Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ghandi's Birthday

Happy birthday Dad! In honor of your 35th birthday this year, I wanted to share with the world your amazing 2015 Halloween costume. Please enjoy my father, Ben Driggs... as Ghandi. Happy 35th Dad - you are lookin good! 

Happy Birthday Dad
Mom comment: He's actually 52;)

The Work: 
Amazing things are happening here in Chiang Rai. We received some new training on how to work with ward and stake leaders and how we are going to be able to work together in building the branch one person at a time. We are getting the ball rolling, and I sooo hope I stay here next transfer to see the fruits of our labors. We are really focusing on teaching families and friends of the members who are already there - GOLD MINE. To illustrate this wonderful concept, I would like to share a story about my dear friend, Brother Bond. Yesterday during church, Elder Howard and I were sitting down making phone calls in a room. We heard a knock on the door and Brother Bond asked us with a smile.. "Excuse me elders, do you have a second? I want to teach my brother... will you help me?" With tears in my eyes I said, "Of course Brother Bond, let's teach him together." 
Brother Bond brought this investigator in (his friend - he just calls him his brother). He taught the entire Restoration by himself... answered all of the investigator's questions.... testified with the Spirit and told his friend this church has helped him more than anything else in his life. Elder Howard and I just sat there and asked for the investigator to say the closing prayer. We did not teach. We listened and learned from Brother Bond, a 23 year old stud who is preparing to serve a mission. THAT is the power of working together as a ward family. 

The Chiang Rai boys 
(Brother Bond is holding up the thing in the back.)

The Culture: 
How you speak is very important to the way that people receive you. For instance, in Thailand they really like when people speak in a high voice and a soft voice. They love it, and they say you speak beautifully. Kinda scared because I will come back to the States talking liked a timid woman..... oh well.

Freezing cold this morning

This was just too good....
The Funnies: 
1. Sister Gay gave me a calender as a gift. I opened it up and said, "Sister Gay, we can't have this calendar. It has beautiful Thai women on it!" (She owns a hotel, and it was her hotel's calender of traditional Thai women on it)... she said, "Oh don't worry, that is my niece.... and she is single Elder Smith-Driggs - so watch out" ........ Yeah, I haven't heard the end of this joke for 5 days now. Never gets old apparently. Elder Howard just loves it. 

2. A KhonThai in Chiang Mai spilled grape juice all over a table before a wedding... All he could say was, "An earthquake did it."

On the way to Chiang Mai

3. We had zone conference this week in Chiang Mai. Elder Stone [former companion currently serving in Chiang Mai] ... had some bad stomach problems and was down and out for the day.... Let's just say he ended up burning his basketball shorts. Hahahahahah poor guy hahahahahaha. 

Zone Basketball

Fearless Zone leader Elder Hartung

Spiritual Thought: 
There is a phrase that Joseph Smith uses in his account of the first vision. He says the words, "I know for myself." What powerful diction. What does it take for us to say, "I know for myself." Knowledge is something that comes from (as the scriptures tell us) much fasting, prayer, pondering, and revelation. We ponder it in our minds and our hearts and study it out in the words of the prophets... You see, there are many components in coming to a knowledge of something. I have been on this course my entire life. For almost 20 years, I have been taught to apply the teachings of the gospel but have never taken full advantage. As a missionary, I take advantage every day because I now understand the joy that comes from living the gospel and taking advantage of the revelations and blessings that the Lord is willing to give us. I now know for myself that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He will come again, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been restored through a modern prophet to guide us in these days. There is nothing more special to me than feeling God's love. I know he is there and that he loves us. I am not writing this because I have to, because I am bored, or because maybe this will "strengthen my testimony if I simply believe".... I am writing this because these are the feelings of my soul which I know are true. There is nothing more special to me than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 
I know these things are true. And I cannot deny them. 
My challenge to you all is to change the things in your life that are keeping you from coming to a knowledge that God is real and that he loves you. There are many worldly distractions that are demanding our attention. But if we take a moment to stop and reflect, ponder, read, and pray - Heavenly Father promises us our answer will come. I love him, and I say these things in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, amen. 

