Monday, January 27, 2014

The Courage to have Faith

I love my companions!
(Kelsey serves with 2 other Sister missionaries in the Reno area for her 3 month time away from Temple Square - They live, teach, travel & study together) 
Hello again everyone! This last week I hit my 8 month mark serving as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I witnessed miracles.  I hope that throughout all of my experiences that you have taken note, that whenever I write the word miracles that the miracle is always someone not something. and I...every single person you see...we are most important to our Heavenly Father.  This week Morgan was really our miracle.

Morgan is just one of my favorite people.  He reminds me of a much more hyper version of my own Dad...probably why I love him so much :) He is big into fishing and we even have our own signal that we give to each other of us reeling in a fish.  We have been meeting with Morgan for a couple of weeks now, and this week we were really able to see a whole other side to our dear friend.

We meet with Morgan about 3 times every week and he never fails to come to church.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday we meet with him in the back of the McGregor Inn.  We bundle up in our warmest clothes and although we are surrounded by drinking, smoking, yelling and really everything you could imagine, we have seen the light come on in Morgan's life..especially this week.
at the mission office :)
Morgan has been struggling with his faith.  I sat across from this dear friend of ours, and thought of how much I just wanted to see his happiness.  I thought of the homeless shelters he has been in and out of, I thought of his parents who seemed to just leave him without any aid, I thought of the times he pleaded to know God and felt he had never received any answer.  I wanted him to have hope, I wanted him to have the courage to have faith without feeling that it too would abandon him as all else had before.

"Morgan, what do you have faith in?" I asked.

After some moments of silence he looked up after having been laying his head on the table to say, "I have faith in me."

I thought about how powerful that was, to have faith in oneself really gives us to have courage to have faith in the best man this world has ever known, our Savior Jesus Christ. There is no true confidence in ourselves unless there is confidence first in Christ.  As we internalize His very character, we will become like Him and find that firm faith and confidence in ourselves as God's children on this earth.

We can have the courage to have faith in Christ because of the person He is and always will be.  With Morgan I saw how many times he had felt let down, how many times he had felt betrayed and belittled.  When we come to know our Savior Jesus Christ, we come to see we have no need to reserve or hold back any faith in Him.

In the Bible Dictionary it says under "faith"...

"To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone.  The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation."

Just like Morgan, we all need to come to know our Savior Jesus Christ, to know that we can fully depend on Him, to really truly come to have stronger faith in ourselves as well.  As we become like Him, what can cause us to falter?  As we become like Him, what can cause us to fear?  There is a reason the scriptures tell us that He is the light of the world.  There is a reason we are told in the scriptures to be a be like have the courage to have faith in one much greater than us all.

I know and testify that such courage, such powerful and illuminating faith comes from coming to know your Savior.  I testify as His personal representative that The Book of Mormon is the miracle that all of us are looking for to strengthen our faith.

The Book of Mormon is divine evidence of the power of Christ.

Think about that.  The Book of Momron is evidence from God above of the power of Christ and His Atonement.  Of the power of our Savior's love, of the power of coming to have courage to have faith in Him. 
The Temple Square Sisters :)
I invite you all to read from The Book of Mormon and to have the courage to have faith.  It has given myself and Morgan more courage than I can explain.  I have seen Morgan change in these few weeks.  There is a tangible essence to the light that is about him, and I know it all started from his courage to have faith.

I testify to each and every one of you that Jesus Christ is the son of the living God.  I testify that He is our advocate, He is our friend, He is the one who pleads on our behalf.  I know we lived with God before we came here, and that gives me the courage to have faith.

I love you all :)

Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, All the Briggs family, Robert Donakey, the Donakey family, The King family and Sister King, Nicky Lin, Octavia Olden, Ariel Ibarra and Tori Thomas! :)

Special Message to my family:   I received the call from the mission President yesterday afternoon shortly after church about Papa Jim and your experience.  Please know that you are all in my prayers, and that I know with a surety that Papa Jim is okay, just like it says in Ether it :)  I am grateful you were all able to be there.  I love our family very much and pray each day that I am away from you that we all are able to grow together.  Please let me know what I can do to help the family or anyone at this time and please know how much I truly love Papa Jim.  He always cared for each of us and I know he always did the best he could to show us.  I love you all :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Letter from Dad

 With Sister Baines right after we found out she was being transferred to ELY! I learned so much from her in our few days and miss her already!
With my parents anniversary this week, I want to start by just expressing my love and gratitude to them.  Mom & Dad--thank you for being the amazing people you are.  Thank you for supporting me as I have voluntarily left your side for these 18 months.  Thank you for your letters of encouragement, for your prayers and for your most sincere wishes for my happiness.  With your anniversary quickly approaching, I have thought a lot about how my mission has brought me closer to my Heavenly Parents.  They say that Heavenly Father loves us even more than our earthly parents do...and with parents like you, that is hard for me to imagine.  However, my faith is strong and I have been able to witness this last week not only how much God loves me, but how much He loves all His children--this I know to be true, God lives, and He is our Father.

