Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Week at Temple Square: Asian Invasion!

Woahhh first week at Temple Square is almost complete. 

Catching the bus to Temple Square at 8:00 am :)

It was rough to leave the MTC...I didn't see that place as a prison at all, rather I saw it as a place where I met some of my best friends, where I grew closer to Christ and where I learned the importance of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sister Marsh and I had a rough night saying good bye to our sisters who left us at TWO AM for Omaha, Nebraska.  They will all seriously be so amazing.  I was able to experience that wonderful feeling of seeing them through God's eyes, of seeing them as His children.  I miss them all and hope all is well with them.  I feel very grateful I had Sister Marsh as my companion at the MTC and that I had the district that I did.

So happy and grateful I get to see my old companion, Sister Marsh, here almost every day on Temple Square! We took this just a couple hours ago!

So, those tears soon turned into nerves.  I was so excited and yet sooo anxious to get to Temple Square to meet my new companion, my new district and zone, and my new mission president.  I am happy to report, all went well :) I absolutely love the Temple Square sisters.  Everyone I have met has been so kind and loving towards me. They all ask me if my face ever hurts from smiling so much..the Tongan sisters especially :)  I love how many cultures are represented here.  It truly is like in Isaiah 2:2 where it says, "and all nations shall flow unto it." 
With that said...any guesses on who my companion is?  Any?  Well, they called my name up to the front of the room in front of all of the temple square sisters and asked me what I wanted most in a companion.  I said, "I want someone who loves God above everything, someone who will be obedient, someone who is hard working and always desiring to act as Christ would in all things."  The AP's (Assistants to the President) smiled and said, "Well you definitely are getting all of the above.  You will be the busiest Sister Missionary on Temple Square this're new companion, your trainer,  your Mom is...SISTER LIN!"  Sister Lin is from TAIWAN and has been out in Temple Square for 7 full transfers (each transfer is 6 weeks).  She is diligent, hard-working, caring and so much fun. Plus, she feeds me AWESOME food every day for lunch and dinner.  I'm trying my best to learn some Mandarin Chinese because almost all we do all day everyday is give Mandarin Tours!  I can say "hello," "thank you," "My name is Sister Briggs," and "come come come!"  My favorite is the last...all of the Mandarin people that we teach LOVE to stop and taking pictures of I end up saying "lie lie lie," (come, come, come) quite a lot :)

The top of the Church Administration Building with my trainer and new companion, Sister Lin from Taiwan!

Just from being assigned as her companion, I have received such a strong and powerful answer to my prayers.  I want to share this with you and whoever may be reading this because I want you to know that I have such a strong testimony that God lives and that He hears our prayers.  Not only does God hear our prayers, but he listens and responds in the way that He knows is best for us. Ahh...what an amazing gift.  I had been praying a lot to Heavenly Father to know if He trusts me enough to represent Jesus Christ, to have his name on my badge for 18 months.  In the MTC I would be overwhelmed by the knowledge that I was no longer Kelsey...I really wasn't even Sister Briggs...but that I am to act exactly, as much as I can like the Savior himself would.  I am to say what he would say, think as he would think, hear, help, comfort, do everything as he would.  This is something that intimidated me and I realized just how important missionary work and how sacred of a calling this is.  I prayed earnestly to God that He would let me know that He trusts me, that He feels I can be true to His only begotten Son in representing him here at temple square.  When Sister Lin and I were assigned as companions, countless people said to me that day, and every day since, "Wow, God must really trust you to put you with Sister Lin.  You two will be busy and God needs someone with her who will be diligent and endure." Those sisters were answers to my prayers, Sister Lin especially is an answer to my prayers. 

Sister and President Gillette

If you're reading this, please pray to God.  I know that He wants to hear from you.  The wonderful thing about prayer is you have nothing to lose by trying.  What would it mean to you if I told you that He really does live?  That He really does hear you?  That He cares about you, that He desires to guide you, to help you and to lead you to a complete fullness of joy?  I promise you that He lives.  Pray, please, just communicate with Him and pay attention to the way you feel and the different ways He will answer you, because I promise you He will :)

Some of the Portuguese sisters.  Bryan--I am trying so hard to learn some Portuguese! They are all from Sao Paulo too! :)

Our first day we got right to work...June 12- We gave a tour to 46 Mandarin speakers straight from China.  I really wasn't sure what was going on for most of it, but the spirit was so strong.  It really showed me that the spirit is the main teacher and that he just works through us as missionaries.  Then at the end of the tour, on the spot, Sister Lin asked me to sing "I am a Child of God" with her for everyone.  So off I went..singing for people I hardly knew, that I couldn't understand, and yet I was totally calm.  God supports us when we try to do what's right.  It made me happy too to go grocery shopping that night and to have two little girls beg their dad to come be in our grocery line with us.  They said to their Dad, "Daddy, can we really grow up to be missionaries like them?"  That meant the world to me and has stuck in my head every day since.  I want to be the kind of missionary that my family would be proud of, that God and Jesus Christ would be proud of :)

Touring the Relief Society building...scripture power! 