Wat Rong Khun (called the White Wat)

Happy Birthday Dad! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์
Elder Smith-Driggs 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sweet Cool Beans

Hello Hello my dear Family and Friends! 

This week was a blast. Very very busy and there were ups and downs, but overall it was a week full of spiritual impressions and amazing funny moments. Welcome to missionary work everyone hahaha.

"Behold, the field is white already to harvest..." 

The Work: 
So fun story this week. We are currently helping these hill tribes up in the middle of nowhere with a clean water project. 

The hill tribes are only accessible by boat :)

They don't speak Thai. We are in the process of testing the water and everything like that, but it was really fun going up there and serving with people who don't understand you! We went to the tribe leader (because they are out in the middle of nowhere they don't really have any law.... basically it is run by the tribe leader). What he says goes, so that was cool to see. The tribe leader is really nice, and he speaks Thai so that is a plus... so we got in his truck and headed on what seemed to be a jungle cruise on a 4 wheeler. The things that truck was able to do ... I thought I was going to die. SUPER SICK IT WAS AWESOME! 

Just chillin'

Other than that, we are trying to meet with our investigators, but they are all so busy. It is frustrating because we have a couple of progressing investigators... but because we can only meet with them once a week (because they live so far away),  they are progressing very slowly. I don't could be a blessing - it gives them a chance to really dive into the scriptures. We have a Chinese investigator who reads the BOM in Chinese, so that is really cool! 

The Culture:

Check out my bike Mom

1. Most lessons (in the home) are taught on the ground cross-legged. So when you stand up, you either fall right back down because of the pins and needles, or your companion has to carry you out the door hahahahahha. 

New addition to the Dollar Menu at McDonalds
The Funnies: 
1. An RC (Sister Loogme) this week learned the phrase - "cool beans." But she thought it sounded better if she said - "sweet cool beans" - hahahahahah - so funny with her adorable little Asian accent, hence the title of my email.

2. Trying to translate for a white person the other day - "So does the water tank up there operate more like a pump system or a reverse osmosis reaction?"....... Elder Howard was like - "Sorry sir, there is no way I can translate that into Thai." Hahahahahahah the look on his face was so classic. Like, "Are you kidding me?" 

3. Lightsaber fighting during the night... don't ask! My companions just really like "Star Wars" I guess hahahaha. Elder Howard, after a gruelling battle comes to me and says... "Wow Elder Smith-Driggs, light saber fighting aroused some unusual emotions right there. I haven't felt those feelings in a while." 

4. Another translation: I was on a switch off for the day with Elder Weaver, who is younger than me in the mission. An RC had a question about what it meant when "Jesus drank from the bitter cup and shrank." (I dont know what it says in English sorry).... It took me 15 minutes to explain the analogy. MAN explaining it in English is hard, let alone Thai! 

5. While I was on the switch off with Elder Weaver, we started talking with a group of guys chilling next to the river playing checkers. Elder Weaver and I just sat down and observed and talked until he was invited to play against the Thai master..... BOOM - ELDER WEAVER WON! It was pretty funny hahahaha. The American beat the Thai master who plays every day. And we got his number. He is coming to English class on Tuesday. 

6. Sleep talk: For those of you who don't know yet, I sleep talk a TON. Last night, I apparently looked at Elder Weaver, took my sweatshirt off and said - "Dude... don't press my Atari." (For all of you youngins out there, an Atari is one of the first gaming systems invented for human kind.) Classic Elder Smith-Driggs sleep talking stories. Gotta love em hahahaha. 

Spiritual thought: 
This week I had the opportunity to read "The Transforming Power of Faith and Character" by Richard G. Scott. I absolutely loved this talk! I would encourage you all to take a look at it because it helps us understand how we need to improve our character and what sort of components go into a "character"... Is it spiritual, emotional, daily actions? His conclusion was that your character shows how much faith you have in the Lord. Every decision and thought affects our character. And the obedience and control over our character dictates our ability to submit to the will of the Lord. Absolutely fascinating perspective. I loved it! 

