Saturday, November 15, 2014

The "How" of my Mission




I have sat here staring at this blank computer screen for the last hour and a half-it's not a preparation day, it's just another day He has granted me.  I am not sitting here in my modest skirt, my bright cardigan, my ballet flats, or with my missionary badge; This is now a very different scene- pajama pants, my Temple Square sweatshirt, fuzzy socks and tears now land where my black badge once was.

It's hard to know what to write here.  I realize now I've been putting it off for so long because it shows recognition that my time serving as Sister Briggs in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission has come to its divine close.



However, here is the miracle of everything brothers and sisters, nothing ever closes. Really, nothing. When we can come to terms with that and recognize that windows can be open in a room even when a door is closed, the more we can turn joyfully to the next step, the next place God needs us, and know that nothing is left behind.

Imagine then at the end of this mortal and temporary life, when we see our Father above again, and we stand before Him, it will be as if our spirits are in a room of windows--when we see Him we will see clearly every lesson learned, every tender mercy sent, every disaster avoided, every prayer treasured, we will see clearly without any smudges, but with the brightest sun- even the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

1 week before I entered the MTC I wrote my first blog entry, "The 'Why' of my Mission," now I want to write the "How".
He Opens Windows.

The "How" of my mission is found in every window the Savior of the world opened for me every passing hour.  When I felt too weak to arise at 6:30am -He opened a window and gave me a glimpse into the faces of the miracles we would see that day.  8:00am comes around and it's time to study, when I thought I was hitting a wall and couldn't see past a point, He would open a window and show me that the very point I was stuck on was what the Spirit would testify of the strongest in our lesson later that day. When no one would pick up the phone, He would open a window leading us to a sister needing the very lesson we thought we had prepared for another. 

When I slowed down my quick steps for a moment just around the corner from seeing my family again for the first time, when I thought to myself "how can this already be happening," when I felt almost lightheaded from the wave of emotions that were coming over me, my Beloved Savior, opened the largest window of them all and gently whispered, "this is the kind of greeting you'll have when you come home to Me," giving me the courage to turn that corner and run back into the arms of my parents. 


Now, the how not only of my mission but of my eternity, is found in the windows He opens. The tears I cried as I began writing have turned into tears and laughter as the Lord has opened up another window and led me to a scripture perfectly describing the sacred promises that lie ahead in the infinite tomorrows. 

"He (Jesus Christ) beckons to each of us and extends the warm invitation not only to gaze at the beauty seen through the windows He opens, but also to pass through them to the priceless opportunities He provides to bless the lives of others." -President Thomas S. Monson

Brothers and Sisters, when I decided to serve a mission, I had no idea what kind of window I was passing through, but He did.  The beauty about the windows opened by the Savior is that we don't just pass through them, their lessons, their teachings, their perspectives, will go through us-leaving us never to be the same again.

My mission changed my life, because really it wasn't my mission at all--it was His. It was my love for Him that carried me every day I was gone. In His perspective, in His window, I wasn't really gone, but I was finally home. I felt heaven every day of my mission. I felt it in each of my companions, I felt it with every investigator, every daughter or son of God we approached or were approached by on the street. I felt it in every Mission Presidency, every senior couple.  I felt it in every roommate, in every crevice of Reno and every building of Temple Square. 
(pictures from my last days with some of those very people)







And so now, I want to be able to help you see through the very window my Savior has opened unto me.  He built it piece by piece every moment I was set apart as His representative, of a teacher of His truths, and now that I know of this light I can't go back; He is still building my window and I have the upmost desire to be a window that others can see Him through. I know He lives. He is not a painting, He is not a statue, He is my brother, and someone who I seek joyously to defend and to share.  I love Him with all my heart and really do stand in awe of what He has always done for me. 

I testify of the living Prophet, seers and revelators who have been divinely called and given authority to build and spread abroad the kingdom of God on earth. I testify that Christ opened the very windows to heaven once more with the calling of the young boy, Joseph Smith, to be a prophet of God again in these latter-days. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, he did in reality translate The Book of Mormon because he was asked to by our Father in Heaven. I know that through reading The Book of Mormon and praying, we each can have Him communicate to us the truthfulness of this book, and in turn the truth about who we are as divine beings and not just passer-bys in this world. I have experienced myself and witnessed numberless people experience it the past 18 months. God hears and answers prayers, and that means yours too. 

