Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Elder Nissinen and his first companion Elder "Alabama"

Letter to Dad August 30th

Dear DAD,

I'm doing great!! Our lessons get better, harder, but more spiritual each time. I love getting everyone's emails, letters, and packages!! And thank you SO MUCH for the last package!! The iPod looks awesome and I saw all the pictures and music you all put on it. It's so cool!! I'll definitely use it out in the field as soon as I can! I also saw the Andy Griffith song that B put on there - SUPER COOL!! :)
I also started reading Our Search For Happiness during my personal study - it's an awesome book!! By the way, did somebody dog-ear a page in it? 
I loved the letters Mama and Papa wrote. What's their house number? I forgot.
I haven't gotten the other package from the family yet, maybe in the next day or two. But I'm excited!! Packages and letters are priceless to missionaries. Every missionary just feels good and uplifted when they hear or get something from home. :)
Those are some cool facts!! I shared them with my district and they thought they were neat too! Keep on sharing them!
Here's some funny and odd things you might not know about the MTC. Every hour during the day the BYU clock tower plays the first couple lines of "Come Come Ye Saints" every hour. In the cafeteria they serve caffeine-free Coke and Diet Coke. During Gym-time, when you play basketball you can't touch the rim or backboard, otherwise you're automatically kicked out for the rest of gym-time for the day. At night, we have what's called Quiet Time at 10:15 and Lights Out at 10:30. At exactly those times, a voice comes over the intercom and says, "10:15. Quiet Time," and it kinda sounds like Satan's voice haha.
I tried the credit card - it works, no problem at all! Thank you so much!!!! I've hardly spent any cash, and on our Blue Cards we get a little bit of money per week which we usually spend on the vending machines and laundry. Tell Grandma I still have that half $5 bill.
That's great for B!! Did he get the job?!? I'll write him and you all soon.
I hope July 28th isn't too late if B leaves earlier. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Anyways, I'm trying to keep my emails shorter so you can respond quicker. I'll try sending some better pics, and I'll send the SD card home in my next letter.
I Love you!! Thank you for writing me your testimony and conversion story! I'll always keep it close, and I'll look at it often when I may be discouraged about an investigator. Thank you for your example to your family, friends, and me. Your decision to be baptized is one of the big reasons why I'm out here, and I'm excited to serve.

Your missionary,

Elder Jacob Nissinen

PS, If Mom doesn't respond soon, can you ask her what size I am for a haircut? I'm getting mine for the first time this afternoon. Thank you!! 

"P" day August 30th

Dear Mom,

To Missionaries, letters and packages are the best things in the world to get (besides baptisms haha). I hope you can read my handwriting in my letters. Sometimes I think it's getting worse because there's so much to say in so little time, but it's the coolest thing to hear from home.
I'll send the SD card in my next letter. I'll send it off tomorrow or Monday at the latest. I've taken near 100 pics so far. I carry my camera with me all the time, and I'll take pictures whenever. A lot of my best shots are during our weekly Temple Walks to the Provo Temple. But I'll try to get more of the day-to-day things. 
I got your package on Wednesday!! Thank you THANK YOU!!! I totally knew it was for me, especially since I could name off the individual episodes from the pictures. My district saw the package, and surprisingly quite a few knew what show it was!! They laughed when they saw I had a Barney Fife picture on the back of my name badge. 
Everything's been working out great! After being here two weeks, we know the low-down on how things work here, so it's not so much of a scramble on P-days trying to eat breakfast, write home, and do laundry at the same time. We've got the system worked out now. 
My favorite meal here has to be the mashed potatoes, gravy, and turkey they have about once a week. They've even had Chick Cordon Bleu! The food's pretty good here, and I have no idea how much or if I've even gained any weight. But my clothes still fit :) 
Thank you for getting me a dictionary!! I've had to use my companion's this last week :P
I love you SO MUCH Mom!! Matt 19:29 is one of my favorite scriptures now, and I know that I'm doing the work of the Lord. When I bear my testimony I often bear it on families, and I'm so grateful that our family will be together forever!! I love my family so much!!! And I also love being a missionary.
The Church is true!! Keep up the awesome scripture reading! Blessings are continuing to be poured out upon you.

