Friday, December 27, 2013

Kelsey Sighting at the Beehive House.

Thank you to the Merrill family for sending us this picture of Sister Briggs & Sister Taylor at the Beehive House.
Sent via Tracy & Chad Stevenson (Kelsey's YW President & her former employer) 
We are always excited to get "Kelsey Sighting" pics. 
Sister Briggs Blog has over 11,000 hits now from all over the world.  We appreciate you for stopping by. 
Kelsey's Blogmasters are her Mom and her Sister In Law 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

There is one thing which is of more importance than they all...(Alma 7:7)

Thank you for everything that was sent my way! I felt so loved!
Merry Christmas everyone! This is unlike any Christmas I have ever experienced, and it is crazy to think that next Christmas I will already be home with my family.  No matter where we celebrate Christmas, it is truly my earnest prayer that we each put Christ at the center of this celebration.  I testify to you that all the mystery and excitement of Santa, all the cookies, candy canes and even the carrots for the reindeer can never replace the bounty of gifts, love and grace that come from our Savior Jesus Christ. Each Christmas may we write Him our letters with our deepest desires, and leave for Him instead of cookies, our very will, to do what it is He would have us do.  I invite you to do your New Years Resolutions early, to think of your gifts to Christ this year.  He gave His life, the least we can do is use ours to magnify His.

Right after calling home.  I love my family.  I know they are one of God's greatest blessings to me!

I met so many people this week that have completely changed my life and my perspective on Christmas. We met a less active member named Jennifer, from Australia, who came to Utah for the sole purpose of wanting to see temple square and feel the spirit here.  She said everything we shared with her was directly from God and exactly what she needed to hear.  We met another less active member named Joseph, from Ogden, who felt prompted to come to Temple Square.  He came into the tabernacle and after I completely spoke by the promptings of the spirit, he said he has decided to serve a mission.  We gave out two Books of Mormon in one hour to two different men on Christmas eve, one of whom was hurting after being deployed for 8 years and having lost his wife while he was gone.  All of this, brought to me a greater understanding, and the truthfulness, of something one 10-year-old girl said to me this last week.

Sister Phagwah (Guyana) and I getting creative to make a bigger Christmas tree...see the next picture!

We can always make the best out of the things we have :)
Her name is Katie and she is from Bountiful, UT.  She is so excited to serve a mission one day, so much so that she is counting down.  I asked her if she knew what a missionary's whole purpose is every day, what it is that we do all day long, with the intent to tell her that our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, that she can be a missionary today.  however, she caught me off guard with her response.

"As missionaries you celebrate Christmas every day!" Katie said enthusiastically.
I gave her a huge smile, laughed and then thought about the deeper meaning to it.  She may have meant we celebrate Christmas every day, in that every day is a wonderful and happy day, but I could see in the eyes of this 10-year-old girl that she had such a higher understanding than that. 

We had so much snow they had to shut down the square! We were sad to be sent home, but excited to have the day to study and read :)
We both knew, her family knew, that with her statement she knew that as missionaries we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas every day. Each day we are inviting others to come unto Christ.  Each day we are inviting ourselves and others to change their view of themselves, God and the world around them.  Each day we are reading from The Book of Mormon and The Bible, sharing scriptures with people that give answers to their most troubling questions.  Isn't this what it means to celebrate Christmas every day?
Think about how happy you are today.  Think about how much we each long for Christmas.  How many times have you heard people say, "People are just nicer at Christmastime," or "I feel so much more like giving at Christmastime."  It is not a mystery why.  There is so equation to solve, there is no puzzle to solve, it is because each of us, even if it is in the slightest way, is focusing on Christ a little more and on ourselves a little less. If you want to celebrate Christmas every day, you can! No one is stopping you, especially not me :)
Zone Activity! Look at my Mom, Sister Lin, as such a cute elf.  We all had so much fun!

There is so much at this season that weighs on our attention.  There are gifts to purchase, trees to decorate, cookies to make, dinners to prepare, cards to send, parties to attend, but there is one of more importance than they all.

"For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all—for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people." (Alma 7:7)
How grateful I am to know that Christ lives.  This is why we still celebrate His birth! How grateful I am that I do not need to walk across a desert as so many shepherds did, so many humble seekers, and those wise men of old to find the Christ child.  What I have learned on my mission and throughout my life, is that Jesus Christ, our personal Savior and Redeemer as well as the Savior of the world, is not as far away as many would like us to think.  He is in your scriptures, He is in your prayers, He is in each act of love and service we devote to others.  Let us not get lost in the convenience of finding Christ, and when we find Him, let us each be sure to treasure Him and to celebrate His birth not just once, but all year round.
Merry Christmas everyone :)
Love always,
Sister Briggs
SHOUTOUTS:Kelli & Taylor Gilbert (you two are the cutest! I miss you both and am so happy to hear from you!), Mom & Dad, Bryan & Case, Robert Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Mary, Becca, Sara, Barry, Grandpa Chuck and Lolly, Grandma Jeanie & Grandfather, Papa Jim & Grandmother, Todd Bruner, Taylor Hansen and family, The Macrums and Woods, all the beautiful Wilcox's, Caroline Slater and Sister Dimatera!
And to every single one of you who read this...thank you.  You have truly put a smile on my face each and every day of my mission to have your love, letters and support :)

We got our roommates matching pajamas for Christmas!