Know that I will always be a missionary, none of this is over, I have just now received another mission call to serve in another portion of His vineyard.  Where ever He wants me to go, I will go.  He walks me to where He needs me, He opens windows to show who we all are. We, my brothers and sisters, may not be perfect, but we are all He wants. That in itself is the window of heaven that He has implanted forever in my heart. I love you, I am here for you, lets all help each other make it back home :)





With all my heart forever,
Sister Kelsey Jean Briggs
[Alma 26:16]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Matchless

*This is probably the last email from Sister Briggs before she returns home! Things are busy at Temple Square and she is happy to be working hard right up to the finish line. Everyone is invited to meet her at the Redmond airport on Wednesday around noon. She will be speaking in her home ward the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. She sends her love, is glad to be working hard and excited to see everyone again.*


I want to share with each and every one of us, with every soul around the world who hungers, with every person who has felt in despair, with every one who feels in wanting of something, and even with those who feel they are content, that there is nothing greater, nothing to compare with knowing and following the Savior of the World, even Jesus Christ.  I love Him and am so happy and grateful for Him, my family, each of you! I have found Him again as I have served here. The feelings of the spirit that take place when a child walks into a room, comes from knowing that this child can learn and grow, fall and get back up because of Him.  The overwhelming love that pierces your heart when you see one of our brothers without a home on the street corner, comes from knowing that my Savior died and suffered for His sorrows and hunger.  The peace that comes from holding someone while they cry, and knowing that the greatest solace will come from humbly kneeling to pray. And certainly, there is nothing more humbling and awe inspiring, then having a Father look you in the eyes with questioning as he holds his son, and is asked by this small and beautiful child, "Where is Jesus?"


I testify that we know Him, we lived in His presence before.
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation." (Acts 17:26).
And today, He is here, working through each of us, bringing light to us through His restored gospel.

"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us." (Acts 17:27).
Last night, I did experience the humbling glance of a curious Father as he held his little boy in his arms.  As I served with my companion in the North Visitor's Center, I saw a family over by the map of Jerusalem.  I walked over and approached the man and his little boy.  The little boy wriggled and squirmed in his arms, looking for something that it seemed he could not find. 
"Look!" I exclaimed.  He continued to wriggle more.  "No, really--look," I said once more as I reached down to touch the buttons that would cause lights to illuminate the map of Jerusalem below.  He quickly became in awe, reaching down to turn on the lights himself.
"This is where Jesus walked," I whispered to him.
Leaning against his dad's chest, he looked to him and said,"Where's Jesus?"
This father, with far more experiences than I most surely have had during my mortal time here, turned to me immediately and with confidence. I was struck as I truly felt the spirit testify to me in that moment of the divine reality that I represent the Savior of all mankind.  That I represent answers to the questions of the soul, and I can do all of this only through Him, my best friend and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  That I, a 23-year-old girl from Bend, OR, am chosen by Him to answer the pleas of His family looking for Him.
"Where do you think Jesus is?" I asked this little boy.
"I don't know! I can't see Him anymore," was his honest and anxious response.
Brothers and Sisters, with all my heart, I know we lived with Him before.  We in reality have seen Him, and as we follow Him, the distance between us becomes closer and closer, and we may see Him again.  I have experienced this divine reality as His representative and am humbled by this experience.

I know that Joseph Smith has seen God and Jesus Christ.  I know this by the power of the Holy Ghost, and the promise of God is to ALL of His children, that we can know this too. I have come to know this for myself, and know that this knowledge has been given to me of God.  I cannot deny it.  Joseph Smith saw Jesus Christ, and as a miracle to the world, and divine evidence we may hold in our hands, we have been given The Book of Mormon--another testament of Him who He saw.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true, and I know that everything that comes from knowing this--eternal families, peace, revelation and personal relationships with God, the Priesthood authority, baptism in His very same way, and the gift of eternal life--all such is matchless, because His Atonement and His love is matchless. It cannot ever be replaced.

"...But behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about withthe matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work."(Alma 26:15).
I love each of you!

SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Robert Donakey and family, Sister King, Grandma Jeanie, Nikky Lin, Jessica Helms & Matt ( congratulations!!!), Amber, Jacque

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preparation Day



We went to the Planetarium today! I look at the world from this perspective and know without any doubt that God lives, that we are His children, and that this place was created for us.  The Restored Gospel answers why and how.  I am so happy to know the answers to these questions with full confidence that could never be shaken.  




Hello Hello everyone! I want to start by saying congratulations to everyone for  everything and anything that has happened this week! Whether it was rough, uplifting, inspiring, educating, discouraging, I am proud of each of you and grateful to you for your faith and for your diligence to press forward.  Know that the Savior notices and knows everything that comes our way, and with the Atonement, we always have great reason to celebrate.  I want each of you to be happy, I want you to feel joy and know that you are loved.  My desires during my time as a missionary have changed so very much.  We are here with the sole desire to help others choose to have joy, and because of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have been given the message that emanates joy in every corner!

