Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Monday, February 29, 2016


Dear family and friends, 

Things have changed! Big time! 

We received a call from President Heid Thursday. Apparently some Sister's apartment in a nearby area almost got broken into the day before, so they needed a safer place to stay. Our apartment is the closest one to theirs, so we were ordered to swap apartments with the 4 Sisters (ours is much safer). I assumed I'd still be companions with Elder Madsen, and that our areas would be white-washed. 

Well Saturday I got another call and was told that Elder Madsen was no longer going to be my companion. I'm with Elder Winborg, from Eagle River, Alaska! He's been out almost as long as me, and he's a great guy. I am still in the same apartment as Elder Madsen, but I'm no longer with Elder Bergeson and Kambwiri, which makes me a little sad. We are lucky though to be in the Sister's apartment, which is much nicer than ours! My area is about 20 minutes from my old area, so it's not too big of a transfer, but it's still stressful.
I will miss being in the same apartment as Bergeson. Man can he eat! We are in the same district though. 

Rose, a wonderful lady who will be baptized 12th March. She doesn't speak English, but she is so kind.  
The hardest part of all this is leaving Sangonaa. I loved that area so much! Everything I've learned up to this point has been in Sangonaa. The work was going soooo good too (4 baptisms next month) and I won't be there to keep it going. It's being white-washed by Sister missionaries. So basically the past few days we've been going around saying goodbye to everyone and helping the Sister's understand our area and investigators. Yesterday Elder Madsen and I gave our farewells in sacrament. Boy, it's sure hard leaving an area after so long! However, the work is apparently going great here, and Elder Winborg is a hard worker, so I'll be alright!

Had to say goodbye to Pascalene. Not easy. 

Just some friends of ours. This girl is so cool! I always told her she was my kid sister. Great girl. 

One lady I baptized with her family. One of my favorites to hang with!

I've learned a few things through this madness: 1) - It's the Lord's work, wherever I go. I'm hesitant on turning the area over, but the work is the same wherever, and the Sister's will be just fine in the end. His work will press forward. 2) - "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord!" As part of the Lord's army, I listen to my commander, President Heid, and don't complain. He knows what's best for this mission, and I listen and obey as a soldier would do. 3) - It's important to be satisfied with NOT receiving recognition for my efforts. I so badly wanted those 4 convert baptisms next month, but letting others fulfill what I started needs to be alright by me. I don't need to to be recognized for everything I do. We're all a part of a team.
3 of the 4 in this picture have been baptized in the past 5 months. Seth and his friend Matthew are very strong in the gospel and awesome people! 

I'm excited to visit my new investigators and new area this week! 

Yes, I did receive the Valentine's Day packages! Those were some really great treats! Nothing beats American chocolate. Thanks a lot family for putting that all together. 

Congrats Jacob on your progressing investigator. Hard to believe Chancho is leaving. He'll be a great missionary. I'm excited for him! Good luck Joe in tennis this week. Have fun camping this weekend! 

More news to come! 

Love Elder Nissinen

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Golden Investigator

Dear family and friends, 

Jacob, I'm using the title of your letter. Congrats on your new "investigator". Make sure you stay in contact with your investigator daily, as taught in Preach My Gospel. 

As for my week, it was awesome! Tough, hot, humid week, but boy were our efforts worth it. I would like to report about our "new area" we explored this week. It went surprisingly really well! We found several people who are prepared for the gospel. This area is a bit more secluded and not near as populated. There are also a lot more people who can speak English in this area, so it's all good news for us! We were blessed with two super golden investigators this week. One man is neighbors with Seth (our recent convert) and has such a similar life-story. Both men are the same age and have been through similar experiences. The man is named Matthew, and he's such a prepared individual. We've set his baptism for just under 3 week's time. Matthew is lives alone and gets really lonely, so we visit him throughout the day and talk about his life. We had fun the other day as he showed us pictures from his past. 

Yesterday had to be about the best Sunday I've almost ever had. We had FOUR investigators attend Sacrament, and all FOUR have baptismal dates for next month! We are so excited for the chance to possibly baptize FOUR converted souls into the Church the same month. It's a lot of work and preparation to make it happen ( a few can't speak English or are illiterate), but having investigators who desire to come to Christ is what we love! 

Like I said, the weather is really heating up. I'm getting heat rashes from it. 

