Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Monday, July 28, 2014

First off, I think that´s an awesome family motto! Kinda describes how things went down this week for us.
We had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader Luis on Tuesday night, and boy it went great. He´s a convert and a returned missionary, and he´s got some great ideas on how we can get the work really going, not just teaching and baptizing, but converting our investigators and eventually getting them to the temple. He gave us a Gospel Library picture book that´s got artwork of pretty much everything in the Church - it´s a great tool to help out with the Portuguese. Pictures say a thousand words right? I proposed the idea of the 40 Day Fast that you guys did at home and that Mojave River did before I came in. The Bishop yesterday told me it was an awesome idea! I´m sure we´ll see some awesome miracles from it. Luis and us set a goal to get 6 investigators at Sacrament Meeting this week. And to get us pumped for it, he had us shout it from the top of his balcony overlooking the town: SEIS!!! 
So we went right down to work after that, inviting, inviting, and inviting all of our investigators, contacts, less-actives, practically everyone. We made Following-Up a main theme, because especially here it´s very easy for temptation to come along and distract people from the things that really matter. We found a few new investigators too with some good potential. 

Cutting a break in the story, I went on Exchanges two times this week. Once in my ZL´s area, and then other a greenie in my district joined me for the day. My ZL´s have a super solid investigator that has a legit hammock. She let me go inside, wrap myself up like in a caccoon, and hold on for dear life while they swung me back and forth. Missionaries have to make up their own thrill sometimes haha. The other day when I was with the greenie Elder T.  (from Utah) was a ton of fun. It´s great seeing that Greenie Fire go to work, and we even celebrated our successes with some pizza (I´ve got pictures). Being a District Leader is great! 

Back to the story. We were praying like crazy to help get those 6 at Sacrament, and then Sunday came. We passed by every single investigator on the way to the chapel, and unfortunately they were all sleeping and didn´t want to be woken up, busy and didn´t answer the door, or they dropped us all together. That´s the hardest thing about missionary work here, is getting people to Church. It wasn´t easy walking to Church yesterday, but your darn right that We Do Hard Things. And it´s worth it. God answered our prayers with an investigator at church who´s family is super-Catholic and anti to the Church - and she liked it! The Portuguese is coming along pretty well. I can pretty much say whatever I want without having to repeat myself. I think my accent is going away too. It´s harder for Elder B. though. It´s sad but when people ask us how long we´ve been out, they say I speak better than he does even though he has more time. I pray for him. 

It´s rare that I do speak English with anyone. One time a member wanted us to have a conversation between Elder B. and I for a minute to see if she´d understand anything. It felt so weird that I think my mouth muscles were a little sore after just talking normally. So weird! 

I can´t believe I have one year left on my mission. Holy cow it´s gone by so fast. We walk a lot, and some days are longer than others, but looking back I´ve loved every second of it, and it makes me want to work even harder and serve with no regrets. Missions are amazing.

I love you all very much and I hope you have an awesome week. I´m glad to hear everything´s going better with Grandma and that Monday went great too. You´re all so awesome. I know that God sents help from both sides of the veil for His children. 

We do hard things, because it´s worth it. 

Love Elder Nissinen  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thanks for the emails this week. I´ll be with you all in spirit during Grandpa´s funeral.

Compared to a somewhat rough first week of the transfer, this last week went a lot better. I´m not having to use my little portable map as much, and Elder B.  and I had some great experiences teaching and working with our members. 

Wednesday we had our interviews with President del Guerso. Mine went super fast. No problems? Good! haha But while everyone else was getting interviewed the Assistants gave a training about how our focused needs to be changed. The stats in Brazilian missions are these: during 2013, 44,000 people were baptized. Out of those 44,000, only 4,000 remained active in the church - less than a tenth! What that means is that we´ve got to find those people who are seriously looking for change and a better purpose, and families who´ll stay active together. 

So what Elder B.  and I have been doing is going through everyone we´ve been teaching and seeing if they actually have potential and a desire to progress. Meaning, we´ve had to drop a few people. It´s hard at times, but hopefully in the future they´ll be prepared and ready to accept it. 

Luckily (even though there´s no such thing as luck on a mission), we were able to find a couple families this week. One we contacted a few days ago and yesterday we taught them the Restauration. It´s one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite lesson to teach - there´s so many great things that came because of a young man´s prayer. The family was pretty excited about it, and we committed their son to baptism. The parents are a little hesitant and want to check things out first, but they´re ultimately not disregarding the idea of baptism. 

Saturday night we had our Festa Julina! It´s like a big Harvest festival. People dress up in ^cowboy^ kind of clothing (straw hats, boots, the girls in pig tails) and it´s a bunch of sweets, soda, and corn on the cob. We brought two of our investigators, and they seemed to enjoy it!  They had a ring toss that ripped me off of all my tokens, and then this little kid got up and won no problem - how embarrassing. 

We´re getting fed really well. Today I switched from Frosted Flakes to healthy eggs and toast for breakfast. Elder B.   is teaching me the tools of the trade of going healthy. 

Well that´s about it that happened this week. We´re both working very hard. I know that my year-mark is close (too close), so now´s really the time to shine. 

