Sunday, October 30, 2016

Strong As Ever

Dearly beloved… and friends! It is a blazing hot day here in Vientiane, Laos. I am in an internet store with a bunch of pubescent teenagers playing video games. There is screaming, whooping and hollering, swear words being thrown all around (in Lao and English), it smells like Ramen and sweaty men….And I have the wonderful opportunity to write home about the Savior of the World. What a serendipitous paradox. Let us begin!

Elder Magill finishes his mission this week. Love you man. You are such a great missionary. For all of you who know Elder Magill, you know his amazing ability to love others. His greatest quality: Patience. I love you man. Have a fantastic time with your parents this week!

The Work: 
We STILL don’t have a church. That is ok – everything is going fine. The Lord is watching over us. We will get it here in a few weeks. Oh what a day that will be to re-unite as a ward family on that beautiful Sabbath day in our own church with a certificate saying that we are legal! That we can officially worship! What a blessing that will be. It is my prayer and my prediction that as soon as the members/investigators have the church to go to – the work will take off like never before. The Lord provides a way for his work to be accomplished, and this “setback” will perhaps be a kickstarter for an even bigger work that will begin! THE LORD LIVES. LETS DO THIS THING BABY! KEEP US IN YOUR PRAYERS. WE ARE ALMOST THERE!

P-Day with the members... oh how I wish I could swim!

Cannonball baby!!!!!

The Bottom Line:

Missionary problems.... yes those are my feet.

The Culture: 
There are a lot of stray dogs here in Laos. More than Thailand (if you can believe that). Because of the Buddhist principle of reincarnation, most of these dogs get fed and bathed by random people. Way nice of them! The Lao people are so awesome!

Homeslice BOOOOOO

The Funnies:
1. Another classic Lao missionary moment – our students took us out to dinner the other night, which was so nice of them. Elder Magill will be leaving us here next week so they wanted to give him a little send-off. The funny thing was that all of them ordered beer (naturally they are celebrating… and to them we are just English teachers – keep that in mind people ok?). When it came out I looked at Elder Bouw. His eyes went wide and I could tell his mind was just going, “Do I need to leave the party?” I was like “Hey Bouw don’t worry about it man just drink your water… we are going to be ok. These people are our friends who ordered some beer.” I just laughed inside because you would NEVER see this in any other country around the world. It is SO hard sometimes not to just stand up and teach them the Word of Wisdom – why we actually don’t drink beer. Because God through a prophet of God commanded it…. But we can’t tell them that (unless they ask). Just kind of funny. SO we are still "Less Active," we accidentally drank coffee, we hung out with people who were drinking beer…. Goodness what is happening to the Lao elders? WE ARE TOTALLY FINE. DON’T WORRY WE ARE AS STRONG AS EVER hahahahahaha.

Friends from the Deaf school :) Thanks for lunch!

2. We got to explain Halloween to our students… and I was trying to explain the whole “trick or treat” thing… they still don’t understand why random people would just give them candy. They can’t see the connection with candy and ghosts. Frankly… neither can I!

Classic Smith-Driggs face - this is for you Dad.

The Spiritual Thought: 
This week I have been pondering a lot about sin. Why humans sin, why sin is necessary in the plan of happiness, and the destructive power of sin. I read two very influential chapters in the B.O.M  this week. The first is in 2 Nephi 2, which tells us God’s purpose as the supreme creator. He is all merciful and full of justice at the same time. As we rely on the Savior's Atonement, we can literally satisfy the means of justice because Christ payed for the sin. In so doing, God is merciful and still fulfills justice. The second chapter was about David in 2 Samuel. He sees Bathsheba bathing on the roof. And he STAYS and watches. In that, he sinned. It started with an honest mistake, but he sinned when he stayed and watched (unlike Joseph of Egypt, who got away as soon as he could). That woman bathing on the roof aroused his desire. His desires quickly turned to action in the verse following as he sends his messengers to take her and bring her to the palace so he could sleep with her. His desires turned to action. And his action ultimately changed his character. This is the same David that killed Goliath, the same David that ran into battles killing tens of thousands in the name of the Lord, the same David that worshiped with the priests and saved their lives because he loved the Lord. This is the same David who fell into this situation and in this moment, he chose to sin. It was his choice. I am confident that by now, David has repented and used God's mercy... but let us all remember that even the greatest of kings, raised in the righteous traditions of the Lord, one who has seen great miracles... still needs the mercy of God. For God will not allow anything filthy to enter his kingdom. It is my prayer that we can repent more often... for oh, how we need to love God. 

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

Monday, October 24, 2016


Happy Birthday OliviaShnookabumbum, I love you so muchI cant wait to kick your butt in wrestling when I get homeI have been practicing with the elders, and I think I might be able to take you down – Smith-Driggs vsSmith-Driggs ;Love you sweetheart :)

Also S/O to the people who brought my mom dark chocolate last week...Sister Hales, Sister Boyack, and Brother CarterI heard Janet Hales brought some homemade dark chocolate – WOW props to you Sister Hales :) (My mom is now making it too...)