Our whole district had breakfast together this morning :)  We have all made a pact to celebrate Christmas together with our families in the future

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I need to go and talk with Dad

Sister Taylor and I in the tabernacle :)
Hi everyone! Just one more week until Christmas! I hope everyone is making an extra effort to include Christ at this is in fact His birth that we celebrate at this time and I am so grateful to be His representative.  I testify to each of you that He does live.
I love this mission :) We got to take an organ tour, to go back stage to see just how all these beautiful instruments work, and I even got to play it! 
This was another amazing week of being a missionary at Temple Square.  Each day I saw so many miracles, each day I saw the amazing grace of God's hand working and weaving throughout my life and the lives of so many others. Many who have come to see the lights at Temple Square this week have taken notice of what a special and miraculous place it is.  I have heard many comments from people saying, "I wish I could just live here on Temple Square," or "I wish I could just stick Temple Square in my pocket and take it home."  What I wish for each and every person to know is that the reason that we love Temple Square so much is because it is a familiar feeling to what we have always known all along--it is the spirit of God that is so abundant at Temple Square that keeps people coming back.  This spirit can be with us everywhere we go, we just have to learn to recognize it :)

Sister Godfrey had us all over for dinner and made SEVEN different desserts..I am so grateful for everything her and her family did for us and wish them the very best Christmas!

Linda and Chuck were two people we met at Temple Square just last night who had learned to recognize the voice of the Lord in their own lives.  Linda and Chuck are from Texas and have been converts to the church for just over 1 year.  Linda laughed when she recounted the story of the persistent missionaries that would always come and knock on her door.  Chuck said the first time he let the missionaries in, he was searching around his home for his shot gun while the missionaries talked in the door way outside. When Chuck and Linda finally agreed to meet with the missionaries, they said they felt a difference right from the beginning, but they continued to attribute it to something else.  They would say, "oh, this warm feeling we feel is just the love we feel for these two Elders and the love they feel for us," or "this feeling is just coming because we are doing a service to them by listening to their message."  They continued to attribute the voice of God, the Holy Ghost to something they thought they were more familiar with. As they met with the missionaries, they said that everything they heard started to sound more familiar, and it was then, they realized they were familiar with God.

This is something that we each do so very often. We think we aren't familiar with God, that we don't have a relationship with Him, and so we say that what we feel, what we hear is something else.
I love having my amazing trainer, Sister Lin, back at Temple Square.  I can't believe this is her last transfer!

I was reading in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 3 about the time Samuel was called of the Lord to do His work. In this account, we read that Samuel heard his name being called 3 times, each time thinking it was his Dad.  He would probably think, "Okay, I need to go and talk with Dad." Each time we went down the hall to the room of his father to say, "Here am I, for thou didst call me," and his Father would reply, "I called not, my son; lie down again." The third time Samuel heard someone calling his voice, he approached his father once more, only this time, his father recognized it was the voice of the Lord and instructed his son to respond as it was God calling him.

I was amazed as I read this account and thought about Chuck and Linda.  So often we hear a voice calling to us, a familiar voice, a comforting voice, yet we attribute it to something else.  Really, we are all so familiar with God, that we could easily mistake His voice with the voice of our own Father; for He is indeed, the Father of our spirits.

So often our mind tries to trick us, to make us think this familiar voice is something else.  When we had our mission tour just this last week, Elder Clark told us that while he was in Bolivia a woman stopped him and said, "You Americans, I could never live in your country. "  He was completely taken back and asked the woman why she felt that way so strongly.  She responded, "There you live with your minds, here we live with our hearts."

To the Briggs Family---the huskies are everywhere! This is Kate, she is the daughter of the family who had us all over for dinner this week :)

Let us all live with our hearts and recognize the God that calls out to each and every one of us each day.  He calls to us not just as a collective group but as individuals, as His precious children.  I know that I am His daughter, and when He calls my name, I know it.  He is my Father, your Father and He can pick each of us out of a crowd.  I wonder...can we pick Him out of a crowd?  Look for Him this Christmas, think and feel with your hearts, and you will find Him.

Love Always,
Sister Briggs

 This was actually taken the day after Thanksgiving when they had the lighting for Temple Square. Ed and I didn't get to see her, but Barry, Becca, and Mary did. This was the first time Barry has been able to see her there - Thanks to Jean Donakey for forwarding this picture.  We are always happy to add Kelsey Sightings to our Blog. 

SHOUTOUTS: Got to see Brother Cecil Samuelson at Target...that was amazing! My wonderful Briggs family, Robert Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Mary, Becca, Barry and Sara Donakey, Zach Hansen, Karsen Yack, Sister Hill and Sister Rushing, Kurt & Megan Mooney, Jay & Taylor Winters, Matt Duke, Amy Briggs, Sister Blauer and the AMAZING Thomas family (thank you so much for your beautiful Christmas card! It really absolutely made my day!)

We got to have dinner with a family, and they had the cutest dog named Sammy! Joy really is in the little things :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"What happens next depends largely on how we embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ." - Sister Wixom

It's such a blessing to spend Christmas time at Temple Square :) I love serving right next to a temple of God.  The spirit is so strong here every single day. You can feel the difference coming onto and off of the square.

I am really sitting here, staring at the computer in awe.  Where do begin, I never know. I have felt the love of Christ for so many people I have met this week.  These people will forever be precious and important to me, and I know they are important to our Heavenly Father, because of all the action He took to bring them closer to Him.  I love that the attitude of our Savior is not a "catch me if you can," but a "come follow me," (Jesus of Nazareth talk).  He doesn't care what hour of the day, what time in life we turn to Him, He just cares that we turn.  As a missionary, if I can help others turn to Him sooner, to receive the blessings and the fullness of the joy that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ before years of possible heart ache and longing, then I will do all I can.  Really though, what happens next depends largely on how we each choose to embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The choice is ours.

