Our family has been so blessed over the last year as Elder Ellis has worked and prepared to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shoua and I have watched him grow as a person and could not be more pleased with the responsible man he has become.
Called to Serve
Elder Ellis was very excited to receive his call to serve English-speaking in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission. Because he is part-Hmong, he has many relatives in the mission area. He may even learn a few more Hmong words than he already knows. He is to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on March 18, 2015.
Elder Ellis wanted to earn money to pay for his mission. One ward member referred Elder Ellis to a company in Springville, Utah, that made name tags, including missionary name tags. Elder Ellis began working for them. He worked between eight and ten hours a day Monday through Friday, cutting and processing name tags. It was tedious work, but it allowed him to earn the money he needed. It also brought other, more eternal, rewards.
While working in Springville, Elder Ellis met Karina. Karina had first been introduced to the Church while participating in Young Women’s camp and other Church activities. She had been raised Catholic. When she met Bryce, she told him that she wanted more happiness in her life. They had many discussions about the Church over the next few months. Elder Ellis also gave her a Book of Mormon with his testimony in it and told her that they could read it together over the phone, if she wanted to, since they lived so far apart.
The company had a Christmas party. Elder Ellis needed someone to go with him, so he asked his best friend, Lucia Montagnoli (now Sorella Montagnoli), to accompany him. While at the party, Elder Ellis and Sorella Montagnoli sat with Karina. Sorella Montagnoli, upon finding out about Karina’s interest in the Church, took down all her information and arranged to have the missionaries come teach Karina.
The missionaries taught Karina, and many members of what would become her ward in Springville fellowshipped her. In early February, Karina told Elder Ellis that she wanted to be baptized. She also told him that she wanted him to give the talk on baptism and baptize her. It was a great honor for him to be able to baptize his friend.
Here is what Karina said of Elder Ellis recently:
You’ve inspired me to be the best woman I can be, you inspired me to help others be the best that they can be, you inspire me to be like you more and more each day. I love you Elder Bryce Ellis. You blessed my life and continue to bless it everyday. I’ll see you in two.
We often don’t see just how much the Lord’s hand is in our lives. He can take a setback and turn it into an awesome experience. The opportunity to meet Karina and share the Gospel with her has been a great blessing in Elder Ellis’s life.
This past Sunday, Elder Ellis spoke in sacrament meeting on Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, “Are We Not All Beggars?” Elder Ellis talked about ways we could give, whether we are rich or poor. He said that one of the ways he has given and will continue to give is by sharing the gospel. He told the story of his friend, Karina, and her decision to be baptized.
He also talked about each member of our family, how much we had influenced his life and how much he loved us. We were all in tears. Even Elder Ellis, who keeps his emotions in check pretty well, was choking up with emotion. He also thanked the ward members for their support and love. He considers them very much family too.
After the block of meetings, we had a get-together at our house. Well over seventy family and friends came to wish Elder Ellis well on his mission. It was such a blessing for him to see how many people love and support him in his decision to serve a mission.
Getting Set Apart
Tonight, our son was set apart to be a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission. He’s officially Elder Bryce Ellis now! Our stake president, President Livingston, set him apart and pronounced a wonderful blessing upon him. In the circle were President Livingston, Bishop Whitehead, a return missionary friend, Kyle, Elder Ellis’s Uncle Willie, and myself. The Spirit was strong. It was a good, sacred experience. As parents, we are confident that Elder Ellis will be in the Lord’s hands and be protected, and that angels will bear him up and lead him to those seeking the gospel.
Afterward, as we dried our tears, Elder Ellis pushed his pin into the map of all the missionaries from our stake. Then we took family pictures and got him to bed by 10:30 pm. Tomorrow, he’s entering the MTC!
Go forth and serve, Elder Ellis!