Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tree Hugger Entry: Here you go

First words that come to mind: Indian food, giraffe, keyboard, fast, need for speed, Lightning McQueen, the Queen of England, Battle Star Galactica... wow that one came out of nowhere.... aren't our brains interesting? Literally a million things going on at 100 miles an hour... and I have the task of re-arranging my thoughts like a Tetris board in order to adequately convey the topic of religion... undoubtedly one of the major components of why the world goes round. So let's get started, shall we? ;) 

Fabric for days

The Work: 
A miracle I would like to share from this week was meeting one of our investigators. She shall remain nameless. Let us say her name is Nancy. Nancy is Buddhist. She is a teenage girl, and she wanted to start learning about Christianity. She was brought to the church by one of her friends. We taught her the first discussion/restoration. She prayed beautifully (her first time KILLED IT). She then went home and did her homework. She came back the next day, head full of questions. GREAT QUESTIONS about Priesthood authority and the role of the Holy Ghost... and so I asked her what her expectations were - coming to learn about Jesus Christ. OK - background - most people we teach (and I would assume it is like this all over Asia)... are very accepting and very nice when it comes to religion. Yet there are very few investigators who (at first) are pumped about Christianity. Very few understand, can apply what we teach effectively, and very few can understand the scriptures. This girl, in her second lesson said these words when I asked her her expectations: "Elder Smith, I want to learn about Jesus; I want to apply his teachings; and then I want to preach it to the world.” I sat there stunned... I didn't know how to answer. I probably looked like an idiot until I could sputter out the words - "Well sister, I think you are in the right place." She is progressing fantastically and is blowing me away. Absolutely blowing me away. She is one of the prepared...the Spirit has told me many times. Amazing work. Amazing. God is REAL PEOPLE, and he is preparing people for his church. 

Also we went to eat dinner with some of our English students this week. They are so great! Just great people - I love teaching English. It helps me understand sometimes how Heavenly Father feels when his children don't understand. He has to tell us bit by bit in a million different ways until it "clicks" for us. Very similar to teaching.

Bottom Line: 
The bottom line is that being religious is not very popular. The world has kind of come to an agreement that whatever you do is OK as long as it is "right." But the problem is - who decides what the "right" is? In almost all cases, religions have moral codes. And I know from personal experience, cultures that live those codes and those that don't - are drastically different. Bottom line: religion is not popular. So be ready to take some heat for being Mormon. I think it is quite fun hahahaaha.

The Culture: 

1. For graduation here, it looks like a Valentine’s Day parade. This was us this morning at a graduation for a member at church (Congratulations Sister P___!)... and all three of us white guys were like... oh... this is what graduating college is like here. It looks like a Valentine’s Day parade with big fluffy things and balloons! Kind of fun! 

Happy Graduation/Valentine’s Day?

2. Putting bags on the ground is a no go (the ground is dirty... so don't put your bag there). 

3. Lao was originally called, "The land of a thousand elephants."

For everyone that says Lao food is bad...

The Funnies: 
1.This week we had dinner with one of our new friends. Her name is Bella, and she is from Germany. She isn't a member but was so excited when she saw other white people riding bikes in Vientiane that we went out to dinner. We laughed at the scenario: 3 white Mormon guys and a German girl went to an Indian restaurant in the middle of communist Laos. Classic awesome diversity.

2. When we left class on Wednesday, we had a listening activity with a popular American song... the speaker was still on so we put it in our backpacks and just rode around town listening to our songs for that afternoon. Boombox backpacks hahaha. The students thought it was way funny.

3. Yesterday there was something on the news that said, "Danger: Pokemon Go has become a hazardous game... please make sure to play indoors and do not go outside on motorbikes to find Pokemon... it is very dangerous especially in heavy traffic.” Hahahahaahahaha.

I'm comin for ya Harry

(Olivia says, "Notice the flying chums.")

