas shopping :)

Monday, December 2, 2013


     *10 fun and goofy things
1. Green grass- there's not a lot up here.  People usually rake dirt outside their house.  It's rare.
2. A walking bike- faster than walking, and a pain if it isn't working.
3. A thick winter coat- who knew it'd be so helpful in Southern California?
4. The mailbox- it's always a surprise when the mail comes at 4:15 pm.
5. La Bella Hair Gel- just like home :)
6. California sun- I haven't gotten sunburnt yet!  Maybe just a little tan.
7. My iPod & speaker- every morning I listen to it. It's so awesome!
8. Barney Fife- "Not much gets by me."  "Nip it!" -classic!
9. Rain-when it rains, it pours.  Usually it's only a few times a year here.  Oregon rain is awesome!
10. A toaster- I brought one a couple weeks ago.  No more plain cold cereal for breakfast!

     *Okay, now 10 serious things
11. The Book of Mormon- our keystone.  It answers all my questions.  The main tool we use.
12. General Conference- I didn't want it to end! I'm reading the talks over & over.
13. The temple- it's a blessing every time I go, & I wish I could go more often!
14. The sacrament- what would I do without it? I can get re-baptized every week! What a great feeling.
15. Patriarchal Blessings- I read mine every Monday.  It's helped me so much.
16. Preach My Gospel- everything applies so much to what we do. The doctrines are simple.  This work is His.
17. Active church members- they love the gospel and the missionaries (and they feed us!)
18. The Priesthood- what a blessing for everyone, and a responsibility to serve.
19. The Plan of Salvation- knowing where I come from, who I am, why I'm here, & how we can return to our Heavenly Home.
20. Prayer- Heavenly Father ALWAYS answers prayers in His own time and His own way.

     *10 experiences I'm grateful for
21. Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings- the time goes by fast. Christmastime everywhere is a blast.
22. TREK- for teaching me how to work with all my might and helping others do the same.
23. That us brothers got to split wood for hours in the backyard- I miss those days.
24. Getting off work on my birthday and finding my car to be all seran-wrapped. My awesome friends!
25. That I earned my Eagle after years of being a Boy Scout. It's helped me in so many ways!
26. Going snowboarding on Mt Hood- Because it was just so much fun!
27. That you all have been helping the Young Men in our ward & being missionaries.
28. That countless times our family has been kept safe & healthy (B's crash, my shotgun, etc)
29. Our family reunions- It's so great to be in the Long family, it's a ton of fun!
30. Opening my mission call- who knew I'd be here of all places?! The beginning of two years.

     *10 places I'm grateful for
31. DISNEYWORLD!- some of the most happiest times we've had in the happiest place on Earth.
32. Mama & Papa's shop- so many school & scout projects, parties, and laughs in that shop.
33. Glencoe High School- It was hard and long, but for some reason I miss it.
34. Seminary- I met some of my closest friends and my testimony grew the most.
35. Christensen Farm- bailing hay, and hard work- all valuable lessons.
36. Wendy's- I learned how to talk with people better & have a happy attitude, all while serving burgers.
37. The MTC- 6 solid weeks of no music, TV, sleeping in, etc- and all spirit.
38. The Forest Grove Church Building- from primary to an Elder, I've grown a lot in that building.
39. Home- there's no place like it. Literally a heaven on Earth with so much love.
40. Apple Valley CA- I've learned so much about myself and my Savior. The starting point of my change.

     *10 people I'm grateful for
41. The Long Family- all of you have supported me for this mission, the packages are GREAT! 
42. Joseph Smith- the Restoration is awesome, and of course he was a prophet- DUH!
43. The Cannons- for loving missionary work and getting me excited to go.
44. Coach Morgan- for always encouraging us to improve our skills.
45. John our neighbor- for letting us mow his lawn for all these years.
46. Brother Maurer- for inspiring me to love the scriptures and be a light in the world.
47. Ryan Peacock- for being a friends and example since I knew him since 5th grade.
48. Brother Nelson- for being a great YM leader and a friend to me and my family.
49. My companions Elder P&B- we're like brothers, we can laugh and work all day.
50. President H- every week he sends an email with encouragement and advice.

