Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tiger Woods

Hello there my dear Family and Friends! This week was probably one of the most eventful in my mission so I will try to summarize it the best I can hahahahaha. 

I totally golf

Last week for Pday, Elder Leininger, Elder  Webb, Elder Smith and I went golfing. 

The Work: 
Yesterday at church, I was reminded how through small and simple means are great things brought to pass (Alma 37:6)... A man from Orem, Utah - who is originally from here in Thailand, who came to serve as a senior couple in Roi Et - came to visit for a couple  weeks. He bore his testimony about the work of salvation. He told us about two of the people he taught...and 7 years later, one is now the stake president and the other is our beloved bishop. In just 7 years the branch has grown into a ward and is close to becoming a stake. It was just awesome, and it really helped me to keep a 5-year perspective instead of a 6-week perspective. Because the steps we are taking are very small... But the work is the work of salvation, and therefore God magnifies those steps to big things over a long period of time. Work is going great. Please pray for Brother Boss. He is one of our investigators and will be baptized next week. Just pray that he still learns with us and doesn't give up hope that there is a God who loves him. Pray that he has the strength to switch to Christianity. Elder Smith and I would really appreciate that! 

The Culture: 
To speak forwardly to someone (speaking boldly and directly) is very rude in this culture. If you need to do it, it is polite to ask for permission. For example, "Brother, may I ask permission to speak boldly to you"... and then you can say what you really feel. Fun fact. 

Priests Quorum: Brotherhood

The Funnies: 
1. We have bats in the church. YEAH. Like vampire bats. They have burrowed (hundreds of them and fun fact it is mating season hahahaha) all in the roof of the chapel. The other night one of them had dropped from the hole in the roof into the chapel and was hiding in the dark when Elder Webb and I went to close the sacrament room... We turned on the lights, and it attacked us! It was terrifying but funny. We caught it with a broom and a dustpan...took it outside and killed it. It felt way good. Take that Batman.

2. Random giant statues here in Thailand. This week we found the Hulk. 

3. One of our investigators when we committed him to be baptized asked if he needed to pay for anything, and we said "Of course not!"... He then responded, "Wow - good thing it is free! You don't even need to pay anything to get baptized. I want to get baptized this Sunday!" ... and he will. His name is Brother Nat. Keep him in your prayers. 

4. We went and did service for a little old lady and fixed her roof and her sheet metal house. To make sure the rain didn't come in again, we draped a giant Jesus Christ Christmas poster over her whole house hahahaha. The bishop brought it over to keep the rain out. 

How do you keep the rain out?...Giant poster of Jesus of course

5. The old lady gave me a chicken because that's what you do in Thailand. Thanks Grandma Bet! 

6. We watched the video of you Mom during general conference the other day in church, and my heart dropped. I was like... wait... I have seen this video.. hey wait.. that is my mom!!!!!!! Hahaha I was like, “Hey everyone, that is my mom!” Totally disrupted the spirit...oops sorry. I was just excited to see you Mom! 

Spiritual thought: 
I am so grateful for answered prayers this week. As I was praying for guidance about what to do in Roi Et, I read a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott. In it, he challenges us all to "have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His program to acquire the power to achieve"... Now there are a lot of ideas in here, but I want to focus on the words "his program." A lot of times as missionaries we have an agenda that we want to get done. Missionaries and members all around the world want to get things done... but to do them the "right" way we need to submit to our all-knowing and all-patient Creator... for in his program and in his time do we thrive, and in turn have the ability to grow larger in love towards our fellow man and towards our Savior Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that we focus on God’s plan and accept his will rather than our own. 

I love you all.
God bless you! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tropic Thunder

This week was really hot, really rainy, really fun! Not a lot to report this week unfortunately, but I hope you all enjoy some of the pictures. All the missionaries out there reading this... it's ok. We all know we only look at the pictures. (Sorry fam - they have been a little weak recently.)

Carved watermelon from a member at church...DOPE!

The Work: 
Something I want to focus on this week is the youth in the church. First of all, we probably have as many youth in Roi Et as a Utah ward... I am serious people - the young men here... they are awesome. We taught them the word "brotherhood" in English, and whenever one of them makes a basket during basketball or someone says something funny, they all start chanting in a Thai accent, "Brotha huud...Brotha huud..." over and over again. Hahahahhahaha we think it is hilarious. The work is going great. We have a great bishop who supports the missionaries, and we are learning how to work together. His name is Suttabe (สุเทพ) which means "awesome angel"... and he sure is. It is way fun to work with him. Also...he wore a skinny tie to church this week, and the tie design was a "galaxy theme"... way sick! 