Last Friday, Sister Taylor and I had a short amount of time on the square before we had our scheduled time for weekly planning.  We joked that we wouldn't get to do our weekly planning, because it seems to be that all of our biggest miracles together have been during weekly planning...and sure enough that happened for us again.  We were walking on the temple grounds when we walked past 4 scruffy young men, all with tattoos, earrings, hats and sagging pants, along with a young 9-year old girl when we felt prompted to turn back around. Rick, Raymond, Anthony, Rodger and Chloe are their names, and they are all now new investigators of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

None of them knew each other until just a few hours before we had walked into them.  They were all traveling separately by a Greyhound bus to different places when their bus broke down in Salt Lake City.  They were told that they wouldn't be able to board the bus again until about midnight and felt that they should come to Temple Square.  None of them had been here before.  They all came from such different walks of life, and yet each of this men were looking for a new start and I think they found it here at Temple Square as the spirit spoke to them. We were with these men for about 2 hours, and I watched as their eyes locked on ours as we testified of the temple, of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon, of praying to know for ourselves. 

At the Christmas devotional! We were so lucky to get to go.  If you haven't watched it yet, please do! It was amazing and so different from so many others before!

I witnessed a miracle happening in each of their lives.  For Chloe, the little nine year old girl, her miracle was seeing all the lights come on.  She was the one that had felt they should all come to Temple Square.  As we were walking, the brilliant lights of Temple Square all came on.  She stopped, looked up to me and said, "Is this all for me?"  I smiled and said, "yes! Merry Christmas , Chloe!"  She said that just a few days before, she had been wondering if God was real, and told God that if He was there, if He really cared about her, she would really like to see some Christmas lights this year.  Her family has always really struggled, and she's never been able to see too many lights, but they are her very favorite part of Christmas.  You can only imagine the lights that went on in the eyes of this little girl.  She may have just seen the lights, but for me I saw a more powerful light--the light that God gives to each and every one of His children when they ask. God lives, and God loves.

For her father Rodger, his miracle was learning that families can be together for eternity.  I looked over to him as we spoke by the temple model in the South Visitor's Center.  When we showed him the picture of the temple sealing rooms he said, "This is amazing.  This gives me a whole new hope for my family."  I saw him as he reached down to his young daughter Chloe, pull her over and give her a hug.  I knew that he would do anything for his family and now because of the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he was realizing that he could.

For Anthony, it was hearing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple and that it makes sense.  When we first came in contact with him, he had a million questions to ask, all of which were sincere but from more of a researcher's point of view. As we testified to him of the restoration, he was no longer asking--"what kind of proof do you have that this happened?" but rather, "how can I know for myself?  This is the most wonderful news if what you have told me is true." He already has begun to read The Book of Mormon, which not only is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith saw what he saw, but also what teaches us of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ along with the Bible.  The Book of Mormon is a personal letter from God to each of His children, including Anthony :)
For Raymond, it was learning that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't just teach us to do, it teaches us to become, and that was exactly what he was looking for.
For Rick, it was seeing the hope in his eyes as we testified to him that God lives and really does hear our prayers.  Rick was very quiet throughout our whole time with them.  Sister Taylor was talking with Raymond, Rodger, Chloe and Anthony and Rick had taken a few steps to the side.  I approached him and asked him about what he thought of everything.

He took off his hat and looking up at me said, "You've given me a lot to think about.  This whole time I thought that God just didn't care."

His eyes had completely changed from when we first saw him. He told us that he used to pray as a kid, but stopped because he never heard God answer him. 

I asked him, "Rick, in your life when you have been happy or sad, do you remember the words that people said to make you feel that way?"

"No," he responded, "I just remember how I felt.  Things like that don't go away."

"Exactly," I said. "God's love for us is so strong, that He doesn't want us to just forget it right away, but He wants it to have a lasting impression on us.  Instead of us often hearing His love, we get to feel it, that way, we can always remember that He is there."

Rick's eyes got watery as he said that he thought he could feel it right then.  I know that this gospel changes people.  I know that is is a gospel of hope, of second chances and of happy endings. 

Just a few days later, I had this witnessed to me again as I spoke in a branch for a half-way home here in Salt Lake City.  The branch is made up solely of women who have recently been released from prison.  It is a place for women who are looking to really make some changes in their life and want to trust in God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help them do it.  I have never felt the spirit so strongly in my entire life as I did at this meeting. I watched women walk up to us and tell them they were grateful for their time in prison, as it brought them to their knees and brought them to God.  One women in specific asked if she could talk with me.  She was an older woman who looked like she could have been the Relief Society President! She had such a glow and such a warm light to her, I had no idea she was one of the women that had been released from prison.  She told me her story, how she had been in prison for 25 years for several accounts of crimes. She had never been religious, but now, after looking for a change in her life, she knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ's true church on the earth again today.  She said, "I wanted to change, and this is the only gospel that really did it.  I thought I had nothing that I could give to God, but instead I gave Him my heart.  Instead, I thought of what I could give up to come to know Him, and He gave me everything and more."

 I realized then so powerfully, unlike any time in my life before, the importance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We are the ones He died for, each and every one of us.  He saw something in us that we couldn't see in ourselves. 

Rodger, Chloe, Anthony, Raymond, Rick and this woman all taught me so very much this week.  It is true what Sister Wixom says, "What happens next depends largely on how we embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ."

We were also very blessed to have an Apostle of Jesus Christ attend our Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  After he left, I went back and read his talk from General Conference, and I would like to echo his words to each of you today, "We must always remember that we do not save ourselves.  We are all liberated by the love, grace and atoning sacrifice of the Savior."

Always embrace the Savior, for in His arms, in His light, in His love, there is hope not just awaiting us at the end, but pulling us through every corner.

Love Always,
Sister Briggs

Yayyy, Sister Orfila from Brasil made us all brigadero (Bry---not sure how to spell it, casey---I ate extra just for you!)

P.S. Good luck with finals everyone!

