Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lao Culture Experience

You know, when I sit down to write you all, about 10,000 things pop into my brain (“Should I tell them about this experience?… Or maybe I should write about this?… What does God want me to say?… How can I express what I have been feeling just with words?.... Why are all these boys around me screaming English swear words when they don’t know what they mean?”... etc.)  Contrary to popular belief, email times (at least for me) are one of the most stressful parts of the week.  How in the world can I explain to you all what I feel every day in just one blog entry? I try to give it my best each week, but if you want to hear a little more about subject a,b,c, etc., please shoot me an email, and I will try to accommodate to your needs as the reader. For after all…the only thing I do is type on a computer…the reader is the person who really gets the benefits from reading. So please let me know what you think! 

Jump rope champs

The Work: 
We are going on 9 weeks with no church. The members are starting to get a little discouraged. I think we elders are doing OK… but it is hard to see the members ask again and again and again, “Elder… are we ever going to have a church?”  All we can say is, “I know just as much as you do brother… we have no idea.” It is hard right now for the members, and that just kills me. I want for their happiness so bad. They are teaching me the way to be truly converted to the Gospel, with or without a church building. I just want everything to work out OK so that we can get a place soon. I am confident that the Lord knows exactly when we will get the new building. We don’t know that, so that is frustrating. But it is a great opportunity to learn patience, right? As positive as I am trying to make this sound, it is hard right now. Especially for the members. Please keep them in your prayers. Last Sunday Elder Bouw along with Brother ____ and Brother ____ went to Thailand to partake of the sacrament. There is a church building about an hour away from Vientiane (the capital of Laos). But it involves crossing the border and that involves money, which sometimes the members don’t have. I was reminded how grateful I was for these two faithful Lao brothers. Both of them are returned missionaries from Thailand. They are always willing to do whatever it takes to make the Church grow. They love the Lord, and they show it through their actions. Their faith is remarkable. Most of the time I spend in Laos is me just watching (with awe) the members work miracles through their faith. They receive dreams, visions, and other guidance from the Spirit, and they act on it immediately.  Every ounce of their soul is poured into the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they understand the eternal importance of it. Money doesn’t matter. In fact, you don’t even need running water to receive revelation. All you need to do is ask God. There are no pre-requisite courses or some bare-minimum test score evaluation. Everyone can ask of God. What a beautiful thing. Not to get all mushy on you… 

Let’s just go to the culture for a second, sound good? 

The Culture: 

1. This week we had Lao Culture Week. What I mean by that is the elders did everything like Lao people. There were certain rules Elder Cheney typed up. The rules went as follows:
  • Only eat Lao food 
Lao week food... mmmmmhhhh
  • Only speak Lao 
  • Sleep on the floor with no AC 
Lao week - my bed
  • No AC in the house for the whole week. Only fans 
  • Wash all clothes by hand 
  • Do the dishes the Lao way (involves dunking dirty dishes multiple times into bins)
  • Take off your shoes while in the house 
  • Use “the squatter” for all bowel movements (a squatter is a toilet in the ground… very common in Asia. Luckily we have one just out the back of our house… we cleaned that bad boy up, and it was as good as new).
Bathroom (aka the squatter)

I can’t remember who thought about doing this, but it was our way to celebrate Thanksgiving. By doing the things the Lao way, we became even more grateful for the cushy American way that we were all brought up in. The big killer for me was sleeping on the floor. The no AC was not a big deal… because my body actually runs at a lower temperature that most… so I don’t get hot very often. But every morning my back would just scream in pain. But we all did it (Except Elder Bouw hahahaha). We ended our Lao week with Thanksgiving dinner at the Stevenson’s home. 

Big thanks to Sister Stevenson for a DELICIOUS Thanksgiving feast!

What a treat it was to eat real turkey with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes…. What a blessing. Best Thanksgiving yet (on the mission)… Granted last year I had KFC when I was with  Elder Stone, but you know, home cooked meals are just unbeatable #missmommascookin 

2. In Laos, if a man wants to marry a woman, a dowry needs to be paid to the father. We rarely hear of this very traditional marriage style in the States, but in Laos it is an expectation. The terms are set by the girl’s father. Most males have to work years and years to save up enough money to pay the dowry. That being the case, most couples start dating/get married around the ages of 27-28 here in Laos, which is why they all freak out when they find out that we 20 year old kids dated girls before we came to Laos as volunteers. Hilarious hahahahaha.