June 13- My second day on the square was great! We had THREE tours..71 Mandarin speakers from Mainland China and an English tour of 13.  It has been such a cool experience to teach these people from China...people who know nothing of God and Jesus Christ, people from a place where missionaries aren't even allowed.  I feel very humbled that God trusts me to teach these people, that in a way, there are missionaries in China...they are in the hearts and in the lives of the Chinese people :)  My favorite was when a little ADORABLE 5-year-old boy sang in the Tabernacle for all to hear.  My heart just about melted and everyone clapped for him. The English tour came during our lunch time (we only get 20 minutes) but Sister Lin and I decided to be the missionaries that everyone can count on, that the Lord can count on, so we took the tour without any hesitation.  Yes, we were hungry, and yes, our feet hurt a bit, but we were sustained and strengthened for the rest of the day!

Outside of the Beehive house. 

June 14- This was a day when we were literally going non-stop, and I loved it! I am quickly seeing why they said we would be some of the busiest missionaries at temple square.  Motor coach buses pull up to the sidewalk and out come billions and billions of Mandarin speakers.  Since there aren't too many sisters that speak Mandarin, if Sister Lin and I are doing something else, it has to be left to go and serve with the wonderful Chinese visitors.  I love being so busy though.  I am growing such a love for the Chinese people.  They are all so prepared to hear the gospel.  We taught 31 people from China today and even handed out 2 Books of Mormon!  My favorite moment though was taking a small group of 7 Chinese individuals up to the Christus statue.  (please look it up if you are not familiar with it!)  While up there, Sister Lin asked me to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ.  I would say a line, and then she would translate it.  I tried to give the most powerful and yet simple testimony I knew to give.  Afterward, a sweet girl, 20-years-old from Estonia ran up to me and said that my testimony was an answer to her prayers and then she just hugged me.  I felt so humbled, because I know the words that I spoke were not my words at all, I know that the spirit was working through me.  This gospel is so true everyone :)

Saying goodbye to my amazing Branch Presidency at the MTC, I love and miss them.  They are such amazing people.

June 15- Today we taught 60 Mandarin Chinese speakers and even one of them was over the phone.  Every day we have hours set aside to be in the Teaching Center, which is a room full of computers where we take phone calls and do the chats (yes, they are real people answering you on there).  Today was also really special as we got to take one of our progressing investigators, Vincent, around Temple Square.  He first came to Temple Square last month and was just completely hopeless.  Sister Lin tells me they lost touch with him for a couple weeks and they weren't sure what to do, but soon he started to respond to the e-mails and texts and told us he had been reading the Book of Mormon and that he knows it is true.  I love that about The Book of Mormon. 

Two students we taught.  I absolutely love the girl next to me.  Her American name is Snow.  I testified to her that God lives and she was curious to learn more.  I am so excited for her!

I love that as missionaries we are guides, that we teach people what we know, but that the people we work with don't have to put all their trust in our testimonies, they can find out for themselves.  I love telling people to think about how their life would be affected if this really actually was all true.  What it would mean to them if families really could be together forever, what if would mean if there really was a living prophet, that Jesus Christ really did die for them, that The Book of Mormon really is an ancient record that testifies of Christ.  When people start to think about this, that desire is built for them.  They know that if all these things really are true, then their lives can be tremendously blessed.  I encourage you all to do the same.  What would it really mean to you?  I know that this gospel is true, and finding that out for myself has been a hard and yet rewarding journey.  I know that this gospel really is true.  That everything that I am teaching is not just a fairy tale or a nice idea, but it's reality.  Sister Lin told me that Vincent's countenance has completely changed since he was last here.  We talked to him about the Priesthood and how he can bless his family, how he can be sealed in the temple with those he loves.  I loved the light in his eyes when we told him that.  He has accepted our invitation to be baptized. We are excited to help him in anyway that we can :)