"For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy." (Mosiah 3:4).
This is a joy that is not shared just on Sundays, or just during the week at church events, but is something that completely becomes who we are--even on our Preparation days.

For full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a couple hours on an assigned day every week for grocery shopping, laundry, writing letters, and taking care of other personal needs.  Oftentimes, this day is called "P-day" for short, but I have seen that this takes the whole significance out of what this day truly represents.

Sister Brink and I prayed that for today's Preparation day, we would be filled with the Spirit, that where ever we may be, we would be able to encourage and help those around us as disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Not only did we want to be prepared for the week ahead, but we wanted to help others be prepared for whatever it is that may come their way. 

Today we walked to the Gateway mall just down the street from Temple Square.  As we ate up in the food court, we saw families and friends eating together, enjoying time to relax and get-away, but we also so so much more than that.  We saw and experienced the great and in-depth plan the Lord has for each of us.

As we sat and ate in the food court, a woman continued to look at us from a small Brazilian cafe just next to us.  She would take great, deep sighs, and fold her arms, almost as if to pray.  The prompting came to me to look in my bag.  There, in the small side pocket, was an old temple recommend cover--the painting was one of the Salt Lake temple.  It was a recommend holder given to me by my Mother.  When it broke months ago, I continually felt the prompting that it was to remain in my bag.  When I looked down and saw it there, the Lord sweetly and gently whispered to me that it was for her that it had been preserved there in my bag--there it had sat waiting for months on end, and all for this very moment.


We went over and spoke with the woman there, her name was Luitha. Her and her husband from Guatemala worked in this cafe together, and we were humbled to see their eyes meet ours when we walked over.  Luitha worked in the front folding pizza boxes, her husband Luis in the back cooking and cleaning for the next day.  She shared with us that they had been baptized nearly two years ago, and that they were preparing to be sealed in the Salt Lake temple in two weeks.  With the painting of the Salt Lake temple in hand, my former temple recommend holder, we handed it to her, and her eyes began to water.  She turned back to her husband and called him to come forward.  He held the painting in his hand, looked to his wife and looked back at us.  He said that he knew that the Lord had sent us to them that day-that we were helping them prepare for one of the most glorious days of their lives.

How humbling it was to see that our Father in Heaven knows every little detail of our lives.  He knows when we need to hold onto something old, to become something new for those around us, even a new ray of hope, a new answer to prayers, a new and more meaningful experience with the Spirit, and a new desire to follow Him more fully. 

It was a preparation day I can never forget, for each day is a day for us to prepare to meet God again.  I am so excited for that day.  I know He lives, I know He knows each of us by name, and I have come to know this through the personal ways He has reached and touched my life.  I know that the promptings that come to each of us are by Him.  Even if we do not fully understand them at the time--know and trust that He does.  Trusting Him comes with experiences with Him.  Follow His promptings and know that people beyond measure are counting on you, and pray in gratitude for what you do each day. You never know, but He does, and one day He will tell us in the most perfect and glorious way--where we are able to see Him face to face, and know that we went where we were called.



I love each of you! Thank you for everything!

Sincerely,
Sister Briggs :)




SHOUTOUTS: David Archuletta (He came and sang for our mission this past Sunday night, what a blessing! He is as Enos 1:26, his joy in life comes from serving our Father in Heaven more than anything else and the spirit bore powerful witness to us of that, we are proud of him!) Jessica Helms, Kate Thornock and Landon (congratulations!), Grandma Jeanie, Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Jacque, Amber, Robert Edgie Donakey, Barbara Keil, Donakey family, 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"

(Kelsey returns home on October 29 and will arrive at the Redmond, Oregon Airport at 12:20pm - anyone who would like to join us to greet her is invited.  She will speak at the Cascade Crest Ward in Bend, Oregon on Thanksgiving Weekend at 9am on Sunday, November 30.)  
Photo by Mormon Newsroom

Ah! My heart could absolutely burst right about now.  There is nothing quite like being a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Temple Square during General Conference.  We wake up early, we go home late, we have 20-minute meals that seem to only be eaten simply because they were donated and prepared by loving members within the Salt Lake valley.  We walk, but we do not tire. No, we run, but we do not find any weariness.  Why? Because we know we cannot fail, we know that we are on the Lord's errand and that His children are here to hear just from Him.

There is a spirit about Temple Square at Conference time.  Everyone walks a little faster to hear the Prophet speak, everyone shares a little more of their light.  People ask in their hearts, "Was Joseph Smith truly a prophet of God?  Heavenly Father, did this young boy really see you and our Savior? Are the people speaking to us today really your called Apostles and Prophets today?" The restoration of the gospel is not a one-time event, it is about each and every one of us being restored to what we once knew as children living in the presence of God. It reminds me of President Uchtdorf's talk from this past General Conference, "Are you Sleeping through the Restoration?"