The Spiritual Thought: 
The new investigator I was telling you all about earlier - I think I figured out the reason she is so on top of it. She is so smart and educated and driven because SHE READS. She told us the other day that in her house she has a library full of books. Now that is REALLY rare here in Asia. Because history is the way it is - lots of books were burned in many South East Asian countries. So the culture of reading is not a big deal here. In the Western culture - we thrive from the book. It gives us everything we need, and it shapes the way we govern, interact, study, along with many other things. You can see where I am getting to when I talk about the scriptures.  Arguably the most influential book in history is the Bible.... mmmm.. wonder why that is.... I don't know maybe it is because GOD IS A REAL PERSON WITH REAL PROPHETS WITH REAL BOOKS AND REAL TEACHINGS for us. The Bible and the Book of Mormon will never be destroyed. But the problem yet still remains - will we take the effort to read? My dear brothers and sisters, may we recognize the importance of books, learning, and revelation so that we can enhance our ability to achieve. Read the book. Read the book. 


Oh the trees - we need them.

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why do you do what you do?

…. ever thought about that?  Take a look at the Spiritual Thought section for more ideas. Padres and Mama all around the lowg, it is good to wow with you just a titchsmacker here from whoop whoop Laos. (I just used Spanish, Chinese, Thai, Ben Driggs slang, Laotian, and Australian slang in this sentence – I have been practicing this for language study all week hahahahaha.) IT IS GOOD TO BE WITH YOU TODAY MY FRIENDS. SHALL WE BEGIN THE EMAIL SESSION OF VICTORY???!!!!!!!!!!

"I can see Thailand from my house!"
The Work: 
Going great. Great things are happening here in Laos. We have so many investigators that we cannot teach them all. It is looking good with some of the new guys coming up… hopefully they can get here soon. But as for now, we still just have 3 amigos here in this quaint country. A little difficult because we just counted our investigators… and we have 18 people who need to be taught on a weekly basis. What a blessing. The Lord is preparing people here in Laos. The members here are absolutely fantastic. Big shoutout to them for being the people they are. Their motives are pure and Christ-like. I am with some of the most humble and grateful people I have ever met in my entire life… simply amazing. 

Teaching English is going well. My students are way awesome and they like me J. It always makes me feel good when they say I am a fun teacher. Sometimes a small compliment can mean the world to someone.

The Bottom Line: 
You smell really bad at the end of the day (more than in Utah hahaha) partially because everything is really wet here. The humid climate mixed with rain is not so appealing to the nose at the end of a hard work day hahahahahahaahaha. All of you prepping to go on missions – get some deodorant that you like because you might have to re-apply half way through the day hahahahaahahaha.

The Culture: 

Donating free glasses. Big thanks to TAF and Seeing is Believing!

Delicious pastries here (because France was here not too long ago occupying the country)… so that means we have delicious baguettes everywhere. It is so awesome!


The Funnies:
1. When my students finish their tests, I make them come up to the front and slam their test on the table as hard as they can. I call it their “physical release of energy,” meaning that they have finished their test and they did it! They completed! It is hilarious to watch their confusion when they have been told to do something so loud/rambunctious by the teacher. They look up at me like, Teacher Am… are you sure? I nod and tell them to slam it on the wooden table as hard as they can. With the glee of a 7 year old, these government officials slam the paper down with all their might and walk triumphantly back to their seats, grinning ear to ear hahahahahaahaa.