I'm excited for what this week will bring us. We're having an increased focus on knowing the member's in the Branch and working with them. 

I wish I had a funny story to share, but I can't think of any this week.... darn! 

The work is good, our investigators are awesome, and our area is massive! We are having to bike all day instead of walking to meet our appointments on time now. 

You'd be proud of my budgeting, Mom.  I've done really good the past two weeks of using my Sub money, so I get to spend on average 20 cedis a day!~

Well, I love my mission.  I know without a doubt this is where I'm suppose to be right now.  Ghana is so life-changing.  I'm so grateful for this opportunity I have to be here serving the Lord among so many wonderful people.  Everything about this mission is fun!  I love the gospel.  I love teaching it to others, no matter how terrible their english is!  My mission is helping me become more patient, more humble, more Christ-like, more selfless, more thrifty, and more loving.  And most importantly,  I have a deeper understanding of the gospel and the scriptures.  I am gaining my testimony of all different things.  This experience is tuning me into a man!  Nothing else I could be doing now would replace these things I'm learning and seeing!   I've noticed the past few days how simple life is here, compared to the U.S.  I've always dreamed of living in the 50's or 60's. where things were just simpler and slower.  I've realized I'm somewhat living that lifestyle now.  Things are slower, simpler, and less high-tech.  I love Ghana for that reason!

Sounds like everyone is doing well. Congrats Joe on being smooth at the Stake Dance. I haven't received any packages yet, but I'm keeping my eyes out! 

Thinking of high school....  Jacob did a pretty good job of matching "Nissinen" with "A+".  I sort of changed that one to "Nissinen" with "Oh Boy".  Sorry Rosie and Joe!  Everybody leaves their mark.  

Tonight the 4 of us are going to a members house to eat Fufu!  I've eaten very little all day so I can have room for my Fufu tonight!  It'll make for a nice picture too.  Fufu isn't spicy.  Many food are.  Elder Madsen struggles with the peppers still.  Sunday he was sweating and crying at a meal.  My nose only gets runny now.  Your tongue adapts overtime.  Ghanaians like there spices!!!

Have a great week everyone. Sorry for no pictures, it was a busy week. 

Love always, 

Monday, February 15, 2016


Awesome P-day zone activity at the beach today!  Way fun!

Most of our Zone today!

Dear Family and Friends,

We were fortunate to be able to have Elder and Sister Vinson, a General Authority, come tour our mission this week. On Tuesday him and his wife, as well as President and Sister Heid, came and spoke to us. All of the talks were basically on obedience. I loved them all! It was a 3 1/2 hour meeting, but it flew by for me. I really enjoyed all the messages shared. Elder Vinson is really impressive by his knowledge of the gospel and Preach My Gospel. He didn't have a written prepared talk. He spoke by the Spirit, rattling off scriptures, page numbers, and quotes. I learned a lot from him,  but one memorable thing he taught was how the parable of the Good Samaritan is actually about The Plan of Salvation! Mind = Blown. Afterwords, President Heid assigned 4 missionaries to have a personal interview with Elder Vinson. I was "lucky" to be one of those! I was nervous, but it turned out to really relaxed and brief. President Heid liked the flashcards I had made, so he showed them to Elder Vinson too. Elder Vinson is an awesome man! 

As for the rest of the week, it turned out to be about the same as the last. Elder Madsen was "Senior Companion", so he was leading in just about everything. He actually did a really great job. I'm proud of his efforts in not giving up. Saturday was the hardest day of my mission. Everything fell apart and nothing worked out. We taught like 3 lessons the entire day, but Elder Madsen was dedicated and pushed through it well. 

We've readjusted to the circumstances. This week we are going to where possibly no missionary has gone before!! There's a part in the edge of our area that I believe has never been trodden by missionary foot, and as we all know, desperate times calls for desperate measures! We plan to go out with Seth, who lives over in that area, later this week. It should be fun! 

The few progressing investigators we do have are doing great. We've discussed serious baptismal dates for them, and even had a few of them choose their date themselves. Good things to come! 

I am not getting transferred, which I can honestly say is good for me. Elder Madsen and I need more time together, and this area at this time is stretching me and my skills. Had I'd left, it would have been too easy I believe. 

