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  

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