"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthoodkeys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” andthe “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.”2 Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that willculminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." -President Uchtdorf.
 Sister Brink and I made bookmarks to give out to people on the square about the importance of missionary work, 
we gave them to our zone as well!
We were blessed to witness thousands of our brothers and sisters be restored to this very knowledge this weekend and feel humbled thinking about the millions around the world who felt the spirit as leaders in Christ's church again today testified of our Savior and of the living Prophet of God. 
People were restored in the smallest of ways.  There was the Judds on the couches by the New Testament paintings. Without our knowledge we shared D&C 6:22-23 as they sat and pondered if they did the right thing selling their home. Tears welled up in their eyes to see their prayers had been answered.

There was our two beautiful friends from Puerto Rico--they spoke hardly any English, we spoke hardly any Spanish (even though I like to say I speak much more).  We shared Alma 33:9 
with them as they sat on the sidewalks outside the Conference Center.  They looked at each other and seemed unaffected.  Later that night, the same two woman ran up to us, embraced us and asked again for the scripture we had shared with them, that it was exactly what God needed them to hear. 

There was little 3-month old LaKai, who laid in her stroller sleeping as her parents asked us to take a photo of them at the beautiful Christus statue in the North Visitor's Center.  As the photo was taken, little LaKai opened her eyes and smiled at us.  She started to cry, we placed a photo of the Savior on her blanket.  She stopped crying and with all her might reached for the photo.  She looked at the photo, looked to her left at the Christus, looked back at the photo and smiled. She knew exactly who she was looking at. 

There were two precious young girls by the reflection pond who had dropped their flower from Grandma in the water and couldn't reach it, it was out of my reach as well. When I said I was a representative of their big brother Jesus Christ, they said, "We know, you can help us."  We knelt, we prayed, the flower was rescued, and their eyes became big and bright. "God knows you," I said.  They too were restored to the daughters of God they have always been.

Photo by Mormon Newsroom
There was Ben who we met last week  in the South Visitor's Center, who was so inspired by General Conference, he decided to kneel down and pray, and ask the Lord if we on this earth are important enough to have a prophet lead and guide us today.  He testified to us on the phone that he knows, that he wants to follow his Savior and be baptized.
There is no shortage of miracles with General Conference--we see them, He sees them, and we each are them. I love each of you and pray that we each are restored to who we are, and who we can be as we read and re-read the messages from this past Conference!
Sincerely,
Sister Briggs


SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, Happy birthday Barry!, The Donakeys, Robert Donakey, Bry & Case, Grandma Jeanie, the Burkes, Kellie McDougle, Brig & Lisa, Aubrey & Jordan, Britania, Tom, Ella and Britania's mom, Preston Merchant, Jessica Helms, Jacque Sweeney, Amber, Sister Opeda, Sister Takahashi, Sister Olden, Sister Nelson, Sister Cummings

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Get on the Boat


Sister Brink and I at the General Woman's Broadcast! Oh, how I loved it and I love my companion! 

I write this e-mail with such a full heart of gratitude of peace, of love, of joy for all the many blessings that I have seen in my life this past week.  During my time as a full-time missionary, I have said "see you soon" to both my Grandpa and my Great Uncle.  They have passed from this life, but because of the comfort I have felt during this time, I have come to know the reality of God's Plan of Salvation, and that, "their in a better place" isn't just a phrase of comfort, but a phrase of divine truth that is familiar to each and every one of us.

"Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection--Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all mean, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life." (Alma 41:11, The Book of Mormon, pg. 308)

When I think about being taken home, I think about how in our world today, we rely on different things to take us home.  I've been in cars that have taken me home.  I remember the long drive from Sammamish, WA to our new home in Bend, OR back when I was ten years old--that wasn't a trip I was too excited then to make, but one that has blessed and changed my life forever.  I've been in planes that have taken me home.  Whether it was after an adventurous family trip around the world, a study abroad, or an extended time at BYU, they have taken me home, soaring through the clouds, back to the arms of those I love. 

Finally, there have been boats that have taken me home-and I think much of these vehicles of transportation the most as my Great Uncle and Grandpa were both avid fishermen.  They enjoyed the outdoors, and I can recount years and years of stories from my Dad from their many different fishing trips all across the country.

I think of how often the Savior has taught us from boats.  How happy it makes me when I think of Him and His Apostles on the boat in the middle of the crashing waves.  His disciples feared, and wondered how in the world He could rest while they tossed about in the ocean.  The Savior's response has taught me great lessons from the ship He then stood on, "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39).

I think of the Jaredites who were commanded by the Lord to built boats and barges, to travel across the great waters, who were given stones to shine forth in the darkness as they crossed.  These barges they were commanded to build were to be "tight like unto the ark of Noah." (Ether 6:7, The Book of Mormon, pg. 497).