SHOUTOUTS: Mom, Dad, Grandma Jeanie & Grandfather, Bryan & Casey, Jack, Carol, Marnie & Jeremy Briggs, Hermana Stanley, Alyssa Lamprecht ( I contacted your referral, she is amazing! Thank you so so very much!), Ashley Solosko, Courtney King, Stephanie, Sister Taylor's wonderful friends who came up to see us, Corbin Sterling, Eric Turner (congrats on the engagement!!!), Becca Hallerman and Lauren Miner :)

Look at our fun Christmas tree surrounded with fun gifts from my parents! Thanks Mom & Dad!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Joseph's humble prayer was answered...

So was mine, and so will yours. 

Hi again everyone :) I hope you all had a glorious Thanksgiving surrounded by the ones you love.  I hope you saw the blessings in your life from your Heavenly Father this last week too.  I may not have been in Oregon this Thanksgiving as I usually am, but I truly was surrounded by family.  The Sisters here, our mission presidency, they have all become my family too.  What a blessing :)

Everyone thinks we're twins, and that makes me happy :)
(with Sister Hittrich from Canada)

I want to start out by sharing with each of you that God truly does answer our prayers.  He doesn't always do this in the way we expect Him too, but He does it in His time and in ways that are far better than our own. This week not only were my prayers answered, but Linda's were too. And in meeting her, I feel my family circle growing even more :)

Whenever a sister leaves this mission to go home or to go and serve outbound, they will transfer the information of their different investigators to sisters that they feel will be able to help them best.  Linda was an investigator of a former sister here from Ukraine.  When she gave me Linda's information she was so excited and had so much hope for her.  I tried calling Linda a variety of times, and each time to only hear the answering machine. Friday however, she called us back and was the one leaving a message this time.

Sister Lin and I dressed up for line dancing on Thanksgiving!
So happy my trainer is back :)

"Hi, this is Linda, if you are a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to talk to you.  Please call me back."

You can only imagine how I felt! It had been months without any contact, and now here she was.  I called her back right away. When I spoke with her she said that every time she would pray about where it was God wanted her to be, she would feel The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was her answer.  

"The religion keeps pulling at me," she said.  "It's more than just a curiosity, it's a part of my faith now."

I called her back a few days later and was grateful that she answered the phone. We had a phone call that forever impressed upon my mind the reality that by faith, anything which is expedient in God's will, can and will take place.  I had prayed that I could uplift her, that I could say something, anything that would really be an answer to her prayers.  Our entire phone call that followed was truly a miracle and was a lesson taught by our Father above.

We all got to decorate Christmas ornaments!
What a wonderful holiday season!

Linda is a woman who is currently living in Indiana due to her Mom's recent stroke.  Now, her mom is in a coma and Linda, rightfully so, feels very afraid. I asked her if she had thought about asking the local missionaries for a Priesthood blessing.  I told her that the Priesthood works by our faith, and it would be up to her, but I promised it would be something that could bring comfort, strength and peace into her life in a way much stronger than she had ever experienced.  With that, we talked about the First Vision of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Priesthood, God's power given to man on earth to act in His name. 

Sister Taylor and I won our game of pool against Sister John and Sister Chau just
before being called to eat dinner and we were pretty excited about it!

Too much fun for Thanksgiving with Sister Chau, Sister Taylor and Sister Reed!

Love this girl :)  Sister Christensen!
She shared with me her understanding of Joseph Smith and all he had gone through.  I love sharing the account of Joseph Smith.  Here was this 14-year-old boy who had a sincere question in his heart.  I find it so profound that the restoration of Christ's gospel on the earth again, all started with a humble prayer. 
I felt a prompting so clearly to share with Linda Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove using his own words, and so I did...

As I spoke these words, the spirit was there to testify of the reality of this vision, so strongly and more profoundly than I had ever before felt in my life. I even started to cry as I spoke these words over the phone, to this sincere and wonderful woman far away from me in Ohio.  When I finished, there was a moment of silence.  I sat there just listening when she finally spoke.

"That really happened, I know it did.  I can feel it. I have goose bumps and feel more joy and happiness than I've felt in a long time," Linda said.

There is such a power in the First Vision of Joseph Smith.  I know that Joseph Smith saw the living God, I know he did.  Each time I have shared his words of his experience, I feel so overwhelmed by the spirit.
Family picture with Sister Taylor and Sister Lin :)

I had shared it another time in the Tabernacle (one of the buildings on Temple Square) with some visitors from Maryland earlier this week.  They had asked me to tell them more about Joseph Smith, and once again, this same prompting came to me to share Joseph's experience using his own words.  As I spoke, their eyes all were locked on mine.

To all of you who read this, I want you to know that Joseph Smith really was a prophet called of God.  He really saw the living God, he saw the living Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, of you, of me.  4 months ago, onSeptember 4th, our mission president committed each of us to finish The Book of Mormon by December 4.  I finished The Book of Mormon just before coming here to e-mail and I want you all to know that I know it is true.  I don't just hope it is true, wish it to be true, or assume it to be true, but I know with a certainty that it is true.

Knowing that Joseph Smith's prayer was answered, I too knew my prayer would be answered.  The Book of Mormon testifies to the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that this is God's true church upon the earth again today.  So often at Temple Square I  meet people who say, "it doesn't matter which church you go to, all that matters is that you have faith in Christ."  Brothers and Sisters, faith is the start of our journey and it is what pulls us through, but this is not all.

Let me ask you, if you were on the earth at the time that Christ came, and lets say there were multiple churches, would it be okay to go to any of the churches even if they all taught faith in Christ, or would you want to go to the one where Christ himself was the one teaching?  Would you go to the places that taught you about Christ, that invited you to follow him?  Or would you go to hear the Savior himself speak, to hear him invite you to come follow him and show you the way?  I know that I certainly would want to be in the midst of the Savior, I wouldn't want to miss out on anything.  I would be in Christ's church, and I know that I am in it today.