Your missionary,

Elder Jacob Nissinen

PS I'm getting a haircut today, what sizes should I have them use?
I'm also trying to keep my emails shorter and my letters longer so you can respond before my hour is up.


Letter to Joe

Hi Joe!

              I hope you're doing well and you're excited for school to start!  You're gonna have an awesome year.  You've learned so much over the summer and you're ready for a great school year!  What have you been up to at home?  How are the soccer games coming along?  How is the kumon going?  I hope you're safe and having a lot of fun before school starts!  You're a great young man and you have a lot of potential.  If you continue to work harder and harder, you'll do some great things.  Always be a friend to those who can use a hand; thats where the gospel starts when we teach- we have to show them that we care just like Christ did.
You're AWESOME Joe, don't forget it!!!  I love you so much, and I can't wait to hear about the exciting times you'll have this year.  I miss you!!!

                                              Your brother and friend always,
                                                            Elder Nissinen

Letter to Rosie

Dear Rosie,

     I'm so excited for you!!!  High school is so much more awesome than middle school, and seminary with B and brother H. will be a blast!!!  You'll grow so much!!!
Congratulations on your calling!!!  You'll b a great Miamaids counselor! :)
We checked our vents and the back of our dressers.  We didn't find anything, but there was a rubber bouncy ball on our desk when we first got here.  I've heard stories where the Elders that are leaving will put an alarm clock in a hiding spot and set it for 3 in the morning, so when the new Elders come in the next day, they wake up on their first night at a super early time.  It's a gunny prank, but it sucks when they do it to you.

I love you Rosie!! You're honestly the best sister :) You'll grow so much these next couple years and I miss you!!!
                                                        Your missionary brother,
                                                            Elder Nissinen

Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter to "B"

Hey, B

  How's it going Bro?  Are you excited to not be an underclassman anymore?  Hight school gets better and better every year, and you'll have so much fun as you get closer to graduate.  Have you been on any dates recently?:)  Thank you for your letters!!!  I keep everyone's letters in a box that I'll take with me everywhere on my mission.  I just wanted to tell you that I know you're an AWESOME Big brother.  A lot of people, family, and friends look up to you and you are gonna do great things as you get closer and closer to serving your mission.  Before long you'll be sitting on your bed at the MTC writing letters back home too!!!:)

Always be worthy of the spirit and B... GO ON A MISSION.  The last thing Satan wants you to do is to be a missionary, so always be on your guard.  Especially in the next year or two you'll be tempted a lot!!!  But I promise you that if you study the scriptures, pray for help, and read you patriarchal blessing, you'll be immensely blessed and ready to serve here.  Keep on working hard, having fun, and being and example to all.  Always remember who you are, what you stand for , and how much I and the rest of your family loves you.  YOU'RE AND AWESOME B- keep up the work!

                                      Thanks for your prayers and thoughts!
                                           Your brother and friend always-
                                                 Elder Nissinen

August 27th

Dear Family,

     The MTC is awesome!  With every teaching experience, lesson, devotional, and testimony it gets better and better!

     The days are long (over 16 hours of work and study), but the weeks go by so fast!  I can't believe I've already been here 2 weeks.  I hope it doesn't go by too fast, but I can't wait to get out in the field to start the real work. :)

     The MTC is like the 15 minutes before a football game.  You suit up, get pumped up, your coaches give a pep-talk for the battle, and you're off!  In comparison to the 98 weeks or so other weeks, the 6 weeks here feels like a big pep-talk and last bit of training before the game really starts.  The only thing that matters is whose jersey you're gonna wear in this big battle for souls.

     I love having the Spirit here nearly 24/7!  Only in 2 weeks (or less) could a bunch of young men teach gospel principles, pray, read scriptures, study, speak, listen, and testify in a completely different language!  It could only happen under His everlasting power.  We literally see miracles here everyday, and it's super neat!

     I'm excited for the package!! Around here, letters and packages are worth gold for missionaries; they can make a grumpy missionary have the best day ever! :)  Unfortunately I can't use the iPod here- MTC rules, but I'll totally use it when I get in the field.  And i'm excited to see what the bracelets look like!

     I think my expected return date in on July 28th, 2015.  That's what it says on my Ministerial Certificate- the legal card that I always carry with me.  It's something I can ask my mission president when I get to São Paulo.