When I think of Noah, oh goodness, I must admit I would sometimes get a bit frustrated.  I think of our brothers and sisters back then and want to say, "Get on the boat! Just get on the boat to be safe--the consequences of not getting on the boat can be much more difficult, then the consequences of just taking a step of faith." We spoke to one woman today, Ingrid from England, Trinidad and Texas, who has often felt the same about the people who refused to listen to the prophet of God who urged and inspired all he could to get on the boat!

As we spoke with Ingrid today about the prophets of old and their invitations to all to get on the boat, we were touched by the Spirit of the Lord to think of our own personal boats He is offering us every day of our lives.  More specifically, with General Conference coming up this weekend when we are blessed to hear from the Prophet of God and His chosen Apostles, given the Priesthood authority to act in His name, do we think that He will let us know what personal boats we should get on? I hope we each answer "yes!" to that question.

For some of us our personal boats may be having more time with our family, studying the scriptures, attending the temple, reaching out to our neighbors, loving those who hurt us, forgiveness--but whatever they may be, trust that they will bring us home.
Being a full-time missionary at Temple Square during General Conference is truly a remarkable, overwhelming and beautiful blessing, and I am so excited! I can testify and promise that the Spirit will touch and penetrate each of our hearts as we listen to the words of those speaking, and ask God which boats He would have us get on, and know that God will never command us to do something that won't bring us home.

"If any man will do his will , he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17, lets get on the boat!)

I love each of you and pray for you daily! In remembrance of Papa Jim and Uncle Dick :)

Sincerely,
Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: Ivy & Courtney, Andrew Briggs, Alyssa Lamprecht, Casey & Bryan, Mom & Dad, Julia, Casey, Uncle Jack & Aunt Carol, Grandmother, Marnie & Jeremy, Grandma Jeanie & Grandfather, Robert Donakey, The Donakey Family, Clarissa and her family

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Nick & Barbara


I want each of you to know, that I have never known joy so fully and so infinitely as I have during my time as a full-time missionary.  The alarm goes off at 6:30am--I am tired, but I am smiling.  I run up and down the hall-ways at our apartments for our 30 minutes of exercise--I want to see outside, but I am filled with the spirit being surrounded by my sisters from over 50 countries.  I am inspired by them and their goodness. I see them and feel so much joy thinking of the impact they will have on their countries and communities as they return home from this sacred place and experience.  7-8am we are eating breakfast with our sisters in our apartment from Latvia and Arizona--they have testimonies of Christ that keep them going. 8-10am we are kneeling in prayer and counseling with the Lord about the day ahead.  We are reading from the scriptures, studying Preach My Gospel, and having the spirit confirm to us each moment that what we are teaching is divine.  10am we run out the door--this message is too imiportant to walk.  We talk to everyone.  We exclaim, "Good to see you again!" because we know that no one is a stranger to us; we have all been together before this life. We call Africa, Luxembourg, England, Nevada, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina and are inspired to know which of God's children need us right then and now--we smile when they answer the phone and say they have been waiting for us to call. We eat lunch when we have time, but are mostly being spiritually fed by the sisters all around us--they have a light that burns so deeply from within.  We spend our day on temple square, following the spirit in where to go and what to say--He never fails us, and we seek to never fail Him and His children.
My planner for this transfer.  The front quote says, "One of the principal purposes of our mortal existence is to be spiritually changed and transformed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
How true this is, and I love Him for that!
I cry as I write this because I can never see this all ending and want to testify that it never ever does, and it never ever has to.  Building up the kingdom of God, and strengthening His children is not an 18 month mission, it is something much bigger than us that completely fills our hearts, and fixes our purpose. 
"And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature." -Doctrine & Covenants 18:28.
Think about what this verse teaches us about our Savior.  He gave His whole life not just to die for us, but to teach us about who He really was.  He taught us all in a way He could understand, and in a way that would touch our hearts.  He taught us to feel for the witness of the Holy Ghost, and He has taught us that again through The Book of Mormon.  I have felt His love and testify that He lives.  I can testify that teaching His gospel is one of the most humbling ways we can put ourselves in His hands to become like Him and to know Him as He is.  Knowing Him is really what eternal life is circumscribed about.

Sister Brink loves to match with her companions, so we do! :)

Yesterday, my new companion and I (Sister Brink from Tennessee--you will hear all about her! She is a convert to the gospel and is absolutely amazing.  She says when she found the gospel, it was exactly what she never thought she was ever looking for, yet when she found it, she knew it was true.), we were in the Tabernacle for one of our desk assignments.  We gave the acoustic demonstration and then met with a wonderful couple from South Africa when we came down from the stage--Nick & Barbara.

