Saturday, February 25, 2017

Make or Break . . . Studies

Monday, February 20, 2017

What’s crackalakin dear friends and fam on the other hemisphere! I hope you are enjoying some nice soft snow... this week I enjoyed stunning sunsets and beautiful warm winds. I love Thailand. What a beautiful place! I am so grateful to serve in my mission. I love it with all my heart! 

Studying in the Park! 

The Work: 

We have been trying to focus more heavily on Repentance and Baptism with our investigators. Once the investigator makes the decision to open their heart and recognize that God knows better than they do, they are humbled and begin to see the big picture of WHY we need to repent and WHY we need to be baptized. To see that change is a miracle in and of itself. That is why missionaries all around the world do what we do. We get to see that change in people's lives. We have a couple of investigators who are preparing for baptism soon. They are learning how to repent and helping them with that is such an honor. People sometimes ask, "Give us names for people that we can pray for!” Sorry I don't talk about their stories more. I will give you 2 of our progressing investigators. 
Brother James - He learned about "Mormons" through the show “South Park.” Kind of a funny way to start learning about our religion but hey, we will take what we can get! He has great questions. Most of his questions involve the word "why....". It is so awesome! He is doing great and is learning to trust in God more and more. The first step is to teach him how to rely on God through prayer. Through prayer, most of his questions can be answered. Prayer rocks! 
Sister Chewychai: Sister Chewychai is actually Jame’s friend. She has been learning for about 5 months now. She is really close to opening her heart to the idea that she has found the right church. She just needs to humble herself enough to ask with a sincere heart, and God will answer her immediately! So please pray that she will open her heart. 

1st Subway sandwich since Salt Lake City!

Companion is doing GREAT I love Elder Rawlinson. Great guy - we get along great. He is a total stud, and I am learning so much from him! 

The Culture: 

In Thailand, for high school graduation, there will be a monk who officiates the proceedings, along with beautiful Thai dancing, celebrations, and presentations from each of the classes that graduate. REALLY COOL! 

The Funnies: 
  1. We had a Valentine’s activity this week! It was super fun, and we had a ton of people show up. 95 people came! Tons of investigators and awesome members came - it was great! Elder Rawlinson got the bad luck of having to be dressed up like a girl hahahahaha. Everyone was having a ball. One grandma member gave him her scarf and her glasses hahahahaha. We had a great time welcoming Elder Rawlinson into the Udorn family hahahaha. 
  2. So .... I am dyslexic and bought plane tickets to Bangkok for the wrong day... big uh-oh...that hurt my pocket spending money hahahaha. Good thing Thailand is really cheap! Just a classic missionary moment! 
  3. One of the sisters’ investigators got baptized yesterday, and when she got in the font she was like, "This is so cold!" She was so freezing, but she didn't go under the water all of the way 3 times! So the 3rd time she was completely submerged, she came up out of the water and grabbed the wall saying, "Thank you God! That was sooo freezing!" Hahahahaha.
  4. I forgot my church shoes when I went down to Bangkok for Missionary Leadership Conference... I was afraid I would have to wear my Nikes with my slacks (you can imagine President’s face hahahah). But luckily my old companion who had finished his mission (thanks Elder Rogers) had left his old shoes at the office.... THANK GOODNESS. Thanks Elder ROGERS YOU SAVED ME SOME MAJOR FACE. 
Switch off with Elder Cheney! LOVE YOU ELDER!

The Spiritual Thought: 

Elder Holland is famous for saying that, "Elders and Sisters make or break their missions from 6:30 am to 9:30 am." We study in that period. With the new schedule change from the missionary department, we now have the flexibility of studying throughout the day whenever we want, wherever we want. This week Elder Rawlinson and I took advantage of that and went to study in the park, in the mall, just random places throughout the city. 

Studying at central

IT WAS SO HARD BUT SO FUN. The thing is, when missionaries return home, sometimes they feel lost because they can't find those study hours with a desk and a picture of Jesus every day. It just isn’t realistic. But Elder Rawlinson and I can see the blessings coming from studying in the middle of the day, at night, at random places, because it is training our brains to focus on the Savior of the world while people pass by, while a bus is roaring by, where kids are playing, where sirens scream down the street. We are trying to focus on the scriptures and revelation in the most busy of circumstances... and I have never felt more at peace during those times. I agree with Elder Holland - the times that make or break a missionary are found in the waking up on time, the studies at the park, the language study at 7-11... the world is everywhere around us, so let us embrace it like the Savior did. What better way to enjoy the promptings of the Spirit than while you are in the presence of your big spiritual family. I love studies, and I love my Savior. I have a lot of work left to do here in Thailand, and I can’t wait to walk out the door and try my best. I may only have 3 transfers left on my mission - but I will make the most of them while I can. 


