Monday, August 31, 2015

An Actor in a Pigeon's Paradise

What an AMAZING WEEK. My title may be confusing, so let me explain - Thailand is a pigeon's paradise because there is a lot of food/trash on the side of the road...and there are powerlines everywhere of all shapes and sizes. Let's just say I have had to duck a couple of times so I don't get electrocuted hahahahaha. I relate more to the actor part of the title - I can comfortably say that I am a master at pretending I understand people. Human nature is the same anywhere, and body language is a super good indicator when you have no idea what anyone is saying!  Even with the church members during full on conversations, I can communicate with my actions and my developing charades skills. There is a reason why 4 members this week have called me "the living cartoon/the Minion."  So BOOM - you CAN communicate with people as long as you don't mind looking stupid... which doesn't even phase me - as we all know hahahahaha. Oh it is so much fun! 

This is how I will format my blog posts from now on: 
1. How the work is going 
2. The culture of Thailand
4. The best part - the spiritual thought of the week :) 

So let us begin!

Highlight of the week - Sister Aunt/Ant's (แอนท์) baptism

The Work:
Sister Ant got baptized this Sunday! It was so amazing to see her get baptized. I had the privilege of baptizing her - and saying that baptism prayer in the font with sweet little Sister Ant made me feel like I am doing my part here in Thailand. I get to be a small part of her journey to eternal life. Now the next step is helping her and our other investigators endure to the end (in my opinion the hardest). Baptism and confirmation open the door to eternal life with our Father in Heaven.  But enduring to the end, coming to church, reading and praying every day - that is when the true test comes in.

Other than the baptism, we taught and tracted and visited less active members and just did what we thought the Lord wanted us to do. Something I have learned from my awesome trainer Elder Chamberlain - is that if God wanted, He would line up the people prepared to receive the gospel outside our front door. We would teach them, baptize them, and they would all be perfect recent converts and never fall away. That would be Satan's plan of hapiness. If we had this, we would not have the opportunity to be tested as representatives of Jesus Christ. We as missionaries would not grow at all. Every time I talk to someone new - God is testing me. I plan to get an A on my grade ;). The members are great, the Church is growing, and more people in Thailand are hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is such an honor to be a part of that.

Brother Benz helping me read the Book of Mormon with some recent converts.

The Culture of Thailand: 
Thailand is just super awesome - I don't know what else to say.

1. Red lights don't phase people - just drive straight on through.

2. It is always hot (did I mention that?)

3. The most common job in Thailand literally translates to "sell stuff." Which makes sense... there is the most random stuff they sell here hahahaha.  It is super cheap.

4. Whenever talking to someone (if that person is sitting down), you have to squat (as seen in the picture) and teach them.  It is rude to talk down to people.

Squat teaching

5. Quote from Elder Chamberlain: "I frequently ponder the socioeconomic juxtaposition that squanders the development of Thailand." Yeah - my trainer is a beast. If you can figure out that sentence, you can speak Thai.

With Elder Chamberlain

6. Food is off the street - and it can be SUPER sketchy. Mostly we can control what we eat, but sometimes we go to members' houses, and we just look down at the food.... and we eat it. This week we had a spicy noodle dish dunked in fish sauce with raw crab - it was a joy. Also, the meat is always questionable. You just pray hard during those times. Other than sketchy home-made food, the street vendors are delicious! Coconut, exotic fruits, 7-Elevens (which are super good not the same as America).

Eating with some wonderful non-Church friends who like to feed the missionaries. 
We call them "pa me" (which means mom and dad).

7. Toilet paper is used for blowing your nose. They don't use toilet paper for the toilet. You use a sprayer. It's super duper.

8. Rock paper scissors is played with one swipe of the hand. No 3 times saying, "Rock, paper, scissors" business - just one swipe of the arm and you have your answer. We play it every time someone wants to pray, and whoever wins prays :)

9. Ketchup on Pizza - VERY DELICIOUS - Everyone try it. It is really good. Who knew, right?

10. The spiders? I haven't seen a giant one yet, so that is a plus.  The little ones don't even phase me anymore hahahaha.  So that is good.

11. Last but not least - the street dogs. They chase everything that is running or on a bike. Little did I know that when Elder Chamberlain and I did our nice jog this morning, we ran into a couple of dogs... and the jog turned into a sprint hahahahaha. The dogs generally don't like things they aren't familiar with - so that includes white people.


1. Right outside the church is a music school/band practice room. So we will come out of the church to some rockin pep band music/really out of tune trumpets hahahaha. Elder Chamberlain and I just love it.

2. I got called a minion and a living cartoon character multiple times. My charades game is ON POINT

This is the tall minion the Thai people think I look like.  The minion even wears chums!

3. Translations - I am sure I offended many people this week (not on purpose of course).

4. We got soaked one day after a rainstorm while walking to the church (see picture). In Thailand, they believe that if you get rain on your head you will get sick. So for a solid hour at the church, people were telling me I was going to die hahahaha.

 Beautiful rain clouds

 Under the underpass during the rain storm


5. I have to sit like a woman while teaching lessons because I can't cross my legs without hurting myself. They just laugh at me and call me a white boy hahahaha. They aren't mean when they say that. They just know that white people aren't trained to squat and cross legs for time and all eternity.

6. We ride boat taxis sometimes (like a big bus but on the water).  Super loud and super fun! You just hop off onto the dock when you want to get off hahahahahaha.  It is super sketchy.

Boat taxi/bus

Everlyone in Thailand just loves to laugh. If I ever do something funny, they just die of laughter. I have just been told I can't take offense - and I don't... I bet I look pretty stupid! This super giant white missionary from America, trying to speak Thai, and trying to eat really spicy food hahahahahaha.  I love it here.  It is a dream come true.


Journal entry Aug 28: 
Dead roadkill is everywhere, people have no teeth, it smells like fish sauce in every house, bugs and spiders are everywhere, every meat dish you touch could destroy you, bug bites are all over my body, there are no Twizzlers in this country... and I AM LOVING EVERY SECOND OF IT.  My job is to forget myself and go to work. As Elder Holland puts it - "Being a missionary is higher and holier and more sacred and more eternal than anything you've ever done. It is by definition the most important thing you can do in the world, in time or eternity." This calling as a missionary is such a blessing. But the time I have to be a full-time missionary is so short! I only have two years to wear the badge. I have to savor every day and every lesson I learn on my mission. I want my children and my grandchildren to know what a blessing a mission is. What a privilege it is to serve my Master. The mission is not about me. It is not about "no Twizzlers at the stores" (although that is tragic let me tell you). It is about conversion. The mission is about the Savior. The mission is about unconditional love.  The mission is bringing others closer to Christ, including yourself.

I pray every day that I can help the people of Thailand and serve with my heart. I pray that I can be an instrument in God's hands: a trumpet, if you will. He is the backstage manager. He is the lights, the lyrics, the composer, the sound booth extraordinaire. I just play His song into the microphone.
May we always remember the hand of God in our lives - because it is there if we look for it. I promise you it is there. I testify that God lives and that He loves His children. This mission is a chance of a lifetime. This is the work of eternity - I have to give it all I've got. Wish me luck :) 

I love you all dearly - may God bless you. 
Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs  

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