     Elder M, Elder B, Elder S, and I haven't seen him at all! We're thinking that he's not at our campus, but on the West Campus of the MTC.  They broadcast all the Devotionals to the West Campus, so that's probably where Elder C is.

     My companion and I are doing great!  Elder H is going to São Paulo West like me and the rest of my apartment.  Half my district (about 6 of us) are going West and the other half is North São Paulo.

     The clothes are working out, no problem!  The Choose the Right system really works, and you can bet that my closet's all organized with my shoes, clothes, and ties. :)  They have irons on the sides of the hallways, and whenever a shirt has a few wrinkles or the pleats in my slacks aren't clear, it's pretty easy to iron it out.

     The Portuguese is coming along well!  My problem that I had was just vocabulary words and verbs that I didn't know for the gospel lessons, but once you get the hang of it, teaching just becomes more natural.  And after a couple weeks here, everyone's improved a lot!  Though I'm far from fluent, I think I can communicate myself well enough for being here 2 weeks :)

     The beds are pretty comfortable; they provide sheets, blankets, mattress pads, and pillowcases there, and we just change them out every Thursday morning.  But we're so tired at night we don't care how comfy or uncomfortable our beds are. :)

     Unfortunately, Elder H and I missed out first haircutting appointment on our first P-Day, because of our Temple Session, but we re-scheduled for the Friday the 30th.

     I LOVED your last package!!!  The Plan of Salvation pieces are so neat!! We'll definitely be using it in our lessons!  I love hearing from you all and I miss you so much!

     One last thing, at the MTC books and supplies are really scarce; they barely have enough to go around.  Could you please send me a Portuguese-English pocket dictionary?  Someone either took mine thinking it was their's, or I lost it; I don't know.  But if you could send me one in your next package I would definitely appreciate it!!

     Anyways, I think about you all often and I always miss you.  I pray for comfort in your lives and your safety always.  I believe I have the best family ever. :)

                                                    I'll hear from you soon,

                                                                  Elder Fuss

P.S.   I found this scripture when I was doing my personal study the other day.  I thought it would really apply to us all:  Matthew 19:29.  I read it whenever I'm down or worried, and it helps :)  LOVE YOU!!!

Oh, and what should I do about pictures?  I can send you an SD card in a letter if you want.  Let me know how it'd work best for you! It''s hard to do it through email since I can only send a couple at a time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 25th

Dear Family,

     It was so awesome to hear from you in your last emails!

     So do you remember who Landon was?  He was our first investigator that Elder H and I taught.  And guess what?!  He's actually one of our teachers!  On Saturday morning for classes, we walked into class and there he was all dressed in Sunday clothes and wore a teacher badge.  Turns out he and Irmã H (Sister H) are our teachers!  And his real name isn't even Landon: Landon is the name of one of his investigators while he was on his mission.  So now we're being taught by Irmão H (Brother H!)

     But today was Sunday! Sunday's at the MTC are like "breather-days" where you can take it easy and relax a lot more.

     Tonight a guy named Stephen B. Allen talked to us for our Sunday night Devotional.  He's the Managing Director for the Missionary Department of the church.  He's pretty much the behind-the-scenes guy for the church.  Anyways, he gave an awesome talk about sacrifices and serving with no regrets.  Super talk.  It's so cool we hear from people like this every week, and then from a General Authority on Tuesdays!  I heard that this upcoming session is going to be broadcasted to all the other MTC's, which means that somebody really special is going to speak on the 27th.  I'll let you know how and who spoke.

     Anyways,  another great start to a week at the MTC!  I forgot to tell you, Max got reassigned, and he's serving in Atlanta, Georgia!  Really cool!!

     I hope everything is going well for each of you at home.  How're things going?  Are you all ready for school?  What kind of classes are B and Rosie and Joe taking?  I can't wait to hear from you all.

                                                       Thank you for your love and prayers!

                                                                     I love you all!!!

                                                                                Elder Nissinen

Monday, August 26, 2013

Letter from Jacob's Companion, "Elder Alabama."

Nissinen Family,                                                                                                           August 23

     Thank you so much for the presents :)  How kind of you all to keep me in your thoughts.  Thanks for the card stock too!  AND the pre-marked postage.  You sure do know the way to an Elders heart! :) HA!