51. You're always willing and ready to help me with anything, anytime, even if it's just a conversation on your porch swing.
52. You're the best church librarian, and you can make anyone smile.
53. You know I can make you say "uncle" haha, and you taught me how to drive a manual.
54. That the most important thing to you is family, and you love them so much.

55. For also being a convert to the church and how much you love the gospel.
56. I love all your Christmas decorations, and it's funny how often you clean your house- it's awesome!
57. That you're really creative and crafty, and your chicken & dumplings are so delicious.
58. You have so much love and hospitality for your family. You always want to help and work.
     *Grandma & Grandpa Nissinen
59. Grandma Nissinen- for her support on my choice to serve God and His children as a missionary.
60. Grandpa Nissinen- for loving his family and always caring for them.

     *My all-star brother Joe
61. For your happy attitude and always willing to have fun (ping pong, computer games, etc)
62. That you can school me in soccer- you'll be great in high school next year if you play.
63. That you want to make your parents and Heavenly Father proud of you.
64. That you and I tease eachother about girls all the time (Kyra) ;)
65. That you're working so hard in everything that you do.
66. That no matter what, you love your family and willing to do your part- I love you Bear!

     *My favorite sister Rosie
67. That you're loving Seminary and the scriptures- they're so important!
68. That you're working hard and enjoying time with good friends and family.
69. That you're a friend to everyone and can make anyone's day with a smile.
70. That even though you hate it, you let me pinch your arm hahaha.
71. Even though it's tough and annoying at times, you're a SUPER piano player & teacher. Our house sounds a lot nicer.
72. That you know that you're a daughter of God, and that you take that seriously- I love you!

     *My smooth-move brother B
73. That you're determined to give it 110% in everything, especially in school & sports.
74. That you can get along with anybody, and you know what to say at the right time.
75. You're representing the Nissinen name well at Wendy's, the Christensens, etc. You're such a hard worker!
76. For knowing when's a good time to work and to laugh- and you know how to do both!
77. That you're patient with me and being an example throughout my life.
78. That you're a great older brother and preparing yourself for a mission- I love you!

     *The best mom ever!
79. For loving me no matter what I do, and that I'm your missionary son.
80. That you love Andy Griffith just as much as I do :)
81. After school you always asked me how my day went- I'm grateful that you pray for your children.
82. That you came up with the Fast Sunday Tie idea! I look forward to wearing that tie every month.
83. For sending packages, ice cream money, and emails every week.
84. That you ALWAYS act out of love. Everything you do is because you love your family and this gospel- I love you!

     *My awesome Dad
85. That I can always look up to you.  I hope to be a father like you someday.
86. For teaching me the value of hard work- there's no better feeling; and you're a great example.
87. Your loyalty to Mom and your family. I can always count on you and look to you for help.
88. For the discipline in our family because you love each of your children. You always want us to improve.
89. For supporting me throughout my life with every decision- sports, scouts, school, my mission.
90. That you made this choice to be a member of this church. I wouldn't be here without you- I love you!

     *Last but not least, my Savior and His Atonement
91. His perfect attributes of charity, patience, and kindness.
92. That He always knows how I'm feeling because He felt it. He understands.
93. That He loves all of God's children, enough to die for us.
94. That He's always there and wanting us to turn to Him when we make mistakes.
95. That He lives! And we'll all live again someday.
97. For the many times He has comforted me when times are tough, and giving me strength.
98. That I have His name on my badge and that I represent Him literally for 2 years.
99. Because of all this, I'm so grateful our family can live together forever in the Celestial Kingdom-It's so true!
100. That even though I'm not perfect, I can wake up everyday and know it's a new day. Through daily repentance I feel like I can work with no regrets. Through the Atonement, I'm becoming someone better. I'm so grateful that I can overcome my many weaknesses. This time of Thanksgiving is a great time for families & friends to be together. And even though we won't all be together physically, I'll be thinking of you all. I'm so grateful for this gospel, for the commandments that keep us safe, and for my eternal family.

     Please be safe. I'm so grateful for this time to be serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I love being a missionary and seeing the change in people's hearts as they accept the gospel and have the Savior in their lives. Have a great Thanksgiving.  There's so much to be thankful for.

I love you!
    Elder Nissinen



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hi everyone!
This last week was CRAZY!!!