I love and miss you all. Thanks for your prayers!  

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Come join the ranks

This entry is focused on the young men and women of the world who are receiving mission calls/putting in their mission papers. Just take a couple minutes off from checking your Instagram feed.... just a couple minutes - I promise it will be worth your time. 

New Companion: Elder Porter Rawlinson 
(Fun fact - Elder Rawlinson and I met each other at BYU a couple of years ago when we got our mission calls... small world! He is such a stud!)

My experience putting in my papers and receiving my mission call was a whirlwind of emotions. It was also very stressful socially. What if I get called to a place and I don't want to go? What if my testimony isn't strong enough? All I know about missionaries are jokes made about RMs at BYU, etc. Is it worth it? 

Let's say you are from Utah. Utah - a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. I was raised there, and I love it there. With all that good though, there comes a price. Most of your friends are members, you go through seminary, you dance through your Sunday School classes because you know all of the answers, your parents have taught you about Ammon and Samuel the Lamanite since you were young. Then you turn 18....19... people start asking the questions: "When are you serving a mission?" "When are you putting in your papers?"........... all the while you sit there and think to yourself, “I have been raised in this culture all my life. My mom and dad want me to go, it seems like a good thing.” So you put in your papers - BOOM REALITY SETS IN, and Satan starts to hit you as hard as he can. You start having second thoughts. Suddenly a lot of other options look a lot sweeter than the decision you have made. Maybe it’s a girl, maybe you have a sweet gig at work, maybe you have scholarship options that you have to give up.

But all your friends are going... should you just follow the crowd? What would your parents say?

My dear friends, I testify that your mission experience will change your life more than 10 years of college. It will change your life more than that cute girl ever could. It will change your life more than that job offer and that internship you are looking for. It will change your life more than your high school experiences all put together - because the mission experience is the most spiritually and mentally grueling experience you will experience up until this point in your life and you are about to buckle your seatbelt. "Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." (2 Nephi 1:23)

You understand that the gospel has brought you and your family joy. Yeah - you don't know everything. No, maybe you got a B+ in Seminary because you skipped a couple times to go to McDonalds. Maybe you messed up in high school and haven't talked to your bishop about it yet. Let me remind you of a verse in the scriptures which says, "If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." (D&C 4:3) If you have the littlest particle of faith you EXERCISE THAT. If you love God, you will choose to join the ranks because "if ye love [him], [you] keep [his] commandments." (John 14:15). Somewhere deep deep down inside you, you understand that the Creator of the Universe loves you because YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. You have sung it since you were a Primary child. Do you believe those words?

Do you know how many people in this world do not know that they are a child of God? They need to know this eternal truth too! He loves them just as much as he loves you. God doesn't care if you've messed up - big or little. He just needs you to love him just like He loves you. In the words of the Savior himself, he has told us to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19) Come join the ranks boys. Come experience the most fantastic fun roller coaster of your lifetime. It will beat you to your knees and bring you closer to your Heavenly Father than you ever thought possible. I encourage all of you to look deep within yourself as you turn in your papers. Re-evaluate your motives. Re-commit to God. Repent, and come closer to him. I try to do that every day, and I have a long way to go. I know it will change your life. It sure has changed mine.  COME JOIN THE RANKS 

Sending Elder Cherd off to Chiang Mai! LOVE YOU ELDER!

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

Nothing like welcoming a new missionary to an area than eating some mango sticky rice...that is a face of pure satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

3 Exchanges, 2 Countries, 2 Normal Guys

My dearest friends!

These last two weeks have been a blur. We have gone to Laos, visited 3 different areas in Eastern Thailand, and had just about a week to work in our own area. Things are going great, and I am very happy right now! This week I have a lot of funnies. And a LOT of pictures. Also quick S/O to the Sakornakorn members for taking us to lunch and ice cream! THANK YOU Brother Jack and Sister TukTa and Sister First and Sister Tum! You guys rock! 

