Back to December!

Featured Photo: Deck the Halls!

From Elder Ellis (email dated 12/05/2016):

Good morning everyone. Holy cow, it’s December already. Yes, the subject was a reference to a Taylor Swift song. I think it was one. but, has this year just flown by or what? It has for me. To think a year ago I was in La Crosse with Elder Yang and now a year later I’m in Eau Claire with Elder Yang again! God works in mysterious ways! Well this week has been quite the week. Let’s get right into it!

It snowed!

Now that it’s December, we can break out the Christmas music. I kind of already broke it out before Thanksgiving…sorry dad. #sorrynotsorry. On Monday night, we had a last-minute miracle. We had exhausted our list of people and it was 8:55 pm, and we were literally down the street from our apartment. We decided to try this one last house to see if someone we were looking for was home. We knocked and their dad opened the door. He and his wife were older Hmong people, so Elder Yang began talking in Hmong. He let us in and we began talking to them. I was only slightly distracted by the poor acting skills of the Thai drama they were watching. But we were able to share with them the “Light of the World” video and talk about the gospel. They are still hardcore Shaman (animism), but they are super open to letting us come and talk with them. They love us like their children and told us that we are always welcome to visit them. I love Hmong people. I prayed for them in Hmong (the little Hmong I do know), and they understood it and said I speak it really well! So that’s a miracle too! The gift of tongues is real people!

Hmong Grandmas English Class

We also were able to do service at this Hmong senior center place. We teach the Hmong grandmas there how to speak English. They are all so cute trying to speak English. They all love us though. We walked in and they were all saying, “Oh yay! Our son, Koob Meej, is here finally!” (Koob Meej is my Hmong name and it means “blessed reputation.”) I love teaching them, it helps me speak Hmong. Once I get past the introductions, I’m like…“Kuv tsis paub hais lus Hmoob.” (I don’t know how to speak Hmong.) They all just laugh and say, “You know more than you think!”

Well, anyway, we visited one of the Hmong Grandmas we teach English to and we got to know her family as well. They are all so cute. Her name is B___ Th___ and she loves us. She wasn’t feeling good one week and we visited her at the hospital. She has since then gotten better, but also talked us up to her kids. They were super excited to finally meet us and get to know us. They are a cool group of people, but I don’t think I’ve ever been offered more beer in my life than I was that night. Haha. It was still fun to get to know her and her family.

Tuesday night, we had our basketball night and we were able to get a total of four investigators to come that night! A___ came and so did three other boys we are teaching. We all had some fun playing some basketball and just having a good time. We gave the other three boys a tour of the church after basketball and they said they want to come back to play again next week! Small and simple steps!

Being a missionary is great!

We had an amazing lesson with J___! Oh man, he’s just enjoying the gospel and all that we have to offer. I wish there was more time! We taught him the Plan of Salvation this week. What we thought would be a simple hour-long lesson turned into a longer, more explanatory lesson of about two and a half hours. Haha, oh, the Plan of Salvation. I love teaching it, but sometimes it can get long. The good thing is that he accepted and loved everything we told him about the Plan. It was amazing.

A___ is doing really well too! He loves all the things we teach him. Literally. He loved the new Christmas video the Church put out, and on top of it, HE’S SHARING IT WITH HIS ROOMMATE! He is making raps about learning the gospel and is loving everything we teach him. He constantly says how excited he is for his baptismal day on December 17th. We are legit so excited. I love being a missionary! He came to church yesterday and even bore his testimony in Sacrament meeting. It’s so great to see him progress and strive to do his best. Even better is to see the way the gospel has changed him and his life. I love it!

Speaking of church, guess who showed up to church? MAI AND CHIA FROM LA CROSSE!! I was so excited to see them come to church! We even got to see Chia play in a Volleyball tournament in Menomonie on Saturday as well. I love volleyball now. So basically, I’m Hmong now. It was great to see them again!

Mai and Chia

Last night we also got the opportunity to watch the Christmas devotional with some members and one of the Sisters’ investigators. It was wonderful. I love President Eyring. On top of that, I know the spirit was with me that night because we all sat around and sang Christmas hymns together and I ACCOMPANIED ON THE PIANO! I can’t play piano is the thing. I just can’t, but I did. Sister Brett also played the Guitar and sang a few songs. She’s just famous and stuff. Shoutout to Sister Turner, Sister Brett played the song you two sang for Pam back in Eden Prairie #blankspaceparody. ’Twas good, but was lacking in the Sister Turner department.

That’s pretty much it for this past week. It snowed Sunday morning and we’ve already had a snowball fight. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Keep looking for ways to light the world through service! Love you all! 🙂


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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