Saturday, July 30, 2016

Welcome to LAOS

4 days ago, President Johnson walked up to me and said, "Pack your bags Elder, we are leaving on Friday!".... WOOHOOOO I MADE IT thank you for your prayers. The visa is all good to go. I have it in my hands. I am an "official volunteer English teacher." BUCKETS. These last couple days have been a whirlwind. It is Saturday, July 30 here in the country of Laos. I am emailing you all in our office here in Vientiane. Wow... where to begin. Well.. first off, I am not in Thailand anymore. I hopped on a plane with President and Sister Johnson yesterday to come to Lao. I am SO EXCITED TO BE HERE!!! 

Crossing over to Laos

What are the chances?
Mom comment: John Nelson - Abraham's new companion in Laos -
is a good friend from high school.
The Work: 
Here in Lao, I teach English. My nametag says I work for Deseret International Charities, and throughout the week we teach English. 

Lao Nametag: It reads, "Abraham Smith-Driggs"

I haven't gotten to teach any classes yet because I got here on the night of district meeting and dinner with the Johnsons.. and today (now Saturday) is Pday. Anyway - there are a lot of things that are happening and there is so much going on but just not enough to write in this email hahahahaha. The langauge.... is do-able. They speak so fast here in Lao. I have no idea what they are saying. Not to mention the whole tone changing thing from Thai and the different words they use for I, you, he, she, us, they, them.... it is a work in process. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I have to get up and bear my testimony in Laotian. I am nervous - not going to lie. I feel like a greenie again. It is a whole new experience in a brand new country... everything takes time. But I am so excited to be here. I have seen the Lord work in many ways here already. It is a fantastic time to be in Lao! Like I was saying before, there are only 5 of us here (currently). In about 1 week when Elder Frodsham and my main man John Nelson finish their missionary service and go home, there will be 3 new people up here...and I will be senior companion and teaching a full schedule of English classes and the branch clerk and a lot of other things. All in about 2 weeks. LET'S PARTY BABY. 

The Elders in Lao

The Bottom Line: 
I decided to change the section from "the deets" to "the bottom line." Hope that is ok hahaha. The bottom line for this week is that no matter what someone else tells you about a mission experience, you will never fully understand until you experience it for yourself. That may sound obvious, but everyone was telling me things about the elders up in Lao (good things - don't worry) and how they did work up here...and the bottom line is that you don't understand nor can you get the full perspective until you have tried it for yourself. The same thing goes with tasting food, going roller blading, or even reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.

Huge BOM

The Culture: 
1. The people here in Lao are very friendly, a lot like Thailand. They always have smiles on their faces and are quick to laugh. The country is under communist rule, which obviously means no proselyting for us in the regular sense. 

2. I feel like Lao has a lot more red dirt.... idk I just feel like it is more red than Thailand.. lots of shirts will be ruined here from bike spray hahahaha (missionaries will understand). 

3. There are no 7-11s here.

4. Most females wear skirts all the time. Very modest. A stark difference from Thailand :) 

5. They have this really cool "victory arch" in the middle of the city. Cool stuff, cool history. Read about it on Wikipedia or something if you are interested. 

The Funnies: 
1. While I was back in Asoke for the last couple of days, Elder Hunt got a phone call from a potential and the investigator was actually investigating HIM for a modeling job. Hahahahaha gotta love those half-Thai, half-Americans.... the Thai (and Lao) people love them!

2. Elder Nelson dude... Johnny boy... the joke it speaks for itself.  (This week we are decorating our new house, and we had to put this DOPE preying mantis on our table.)

House decoration = DOPE

3. I currently have about a 10% mastery of the Lao language.. so that is pretty funny because It is so hard for me to understand people hahahahahah. I just have to laugh at myself. Literally at this very second, the members are correcting me.

Breakfast: mango pancake with honey maple syrup (swag added)

The Spiritual Thought: 
This week and especially these last two days in Lao, I have felt the comforting power of the Holy Spirit as I start this new chapter in my missionary service. There are many things that contribute to turmoil and discomfort in life, whether it is switching jobs or moving houses or growing up...but this week I felt the power of the Holy Ghost as the comforter in many ways through the words of friends or family. In this case, while I was on the plane ride from Thailand to Lao, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. The Holy Ghost knows us well and knows how to help us. I prayed for lots of comfort this last week as I transitioned to an entirely different lifestyle.... and the Holy Ghost delivered every time.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers. I can sure feel them. 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Still Waiting for a Visa

Hello FAMILY and FRIENDS. Still here in Asoke (Bangkok) waiting for my visa to get here. This week has been awesome and full of amazing miracles. Elder Cherd, Elder Hunt and I are rockin' it! It is so much fun to see the little miracles every day. Today I am going to share :) 

Cool Flying Squirrel!