My very official teacher's desk

2. E. Morley caught a fly 3 times this week – unbelievable skill.

3. Mom you would be so proud of me. I ate my vitamins EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. BOOM

The Spiritual Thought: 
This question has stayed on my mind ever since I started university at BYU. There were some days where I would look at my life, my grades, my dating life, my family life… and just think to myself quietly – why do I do what I do? Who cares? What are my motives? I have asked the same questions to myself as a missionary. Why do I wake up every morning at 6:30 a.m, study, teach English, teach at the church… every day – it becomes almost robotic… so I ask myself, “Why do I do what I do?” The answer has come to me very simply many, many times on my mission. And the answer is always the same – I do what I do because I said I would. I promised Heavenly Father at the beginning of my service that I would do everything in my power to bring people unto Jesus, the Christ. I fall short of my word every day. I am not perfect. I make many, many, many mistakes. But Heavenly Father sees my desire, and when I have been a good boy, I get the feeling at the end of the day, “It is enough, my son.” So I understand a small portion about my purpose as a missionary… but what about the guy without the nametag? What about Abraham Smith-Driggs, 20 year old goofy kid? Why do I get up every morning at home and go to my classes, date girls, desperately try to look good on my social media accounts and feel “loved” by the online world. Why? Why do I do these things? My identity, the person I am, my character… everything is defined by my desires. In fact, our thoughts that fuel our desires physically re-code our brain to put more “desire” with the thoughts we think of the most. So take some time to re-evaluate your daily routine. Why do you do what you do? Why do you wake up in the morning? You will soon learn that your desires, or your motives, carry every fiber of your being throughout the day. Do not underestimate the power of thinking. Your thoughts can make the difference of a successful, fulfilling career, or fuel jealousy, unhappiness, and continual discouragement. I testify of the power of re-evaluation, which is honestly just a fancy word for repentance. My commitment to you all today is to re-evaluate why you do what you do. Re-evaluate with yourself and re-evaluate with God. You may be surprised to find that your motives are exactly where they need to be…. or maybe they need some spiritual seasoning. You guys rock like ACDC, and you have smiles like Julie Andrews. Thank you, thank you for your sweet emails and for your prayers!

Stay sweet ;) 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

Saturday, August 13, 2016


"I love you" to all of my dear family and friends back in America and all over the world! It is such a pleasure to be emailing all of you today. Things are just fantastic here in Laos! 

Families are ordained of God

The Work: 
The Power of the referral is amazing. In Laos, we do not proselyte. It is against the law. So how in the world do we baptize people? We get referrals. The families bring in their cousins, fathers, children, children's friends,  the neighbor down the street.... and they all come to church on Sunday to worship the same God. We are here as DIC (Deseret International Charities). We teach English. We can teach investigators if they come to the church. Investigators are always with a friend/family member. So instantly, the person who is curious about Jesus Christ has someone of their own home country to ask questions about God... to guide them through any challenges they may have, etc. It is so amazing to see the success of amazing faithful LDS Church members. Right now, Elder Morley, Elder Magill and I are the only elder's in Lao. And we have 13 progressing investigators.... um.... we can't physically teach them all because most of them can ONLY come Sunday...and we can't teach them at their home. So Sundays are just CRAZY. Tomorrow will be awesome for sure. The Lord is blessing the members here for their faithfulness. Two people should be baptized tomorrow, possibly three. They are family with one of the 1st counselors at church. Amazing stuff! Thank you for your prayers! 

A long day's work (Elder Morley)

Elders of Lao

The Bottom Line: 
Satan is working on you constantly, whether you are a missionary or not. A lot of people talk about this "higher plane" of missionary procedure/thinking... which is true, but that does not mean that you do not get tempted by Satan, sin, etc. You may be more able to receive revelation because of your assignment to a certain area, but the "call to serve" and the "setting apart as a misisonary" does not make you any more invisible to the eroding influences of sin. Missionaries are not perfect. We get tempted by Satan just as much as the rest of you.

The Culture: 

Shaboy Tiger

1. As far as teaching English goes, one thing that is hard while teaching here in Asia is that teachers in Asia have always taught where the teacher is the source of all-knowing power. So for students to talk and to contribute during a class is very foreign. Students are used to getting the information, not asking ANY questions, and then leaving class.  But we come in here with a Western-style approach of asking questions, having class discussions, etc., and it is really hard to get the students to adjust to that. It is hard to help them see that there are many ways to learn. There is not only one way. 

2. I am getting smashed with Laotian. It is hard - very fun...but hard nonetheless.


3. The word for "curious" is very rude here in Laos. 

4. Today after a service project at a local school, I tried wasp larvae. Not bad.. but not good either.

Me and my home boys eating some larvae together

Delicious...well honestly, I would give it a 4/10.