Starting off on Monday, we picked up a new investigator! He's Adrian, 13 years old. We found him through street-contacting, and he's pretty interested in learning. We first taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and even though his mom was doing the dishes in another room while we taught, once we started teaching repentance and baptism, the noise stopped in the kitchen. Elder P. noticed through some reflections that she stopped to listen from the other room. The Gospel is SO AWESOME!!!
This is what it looked like going to get our mail!
I don't know what happened, but the rain suddenly hit Apple Valley like no other!! The intersections in our area turned to huge puddles, and biking through them became impossible. So we walked :) That big thick jacket from CTR was a life-saver! And we stopped one night at a member's home, and she gave us homemade hot chocolate!!
One of the missionaries that we room with got sick for a couple days, so for those days we went on exchanges while one of us stayed home. On Tuesday night we got to play volleyball with the YSA ward! I met a guy from Hillsboro who lived right next to the Burgerville and Airport - small world!

On Thursday Elder P. and all the other leaders went down the hill to the mission office for a training with some executives from the Mission Department. My takeaway from it all is to use our time more effectively to find more people to teach - and that's also our responsibility.
For Thanksgiving we're planning on having a Turkey Bowl between all of us missionaries and then eat and visit members for the day. Strangers usually don't want to talk to missionaries over their families. But it'll be a fun day!! 

I'm learning so much everyday. The scriptures have become my best friend, and every question I've had has been answered in them. I care so much for the people in this area, and I don't want to stop working!! It's a great feeling at 10:30 when you know you've done your best - you're exhausted! I don't think I've ever slept this good either :) My companions have told me that I've even taught in my sleep haha.   

And my testimony of fasting has grown so much!! After we fasted last Sunday for a specific part-member family in our ward, we stopped by their house this week and had a great conversation with the mom and children who aren't members. We can tell her heart had been softened by the Lord, and she invited us back! We taught her and her son the Restoration, and she was glued to us when we bore our testimonies :) Last night we watched the Restoration movie with her son, 15, and after bearing our testimonies of the Book of Mormon, he said that he believed he knew what we were saying was true, and wants to find out for himself.
The Church is SO TRUE!!! I love it and everything about it!! We're continuing to work hard, and we see miracles every day. Thank you for all your prayers. Keep reading your scriptures daily - there's power in them!! I love you all so much!! Have a great Thanksgiving!!! I'm so grateful for my awesome family. Have a safe time :)    
                                 Love Elder Nissinen
A member let us use his dirt bikes for a picture. I guess this is why they don't give missionaries motorcycles

Elder B. rockin out Santa's new ride
Elder P. hugging a Joshua Tree!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Best Tripanionship ever!!!!
Hi everyone!! Looking back a few days ago, I've been out 3 months already! Time goes by super fast. Though the days are long, the work is great!

This week was pretty hard for me and my companions. All of our investigators were either sick, working, not home, cancelled, or dropped us. One day we had all of our appointments cancel. So this week all of us are focusing on finding a new solid investigator who is sincerely seeking the truth. 

Yesterday we fasted because of all this, and we specifically fasted with a recent convert in our ward. His wife and children aren't members, so we fasted that the Spirit would soften the family's heart to the message of the gospel. So we hope we can stop by sometime at their house and begin a friendship with the family. 

The major spiritual experience we had this week was also at Church yesterday. Our most solid investigator Eric (12) came to church, so now we officially have a PROGRESSING INVESTIGATOR!! He's getting baptized December 7 into our ward! He was feeling a little sick yesterday, but he told us that he knew he had to come because Satan didn't want him to - so awesome!! He's definitely been prepared. And our Deacons quorum is amazing! He went to their Bishop's Youth Discussion (like our Bishop's Chat) last night, and he already has some great friends in the small Granite Hills ward. 

Elder P. and Elder B. have been doing awesome! We get along great together, and it's totally fun to tease and mess around with each other. We each have different strengths that make our tripanionship awesome! Elder P.  has the experience and wisdom, Elder B. is bold, sincere, and knows how to lighten the mood, and I'm most familiar with the area and willing to work 110% :) 

Elder P. told me of a tradition that he and his family are doing every day. There're 531 pages in the Book of Mormon, and every day he and his family read one page until he gets home. They have it planned out so that the day he gets home, they all read the last page together and pray about the Book of Mormon. That's a super cool tradition! Maybe we can do it.