Jesus Christ is at the head of this church, He is the one who guides us today so that we have a fullness of his gospel. Pray to know. Just as the song says, "Joseph's humble prayer was answered," I testify that mine was, and yours can be too.  This is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth again today, and I am so grateful to be a representative of Christ and of His church.  Turn to him, he is listening.

I love you all and invite you to read over Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove. (  Read it, pray about it, and you will know, that is a PROMISE not only I give you, but that God give you as well.  Be sincere and He will hear you :)

Sincerely and with all my heart,

Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS:  Madeleine Kmetzch, Sean Burton, Mom, Dad, Bryan, Casey, Grandma Jeanie, Mary, Becca, Barry, Brother & Sister Donakey, Robert Donakey, Liz, Andrew Lindsay, Sterling Randle, Sister Stanley :)

"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

That was God :)

Three Generations of missionaries...This is Sister Lin's last transfer, and she is a zone leader!
First things first--Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all have lots of fun and festive plans in place to celebrate the holiday tomorrow.  Thanksgiving at the Briggs house has always been one of my favorite family traditions- we call it the Briggs slumber party.  One of my favorite things about our Thanksgiving slumber party is being able to look around and see countless blessings from my Heavenly Father.  There really is so much to be grateful for, and I pray that we live with thanksgiving ever in our hearts, and not just with the holidays :)

 Our AP's and Temple Square Coordinators getting us ready for Christmas time!

Sister Taylor and I feeling a bit overwhelmed after our Christmas training meeting...Christmas at Temple Square is crazy!!!
Sometimes it takes training our eyes to see these blessings. They are not always big like our families, a new job that we've been searching for, or even a trip to go see a good friend that all comes together perfectly...often times, they are blessings that are scattered throughout every detail of our lives.  This week, we got to help Mike be able to see that.

Mike is our investigator in New York.  He is 23 years old and just graduated in Engineering.  He struggles to have faith and that has been our priority with him, as it is by faith that all things come to be :)  When we last spoke with him, we committed him to pray every day...and he did! We asked if he saw a difference in his life and he took a moment to respond.  

He then broke the silence, "Wow..I mean, wow, I guess I hadn't thought of it that, it really worked!"

As you can imagine, Sister Taylor and I just wanted to jump for joy, but we weren't quite sure what he was talking about.. we just were happy to hear he had been praying! Mike went on to tell us that he has been having a really difficult time finding a job since he graduated.  He told us about the amazing experience he has, that he has done countless internships and had really good reviews by past employers, yet nothing was coming through for him. He said that he had been praying every night for specific things just like we had told him to, and that he had been praying every night that he would have a break on the job front.  He said one night he prayed and then he couldn't sleep.  He was just laying there in bed where all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, he got this warm feeling and felt like he should post his resume on a website. He thought it was an odd idea, but got right out of bed, posted his resume on this website and went back to bed.  When he woke up he had a bunch of different businesses and companies that wanted to interview him.

As he told us this story, Sister Taylor and I couldn't help but smile.

"At first I thought it was just a weird epiphany, or a coincidence, but now that you've pointed it out...I think that was God," Mike said.

We both testified to him that it was God that had helped him.  That God knows the things that matter most to us, He knows the desires of our hearts, and when we pray to Him, it opens up the way for Him to guide us and bless us the way that He so desires to.

We committed Mike to look for all the blessings in his life every single day and to choose to believe that everything is from God. We said that by noticing these divine signatures, these tender mercies every day in his life, he would come to know God better. 

"And the reason why he (God) ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men, is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust." (Mormon 9:20)

Last District "eating" :) miss them all already!

This is the great dilemma of the world.  So many dwindle in unbelief, they ask for a sign when it is in the little things all right in front of them, they ask why they haven't seen miracles. Really, God knew so many of His children would feel this way, so He gives us these little diving signatures everyday.  Through noticing these, our faith grows, we dwindle less in unbelief and trust in God more fully.  

The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson said, "To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  As we live with thankful hearts for the tender mercies we have, we begin to see more of the miracles and the hand of the Lord more fully in our lives.  We then touch heaven and realize it isn't so far away :)

As we had committed Mike to choose to believe everything was God, we chose to do the same, and it has opened my eyes to so many tender mercies and blessings every single day.  That night, Sister Taylor and I experienced a miracle with a man named Shane as we were about to start a movie for him to watch in the North Visitors Center. He told us he had gone through a divorce and was looking for change. He had asked us how The Book of Mormon could change anything in his life and we were able to testify that The Book of Mormon being true changes everything.  If testifies of Christ, and if Christ lives as the Son of God, that means that the Atonement is real.  We were able to say what he needed to hear, and we had felt prompted to be there in the North Visitors Center, at the very time that he arrived. 

When we left the theater, I looked to Sister Taylor and said, "That was God."  

She then smiled at me and responded, "Everything is." :)

I know that every good thing comes from God, EVERY THING.  I want to invite you all to live with gratitude in your hearts, to choose to believe and to touch heaven.  I wish for nothing but the best for you now, and always, and this is the best gift I could ever think to receive--to be able to have the eyes and the heart to see God's love, and to be able to be surrounded by heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)  There is SO much I am grateful for--including you.

Received such a fun Christmas package from home! I decided to wear it all at once and look like a Christmas elf :)

Thank you Grandmother and Papa Jim for the package!
Gobble Gobble (that means I love you in Turkey language),

Sister Briggs :)

SHOUTOUTS:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sara Donakey, Briana Layton and MaCall Ovard!!! I hope you all had wonderful days! Grandma Jeanie and Grandfather, Papa Jim and Grandmother ( I love the wonderful gift box you sent me, so delicious!), Mom and Dad, Bryan and Casey, The Donakey family, Sister Bone, Courtlan Wilcox and Lauren Harris! 

 I got my hair cut! Ah!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If God has to wait, so must we.