I know that the Savior, Jesus Christ lives. I glory in him because in him I find happiness and peace. He is the light of the world. When we turn to him in humility and WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE... miracles happen. I love you all - God bless you! 

Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs 

P.S. My mom added this picture of Elder Howard's family with my family when they got together for dinner last night. Nice selfie skills Eliza - you got all 12 people in the photo!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brutal Blessings

WOW this week was hard. Completely Brutal, but I am sure glad we had it. Sometimes you just need a brutal week to kick you back in gear, ya know? Let's just say I am glad it is P-Day, and we get to have a short break. Let's get down and dirty...

The Force Unleashed
(Mom comment: They went to ride ostriches last P-Day.)

Our version of "STAR WARS"

Stare down contest... ready... GO .... The ostrich won. 
The Work: 
The work has been slow this week. We had a lot of pitnats (canceled appointments), and it was really hard to contact people this week. The GOOD news is that we have progressing investigators who are coming closer to Christ. I will tell you about some of them. 

One man, Brother Saw, is half Chinese and can only read Chinese. We have been waiting for a Book of Mormon in Chinese from Bangkok, and we finally got one to give to him. He was SO excited! He loves the word of God and has amazing faith. The B.O.M is central and key to conversion. I know that it answers questions of the soul. 

Sister Jay: She is great and loves coming to church. She has come a solid 4 weeks in a row and is learning bit by bit. I have learned that sometimes you need to be patient with people, especially because they have no Christian background... no belief in God. We can't just expect them to come to church every week, change their whole lives and their culture in 4 lessons... we must be patient and kind. What would Jesus do? 

This week was rough for sure. There were many times where Elder Howard and I had to just stop and pray for help and encouragement. God always provides. He always provides the strength to keep going. 

Sunset on Chiang Rai Thailand
The Culture: 
1. Women clean the male bathrooms here.

2. Difference between Thailand and America. 
American parents: "Alright kids, hop in the minivan. We are going to the movies!" 
Thailand parents: "Alright kids, everyone hop onto this 1 person scooter. We are headed to the fruit market!" Record of people seen on a Vespa: 5 person family - Mom, Dad,13 year old, 3 year old, and a newborn in the mom's arms on the back. Classic Thailand :)

3. White people in Chiang Rai - I have no idea where these people are coming from because they are absolutely MASSIVE human beings. I swear - I was talking to this woman yesterday, and she was a head bigger than me. Are white girls really this tall back in America? It is terrrifying to be honest. I will probably go home short.

4. We went to a Thai wedding this week! That was a highlight! One of the member's daughters got married to a man from Bangkok, and they had an awesome reception! Very fun and great cultural experience. You should all check out Chinese Buddhist wedding rituals - very cool. 

(Mom comment: For those not familiar with missionary lingo, 
I think "trunky" means missing things from your home culture.)
1. On our way to Chiang Mai this week (3 hour bus ride for zone training), I was so car sick because it is practically a Provo Canyon drive for 3 hours in a huge tour bus. At hour #2, I threw up all over my companion, who was asleep, and the bus.... classic. I felt so bad, so I went to the very back of the bus to the bathroom, but it was so small I couldn't fit. So for the rest of the ride, I was thrown around a portapotty at 60 miles an hour. Awesome experiences. Can't wait to see the re-play of that in heaven hahahaha. 

Sleeping beauties

2. There was no bus back to Chiang Rai during the night, so I had to stay overnight in the Chiang Mai house. Classic. Good thing I was in my throw up clothes.

3. This adorable little sister asked me yesterday at church: "Elder Smith-Driggs, does it ever get this cold in Utah?" I said, "Yes of course!" She sat there for a second and said... "So do you shower once a week or what? How do you shower if it is so cold? Do you shower every day? Because us KhonThais shower every day." Hahahahahaha I think she thought that we don't have hot water heaters in America. It was adorable hahahahaha. I assured her that I showered every day. Every day. 

