Elder Nissinen

Elder Nissinen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Last Week, Last Letter

Dear family and friends, 

I'm not really sure what to say in this letter. It's the letter I've been looking forward to write for a long long time, and now that it's here, I'm at a little loss for words. It might be best to save a large part of what I want to say for my homecoming talk in church in 2 weeks. 

I have done a bit of reflecting the past few days on how my mission has changed me and blessed me. As expected, I'm a lot different than I was when I came two years ago. Slowly and surely, whether because of companions, areas, or members, I've been molded into the man God would intend for me to be. The list of lessons I've learned here is endless, but if there's one thing that's really made an impact on me is that there's a lot of people out there with tough situations, and I'm extremely blessed to have the life I have. Living in America 18 years sheltered me from what real life is like for a large part of the world's population. Being literally immersed in Ghana for two years has opened my eyes and softened my heart. I get to (somewhat) live in humble circumstances for two years and go back to first-world lifestyles. My friends here don't. That will be hard to get over. 

I might have touched a few lives, but without realizing it, so many of them have touched mine too. I pray to Heavenly Father that I never forget the people I've crossed and their stories. 

It's been said that a missionary's most important convert is themselves. My mission has given me the opportunity to be closer to God through studying the gospel and teaching it. As I've read and taught the Book of Mormon, I've come to know it to be true, without a doubt. My mission has helped me to see God working in His children's lives, my own and those I've come across. I know that He lives and that He loves me. Throughout this difficult two years, He's been there to guide, comfort, and confirm to me that this is His Church, and that He loves me. That sweet assurance has blessed me tremendously. 

Last of all, I thank you for your support. Missions are hard enough with a loving, supporting family backing you up. There's a lot of missionaries I've served around who don't have anything near the support I have. The occasional package or letter has really helped me stay sane at times. I especially thank the immediate family for their weekly letters. I realize you are all very busy and tired, and to write me every week was probably a bit of a burden, but know that news and pictures from home - no matter how little - goes a long ways! Thank you. I don't think I could have done it without you. Heck, I barely did it with you! 

My time has come. I will miss the people of Ghana very much. I'm sooooo grateful that I could serve here. This is the best mission ever! 

The Church is True, the Book of Mormon is blue (and true). God loves and wants the absolute best for ALL His children, and is ever-ready to bless us when we do what He's asked. 

I only hope that God will accept my two year offering and find my service worthy. Although I've fallen short at times, I believe I've done my best. I believe I can walk on the airplane feeling like I've made the world a little better. My greatest joy hasn't come from baptizing converts, but rather knowing that I was an instrument in God's hands to carry forth His work. I suppose the baptisms is second! 

Have a wonderful week! Can't even believe I'll be with you all in just one week. Time flies doesn't it? 


Love always, 

Elder Nissinen

Monday, July 10, 2017

By His Grace

Dear family and friends, 

I'll try and keep it short for now. I don't really know where to elaborate or condense the story...

... but it's been a rough week! Long story short, I have tonsillitis and an abscess in the tonsil, resulting in four pretty miserable, painful, boring, long, tiring days in the apartment. 

Yesterday morning I was able to go see the Area doctor at the hospital. The abscess was drained, my tonsil was cut across (with a pair of stinkin' scissors, but I'm not bitter) and a lot of pressure was relieved. It was expected that I would be admitted to the hospital for 3 to 5 nights, but to our surprise they released me that evening, and I've been at the mission home since. I'm on several different drugs, so hopefully that kicks in soon. 

That was the first Sunday I've missed my whole mission! 

I was quite worried that I'd have to stay on my mission for extra time until my health was better, but it looks like I'll be fine. I'm just glad I can swallow food again (after two days of not being able to).

During the climax of pain, the city shut off our water for 24 hours. I so badly just wanted to throw my hands in the air and beg God to leave me alone (or to stop leaving me alone, whichever), but I exercised faith and patience that things would eventually work out and I'd be back in America with my family in 2 weeks. It was one of those moments where I really had a heartfelt conversation with my Father. Truthfully, I hadn't had one like that in a while. It felt sincere, and it felt good. 

Also, because I couldn't do much other than sleep and breath for about 4 days, I was able to read a lot of Church doctrine. I read a lot of "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W. Kimball and a neat book called "In Defense of Truth". It also gave me time to catch up on some postponed, needed journaling. 

I'm so grateful to God for helping me through all this. As the locals say, "I'm fine, by His Grace". I'm grateful to Sister Jones, the mission nurse, for all she's done. I know I haven't been easy for her to deal with. Also Dr. Anderson - he spent most of yesterday in the hospital with me. I'm especially grateful for Elder Ackley - he's been very patient and helpful during all of it. Because I couldn't speak, he took all the phone calls for the zone and investigators the past 2 days. Being sick sucks, but having a sick companion is almost just as bad! 

Thank you for your prayers and support on the homefront too. I appreciate it so much. Don't worry. Pretty soon this bad dream will be over and I'll be in America with a bacon cheeseburger and Reese's Blizzard against my tonsils. 

Have a great week! 

Love, Elder Nissinen

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Happy 4th!

Dear family and friends, 

Elder Ackley and I had a great 3rd week together! Our goal, as I've mentioned previously, is to baptize a few more investigators, and for him to be familiar with the area/members before I go. 

I was able to get several souvenirs last Monday, so I'm doing really well on that. The only problem will be the weight! I hope everything will fit. I'm a bit more nervous for home than I expected. I'll really miss this place. It feels so weird to image that I"ll be in America with you all at the end of this month. 

It's hard to focus at time with everyone around you constantly reminding you of when you're going home. I'm hanging in there though! I am enjoying every day, and taking lots of pictures. 

As for the exciting stuff of my week, I got a call from President Heid. His 16 year-old grandson Connor came to visit Ghana for two weeks, and he wanted us to take him out teaching with us for the day. You'll see from the pictures - Connor looks just like "Incredi-boy" from the movie Incredibles. I was with Connor, and Ackley was with another missionary. It was a really fun day! He reminded me of Joe - "slightly" cocky, funny, and easy-going. I took him around the area and showed him some of the cool stuff. He tried a few of the local foods. He did a good job teaching the Joseph Smith story for a 16 year-old. 

That night was a multi-stake YSA activity at our chapel. Because we lived at the church, we stayed for all of it. It was kind of a dance party/dinner/social. I'll try and upload a video or two, but it was really fun! I'm a bit sore - it's been a while since I've danced like that. 

Sad to say, but President and Sister Heid are gone! President and Sister Keyes flew in Saturday, and the Heid's left that night. I haven't met them yet, but I will Wednesday at MLC. I feel a little bad for the couple - they have 3 years, and I have 3 weeks. I guess they are really gung-ho about this calling. They're a bit younger, and their energy will be useful. 

Looks like you all are soaking up the summer sun with all the fun you're having! That's great, keep it up. Have an explosive 4th of July! Blow up one of those Excalibur's for me. 

Love, Elder Nissinen