Please put your hands together, because ELDER MADSEN HAS FINISHED HIS TRAINING! That's something that'll only happen once, so it's significant. 
Found this guy the other day.  If Joe keeps up with his pushups, he'll be just like him!

We call him Hulk Hogan.  I mean, I'm already a toothpick,
 but he magnifies it!

By the way...I can eat anything now, no problem. Speaking of food, last night at a member's house they gave us a stick of Orbit gum to chew. As missionaries we don't chew gum, but we were just chilling inside their house, so we had some for like 20 minutes. It was AMAZING! Totally honest, I was giddy. Like I was smiling ear to ear chewing this gum. It's been 6 months since my last piece. I forgot how to chew it too. I think I looked more like a goat or cow than a human. Really funny! 
I discovered a food called "Red Red".  It's by far the best meal I've eaten here! A little tricky to find, but it's so good.  It's red beans with gari and fried plantain.  I don't know why it took me 6 months to find it though! 
A question I get asked a lot from letters back home.  What do you love most about your mission??????? That question is impossible to answer. I love everything! The country, the people, the work itself. Everything, if looked at in the right light, is fun. I really love my mission. Being around people all day is a lot of fun. Teaching the gospel and seeing it sink into peoples' lives is fun. I love it all! 

Sounds like everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day!.Good ol' President's Day is a fun one too. Have a great week! Take care of that truck, Joe. I was getting a little edgy seeing wood in the back of that thing. Keep up the hard work. Jacob, don't worry about the ladies. Treat them like investigators... sometimes they're aren't many, sometimes there are. Sometimes they call you, sometimes they don't! Haha.... 

I'll be keeping my eyes out for Ninnie's package this week!

Love always, 

Elder Nissinen

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Joe, You're Not the Only One...

Dear family and friends, 

Well, this was another wild week in Sangonaa. That about sums it up. 

Last week Elder Madsen and I were a bit disappointed in our numbers, so we had a companionship challenge to work especially hard. A lot of investigators have not been keeping any commitments and have been hard to stay in contact with, so we were really needing some good help. We worked and worked, but the results were still the same for the most part. The language barrier has been taking its toll on us as well. Many people we teach still require a translation, so we have to rely on branch missionaries and others to help us out. It was a challenging week to say the least, but I'm having to constantly remind myself that it is the Lord's Work, and I cannot take away anybody's agency. As long as I do my very best, whatever happens happens, and I have to accept it and keep my head held high. That's life though, right?! We are planting seeds to say the least. 

A lot of focus for us has been on the less-actives and trying to get them interested and coming back to Church again. I get just as excited when I see a less-active in church as I do an investigator. Same! 

There's been an investigator that lives in our area that has been coming to another Ward's meeting time for several weeks now. She brought herself one week, then her husband the next, and then her two friends the next! So we had to "investigate" her. Unfortunately, she can't speak any English, so we were only able to receive her phone number. She never answers her phone, so for weeks now we've been dying to know where she lives so we can come teach her. Well, she came to our meeting time yesterday, and we followed her home! After asking her why she has been coming to our church, she told us that she felt like coming one week, and that every week after she feels like she needs to come back each Sunday. We're really excited to start teaching her family this week!
Birthday Boy Madsen! Our wonderful chicken and mashed potatoe with gravy dinner! It wasn't like the good ol'american potatoes, but I loved it! Bergeson is a genius cook!
Root beer floats!!!! So good!

Saturday was Elder Madsen's birthday. We did some service in the morning, then came back for Elder Bergeson's pancakes, then went out for proselyting. In the evening they got a chicken for dinner and I was in charge of desserts. Well, about an hour through preparing the chicken, I started to get really light-headed. My stomach dropped, and I decided to go to the bathroom....
This is me right after I passed out!  I yelled for help, and they were about to pound the door down, when I told them my head was against the door and they would hurt me if they continued. It was quite the experience!  Passing out is so bizarre!  

.... Well I woke up with my head against the door on the floor! I passed out! Don't really know what it was from. Preparing food like that has never bothered me before. I was thankful I was sitting down and no injuries occurred, other than my neck is a little stiff. I'm still surprised it happened. Joe, (my brother who passed out last summer watching a chicken be butchered.)  you ain't the only one brotha! The sweaty picture I sent is immediately after it happened. 

