Friday, March 10, 2017

LAOS GOES TO CHURCH

Monday, March 6, 2017

I cannot adequately describe my feelings two weeks ago when I walked into the church building in Vientiane, Laos. President Khonsavan was standing on the balcony of the newly acquired building, greeting everyone as they came in. [Laotians typically arrive about 30 minutes early for church to prepare themselves to partake of the sacrament.] I walked up to the 3rd story, where the members had gathered quietly to partake of the sacrament together for the first time in 22 weeks. As I walked up the stairs, the members saw me and let out an audible cheer (a small one of reverence of course). I ran to them and greeted each one telling them how much I missed them. They responded and said, "I missed you too Elder Smith-Driggs... and I MISSED THE SACRAMENT. And today we get to take it. What a wonderful day." 
The LDS Church in Laos







I translated the meeting for Sister Johnson and the Carters, along with another member who worked at the embassy. As I saw these faithful saints partake of the sacrament, all I could do was cry tears of joy. It was a very special moment for them, as it was for me. I am so happy and grateful to all of the attorneys, leaders in Hong Kong and Salt Lake, the priesthood leaders in Lao, President Johnson, and everyone who helped make this day possible just for a couple hundred saints in the middle of Laos. All of that energy just so that a couple hundred of God's children could renew their baptismal covenants with the Creator of the world. The sacrament holds a very special place in my heart. I am grateful for the Savior who carried the saints in Laos through this hard time. I know the Lord lives, and he loves us. There CAN be miracles, if only we BELIEVE. 

The Work: 
I am still serving in Udorn, Thailand, which is a joy every day. Having the opportunity to open our mouths as representatives of Jesus Christ is a great privilege that I will always treasure. Elder Rawlinson is doing great - such a stud! We have been teaching a lot of people recently, which is always nice. It is great when you put in the work as a missionary to be able to see the promised blessings that come from missionary service. Sometimes you don't see them, but you plant seeds for someone else. Others see them immediately as soon as they step out the door. I feel like it comes and goes (at least for me). I like to focus on the positive that happens in the day, the miracles that happen. They do happen. I can testify of that. I know that without the Lord I am nothing. He is everything, and I glory in Him. This is his work. Our investigator, Sister ChewyChai, will be getting baptized this week on Saturday. She has been taught the discussions for about 6 months now and is finally ready to make her first covenant. I am so excited for her! My favorite thing about teaching Sister Chewychai is seeing the change as she repents. When I met her, she was a lot different than the person she is now. Something changes in the countenance of the person once they understand how to fully utilize the blessings of the Atonement. It has been wonderful to see that change. Saturday will be a special day! 


Fun at Zone Conference!


The Culture: 
Thai people love white skin. Kind of the same way Americans want to be tan because we think it looks beautiful. It is the opposite here in Thailand. Thai people also have a fascination for noses and eyebrows. They like noses that have a bridge, not flat noses. They think flat noses are ugly, noses that look like white people are beautiful. Interesting, huh? I have sent you one of the tabloids that is the definition of "Thai beauty." 

Beautiful noses hahahahahaha

Also, all of the males want to look “beautiful,” like females. I can't explain it. But just look at the male in this picture.... if you put female hair on him, he could easily be a woman hahahahaha. 

The Funnies: 
While Elder Rawlinson and I were in Laos, we were eating breakfast at a Chinese buffet. Elder Rawlinson is half Chinese and speaks a little Chinese too! Anyways, a customer walks in and we strike up a conversation in Chinese (well he does... I just stand there and try to look happy). Then we figure out this Chinese man speaks Lao! So I start going hard on the Lao, and he speaks fantastic Lao! (This time it was Elder Rawlinson's turn to stand there and try to look happy). Then we finished the conversation off in English (which he also spoke). Wow. Only in the middle of Southeast Asia hahahahahhha. We had a good laugh about that! 

Traveling with President Johnson is great! But he is so tall that sometimes these southeast Asian countries can’t handle it - hahahahahaha love you President! 

Spiritual Thought: 
I want us all to take a good look at how we see our sacrament worship. Are we there before the service? Spiritually preparing? Are we talking during the sacrament, playing on our phones, or chatting with friends? Why do we take the sacrament? If you treated the sacrament service every week like it was the last week of your life on earth, would your experience be different? I can't answer these questions for you, as this is a very personal experience. But I would encourage everyone to understand the great blessing it is to go to church and to partake of the sacrament. It is a covenant most of us have made to go to church and partake. Please do so brothers and sisters. I promise it is worth it. So do the members in Lao. It means the world to them.

Thank you for all of your sincere prayers for the members in Lao. They have been answered, and the Lord is pouring out blessings on his people there! It brings tears to my eyes to think of how many people care about a little communist country on the other side of the world. Thank you so much my dear family and friends. God bless you all. 

-- 
Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

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