They were traveling through the United States for their second time from Cape Town, South Africa.

As we started to talk to them, the man put his hand up. "You two have a light about you," he said, "It's there in your eyes."
Our faces must have beamed as he said those words.  Nothing makes us happier than knowing that people can quite literally see the effects of living the gospel.  Because it is the fulness of the gospel that has been restored, it can and will fill us with a fulness of light--I see that in each of the sisters I pass every single day and it inspires me to do and be better. 

President and I after he "released" me as his assistant.  Him and Sister Poulsen gave me the pearl necklace from South Africa.  They have taught me by example that service in the Lord's kingdom goes on forever, and that the blessings really are the truest and most lasting happiness.  I love them and have the utmost gratitude and respect for them both and for the opportunity they gave me as inspired by my Father in Heaven.

We shared with them Joseph's account of the first vision, and the spirit fled into each of our hearts.  Sister Brink and I were able to testify that his words were true, and that nothing in the world could change us from the testimony we have of this pure and essential truth.  Think about it--God, the Creator of this world, of us, of this great eternal plan, has come to visit in these days! He is real, His Son and our Savior live. We can find our greatest purpose in life as we think of how we are connected infinitely and eternally with them.  We are eternal beings, brothers and sisters, but please don't wait for eternity to realize that. You are important in His plan and there are many who need you to remind them of who they really are.
Nick & Barbara thanked us for their time with them, and said that they really wanted to give anything to have this same light in their eyes, but they felt they were too far gone.  Oh, how our hearts broke, yet inside was the prompting, "show them your ministerial certificate" and so we did.
Each missionary has a "ministerial certificate" signed by the living Prophet of God himself, that we have the authority to preach the principles of the gospel, and a personal invitation to all to heed the message we share. We testified to them that the missionaries they will see in South Africa, also have this authority, carry the same card in their hand, and the same fervor in their eyes and heart to help them in the same way we want to help them.

Their eyes watered, the light began to shine.  As we walked with them out of the Tabernacle, right then and there was our new sister from South Africa, Sister Sonku.  Nick & Barbara looked at us as if they had seen an angel, and then again the light grew.

We know that God has a plan and a purpose for our friends Nick & Barbara. There is so much more to this experience that remains sacred in my heart, but know brothers and sisters, that every effort you give to bring others closer to Christ is never wasted.  You are an essential part of His plan- never forget that.

Will we each focus on a Christlike attribute that we want to develop this week, so that this very same light can shine for us all?  We truly can be that light that shines with Christ, He wants us to be there with Him.
I love each of you, and mean that with all sincerity! We are brothers and sisters, and you mean a lot to me.  Pray and ask God who you are--I promise that as He has very personally told me, He will very personally tell you.

Sincerely,
Sister Briggs :)

SHOUTOUTS: SisterLin! ( thank you so so much for the package! You mean the world to me!), Sister Olden, Sister Walsh, Grandma Jeanie, Jessica Helm, Jacque & Summer, Amber, Sister Siegle, Casey & Bryan, Mom & Dad, Robert Donakey, The Donakey family

Friday, September 19, 2014

Created in God's Image


With MTC companion Sister Marsh during transfer planning.  She is training this upcoming transfer! 
Hello and happy happy day to everyone! I truly cannot believe it is half-way through September already.  My two transfers as an Assistant to the President finish tomorrow, and I begin a new transfer on Wednesday with a new companion and a new assignment as a Zone Leader here in the Temple Square Mission.  I have never felt so much love as I have been serving here in the office.  

With our dinosaur door! I love my companion--she has taught me so much this transfer and I am so excited for her and Sister Yeung (Hong Kong) this upcoming transfer
Sister Palmer ( California) and Sister Lau (Hong Kong) decorated our office door with dinosaurs--how thoughtful, they even have missionary badges!
When I came into the office, I created a small journal to keep track of the assignments we had and the inspiration I would receive from working so closely with President and Sister Poulsen.  On the front of this journal is a quote from God's called Prophet on the earth today, President Thomas S. Monson.

It reads, "What is most important almost always involves the people around us."
This quote has become rooted in my heart as I have served here.  As words from a Prophet, we are encouraged to pray and ask God if these truly are His words as well.  I testify that these are the words of God, and so my brothers and sisters, imagine the Father of us all saying this very same quote.

"What is most important almost always involves the people around us."
A surprise celebration for President Poulsen on his birthday! Ohh how we love him! Families--I can promise that your missionary's mission Presidents are hand-picked by the Lord, and your family members are being looked out for and prayed for every single day.
Time and time again through the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the modern revelation that we have received through the restoration of the gospel, we have been told of our importance in the eyes of God, we have been told that the worth of our souls is great.  How then can we ever doubt that we are the people that at one point surrounded God, and that His love, His mercy, His influence, His gospel is all around us today? We are most important to Him because we truly are around Him, and lived around and with Him before this life, and I had a very special experience yesterday here on Temple Square that solidified and strengthened this testimony.

