Thursday, June 1, 2017

Baptism + Apostle = Epic Week

Easy Math.

Monday, May 29, 2017


My dear friends, it has been a while, hasn’t it! It flew by for me… but sorry to my dear fam that I didn’t email for a couple weeks. We have been pretty busy. I’ll tell you why!

The Work: 
The major things that happened these last couple weeks were - 

1. Elder Quentin L. Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to visit Thailand. We got our visas in time and flew down to Bangkok to meet an apostle of the Lord. I have never had this opportunity as a missionary. I was able to shake his hand and feel of his sweet spirit. He spoke to our entire mission about how to better establish the Church and prepare Thailand (and Laos and Myanmar) to receive a temple. His testimony of the Savior was powerful. It strengthened my testimony in God’s chosen leaders of the Church and it helped strengthen my testimony that the Savior still lives. It is He who guides this church.

2. We had our first Baptism in Laos! The first man to be baptized in the new church building! His name is Brother Sea (ສີ). 


This is his story: 2 weeks ago we dropped by the church to measure some parameters for the baptismal font. When we entered the building a strange face greeted us with a smile. Slightly alarmed, we asked him who he was. He said he was the new security guard. He had just started working the day before. I asked him what the building was (it used to be a hotel, but I need to be careful in asking if it is a church, etc. So I was trying to see how much he knew about the Church’s plans). He answered and said, “It is a building that belongs to an international charitable foundation. They have meetings here.” I asked when the meetings were held (hoping he would know), and he responded, “Every Sunday at 10 am. In fact, tomorrow I will be attending.” I thanked him for the information and told him I might join him in the morning. Little did he know that we were missionaries for that international charitable foundation that would teach him about Jesus Christ. After the sacrament meeting, he came up to us and said, “I like this church a lot. Can I become a member?” Elder Cheney and I looked at each other and responded: “Why yes my dear friend, yes you can! Can we come teach you more tomorrow?” He responded, “Of course. I am here every day all day and am not doing anything except looking after the church.” Now brothers and sisters, to understand this miracle of Brother Sea more fully, you need to understand that the only place we can teach the gospel of Jesus Christ is AT THE CHURCH. The ONLY place. And this man LIVES there. Not only does he LIVE there but he is FREE ALL DAY. Not only is he free all day but he WANTS TO BE A MEMBER. Thinking about it just makes me giddy! Thanks God - this was a beautiful softball pitch to set up a long line of baptisms in the future for these wonderful saints in Laos. Keep ‘em coming! We have a family set up for this next week, and they are excited to start their journey as members of the Church. They have waited about 7 months for this moment. Please keep them in your prayers. Their names are Ton and Sony. Their children’s names are Mimi and First.

3. We had district conference last Sunday, which included 6 branches from around the eastern Thailand area. I got to see my friends from Udorn who were at the meeting. It was a fun time. A total of 87 Lao members crossed the border and made the 3 day trip a fantastic fun-filled event. 


It was good to be with the Saints of Thailand and Laos. I am reminded that we are all a big family. Also quick S/O to Sister Hart and Anne for making those delicious Oreo Cheesecakes for us. They are always divine ;)

4. Zone Conference. I had my last Zone Conference as a missionary this last week. It was bitter sweet for me. I love Zone Conferences. A good opportunity to see old friends, meet new ones, be spiritually fed by our BOSS mission president and his wife, among other things. Sister Johnson had asked me ever since I was a greenie to sing a solo at one of these conferences. I have been avoiding it for so long… but knowing that it was my last one, I asked her for one of her favorite songs and prepared it for her. I usually do OK in front of people speaking. That is usually not a big problem… but when you put me up there singing or playing a musical instrument I pee my pants a little bit. So thanks everyone for your prayer power! I sure used it when I sang hahahahahaa. You’re welcome Sister Johnson I love you!!! (Sister Johnson is President Johnson’s wife… let me just clarify that for you this was not for a random sister who wanted me to sing hahahaaha. This was for the mission president’s wife people - don’t get too excited hahahaha.)

The Culture: 


Everyone, I am running out of ideas here. We eat lots of rice. That’s all I got.





The Funnies:
1. The security guard at our house locks our bikes up every night… but he always puts the key in a different place. So when we are rushed to get out of the door and our bikes are locked, it is like a 5 minute scramble around the complex to find the stupid key. Classic missionary moment.