I´m so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the knowledge, power, and happiness that is in our lives and in the lives of those we love. I´m grateful to know that endings don´t exist, only new beginnings. It´s hard and sad to see Grandpa go, but we know he´s free at last from all of mortal life´s difficulties. I love you all. 

Love Elder Nissinen 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Family,

My new companion Elder B. from Lousiana

Well. Those last two games weren´t really expected to go like that, but everything is calm now. Everyone knew it wasn´t gonna be easy without the captain and star player of the team, but it´s only a game. Being a German for the week was actually pretty fun. I thought there´d be a bunch of riots after the big loss Tuesday, but I guess people were so shocked at what happened that it wasn´t anything too dangerous or crazy. And because Brazilians have such a rivalry with Argentina, the whole country was rooting for Germany to win yesterday. At the end of the day, it´s just a bunch of games, but I´m especially glad Argentina didn´t win. Imagine all the trash-talk I would´ve gotten from Elder Moore, Elder Bailey, Sister Sorenson, and all the other Argentinian missionaries I know! haha But it´s good to be back going in ^4-wheel drive^ without having the World Cup hiccups in missionary work. 

So my new companion, Elder B. , is from Zachary, Lousiana, close to Baton Rouge. We both come from a pretty similar situation: we both didn´t get our visas right off, so we both served in California reassignments. He served in the Sacramento Mission for 3 transfers and then came here. I´ve got one more transfer than he does in the mission in total, and he´s got one more transfer in Brazil. We both aren´t fluent, but it kinda works to our advantage a little haha. The members have been helping us out with finding some great people to teach and helping us learn some speaking and teaching skills.

The first few days of the transfer were pretty rough. Without Elder C. we got lost in our area a couple times, and communicating wasn´t easy either. But this last week I learned a bunch of lessons, especially about gratitude. Just looking back at all the things God has blessed me and our family with has really made me learn to be grateful in whatever circumstances, kinda like what President Uchtdorf talked about in his last talk. Just a bunch of little things that have added up. Some examples off the top of my head are: not sure which bus to take to get to our lunch appointment, and we end up picking the right one without getting lost. All of our backup plans fall through, and we get some referrals from the Mission Office to go visit. Not really sure what to say to an investigator, but the words come out and we both are feeling the Spirit. Honestly there´s no way that two 19 year olds can do this work by ourselves, and it´s crazy if we´re trying to.

I had a great first week as a District Leader too!! I had my first Baptismal Interview with someone that Elder C.  and I had found a few weeks ago and passed him off to the Elders in his area. It was pretty cool sitting down with him to talk about his progress and his commitment to be baptized. The hard part about it was that it had to be done at 10:30 that same night!! His baptism was the day after and he had work in the morning, so the only way it could´ve been done was the night before. By the time Elder B.  and I got home, it was 11:30!! But at least we helped someone get ready to be baptized, that´s the important thing. 

Please pray for Elder B.  and I so that we can find and teach those people who are prepared here. It´s been a while since someone has been baptized and remained active in the Church in this ward. 

We´ve got some great things coming up! This Saturday we have the Festa Julina, which is like a big harvest festival they´ve got in Brazil. Should be fun! 

I´m definitely praying for Grandma and Grandpa. I sent her a quick note too. Keep me updated on their condition. I love them both very much.

Great to hear you all had a great time at Black Butte! Thanks for the sweet pictures too! 

Love you all very much!! Have a great week!!

Elder Nissinen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Macedonia zone
Hi family!! 

I bet you´re all expecting the news of what happened with transfers. Well, the Assistants called us last night with some bittersweet news. First the bitter: Elder C.  is being transferred to downtown São Paulo, but he´s gonna be a zone leader! And I get to stay here in Macedônia and be District Leader! I´m pretty excited, but it´ll be different being a DL in Portuguese. My next companion is Elder B.  All I know is that he´s American and has one more transfer in Brasil than I do. The swaps happen tomorrow morning. These last 4 weeks with Elder C.  have been awesome. Even though we didn´t baptize anyone, I learned a lot from him and we had a great time. And it´s good to know that we´ll see each other again since we go home about the same time.

I saw all the awesome pictures of the 4th of July party. It looks like it was such a blast!! On Thursday I went on exchanges with my zone leaders, and Elder R. , an American, came into my area for the day. When our last appointment of the day fell through, we decided to pre-celebrate the 4th in the only way we could and going all-out American. So we went to the supermarket and bought everything we needed for an American BBQ: hamburger patties, buns, catchup, chips, Coke, ice cream, as creative as our budget would allow us haha. I used the liberty of the credit card, just so you know Dad haha thanks. Elder Ross and I had a ton of fun. The next morning we woke up and sung all the patriotic hymns in our English hymn book. It´s funny how your patriotism goes up when you´re away from your country haha.

The days leading up to, the day of, and the days after the Colombia/Brasil game were pretty intense, especially for my Colombian companion. I didn´t understand everything, but I could just tell that there was some good trash talking going on haha. People here take their futebol just as serious as the Bible. We watched the game in a member´s home, and after the game I stood on his balcony to see all the after-game fireworks. It was a good way to hit off the 4th. 

