Monday, December 19, 2016

The Elders Are Leaving Laos

My dear family and friends, I have very sad newsI never know how much we can disclose to our families about what happens here, but I was given permission to say what is happening and why are are being kicked out of LaosAs missionaries in Lao, we run under the direction of DIC (Deseret International Charities). We are volunteers, and we teach English at many places around VientianeWe have legal agreements called MOUs (Memorandum of Understandingwith each of the places that we teachThe elders' visas and anyone who works for DIC comes in with visas that are attached” to these MOUsSo as long as the MOUs are finished and OK, the elders are OK

For whatever reason, this year the process of getting the MOU is not OK. The process is not completeOur visas, which expire at the end of 2016, are attached to the MOUBecause the MOU is not completed, the elders have to abide by Lao law and leave the countryThe process of all of this takes a very long time, and the senior couples, Hong Kong staff, and the Lao Government are all trying to make these things happen. Thank you for all the work you have done in trying to make this happenOnce the agreement (or the MOUis completed, the elders will come backBut not II dont think I will make it in timeIn fact, President Johnson isnt sure any of this group will make it backI will be serving the last 6 months of my mission in the Kingdom of Thailand

President Tiger

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and your fastingI dont know why the Lord is having this happenI dont know why everything seems to be falling throughThe day we found out we were going to be leaving, we called every Church member in our phone telling them how much we loved themTears were streaming down our faces as we testified to these members that the Lord has not forgotten themThe elders are not abandoning themwe have to go because of English visa stuff - not because obtaining the new church building isnt finished

To see these people in their hardest time has been the hardest thing for me on my missionI cannot stand seeing other people suffer, and I cannot do anything to help themAll I can tell them is to rely on their Savior, and that is what I need to do too

Lao will always be my homeI consider it my second homeThe members are my familyand I am going to miss them so much. They have taught me more about the Savior and sacrifice than anyone I have ever metThey deserve to see the fruits of their labors the day the church opensWhen that day comes, when 6 new elders are called back to Laos because the MOUs are complete, when we can finally worship together as a family united in Christ, oh how my soul will sing, HosannaHosannaHosanna!” It is my hope that I can be there when that day comes

This photo was taken at a Hmong cultural festival we visited with some of the Hmong members last Saturday. It is in an area north of Vientiane near where the new church building is supposed to be.

The Stevensons

I will visit Laos again with my family in JulyIf any members are reading this – I cant wait to see you in July! Keep going! You can do thisHang onThe Lord will bless you if you hang onHe is counting on his strong members here in Lao to make it until the church comesUntil then, we must LIFT each otherI promise you all that as you LIFT together, the Lord will fill you with the Holy Ghost, and you will be filled with hopeAs Alma 2637 says, Now [my dear Lao brothers and sisters], we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earthNow this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. God has not forgotten youYour elders have not forgotten youWe pray and fast for you every dayYou mean the world to meI love you so muchGod is mindful of youHang onHang onWe can do this if we do it TOGETHER.

ພຣະເຈ້ົາຈະໄຫ້ພອນພວກເຈົ້າ. ພຣະອົງຢາກໄຫ້ພວກເຈົ້າສູ້ໆ.ໄນເວລານີ້ແນ່ນອນວ່າພວກເຈົ້ານາດຈະຮູ້ສືກວ່າບໍ່ມີຄວາມຫວັງແຕ່ວ່າຄວາມຈີງແມ່ນວ່າພວກເຈົ້າຍັງມີພຣະເຈົ້າແລະຍັງມີສະມາຊີກທຸກໆຄົນ.ພຣະເຈົ້າຢາກໄຫ້ພວກເຮັາຊ່ວຍກັນແລະກັນ.ໃນເວລາທຸກຍ້າກເຮັາຕ້ອງມີສັດທາຄືເກົ່າແລະອະທິຖານຢ່າງຫນັກຄືເກົ່າ.ເຮັາເອລເດີຮັກພວກເຈົ່າຫລາຍຄິດຮອດຫລາຍ. ຢ່າລືມພຣະເຈົ້າ….ເພາະພຣະເຈົ້າບໍ່ລືມເຈົ້າ.

My prayers are with you always my dear brothers and sistersUntil we meet again,

ເອລເດີ ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ
Elder Abraham Smith-Driggs

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

Asia is so cute sometimes hahahahaha

Caught him sleepin' hahahah. Gotcha Bouw.

Mom comment: More photos in the series I call, "Sleeping Elders." These guys get so worn out.  Maybe I'll make a compilation of all the "sleeping elder" shots that Abraham has sent home over his 18 months in the mission field, including photos others have taken of him while he's been asleep;)

Last time with the deaf kids.

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