Can you send me a calendar or list of people's birthdays? I think someone in our extended family has a birthday in November...haha

I hope everyone is having a great week!! I'm so grateful for an awesome family that loves and lives the gospel! 

Be safe, have fun, and do your best :) The Church is true!

Elder Nissinen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hi everyone!! 

This week has been AWESOME!! If you haven't heard, I'm in a trio now!! I found out Tuesday night that my trainer Elder P. is training two missionaries now - the other one straight from the MTC! And...he's waiting for his visa to Brazil too! His name is Elder B.  from Dallas Texas, and he's a lot of fun. So with 5 elders in one house, there's definitely never a dull moment. 

So what to talk about...On Tuesday at the S. family home, I gave all the kids those bracelets that Ninnie and the cousins made for me to hand out. And they LOVED them! It was to help remind them about putting on the Armor of God everyday, and they really liked that lesson. 

As for investigators, we picked up a couple new ones this week. Eric, a 12 year old who's the brother of a member, is getting baptized within the next month! The only issue is that he technically lives in another ward, but he takes the lesson at his sister's house, so we'll have to figure out logistics for him to be baptized.  Debbie dropped us because she wants to read in the Book of Mormon by herself until she feels ready to talk with us again. It's kinda a bummer, but we've picked up a few more investigators who are making strides towards committing to baptism real soon. Elders P. and B. are really hard workers, so together we'll definitely be seeing some great miracles happen in the Granite Hills ward during this transfer - we're excited! And our Bishop and Ward Mission Leader are more excited than ever!

On Friday, all of our lessons fell through, so we spent the whole day street contacting people and talking to as many as we could about the gospel. We ran into a couple of Jehovah Witness missionaries, and we had an...interesting discussion with them haha. Another person was looking to fight us when we approached him in his garage. Who knew it'd be so crazy in California? haha

But one of the highlights this week has got to be Chris. He's been meeting with the missionaries for a few months now, and most of the time he cracks jokes with them. But ever since we talked about temple marriages and sealings, Chris has been showing signs of interest. His wife passed away 5 years ago, and they actually were never legally married, so when we talked about temples, he couldn't stop thinking about it until our next discussion. We talked about baptism, and why he hasn't felt like being baptized since missionaries started talking to him, he looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Am I really worth it?" I almost cried at his sincerity. After talking with him a little about the Atonement, and talking about coming to church, he said "Ok lets be serious about this. When can we do a tour of it?" We'll be setting it up this week with Chris. He's an awesome guy. Truly there's something different about this area now that we have 3 of us in one area. 

I hope everyone had an awesome weekend!! I heard the Ducks lost, but we don't have to talk about that. Thanks for the package!!! The pillowcase and the Ducks shirt are AWESOME! And I totally laughed when I read the Andy Griffith quotes. The Nissinen family is so cool :)

Thanks Mom and Dad for the Duck shirt!!!
Thanks for emailing me and telling me how things are going. I hope you all are having fun today (is there no school?). Tell Papa thank you for his service in protecting the freedoms we have here. I hope you all can reply soon! 

I love you!

Elder Nissinen

Monday, November 4, 2013

My last picture with Elder D.  

Hi everyone!!!

This whole week has been fun and work. With the Trunk r Treat, Halloween, and Elder D.'s going home, every day has been a blast!!

So to start off, Elder D.  and I decided to have a little fun with our Zone Leaders this week. To kick off the fun, we put a rubber band on our kitchen sick's hose, so whenever one of them turned on the sink, they'd get blasted with water!! We soaked them three times!!! For revenge, they took our bikes seats off and hid them. So we took their showerhead and hid that. Then they took cold water and dumped it on Elder D.  while he was showering. We were like that the whole week - it was pretty hilarious!!! 

The Trunk r Treat was on Tuesday night. The 4 of us missionaries were in charge of cooking and serving the chili dogs. There was a HUGE turnout, so I was basically running around the whole time stocking up on buns, hot dogs, etc. Two of the deacons dressed up as missionaries, and the Bishop dressed up as a Polynesian missionary, skirt and all! haha I wished I got some pictures of it all, but I was too busy running around. 