The Work: 
Here in downtown Bangkok, everyone has a go go go attitude. Much like New York City or Tokyo, everyone needs to get somewhere fast, and they don't have a lot of time for other people. As missionaries, our job is to bring others unto Christ, which includes inviting people on the streets of the city of Bangkok. Whether we are taking the MRT (subway) or the sky train or a taxi to appointments, we shout like crazy men as we walk around saying, "Who wants Jesus?!" Lots of fun with these elders. Sometimes I feel like we are going to drop a million dollar business deal or something because we walk and look like some posse dressed up in suits all day. 

Million dollar deal

Except in this scenario, we are dropping something way more important than a million dollar deal. We are participating in the salvation of human souls. More stressful than a million dollar deal? I will let you answer that question. 

We had a great baptism yeseterday. One of our investigators got baptized. Her name is Sister Gate. She is AWESOME. She was referred by her Grandma and is a total boss! In the picture, we are all putting our thumbs to the side because in sign language (apparently) that means baptism hahahahahahaha.

Congratulations Sister Gate!

The Real Deets (details): 
I want to put this little entry in here from now on when I write my entries because I think all of you reading this want an actual account of what a mission is like. Whether you are a returned missionary or a Laurel or a Priest - the Real Deets can help set expectations for when we serve as full time missionaries. So who cares? Why do I get up every morning? I am a 20 year old punk kid talking about Jesus all day? I must be crazy. But why do I do it? The Real Deet for the week is that the physical amount of energy you put out in a day is a lot. Your spirit and your body both need battery charging every day (that is why every day we work out in the morning and study - so that both aspects of the human being can be fully charged). When you get home at night, or it could be at 6 pm, or at 12 pm in the afternoon, your body uses so much energy that you can't keep awake. A mission is mentally and physically demanding - it beats you to your knees. But that is ok and necessary - because your knees are where you should be anyway all day long pleading for forgiveness.

The Culture: 
1. Busy life in Bangkok - allows for tiny apartments.

2. Again...people cannot believe we can speak Thai. Their minds just go blank when we talk to them because they are so taken aback by the fact that we can speak this language. It is a hard language to be sure. On that note - can't wait to feel like like a greenie again in Lao where I can understand hardly anything hahahaha. Wish me luck.

Our boys at the train track

Yummy Yummy in my Tummy

The Funnies: 
1. Elder Hunt eats A TON. The guy is like a horse. If we ever see something on the street (food vendor), he asks, "Excuse me, is this free?" Sometimes it is, most of the time it isn't, but sometimes the people just let him eat stuff from their store hahahahaha. It is awesome! 

2. We got into a van the other day to go somewhere, and this Chinese girl runs up to us and looks at Elder Hunt and says, "I know you!"... Elder Hunt was like... "Really? I have never seen you before." One thing leads to another, and she had come to our English class. She apparently mixed up the word 'party' for 'meeting,' so hahahah she asked if she could come to the 'party' on Sunday that started at 9 a.m.! We at first were like, "Yeah come and 'party' with us!" Hahahahahahah and SHE TOTALLY CAME and is now an investigator. She also brought a friend. So little announcement:  We are having a CRAZY PARTY AT THE CHURCH at 9 AM! SO TOTALLY COME AND BRING YOUR FRIENDS. WE WILL HAVE MUSIC AND EVERYTHING.... EVEN FOOD AT THE END. So social media this bad boy out there! Location: Asoke Chapel.

Brother Superman

Spriritual thought: 
A man in the international ward said something very profound yesterday. He said (along the lines of), "We come to church to take the sacrament. Everything else on the Sabbath day including the service and the speakers and the classes resides with you. YOU decide when you come to church to learn the gospel. You decide to go to the classes... all of these things reside with you to make the decision to learn personally. The only thing that matters on the Sabbath day is the sacrament. Everything else is of our own volition. Much like our daily scripture study and prayer - the actual LEARNING of the gospel is up to you. The covenants are the same, and the application is the same every week... but the mental energy it takes to LEARN the gospel is up to YOU." I thought that was profound advice. Let us take action in our Sabbath day worship and choose to learn. It is up to us to take the steps necessary for spiritual wellness. So just DECIDE and make the choice to learn.... rather than come to church... come and LEARN. 

LOVE YOU ALL. Hopefully next week when I send an email, it will be from the country of Lao! I can feel your prayers and am so grateful for them. Love you! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lao is coming soon . . .