     But anyway, I would like to thank you for your son, Elder Nissinen!  He is a great example to me and I am envious of his knowledge of the Gospel.  Thank you for raising your son so that he could be the best companion!

     I wish YA'LL the best of luck!  Thank you for sacrificing time with your son so that he may be an impact in my life.


                                                         "Elder Alabama"

 P.S.  I've never heard of fruit "leather" before.  Haha they don't have that down south!  Thanks! :)

August 23rd

Dear Family,

     The MTC is awesome!!! Elder H and I have been having a blast!  Our whole district is hilarious and we have an awesome time.  We always sit together during meals, and we usually all walk together to our classes and stuff.  It's super cool!

     Today was our first actual P-Day!  It's still a pretty hectic day, but its a great change from the usual 9-hour study halls.  Laundry is a rat race!  We got up at 6:00 and just went to the laundry room as soon as we could.  Even at 6:15 over half of the washers were being used.  Luckily our whole district got an open row of washers before everyone else woke up.  There's literally rows and rows of washers and dryers.  And when your load is done, missionaries aren't afraid to throw your wet clothes out and put theirs in.  And any unclaimed box of dryer sheets or bottle of detergent is fair-game in the laundry room.  It's pretty crazy!  Luckily we had timers on our watch and guarded our laundry from the other crazy missionaries.

     My companion (Elder "Alabama") -our new name for Elder H- and I bought plenty of laundry stuff, and everything worked out great!  Our Zone Leaders recommended that as soon as we started our laundry, we go to a computer lab and print out our emails.  Then while you're waiting for laundry, you can read over your emails & think about responses without taking up the 1 hour time limit they put on missionaries.  It's a great idea!

     What the MTC does for P-Day breakfasts is pretty cool!  Because the cafeteria is a consecrated building, missionaries shouldn't go in without church clothes.  So what the MTC does when you have a P-Day is called a sack meal.  You grab a tray, pick four items (like bagels, orange juice, cereal, donuts, etc), check out your stuff to the register worker, and then put it all in a sack.  Any more than 4 items you have to pay for, but they give you plenty of food.

     P-Day isn't much different than most other days, except for the laundry, emails, and the TEMPLE!!!!  The Provo temple is so awesome!! It's really neat going through a different temple, especially with a large group of missionaries.  We have an allotted time schedule for the temple on P-Days, and our district got to go this afternoon.  Mom and Dad, the new endowment session movie is awesome!!  It was a totally different experience going to a different temple, going as a missionary, and being with an awesome group in such a huge temple!  Missionaries get free temple clothing rentals, so I didn't even bother to bring my pants.  Some elders actually brought their clothes to the MTC, but they're sending it back because there's no need.

     I got the package with the credit card and candy!  Thank you!!!  My companion and I loved the surprises.  I just hope we don't end up being those missionaries that gained 50 lbs in the MTC (true story).   :)  Is the credit card hooked up to my account?

    Give my love and appreciation to the Hancock Family.  They're awesome.  My companion is from Madison, Alabama, and he LOVES football!!  The "Roll Tide Roll" on his snacks made his day.

     Sorry for sending you not-so-good pictures in my email.  Turns out because of the computer's restrictions and my camera's quality, I can only send 2 pictures at a time.  I might just send you an SD card with pictures and you can send it back.

     I love the MTC!! It's a ton of work and fun, but we get stuff done.

                                                           A Igreja e verdadeira,

                                                                     Elder Fuss

P.S.  Barney Fife is now a part of my name badge :)  "Nip it!"

             Oh forgot to mention, my companion and I missed our haircutting appointment because of the temple trip, but I'll let you know how next week's goes.  I'm definitely OK for another week compared to other missionaries around here.

                   Miss you all, but I wouldn't miss being a missionary!!! :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

First P-Day August 23rd, 2013

Hi Mom, Dad, Mama, Papa, B, Rosie, and Joe!!