But now, people here have the crazy idea that me and all the other American missionaries are German! We just walk down the street and the first thing strangers tell me is ^Hey German^. Who knows what´s gonna happen without Neymar and T. Silva, but it´s not gonna be easy. Elder C. is just happen that even though his country lost, they took out Neymar hahaha. 

Besides all the on-the-side stuff that´s been happening because of the World Cup, this last week was one of our most fruitful proselyting weeks. We met this lady on the street who turned out to be a less-active who hadn´t been to Church in 7 years! And she was preparing to go to the Temple right before she went less-active. Turns out she has a son who wasn´t baptized. So we taught him Wednesday about the Restauration, and left him a pamphlet to read and pray about. We followed-up with him a couple days later, and he told us he read, prayed, and felt like every word we said and he read was true!! We introduced the Book of Mormon, talked about what we should do when we get a confirmation, and then BOOM: committed him to be baptized for the last Saturday of this month. And even better; one of the best questions that a missionary loves to hear is, ^what do I need to do to be baptized?^ It´s sweet music haha. So we´re gonna work a lot with Felipe (that´s his name) in these next coming weeks. 

The members have been helping us out a lot too. Yesterday we had lunch with Bishop and his family, and after eating a TON (Fast Sunday meals are the best), we offered to do the dishes for her like we always do with the sisters. Normally they decline the offer, but the Bishop´s wife said that past missionaries never offered to do them for her. So we spent the next half-hour scrubbing, washing, and drying all the lunch dishes haha. Lesson learned: being called to serve doesn´t always mean knocking (or clapping in front of) doors haha.

Hope you all have a blast at Black Butte!!! Sounds like a lot of fun! Thank you for telling me about how Grandpa´s doing. I´ll keep him in my prayers. What an amazing story Dad!! 

I love you all so much!!! Have an awesome week!!

Love Elder Nissinen

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We got to go the temple today!!!

Hey family!!!,

With two games this past week, it wasn´t our best proselyting week. This is the last week of the transfer, and I really hope that both Elder C. and I will stay for six more weeks. We´ve been working super hard to find and teach some quality investigators and to build trust from the ward. We find out Sunday night who´s going where, and then the actual swap is on Tuesday, but we´re both hoping we stay in Macedonia. Elder C.´s a great guy and a great missionary. 

I hope you all watched the Brasil-Chile game. HOLY COW!! If you wanted to hear the world go nuts, you should´ve been there. You wouldn´t believe it. Incredible how a country totally erupts when a ball goes in a net. And of course Neymar saved the day. Everyone here thinks he´s the greatest. Boy was it a close one. And when Neymar got the last PK, everyone was screaming, yelling, cheering, everything. The member who were watching the game with even let off a bottle rocket on his balcony! With the games before, President has told us we need to be home as soon as possible afterwards, but with Saturday´s game, we thought it´d be best to camp out an hour or so and wait till things quiet down a little. And since the game was at 1pm, our proselyting was shot. So we just went home, cleaned up our house a little, and went to bed early haha. You only get that opportunity when you´re sick on the mission haha.

There was another close call this week. It´s normally custom when you greet someone (between girls and guys-to-girls) to shake their hand and give them a peck on the cheek. Of course missionaries can´t do that, but not everyone knows that. During a lesson this week this lady walked in the house, shook my hand, and then almost kissed me!!! When she leaned in, I said pretty loud, ^Whoa no!^ and she backed off. It was one of the most freakiest moments of my mission!! haha That´s why we keep a stiff arm when we shake hands. 

Have to admit I´m a little jealous of your super-4 of July party you´re having this week. But it just so happens that Friday is also the same day as the next Brasil game, so I´ll still be celebrating. Elder C.´s pretty nervous, being Columbian and all. His country plays Brasil Friday, and for his own safety he´s praying that Brasil wins haha. And just in case, he´s already gone around saying that he´s from Bolivia and not Colombia haha.  

We went to the Temple this morning! Man I´m so lucky that President lets us go every transfer. Life would be a lot harder without the Temple. One of the greatest feelings in the world. 

Even though things have been kinda rough with missionary work, we still see little miracles God blesses us with. Most of our investigators don´t like to commit, or they forget appointments, or sleep instead of going to church. The work isn´t always easy, even in Brasil, but we still see blessings and Elder C. and I have definitely been feeling the Spirit when we teach. Last night I went on splits with some RM´s in Macedonia. They had a friend that they brought to Church Sunday and we got to teach him last night. They´ve been home for about 6 months now, and after the lesson we got to talking about missions in general. They told me they´d give anything to be back on their missions, instead of having to worry about school, work, and life. It´s super true. I don´t want it to go by as fast as it already has been. I´ve never felt so good about what I´m doing in my life as I am right now. 
Teaching Elder C. english 

 Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. This work cannot and will not be stopped, even if we have to pause every now and then for a soccer game haha. 

Have a great 4th, but be safe too! Don´t get too crazy with the mordars and snow cones haha.

Love you all very much!   Elder Nissinen
Reading scriptures on the bus ride

We found an awesome burger place - the biggest burger of my life for R$6!!