Thank you all SO MUCH for the pizzas on Thursday!!!! We had no idea it was gonna happen!! :) There were 8 of us that night, and we had PLENTY of pizza for everyone. Thank you!!!! It was a fun and relaxing night. We only had a few trick-or-treaters that night, so we gave them all the candy that members and investigators gave us. We had SO MUCH candy!!! And it was just a lot of fun to hang out and enjoy the night. 

Over the last couple days, Elder D. has gotten pretty trunky, naturally. I can't blame him a bit, since I know I'd be pretty trunky if I was within hours of going home. He's pretty excited, and it feels just like yesterday that we met 6 weeks ago. The last couple days he's been sending packages home full of stuff he's accumulated over the last 2 years. On Wednesday we had to get a box for his bike at UPS, and once we got the big box, we realized we had a problem: you can't fit a bike box inside a Corolla. So what do you do? Well, picture a box as big as a car roof that is being held down by 4 missionaries as it flaps on top of the car!! The wind got so bad, we decided to take our belts off and loop them around the box to hold it on!! We laughed at everyone's reaction of seeing a hug box being held down by belts on top of a Corolla. Pretty funny!!! 

 But now I'm starting over with a new companion!!! I guessed right: I'm staying here in the Granite Hills ward, same house and address. So you can continue to send me stuff to the Quivero address. But my new companion is Elder P. This is his last transfer too! He's from West Jordan Utah, 21 years old, and......he's a redhead!!! He was a Zone Leader last transfer, so I'll be learning a ton from him over the next 6 weeks. 

My new companion Elder P.
So here's some "missionary slang" that we use to talk about our "posterity," or missionaries that we train. Elder D.  was my "father" (the person who trains you), and Elder P. is my "stepfather" (the person who does the follow-up training if you don't have the same trainer for 12 weeks). When you're an elder's last companion, you "kill" him. So the story goes: I'm killing my father and my stepfather. It's kinda crazy, but the missionary life is like a "mini-life:" you're born and you die, you have companions and trainees, and before you know it, it's over.

Quick story about Debbie. Remember her? We first committed her to a baptismal date, and after coming back from out of town, she cancelled it. Anyways, last week, we taught her the Plan of Salvation, she felt the Spirit, and now BOOM! She's getting baptized December 14th! She's the most solid investigator we have, and we have plenty more along the way to the waters of baptism!! We're working with that HUGE family - they're in a pretty rough financial condition, so us and the ward council are doing all we can to help them. But we do what we do - TEACH! :) 

I'm so grateful for this work!! I've really been learning what it means to "focus on what you can control," and because of people's agency, it can be hard to see past that. But I'm so grateful for everyone's prayers. I love Sundays, especially Fast Sunday. The Fast Sunday Tie is an awesome tradition!! 

I'm so glad to hear everyone is doing great!! Winning soccer games, being busy working, and working hard in school! Keep it up everyone!!! I love you all! 

You'll hear from me soon! Love you!

Elder Fuss 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Thanks Mom for teaching me how to dishes!  You taught me well!!!

Thanks to all my cousins who made me 60+ rubber band bracelets to hand out to children.  They will love them!!!

Hi everyone!! Boy, the time is FLYING out here! Elder D. can't believe today is his last P-day as a missionary, from then on he'll have infinite P-days! It's bitter/sweet for him.

Anyways, this week has been GREAT! We've continued to work hard and give it a 110%, and after all has been said and done, (drum roll).....we got 20 lessons this week!!!! It's been the first time in a LOONNNG while since that has happened in the Granite Hills ward! We were so grateful for the many opportunities we've been given to share our testimonies and to teach everyone we meet. 

We couldn't have done it without the help of Armando. On Tuesday we had our District meeting at the church building, and right after we started, a random man walked in and asked if someone could show him around. Immediately Elder D. and I hopped up and gave him a tour and taught him the Restoration right there in the foyer. He wants to change his life around, and something pulled him to check out this church. If he stopped by any other time, the building would've been locked. Turns out Armando lives in a different ward than ours, so we introduced Armando to the missionaries who serve in that area. But it was definitely a miracle that everyone in our zone saw that day.