With my amazing Zone Leaders Sister George, North Carolina, and Sister Ince, Canada,
who will be going home in just 1 week!
This really was such a powerful week, and I know I must say that every week, but that doesn't make it any less true :) Each week as a missionary, each week being a representative of Jesus Christ, brings me so much joy, so much happiness and so many blessings and miracles that I don't even have room or time to comprehend them all.

All of the lights are continuing to be hung here at Temple Square and you can really start to feel the Holiday spirit coming into play.  I'm not getting as many funny looks from people when I just give my huge smile to everyone who passes by and say, "hello!"  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, not just in the decorations, but in the eyes and hearts of the people--even John and Margaret.

The East 2 Zone of  Temple Square mission walking through downtown Salt Lake City
(The Sisters often travel in groups for safety purposes especially at night)

Friday night, all of us Sister missionaries were lucky enough to be invited to the dress rehearsal of "Savior of the World," a production put on every year about the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (If you have never seen it, PLEASE try to make time to see it.  It is at the little theater on the side of the Conference Center and it is so powerful and so beautifully done.) Sister Taylor and I were leaving the Teaching Center on Temple Square to go home for a quick dinner before heading over to the play.  As we walked out the door, a young boy, about 16 or so from Idaho, stopped us and said, "Sisters! I just found this wonderful couple crossing the street.  I told them I would be more than happy to show them around.  I have taken them to the Conference Center, the Tabernacle and have shared with them our basic beliefs.  I have to run off to drive home, but can you take it from here? They are so wonderful."

This adorable senior couple looked at us with the biggest smiles on their faces.
"Hi, we're John and Margaret, we're from Georgia," they said with their hands extended to shake ours. 

John had on such a funny beanie with strings hanging down the side, and his wife Margaret had the kindest smile and the biggest heart. They told us that they actually had to get going because it was getting late, which worked well because we had to get going home.  We told them that if they would be at Temple Square again, to ask for Sister Taylor and Sister Briggs, we would be happy to take them around!

Right after we had met John and Margaret, waiting for "The Savior of the World" play to start!
The next morning, Sister Taylor and I were sitting at our dining room table doing our Companionship study when our phone rang. It was the Sisters calling us from Temple Square, telling us that a cute senior couple had come into the North Visitor Center, requesting us to take them on a was John and Margaret.
We had such an amazing experience with them.  They are such a powerful couple full of so much love for everyone they meet, and also for God.  When we met them, Margaret gave us each a huge hug and they said they both just felt they needed to be here at Temple Square today.  The whole time we spoke with them I could feel the spirit so strongly.  We walked from the temple model in the North Visitor's Center, to the Assembly Hall, and then finished at the beautiful Christus statue.  They bore such deep and moving testimonies of Jesus Christ and kept repeating how they felt God had led them to us that day. Sister Taylor and I bore our testimonies there at the feet of this statue of Christ, and as I went to invite them to learn more, to read The Book of Mormon, I couldn't...I literally was restrained by the spirit as it sometimes talks about in the scriptures. 

I felt so stumped.  In every interaction I have I always invite people to act...whether it be to pray, to read The Book of Mormon, to attend church, no matter how big or small, I always extend an invitation as guided by the spirit, and here I stood after one of the most powerful tours and lessons of my whole mission and I felt restrained.  I couldn't understand why and I have to admit I even felt a little sad, I felt that I had let my Savior down as His representative just letting them walk away without inviting them to come even closer to their Redeemer whom they already loved so much.

Sister Taylor and I had such a long tour with them that we were running a bit behind to get to our next assignment at the Beehive house, so we stopped somewhere to grab lunch and headed over.  We thought we would be late, but we were still the first sisters to get there.  Because we had food, the sisters generously offered to switch positions with us in the line of rotation for tours.  When it was finally our turn to take the tour, we looked out the window, and there we saw them walking up the path...John and Margaret, our cute, wonderful, loving couple from Georgia, that I had previously failed to invite, and I had never been happier. 
It was such a miracle that we had taken time to grab lunch, and that we had switched places with other sisters, or we would have missed them all together, we would have already been on a tour.  I know God's hand was in that, I also know God's hand was in our entire meeting and experience with them.
We had such a fun and spiritual experience with them walking throughout the Beehive House.  At the end of the tour, I felt prompted to share with them Alma 26:12, one of me and my big brother's favorite scriptures.

"Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

When we read that, Margaret and John seemed so touched by the words and by the spirit that accompanied them.

John looked at us and asked, "Now which is your primary book.  The Bible or this Book of Mormon?"

Sister Taylor responded, "Both, they support and compliment each other.  We use both books to bring us closer to Jesus Christ."

We went on to ask if they had ever read The Book of Mormon, and John went on to tell us that his Dad had met with Mormon missionaries about 40 years ago and he remembers seeing him open up and flip through The Book of Mormon but he had never really read it himself.
"I would certainly be interested in reading one now though."
What I want to share with you all, is that God has His timing in everything.  I know that the spirit had restrained me from inviting earlier, because that experience was more about softening their hearts, establishing a relationship with them and drawing them unto Christ.  Imagine what would have happened if we had gone against the spirit and invited them earlier anyway?  I do not know, but I know that God's ways are always better than our ways.
In 3 Nephi 20:30 it says, "And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fullness of my gospel shall be preached unto them;"

If God had to wait to bring forth the most miraculous blessing of all time, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the fullness of His gospel on earth, then so must we. Imagine how patiently God was waiting for the day in which He would restore and re-establish His church among His children-the most amazing, glorious and biggest miracle of all.  I may not always know how long I will be waiting for these miracles, these tender mercies and blessings as God knew how long He would wait to restore His church, but I do know that God asks us to do that which we are capable of doing, and sometimes that means waiting.

