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