The Work
English Class is going greatWe still dont have a church here in LaosBut there is no need to worryGod is here with usAs it says in Alma 32, we dont need a synagogue” to worship our LordThe members here teach me what true faith isThis is week 4 of not going to churchAll will be well, no worriesThanks for your prayers everyone

Chillin with the best. GOOD PEOPLE

The Bottom Line
Repentance is for the righteous and the faithfulRepentance is a very personal act of love and sacrificeLuckily the sacrifice has been taken care ofOur choices have consequences, but the love and assistance of the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father will never forsake you

The Culture:
1. Every year Laos has a boat racing festivalBoats come from all over Lao to compete 1 day onlyIt is so fun to watch these rowing teams of 30 men just row their hearts outVery awesome

Boat racing festival

Making boats

Sending the boats off

2. One of the most commonly eaten foods here is Papaya SaladIt is made differently in Laos than Thailand because of one ingredientThey put in something called Badag” or ປະແດກ.” It is a sauceThis sauce has been made for many many years here in LaoI asked how to make it, and I was given these instructionsGet ready
o   Get a raw fish and put it in a jar 
o   Put water in the jar mixed with salt 
o   Leave it in a very humid place for about 1 year/1 year and 6 months
o   After that 1 year, open the jarMix around the inside 
o   Put it in the papaya salad and eat it rawYou are finishedແຊບ ແຊບ ແຊບ 

1. Last night I slept-talked again.  For all of the Lao people reading this blog, you will laugh really hardI mumbled a lot then shouted twice: “ປາກຫວານກົ້ນປ້ຽວ!!” - which if directly translated to English means: “Sweet mouth sour bottom,” but the meaning is that someone is a sweet talker but their intent is not all trueThey say one thing but mean anotherHahahahaha Elder Magill was awake, and he just chuckledClassic Smith-Driggs. 


2. I ordered some Ovaltine at one of our favorite restaurants here, and the lady brought it out to usWhen I drank my first sip, I was like OH… yup that is definitely iced coffee.” Hahahaha classicLook out, Elder Smith-Driggs is going Less Active and starting to drink coffeeThose elders in Laos are really having some trouble hahahaha.

Fell asleep in the truck.. classic Smith-Driggs

Spiritual thought
In our house here in Lao, we have a gigantic poster that reads, Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Every day I wake up and look at thatOur work here is so different than anywhere else in the whole worldRight now we are in a strange situation with no churchThe only thing I do every day is teach English and occasionally visit members homes to tell them that we love them and not to worrySometimes I sit here and laugh at our situationHonestly, I am typing this up on a laptop in our house.  It is 2 pm on a Friday afternoon. We just finished translating a meeting for the nursing college of Lao, were fed a buffet, got dropped back at our house and now we are finishing and grading English reports for our studentsAm I even a missionary? YesYou bet I amI am a representative of Jesus ChristI am serving the people of Lao by teaching them English. I am helping others tap into the knowledge given to them by their Father in Heaven, and in that, I am giving them hopeIf I can give my students a hope for the future, I am bringing them unto ChristMy testimony is one of sincere gratitude for my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus ChristI testify that His grace is sufficient for us allMay we remember that Gods door is always open, if we will just soften our hearts long enough to allow the master teacher to mold us into the man or woman He needs us to be is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Thats it for me this week guysSorry I had to take the blog off of FacebookI am so grateful for your prayers for the Lao membersIt means the world to meGod bless you all. Have a fantastic week prepping for Halloween!

Elder Smith-Driggs

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The "Connection" With Heaven

My dear brothers and sisters, this week went by like a blur. And yet again, it is P-Day! Man the time goes by fast. 

The Work: 

The Work is hard here right now. We still don't have a church building, so you can imagine how that affects the teaching situations. The members are such great sports. If any of you Lao members are reading this right now, just know that we are praying for you every day. We love and support you. God has not forgotten you. He will never forget his children in Laos. You mean the world to him. We (the Elders) all love you as well. For all of you at home, we would appreciate your prayers for the members in Lao. In General Conference, one of the apostles talked about "the freeze" somewhere in Africa... that is a very similar situation to what we have right now here in Laos. The work is difficult, but God will never forget his children. As we are patient, the Lord will work miracles here in Laos. We are visiting as many people as we can. I only have about 30 minutes to email today because we are visiting the members again today up north. So excited to see them. The Lao members show me what true discipleship is. They are truly loyal to their God. 

Sister Nuna got her mission call to Sydney Australia North mission! Congrats NUNA!!!

