Monday, September 26, 2016

Unspoken Thoughts

Before I describe the title, I would first like to tell the world that the Stevenson family is number 1! They have had us over for dinner many times during the time that I have been in Laos, and they are just the greatest. They make the best Pav (Australian dessert) I have ever had. I love them dearly and would like to publicly thank them. Good luck Courtney!

SO BIG NEWS HERE IN LAO... we are moving churches and buying our own building. We have been renting the building we are at now for 10+ years, and we are finally buying a building of our own - really, really big step here in Laos... exciting times! 

The Work: 
This week we taught English. We also did something called a Handover. DIC (Deseret International Charities) built 2 new bathrooms for a school here in Vientiane. So Elder Magill, Elder Saunders, and I went to the school for a celebration. We built some water rocket launchers, and the kids loved it! I also told them I wanted to take a picture with them, and as the words were coming out of my mouth I got tackled by 30 small children. 

Hahahahaha you can see my face when they took me down in this next picture. 

Tackle the Farang (White guy)

After they had me on the ground, I shouted a plea for help… and not receiving any, I yelled to the kids – “Tackle the other white guy!” And they did…. It was a re-run of Lord of the Flies – cute Lao edition. So adorable. I love children so much. They are so adorable. Other than that, a lot of the lessons we taught this week were filled with the Spirit. Our ward mission leader, Brother N_____ (former Elder G_____) is an absolute baller and totally helped me out this week. A lot of times, I have fears of falling away from the Church after I go home. Which I think is a rational thought – I think a lot of missionaries think about what they will do when they get home, especially spiritually, in order to “feed” their spirits. Today I will be talking about those thoughts in my Spiritual Thought section. It is always good to plan, no?

The Bottom Line: 
Being a missionary brings some of the greatest joy to my spirit because I feel like I am participating in saving a human soul. It is stressful and taxing. But feeling like I have a part in helping someone else come to understand who God is…that is a wonderful thing.

The Culture:
 If you sneeze in America, it is polite to say, “Bless you.” In Laos, when someone sneezes, they say, “Oh you must have not taken a shower this morning.” Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Dancing traditional Lao dance like a boss

Asians love peace

The Funnies:
1. Elder Magill is just about 1 month away from finishing his missionary service. This last week while we were playing football with the deaf kids, his ENTIRE SOLE OF HIS SHOE came completely off it was awesome.

2. The deaf kids (on a separate occasion) found me and tackled me to the ground, tickling me all the way therejust laughing their heads off hahahahaha. I am afraid my shirts are getting pretty dirty. Sorry President - its not my fault….

3. A bird flew into our office so we had to get it out.

4. A different bird pooped on me this week. Classic.

The Spiritual Thought
I prayed about what to share today. The Holy Ghost told me to talk about faith. Now today I am going to take a different look at faith. Yesterday, I wrote down all of the things I thought about faith. I wrote down everything, including a lot of the things that are unspoken. 

Here is the list I got.  Maybe you can find some parallels.
-          Intangible
-          Unknown
-          Grows or shrinks relatively quickly.
-          Highly affected by outside factors.
-          Unmeasurable
-          Hard to track progress with faith.
-          Only “religious people” use the word.
-          Makes us feel weak…like we need faith as a crutch when something goes wrong.
-          A man named Jesus, 2000 years ago, apparently told everyone we needed to “have” it. However          we have that emotion or how to get it, who knows, right? 
-          Risky.

The second wave of thoughts about faith:
-          Faith encourages a more positive outlook on life.
-          Helps motivate.
-          Builds a relationship of trust with whatever you believe in.
-          Creates an unshakable spiritual foundation.
-          Inspires action, most of the time those actions are acts of selfless service.
-          When I say the word, it just makes me feel good.
-          Faith is a principle of power.
-          You can work miracles.
-          It inspires confidence in action. You get answers to the mysteries of the world through faith.

So there are two ways to look at faith. These thoughts are things I think about every day. Both negative and positive. I think a lot of times religious people, Mormon or not… tend to stay away from acknowledging that those negative and doubtful thoughts exist. To do that would just be unfair to your ability to think…in fact, it is insulting the Creator who gave you the ability to choose. Not making a choice, not acknowledging doubts and confronting concerns is a quick way to create a false sense of spiritual security. For example, if your faith were a beautiful stained glass window not strengthened with lead between each piece of glass, and a baseball came at it at 100 miles an hour, it would shatter when the baseball hit. So hearing someone say, "Joseph Smith was a pedophile who married a 14-year-old” is like one of those 100 mile an hour baseballs heading for a window of faith not supported by a strong, internally-embedded structure. Or someone might say, “The Church didn’t give the blacks the priesthood because Mormons are racist” – another baseball trying to destroy your faith. Lastly they might suggest, “The Church is an organization that claims to be good but in reality is a big money ball” – another baseball (no pun intended). 

It is my prayer that we can look at our concerns with tolerance… and then try to fix them. They are natural. It is OK to have these thoughts. But let us please talk to God first before going to the media or our friends or even our family… I mean, let’s be honest here people - God knows best. I for one try to cling to the faith that I do have. It is hard sometimes to focus on my belief. But I know that when I do, I can literally feel my spirit and character changing. And in that, I know that my Heavenly Father is happy with me. All I am doing is trying. But after all, dads are always happy when we try.

Sorry if that offended anyone, but it needed to be said. I have faith that there are 3 people that needed to hear this today. I promise you that you will know who you are the minute you read these words. Please don’t reject your feelings. Accept them, and talk with God about them. As Nike so wisely tells us, “JUST DO IT.” 

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ
Abraham Smith-Driggs  

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