The Funnies: 
1. HILARIOUS from my English class. Many people in Thailand and Lao have a hard time pronouncing the "t" at the end of words. I was teaching one of my beginner classes the words, "Look at," and as soon as they tried to repeat it they all said with much gusto, "Look ass!" Hahahahahaha because they couldn't pronounce the "t" at the end of "at" hahaha. I just died and sat down in my desk and laughed. The students were confused and asked me what I was laughing at, and I translated to them what they just said. We all had a good laugh. Now they all say, "Look AT," for fear of offending the white English teacher hahahaha.

2. All of my students/anyone who is not a member call me, "Am," or "ອ້ຳ" in Lao - for anyone who can read Lao hahahahaha. It is adorable. They call me Teacher Am :) 

The Spiritual Thought: 
I want to let you all know today how special and sacred the family unit is to God. There were many times this week I thought of my own family and the families here in Laos. The family is ordained of God. To be ordained is to "confer holy orders on." God has literally been blessing the family unit since before the creation of the world. Please cherish your families. Husbands, cherish your wives. Without them, let's be honest... none of us would really exist now would we? ;) Treat them like queens, for they deserve it. They can literally create a human life, and they deserve to be treated like a daughter of God. Wives, I know we guys are sometimes very archaeically barbaric.... I apologize, but that is the way our brains are hardwired. You can show your husband you care through service, words of affirmation, physical love, quality time, and gifts. The same is required from males to females to establish and maintain a relationship. These 5 ways to show love are called the "love languages."* If you don't know what your spouse's love languages are - ASK. And I promise that your marriage will be much more full of love and unity. And when your house is a house of love and order and unity...God confers more holy order because we are doing our part. 

God bless you all. You GUYS ROCK.

Shoutout to my main man John Nelson who got home today. We miss you bro. The members here in Laos say hello and are in the office right now asking about you :) 

Carry on my dear friends

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs 

*Mom comment: See links to "love languages" family quizzes below if interested. We have loved doing the quizzes periodically with our family to see how we can love each other better as a spouse/child/friend, etc. Here is the link to the free website:  It only takes a little bit of time.  We've done it every few years to keep up with changes in family dynamics and to make sure we each know how to love each other better.  Sometimes we take the quiz thinking of just one family member in mind. Here are links to pdf versions of the quizzes if you aren't interested in taking the online version: 

1. For couples:

2. For teens and parents:

3. For children and parents:

4. Study guide for Love Languages in Children:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Teacher Abraham? Why is your name Egyptian?

What a week! It is a beautiful rainy day here in the Democratic Republic of Laos, and what a pleasure it is to be writing you all today. I miss you guys :) This was my first week teaching English full-time, getting down to work, and all that jazz - what a roller coaster! So much fun! 

What’s up Skyline!
The Work: 
Here in Lao every day we teach English to government officials. We plan our days according to the English classes we will be teaching. For example, on Monday, I teach a beginner class to about 30 students at the Mohosot Hospital from 12-1 pm. I teach from a book that DIC (Deseret International Charities) supplies and the students follow along. I then have a lunch break and do some office work/more preparation for the next English class at 4:30-6 pm at a nearby college campus teaching the Department of Public Health officials English. It is so much fun teaching ESL (English as a second language) students. We have a great time! 

Teaching English

All teaching takes is a lot of energy and a lot of acting out (in my opinion). It is so important to be charismatic while teaching or else you will lose your classes' attention. Elder Nate Morley (another Lao elder) said it best: "Acting is arguably the best way to teach." It has been so much fun tag teaching with John Nelson this week. He is leaving on Monday, and we are sure going to miss him. Love you man. This week, we were just looking at each other random times while talking with members or teaching students and just thinking to ourselves, "Dude... we are in a communist country, teaching English, and speaking Laotian to people, and they actually understand us... and we are companions along with 5 other people in the entire country. And to think just a couple years ago, we were graduating high school together.... woah!" Hahahahaha way cool! I am so glad I had a week to be John's companion. What a blessing. Peace out buddy - have fun back home! I will be taking over John's students and his schedule when he leaves. 