This is a painting telling a story about women who would walk miles to go to the closest temple, they would hold their temple recommends at their hearts the whole way.  I love the temple and I am so grateful to serve on temple grounds every single day :)

June 16- Happy Fathers day :) Sundays at temple square are absolutely amazing! We have sacrament meeting in the Joseph Smith Memorial building.  WOW.  It is STUNNING in there.  If you have never been in the chapel in there, stop by next time you visit.  I absolutely love that room.  I sat there feeling so grateful that in one sacrament meeting I was able to hear testimonies from people around the world-a sister from Oxford, England, one from Mongolia, one from Arizona, one from Hawaii and one from India. I am a lucky girl.  The Sister from Oxford cracked me up.  She started by saying, "please, please listen to what I'm saying and not my accent."  (shout outs to my London girls-you know I LOVED that accent!)  I really loved her talk though.  She talked about the gift of agency.  I absolutely love something that she said that I have made as a goal not just for my mission, but for my entire life.  She said that we need to act and not react- that when we choose to react to something or some one's actions, we are giving up our agency to that person.  We cannot allow the harshness or cruelty of others determine how we act.  Do not let some one's bitterness, cold shoulder or impatience control how you act.  God is the only person that we should ever give our agency to.  And the wonderful thing about that is when we give our Agency to God, all He does is direct our paths for good.  After sacrament meeting we surprised our mission presidency.  They all received special island necklaces from the sisters from Fiji and Tonga that we all pitched in on, and then we crowded outside the chapel and sang, "Called to Serve," with our special last verse that is specifically about temple square.  Yep.  I cried.  It happened.  I love our presidency.  I hope you had a wonderful day all you fathers out there...current and future!  Dad...I love you :) Thank you for all your support, I couldn't do this without feeling that from you.  You mean everything to me :)

There's my whole little mission right there :)  So many wonderful experiences in this small area in just 1 week!

June 17- P-DAY!!!!! Yay! This last week has been absolutely the busiest week of my entire life! For those of you who think Temple Square is just giving tours, or that we are not real missionaries, I promise you, this place is intense.  I think the most I've sat down each day is 20 minutes, and sometimes it's not even that.  but I LOVE IT!  I love being busy, I love being anxiously engaged in a good cause, I love going from group to group and being able to teach people from around the world about the basic truths of the gospel and about the early pioneers.  Everyone look up the story of John Moyle the stone cutter...that story amazes me.  Already before our P-day began at one we gave three tours.  I loved taking two 22-year-old sweet girls from Taiwan on a tour this morning.  Neither of them had ever heard of Jesus Christ or God.  We took them down to the scriptures and revelation section of the North Visitor's center, played for them a testimony of Christ by Elder Uchtdorf and then took them up to the Christus statue.  I could feel the spirit sooooo strongly.  I could see the light in their eyes when we told them that someone knows them completely and perfectly, that someone loves and cares about everything they do and everything they are.  They took some information with them and we are excited and hopeful that they will move forward.  I miss them and pray that they are well!  While we were on the tour we received a billion texts saying that they needed Sister Lin and I for Mandarin tours, but since we were on a tour we couldn't respond.  I laughed so hard when my adorable companion looked at her phone and said, "AH! Asian Invasion!!!!!"  It made me think of my old roommate Britt who would always say that and I just smiled.
Well everyone...this e-mail is now looking like a short novel and I didn't even give you half of it!  Just know that I love and miss you all and think about you often.  I love this work.  I love being able to testify to people everyday about this gospel and the truthfulness of its message.  I love learning Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Fijian...soo many different languages to bring the gospel to the four corners of the world.  I am grateful to have this time to dedicate to God and I am so thankful for all your support and prayers.  I can feel them :) chats in the MTC on our last day! So fun to see Eric in there! Shout out to him!

Shout outs:  Thank you to everyone who wrote! Thank you to Kate Thornock, Madeleine Kmetzch, Lauren Moran, Grandmother, Grandma Jeanie, Mom, Bryan, Casey, Robert, the whole Donakey family, Sister Lelle, Sister McDougle, Nate Smith and Elder Robertson!

I have found out that we can only write letters on P-days so I am going to try to write back to as many of you as I can! Please know that I love you and am thinking about you!

Love always,
Sister Briggs :)

Mosiah...1 Nephi 3:7--> God gives us commandments and then provides us a way to accomplish them :)

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