The MTC is great! Even though the schedule can be boring sometimes (it's nearly the same everyday), everyday is FUN! Everyday is pretty much like this:

We wake up at 6 - a little earlier than everyone else, but we use that time to write letters and in our journal. Breakfast is at 7:15 for us. They usually have eggs, hashbrowns, and sausage, and they always have cereal and donuts every morning. The breakfasts are usually pretty good. They say that the food here will ruin you if you let it, and I can see why: it's all-you-can-eat and drink!!
After breakfast we have an hour of personal study. My companion and I like to study outside on the benches and get some fresh air. Outside it kinda looks like Disney World in the morning with all the nice landscaping and flying birds, and the Utah summer weather is pretty close to Florida.
At 9 we have our classes till noon. Our whole district (6 companionships) go to our classroom where our teacher  (Sister H) teaches and talks to us completely in Portuguese!! Our class time goes for three hours, but our teacher mixes it up with Lesson Coaching (asking us how our planned lessons are going for our investigators), a Language Lesson, and teaching Missionary Skills. It's usually during this time that Elder H and I put our lesson together for our "investigator" for that night. 
We have lunch at noon, and there's usually burgers, hot dogs, and some other special like spaghetti or teriyaki. The cafeteria is HUGE!! There's tons of tables for missionaries and a ton of staff working during the meals (except for Sunday mornings - hardly anyone works that morning). The building is a dedicated place, so they have a strict rule that you must be in Sunday clothes to come in. For meals it's kinda like a buffet, but you have three choices. You just decide what you want, hop in the right line, and they give it to you on a tray. How they do dishes is really neat! It's a conveyor belt system where you put all your silverware in a moving bin, turn your empty glasses upside down, and set your tray on the belt. Somebody in the back unloads them off the belt and takes it from there. 

After lunch we have TALL for an hour. TALL stands for Technology Assisted Language Learning. It's like a cheezy kind of Rosetta Stone for missionaries. You just click on words, phrases, or pictures to learn words and grammar. But it's good for learning gospel vocabulary that are used in the Discussions.
And then we have another hour to study whatever we want, either by yourself or with your companion, and then there's GYM time. With gym you can go outside to the field or the inside gym. Outside there's a field where they throw frisbees and play soccer. There's also beach volleyball and four-square outside. And inside there's basketball, volleyball, and four-square. The whole gym-time is about an hour or so, and we have that 5 times a week. 

Dinner's at 5, and then there's another 3 hours of classroom time, although not with a teacher. That's the time that Elder H. and I really practice our lessons and do final prep for that night's lesson to our investigator, and we teach it during those 3 hours. If we're done teaching, we'll usually mess around until it's 9:00 and time for us to go back to our residence halls. 

There's 6 beds in our room, and they're all bunk beds. But there's only four elders in the room, so three sleep on the bottom bunks, and one has to sleep on the top. And guess who volunteered to sleep on the top..... :) There's plenty of room for our stuff, like a couple desks, a few closets, but not a whole lot else, but it's home for the next five weeks. In fact today our room was inspected and we got a "Commendable" score - the best one!!

Thanks again for the cookies, the packages, and all the awesome support from you all!!!! I love hearing from you, and I'm so grateful to have such a supportive family!! It's sad, but there's some missionaries who haven't heard from their parents until today. I will definitely get a calling card so I can call you before I head to either Brazil or wherever I get reassigned. But good news!!! One of the elders in my district got their visa yesterday, so he's headed for the Sao Paulo MTC on Tuesday!! Hopefully mine comes soon, but it'll be awesome either way. 

Anyways, love you all!!! I only get an hour of email-time on P-day, but don't hesitate to email me back as soon as you can. I've been writing my emails before I email them, so I have extra time. 

Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts. Missionary work can be hard, but it's so worth it when you know that you're doing the Lord's work. 


Elder Jacob Nissinen

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Letter #5

Hi Mom and Dad!                                                                                     Tuesday, August 20

     It's great to hear from you!  I just got your letter through Dear Elder, and it absolutely made my day.

     The credit card sounds like a good idea!  Will there be any money on my debit card in the meantime?  I've been buying envelopes, stamps, and other toiletries to get me through the next couple weeks.  Each week the MTC puts $6 on our "Blue cards"-our cards that let us get into buildings and the cafeteria.  It's kinda like an allowance, but it goes by really fast.

     What's a calling card?  How does that work?  Do they let missionaries call from the airport?

     The stickers and CD would be awesome!  I don't have a CD player; most of the other missionaries brought an iPod and portable speakers.  If you could send me the Missionary Reference Library (Jesus the Christ, Our Search for Happiness, Our Heritage, and True to the Faith), that would be totally awesome!  In the MTC's bookstore, they never have them all in a set, and they hardly have them individually in English.  So if you could send that whenever that would be awesome!