The Work: 

Change can happen through repentance. Elder Cherd and I had the opportunity to interview people for baptism throughout the exchanges in the different areas. I was struck by the power of the Atonement. I am so grateful we have the opportunity to repent. We have some investigators right now in Udorn who are preparing to be baptized. They are learning how important repentance is in the whole purpose of the plan of salvation. As we understand the big picture, we are more willing to repent. 

Good ice cream, huh Elder Brown?

Switch off with Elder Duke!

Switch off with former companion and dear friend Elder Bouw!

Switch off with Elder Christensen! SO MUCH FUN!

The Bottom Line: 

If we don't feel like we need to repent, we are doing something wrong. Pride is entering our hearts. At the moment (especially as a missionary) that you think to yourself, "I am fine right now"... you enter into dangerous ground my friend. 

All of my journals...I write every day!

The Culture: 

Nothing here this week just pictures of Thailand and Laos:)

The Thai Lao border

It’s how we ride...tomatoes and all

Glad to be back for one day. I miss this country!

Lots of room on the Tuk Tuk..... yeah we can squeeze it

The Funnies: 

Mosquito Terminator

1. Conversation with one of our investigators: "We need to teach outside sister because we don't have a male in the room."... "But Elders, my friend is a กระเทย (ladyboy), doesn't that count as a male?"... I thought to myself... “Only in Thailand do we have this issue.” *face palm*

2. Elder Cherd stepped in dog poop 3 times this week... on the same shoe. Some bad Buddhist karma is coming his way apparently.

3. As we were traveling, we rode on a lot of buses. We would sit down and call other missionaries and just talk about life. Sometimes we forget that other people are around us. So Elder Cherd just let out a little burp (like we all do at home, let’s be honest people)... and then we both realized that the bus was full of people who awkwardly turned to Elder Cherd... who slumped in his chair, face completely red hahahahahah.

4. Another day on a bus: The bus driver comes up and closes the door saying, "If any of you have to pee on the bus ride, I hope you brought some Pampers cause we ain't stopping!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA We just died laughing hahahahahahahahaha. Bottom line: Bus drivers in Thailand are hilarious. 

Travel Travel Travel with bikes.... on buses. The bus drivers love us.

Pool game on P-Day

5. Sleep talking Elder Smith-Driggs (Batch 1): Three days ago I started singing in my sleep. It was a Thai song. Then, last night during my sleep I told everyone, "Smile everyone! Smile!" My companion and the other elders just die every time hahahaha. They think it is so funny. 


6. Sleep talking Elder Smith-Driggs (Batch 2): The phone went off in my dream... so I woke up like it was 6:30. Elder Brown was next to me and saw me praying on my bed. He said, "Elder Smith-Driggs, what are you doing?" I was like, "Elder it is 6:30... what are you doing???" Elder Brown: "Hey dude - it is only 11:30 pm.. .you can go back to bed." Elder Smith-Driggs: "Yes!! Thank you GOD!” (jumps onto bed and goes back to sleep) 

Spiritual thought: 

As I was talking to my dear friend President Khonsavanh (from Lao) this last week, I was again struck by how lucky we are to worship as we please in places like Thailand and America. There is just tooooo much to explain. But I am so grateful that we have a church here in Udorn. Yes, it is hard to be a member in Thailand, but at least we aren't getting threatened because of it. There are many countries around the world where worshipping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in public is just not an option. My heart goes out to those people. I didn't think I would ever be in an environment that would be like that. But in the time where I thought I was going to be preaching the gospel the most, I was in that country. That experience helped change my life. It changed my outlook on my rights. I am grateful to be an American. I was reading something the other day, and I wanted to share it with you all. I took this from an article entitled, "In Honor of the First Amendment:" 

It’s easy to take [our] freedoms for granted. After all, it is the ground many of us have walked on our entire lives. How often do we look down and appreciate that ground? Laws and rights inscribed on old parchments have little value if we don’t maintain them every day. Practicing our religion, speaking our minds, reading a newspaper, freely associating with fellow citizens and critiquing power are tender plants that require constant cultivation.”

There is no fear when we go to church that we will get arrested, there is no fear that carrying a picture of the temple could get us thrown into prison, there is no fear that we may be separated and shunned from our families, or that we may lose our jobs and status for our beliefs. We are free. But some people are not. Those fears are a reality for them. May we ever be grateful for all the freedoms that we enjoy is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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