Spiritual thought: 
Well, at the culmination of a very amazing week of joy and gladness and hardship and sickness.... this one scripture got me through, and I LOVE IT. Check it out: 2 Nephi 4:19 -  "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted."

I know in whom I have trusted. Those are such powerful words. I know in whom I have trusted. I have decided to serve a mission, to be a representative of Jesus Christ, to wear the badge, to be part of the Army of Helaman... after all is said and done, I am very weak. I am weak. I have many sins, and sometimes we may feel like we have given all we have. But I know in whom I have trusted. My Savior Jesus Christ is my advocate, my shepherd, my Redeemer, and my best friend. I know that as we trust in him we have no need to fear because we know that we have already won the fight. We will succeed if we keep the Savior on our side. If you have not felt his love for a while, please ask for it. Please just ask in prayer. Never prayed before? That is OK... we all have to start somewhere. Just get down on your knees, close your eyes, and believe that God is there. Then wait.... and ask Him how much he loves you... or if He loves you at all. He will answer you because he has answered me. I know that God loves us. Trust in him, and we will be able to say like the great pioneers: "All is well, all is well."

ALSO JUST BY THE WAY, MY SUPER ROCKSTAR SISTER just came out with her first ALBUM. So PEOPLE get on this and listen to her stuff! Anyone that knows her knows she is just a star and has an absolutely gorgeous voice of an angel. I cry when I listen to her voice. It is that good so LISTEN TO IT!

(My mom added the photo and links.)

God bless you all my dear family and friends. I pray for you often and think of you every day. I love you all so much! 

Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jurassic World

Well it has been a very eventful three days here in Chiang Rai. Many animal discoveries... including this random white guy's house with a giant dimorphodon in his front yard. Gotta love Thailand!

Dinosaurs are real here in Thailand

Oh... also last P-day, I rode an elephant. Through a river :) SUPER DUPER 

Elephant stampedes boat

The Work: 
We are still alive here in Chiang Rai, so that is a start. Our investigators are coming to church, everything is good to go for Sister Bean's baptism, things are looking up. I have learned that as a missionary, there are certain controllable factors to missionary work. You can control your attitude, your obedience, your worthiness, and your dedication. You cannot control others' decisions, your companion's decisions, the will of God (obviously), and the number of investigator appointments you teach in a week. This is sometimes frustrating to missionaries (me) because they feel like they are doing all they can to bring people to church, grow the branch, help them do their home teaching... etc, etc. But sometimes I need to understand that those are not factors we can control. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing and that is where the Atonement and Christ fit their way into the DRIVE of how each person works. We are trying to build the kingdom the best we can in our part of the vineyard. I have an AWESOME companion who is a great district leader. He is killing it at leading us missionaries in the right path and trying to help the branch with every ounce of energy he has got. Elder Howard is a very special missionary. I love him :) 

Elephants are magnificent creatures :)

1. Because we live next to the border of both Laos and Myanmar, last week we got checked at the border in our car for fugitives. That was cool :) Not scary - just have never had that happen to me before. 

2. They don't think it is possible for white people to eat Thai food because it is too spicy. When we order food off of the street (curry, noodles, namdok, somdam) whatever it is.... they just look at us and go "really?" 

So tired while contacting yesterday, I fell asleep WHILE EATING

1. In elders quorum, I was leading the music last Sunday to the song: "Beautiful Zion, Built Above." By the end of the song, the elders quorum sounded like a bunch of monotone monks chanting. Good thing they picked a popular song hahahhahaha *face palm.* At the end of the song they said, "Thanks Elder Smith-Driggs... better luck next time. Don't worry, leading music comes with time." Hahahahahahahahaha.

2.Walked into a pizza store the other day to order pizza and a song came on (like a modern song)... and I didn't recognize it. There were mixed feelings of joy and sadness. Only Eliza will understand. Sorry sweetie, I won't know any of your songs when I get back ;(

3. While teaching an investigator:

Brother: "I love Assassins Creed (video game)."
Me: "I just like to stick with Mario."
Brother: "Wow..... you're old." 