     The MTC is like a big study group and teaching group.  From 9-12, we have language lessons from a teacher, and in the evening (usually around 6-9), we prepare our lessons for our "progressing investigator" (somebody who volunteers to pose as an investigator and have the lessons taught to him.) It's usually a lot of studying, and we're bushed at the end of the day.

     Rosetta Stone helped a TON!  I can string sentences together pretty well, and since I've been here a week, my Portuguese is getting better.  It's hard though.  Rosetta Stone doesn't teach you how to teach church doctrine, but it did help understanding verbs and sentence structure.  Our 3rd day here they had us teach our first lesson in Portuguese!  It was really nerve-racking, but we pulled through.

     My companion is Elder H.  He's a 19 year old from Alabama, and spent this last year saving up money for his mission.  I've been helping him out in Portuguese a lot, and I've had to help him forget all the Spanish he knew and turn that into Portuguese.  But we work great together.  He's a really nice guy, kinda like a big brother to me.  He has a girlfriend at home, and he's ALWAYS getting or sending letters, packages, etc.

     I saw Elder W on the flight here, but I haven't seen him around here.  The MTC is crazy because you'll run into the same people all the time, even though there's hundreds of other missionaries you never do see.  Like I've only seen Elder B once this whole time, but I've seen Elder M and Elder S all the time.

     Dad, I TOLD YOU SO!  Haha, what made you decide to switch back?
     Sorry Joe!  That happens sometimes.  Hope you played safe and tried hard.

     You may or may not get this letter before my first P-Day (the 23rd), but I really love all of your letters!  I appreciate all of your support and love, and I love you so much too!  Be safe, and don't worry; I'm having fun here with other missionaries.

                                                                            Love you all!

                                                                                       Elder Nissinen

             P.S. Rosie, thats great that you have the same seminary class with B!  You both are so lucky!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Letter #4

Dear Family,                                                                                                     Sunday August 16

     Today was Sunday at the MTC!  Not gonna lie, Sunday's are super cool.  It's like EFY, General Conference, and Sacrament meeting all mushed together.  At first I was feeling a little homesick, but what happened this afternoon was FANTASTIC!

     Priesthood meeting was first.  We had it with our zone, which is about 50 people.  Our Branch president, President L. , gave a talk about giving commitments and helping people resolve their concerns.  He's a really cool guy.

     Sacrament meeting was neat too.  It was with our zone, and except for the big number of missionaries, everything else was identical.  We tried to do everything we could in Portuguese, like saying prayers, singing hymns, and giving talks.  Each week the Branch president randomly chooses two missionaries to give a 3-minute talk on a pre-assigned subject, which means that everyone has to come prepared to give a Portuguese talk.

     After lunch, our zone went on a walk around the Provo temple.  It's literally across the street from the MTC, and it's really cool.  It's not as green as Portland's, but i'm excited for Friday when we can go to the temple on our P-Day.  We even saw a protestor outside the temple gate yelling about Mormons and the cross, etc.  One of the missionaries tried to give him a pass-along card, but he turned it down cold.

     After dinner, our whole district decided to go to choir practice, and I'm really glad I went.  There were hundreds of missionaries in the choir, and when we all sang our harmonies, it sounded so cool.  We'll be performing at the Marriott Center this Tuesday for a devotional.  The song we're practicing, Precious Savior Dear Redeemer, is a really powerful song.

    And right after choir, everyone started lining up for the Sunday Night Devotional which is in the gym, so my companion and I rushed to grab our notebooks, so we could get good seats.  A guy named Vai Sekahema spoke that night; he's a sportscaster for NBC and played in the NFL and for BYU in the 80's.  But the best part, he said, was his mission in South Dakota.  He shared his experiences and the conversion stories of those he taught.  That day was 30 years exactly from when he got off his mission.  The work really changes lives!

     And to top it all off, we then watched a devotional Elder Bednar gave a few years ago on Christmas.  The main thing I got out of it, was that we need to turn outwards to be better missionaries and be more Christlike.  I'm not out here as a missionary for me; I'm here to serve Him and invite others to come to Christ.  I've been focusing on myself the last few days, and I realize that as I teach other people and serve, I'm not worried or distressed.  It's interesting because as we lose ourselves in the service of others, we find ourself.  Before I came here, I really thought I knew what it meant to "forget yourself and go to work."  And that's hard!  But through the Savior, I can do this and be the best missionary I can be.