By the way, thank you SO MUCH for the packages this week!!! Our zone is officially set on Halloween candy! :) We're having a "party" Thursday night since we have to be in by 6pm, so we're getting all the missionaries in the area to come over to our house and hangout. It'll be a blast!! I've also been trying out those ForeverMints, they're great!! Thank you for the packages and everything you all and the rest of the family have been sending me! It's so fun to read the postcards from the cousins and everyone else. Thank you!

The Granite Hills ward is having their Trunk r Treat on Tuesday, and the 4 of us Elders in the ward have the honor of making the chili dogs for that night haha. I may even bring my Brazil apron along - I'll send pictures of all the fun next week. It'll be a blast! We're inviting all our investigators and people we're teaching to it. It'll be a lot of fun! 

I was so glad that the S. family sent you some pictures the night we taught them. They're one of my most favorite families in the ward! We've been teaching them every week, most of the time on FHE, and they're a ton of fun! 

By the way Mom, check the mailbox within the next couple days if you haven't gotten something already :) I can remember all of our families birthdays, but I can't remember the cousin's. If you could send me a list or calendar or something that'd be a big help! Happy Birthday Mom!!! :)

Oh before I forget, in case I do get transferred to a different area this week (which I doubt), don't send any letters or packages to the house address. If I do get transferred, it'll take a while for missionaries to forward it all to me wherever I'm serving. But you can send stuff to the mission office. I'll know for sure where I'll be in a week, and I'll update you all then. 

Thank you everyone for the awesome emails, letters, packages, and prayers!! It's so awesome being a missionary! I love it! Please be safe! 

I love you all!!! You'll hear from me soon! :) The Church is so true!!!

Elder Fuss

PS "Like I said, you made an illegal U-turn. And I Gomer Pyle of the town of Mayberry of the United States of America, arrest you."
"Hooray!!" hahaha

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting Flu Shot!

Thanks Aunt Ninnie and Family for the "Greenie" Box full of all "Green" things!

Hi everyone!!! I hope everything is going great at home!! I'm glad to hear you got the SD card and letters! 

This week has been so great!!! Spending a lot of the day with Elder Robbins of the 70 was such a blessing!! You outta see the notes I took during that meeting!! I took sooooo much away from that meeting! Elder Robbins does time management for businesses, so a focus of that zone conference was becoming more time-efficient, better-planning, and hopeful missionaries. From that meeting, our studies have really improved, so that we're really talking about people and what exactly do we need to teach and have them feel in order to know the Church is true. 

But it's been hard. There wasn't a lot of teaching opportunities, and a lot of appointments canceled on us. I wasn't sure what exactly was going on. Elder D. and I have been working harder than ever, more obedient than before, more focused, etc, but not a lot was showing for it. Elder D. called it an "Agency Week" haha. 

Although this last week there was not as many lessons as in the past, we continued to work hard and look for opportunities. I'm growing everyday. Sometimes it's hard to look at numbers and not see the success there. Many of our past investigators have been investigating for a long time, and little if any progress has happened with them. One of our investigators who had a baptismal date (Marcos) is going to court this week, so we may never see him again. But I'm so grateful that my zone leaders asked me and my companion to fast on behalf of the zone. On Sunday I was really asking Heavenly Father for the help that I need as a missionary and for the ability to reach the zone's goals for the number of baptisms and lessons. 

But Heavenly Father answered our fast in another way. During Ward Council that morning, I got a phone call from the sisters in another ward. They said that a family of 8 is on their way to our sacrament meeting this morning, interested in hearing about the gospel and to learn more! This family was originally tracted into by the Spanish elders, then got contacted into the Sister missionaries, and when they realized that this family was in our area, they referred them to us and figured out a ride for them to church! All of this was within a half hour of happening!! Immediately the Ward Council pitched in, welcoming this family, showing the children the Primary and Nursery, and leading us to their classes. A fire lit underneath the ward, the first time that investigators have come to church in months in the Granite Hills ward!! I've been praying for this ever since I've heard the ward's history when it comes to missionary work. 