The Bottom Line: 

Teaching without a church is near impossible in Laos. But we will be ok :) 

The Culture: 

1. There are 2 big things coming up on Sunday and Monday. They have a big Buddhist holiday on Sunday, where (according to legend) fire literally shoots up out of the Mekong River from a giant fire breathing serpent that lurks in the river continually. Apparently there is legit fire that comes out so that will be on Sunday. On Monday, they have the boat races (imagine a big version of the East Coast boat races in Boston)...with a whole country watching. That is on Monday. All the English classes are canceled, and we will be going to watch the races!

When a student asks a question 
and we don't know the answer/can't understand

2. A big food staple here is fish. For those that didn't know, I prepared this fish dish with one of my favorite people in Laos. 

She is the mother of all the deaf kids (when I say mother I mean the general caretaker at the school). She radiates love. I love her dearly. She has taught me the most sign language out of everyone hahahahaha. She can't speak at all so it is fun to communicate with her through sign language (S/O to Jojo Savea). 

Cooking some sticky rice yummmmm

3. I ate sugar cane this week for the first time. Just break it off the pole, cut off the outside, and chew the cud on the inside to get the juice. DELICIOUS 

Such a classic Lao member-missionary photo. We love you guys!

4. The King in Thailand is dead...that is some big news. Really big news. Feel free to research it on your own if you like. That is all I will say. 

The Funnies: 

1. Elder Bouw found a 50,000 kip note on the road this week! We slammed on our breaks, and Elder Bouw got off his bike, ran and picked it up, and ran back yelling, "It’s a 50,000! 50,000 baby woohoooooo!" Hahahahaha it was a great blessing. Thanks God.


2. Quote from Elder Bouw as we were walking in to teach English class: "Things I need to buy today: Some bread, I need to put air in my tires.. and then buy an AC unit for the whole world." Hahahahahaha. 

Ever felt like this before?

Spiritual Thought: 

Today I want to talk about our connection to Heavenly Father through prayer. I think most of us understand that prayer is the way we communicate with our Heavenly Father. But how often do we feel connected to the conversation? In conference this last week, one of the apostles asked us this question: "When is the last time you felt that connection with heaven?" This question pierced me to my very soul as I had the opportunity to re-evaluate my prayers with my Heavenly Father. I am happy to note that the last time I felt "the connection" was last night. I am trying to make more of a connection with my Father in Heaven through sincere prayer especially in this time of hardship. God will never forget his people. I would encourage you to do the same, and to re-establish that connection with heaven if you do not have it already. For after all, God never forgets his people. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Thank you for your prayers. We sure need them. 
Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

She's an organic kind'a girl

WOW. Shout out to my unbelievable mother. She turned 34 this last Wednesday, the 5th. [Hahahahahaha - inserted by Mom here.] Happy birthday Mom!  SO all of you moms that read this blog, I would appreciate it if you could give my mom a big hug for me. Or just bring her some dark chocolate. My mom likes that stuff – like we are talking 100 % dark chocolate… you are practically eating cocoa bark. Yuk… but my mom loves it so if you happen to bring her a gift – hook her up with some dark chocolate. She loves anything you can by at Whole Foods marketplace. She is an organic kind of girl. None of that msg, hydrogenated stuff ;)

I love you Mom! (from the deaf kids)

Shout out to the Brown family for the countless dinners they feed us. More than that, getting to know you is always a pleasure. And Alei’i – I bet I can build a cooler building than you on Minecraft… challenge accepted (after my mission).  LOVE YOU GUYS.


The Work
These last two weeks…were interesting.* We are moving churches – so our entire church is packed up. Lots of moving stuff. The members are all excited/nostalgic about moving. All of these things they have enjoyed with this last rented building – it is all being taken down, broken apart, etc. Change is hard. 

Also, I have a new companion! His name is Elder Brayden Bouwmeester from West Point, Utah. Another Utah boy - baby let’s gooooo! Great guy - we get along great. He looks like Shia LaBeouf. 

Thanks Tiger for sending Bouw LOVE YOU

In other news, our investigators are progressing nicely, except for the fact that we currently don’t have a building. We are in limbo because the new church isn’t ready to be moved into yet, but the old church is not ours anymore…. So we don’t have anywhere to teach. But I am sure the Lord will provide as He always does. We may have to teach through telephone, and that is OK. Many many changes right now here in Laos. Things are really crazy here right now. We have people set up for baptisms this next week, but we don’t have a baptismal font! And we can’t baptize them in the river! Just lots of logistics need to be worked out, and they will be worked out in time. Lots of these things take time, and that is OK. 


As far as English teaching goes, the students are progressing nicely. It was “Teacher’s Day” yesterday on the 10th, so my students got me some gifts. Some students took me out to dinner; others bought me cool t-shirts. I had no idea it was a teacher’s holiday, but it was sure awesome when they started pulling out gifts, and I was like – “Alright! Teacher's Day...yeah I totally know about this! Thanks so much! Hahahaha.” 