David N. Hermansen & Sister Hermansen
President, Nevada Reno Mission
God's love is infinite, His love is perfect, and in the words of our Prophet Thomas S. Monson, "it is simply always there."  It is so much easier to make Him happy, to make Him the proud Father we want Him to be, when we know what He expects of us. Just as with my parents, I asked them what they expected of me, and they let me know.  Our Heavenly Father has given us each a letter from home and to know what He expects of us. This letter is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and you can read of it in The Book of Mormon, you can hear it in the words of the latter-day prophets, and you can learn of it from the 90,000 missionaries around the world.  How lost I would have felt if my parents remained silent as I tried and tried to make them proud.  How confused I would be.  I testify to you that God is not silent.  Go to Him and ask what would make Him proud, Go to Him and ask what will make Him happy, and you will find those very steps in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now we have another new companion! Her name is Sister Green and we adore her!
This last week we experienced a miracle with one of our investigator families as they chose to read their personal letter from their Heavenly Father.  As they have read in The Book of Mormon, as they have learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ, their desire to make God proud has replaced everything else. 

Wes & Caitlyn live in a bit of a dangerous part of Reno with their 5 month old son and two girls.  When we visited with them last week. They were opening up a bottle of wine and hollered, "can you girls drink wine?"  Well, we ended up teaching them about The Word of Wisdom and committed them to start living it that night.  That meant even forgoing the bottle of wine they had just opened. When we came back to see them we were curious as to what they would have done with the bottle of wine.  When we came into the home, Caitlyn had a new light in her eyes as she told us that they had opened the bottle of wine, poured glasses....and then dumped all of it down the drain.  They are now looking for people they can give their remaining bottles of wine too.  I could feel the spirit so powerfully, so strongly.  I know that Heavenly Father was proud of them, and is proud of them each day as they adhere to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as they follow the counsel given in their personal letter from their Father.

We had an extremely powerful lesson with them.  We truly saw the hand of God prepare us to be in their home at the very time that it was needful.  We had an appointment with another investigator, but when we went to visit him, he said he would have to reschedule.  As a companionship we went into the car and all prayed as to what we should do. The phone rang--it was Wes saying that him and Caitlyn would love for us to come over and teach them while her Uncle was in town...who also was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wes & Caitlyn astonished us with their faith.  As we read from The Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost completely filled the small kitchen in downtown Reno, Nevada.

Together we read from Mosiah 24:14,15 which reads,  "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

There was a stillness in the room and the spirit testified of the truthfulness of this. 

"Wes, what would you do to have this kind of promise from the Lord in your life? To have confidence that He will strengthen you to bear up your burdens with ease?"  I asked.

After a short moment he replied, "Sister Briggs, I would give anything.  I would commit my whole heart."  Looking over to his wife Caitlyn, she nodded and shared the very same thing.
Kelsey with her trainers in Reno

I testified to them that God knew that His children would feel this way.  He gave us a Savior to show us how to make covenants with our Father in Heaven.  When we make these covenants, God is bound to His promise as we do our part.

We invited them to be baptized by the restored Priesthood authority of God and they both accepted.  Tears streamed down my face as I looked over to Wes, his hands outstretched holding The Book of Mormon, his arms covered in tattoos and him and his wife making plans to be sealed in the temple as a family.  Both Wes & Caitlyn came from broken families that had left them with broken hearts that were now being visibly healed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Such a fun experience to be able to have dinner at a friend's house as a missionary.  Thank you Christensens!

Will you each read 2 Nephi 31 this week?  I promise you that there is no better feeling that making your Father in Heaven happy and making Him proud.  Listen to His words, be His child.

In the words of my Mom, "life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful..." and I would add..."it just needs to be in God's hands."

I love you all :)

Sister Briggs
You can go to this blog to see updates about the mission.

SHOUTOUTS: Mom & Dad, Sister Humble, Andrew Lindsay, Robert Donakey, Mary, Barry, Sara, Becca, Brother & Sister Donakey

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CTR: Called To Reno :)

CTR: Called TReno :)
I got to announce my last Sunday at temple square! So fun! :)
Hello Hello everyone! It has been such a long while since I have been able to write, and so many beautiful changes have taken place.  I have received a second mission call, one that has been prayed over by the missionary department, and an Apostle of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...I have been assigned to labor in the Reno Nevada Mission!