Elder Khanakam from the Quorum of the Seventy came to visit. Great guy! 

The Culture: 
1. Common treat: Mango - all shapes and sizes - all times of the year... a la carte... all seasons, sour, unripe, sweet, sticky... delicious. 
2. Everyone wears crocs... you go into the hospital... they all wear crocs there too. 
3. No one exercises in the morning outside.... they do it inside their house or in the fields or at the park.
4. Everyone is Buddhist... except the Mormons :) 

The Funnies: 
So sorry. Can’t think of anything this week. I guess my companion is just a goober.  He is way funny man. I LOVE Elder Smith! 


Tropic thunder - 
Oh yeah...flooded everywhere last night.

Ponderizing very deeply but actually posing...hahaha.

There once was a lady who lived in a shoe...

We cleaned this house of an old lady and found 2 rats (alive - we haven't killed them yet but we did get bats...), 1 gecko and lots of little jinkjoke lizards, 343 coackroches that we killed with our tap dancing feet...and we cleared the whole first floor in only 3 hours.... 

One of the sister missionaries walked right into the house to get to work (hahaha) and shrieked as a rat ran across her path...she bolted right back out of the house. It was intense because we couldn't find the rats underneath the stuff, so when we came out we were all like, "RAT GET THE RAT!!!" Hahahahahahahaha. 

Spiritual thought: 
I was reading in the Old Testament in Daniel today, and I thought I would share something with you all... 
16 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 

I am sorry I can’t take more time in giving you the background, but these three men are told to worship an idol, and they tell the king they won’t do it. In fact, the clause they use is, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter"... it implies boldness, power, and confidence. Not only did they stand up for what they believed in, but in the next verse they testify of the divinity of their God, who stands over all other gods and idols. 

Believe it or not, there are many idols here in Thailand. I see them every day. It is such a gift to introduce the one God, the all powerful God, and the God that can save us from our sins. He is real. He changes lives.  For people who have never known him and for people who have known him for years...he is there to help guide us back home. 

May we be more bold in professing our love for our God. May we be more bold is saying no. I hope we can be more bold in giving credit to the being who makes all things possible, our Heavenly Father. That is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all and hope your week is full of trials... for in trials we grow. Enjoy the fiery furnace and endure it well for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you (Joshua 3:5).
Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Esse Quam Videri


My dear family and friends, today is a special day for me. I got to see my beautiful family today, and I miss them so much. Miss them in a good way, you know? I can't express the love I have for my family.  They mean everything to me. 

Today I am going to write a little differently. If you are reading this blog right now and you are prepping to go on a mission or wondering what a mission entails... listen up. The Spirit told me to focus my email on you guys... no pressure hahahahaha. 

We all hear missionaries in their homecoming talks talk about the best 2 years, the way they have changed, how much they love the people, and they bear their testimony in their mission language.  All of you are sitting there like...."Dude, I am totally serving a mission. That sounds way cool."... So you put in your papers, you ask God if it is the right thing to do, you get your answer, and you go for it. 

You enter the MTC, and you have a great spiritual experience, and you learn all day every day in a small classroom, and you are bombarded with the Spirit of the Lord, so much so that when you leave the MTC, you cannot imagine it any other way. 

You get to your mission area. You are excited and super nervous. Maybe you can't speak the language, maybe you are worried about gaining weight.  Whatever it is, you get stressed... you start to wonder if the mission was a good idea. In fact, at most times it definitely does not seem like the best 2 years that that one guy in your ward promised it would be. You don't have investigators, maybe your companion doesn't like to shower hahahaha. I don't know. You decide to get down on your knees and ask for help. Things start to get a lot better. You feel your Heavenly Father's love more frequently. You move areas, companions, you start to get the language, you start to lose weight (if you are an elder hahahahaha), you get in a groove, and you are comfortable. 

But "comfortable" is not in Heavenly Father's vocabulary. So he tests you again, and you prove yourself again. You get down on your knees and plead for others, you plead for yourself, and things get better again. Your attitude changes, your character starts to change, consistently making the right decision (which is almost always an easy decision to make)... and you start to change. You realize you are changing. Your spirit starts to overcome your body, and with God you realize that you are a lot stronger. With God you can change lives. With God you can change the nature of human beings. And you start to understand the urgency and the importance of your calling as a missionary. You start to not worry about home, and home seems so far away it seems unreal (that happens it is scary). 

Pah Jan loves the Fam

Soon your mission becomes your home. You accept the culture, the people, yourself. And once you get over that hump, you have the ability to change lives through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You cleave to the gospel of Jesus Christ because you know that is what makes you the person you are... and that knowledge can help all of the other people around you. 