The new crew

The Funnies: 

1. Classic Elder Smith-Driggs moment… sleep talking/walking. I remember my dream very clearly: I sat on my glasses in the middle of an English class, and I was freaking out because I couldn’t see anything. What actually happened in real life was this: It is about 11:30 at night, and everyone has peacefully gone to sleep until Abraham gets up and starts feeling around all the other elders on the floor for his glasses saying, “ແວນຕ່າຂອງຂ້ອຍຢູໄສ,” which means, “Where are my glasses???” I consecutively woke up 3 of the 4 elders and was pushing them around on the floor because I told them they were sitting on my glasses. I got a flashlight and started shining it at all of them trying to find them. Obviously not finding anything, I went back to sleep. Everyone else was just ticked off because I had messed up their beauty sleep on the floor with no AC hahahahahaha. 

2. This week we went to Brother ______ house, and his mom was so nice to feed us…. That is until the dessert. The last thing she brought out was a “green drink” as we would call it in the Smith-Driggs home. My mom knows well that if it’s one thing I hate… it is a vegetable smoothie. Especially the GREEN DRINK. I asked for the ingredients before I partook of the drink, and the mom answered saying, “It is made from ____ leaf, _____ leaf, ____ some dirt, finger roots and______ boiled plant. Make sure to drink it before it turns to gelatin.” I smiled up at her then with horror looked to Mino who was laughing his head off. I can eat crazy fish guts, eyeballs, duck intestines, pig skin, all that kind of stuff… but when you put a smoothie in front of me… I just can’t do it. The texture is just not right. So with determination in my voice, I said, “This is for you Mom… I am going to drink the green drink.” ONE GULP BABY. LET’S GOOOOOO. DOWNED THAT BAD BOY. I had to drink water quickly afterwards, but I did it Mom. Love you #happythanksgiving #smoothiesaredeath 

The green drink

3. I jump roped with some kids in the middle of the street. Except they were about 2 feet tall, and they were playing with yarn… so I had to squat down and jump with them. They loved it. There is a picture of them at the top of the blog. They skip rope right next to our house all the time. They thought it was hilarious that I could jump rope. To be honest, I was pretty excited myself.

9 bananas after eating a full meal... beat Elder Morley's record...fantastic job Elder Cheney!

The Spiritual Thought: 
I apologize for the lengthy email this week… there was just so much to say. But today I want to focus on two scriptures found in Mathew. Mathew 6:8 tells us that our “Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” I was thinking of this scripture from the perspective of a teacher. As teachers, we know exactly what our students need to do in order to succeed and to learn English. We wait and try to help them along the path of becoming better students, but we also have agency involved here.  Even if we beat the students over the head with a stick saying, “This is the way you need to do it,” the students never understand until they learn for themselves. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know exactly what we need to succeed. Prayer does not help our Father in Heaven in any way. He is a perfect being. He doesn’t need us to talk with him. He is always willing to give us guidance. For all you parents out there, think about this for a second: If you knew every single decision your child needed to make in order to be the best human being they could be, and they kept making mistakes… you would get pretty frustrated. Especially if they keep making mistake after mistake, and THEY DON’T EVEN ASK YOU IF YOU CAN HELP OR HOW TO DO IT… how rude. This whole time you are thinking that your kid is just being stubborn. Christ is the master teacher, and he knows how to help us. His arms are outstretched towards us at all times. Most of the time we are stubborn little naughty kids (bless our hearts). I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I just kind of go along my life hoping God will help me out. I want to testify that God understands our needs. Prayer is free, you can do it anywhere, and you don’t have to be worried about anyone suing you. God will always help us with our needs. Mathew 7:7-8 tells us that if we seek for God’s help, he will help us. We may not have everything, but if we stay close to God through prayer we will be OK. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

No comments:

Post a Comment