We set an appointment for that night, we taught them the Restoration, and....drum roll...They're committed to be BAPTIZED!!! November 16 is the day for 4 convert baptisms from that family!!! One lady, her 8-year-old daughter, an older daughter, and the older daughter's boyfriend,  It'll take some work; the boyfriend and girlfriend aren't legally married, and their financial situation is rough, but all things are possible through Him who strengthens. And they're SUPER humble!  :) My fast couldn't have been answered in a more profound way. Again, everyday my testimony grows. 

Elder D.  and I have high hopes for this week!! We have 16 appointments planned, and we'll have even more!! We really can do it! I truly believe that something great is right around the corner :) I have such a testimony about missionary fasts!! 

I've been feeling everyone's prayers and I'm so grateful for it! Tell Ninnie THANK YOU for sending the funny post cards from the family. I've been getting them everyday!! I also got the package with the pictures and chapters from Suit Up - They're so great!! I've added the pictures to my missionary wall next to my bed :) 

I don't want to leave this area!! There's so much work to be done here, and Elder D. and I are more energized than ever to get out and give it everything we've got! The only time I think about Brazil is when I'm speaking and studying Portuguese :) 

By the way, there's a rumor about the mission receiving iPads that the Zone Leaders "leaked" to us. They may be just pulling my leg, but there's a chance we could get them this week! And you know me when it comes to Apple stuff, I couldn't be more excited! haha

The Church is so true!! I'll write a letter with responses to all your emails and send it out tomorrow. I fixed our mailbox so it has a flag on it: basically it's a pencil with an index card box-taped on the side. It's pretty ghetto but it works! :P 

I hope B and Rosie are LOVING Seminary! And Joe, you're not far behind at all! :) Keep working hard, being safe, and doing the very best you can! 

I love you all so much!! The time is going by fast here, and Elder D. is counting down the DAYS before he leaves. I have more months left than he has days! haha He's handling his grandpa's death really well, and missionary work really helps with it.

I Love you!!!

Elder Fuss 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hi everyone!!! It's great to hear from you again!! Mondays are definitely my favorite day too!!

As I've looked over the past week, I've noticed it's been a really good week for Elder D. and I. I got both of the GREAT packages from you and Ninnie - the Greenie box and the Mickey Mouse box. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! They're so awesome!! One of the boxes hung around the Mission office for almost a week, and everyone inside wondered what was inside the package. And guess what?!? My mission president and his wife know who Barney Fife is!! :D Tell Ninnie thank you so much for the really cool surprises she put in there. My companion told me they were some of the largest packages he's seen on his mission!

I also got Mama and Papa's and your letters with the "lunch money" in it. Unfortunately there isn't a restaurant in the area that we bike. On Friday, one of the Elders that we share Granite Hills ward with was having a bad day. So we drove out to McDonalds and I bought everyone ice cream cones :) Sounds like something Papa would do :)

Overall this week, we got a couple new investigators, and we committed one to baptism!! Marco is his name, and we've been stopping by his house everyday to see how he's been doing. We invited three investigators to church, but unfortunately none of them showed up :( But we won't give up!! This week we got 13 lessons in, because a lot of appointments canceled last-minute. The numbers sometimes don't show the effort, but Elder D. and I are really trying to work hard!

You wouldn't believe this, but on Tuesday, I actually had to pull out my winter coat and wear it!! Up to 40mph winds, and we couldn't even ride our bikes in it, it was so rough!! So we walked from appointment to appointment in the crazy wind and rain!! In California!!!

You might wonder why I titled my email, All Dogs go to Outer Darkness. In Apple Valley, EVERYBODY has at least one dog! And so naturally when two guys in white shirts and ties ride their bikes down any street, every dog barks at them!! Thankfully they have fences around every house, but it doesn't make it easy to knock on someone's door when they have their dog barking at you. At one person's house, Elder D. almost got bit by a tiny little rat of a dog. They can drive you crazy!! haha I'll remember not to get a dog when I come home haha.

I don't know exactly why, but Sundays are so awesome as a missionary! The Bishop has us sit in Ward Council, so it's good to have the rest of the ward know that we're focused on the Work. The Sacrament means so much, and everything about Church is great!
After three weeks of not having a haircut, I definitely needed one!! So my companion and I went to a local place. I'll send a short video I made of us on the way to the Family History center.

