Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Humble Service from an Old Friend

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Work: 
Another week of hitting up almost every single member in the Lao branches we could physically go to. I love my job! 

This week we went to visit a man named Brother Khamwad. Now, Brother Khamwad has been a member of the LDS Church for many years. He is one of the pioneers here in Lao. He speaks English quite well! What does he do with his gift? He teaches a free class in his small village to all the children who will come. He has about 7 students. He pours his heart and soul into these students, working for hours each day to plan lessons, write grammar principles up on his chalkboard. He reviews his handmade vocabulary posters. When he finishes his class, he goes straight to the modern scriptures, translating the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church." He has translated COMPLETELY the “Teachings of Joseph Smith” and the “Teachings of Lorenzo Snow.” He told me, "Elder Abraham, when I don't have anything to do, and it's a hot day, I sit in my chair and read and write and read and write some more. I want to learn from the Church. I love the Church." His faith is shown by his dedication to the Lord. We are all given blessings in this life, some have to work hard to understand what some of their spiritual gifts are. But it is my belief that it doesn't matter exactly what the gift is or whether we "have" it or not. It is what we DO with it that matters. In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that God did not give us spiritual gifts for our benefit alone. Those gifts can only be acquired through helping others. Boy, does Brother Khamwad do just that. I know that the Lord is more than proud of this little old man. I respect and honor Brother Khamwad with all my heart. What a testament of dedicated service. Here are some pictures.

Brother Khamwad. Humble Servant of the Lord

The Culture: 
In the back of one of the vans headed up to visit a member, this woman popped a squat next to me and started to munch on some snacks. I asked what they were, and she held up some quail eggs. She offered me one. I accepted. As I peeled back the shell, I realized that when she meant quail eggs she meant it. A nice little quail fetus was chillin’ in the egg. I asked her how to eat it. She smiled and kindly told me to ,"Squeeze it out into your mouth." I did so. Not bad. Not good either. 2 years ago - no chance I would eat that. But I did yesterday. I am so grateful for change :) (Hope you aren't squirming at this Mom...) 

The Funnies: 
1. We were talking with Chandii and Lily, who recently returned from America. Lily went to get an eye surgery. We asked them about America, and this is what they said. (Keep in mind this is their first time out of 3rd world Lao going to 1st world America...we are so blessed.) 
  • "There are roads and multiple lanes in the mountains! And lights in the mountains too!" 
  • "Those old people must be really skilled they can ski... those boots they wore must be heavy. Very strong old people in Utah.” 
  • "A washing machine for your plates? That's crazy awesome!" 
  • "You guys go to bed late and wake up so late... the sun goes to bed so late too!" 
  • "I like the snow, it was like fabric softener!" (I love that one) 
2. We were also helping Sister Buabai, who has just been called to serve in the California, Santa Rosa mission. She leaves in August! So excited for her. She is terrified because she knows no English! When I went online and showed her pictures of her mission, her eyes went wide and she said, "It is so beautiful and clean and fancy." As we sat down to work on her visa, I quickly realized that Sister Bua had never used a computer before. She was raised on a farm in the middle of Lao. We set up her email together, teaching her how to use the mouse... seeing her face as it lit up when she saw the mouse connect to the monitor... realizing that this was the "internet." She will have a lot to learn on her mission. It will change her life. She is so scared. But when I talked to her I said, "Sister Bua, I know you don't know how to do this right now. You can't use a computer very well. But I don't know how to plant rice. Can you plant rice?" She answered: "Of course can't everyone?" I replied, "No... it is very hard for me... I have to learn. But I can learn right?" She said, "Of course! I can teach you!" I replied, "The same goes for you and computers and English! You can do it Sister Bua. Think of it like planting rice!" She felt a little better after that, bless her heart. She has so much faith. It takes a lot of faith to do what she is doing. No one will speak her language when she goes to America. Calling out to anyone in that mission... please keep a good look out for my friend. She is scared - but you can all help her! 

Mom comment: I love it when people label and ask for the help they need.  Because of Elder Smith-Driggs telling us about Sister Bua, we contacted Ben’s best friend who lives where??? You guessed it - Santa Rosa, CA. He says the mission president, APs, and mission home are in his ward, and he is the ward mission leader.  So he will be very aware of Sister Bua from the outset and can help her. I love God’s tender mercies.

This week we biked 72 kilos (round trip) to visit some members. I liked the backpack sweat mark - hope none of you are grossed out. Good exercise. Felt good hahahahah.

Mosquito killer picture... classic

Elder Cheney doing his thing. #latenighttranslations

The Spiritual Thought: 
I have written a lot today, and God bless you if you have read it all. I realize it takes time to read these long emails. I can't tell you how much it means to me that people take the time to read about the Lao culture and about what I did during the week. Thank you. My humble prayer today is that we may all remember how blessed we are. Those in Thailand and those in America - we have it all. We have everything updated, new and improved. Our lives as far as living day-to-day are a peace of cake compared to what some of the Lao people do every day. I am NOT inferring that this has to do with spiritually "having it all." On the contrary, Heavenly Father has given us bodies to do our best with what we are given. He doesn't love the rich more...nor did he before the world started. We are accountable to God with the things we have been given. Let us magnify our calling. Let us be grateful for the many blessings the Lord has given us. I am grateful I live in the United States of America. Every country has problems, but I still sing the song of "I'm proud to be an American" every day. In fact, it is our alarm every day. We are so blessed, let us share that. Thanks brothers and sisters. I miss you and I pray for you. God bless you this week.

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

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

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