Monday, June 5, 2017

103 of 104

There are 104 weeks in a mission. I am on week 103. Oh boy. Today my message is: Senior Couples ROCK!

Elder and Sister Carter. 
For his children who are reading this blog, you truly do have one great parent. 
(Family joke.)

Elder and Sister Jensen

I have the privilege of working with many senior couples on my mission. For an extensive period, I have had the honor of working with Elder Richard Carter and Sister Carolyn Carter and Elder Nephi Jensen and Sister Ruby Jensen. They make Laos run - as far as DIC goes. All the water wells, bathrooms, wheelchairs, eye equipment, English classes . . . everything goes through them. A mission is not for the faint of heart, and these young missionaries (young in heart of course) give it their all every day. It isn’t easy to be a missionary in Laos. But it really gets tricky when you can’t speak the language and you have to meet with government leaders all day! So I want to acknowledge their hard work and their love for us - the elders. They will call occasionally and ask us how we are doing. We will have district meeting every Friday and enjoy each other’s company. Elder Carter will always start the meeting off with either, “It’s a great day in the kingdom!” Or… “Who else gets to do this brethren???” Or… “I’ve always said we have one good elder,” to which I retort, “Yes… we do have one good senior couple in Laos.” (Keep both of them guessing ;) I think both couples read this blog, so I want both the Carters and the Jensens to know how much I love you and how much I appreciate your service here in Laos. You train all of the missionaries here how to be not only great missionaries, but great people. God bless you both.

The Work: 
Thank you for your prayers for Ton and Sony! They both got baptized yesterday! I am so happy for them. Before we stepped into the font Sister Sony was like, “I have been dreaming of this all week!” It was a bittersweet moment for me because it will be the last time I will baptize someone on my mission. 

Baptism of Sister Sony and Brother Ton. The man next to me is Bunma, the younger brother of Elder Xayavong. Keep in your prayers please that he can be baptized next week. He is so close! He can make it!

Next week, we have a miracle story baptism. Brother Bunma, whom I may have talked about 9 months ago, has been an investigator for a while. 

Brother Bunma

His older brother is serving a mission in Thailand, and his name is Elder Xayavong. Brother Bunma has wanted to get baptized but has had trouble with work. When he came to the church last week, however, he teared up a little bit and said, “Elder. This is where I need to be. I need to be baptized as soon as possible.” That day we called Elder Xayavong on a cellphone to help teach his younger brother. This was the most ultimate Lao lesson ever, the older brother calling the younger brother and we elders just listening in and testifying with him, telling Brother Bunma we can help him to reach his goal. Not only did Bunma accept his brother’s invitation to be baptized, he also accepted an invitation to serve a mission after 1 year of being a member! Bunma turned to us after the phone call and said, “I should have joined the Church long ago.” He will be baptized next week. But the best part of the story? President Johnson is arranging for Elder Xayavong to fly down from his area in Thailand, come back to his home country, and baptize his little brother Bunma. I cannot wait for next Sunday!

The ZL's had to come up for visa stuff, and it was such a pleasure to learn from them this weekend! Glad that you had the opportunity to come up here elders. 
We love you and support you!

The Culture:
They use plastic bags for everything here. Meat? Plastic bag. Vegetables? Plastic bag. Fish? Plastic bag. It's raining and you don’t want to get your head wet? Plastic bag.  

Some interesting things of mission culture. When someone finishes their mission, there is a mission slang term that represents going home. They call it “dying.” And when you are a greenie, they say you are “born.” I’ve always thought it is really, really weird. Because that means your trainer is your “father” and just weird stuff like that. A lot of people get into it. I never have. So everyone will tell me: “Elder Smith-Driggs you are like totally dead dude!” Meanwhile I am sitting there thinking, “This terminology just makes me feel really sad and frankly quite morbid.” Hahahah but to everyone his own. Whatever!

The Funnies:

Sister Martell - don't worry. We are not getting malaria... we have killed over 400 mosquitos in the last 3 days and have invested in mosquito nets so adequately put up by the one and only Elder Cheney. So no need to worry! ;)

The Lao elders kind of work off the grid. No one really knows us… they have just heard stories. Funny things include, “Yeah we heard the Lao elders could watch any movie they want up there.” And “Dude, I heard the Lao elders can go swimming.” As well as, “Dude, the Lao elders have like no good food in lao.. they have to make everything at home. No ice cream man!” They can think what they want. Yeah, a little bit is different. To be fair, the last Fast and Furious 8 was way better in Lao. (That was a joke. I didn’t go to see it people. COME ON I AM AN OBEDIENT MISSIONARY.)

We found a GELATO shop.... what the heck? It was delicious. This pic is for you Eliza.

Because we don’t really get to see any of the new missionaries in the mission, and they don’t get to see us, last week we were setting up for the Elder Cook thing. I was in my suit but had my white name tag on (as usual). A sister came up to me and said ,“What is your name?” I told her “My name is Elder Smith-Driggs, and you?” She looked puzzled for a moment and replied, “I thought you worked for the Church or something. Maybe like a technical guy or something like that. Are you a missionary?” As I explained where I was serving it all made sense. It was a little funny though. I, just being Elder Smith-Driggs, love to talk to EVERYONE. But it was a little sad to meet all these new people and find out that even though they were new to me… most of them had been in the mission for about 9-12 months. Yikes hahaha. I really do work off the grid.  

I think I might have shared this before, but Bunma was reading the scriptures and he was really getting them. He came to us one day and said, “Elder, let me get this straight. You have faith, you repent of your sins, and the Lord will lead you to the promised land!” We were like, “Yeah Bunma, that is exactly right. Nice job!” He then replies very seriously: “Elder, I have faith, I am repenting, where is my land? Do I get a plot when I get baptized or do I have to sign something?” HAHAHAHHAHAHA Bless his heart. It was one of the cutest things I have ever heard from an investigator’s mouth. As we explained, he was a little embarrassed, but now we joke about it a lot. 

Spiritual thought: 
Before I finish my mission, I wanted to finish the Book of Mormon in my native language again. I am on track to finish, but as I was reading in Mormon I loved the words that he says: "Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." The Book of Mormon's story is sad... and as we end the Book of Mormon, we see the destruction of millions of people because of their wickedness. The Book of Mormon's job is to warn us and to encourage us to keep the commandments. Our dear prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has encouraged us to read the Book of Mormon every day. Read it, ponder it, love it, and cherish it for the great gift that it is. Prophets from the beginning of the book since Lehi had hauled these giant heavy plates around for a long time just so that our generation could read them. Please brothers and sisters, don't mock the prophets. They are crying from their graves for us to read them and follow their teachings. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and it was indeed translated by his servant Joseph Smith by the power of God. They are for us to read, so let us take advantage of them. They have changed my life, and I know they will change yours. That is their job ;) 

Fight on my friends. It will be strange to send my last blog home next week. I thank you for your prayers. It has been a real journey. 


Staying strong to the end, signing off for the 103rd time (that is a lot of times hahahahahahaha just thinking about it).

Elder Abraham Smith-Driggs

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

Abraham Smith-Driggs  

3 comments:

  1. Elder Smith-Driggs, I'm so proud of you!! And blue is my favorite color!!👍. Sister Martell 😊

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  2. I love your faith and your ability to convey testimony and truth as you teach us about your location and people.

    ReplyDelete