     I love and miss you guys so much!  And I think about you all often.  I pray for your comfort and peace.  I can't wait to hear from you soon and to hear how you all are doing.  I love you!!!

                                                     Please write soon,

                                                              Elder Nissinen

Letter #3

Dear Family,                                                                                                 Saturday, August 17  

     Yesterday we taught our first lesson in Portuguese!  My companion and I taught our first "investigator" (he's actually a member posing as an investigator), and we taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  I don't know how we did it, but we prayed and bore our testimonies in Portuguese! It was a really neat experience.

   Thank you guys so much for the package!  I got it on Friday, and it really made my day!  Our district leader hands out mail everyday, and I was totally excited to hear from you all.  Thank you!  The cookies are great!

     Today we're going to teach Landon again.  We're teaching him the Plan of Salvation, and I hope that we can teach by the spirit, because we can't do it by ourselves.

     So right now it's 6 PM, and we just finished giving Landon our lesson and ate dinner.  Our lesson went great!  Our original lesson we decided to scrap about an hour before we gave it.  So instead we decided to focus on having faith in the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.  And turns out, it was our best lesson yet.  Our teacher even challenged us to teach without using any scripts or notes.  And basically, Elder H and I just prayed for help, and we started teaching.  Landon understood what we were saying, and we committed him to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and to pray about our message.  It really felt great.  For the first time since i've been here I wasn't feeling homesick or stressed; it just felt good.  Elder H and I were giving each other high-fives and hugs, and even though there was a crazy thunderstorm outside, we were smiling.  It just felt great.

     Also today we had our first gym period.  All of the missionaries in an area go to the gym and exercise.  They have basketball, volleyball, four-square, and outside they have beach volleyball and soccer.  For an hour we can do whatever we want.  My companion and I played four-square, and it was nothing but laughs the whole time.  It gets really competitive, especially between the elders and sisters, but its as much fun as restless missionaries can have.  It definitely helps relieve stress and worry.  Tomorrow's Sunday, and I'm really excited for sacrament meeting in the MTC.  I have no idea how it's going to work, but I think it'll be neat.

     How are things going at home?  I hope you're all doing well.  How did Joe do in the Mt Hood Challenge?  I pray for your guys' safety and comfort.  Honestly, its pretty hard living without you guys.  I'm so grateful that we're a close family, and I'm grateful for all of your support.  P-Day just can't come fast enough (it's on Friday).  I love you all!

                                                                                 Your son and "missionario,"

                                                                                           Elder Fuss :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letter #2 from Jacob

Dear family,                                                                                                          
Friday, August 16th

     Today is Day 3 at the MTC!  They've got a huge day planned for us, and nearly all of it revolves around our investigator Landon.  Tonight we're teaching him the first lesson after just a couple days of Portuguese and being a missionary.  My companion and I have been planning for this lesson for hours, because that's pretty much what we do here at the MTC.  My companion Elder H is kinda leaning on me for a lot of the language stuff, so we'll see how this goes.

     There's so much to tell you about the MTC, I don't even think I can fit it all in these letters.

     First off, I love you guys and miss you.  Expect an email from me in a week for our first P-Day.  Honestly, sometimes I feel a little homesick, but they keep you so busy here and there's really not a lot of downtime.

     And it's really a huge change here.  They have high expectations for missionaries, and the only way to be both capable and efficient is with the Spirit.  We're always expected to be busy, whether that's personal study, companionship study, language study, writing home or in a journal, preparing a talk, praying, being in class, eating, being in a workshop, etc.

     I'm not feeling sick or anything, the food here's not bad.  I've already ran into Elder S, Elder M, and Elder & Sister H.  It feels weird being called Elder.  There's really no more being called "Brothers & Sisters," instead it's "Elders & Sisters."  They're really finicky on the rules too: no calling people "guys," instead it's "missionaries."  No gum, no hands in pockets when you're speaking.  And if you're wearing a suit, button it up when you stand, unbutton when you sit down.  Those are some of the wacky rules they have here.