Yesterday, we were blessed by the Lord to be in the right place at the right time.  Our best friend and sister, Jacque, invited us to the North Visitor's Center to come and play the film "God's Plan for His Family." As we walked up to the Christus, we were next to a young couple from Idaho, who being led by the Spirit, asked if we could play the God's Plan video for them.  What a blessing it was that that was the very direction we were headed at that precise moment, and that the video room was open and free for us all.
With my wonderful sister Jacque on our day of miracles! Music and The Spoken word was so moving and brought the Spirit so powerfully!

As we entered the first room with Jacque and this young couple, we saw they were covered in tattoos and both wore CTR (Choose The Right) rings on their right hand.  They said that they had fallen away from the gospel, but that they were trying to come back for their family and for their own personal relationship with God as well.  It meant so much to them to come back that they had chosen to come to Temple Square to celebrate their year anniversary of marriage.  The spirit filled the room, and I know Sister McQueen, Jacque and I all prayed earnestly in our hearts that they would feel and see what it was they came to Temple Square looking for.


They talked about the desire they feel to go back, and we related it to the way we sometimes feel about our family vacations.  We have these wonderful adventures together, and when we come home we often find ourselves looking through the photos and remembering the good times we had.  In the same way, we feel that desire to return when we have wandered to different paths from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We see things that remind us of what it was like to be there, those pictures or images in the details of our lives that remind us of who we are as sons and daughters of God.

As we went through the different rooms (it is a moving film where you walk from room to room), so many principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ stood out to me that I had never quite thought of in such a personal way before.  In the second room you are in the setting of a baby's room. A film plays on the wall that ends with a line from the Family: A Proclamation to the World which reads, "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God." I thought for a moment of a different meaning of image--of a picture, just like the photos I mentioned earlier that remind us of our favorite family trips. Sometimes we search and search through our photos, trying to find the best one that has all the family members and in the best setting. I know that God has one large image, one large, perfect picture, and it contains each and every one of us.  He created a perfect plan for us, the Plan of Salvation (http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/plan-of-salvation) and we were created as the perfect plan and image for Him. We really are His family, and He would do anything for us--He already has! 
Sharing one of my new favorite scriptures from The Book of Mormon with Sister Palmer (Alma 32:23). 
The scriptures really do bring joy and relief!

Being able to ponder that as we continued through the rest of God's Plan with this wonderful couple and with Jacque and my companion, brought such a strong spirit to my heart--and the Spirit testifies of truth.  Knowing this, that we are part of God's image, that we were created to be in His image, in His picture, answered so many questions of people we have been teaching, and for myself as well.  So often we say that the gospel gives guidance to the future, but what about answering questions of the past?  I know that each of us can look back, with the gospel in hand, and be able to now make sense and bring purpose to the things we have seen and been a part of. When we recognize this,we really can see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everything, that it heals everything past, present and future. 

May we ever remember that in every picture that God has, that each of us are there, and may we decide today that we will be diligent in seeing Him in every picture and image that we have--for I testify and promise as His representative that He is there--we are His children, what a beautiful family picture. 
Patriotic Dress to remember 9/11

I love this gospel, I love my opportunity to share it with absolutely everyone I meet, and I know it to be true.  I thank my Father in Heaven each and every day for even the smallest moments that He allows us to serve those around us, for each and everyone of us are around Him.  May we please stay there and be near to Him--that is how we will forever feel we have found home in this life.

I love you each! If there is anything I can ever do for you, near or far, please write me and let me know--we are family :)

Sincerely,
Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Robert, Mary, Sara, Brother & Sister Donakey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZ DONAKEY!!! Jacque, Amber, Jessica Helms, Grandma Jeanie & Grandfather, all the future missionaries, my ward, Ah..just everyone--we are family :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Brazil to Temple Square, companions with my Big Brother :)

As I wrote the title for this blog, I can already picture my family, especially my brother thinking, "What?  What is this all about?"  I promise that soon it will all come together. I love my family and see them in the work I am doing each day, and especially felt that I was serving alongside my big brother, Bryan Briggs, this past week.