Spiritual thought:
This week I had a marvelous opportunity to read President Uchtdorf's talk entitled: "It Works Wonderfully!" from this last general conference. ( My thought today comes from this talk, as I believe it gives sound wisdom to our discipleship. He talks about many programs that are good for the Church, many Relief Society activities that help our faith, wonderful programs like scouting, etc... but he asks this simple question to each of us to help us assess our spiritual vital signs: "Are we making our discipleship too complicated?"  I think that is very wise wisdom. Sometimes we focus on the most trivial things to 'build our faith.' Sometimes we want to be these spiritual giants, and we feel like in order to do that we must find the most complex, extreme answer to make our brains explode with spiritual enlightenment. 
Brothers and Sisters, that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is much more simple than that. There are 5 things we must do to stay grounded in the faith: 
1. Faith 
2. Repentance
3. Baptism
4. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost
5. Enduring to the end 

It is beautifully simple, and it works beautifully. 

I love you all.  Have an amazing week. Keep it simple :) I pray for you always.  Love you guys. 

Elder Sameet-Dee 

Boat ride up to the elephants

Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs  

Friday, January 1, 2016

And that's a wrap

Good year everyone. Great year....

Now let's start preparing Christmas for next year! (Cue elves cheering in the background.) In the words of my trusty zone leader, Elder Stone, "Christmas was GREAT! ... Now it's over. Get back to work." Hahahahahaha - gotta love missionary service.

Bike hair at its best
The Work: 
Alrighty. Today I could tell you about investigators, members, LA returns, yadda yadda yadda... but I feel like I don't talk about the actual Missionary WORK enough. Work is a beautiful thing. Whatever you do in your life, there is nothing that substitutes for hard work. Hard work teaches you many lessons. However, hard work does not always get you results. In the words of Ezra Taft Benson, "Work, work, work - there is no satisfacatory substitute, especially in missionary work." I would completely agree. Some missionaries think that if they work their butts off, they will find success - that success meaning baptism. But what most people don't understand is that success does not equal baptism. Success, as defined by Preach My Gospel, is your DEDICATION to find, teach, and baptize. Our purpose as missionaries, and as human beings - is to find joy in the WORK. That is how God shapes our character, our nature, and our attitude. It is an amazing thing. Working hard - there is no substitute.

Golden Triangle - We can see Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand from here!
1. Elder Howard: "These are my agility goggles."

"These goggles increase my agility." - Elder Howard 

2. I tried to comment something on the LDS youth website, BUT IT SAID I WAS TOO OLD.... so yeah that was a little frustrating. 

3. The other elders cooked food in the church, and it burned, and there was smoke everywhere, and then President Johnson randomly showed up to watch our English class - SO EMBARASSING. Hahahah he just chuckled. It smelled like burnt rice and Fabreeze.

4. We were teaching an investigator (Chinese, and he only speaks English), and he asked me (in English)... he got very serious and said, "I want to take a shower with you... can I do that?"..... ummmm.... I was speechless, and Elder Howard was trying so hard not to laugh because the investigator was talking about baptism. Hahahahahahaha don't worry, I held it together, but BARELY.

Casual conversation
[Mom question: What animal is that? It looks a little bit like a pig.]
1. KhonThais are scared of the sun, so they carry umbrellas around when it is really sunny so that their faces don't get dark.

2. When at a member's house, everyone will eat food together, but the person who prepares the food will not eat until everyone is satisfied.

Delicious Prick Gang Gai (yellow peppered curry)

3. KhonThais love to touch you. They are a very physical people - so people will be talking to me and then touch me on my waist and hold my hand when they walk with me (usually old men). No females do it to us, so that is good. 

Spiritual thought: 
Man, there are so many things I could talk about today. I think my Work section says it all. Until we can really understand how the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ works... I mean the actual effort it takes... the work... the sweat... the emotional trauma - that is when we get to taste the Atonement and the pure love our Savior has for us. I know He does. I know He does. 

I love you all so much. Girls, don't get into too much trouble... Please don't date any crazy boys..... but if you do, I better hear some stories. 


Love you my dear family and friends! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Love always,
Elder Smith-Driggs