Sunday, November 13, 2016

Vote Josh Garff for President

Now that Trump is president, I think we elders will build a wall around our house for protection. All I know about the election is what my English students tell me…. And they can barely read English. So all that they see is what the media puts out… and after the media puts stuff out we get memes and videos clipped together to make each candidate look bad…but as far as I know Donald Trump is our new president-elect. I wasn’t invested in the elections this year because we do not read outside news. But I did figure out that Josh Garff was NOT running for President.  That was news I was sad to hear. We all love and support you, Josh, and I would vote for you again. #Garff4twoterms #bringrecessback #tahitianpride #SkylineOlympics (I hope that you are reading this Garff family and getting a kick out of it just as much as I am hahahahaha).

So today we took a trip a couple hours north, rented a houseboat with the members, and just tutted around for a couple hours while we relaxed at various beaches and ate lunch together on the houseboat. What a relaxing day. Isn't it beautiful Mom!?

Chillin at Talae Lao

It isn't Tahiti Josh... but you have to give credit to this scenery man ;)

The houseboat

Found this bad boy on the beach

We got a newbie up here in Laos! Welcome to the brotherhood Elder Ingleton. Elder Michael Ingleton is from the state of (you guessed it) UTAH (gotta love the Mormon population in that state). He is adjusting great and is picking up Lao really quickly:) Next week Elder Morley will finish up here in Laos and head home, so that will leave a new spot for our friend Elder Tanner Blocker to come up and replace him. We can’t wait to have you up here buddy:)

Lao elders

The Work: 
English classes are going well. We are headed to the end of the term here soon which requires yearly reports, as well as tests. All of this is an opportunity to learn and grow in my assignment here in Laos. This week I was thinking about my call packet which says that, “Your assignment may be modified by your mission president.” I thought that was put in there for some sort of legal reasons to give the mission presidents some cushion, but my assignment was modified, and now I teach English all day. There is no finding (other than referrals), currently no church building, along with other strange things. When I was sent up here President Johnson told me – “Elder Smith-Driggs, you try your best in doing the missionary work that you CAN do. In this case – you do your very best job to be the best English teacher you can be. That is your calling right now.” And so it goes. The members are getting along just fine:)

The Culture:
  1. Getting out of rainy season currently, but we still have had rain here for 5 days straight. Where is the sun? idk
The real way to cut a pineapple

I think I am going to get the pink one...what do you think Eliza?

The Funnies:
1. I was so tired on Tuesday night. It was just a really rough night, feeling down on my life, and I was so tired that I walked in the door at 9 pm and went straight up to my bed, dropped my backpack next to the bed, and collapsed on the bed in my missionary clothes… and yup, you guessed it – I woke up the next morning in my shirt and tie. All the other guys woke up and were like, “Dude - Elder Smith-Driggs we tried to wake you up, but you were out man.” So yup – I totally pulled a classic greenie and slept in my suit and tie. Gotta love being a missionary.

2. Here in Laos there are biker gangs. They consist of 16-20 year old boys on their bikes (motorcycles). They come out some nights and run all the red lights on a certain street here in Laos. They can be heard whooping and hollering and swearing while gunning it through the red light. Quite fun to watch. On one occasion this week, we met with the group as we biked up to the light. There were about 20 of them…. Just talking and goofing off. I spoke to them in Lao, and they all went quiet (classic Asian culture thing – “Wow we can’t believe you can speak our language!”)… I said, “Hey do you guys want to race?... because I bet I could take you down on my bicycle!”… They responded with, “Alright man you are on! Let’s do this!” I told them they would have to wait for the light to be green, and they agreed. While we were waiting for the light to turn green, I turned to them as the clock was ticking down from 10-9-8-7-6…. And said, “Are you ready to lose?!” and as the words came out of my mouth Elder Cheney from behind me comes around the corner out of nowhere and Tokyo drifts (drifts his bicycle) about 15 feet from the curb, making a huge screeching sound. This perfectly timed entrance was greeted with “ooohs” and “aaahs” as this 6’4” white guy peeled out of the light. All 6 of us elders yelled a warrior like battle cry and peeled out of the intersection going faster than Lightning McQueen. We all whooped and hollered together as we biked our little buns through the green light…. And who do you think won? You got that right – THE MORMONS. Big thanks to my bike (nicknamed Black Sabbath) for getting me through.
ເດັກແວນ (biker gang): 0

3. There is a minimart right next to our house, and we drop by every night to get random snacks/groceries. We taught the guy who works there the word “spicy” so whenever we drive by he yells “spicy” back out at us hahahahahaha.

The Spiritual Thought:
This week I have thought a lot about the ability that Laos has had to grow in the past 15 years. We have about 300 members here on record. And most of them are pretty strong in the gospel. Elders (young elders) started coming here about 3 years ago. I was talking with Elder Saunders about this yesterday. We were taking about Foosball. Now all of those who have ever played foosball understand that the ball just goes crazy all the time, and the people controlling the wooden/plastic people pass the ball back and forth until the ball goes into the goal. We compared this game to member missionary work. In most developing countries (meaning that the Church in those countries is just starting to grow) a lot of the time, the missionaries have to hold up the Church. They are the lifeline of the branch because they are the only people who know how to work a branch. Missionaries are everything at the foosball table. They are the controls, the people, and the ball. They work themselves to death to get a couple goals, then they switch out to a different area. Here in Laos, this is not the case. The Lord has prepared his people so much. Right now, the elders are the ball. The controls and the people are all the members. They bring people to church consistently every single week. New person after new person after new person. They tell us how to teach the investigators, what problems they have, when they are free, what their relation is to the Relief Society President, who should help us teach. All the elders have to do is sit back and say, “Sister, what do you feel the Atonement means to you?” – and the member who is helping us teach the investigator (who is most likely a family member), will give the investigator EXACTLY what they need because they have been living with them their whole life. The missionaries don’t know their problems! We just sit back and let the members teach!  Week after week the elders get kicked around like the soccer ball (to our delight)…we aren’t doing anything except to be there as the ball… and the members keep scoring time after time after time. And we rejoice together. We don’t do any finding, and each week more family members come, more friends come…. And so it goes in Laos. The members ARE the missionaries. What a blessing it is to be serving here in Laos. We still do not have a church, but that does not stop the members from inviting their friends to come. Amazing. Not 1 baptism has ever come from the elders. Not 1. The members in Laos play a mean Foosball:) , and the Lord rewards them for it. I am confident that this sort of missionary work can happen anywhere, whether in Guatemala or Portland or the Democratic People’s Republic of Laos. The Lord lives and he will help his people. Members and missionaries working together is the key to building his kingdom. 

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

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