The Power of Testimonies and Pho!

Featured Photo: And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)

From Elder Ellis:

Good morning everyone! It’s Monday again! I hope you are all doing well. This past week has been a crazy one, but it’s been a wonderful experience for me. So let’s get started about how this week has been!

Well, first things first. I had to spend Tuesday Night and Wednesday Day in Rochester. Elder Yang got transferred, so he obviously had to go to Bloomington. I got to spend the day with Elder Boden and Elder Affleck. It was a good day. We had the Missionary Broadcast. That was a very inspiring broadcast and I’m glad I was able to watch it. The remainder of the days were primarily driving back to La Crosse.

Elder Ellis wrestles the fish!

Elder Lao is my new companion. Let me just say…we’re two peas in a pod. He plays League, I play League. He plays Pokémon, I play Pokémon. He plays Zelda, I play Zelda. He’s Hmong, I’m half Hmong. The other really cool thing about him is that he knows all my Hmong friends at BYU. Yes, he knows Christian, Katalina, Chad, Jeffery, Joseph, Sam, Kelton, and the whole crew. He told me that I basically know all of his friends too. We decided that this transfer is going to be a great one. We are going to get work done and have fun! It’s going to be awesome! I’ll miss Elder Yang, but the Lord needs him in Frogtown.

Hmong pose!

Well, the first night we were in La Crosse we got to visit with Bao. She was pretty excited to meet Elder Lao, but she called me Elder Yang on accident. I hold that to her every time we go over there. Haha. She just laughs and says, “He’s been here so long, I just got used to his name!” Anyway, we had a really great lesson with her.

Later in the week, we visited M___ at Bao’s house and Sister Hanks was able to come with us. It was a great lesson because Bao’s Brothers were there and M___’s sister was there too! We had a great lesson about Repentance and how we can use the Atonement. It was great! Truly inspired of God. I wanted to get a member to come with us to visit Bao and M___, but everyone was busy. We had dinner at the Hanks the previous night, and the thought occurred to me, why not ask Sister Hanks? So I did and the lesson went amazingly well!

We also got to teach K___ this week about the Ten Commandments. He loved the lesson. We used the little hand signals to teach him how to remember the Ten Commandments. It was a good lesson and the Taylors were there too! K___ is doing so well; however, he told us that he will be moving back to California in February. It will be good for him to be back home when he gets baptized. He will be with his family, and his brother and sister-in-law are members too. He wants to get baptized by his brother. I think that will be a great day. I’m excited for him! All we can do is to prepare him basically!

Who’s got who?

On Saturday, we had a great day. We contacted this new Hmong family. They aren’t super interested in changing from shaman, but they invited us to come back! We also were able to teach another family who love to learn from us, they just “don’t have time” for church. It’s okay, baby steps. We also played Volleyball on Saturday night and IT WAS AWESOME! We bought a new volleyball and it’s so much better. We had a lot of fun and laughs. We stopped at Dairy Queen after and had some ice cream. It was a lot of fun!

Sunday was by far the best day of the week though. Church was great of course. M___ came to church! Bao was there too! M___ noticed one of the kids in the ward had grown bigger. I forgot that when the Elders first started teaching her, they invited a member family to fellowship them, and she still remembered them! So we went and talked to them and they got more acquainted and she even got to hold the baby. Seriously though, this baby is so adorable. She’s like eight months old and has more hair than me, but she’s so adorable! Then after church we did some good contacting. We helped Bao with her homework and taught her and K___ at her home. Then we were invited to M___’s house to eat PHO!

M___ holding the baby!

So this lesson deserves a paragraph of its own. So after we taught Bao, M___ invited us over to her house to eat Pho. Bao came with us, but not only as a friend to eat Pho with, but as a JOINT TEACHER! She wanted to come teach them with us! So we had Pho. That was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. M___ likes to put other things in the Pho that I’ve never tried before. Yes Mom, I did successfully make my own bowl of Pho without over-salting it. 😀 (Although M___ helped me some of the time….) M___ likes to put Shrimp or Crab in the Pho too, which was amazingly good too. Mmm, I could go on about the Pho, but for now I’ll go on about the lesson.

So we didn’t really have a huge lesson planned, so we kind of just went with it. I decided to share the “I’m a Mormon” Message about Elaine Bradley. For those who don’t know she is the drummer for the band Neon Trees. (I’m pretty sure Brother Buckner was in the video in the background at some point). They really enjoyed the video, and we started talking about having a relationship with God. Bao did a great job of testifying. It was the greatest thing because she just very simply stated, “I love living the gospel because it makes me happy.” Earlier she was worried, because she said she doesn’t like to talk too much. She did great and it made me happy! After that Ch___, M___’s friend, asked us why we know the church is true. We were able to bear our testimonies and help them understand why we know the church is true. It was one of the greatest lessons by far. I loved it.

Black River all frozen over!

Well, that catches us up to the present now. Being a missionary is amazing. I love every minute of it. There are tough times, but it’s a wonderful experience to be a missionary. Thank you for all your support and love! I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Elder Ellis


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Michael Andrew Ellis

I write literary fiction at the confluence of Mormonism, Hmong culture, and the human condition. Here on, I write about Mormon arts and letters, Hmong history and culture, classic and contemporary literature, existentialism, and my journey as a writer.

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