     I like the MTC.  Everyone's super friendly here, always willing to help answer questions.  They say that after your first Sunday, everything gets easier, because there's a lot they throw at you your first few days.  But if I just take things one day at a time, everything will be OK.  Im getting a lot of pictures of the MTC and it's truly a remarkable place.  No one is ever alone, and there's a lot of love here for companions, mission presidents, and everyone else.

     I hope everyone is doing OK.  Let me know when you guys get this letter.

I love you and miss you! The church is true!

                                                              Write back soon,

                                                                      Elder Nissinen


Jacob's first letter from the MTC!!!

Dear family,                                                                                               Thursday 9/15/13

     The MTC here is awesome! I've been busy since I first got here, but the work is amazing. After a quick lunch (which I didn't eat much because of nerves), I met my host missionary. I got my name badge, and he led me to my residence in the Dave Jones building. I got some booklets, Preach My Gospels in Portuguese, and guess what, a Seychelles water filter! I guess I can always use a spare.
     I then went to my teacher, Sister H  to meet my district and the others. We started doing some basic Portuguese get-to-know-you questions and answers, and I blew through those no problem. I think in the next couple of days my companion and I will actually be teaching a real lesson in Portuguese! It's scary to think, but the older elders tell me that you learn it really quick here.
     We then went to a huge auditorium where the MTC presidency talked to us and hundreds of other missionaries. It was like a mini-sacrament without the sacrament. Dinner was awesome (chicken-fried steak), but there was one problem. I didn't have my companion.
     Back in the classroom where I met my teacher, we were assigned companions right there. But mine didn't show up. So I hung around with another companionship past dinner. After dinner we went back to our rooms to start unpacking, when my companion came in with his luggage and host. I didn't care who it was, I was just glad to finally have a companion!
     His name is Elder H, and he's from Alabama! He's 19, about half a head taller than I am, and he's pretty much like an older brother. I can tell he's already got a strong testimony of the gospel and he's excited to share it. We get along great.
     Overall, the MTC is like a huge EFY, Boy Scout camp, and missionary work all rolled into one. All of the older elders are always welcoming the younger ones, and when somebody yells "Elder!" everyone looks. I don't think I'm used to calling myself or other people Elder yet, but it'll stick after a while. Also, the MTC is huge! And there's so much to do. I just barely finished unpacking last night. There's me, Elder H, and another companionship Elder J and Elder V in our residence, and it's all pretty cool here.
     Anyways, I just wanted to write you and tell you that all is well, and it's the start of the best two years. I love and miss you all so much, and I pray for your comfort and safety. Thank you for everything that you do for me. I love you!
     Your son and brother, Elder Nissinen

P.S: I'll put more details in my emails if you want. I can type faster than I can write. My P-days are on Fridays, so I'll be able to email you on the 23rd. I hope everyone is doing well and I love you! I'll email you soon.


Jacob was so lucky to have ward friends Elder and Sister H and Elder S there to greet him as he just got off the bus.
Thank you Elder and Sister H for the pictures.

Monday, August 19, 2013

This is the last picture of all my kids together at the airport...tears, tears, tears.  It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to Jacob.  So much harder than I ever thought it would be.  Jacob was so happy and excited to begin his mission.  I'm so grateful he was stronger than Aaron and I.   There were 4 other missionaries leaving on the same flight.  They all 4 looked like beams of sunlight.  It was an awesome sight to see.  One of the Elders that was waiting in line with us was going to the exact same mission as Jacob.  I know this was not just by chance.  Heavenly Father knew we needed this little bit of comfort before sending Jacob off.   We will miss you Jacob so much but know you are in the best of hands!

We woke up early (3:00 am) for the airport.  As we were walking outside we saw posters all over our street.  What a wonderful surprise. We found out later that Jacob's aunts, uncles, and cousins took
the time to make these AWESOME posters.  We kept them all and will hang them up in 2 years when he comes back home.  Thank you to my wonderful family for this kind and loving gift!!!

Jacob is officially "Elder Nissinen".   What a wonderful spiritual experience it was
to meet with President Richardson.  We all felt the spirit as Jacob was set apart as a full
time missionary.   President Richardson asked Jacob if he would give me (mom) a blessing of comfort.
What a priceless gift it was !!!  We love you Jacob so much!!!