John and Margaret left the Beehive House that day with their own copy of The Book of Mormon and a sincere desire to learn more about the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We will be staying in touch with them and sharing more as they read :)
That is my invitation to you all this week.  I want to invite you all to pray for the direction of the spirit and to have the sincere desire to really do as you are instructed to do by it's impressions.  I promise as you do so your faith will grow not only in God, but in His timing, and sometimes, that means waiting.

I love you all!

Sister Briggs

Ice skating night for Zone Activity last week! so much fun!

More ice skating fun!

SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, Bryan & Casey, Robert Donakey and the Donakey family, Sister Britt Lam, Sister Dimatera (is your family okay in the Philippines?) and John Bascom (so good to see you this week, it's been so long!)

Tyler, one of Sister Taylor's really good friends, sent her a package this gift..bubble wrap! So much fun! haha ohhhh goodness

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Thou hast declared with unwearyingness...and thou hast not feared them.." (Helaman 10:4)

Hello again everyone! It seems that all of the seasons are changing so quickly here.  It feels like it was just the other day that I was taking all of the large groups of beautiful Mandarin speakers around Temple Square in the summer, and now I walk through Temple Square surrounded by the beautiful lights and even the set up nativity.  Christmas is just around the corner!

 With Sister Palmer, our choir director for one of the numbers!
This was a week with a lot of early morning meetings getting prepared for our Missionary Fireside last night.  We sang songs to the public in the Assembly Hall for about 1 hour and a half and it was such a beautiful thing to be a part of.  I got emotional so many times as I looked at the Sisters surrounding me, these amazing, talented, gifted daughters of God who have sacrificed everything to come and serve here.  I feel so blessed and so humbled to be serving with all of them.

Missionary Fireside Concert Program

Yay for Oregonians in the Mission!  Shout out to Sister Brock's Dad!

With all of the early morning meetings and extra rehearsals, it would have been very easy to become distracted or even tired, but I was determined to not let that happen, and I know Heavenly Father was too.  Early on in the week I read a scripture that became my theme for the week.

With our beautiful sisters from Brasil and Thailand after the performance in the Assembly Hall!

Always gotta have that Brasil pride  for my brother and Sister Siegle!
Helaman 10:4 says, "Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word which I have given unto thee, unto this people.  And thou hast not feared them and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments."

I was determined that I would be like Nephi, that I would serve my Heavenly Father and Savior with unwearyingness as it says in this scripture and I had one of the most beautiful weeks of my entire mission.

On Friday there was a tour texted out for 4 people at the Eternal Families desk in the South Visitor's Center.  Sister Taylor and I had planned to do Companionship Study at that time, but I felt like we needed to take it and Sister Taylor did too (love her!) When we got to the South Visitor's Center to meet our new friends, we quickly learned that we had two couples who were complete opposites from one another.  Kent and Melissa were from Arkansas and were extremely opposed to anything we had to say and even in a mocking way for most of the tour.  Paul and Liz were a couple from London, England who were both students and professors of Anthropology and were compassionate people with such a fascination for religion in general.

We were friends before our mission! We love you Aubrey and Jordan!
We spoke with these two couples for about 45 minutes in the Assembly Hall as question after question were thrown at us.  We were so grateful to have the spirit with us during that time as many of the questions from Kent and Melissa were ones that seemed to be coming from an angle to discourage our faith and our beliefs. Sister Taylor and I were led by the spirit and were able to answer them in a kind and loving way. It was so powerful to have Liz and Paul there because when we would teach certain doctrines that Kent and Melissa were upset about, Liz and Paul would often make comments such as, "Well that makes sense if you think about it," or "what a lovely belief to have, I would cherish that in my life."  Throughout the tour we saw Kent and Melissa's hearts soften so much.  It seemed at the beginning they would hardly make eye contact with us, but at the end, Kent went so far as to say, "You were all lovely people, thank you for your time."  That may seem little, but it was huge to us, and I know it is because we were able to have the spirit of God with us.  I know that the spirit touches peoples hearts, and so does kindness.

In Helaman 16:2 it says, "But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel (Sister Briggs & Sister Taylor) were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows."

Then it continues in verse 3, "Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words..."

I want each and everyone of you to know that no act of kindness will ever go unnoticed.  No smile, no hug, no words of encouragement, no testimony, no invitation will ever be a waste of time.  Do not be discouraged in the works of good you are doing, brothers and sisters.  Your patience, love, humility, diligence can soften hearts of people around the world- the Spirit of God is universal in that way.  God uses the small and simple things to bring about the great. 

If God wanted me to push over a mountain to show people He lived, He could do that- and yet He doesn't.  Why?  Because if we really pay attention, we can see that God is pushing over mountains through us every single day in the way we respond to the spirit.  Do you see that when you let the light of Christ in you shine through, God and you are working as a team to push the mountain of your natural man aside?  Is this making sense?  Please say yes:)  What I mean to say is that one of the biggest and hardest battles in life is pushing aside our natural man to let our divine nature shine through.  And this in itself is God pushing aside a mountain; He lives, and He shows us this everyday, and I know that Kent and Melissa were as the people in Helaman, that because their arrows and stones (their harsh words) could not hit us, their hearts became more open and they came to see that we're really not as different as they once thought.  Liz and Paul that day left with their own copy of The Book of Mormon and said that the whole experience helped them to regain their faith.

With Sister Ince and Sister Taylor in the Teaching Center!
(The Sisters make phone calls and do online chats with people from all over the world)
I am so grateful that God has allowed me to be a part of this work.  I know that He is pushing aside the mountains in our life every single day for the benefit of not just us, but His children all around the world.  Will you all make an effort to be kind to someone this week, especially those whom it may be difficult to be kind to? Remember, they are children of God and I promise your small act will be just what they need.

