Featured Photo: Lunch with Phanida!
From Elder Ellis (email dated 10/03/2016):
Hello everyone! It’s time for your weekly dose of Elder Ellis!
Best thing about this past week…hmm…I wonder. It was General Conference, of course! Man, oh man, it was so beautiful! Every session. It’s a missionary Christmas, super bowl, party, you name it! I just loved every moment. Elder Holland throwing down about home teaching, President Monson talking about the plan of salvation, President Uchtdorf teaching about the plan of salvation. Ah…So good. So bear with me, this is going to be a long email. I want to share with you my experiences I had during conference.
First, in the Saturday morning session, Elder Juan A. Uceda talked about listening to the Holy Ghost and promptings. The thing that hit me the most was his question: God pays attention to our voice when we pray, but do we listen to His? That hit me so hard, because I don’t know how many times my prayers have been answered, but the amount of times I discount promptings from the spirit surpasses it. So I need to do better on that! President Uchtdorf reminded me about the importance and happiness the Plan of Salvation brings to me. Elder Renlund reminded me of the importance of repentance. President Monson also helped me understand more about the blessings that come from living the Word of Wisdom. I think the greatest moment for me was understanding and reaffirming that I am a child of God. During the Sunday morning session, we all stood and sang “I Am a Child of God” as a worldwide church. Every person in the conference center and around the world was singing together the melody of “I Am a Child of God.” In various languages, at different times; yet, at the same time too; and all at different ages. (It’s Kuv You Vajtswv Me Nyuam in Hmong.) I could see young children singing, even the Apostles singing. I’m sure President Monson was singing cheerfully along too. It just hit me so hard, like the spirit slapped me with a fish and punched a brick wall into my face. We are ALL children of God. It doesn’t matter what age we are, what race we are, what language we speak, or even what part of the world we live in. We are all His children and He loves us still. By the end of the second verse, I was basically sobbing because I felt the love that God has for me. It was a tender moment that I will cherish as my best conference memory. This was also my last conference in the field. Next conference, I’ll be sitting on my couch in sweats. Scary thought!
I love conference. It’s the greatest time of the year! Well, transfers are this week. So it’s “the reaping,” to quote Sister Turner. Here’s the scoop: I’m going back to Eau Claire! Plot twist, with Elder Yang AND Elder Hickman! Trio in Eau Claire! What’s going on? I have no idea. It’s going to be a great adventure.
Man, so this week has been such a good week. St. Paul is crazy, but it’s all good. It’s been fun! We’ve had a lot of good contacts with Hmong people and a lot of interesting experiences. Let’s start with how V___ and T___ are doing! They are doing so good! We saw them twice this week and both times those lessons were amazing. We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and they loved it. They know it’s true and they know they need to get married! That’s like the best feeling as a missionary. Their biggest problem is that they don’t know what to do to get married. That’s like the best problem ever, because both their parents agree that they need to be married too! Amazing! The second lesson this week we had, I was not a part of. We were on exchanges, but I know it went really well! They are going to progress so well!
We went fishing last week for p-day. It was super windy and we caught nothing. It was…okay. I’m not a fisherman. Also, I don’t have a license, so it was alright. We went thrift shopping afterwards and Elder Vang found a giant fish pillow. So we “caught” something, hahaha!
We met some other good people. There was this woman named W___ we taught this week. She was taught by the missionaries a couple transfers ago, she wants to keep learning. We set a return appointment for Wednesday.
Wednesday was a crazy day, so it deserves its own paragraph. So we biked to W___’s house which is about three miles away. We lock up our bikes and go to teach her. She wasn’t home. We go back to the bikes and unlock them, prepare for the next house, all that fun missionary stuff. I remembered that Elder Frehner (another missionary in our apartment) said my tire needed some air. So I go to feel it and it’s completely flat!! I thought, what the heck? We realized quickly that all four of our tires were flattened. SOMEONE SLASHED OUR BIKE TIRES! They were completely flat, and later we found that someone basically stabbed our tires with something not super sharp. We walked around University Avenue. It’s like a Main Street in St. Paul. We walked up and down it and talked to a homeless guy. He was pretty cool. He’s been to Utah before and helped out in the Church. We helped him out and bought him some dinner at White Castle. He was very grateful. I guess it was important for us to talk with him and help him. It was just a blessing in disguise. Scary, but a blessing nonetheless!
Phanida is doing great this week! I love her so much! She came teaching with us, even though she isn’t a member yet! She bought us groceries and even made us lunch multiple times this past week! I wrote her a thank you note because she is so sweet. Yesterday, we held a surprise party for Sister Xiong. She doesn’t like surprises, so it was hard to keep it on the DL. Sister Checketts was such a good part in keeping it secret. She was surprised and kind of mad, but we all had cake and she was happy. Phanida loves all the missionaries. It’s so cool to see the sacrifices she makes because she knows the blessings will come. She knows her family will be blessed and she wants to do what she can to be the best she can. She is such a good example to me of what a true disciple of Christ is. Even though I can’t really communicate with her, other than nyob zoo and ua tsaug and other small phrases, she understands me, and I understand how much she loves us. It’s amazing!
I’m going to so miss the Cities. It’s been so fun being here, even though it was just for two weeks. I love it! I’m going to miss all the people I’ve met here and been able to meet! Eau Claire here I come!
Thank you for all your love and support! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Always remember we are ALL children of our loving Heavenly Father, never forget that!