My dear family and friends, I have some exciting news! I have been called to serve in the country of Lao! I have known for quite some time now, but I haven't been able to tell any of you - but now I can!! WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Lao is a communist country bordering Thailand. They speak Laotian (which is kind of like Thai but not really...the tones are different...kind of like Cantonese and Mandarin). It is a non-proselyting mission, so I will be teaching English for the duration of my days there. And I get to do service all the time. There are only 6 missionaries in the should be a great experience, and I can't wait to serve the people of Laos! I can feel all of your prayers, and I am so grateful that you pray for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Something that gave me great comfort was talking with the elder that I was replacing in Lao. His name is Elder Robert Pratt, and he just ended his mission from Lao. He told me some words of advice. In Thailand, you TEACH about Christ. But in Lao - you SHOW about Christ. I can't wait to serve in Lao, and I am excited for this new opportunity.

Leaving from Lao... going to Lao. Thanks Elder Pratt, we love you man.

ALSO... S/O to my sister Eliza. She is turning 18 years old this week. And going to college. She just sent a picture of a boy kissing her cheek. Boys are gross. Darn it Eliza - you are too stinking old..... but I love you anyway and am so happy for this big moment hahahaah Happy Birthday sweetheart :) Love you! 

The Work: 
I am currently waiting for my visa here in Asoke (downtown Bangkok). As soon as I get that, I go to the apartment, get my stuff, and hop on a plane to a new land, a new language, and a new culture. Please pray that the visa will come soon. I am currently in a TRIO with Elder Hollis Hunt from Riverton, Utah and Elder เชิดชัยภูมิ (Cherdchaiyaphum) - or Elder Cherd for short. He is from Korat here in Thailand, and we are in the same group! 

Elder Hunt and Elder Chert... amazing guys

We are having the FUNNEST time here in the heart of the city! Asoke is like Times Square of NYC. Our church building was the first church building here in Thailand, and it has been really fun to be in a huge bustling city again! Being in a trio is great. It feels like we are in a gang or something just walking on the streets like business men... absolutely a blast. Not to mention that Elder Cherd and Elder Hunt are HILARIOUS hahahaha. The Lord's work goes on in all countries with all people! 

Three amigos
The Culture: 
1. Asoke is downtown - so many people. It reminds me of Tokyo - just hotter! 

View from apartment

2. We went to the international ward yesterday for church. It was super awesome to hear church in English! I haven't had that in a solid year! The countries that attended (I wrote them down): Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, Korea, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, America, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Burma, Nigeria, Canada, Great Britain, and the Philippines. I love the church. It is global, and it is true! 

Hey แม่ วารุณี !!! We say "Hi" from Asoke!

The Funnies: 
1. We met a kid (like 5 years old) on the street, and his name was Nehor. Elder Cherd turned to us and said, "กลับไจนะลูก." (Thai speakers will understand - sorry fam.)

2. When we get on the MRT (subway) to go home every night, Elder Hunt and I do a little skit on the subway really loudly saying, "Hello sir... I don't know where to learn English.. and I have no money... WHAT SHOULD I DO?" He answers, "Well sir... did you know that white people at the church located at _____ at this time ____ teach for FREE?"... And we just talk about English really loudly (because everyone is silent while on public transportation). The Thai people just love it and laugh. And we get people to come to English class. Win win hahahaha. 

English is on Tuesdays 18:30-20:00. Visitors welcome!

3. Elder Cherd accidentally taste tested a coffee doughnut, and when Elder Hunt went to taste test, Elder Cherd said, "Elder no! It's coffee!!!!! Suck!" Hahahahahaha we all laughed about it.

Caught ya sleepin' Cherd

4. While I was praying at one of our investigator appointments, a cat came into our little circle and started coughing up hairballs during the prayer hahahahahahaha. I couldn't contain myself and started laughing. So we prayed again. 

5. Quote of the day: "Anyone can eat when they're hungry, a MAN eats when he's full." - Elder Hunt.

6. Elder Cherd AND Elder Hunt got nailed ths week trying to get out of the MRT station with their cards. You have to pay for the subway so you have to go through these queues, but if you don't go fast enough, you get nailed by these red bars. They both got nailed. I didn't hahahahaha. You would think I was the veteran or something ;) 

We need baptism!

