Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thailand Here We Come!!!

Hello family and friends!

This is Abraham's mom, Tiffany. I will be entering the blog this week instead of Abraham because he was on a plane flying to Bangkok on Monday.  But he was allowed to call home that day and send some emails on Saturday! What a treat!!! 

I'm not as funny as Abraham or as natural at expressing life's ups and downs.  But I will try my best to relay his stories for his last week in the MTC, using his voice as he relayed them to us via email and phone.  I'm also including answers to questions we asked him.  (Sorry it took me all week to do this.  Eliza had a 4-hour planned jaw surgery on Monday - so I've been a nurse for a few days.)

Also, remember when you respond to this email, it goes to Abraham's missionary inbox - not to me.  That is now the best way to reach him in Thailand.  Just hit "reply" to the weekly blog update I send you, and he'll get your message directly.

Love,
Tiffany

Here you go ... in Abraham's voice as best as I can do it ... 

MTC Teachers:

I have loved our teachers at the MTC.  I will really miss them!  They are the best!

At the MTC, your teachers act like people who were real Thai investigators in the past.  Over the 9 weeks at the MTC, we've been able to work with 2 people who got "baptized" and 3 "investigators."  I didn't actually know this - but you teach all of the lessons again AFTER baptism. It is really great to see the change in the investigators' lives. Today, as we got ready to leave the MTC, we got to learn about the real people that our teachers were play-acting.  It was very special. The real people had the same experiences, the same challenges...but they still decided to follow Jesus Christ and take a step of faith. Amazing. It was awesome. 

This photo is of a huge water bottle statue we made for our teacher, Brother Thrap.  He has been teaching at the MTC for about 2 and 1/2 years, and we were his last district! I don't know if I mentioned this, but for every day at the MTC, I collected a water bottle from breakfast - kind of like etching scratches on a prison wall (lol) - and then Elder Hancock thought it would be hilarious to make something out of them. So I did. In honor of our teacher Bro. Steven Thrap! He wants to be a dentist - so notice the toothbrush in the statue's hand.  Hahahahaha  

We also took paper that we taped together, started with a piece as large as our classroom, and folded it to make a large origami elephant for Sister Painter as her goodbye present. Thai people love elephants.






Language:

Some funnies we learned today - tones are so samkan (important!) and vowel lengths. (That is something Mandarin doesn't have.)  The word for the number "2" and the word for brothel are just a slight difference away in tones...pretty funny. Also - the word for "to point" and "to urinate" are also separated by just a tone.  Elder Lindley pointed at something on the board and said (but actually said) - "This thing that I am urinating at is..." hahahahahahaha.  It was so classic.

Health: 

I got really sick this week, went to the doctor and everything.  Don't worry Mom.  I'm being very vigilant about my health :) Not like in college where I just blew it off. Promise.... I want to be completely ready to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and STRENGTH.   Please just pray I'll be OK on the flights to Bangkok.  

Letters:

Thank you to the people who wrote letters and DearElders to me, especially my last Friday in the MTC!!!  It was so great to hear from you.  It was very nice to hear words of encouragement. 

And I love hearing from family! It rocks! Oh - also Aunt Courtney - so sorry for your strange experience with the missionaries in CT... I will learn from their mistakes :) 

General Consul Pic from last week:



Picture with the Consul General of Thailand, The Honorable Jesda Katavetin, and his family

Family (anyone can read it):

  1. Answering questions from family over email and the phone:

Question: How are you doing emotionally?
I'm feeling great emotionally - just ready to go and do! Ready to talk with real people out in the real world.


Question - Are you friends with the guys in your district? 
OH YEAH we are way tight. The guys are really nice, and we all get along really well. Solid group of elders - just studs. Wouldn't want to be with anyone else :)

Question - Did you reach your 150 pound weight gain goal as as district? 
No.... we stabilized at a solid 110 pounds.

Question - Are you feeling happy?
OF COURSE baby  - my name is Abraham Smith-Driggs - BOOYAH 

Question - How was it being at the MTC - Really?
At one point in the MTC, they said in a meeting, "Please stand up if the MTC was what you expected."  Out of about 2000 missionaries, three people stood up.  I was one of them.  I know so many people who work here that I had heard a TON about the MTC.  It was exactly what I thought it would be.

 2. Shout outs

Olivia, you want me to speak Thai when we talk on Monday? OF COURSE - IT IS LIKE THE COOLEST LANGUAGE EVER. We talk with khonthais every day - and surprisingly I can understand them OK. But Thai sounds great, and I could talk to you for that hour Monday all in Thai if you wanted. Hahahahaha. No just kidding - you wouldn't want that  - you wouldn't understand me at all.

Tell the family I say hello - especially the Smith side...I hope they understand why I am going on a mission. It is to serve and to bring others closer to Christ. [Mom comment - My side of the family is mostly non-LDS.]

  3. Saying Goodbye from the Y:

My mom wrote me that my family was going to hike the Y my last Saturday morning at the MTC.  They planned to be up there at 10:30 a.m. waving to me so I could "wave back" at the same time from wherever I was in the MTC.  I was in class.  I totally waved;) 




Phone call from Abraham: (Tiffany's voice)

We got to talk to Abraham last Monday for a while.  He called before Eliza had her jaw surgery so he could catch her before the operation, and the rest of us talked to him later.  It was sooooooo good to hear his voice.  Mostly, we just visited like a family - you know - chit chat and laughing.  But here are some specifics.   

    1) Olivia asked Abraham to bear his testimony in Thai.  It was SO COOL to listen to him! It's truly amazing how much they learn through the Holy Ghost in 9 weeks. It sounded just like the Southeast Asian languages I sometimes hear in the U.S. - beautiful, sing-song, bouncy-like.  Later he told us what he was excited about doing in Thailand, also in Thai.  He was most excited about meeting the people.  First and foremost, Abraham is a people person - so this was not surprising.  He shared some Thai culture with us too.  

    2)  When asked what he misses most, Abraham said, "Making random calls/sending emails and texts to people each day."  Every day before his mission, Abraham would reach out to people he knew - just to connect.  He REALLY misses doing that.

    3) When we asked if people could do something for him, he responded, "Please just ask people to pray that I'll understand one sentence in Thai."

    4) Abraham loved his last concert at the MTC.  They brought in a cool country band called the Nashville Tribute Band (link to one of their songs: https://youtu.be/oAWUc-mgHUw?list=PLumdONTQoeweOPONUf6cJpNDCyUuWjtbh).  As a music lover of all types of music, Abraham couldn't believe the MTC brought in these guys - one with long hair, all guys who knew how to groove, with country/rock songs about the Restoration.  Abraham LOVED them.  Such a fun treat for him to hear music like this again.

    5) Saying goodbye the very last few minutes was hard.  I got teary of course.  But there is NOTHING I would rather Abraham be doing right now than serving a mission.

From Abraham:
I am so excited to do a SICK email from Thailand next week with pictures and everything about Bangkok and the members.


Love,
Elder Smith-Driggs

P.S. Here are two pics we received from the mission office after Abraham arrived.  He will email us next Monday.  That will be his P-Day on his mission.  Thailand is 14 hours ahead of Utah.  So if he emails on Monday morning Bangkok time at 10 a.m., it will be 8 p.m. on Sunday night here.  If you want him to read an email from you that week you'll want to send it before Sunday night.  Otherwise, he won't see it until the following week.


With President and Sister Johnson

Abraham's MTC District with the Johnsons

Finally in Thailand - Ready to serve!

According to the mission office, the new elders spent their first morning at Lumpini Park dedicating and consecrating themselves to missionary work.  This is the park where Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the land of Thailand in 1966. They then receive an orientation and start street contacting in the area, followed by dinner at the mission home. Then they receive their first assignment at a transfer meeting the next day, meet their trainers, and head to their new area.  

Luckily for us, there is a great Mormon guy in Thailand who has a YouTube channel (@MyMateNate).  He tapes all the transfer meetings for the Thailand Bangkok mission and posts them online.  I wish all missions did this.  It is SOOOO uplifting to see.  Here is a link to the summary video from six weeks ago - just under 3 minutes long.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7hxzp8bVtA)  It's awesome!!!  

As soon as "My Mate Nate" posts the one where Abraham's district arrives, I'll post the link in the blog.  In the video, you'll see a red couch.  That's where the missionaries going home sit.  At another point in the video, all the missionaries stand and clap for the new missionaries coming to the mission.  Then the end of the video shows new companionships that are assigned running to greet each other with big hugs and high fives.  Such a positive happy place! 


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful news! Keep up the good work, we are proud of you and your attitude and example.

    ReplyDelete