We're in a different Family History center today, so unfortunately I can't print all of your emails and the chapter today.

I hope you've been getting my letters! I sent one to Mama & Papa and Ninnie last week.

As for addresses, I figured out our correct house address. I wrote it down and sent it in my last letter, but it's also Apple Valley, CA  if you haven't gotten the letter yet. I think it's faster if you send it to our house instead of waiting till Thursdays for the Zone Leaders to get all the mail for us. I check my mailbox everyday :)

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!!! I'll send home the receipts I haven't thrown away. I get $40 every other week, and you can tell I'm not the most frugal missionary hahaha. It's all fun. I'm excited to hear from you all again!!

Please reply as soon as you can!! Right before I log off I'll send you some pictures and hopefully a video that is small enough to send.

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!! I'll send a letter or two in the next couple days to you all!! Please be careful, stay awake when you're driving (cough cough B...haha), and be safe!!! I'm so grateful for my awesome family!!

The Church is true!!

Elder Nissinen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 7th

Dear Family,  How're you doing?!?!

Sorry about what happened last week. I was hoping we could chat, but we had to leave a little after I sent those emails.

I would've emailed earlier this afternoon, but we didn't have the keys to the Family History Center until now. This morning we went on a hike to a greener part of our zone on a more rocky hike. It was really neat!! I'll send some pictures, and a video too if I can. :)

I've been doing great this last week. Elder D. and I have been working really hard, and we can see the success we've been having so far. The area is pretty tough; religion isn't a lot on people's minds, and if they are religious, they're usually not open to Mormon missionaries. But we're seeing the "little victories" we have every day.

 Before I came here, Elder D. and his companion were having less than 10 lessons a week total. And since Elder D. and I have been working all day, this week we had 16 lessons!!! Our goal is to have 20 this week, and we have a lot scheduled already!! We'll do great if we just keep working.

 Conference was SO COOL!!! It means so much more when you're a missionary!! We got to watch it in some members' homes, which was pretty cool. It's so cool to think that you all were watching it together too at the same time!! I hope you all got to see it! One of my favorites was President Uchtdorf's during Priesthood session - really awesome!! There were some really great talks on Saturday if you didn't get a chance to see some of them. Now I just can't wait till we get them in the Ensign!! :)

After Priesthood session a few of us elders went to In-N-Out for dinner. It was my first time!! Not too bad, but I'll have to say 5 Guys and Wendy's are better haha.

 I've done just about everything a missionary does when it comes to dealing with people. Elder D. and I got into a really interesting "discussion" with a lady who straight up called us "brainwashed." But we both testified of the truth and that we know that the Church is restored. And then the lady got up and went back into her house. It was definitely a testimony-builder. The thing about the gospel, is that it MAKES SENSE!!!! Because God is our loving Heavenly Father, everything about it makes sense - everything!! There's just so much confusion in other religions, so it's difficult for people to see that yes, we needed a Restoration, we need the Book of Mormon, we need that priesthood authority, etc. etc.

So one of my Zone Leaders had a bike that he used, but since he broke a bone in his collar, he drives a car now. So I use his bike now. In the last week Elder D.  and I both have had flat tires from biking in the thorny desert. It's pretty funny and frustrating sometimes, but we make it work.

 The city of Apple Valley is nice, especially at night. Since there's hardly any street lamps in my area, the night sky is awesome! A lot of dust, and people ask me if it's different than Oregon. I just tell them it's a different kind of beauty. :)

 Anyways, I've been working hard and doing my best. I can honestly say that although I may be disappointed in our investigators in not showing interest, I'm not disappointed in myself. And I think that's what success really is. Elder D. is a great companion. A little nerdy, LOVES to play Dungeons & Dragons card game  (which is what he does on P-day with some other elders), but he's got TONS of experience out here.

 The days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like days :)

 Remember that other address I wrote about in one of my letters? The one on Quivero Rd? You can forget about that address and send stuff to the mission office.

 I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!! I'm looking forward to getting those packages. Our Zone Leaders pick up the mail on Thursday mornings, so if you've sent it already, I'll have it this week.

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!!! I Love hearing from you!! I hope everyone is safe and is having fun at home!

If you can do an email chat with me, I'll be here for about another half hour or so. :D


 Elder Fuss