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  

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