Spiritual thought:
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to check out Family Search. I thought it was pretty boring until I found out that I could read journal entries from my ancestors. I spent all of Sunday School and Priesthood reading about my ancestors (both Smith and Driggs)... totally feel bad about that, and I need to repent, but I WAS SO EXCITED to read about my ancestors. I finally got the appeal. Everyone says it is so great and so much fun. I was sitting there like, "This is great work and all.... but it isn't very fun at all:/.... Why are they trying to appeal to us by saying family history is a "fun thing to do?" Brothers and sisters, I have needed to repent big time. I have had some of the most amazing experiences these last couple of weeks reading about my amazing ancestors. You can check out the website and look at your family tree, see their pictures, what they did in their lives, memories that other people have of others.... it is incredible. I am actually writing this out of my own volition. This is not an assignment from the mission president to talk about this or anything.... I just genuinely enjoyed learning about my amazing heritage and would encourage you to do the same. The hardest thing to do is pressing the start button. The hardest hurdle to cross is to actually go on the website and log in... after that.... seriously it gets pretty fun! I am not kidding! So give it a go and read about great great great grandma from England when she joined the church... that is your family line! HOW COOL IS THAT!

I love you all so much. I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to serve in Thailand and who knows? I might come back to serve here again?! But for now, I have been called to Lao to show about Christ. And I can't wait to go! I love you all so much and thank you for your service back at home and your prayers. God bless.
Stay sweet.

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


This week has been awesome! It has been full of amazing miracles, and it is such a pleasure to see those miracles take place here in Thailand. 

 Dinner with my number 1 President Tiger

The Work: 
This week has been really special for me. Every week you want to give it your very best because you only have a couple of years to be that "crazy Mormon missionary." I love being that crazy white dude who speaks Thai. Hahahahah it is really special. Elder Young was pretty sick this week, but don't worry Mom, he doesn't have Dengei Fever, and he is alive and well. 

Classic district picture with Brother ปอ

We got a killer new investigator this week - his name is ต้อง (Dong), and he is a stud. He is officially the tallest KhonThai I have ever met (at a towering 6'2)... this is Asia people... to have a man taller than 5'7 is a miracle hahahahahaha. Brother Dong is a stud - he teaches physics at the nearby school. He doesn't know about Jesus Christ, but he is learning. 

Brother Dong

It is so much fun introducing Heavenly Father to these people. It is very stressful - very emotionally jarring especially when they say that God doesn't exist and that we are kidding ourselves - but it is worth it to help others understand and FINALLY realize that they have someone they can turn to. It is such a gift. Please keep Brother Dong in your prayers. Pray that he will understand how to pray and do it every day. I am sure that will help. You guys ROCK! 

In other news, I got a picture of Nathan Peterson, Mitchell Child, and James Havell all back from their missions - welcome home gents -  I miss you guys. Please don't get too crazy with the ladies so that I may have a chance at attending someone's wedding ok? ;) 

The Culture: 
The males of this country love to relax in the internet stores. If you ever want to find a young adult ages 12-19 who is a male.... walk to a dark internet cafe and you will see him online playing a rip-off of World of Warcraft. This is very sad to me and makes my heart depressed. Please please please all of you priesthood holders listen to this: If you are spending more time on the xbox/computer/gameboy advance SP than you are spending with your family or with other human beings.... you have entered into a virtual universe that means more to you than real people. And that is not right. That is not the way it should be - religious or not. Rise from the dust gentleman and get off the couch. (Pump up music inserted here!) 


Some sick Lao fabric I bought today

Oh look... Lao
Mom comment:  In the U.S, we call Laos, “Laos.”  In Thailand, they call it “Lao.”

Oh also  - there was a wedding this week...

The Funnies: 
I ate some cool things this week - including a fish eye. It was quite gross, but I wanted the experience. I made sure it was cooked first. I cooked it myself. 


Spiritual Thought: 
My family and friends, today I have to apologize. I have not adequately prepared spiritually to share a thought. I am praying right now, but nothing is coming to me... In this case, I would like to share one of my favorite scriptures found in 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." Whether we understand this principle or not, we are all children of a Heavenly Father who have agreed to an eternal plan. In that plan, we all rooted for the same team and the same captain. Jesus Christ was our leader. In this life, he is our advocate and our redeemer. And we, all human beings no matter whether they know of this plan or not, have chosen this path because we believe in justice and mercy. We all have trusted in God before. So my dear brothers and sisters.... let us put our trust in Him again. 

God bless you all. I can't WAIT to email you guys next week. 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Eternal Marriage...and America

What a sweet sound to my ears when I got on my email today and heard a recording of “The Star Spangled Banner” playing to my ears. It brought tears to my eyes and peace to my soul... God bless America. We never know how good it is until we leave it.