Got my approval stamp from the mission presidency...I was officially checked out of Temple Square! See you in April :)
I am now in a trio with two AMAZING Sisters.  They are Sister Baines from Idaho and Sister Pickerell from Colorado.  We are getting right into the work and are seeing miracles every single day.  I wouldn't change this time for anything and feel privileged to serve here and to learn from the examples of disciples around me.
If anyone is reading this who recently received a mission call or is thinking about going on a mission but scared about where they will go, know this--it is in the Lord's hands. We know that God knows everything, and that includes YOU.  More than anything, God knows His children. His whole purpose is to bring about their immortality and eternal life.  So know that your mission call is one He takes very seriously and it is meant for you.  Love having that honor of being prayed about and sent exactly where the Lord needs you.
Sister Nakayama and I on our flight to Reno! We handed out a pass along card and invited her to meet with missionaries...thank you Heavenly Father :)
I am loving Reno so far! I am serving right in the heart of downtown Reno.  Have you ever seen the sign with the arch that says "The biggest little city in the world"?  That goes right down the center of our mission.  In the 6 days that I have spent here already, my testimony has grown so rapidly and so firmly of the commandments of God.
Here in Reno we meet so many people who are tangled up in addictions of gambling, drinking and smoking.  I have met people whose lives revolve around when they can take their next drink or smoke their next cigarette.  I have seen the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon when we are taught that wickedness never was happiness, and my solemn witness needs to be heard that I have grown to know that the rules that we follow as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren't rules of man, but they are commandments from God.
Those who come closer to Christ and God through their full gospel will naturally have a desire to give up such substances without even being invited by missionaries to do so--such is the story of Tammy.  Tammy was a referral we received just this Friday.  Tammy has been kicked out of her apartment and now is staying at a homless shelter which she calls "the pit."  She asked for missionaries to come see her because her best friend Walter is being baptized a member of the church and she wants what he has.  She said that she has never seen someone go through such a drastic change as she has seen Walter.  A member of the ward drove over to see Tammy with us at the shelter on Saturday, and picked her up to come to Walter's baptism.  Tammy was so excited.  There was a free, beautifully prepared meal being served to those in the shelter that night, but Tammy had declined because she was so nervous she'd be stuck in line and miss us to come and see Walter be baptized.
I sat with Tammy at the baptism and with tears in her eyes she leaned over to me and said, "when can I be baptized Sister Briggs?  Please tell me it will be soon."  I just grabbed her hand, told her to look at her friend Walter, and to look into his eyes.
"What do you see in his eyes Tammy?" I asked her.
"Light," she said. "The strongest light I've ever seen."
"Tammy, when you are baptized, you become a daughter of Christ, you take His name upon you, and His light becomes your light.  Yes, Tammy, you can and you will be baptized a member of Christ's true church on the earth today."
Tammy has been drinking since she was 12...her addiction, is gone, her desire to sin is dissolved.  She came to church with us yesterday and heard us speak in the ward to introduce ourselves.
Brothers and Sisters, the world teaches us to go along with the ways of the world.  If this church were the church of man, sure we'd be okay with drinking, with smoking, with gambling, with everything that the world makes to look appealing.  But let me tell you, this is no ordinary church.  This is not just another building to visit on Sunday, this is not just a group of friends to hang out with.  This is the true gospel of your Savior Jesus Christ, and because of this, we give our love to Him, and not to the world.  I know that in keeping the commandments of God, we learn the truthfulness of it by experience.  Don't justify your actions and say, "that's just the way I am."  Since when was mankind ever content with remaining the same?  YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. In coming to this earth, you chose to come here because you never wanted to be stuck the same, you wanted to change, you wanted to progress, and unless we keep the commandments of God we will never find that peace and joy that we look for elsewhere.  This is my promise to you.
"Yea, I say unto you my son, (my family, my friends, anyone reading this e-mail), that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains.  Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." (Alma 36: 21)
When we put God first, when we put Christ first, we are saved from that frustration that comes from not living up to the goals we once set for ourselves in the premortal existence. When we live the principles of their gospel, we cannot even begin to express our joy. I have never been so certain of this as I have been with my first few days in Reno.