It comes back to Saturday afternoon.  All the week I had been pondering what it was I should pray and fast for with Fast Sunday approaching.  I thought of the people we were teaching, I thought of their needs and their concerns, I thought of their families, and I thought to kneel and pray.  As I began my fast, I knelt and prayed and felt the Spirit teaching me what to pray for.  It came to me--fast and pray that you will recognize those you promised to find in the life before this.  What joy entered my heart.  Through my time serving as a full-time missionary, nothing has been so cemented in my heart as the knowledge that we each lived in the presence of God and Jesus Christ before coming here to earth.  Knowing that has changed my whole perspective, has given me purpose, and has filled me with such a deep and abiding love for each person we meet.  What a blessing and privilege it was then for the Spirit to so gently whisper that I was to fast for those I had known in that beautiful life before this.

After I knelt and prayed, the Assistants to the President from the Salt Lake City mission called and asked if we would be available the next day to meet with them and someone they were teaching on Temple Square. We jumped at the opportunity and were so excited to work and to teach our brother.  As we asked for more information about who they were bringing, I felt a joy that truly is hard to describe.

"His name is Ranaan, he is from Brazil.  He is very very interested, he loves reading The Book of Mormon, and we want to focus the lesson on God's Plan of Salvation for His family."

The Spirit penetrated my heart and I became so excited.  I knew in that moment that I knew Ranaan before this life. I started to pray and to study for him, thinking of what it was that he would need to hear and feel to know the truthfulness of this message, of His message.

As Sister McQueen and I prepared, I couldn't help but smile to myself, seeing the way the Lord had lined everything up.  Because Sister Siegle's birthday is today (Happy Birthday!!!!) I had been looking at old pictures of us and reading through our time together as companions.  I found where she had helped me learn how to bear my simple yet pure testimony of the Savior and His Atonement in Portuguese.  I read over it again and again and had memorized it once more.  Oh how much the Lord was preparing us specifically to meet Ranaan, and to know that my little testimony in Portuguese was something that I would now have the opportunity to share.

We met with Ranaan and instantly I felt such a love for him.  He explained in our first few moments of meeting that he feels such a sense of "home" when he is with us and the local missionaries and his friends who introduced him to the gospel.  I remembered then that I had a picture of my Dad and I in front of the Sao Paulo temple in Brazil (where my brother served his mission in Brazil years ago) and I said to him, "You feel at home here, because we're helping you get closer to His home here."  His eyes became filled with light.  "Ranaan, we want to share with you, our brother, why it is that you feel at home with each of us--we all knew each other before.  That is God's Plan of Happiness, and we are here to help each of us make it back home."

What a powerful experience it was as we walked up to the Christus and testified of the Savior's infinite love for each of us and His perfect plan full of promises of eternal progression and happiness.  We walked around the corner to the statues of Adam and Eve.  There, his friend Justin, bore his testimony in Portuguese.  I couldn't help but stand there and be overcome by the Spirit.  I felt that we were there teaching Ranaan with my big brother and hero, Bryan Briggs.  I know that my brother faithfully served the Lord in Brazil, and that he met people just like Ranaan that he also felt such a strong and infinite love for.  I pictured my brother walking the streets of Brazil.  Maybe Ranaan was even someone my brother had waved to or had invited to church, and now here we all stood together, inviting him to follow Christ and to be baptized.  He said yes.

As I bore my testimony in Portuguese, I thought of the love I have for my Father in Heaven.  As I saw the way He so powerfully prepared each of us to teach and help Ranaan, I thought of every person He has brought into my life--my family, my companions, the people I have met and taught on my mission--God is perfect, His plan for each of us is perfect.

I am reminded of a quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson, who spoke about the placement of the star--the sign of the birth of Christ, and the perfect planning that went into having all things aligned for the welcoming of the Savior into the world.

"At the birth of Him who once identified Himself as the “bright and morning star”, a new star appeared in the heavens. Shining brightly over Bethlehem, that star had been placed in orbit far in advance of the foretold event in order that its light could coincide in time and place with His blessed birth."

I testify with all my  heart, might, mind and strength, that the people around you are just as this star--they have been placed in your life at this very time as a witness to you that God lives, that He is there, that He knows your needs and wants to help each of us make it back home. 


As we look at this picture below, remember the words of Alma,
"...Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God?  Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 30:44)

I testify with all my  heart, might, mind and strength, that the people around you are just as this star--they have been placed in your life at this very time as a witness to you that God lives, that He is there, that He knows your needs and wants to help each of us make it back home. Look up to the stars--whether you are in Brazil or at Temple Square, they are there, and they will testify that God and our Savior are there as well.  Know that you are each someone promised to those around you--serve and love them, and help them to know just how special and magnificent they are.

I love each of you!
Love Always,
Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISTER SIEGLE!!!!! Jess Helms, Sister Opeda, Jacque, Amber, Ashley, Sister Clegg, Sister Pickerell, Mom & Dad, Case & Bry, Robert Donakey, the Donakey family, Grandma Jeanie & Grandfather (Thanks for always being there for me!)