Monday, September 21, 2015

Sweating and Crying...the Thailand Experience

Wooahhh what a busy week! It has been a roller coaster for sure. For my emotions, my spiritual growth, and my palate! Sweating all the time - it is so humid here! And crying... not because appointments fell through but because the Thai food is so spicy. They have a phrase here: "If you aren't's not Thai food!"

Only in Asia is there a whole row devoted to rice and fish sauce - lol!

The Work: 

Our main man Brother Dream had a situation come up where he couldn't get baptized this week. Because of this, he feels like he is not ready and needs more time to "feel at peace" with himself before he gets baptized...and in his situation we totally understand.  Hopefully he keeps reading his scriptures and keeps praying. Those two are so critical for EVERY member of the Church, regardless of age and activity! Our district had 3 baptisms this week that were good to go on Friday...then they all canceled on Saturday for various reasons. It was disappointing, but it taught me a good lesson. I believe that Satan is working just as hard on these people as God is. The scriptures teach us that everything has its opposite. But we must fight on because we have already chosen the winning team. Satan has already lost... never forget that we have more power than he ever will. We can always win with God on our side! 

Other than that, our week has been focused on LA (Less Active) Members and our investigators. We are trying to find a balance between our days... there is simply not enough time to do everything in the day! There are so many people to teach, to reactivate, to street contact, to develop relationships with current members, to help the branch presidency, to UPDATE all of the records of each person... it is exhausting. This week has been the most busy, the most stressful, the most draining, but this week has also brought the most experiences to grow. My trainer Elder Chamberlain is a total stud, and he helps me understand the big picture of a mission. I just need to figure that out for myself. That comes with time. 

Some cool things that happened this week. During a lesson we also had a couple of Chinese members and investigators... so we would teach the Thai people in Thai and then our Chinese members would translate...I even understood a little bit of it thanks to that year of Chinese - SO MANY LANGUAGES ugh. Try contacting someone in Chinese when you know you can communicate with them but you only have memorized Thai words...they all mesh together.  It is quite entertaining, but thank goodness for our Chinese members! 

Culture of Thailand:

1. There is a misconception that white people (farangs) cannot eat spicy food. So when we order spicy food (basically anything off the street), people look at us and say "Are you sure you can eat this? You know it is spicy, right?"... Hahahaha and we just laugh and say, "Bring it on baby! Make the Farang cry!" Hahahaha they just laugh and laugh and make us our food. 

Shrimp soup/noodles/curry/vinegar/sugar/deliciousnesss! 

2. I had the most delicous food the other day. It is called "Kaw saay" (best translation into English is "street food.") It has Islamic cuisine origin. It is a spicy red curry dish with raman noodles, prick (type of pepper), onions, fresh lime, oregano, and a drum stick. HOLY COW DELICIOUS 

3. Thai culture is a culture of gifts. Many of the lessons we teach to investigators involve them giving us various treats and Thai food. So that is always nice hahaha. We leave the church at night with a full bag of food for the next day hahahaha. Sometimes it is edible, other times not. The people are so sweet! Some random lady on the street gave us mangos because we invited her to church, and she was so excited to come she just gave us mangos hahahaha. 

4.People go by their nicknames here, not their real names. (Don't worry Mom - I am still "Elduh Sameet Dreeg" so no worries. They say my whole name - if they can hahaha.  It is so hard to pronounce in English, let alone in Thai!). So the funniest nickname translations this week are: "Rabbit" and "Sweet Pork" hahaha. No joke. That is what they are called (in Thai of course). 

5. HUGE ANIMALS - We saw a big snake this the night time. We were visiting a member who lives in the jungle, had to use flashlights to go to her house...and a snake crossed our path through the brush - it was pretty big. If you put your middle finger to your thumb - that was the circumfrence of the snake. So yeah we were scared.  But we asked the member about it, and he said no worries it didn't have poison. So that's good. Also saw a huge leech that I almost stepped on (as shown).

[Mom Comment: Notice the foot in the picture to give you a sense of the leech's size.]

Food we made for breakfast


1. Thai people LOVE karaoke. One of our investigators, Brother Lang, loves karaoke. He is kind of a crazy it is really fun teaching him hahaha. We walked into an activity on Saturday (it was ward bowling night), and the people at the bowling/karaoke place wai'd him (put their hands up together) and TOTALLY KNEW HIM.  He comes there all the time to sing. So that was awesome! We were walking in with the karaoke CHAMPION! Hahhaha what a stud. 

Mom Comment: To "wai" someone in Thailand is to place your hands together in front of your face/chest/etc. depending on how old or respected the person is you are wai'ing.  There is an art to knowing the proper way to wai any particular person.

Nong Ice (his name) with his DOPE SPIDEY mask... He bowls like a champion....

2. Every morning, we walk past a lady who cooks food on the side of our soi (street). She always sees us leaving our house and yells, "FARANGS! HELLOOO!" It is so adorable and so we wai her back and say, "SAWAADEEEKHRAP!" (Hello in Thai.) We love it. Every day she does this...I feel like it is definitely a harbinger of how our day is going to be - ALWAYS GREAT here in Thonburi. You have to keep that attitude up :)

3. Quote of the week by Elder Chamberlain: "So are you cool with doing our daily 6:30 a.m. sleep in?" Hahahaha.  I don't know why I thought it was so funny, but we get up at 6:30 every morning anyway, so we aren't sleeping in at all...idk I just thought it was funny.

That is the perfect PB&J.  It took him five minutes to make. 
Look how happy he is.  Think "What About Bob?"

Spiritual thought: 

Alright - now to the REAL meat of the email. This is the stuff you gotta milk for what it is worth. I know my writing style is a bit casual, but try to listen to the Spirit as I share my thoughts on bearing simple testimony. 

We talk about bearing our testimony a lot in the Church. It is something that is natural in a church setting or in a spiritual discussion. But Satan has expertly created an environment all over the world where talking about religion is not acceptable. People just don't do it. Back with the philosophs in European history... even going back to the Romans...Religion was everything to everyone. It was talked about daily - and usually ran the way people lived their life. Today this is not so. Religion is a "scary subject" because we don't want to "offend our friends." I have learned here on my mission that that is just ridiculous. Religion should bind us together, not tear us apart. Sharing common beliefs is something that builds relationships. If you have a disagreement - WHO CARES. Get over it. The best thing we can do is talk about the things we have in common, then bear simple testimony. 

So how do we do that? Bearing testimony can be as simple as, "I know that the sabbath day is something that is sacred, and as I have followed the council of the prophets, I have felt peace in my life." No one is going to be upset when you share that with them. If they are - as my loving father would say, "They have some serious issues." Bearing simple testimony is not contingent upon the power of your statement or the loudness of your voice. Bearing a simple testimony comes from the heart. Bearing testimony is something that is shared not because you want to be right, but because you love the person enough to tell them they have something to turn to in times of distress. 

My challenge to you all this week is to share your beliefs with someone. Tell someone you know that God can help them. Tell someone that prophets give us counsel. Share with someone your belief about the Book of Mormon. It is easy - all you have to do is open your mouth, and the Holy Ghost will take care of the rest. 

I love you all my dear family and friends.  May God continuously bless us as we try to come closer to becoming like Him. We need to share our testimonies. It is not weird. It is acceptable, and it shows that we care. We can do this! 
Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs  

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