The Work: 
This week was zone conference. And I got to see Elder Chamberlain right before he goes home in a couple weeks. Just a quick shout out to him - Elder Chamberlain was my trainer, as well as a good friend of mine since 9th grade. We have played trumpet together for years in different bands and competitions and such. When I came to Thailand, he trained me! We served together for 12 awesome weeks in Bangkok. Elder Chamberlain is a dear friend of mine, and he will be sorely missed here in Thailand. Good luck at BYU buddy. I will see you there in a year! 

Gonna miss you Elder Chamberlain

Another S/O to Elder Howard. Elder Howard and I served 12 weeks together up in the north part of Thailand in the middle of nowhere. Elder Howard will be going home with Elder Chamberlain. Elder Howard - you helped me grow so much here on the mission. I love you deeply and am so grateful for your influence - good luck out there buddy. I will miss you. I have to say one of the greatest joys in missionary service is developing relationships with your mission companions. I have loved each one of my companions and am so grateful for each of them and their service. The companionship system is inspired of God. I love working with the missionaries I serve with. The work goes on. 

Quick, hide! It’s the Mormons!

The Culture: 
  • Treats like candy are only eaten by children. The grownups say they are "too sweet" or are "only for kids." 
Super fresh/raw/hip picture of the table we taught at.
  • There are no doorbells here, or doors or just yell "SawadeeKhrap!" which means hello at someone’s house, and they come out of their house to answer you. 
Brother... why do you have a turtle?

The Funnies: 
  • This week in English class we had an activity involving rhyming words. We somehow meshed it with the game "spoons," and it was an absolute riot hahahahaha. I love teaching English. It is a great time. We try to make it fun. Elder Young and I teach with Sister Blaylock and Sister Hayes. It is such a party! 

Hahaha... NOOB
  • We had to buy all the food for zone conference...and of course we were under budget...but people also under drank. Result: 21 liter bottles of Sprite at the elders’ house unopened hahahahahahaha. WOOHOOOOOO AMERICA. 
...All I have that is American - a tie and a Baseball!

Spiritual thought: 
Interestingly enough, I did not prepare a thought on America. Today as I was praying, I felt prompted to talk about a subject that is close to my heart... but one that I do not speak of very often: Eternal Marriage. I think globally that marriage is still generally accepted as a legal agreement that binds a woman and a man. That much is still basically evident. So why in the temple? What is the point? In Doctrine and Covenants 132:46, it tells us that, "...verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven." 

   The basic principle of heavenly law is that through priesthood power. a man and a woman are sealed together and bound together for time and all eternity. It is not some gimmick that we preach and then you get to heaven and Heavenly Father says, "Joke’s on you." That isn't how it works. Just like the law, a formally established code set by rulers... it cannot be changed. With the Lord, he works the same way. Eternal marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We conduct this ordinance in our temples. I know that eternal marriage is a necessary element for entering into the kingdom of God. We are promised that everyone will get a chance to have an eternal companion in some way through God's plan. If not in this life, it will be in the next. I am so grateful that we have eternal marriage. What a blessing to be sealed with the one we love for time and eternity. I hope whoever needed that thought feels loving comfort coming from Heavenly Father. Don't worry - everything will be ok. 

I love you all. So grateful for America today, and you can bet we are celebrating here in the small city of Roi-Et, Thailand! GO AMERICA! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Elephants...for lack of a better title

So sorry everyone - this week is REALLY short. We just got back from riding elephants, and it took forever to get there and get back. 


The Work: 


The work was very fun this week. Very hard, very fun, very rewarding, and very spiritual. I love working with Elder Young - he is an absolute spiritual giant, and I love his presence as we go out and invite others to come unto Christ. You can feel the power when he testifies. Great guy. Investigators are doing ok - we only had an opportunity to meet a couple times this week with our investigators. They were very busy. This week is Zone conference. It should be fun. 

Elder Young holding hands with a girl...

The Culture: 

- People drive cars here on the left side of the road... and they drive a little crazier than normal. Hahahahaha it is sure fun riding a bike around. 

- Everywhere is pretty safe... not a lot of theft or anything in my area. 

- Elephants are domesticated here.

 Dang... that's big.

The Funnies: 

We went to ride the elephants and one of the babies hit Elder Young and Sister Hayes in the face hahahahaha. It liked to attack us. I think it was just playing. 

The 50 years

The Spiritual Thought: 

"It is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people - ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did - have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed." Try to lift someone else's life this week. Make sure you focus on people in your personal work and your spiritual work. We are all God's children, so let's treat each other like it.

Fresh mangos with พ่อ มานะ

I love you all dearly! Sorry for such little info! 

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