Friday, May 9, 2014

Jerrell the Lamanite

 Sister Gearheart and I after our miracle day with Jerrell..we too couldn't help but smile,
and it all started with faith!

Happy Mother's Day this upcoming Sunday to all the mother's to be and the mothers in the world! I want to express my gratitude for my own mother, Cindy Briggs, and for the mother figures I have had in my life.  As a missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square mission, the only mission in the entire world that only calls Sisters, I have experienced daily the influence of righteous women.  They are around the world as a light to the nations that all may find their Savior. I think of the righteous woman Mary must have been to become the mother of the Savior of the world.  I thank her for her example and that she taught with love.  Most importantly, I know she taught by the spirit, teaching that which was put into her mind and heart to say.  It is through this spirit which she carried and relied on that our Savior was able to thin the veil placed on his memory and remember the divine role which He has in the lives of all mankind. I can imagine our Savior at his Mary's feet as He admirably served her and loved her.

As the Savior may have sat at the feet of Mary, she experienced wonder and awe seeing before her the Son of God. Now, at the feet of our Savior we experience the hope of eternity. At the feet of the Savior is where we may be taught by the same spirit that He Himself was taught by as a child, and that He further taught to all mankind during His mortal ministry.

Just yesterday, Jerrell saw that when he sat at the feet of His Savior just over 1 week ago, he was really taking a step towards feeling this hope of eternity.  Just yesterday, Jerrell experienced that Christ's role is so much more than just a standing and waiting Savior with open arms as may appear at the Christus statue at Temple Square, but that His role is an active, engaged, beckoning one that is all inclusive, and that even more personally, it includes him and his family.

Sister Gearheart and I were so blessed to be able to meet Jerrell up at the Christus yesterday and to teach them here at Temple Square.  Jerrell had an amazing experience with his first time at church this past Sunday.  This amazing, 28-year-old man, followed the promptings of the Spirit to leave the dangerous situation where he was and to take his family with him to Utah.  After many struggles here and feeling as though he has taken many unguided steps in the dark, he expressed that at church is where he finally felt he had come home.
There in front of the Christus statue we gave him his own copy of The Book of Mormon.  The smile that came across was completely indescribable.  It was a living testimony of one of my favorite quotes from one of our living Apostles of our Savior Jesus Christ
"In a world ever more dangerous...the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ has the nourishing power to heal starving spirits of the world." (President Boyd K. Packer).

As we walked down to the basement of the North Visitor's Center, I watched Jerrell hold onto The Book of Mormon like it was the key to his protection. Jerrell really has been in some dangerous situations with his two young children.  He has been ridiculed, chased after and left frightened for his children and for himself.  He often dreads sending his kids away to school for fear of what may come. We repeatedly promised him as representatives of Jesus Christ that him and his family would be kept safe as they lived the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our member with us, Claudia, one of his good friends, shared with us that she is always testifying of that to Jerrell as well, that she has never felt something so powerfully about anyone; we all could feel that he would always be kept safe, but he hadn't received that witness yet for himself. Fear still lingered.

He held The Book of Mormon in his hands ever so carefully, and his love for it grew as his understanding of it developed.  Down in the basement among the powerful visuals of ancient prophets such as Noah, Moses and Abraham, as well as prominent visuals of Jesus Christ we saw his eyes open wide with fervent attention to every word and everything around him.

"Jerrell, when our Savior was crucified and the Apostles were killed, the fulness of His gospel was mixed throughout time," we said. "His truth was scattered through out the world, and people walked in darkness looking for that priesthood power which was once here, but which was taken away." As we explained the Great Apostasy, a feeling of sadness overcame him.  More than anyone I have met, he has felt the anxiety of searching for something without knowing where to look.  He has felt the hole of wanting for what was not fully there. As we then explained the Restoration, a light literally went off inside his eyes; his whole countenance changed.

We LOVE living with Sister Lunndahl (Denmark) and Sister Wu (mainland China)
When Sister Gearheart recited the first vision, a profound spirit entered our lesson.  There was silence, a deep breath, and then the first words from Jerrell, "Wow. I found it."

We talked about The Book of Mormon and how it would strengthen the spirit he now felt and continually testify to him that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith was called as His latter-day prophet to restore that which was lost for so long. He looked at The Book of Mormon with such an anxiousness to open and start.  The prompting came to me, "tell him to just open The Book of Mormon, there's something on that page he needs to hear."  Our amazing member who was there for the lesson started to share her testimony of The Book of Mormon.

The spirit pounded on my heart once more as she said, "I can't tell you how many times I've just opened this book, and exactly what I needed to hear was right on that page."

The prompting came again, "Sister Briggs, trust me, and trust his faith.  Tell him to open his book and look."
Taking a deep breath and with faith in the Lord, "Jerrell," I started, "We know that if you open your copy of The Book of Mormon right now, there is something the Lord wants to say to you.  He hears your prayers and wants to know it for yourself."

Without hesitation Jerrell opened his copy of The Book of Mormon and started to read.  He told us the page and immediately as we opened up to it, a verse beamed from the page.
"Jerrell, look at verse 2 in chapter 16 of Helaman," we said. Slowly, we read the words of God's inspired message to him.  Brothers and Sisters, think about Jerrell's situation as you read this verse. The verse talks about the boldness of Samuel the Lamanite as he preached from on top of a great wall in the midst of a city and was threatened by many.

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

Tears filled Jerrells eyes.  The Spirit that penetrated each of our hearts made us each look heavenward for a moment to thank God for the way He so diligently directs our lives. The fear that once lingered in the Jerrell's heart was now taken away through His Savior and through the powerful message from His loving Heavenly Father.

"I've never seen you smile so much,Jerrell," Claudia said.

"I've never felt so much," Jerrell responded.

I will forever remember this scripture every time I look at Jerrell, every time I look at someone who fears, and every time I first meet someone at their Savior's feet here at Temple Square.  Our future is bright when we let the Holy Ghost lead us to the messages God would have us hear.

Jerrell left Temple Square that day with a power that could only come from knowing he was so much more than just a man, he was Jerrell the Lamanite, and God would not allow him to be harmed as he continued on this path.

Jerrell, our Lamanite, will be baptized May 24th by the Priesthood Authority of God and he will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Now every day, he may smile with the love he feels and the hope he has found.
I invite you all to follow the whisperings of the spirit this week.  Pay attention to them, and you will feel just how much God pays attention to you.

Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: April & Hunter (are you keeping your commitments? haha we love you!), Mom & Dad, Brother & Sister Donakey, Barry, Mary, Becca, Robert Donakey (happy birthday this week! I love you!), Brother & Sister Gilbert (it was so nice to see you! Seth-I hope the wedding was fun! Kelly & Taylor-miss you, Reagan--have fun in China!), Sister Lin

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