Love always,

Sister Briggs

Okay Casey---you can only imagine I screamed when I got this :) straight from Brasil too!
SHOUTOUTS: Mom, Dad, Bryan, Casey, Sister Britt Lam, Wes Christensen, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAUREN RAWE (on 11-11-13), Robert Donakey, Mary, Becca, Sara, Brother and Sister Donakey (Thank You again SO SO very much for coming out for our fireside last night and thank you for the cookies too, you are all so wonderful!) and Grandma Jeanie

CTR power! With dinosaurs too! Rawr!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Can I Be Like Moroni?

Hi everyone! Has it really been another week already?  The snow outside is the only thing that keeps reminding me it's November now.  I keep thinking I'm still back in September.  Time definitely flies when you are doing what you love :)

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween this last week too! We had a fun activity put on by our mission presidency that was so wonderful.  I was sad to close the square so early, but I know it was all just for safety reasons so that made me feel better about that :)  We had a wonderful dinner and even got to watch a movie.  I have to say I was a little nervous about what the movie would be. My mind is so focused on this work that I didn't want anything pulling me away, but I am so grateful for the movie that we did watch.  We saw, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe," and it was amazing.  When we watch this movie with the right eyes, it truly teaches us so much about the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ and the matchless love He has for each of us.  I think I'll make it a new Halloween tradition :)

We decided to get these wonderful shirts at Wal-Mart with goats on them...we walked around saying,
"we are bringing them ba-a-a-ck to the fold." Ohh Halloween as a missionary :)

I hope I can gather all my thoughts today as I write.  My testimony grew so much this last week.  I am really experiencing and learning first hand the truthfulness of the saying, "Your mission is the MTC for the rest of your life," and I would even like to add, "Our lives and our personal missions are our MTC for the Celestial Kingdom of God."

I love our Senior Couple, The Frosts!!! Halloween picture :)

This last week I was reading in the book of Alma.  So often we hear people talking about the majority of this book being "the war chapters."  True--most of what is in here is wars, but we cannot discount it thinking that it only applies to us if we are physically fighting in a battle.  I have a very firm testimony that everything, I mean everything, in The Book of Mormon is for our gain
 and can be applied to our lives. Everything can be a direct letter from God to you.

One of my favorite scriptures this past week was Alma 48:17 which says,

"Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

I shared this scripture with a lot of young men that I came in contact with this week.  I shared it with Elders just about to enter the MTC, I shared it with soon-to-be Fathers who were nervous about fulfilling their important role as a parent, and I shared it with Danny.

Danny is a good friend of a Sister serving here who will soon be going home from her mission.  Danny and her grew up together in California and he has always been referred to by this sister as "a powerful guy, clean-cut guy with a strong desire to do good and to be a good person."  Before she left on her mission, she gave Danny a Book of Mormon and he was receiving phone calls from the sisters here at temple square.  However, after a while, Danny stopped responding to their phone calls.  This Sister felt she should give me Danny's information.  I tried calling Danny twice, but with no luck, that is....until yesterday...Danny answered :)

I got to know Danny and really have a tremendous amount of respect for the person he is.  He is 23 years old and is in the air force.  He is an engineer and helps to configure the engines of the various planes. Danny was sounding like he wasn't too interested in hearing much about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and then Alma 48:17 popped into my head. 

Very boldly I said, "Danny, I want you to write this down- Alma 48:17."  For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a very bold person, and I think Danny already could already tell that about me, and he sounded a bit caught off guard. 

SISTER TAYLOR PASSED OFF!!! (a mile stone for Temple Square)
and so we celebrated by going to The Lion House with some sisters!

He said, "What's Alma 48:17?"

I read the words to him, and then afterward there was silence for a few moments.  I wasn't too certain what I should say, and then he broke the silence saying, "Wow.  I want to be like him."  I went on to ask him what it was he would do if he could be a man like Moroni. 

He responded, "I would do anything to be like him.  If I knew how to be like that, I would do it.  The world needs more men like this guy."

Throughout my week I have thought just as Danny.  The words of this scripture have passed through my mind and I too have asked myself, "How can I be like Moroni?"  Can you imagine how powerful it would be if we were each like this man that could shake the very powers of hell giving more power to the powers of heaven?  Think about it.

And then think about this...

Moroni is an amazing man.  He was humble, he was meek, he was faithful, his heart gloried in God, he was true to the commandments (Alma 48) and yet there is another who was and is even more...Jesus Christ.  Do we realize that?  Do we realize that by following the example of Jesus Christ we can become not only like this man Moroni, but we can become like the Savior of the world? The question we should always be asking ourselves is not always just, "How can I be like Moroni," but "How can I be like Jesus Christ?" for it is in him that Moroni even received the power that he had to do such good.

I testified to Danny then as I testify to you now, that because this truly is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, it gives us every step to not just become like Moroni, but more importantly to become like our Savior Jesus Christ, our elder brother.  I know that obedience is the first law of heaven, and it is by obedience that we can fulfill our hopes of becoming more like these exemplary people we are meant to all become. 

The gospel of Jesus Christ sets higher standards because it doesn't just ask us to be followers of Christ, it asks us to be His disciples.
A bunch of the sisters dressed up as princesses and spoke to us in relief society about what makes them royal.  Remember are ALL daughters of a King


I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!  I invite you all to read Alma 48 and to be familiar with the characteristics of Moroni and the characteristics of Jesus Christ, only by so doing will you be more familiar with their characteristics within your own self :)

Love always,
Sister Briggs :)
Sister Taylor and I carved a pumpkin and named it Charly!

SHOUTOUTS:  Mom and Dad, Nyal Sewell (sorry I missed you at the square!), Sister Dimatera, Barry Donakey (you're the best! Thank you for writing!) Robert Donakey, Sara, Mary, Becca, Liz, Reid, Brother and Sister Donakey, Sister Britt Lam and Sister Kim Blauer :)