This week is a very exciting week. Elder and Sister Vinson, a General Authority, is touring our mission this week! He's giving a talk tomorrow for us. We have done a lot of preparation for his coming, including reading several different assignments from conference talks and Preach My Gospel. It is a very serious event, but I'm excited for his address to us. This is Elder Madsen's last week of training (can't believe it), so he's in charge of the phone and planning. I will do my best to emulate a junior companion so that he can prepare. Transfer news is this week as well. I would like to stay or go. I'm neutral, but I love Sangonaa.  Time goes by super fast.  6 months, already?!  Too fas, too fast.  I love it out here.  It's a total blast!!!

I just spent 3 hours hand washing my clothes .  My hands are tore up, but it feels good to be done with that job today. 
I forgot to send this to you.  Flashcards I made about a month ago.  I use them on every lesson!  Very handy.  I got them laminated and everything.  
Thanks for the emails and pictures! Totally jealous of the splitting wood party! Have a great week. Don't get too sunburned in that burning 63 degrees hahaha....

Love always, 
Elder Nissinen

Monday, February 1, 2016

We Push On!

Dear friends and family, 

Sounds like you are all doing well. Congrats on making it halfway through the school year! I am jealous of the camping trip. I too have a lot of fun memories at Mt. Hood Village. 

I thought this picture was a good photo-opp!

Well, this week was pretty challenging in it's own way. 

Tuesday we had our Missionary Worldwide Broadcast. It was way awesome! Elder Bednar and a few others gave talks on our purpose, and how we can be better missionaries. Elder Bednar gave a great discussion about the Holy Ghost, and how critical it is in the conversion process. There were a lot of things he said that I learned. Some other guy gave a great discussion about how we can better teach Less Actives and Recent Converts. He noted that missionaries should treat these people just like investigators, and re-teach them the discussions.That stuck out a lot to Elder Madsen and I. We often just visited the less-actives and said "why aren't you coming to church?" without really teaching them something. If we can rekindle that feeling they felt at baptism, then they will choose to come back once again. So that's been something we've been focusing on: teaching the less-actives. 
After church Elder Madsen gave me a gnalry haircut!

As you know, our teaching pool expanded a bit. We had to work pretty hard to see everyone. It was rewarding going from lesson to lesson all day long for the most part of the week. Even still, the most of our investigators aren't progressing much. Last night I got pretty frustrated. The mother of the 3 children we were planning on baptizing this Saturday told us she no longer wants them to come to Church anymore. Something about her pastor not allowing it. It was a real shock and bummer to say the least, but we're praying for the family. We are struggling for baptisms! We must remember that now matter how hard we work, it's the Lord's Work, not mine. Ultimately, it's our investigator's decision to progress or not. They have and always will have their agency. I'm learning to be "ok" with that the more and more I'm out here. 
Old lady Theresa who can't speak english.  She tole me I'm her boyfriend? We plan on baptizing her within a month or so.

We do have great progressing investigators though. One girl who we planned on dropping a few weeks ago suddenly flipped! She's reading the Book of Mormon twice a day, has a desire to be baptized, and comes to church on her own. We found an old lady who comes to church every week, it's just we didn't know about it. She doesn't know any English, but has a desire to be baptized. With the help of a few neighboring members, we are teaching her in 95% translated discussions! We got her a Book of Mormon in Twi. 

That was our week in a nutshell I suppose. The work is hard, and sometimes not as rewarding as I would like it to be, but I need to be content with what I do have. Elder Madsen is growing well. He's talking more, teaching more, and familiarizing himself with all the people we teach quite well. Only 2 more weeks of training! Yay! 

Yes, transfers are in two weeks. Jacob, thanks for the advice about transfers. I'm anxious about what's next, but I can't focus on that. There's too much to be done around Sangonaa first. I know whenever I go that I will miss Sangonaa very much! Time goes by too fast. I can't believe I'm almost 1/4th through my mission. Crazy! Yeah, I'm completely adjusted to everything now. Nothing is crazy now. We're going to the regular chop bar for lunch. Probably the normal banku and groundnut soup. 
We traveled all the way to the mission home to get supplies, including a box full of Book of Mormons!  It was fun having the Junior companions carry it home.  It's one of my favorite pictures.

I was able to get a few pictures this week, just so you aren't mad at me Mom. 
This is our kitchen!

Love you all. Thanks for the great pictures and emails. 

Elder Nissinen