I know my Savior lives, I know He loves us and I know that He is involved in your life. Ignoring Him is to see happiness and to turn around and walk will never get you anywhere.
I love you all and am grateful for all your love and support! Know that this is true! Enjoy each day and know that there is no limit on the joy you can feel when you trust in God.
I invite you all to read Alma 36 and to learn from the words of our ancestors that the best comes from our Savior.  There is hope ahead, keep walking, and never give up :)
Sister Briggs
SHOUTOUTS:  Of course I come all the way to Reno and yet one of my very good friends from BYU is in my ward here..she's coming out to teach a lesson with us on Wednesday! Yay Kelsey Christensen! Also, so good to see Bryan and Casey :)  Mom and Dad, The Donakeys, Robert Donakey, Caroline Slater, Grandma Jeanie, Grace Collins, Erica Owens, Ariel Ibarra, Brian Burton :)
Sister Lin's mom came to pick her up to take her home! How I miss her!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Kelsey's Outbound Mission will be.... the Reno, Nevada Mission, crossing into California, Utah, Idaho & Oregon.  She leaves on Wednesday, January 8 and returns to Temple Square on April 2, just in time for Conference. 
She's very happy to be heading outbound -  it is pretty quiet now at Temple Square now that Christmas and the Holiday Season is over. We hope to get an update next Monday.  (Blogmom)   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Why Me?

With Sister Sorto...we both found out last night we will be going OUTBOUND!
Who knows where we will be, but we are excited :)
(Outbound can be anywhere in the US.  The Temple Square missionaries spend 3 months away from Temple Square serving in the Mission Field - Any guesses anyone?  We'll announce on her blog as soon as we hear - Blogmom)
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope that you all had a safe New Year's Eve and that you are excited for all that 2014 holds for you. Build upon the good that you had, and root out the things that may have been holding you back from who you truly are as a son or daughter of God. 

"Old things are done away, and all things have become new." (3 Nephi 12:47)

So often it is easy for us to look back at the year and think "Why me?" with some of the difficult circumstances we may have been under, but do we ever look back at the good that has happened to us and ask the same question. "Why me?" This is a question that Robert and Stephanie started thinking about this last week.

On Monday I was serving in the Tabernacle and met some amazing families from all around the world.  One of them being a father and his daughter, Robert and Stephanie, from Thailand. I got to know them and had so much fun hearing their stories.  They had come to Temple Square because a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints served in his area in Thailand years and years ago.  Him and his daughter were now sitting and waiting in the Tabernacle, to be reunited with this long, lost friend.

I could tell Robert and his daughter had a very special relationship.  I could see the trust there, I could see how much they cared for each other, and they seemed to grateful to be spending the day together.  Stephanie shared that it was the best Christmas gift to be with her Dad, as currently she is living in Los Angeles, while her Dad works in Thailand.

I asked them what they have been doing to keep their family relationship strong as they are miles and miles away from one another. 

Robert shared, "We skype a lot! Communication is the most important thing! Plus my daughter gave me a lot of different pictures and gifts to put around my home so I can always remember our family.  It doesn't seem we're so far away when we talk so often."

I started to share with them and testify to them that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and He is the very same way.  He wants to communicate with us, He wants to help us remember Him, and He does this all out of His deep and abiding love for each of us.

Robert asked, "But why would He want to talk to me?  Why am I important? Why me?"

I then smiled at him, looked him in the eyes and said, "Why do you want to talk to your daughter?  Why is she important?"

I could see His eyes light up, I could see the wheels turning in his mind as He came to realize just who He was to God.

"I guess God sees me the same way I see Stephanie.  I had never thought about it that way. Now I just feel amazed that I am that important to someone so grand, to God above."

I encourage you to ask yourselves with this new year, "Why me?" to the good things that happen in your life.  As you do so you will start to realize, "Who am I not to enjoy these blessings?  Who am I not to be loved?  I am a son, I am a daughter, I am a child of God."
As we realize who we really are, that everything is a natural result of who we are and where we really come from, As we ask "why me?"  we will start to be astounded and astonished by just how much potential we have, and just how important we are to our Father's plan.
I love the popular primary hymn, "I am a Child of God," and the powerful message it has to share about who we really are, and where we came from.  The chorus goes...

"Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,  
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday."
I know and testify that all we learn all we need to do, we will become all we need to become to live with him someday.  Why you?  Why should you live with Him again some day?  Why does He want to talk to you?  Why not?  YOU are His Child.
With your faith in Christ, with your faith in His Atonement, I invite you to make resolutions this year that will restore you to your knowledge of who you are, so that you can become who God wants you to become.

I love you all and wish you the very best!!!
Sister Briggs :)
SHOUTOUTS: Robert Versaw, Madeleine & Kate, Marnie & Jeremy, The Roberts Family, The Stephenson Family, Alyssa Stromberg, Mom & Dad Briggs, Robert, Sara, Mary, Becca, Barry, Brother & Sister Donakey.

Our mission spoiled us SO much with gifts for Christmas! Thank you to all the wards and stakes who participated! We love you!

I love our mission President! Merry Christmas from the Gillettes!

With my lovely Sister Friend Sister Tiritilli, she is such a powerful missionary!
(Thank you Makelle and Austin for my elephant pants!