One of John’s last classes

BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE DO NOT DO MISSIONARY WORK. The members here are awesome, and they bring their friends. This last week we had 5 baptisms here in Laos. All from referrals. Things are looking good for tomorrow, and we have another 2 baptisms planned :) The Lord blesses those who work hard. Big props to the members for working hard!! Woohooooo Baptism!

The Bottom Line: 
Wherever you are in the world, consistent reading of the scriptures is spiritual food you need every day. Here in Lao, I don't go out on the streets asking people to go to church. In fact, I can't even talk about religion really at all. I am an English teacher..... some people have asked me - "How do you still feel like a missionary?" The answer is this - we are all missionaries as we show the light of Christ to other people. You may think that is an overused polite way of saying, "We are all special, and everyone has the light of Christ blah blah blah." But the bottom line is that as we read our scriptures daily and pray throughout the day for the Spirit to be with us, Heavenly Father blesses us with the ability to recognize spiritual promptings and to understand different channels of missionary service. 

The Culture: 
1. Something I have noticed here in Laos that is different from Thailand is that everything seems to be made of wood... idk. 

2. Delicious bread here (Laos used to be occupied by the French many many years ago... hence the amazing baguettes).

3. The members of the Second Branch in Laos wake up around 5:30 a.m. and get ready to come to church two hours away. They all come in a van together from their homes north of Vientiane. They come to church every week EARLY, and they stay after to make food for everyone. They are amazing. I am loving the members here in Vientiane. Both branches have such a great vibe to them. 

4. Oh yeah... Lao is communist. I don't know if I mentioned that. So that is different.....

5. I love Lao!  

Fish tacos

The Funnies: 
1. You may be confused at the title of this post. I put it there because as I was introducing myself to the students this week in my different classes, they kept trying to say my name "Abraham," and they were so confused. They said, "Teacher.... why is your name not American? Like John... John is an American name... Abraham is like you are from Egypt or something?" "Did your parents name you after your ancestors?" I was like... "No, not really"... and they were so confused why I had this middle-eastern name in America. Hahahaha, it was quite adorable. (See 'Mom Comment' below - Abraham cannot explain his name comes from religious origins.)

2. The English students gave me a Lao name this week. It is spelled in English, but the name is "Am." It is shorter hahahah. They call me Teacher Am. Fun stuff! 

3. John has been going hard with serving everyone this week. He came downstairs one day and said, "You boys better be on your guard - the Service Fairy is back!" Hahahahahaha.

The Spiritual Thought
As Thomas S. Monson so beautifully declared at our last general conference: "Keep the Commandments. In this there is wisdom, in this there is peace." I support that 100%. Keep the commandments. I have seen people who do and who do not... and true happiness comes from keeping the basics. Nothing more to be said. 

LOVE YOU ALL. Thank you for your prayers. Keep praying please! 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
เอ็ลเดอร์ สมีธ-ดริกส์

Elder Smith-Driggs  

Mom Comment: Many people have asked me about what Abraham is doing in Laos.  I'm going to try to summarize it here, and Abraham can correct me next week if I am wrong;) First, we call it "Laos" in the U.S., and they call it "Lao" in their country.  You will see both names used interchangeably in this blog. As I understand it, all six missionaries in Lao teach English and have been trained to do so.  They have work visas and volunteer for Deseret International Charities Laos (DIC).  They call each other by their first names and wear white name tags representing DIC. They work with DIC as it tries to serve the Laotian people and government because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not officially recognized in Lao. The missionaries are not allowed to call each other "Elder" or reference the Church in public.  They are not allowed to tell their students that they are LDS missionaries. They are in Lao to help DIC and to set a good example of being Christians.  Currently, the missionaries teach English to Laotian government officials, hospital staff, deaf students, and other Laotian agencies Monday through Friday all over Vientiane, the Laotian capital. The missionaries are allowed to teach investigators on Sundays at the church building when an investigator accompanies a member. The members and investigators in Lao are truly amazing! 

Mom Comment 2:  Abraham said he sent more pictures from Lao, but they didn't come through:(  So here are a few pictures from the last two months in Thailand that were not in blog posts.

Sister Johnson! Such a great woman:)