Something I have been working on with my students is confidence in speaking. I made all of my classes stand up and sing their national anthem (thanks Elder Carter), and when they finished, I told them that they need to speak English like they sing the Lao anthem with pride. Be confident and proud that you can speak English, however small that knowledge is. I think Heavenly Father works the same way with us sometimes but on a spiritual level.  There are many ways to do this, but making sure the students feel safe in the learning environment is the first step. As I try to cater to my students’ needs in their day to day interactions with English – the students have become more willing to participate, especially if I poke fun at my own language and culture hahahaha. It makes them less stressed about messing up.

We were in Thailand last week and of course hit up McDonalds. While we were there, we met this deaf man from Thailand - and we taught him a discussion! So grateful that God gives us gifts we can use to bring his children closer to Christ. 
[Mom comment: I don’t know if Abraham has ever explained in the blog that in addition to the Laotian they speak, they also learn Lao Sign Language to be able to teach the kids at the deaf school in Vientiane.  So in addition to being excited to proselyte in Thailand, that’s why he was so excited to be able to sign a discussion with the Thai man they met at McDonalds.]

* The Lao missionaries were in Thailand for a zone conference last week and spent their P-Day traveling - so there was no letter/blog entry last week.

The Bottom Line
Healing takes time. I was very sick this week. I took the needed steps to get better, and I am better now. I took drugs, drank about 10 gallons of water, and slept a lot! Our spirits are similar. Spiritual wounds of jealousy or hatred can linger, but through the Atonement of Jesus Christ they can be healed.

The Culture:
  1. If you are sick here in Laos, the locals will tell you that, “The weather made you sick.” They believe that when the weather changes, people get sick. So when I told them the Western belief was that we have a bug inside us making us sick, they giggle. My English students asked me how to ask if someone was sick, so I told them, “What do you have?” would be the correct question. They look confused, but I explained that we Westerners truly believe (and know) that there is some germ inside us, we actually “have” something. They thought that was interesting.
  2. Most of the men after work will sit down with their friends outside their homes with an electric fan, blaring local Lao music, and drinking a lot of Lao beer.
  3. The women are in charge of most of the finances here. The men will work, and the women will be in charge of how to use the money.
  4. Teacher’s Day: A day where teachers don’t work, have big parties, and give each other gifts. Awesome!
Teacher's Day! Thanks students!

Teacher’s Day!

The Funnies:
  1. When I was taking medicine this week, my students asked to see my medicine. It was something equivalent to a dose of Dayquil (nondrowsy). They looked at it and said, “Teacher Am, this is expired!” To my embarrassment, I looked at the medicine I was taking…. and it expired last year. Classic. The students (trying to soften the blow), told me that the medicine was expired but the teacher was not expired yet hahahahahahaha.
  2. I took a girl racing in her wheelchair yesterday because she was having a down day and wanted to go home… man did we haul through the complex screeching about with car sounds and everything… we had a great time. I am so confident that God loves all of his children.
  3. The deaf kids called Elder Cheney a rabbit because when he plays soccer he canters about like a cute big white bunny hahahahaha.
Thanks to the 4th Ward - LOVE YOU GUYS THANK YOU

The Spiritual Thought
Faith is Substance… the evidence of things not seen. Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. The future of our faith is not by chance, but by choice. Our light is increased or decreased. There is no neutral ground. The inches we need are EVERYWHERE around us. Even as a missionary, I feel like it is so hard to track my spiritual progress. It is so hard for me because I am in this highly intensive, spiritual environment that encourages a change in character… We get trained how to change other people’s lives.  We have assignments that make us feel very inadequate for the job.  All the while, the Spirit is telling us things we personally can improve from. Most of the time, I spend worrying that I am not progressing fast enough. I worry that one day my faith will just stop. Is it possible to lose faith? I would argue that it is possible… it is substance, after all. I am clinging to my faith, however small or large it is. God knows that I am trying my best. There are many days where I tell my Savior, “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” Every day I try to remind myself to love the Lord and laugh. He takes care of me. I know it. He can take care of you too, if you let him. 

I love you all dearly. I truly do miss you. I think of many of my family members and friends daily. Your faces come to my mind. A story is told here and there...all the while I wonder… is that world still there? I can’t imagine what America is like. I am afraid I have forgotten what it is like to be at home with my family. But I can remember the feeling. I miss that too. I pray for you all daily. Happy Birthday Mom. Thank you for being who you are, you mean the world to me. You cared for me even when I pooped green as a baby and was allergic to everything except flour and water…. [Mom comment: You were allergic to flour too - hahahahaha.] I hope that you had an amazing week this week… sorry I didn’t have time to email last week. I love you Mom. Miss you!

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs