Monday, August 24, 2015

The Bustling City of Bangkok!

Wooohoooo! I am finally here in Thailand!
Riding in a tuk tuk.

 Wow - I feel like I have just been crazy doing stuff for the past five days. We got to Bangkok pretty late and met up with the Mission Pres and the AP's - then hit the sack. When we got off the airplane, my glasses fogged up - so that can tell you a little bit about Bangkok weather hahahahaha. Also - it smells like Asia. I didn't realize it until I came, but it totally has that distinct smell - I love it man - It's awesome! 
 Street in Bangkok
OKKK dokey - so... we did some blood work, training, street contacting, etc. the first day, and then the next day we had our transfer meeting! I was nervous to see where I was going. I could really go anywhere in Thailand... and my trainer could be anyone. But LUCKY FOR ME - I got Elder Brandon Chamberlain as my trainer! I knew him before the mission! We played trumpet together all throughout high school so it was soooo awesome when they called my name and his name afterwards! I flipped out - he flipped out - everyone was cheering! Let's just say transfer meetings here in Thailand are pretty incredible and full of energy! 
  With Elder Chamberlain!!!
After saying hello to the missionaries, going to more meetings, getting districts figured out and everything - we headed to our home! My first transfer will be in Thonburi!  (west side of Bangkok) We started doing meetings and such with the ward mission leader and met a couple of the members that day, had some super spicy dinner (totally loved it OF COURSE), and went to bed after planning and going through our area book.  
So... the language is going SUPER AWESOME! I literally have no idea what anyone is saying - literally no idea. So the thing that is awesome is that if anyone tells me they don't want to listen, I just keep pestering them about Jesus Christ because I have no idea what they are saying hahahahaha. Even at church yesterday - which had all of the gospel terms, Elder Chamberlain and I just sat there...and I looked at him a couple times, asked him if they were talking about the Word of Wisdom (just a wild guess).  Turns out they were talking about blessings from God and how we use them. AWESOME. It's actually quite funny - you just need to laugh at yourself in these kind of situations. We can't get frustrated at ourselves - the language will come with God's help. At least they can understand me... so that's the first step, right?  
We have the best members here in Thonburi! Oh my gosh they are so stellar. We had about 70 people show up to church on Sunday.  Teaching the recent converts was awesome - they loved learning about the temple... I just can't say enough about the members and our investigators. It is such an honor to teach the gospel. Elder Chamberlain does most of the teaching, and I add my testimony sometimes - because I usually don't know what's going on... But I know that the members and our investigatiors can feel the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is so wonderful. Because in any language - you can feel when it is there in the room - you can feel their progression, and you can feel the love of God in any language, no matter how difficult.  

Going back to the members - they love when I speak Thai... I can't understand them but when Elder Chamberlain translates for me, they say that I am doing great! (I know they are just being modest and nice Thai people like they usually are.) But I did catch the other day when one of the members said that I reminded them of a big minion! BIG BONUS in Elder Smith-Driggs's day. Minions are big here - everyone loves them. So when they said I reminded them of a minion - you bet I was PUMPED. 
The Thai people are really just so polite. And many of them really are interested in learning about Jesus Christ. One of these people is Sister Ant, who has a baptismal date for next Sunday!  We only need to teach her a couple more lessons, and then she is good to go for baptism! It is so special to see her coming unto Christ. 
A big part of missionary work here is retention. There are a lot of people joining the Church, and we have to just keep them active. All we need is a couple more priesthood holders in Thonburi, and we can make it a ward - then the Bangkok West Stake can be established! I am ready to work hard for the Lord. That is what missionaries are here to do. I think that's it on the update side - now let's go to the funnies...
FUNNIES:  
1.The first day when I was getting my blood drawn, naturally I struck up a little convo with the lady taking my blood (mind you she is like 5 feet tall). So I meant to ask her if she liked her work (tamngan), but I accidentally said tangmaan, which literally translates to the path of Satan. So I asked her if she liked the path of Satan, and she just laughed and laughed at me. No wonder she answered "no" to my question. Well... maybe she doesn't like her work, but at least she doesn't like the path of Satan hahahahaha. 
2. As we were discussing investigators with the sisters in our district, they started talking about their progressing investigator. They were like "Our investigator is killing it - he is keeping commitments, reading the BOM and praying every day... but he has this problem and we don't think it will work out." We were all like - wait what? So we inqured further, and it turns out he's a full on monk! Orange robe, shaved head, and all. So he may be following the commandments, but not the greatest commandment. Quite unfortunate. Too bad - I bet he is a good guy.  
3. With the language - since I can't understand anything, Elder Chamberlain and I taught some less active members in the branch - and I contributed some things because I knew the topic a bit. But when we got back in the car (a member was teaching with us and had driven us to the house), I just looked at Elder Chamberlain and was like - "So how did it go?" hahahahahaha I have no idea what's going on right now hahaha.  We just laughed and laughed. I love Elder Chamberlain - he is such a stud!  
4. Our shower literally comes up to my belly button - so I am practicing yoga in the shower. Kind of like a two in one deal - this way I can do my 30 minutes of exercise in the shower and just save the sweating thing ;) 
THINGS ABOUT THAILAND:
1. Transportation: We get around on the tuk tuks (spelling idk). They are basically 3 wheeled motorcycles with a seat in the back. (That is what is shown in the pictures.) 

2. Housing: We live in the biggest house in the mission (I think). It could easily house 10 elders, and it only has 4 elders. It's a mansion. We even have a balcony (as shown in the picture).  


3. Church: The church was surprisingly nice. I don't know why I was so surprised - but it is way nice.  Every room has AC, and they have this big sports court in the back with a badminton court and everything. The church is a HUGE social gathering place.... who knew, right? But I guess it makes sense. So if the members want to hang out somewhere, they go to the church. People with their same standards and beliefs can just hang out, eat spicy thai food, play guitar. Nothing at all like in the States. There are people there every day. 
We almost always teach in the church.  When we go street contacting, we ask if people will meet us at the church, and it is great because they have chairs, and we don't have to sit on the ground!  

4. Eating: Everyone just shares everything. Mom you would be horrified - germs aren't really a thing in Thailand apparently. Just like the book "We Share EVERYTHING" - so do the Thai people... it is quite adorable. The food is SOOO GOOD I hope you all are jealous hahahaha. 

5. Blessings: Elder Chamberlain is so organzied and is super duper clean... blessing blessing blessing because I don't like my room very messy. It is so organized, and we did a deep clean this morning. Good news - no rats. Bad news.... well actually there is no bad news.  [Mom comment: I wonder what he's not telling me here.] Our room is awesome hahahahaha.  
6. Missionary lifestyle: Those of you in the MTC...get ready to rock the boat a little bit when you get here. This is the big leagues. Real investiagors, real planning sessions. It is awesome. Also - you pray way harder in country because you actually have legitimate investigators (no offense to the MTC teachers who act as investiagors - still pray for them too - they are great). I love being a missionary.  It is so fun. 
THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE DAY! Elder Chamberlain and I are so busy, we just look at each other sometimes and wish there were more hours in the day to do all we need to. Planning is ESSENTIAL. We have to use all of that time wisely. We are on the Lord's errand, after all.   
7. Driving: Driving is super awesome. Everyone has to be a super good driver because the traffic and amount of scooters is CRAZY - it's like we are in Beijing all over again, Mom, but with tuk tuks and less nice cars hahahahaha. People just walk wherever, drive wherever, and don't follow any rules - Welcome to Bangkok!
8. Random things: 
- People will have a nice iPad but live in metal shacks. No joke - I have seen it 3 times.
- Everything you eat is off the street or from a 7-11 (and it's super good too!) 
- Almost all males smoke.
- Almost everyone is very nice and polite! 
- I haven't been bombed yet so that is a plus for sure! (There have been 3 bombings exactly in my area of the mission right before I came.. so keep the missionaries in your prayers.)
- There are about 7 different ways to refer to people when you talk to them...so you have to guess their age (which in Asia is super duper hard)... and if you call them the wrong one, they get super offended and won't talk to you. For example, you can call someone:
Mom
Aunt 
Older Mom 
Older Person 
Regular "you" (if same age)
Younger you 
Old lady 
Old man 
Brother/sister (surprisingly hard in Thailand because lots of people are transvestites here) 
Anyway - it is super duper fun just guessing the ages of people. I will get better at it hopefully. Elder Chamberlain is a master so that's easy for him. 
THAILAND IS AWESOME!
I can't tell you how happy I am to be here in Bangkok. I love my trainer. I love the members. I love our investigators. I truly love being a missionary. God bless you all.  May we always remember the blessings our Heavenly Father has given us. We need to use them to our full advatage - if we don't... why would God give them to us? I am sending my love to you from the hot, busy, exciting, short-peopled, fantastic country of Thailand!
--
Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs 

 Pic from Elder David Ball (my 4th cousin) when I was leaving the MTC.

Airplane screen as we landed in Bangkok.

Elder Allen and I shortly after arriving in Bangkok.

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