Then you have 1 year and 6 months left.... but you aren't counting anymore.... time starts to fly by. And Heavenly Father consistently puts you back in the fire, taking you out, crafting you, cooling you, putting you in the fire again, until you are standing at the airplane at the end of your mission saying a prayer to Heavenly Father telling him, "Father I did everything that was asked of me. Please bless these people... they mean everything to me."

You guys, a mission changes your life. That isn't something missionaries say because it is catchy. If you think you are strong now because you just graduated high school, and you were Seminary president, and you have a great testimony.. that is just great! You just got your Personal Progress, and you have those awesome bookmark ribbons for faith, virtue, charity, etc.... Come out on a mission and let the Lord work miracles through you. THIS IS THE HARDEST WORK YOU WILL HAVE EVER DONE UP TO THIS POINT IN YOUR LIFE - SO DON'T MISS IT. DON'T MISS YOUR MISSION. COME OUT AND JOIN THE RANKS. Come out on a mission and experience true happiness and true sadness. Come out on a mission and be ready to be beaten down until you are "depressed and about to turn back" (Alma 26)... but you don't turn back. You, like Alma, understand that bringing other souls unto repentance is the most important work on the face of the planet. Come out on a mission, and watch the Lord change your life. 

He sure is changing mine.

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Go Cougars!

Monday, May 2, 2016

ร้อยเอ็ด.. more like 105 degrees

WOHOOO this week was a toasty one... you know it's hot when you step outside of your cold, air-conditioned apartment, you say a prayer to start off the day, and your shirt is already damp. 105 degrees here consistantly this week...and that doesn't account for the humidity. I LOVE THAILAND MAN! 

The Work: 
We saw some serious miracles here this week in Roi Et. We made an effort to visit all 102 people who came to church last week. The district (4 elders, 4 sisters) set up appointments with every single one of them for the week to visit them at their homes. And we visited 77 of them! I would say that is pretty good! We saw the fruits of our efforts immediately as random less active families started coming back to church... and our attendance went from 102 to 128. We were so grateful to God for this huge jump in attendance. We just hope we can continue to teach repentance and baptize converts the best that we can. 

Thank you for all of your prayers. They are felt every day. God bless you all. All of the elders in our house are really good guys. They all work hard, and we get along super well. As I was going to bed last night I was thinking, "I think this may be one of the happiest moments on my mission. I feel pure joy right now!" The Sisters in the District are stellar missionaries.  The work is going great, and God is blessing us. I pray it stays this way. Sometimes missionary work goes exactly like we want it to...other times we feel so off track, we feel like our will and God's have to be off because things aren't clicking... I just pray that God's will and the members' prayers and our prayers align this transfer. Because prayers can do wonders (see Alma 6:6). 

The Culture: 
The banana as a fruit is eaten here all the time. Given as gifts, eaten as a daily staple.... too bad I am allergic. (It's always awkward when you get a gift from a member and it's bananas...I don't have the heart to tell them I can't eat them hahaha.)

Classic Thai food...delicious!

There is a guy here who makes sculptures using just a few tools.  Amazing.

The Funnies: 
I slept talked a lot... another one of the funnies for this week. I am sleeping, and suddenly I say, "Oh yes... someone is giving me food..... mmmm... yes thank you so much Sister Blaylock! This is delicious!" HAHAHAHAH all the other elders were like - "Smith-Driggs, what in the world?" 

Spiritual thought: 
Elder Smith was riding his bike, and he suddenly stopped at a park. He looked around for about a minute, and he looked at me and said, "Elder Smith-Driggs, would you mind if we stopped here for a little bit? Just park our bikes and walk around?" I was like, "Sure Elder - sounds good man!".... After we locked our bikes, he turns to me and says -"The Spirit has told me we are looking for a man sitting down in this park. He is middle aged, and he will be sitting down. He needs to hear about the gospel. I know he is here." As we walk inside the park, we see a man sitting on the curb, middle aged, with his wife and his 2 year old daughter. Elder Smith goes - "That's him." We walk up to him, and Elder Smith teaches them about the Plan of Salvation and about how families can be together forever. They listened politely and then said, "We would love to meet with you. How about next Saturday?" I know that the Spirit guides us. This is a real story. It is not fake. I promise we can receive direct and specific revelation as we renew and keep our sacrament covenants each week. The work is wonderful, and I know that as we rely on God to prepare the elect as it says in D & C 4.... we begin to harvest. Thank you for your prayers. We sure feel them. 


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