Monday, March 10, 2014

Endure to the "N"


 I truly feel humbled as I sit here and type up this e-mail from our complex offices in Reno, Nevada. How is it that I will be returning to Temple Square so soon?  How is it that in just this short amount of time my heart hasn't been split between the two missions, rather it has simply grown to accomadate a deeper love for both places.  I feel a gratitude for my Heavenly Father that He has allowed me to serve in two totally different areas, not as myself, but as a representative of His Only Begotten Son.

Just starting our Hike to the "N"
I have so enjoyed being here in Reno and learning from my fellow missionaries.  I feel amazed as I learn about the sacrifices that have been so readily given to be here.  I feel inspired as I see the growth that occurs in each of us week by week.  I feel loved that my Heavenly Father has allowed me to be surrounded by such dedicated servants of Him. This last preparation day, I especially got to learn more about my fellow missionaries in a way that gave me a whole new insight into the rest of this past week.
On our last preparation day our Zone had an activity to hike to the "N" on the hillside. The "N" is made out of large white rocks and is on the hillside to represent University of Nevada Reno that is here in our area. There is a "Y" up on the mountains next to BYU...yet ironically, I hiked to the "N" before I hiked to the "Y".  Please forgive me fellow BYU friends :)
All so happy we made it to the top! I love my beautiful companions!
The hike was short, yet at times it seemed long.  There were rivers to cross, trees to climb, and steep hills to trek up.  There were thickets to avoid, slippery gravel amongst the large grounded rocks and cold wind in the air, but all the while I could see where I was going...I could see the "N" up above and knew we could do it.
Haven't we all felt this way at times?  Haven't we all wanted to be able to see where we are going? We may not remember our time with God before we came here, but we can with a surety look up with faith to be able to know where we are heading.
Yes, and we endure to the "N" even with our funny Elders telling us to run the whole time
Earlier this week we had a powerful lesson with two men who are both climbing their own mountains in life.  Jess is in his late 20s, is covered with tattoos of gang symbols and slander, is a former prisoner of the local jail and is trying to just leave it all behind to move forward.  Brother Dale Hall is a returning member who was less active in the church for the last 20 years who struggles with forgiving himself and the great importance of accepting the forgiveness of one much greater than us all.  The five of us sat in a room and discussed Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation for His children.  It is His grand plan of true and deep happiness that He would have each of His children know. 
As we discussed the three kingdoms of glory we asked, "Which kingdom do you want to go to?"
They both in unison responded, "The highest!"
 Sitting at the "N"--it was completely worth every step :)
Jess and Brother Hall both looked at each other.  It seemed to me as if they saw a little bit of each other in the opposite person's eyes.  Jess could look into Brother Hall and see who he had the potential to become like.  He could see someone who was showing him it could be done.  Brother Hall looked into Jess and saw the road he was possibly heading down.  His eyes beamed as he realized just how truly far he really has come.
The spirit filled the room and we all sat there in silence, feeling of our father in Heaven's love for each of us and the reality of this perfect plan.  I then felt prompted to turn to Ether 12:4.
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."
The silence continued as new thoughts formulated in my mind.  I read this scripture in a way that I had never thought of before, because it was in a way that God specifically need his two sons to hear it.

Look! Both missions on one map..Salt Lake City AND Reno!
"Jess, what is the first thing you do when you are about to set places at the dinner table?" I asked.
"You gotta know how many people are going to be there so you know how many places to put," he responded.
A moments hesitation and then I read part of the scripture again, "...Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God..."
The spirit sunk in and we all learned together the profound meaning of the words contained in this inspired scripture.
"It doesn't just say 'even at the right hand of God', it says 'even a place'. Jess, Brother Hall, there is a place for each of us at the right hand of God," I said.  "There is a place because you are expected to be there. You don't set a place for someone you don't expect to come.  Your Heavenly Father, your Savior Jesus Christ have set a place for you in their kingdom because everything is in your favor for you to make it there."
I felt so humbled to be an instrument in God's hands to deliver that message not only to them, but to us missionaries in the room as well.  I had never really thought of it that way before, but it changed the way I viewed everyone the rest of the week.  Each of us are sent here to succeed.  We are sent here to endure to the end where we will one day rest with God, even at His right hand.
We all left that room with a fixed determination to endure to the end.  We could better visualize the futurue ahead.  We could better feel our Savior's love for us walking along beside us to get there.  Our vision no longer included the rivers to jump across, the thickets to avoid, the slippery gravel amongst the large grounded rocks and cold wind in the air, rather it was our Savior standing by our side.  It was not him beckoning us at the "N" or at the end, but it was Him taking every step first to lead the way.
Did the winds of the week cease?  No.  Did the fallen through appointments, the rejections and the oppositions go away? Not quite :) but we each knew that we were standing shoulder to shoulder with the best man this world has ever known.
The Savior teaches us this very principle of enduring to the end in an account in the New Testament, where He bids His Apostle Peter to walk out to Him. Peter waivers and falls as he sees the fearsome waves surrounding him, but step by step, hand in hand, they made it back to the safety of the ship.
"And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased." (Matthew 14:32)
This verse teaches us so profoundly that as our Savior walks by us, the winds won't cease, but as we walk with Him they will cease when we make it there together. And make it there together we all will, for there is a place prepared :)
With my favorite Kroshus at the temple! I will miss them so very much when I go back to Temple Square.  Sister Kroshus is like a sister to me :)
I love you all so very much and feel humbled with sincere gratitude for your letters of support and encouragement.  I pray for all of you every day and feel blessed to be included in your different paths of enduring to that place which God has prepared for us all.  He expects you to be there, expect yourself to be there as well :)
Sister Briggs
SHOUTOUS: Grandma Jeanie and Grandfather, Makelle, Sister Green, Nikky Lin, Grandmother, Mom & Dad, Sister Kroshus (haha I told you I would put you on here!), Brother & Sister Donakey, Mary, Sara, Barry, Robert Donakey, Ashley Solosko :)

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