I Don’t Think I’m in the Sticks Anymore, Domo!

Featured Photo: Panida Treats the Missionaries to a Buffet!

From Elder Ellis (email dated 9/26/2016):

Hopefully, you all got the Wizard of Oz reference there. Haha, because for real, I’m not in the sticks anymore. Oh, and Domo is my stuffed creature Bao made for me in La Crosse. I’ll attach a picture below, he’s so fluffy. I’m gonna die!!! Alright, movies quotes aside.

Domo says it will be fun!

This week has been crazy. Seven days ago, I received a call from President Forbes saying, “Pack your bags! You’re going to Frogtown to do Hmong work!” Next thing I know I’m biking in St. Paul and teaching people whom I can’t communicate super well with. It’s an adventure I tell ya. Well, let’s flashback to the beginning of next week and we’ll start there.

Last Monday we decided to do the iPho challenge. Basically, you eat 10 pounds of pho. (Pho is a Vietnamese style noodle dish that is the BEST, but only when made by mom!) So 10 pounds, heck yes! So we got with the Oakdale Elders and trekked to St. Paul to eat pho. Well, we were disappointed when we found out the place was closed on Mondays. Luckily, we were in St. Paul and there’s a pho place on pretty much every other corner. I still got pho! Just not 10 pounds of it, which is probably a good thing. After that, we got bored so we visited the Catholic cathedral.

Inside the Cathedral

Let me just say, I know this church is true because we have one thing a lot of churches/other religions don’t have. It’s light. Literally and figuratively. I walked out of the cathedral and was almost blinded by the light outside. Not that this cathedral wasn’t beautiful, don’t get me wrong, it’s just dark. The temple is always lit up inside and out. It’s pretty cool. I also felt like I was in a legend of Zelda game as I was roaming the halls of the cathedral. #op

Aiden and Gage saying goodbye to Elder Ellis!

We spent the next few days saying good bye to people and crying. It was rough. I also got sick this past week. Let me tell you, biking, a common cold, and 60-degree weather with rain on the side DO NOT MIX! Ugh…, but I survived. Saying goodbye is always hard too. Gage and Aiden kept saying, “Why do you have to go? You’re going to miss my birthday and we want to spend Christmas together!” Ah, it’s hard to say goodbye.

Missionaries in the Hood! Yo!

Well, Wednesday the big switcheroo happened. I was not the only one affected (like my use of affect vs. effect dad?) by this mid-transfer transfer. So for the record, this has not been a full six-week cycle. The transfer still has two weeks left. I could move again in two weeks! Who knows??

Once I got to Frogtown, Elder Vang (John Vang) and I got right to work. We went and visited a bunch of Hmong people. They all have similar names, so names won’t be a huge part of my emails until I get them down. I do know we visited a date set person named V___. She was pretty cool. Her date for baptism is October 8th. So hopefully she’ll make it. We visited her last night and had such a good lesson with her and her fiancé T___. We talked about the plan of salvation and it was amazing! T___ remembered a bunch of the plan of salvation (he was taught before) and it answered a bunch of V___’s questions. We set a return appointment and are going back on Tuesday!

Soaked for the gospel!

Oh, a little backstory on my current area too. Elder Yang and Elder Vang (Joshua Vang) were in Frogtown last transfer and at the beginning of this transfer, Elder Vang (John) and Elder Lao whitewashed (started over looking for new investigators) it. So we’re both still new at this area. Anyway, we were biking around St. Paul when we saw these dark clouds rolling in. We visited a few others, but nothing. It started to rain and we saw lightning approaching so we booked it back home. On the way home (Mom, don’t read this part), I almost got hit by like four cars. Cars really don’t seem to pay attention to bikers. I biked through intersections like a normal biker would and almost got hit by a truck, a Honda, an SUV, and another truck. All at different intersections mind you. St. Paul, it’s scary. But I survived it like a boss.

Joy in the Rain!

The next few days were spent visiting more people who speak Hmong and Spanish. (Went on a quick exchange with the zone leaders because one of them was sick too). So, it was crazy. On Saturday, we had a baptism in the branch! Actually three baptisms. The Eastside Elders (Elders Morrow and Sele) were working with a Hmong couple who are deaf! They can’t hear, but they understand sign language and can hear slightly with the help of hearing aids. Then the Minneapolis Elders (Elders Thao and Yang) were teaching a young girl who decided she wanted to get baptized too. It was such a sweet spirit that was felt at the baptism, even though I only understood less than 40% of it.

Best thing about the Hmong branch is that we play volleyball on Friday nights! #throwbacktolacrosse It was SO much fun to play volleyball again, even though I am not the best, it was a ton of fun. I love volleyball! We partied it up with the Hmong people that night!

A blessed family and old friends! Aunt Sheng and her children!

On Saturday night, Panida (an eternigator) took all of us missionaries to the Teppenaki Grill and buffet. It’s like Minnesota’s largest buffet. It was HUGE! So much food. It was overwhelming. It was delicious. It was…worth the calories. Like to put it in perspective, picture Asian buffet (a buffet that was sub-standard my family and I went to every now and then) and times it by 10 and add a 6-foot chocolate fountain to it. That’s how great it was. Aunt Chao…king crabs. Nuff said. Dad…fresh made sushi. Nuff said. Anyway, I’m getting hungry again, so I’ll stop there. But anyway, Panida is the sweetest Niam Tais (grandma) ever. She can’t get baptized, because her husband won’t allow her to. All her kids are baptized and are strong members of the church. Panida is like the definition of “dry Mormon.” She basically does everything she’s supposed to do, but isn’t baptized. She really wants to be baptized is the thing too! Ah, I’ll keep praying for her.

So, that’s about it for this week. So much has happened, so I’m glad you’re still reading this email at this point. Thank you for all your love and support! Take care and have a wonderful week!


Elder Ellis


Published by

Michael Andrew Ellis

I write literary fiction at the confluence of Mormonism, Hmong culture, and the human condition. Here on michaelandrewellis.com, 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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