2. Classic missionary moment: When it is sunny outside so you leave your house without your rain jacket…. Then 15 minutes later the clouds are black and the rain starts coming down. Rain + street dirt = mud. Mud + white shirts + spinning back tire = Jackson Pollock style shirt. As much as I appreciate Jackson Pollock… I don’t appreciate him on the back of my white shirt.

3. As missionaries, we can’t eat with just 1 female. There needs be a male present too, sitting at the table. When we were eating some food with a member (Sister Pouiy), the male (Brother Sai) hadn’t come yet. So we took turns standing and eating and the other sat and ate hahahahaha. Sai showed up 15 minutes late. Pretty sure everyone else at the restaurant thought we were strange… one person stands and eats and the other sits… then some random guy shows up and they all sit down and eat. Yeah… Mormon missionaries are weird. We get it. No stress J

4. After the baptism happened, we forgot to unplug the font to drain it. 


Elder Cheney is a pretty long guy – longer than I am… so he reached down with his arm.. which turned into his chest… down to his torso just to get the plug unplugged. Thanks for the sacrifice for Baptism Elder Cheney - you are the man. He walked back into the sacrament room and people kept looking at him, “Wait he didn’t get baptized. Why is he all wet?”


5. Brother Sea couldn’t read the Book of Mormon because he is 60 years old, and his eyes don’t focus straight. So when we went to Thailand, we took the small B.O.M in Lao and made it BIG. Like REALLY BIG. (See picture.) We showed up and surprised him with it. His eyes lit up, and he started reading the first page slowly but surely hahahaha bless his heart.


6. While we were in Udorn, we had to use the Hart’s bikes (the single couple there). I totally called Sister Hart’s bike because it had the squishy seat. But she didn’t have a helmet. Luckily, I found this motorcycle helmet at the Elder’s house. I think I kind of rock it, don’t you? No shame. Female bike astronaut boy!


7. While we were visiting a member this week (Grandpa Bunluam), his granddaughter was playing with a toothbrush… she was sticking it on the floor and cleaning all the shoes with it. 


Elder Cheney and I were just sitting there thinking, “Please don’t put that in your mouth.” She didn’t…. yet. We started eating our food and talking, and we look over and this little one took the toothbrush and stuck it in her mouth. We were like, “No no no!” but it was too late. But it makes for a good story. 


Warning to all parents – never let your kids play with toothbrushes. They can be dangerous toys.


Quick S/O to the Browns. Sean Brown, Asha, Bishante and Ali’i – you will be missed! We love you so much. Can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks and congratulations Ali’i on your baptism. Make sure to send us lots of photos OK bud? We had a great time teaching you, and you were such a great investigator. Keep it up my friend! The Browns are some of the nicest people ever. They help out with everything. I mean literally EVERYTHING. It has been an honor to learn from them. See you in a couple months. Lao will be waiting for you!
Also S/O to Sister Anne who left to be a missionary in the TBM last week! Good luck Sister Khamvongsa!! We love you, and you will be the best missionary EVER! Calling out to all TBM missionaries. She is coming in at the end of the transfer so make sure to look out for her!

The Spiritual Thought: 
As I get closer and closer to finishing my time as a full-time missionary, many people have asked me, “Are you getting trunky?” My answer is always, “What is there to be trunky about? We are engaged in the most beautiful work of salvation. How can anything be more precious to me than helping souls come unto Christ?”  I think too often in this life we are presented with a future that always seems “better” . . . where the grass is greener on the other side, so to speak. But it is my hope that we can enjoy the present. Our Heavenly Father didn't put us on the earth just so we could 'wait' to go to spirit paradise. Nor did he give us trials so that we could 'wait' to have a better day than this. Happiness is a choice. So am I getting trunky? I don't think so. I am enjoying every day of my mission. Every day brings new experiences, what is there not to be excited about!? I am excited to go home as well. I think every missionary somewhere or sometime anticipates that day when they step off the plane... but for now, I am content. I am happy. That is because I choose to be. The gospel will keep going forth to every nation and every tongue. That is my calling, and it is an absolute honor to be part of God's Army. Endure to the end baby - let’s do this!!!!!! 
-- 
Love the Lord and Laugh, 
ອັບຣາຮາມ ສະມິດ-ດິກສ
Abraham Smith-Driggs  

2 comments:

  1. Found you! What a joy to meet you! You are on fire and I can see why. Laos is wonderful with the best people. That Ensign article is "None were Greater: A Restoration View of Melchizedek " by Dennis A. Wright BYU religion professor. It was great to see you and Elder Cheney in Vientiane! The Church is true!!
    Sister Cory (Hong Kong)

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