Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Elmer, like the glue!

Reunited with my companion Sister Opeda! Aww what joy!
Whew, I have never felt my heart so big and so full.  I think back to the children I've been able to serve amongst through out my mission and what they may say with the way I am feeling right now. I think of a little girl we worked with outbound that shared that "the love we feel in our hearts is the same feeling we get when we drink hot chocolate and it goes down to our tummies, and then we get a big smile because we get to all the marshmallows at the bottom!" I love the way that kids are able to take something so big, so powerful, so pure, and to turn it into something that they can understand, and that brings them joy.  I love the way that God has created His perfect gospel to be in a way that any one of us can understand it, with a humble heart and a sincere desire. This week, my mind has been enlightened by the scriptures, and simplified by the perspectives the children around us may have. I am doing all I can to become as a child as I come closer to Christ, and I have felt more and more of His love by doing so.

Jerrel went to the temple to do baptisms for his first time, and it was the most special experience to be there to be a part of that with him.  As we stood in the hallway of the temple he said, "I just gave them all a second chance, and I know how important second chances are." He loves his Savior, and has taught me the same

When we decide to come unto Christ as a child, we recognize that we have wounds that need healing.  With physical wounds, we often think that we can overlook them and all will be well.   If you are like me, and have a fear of the doctor, you may postpone getting help for fear of the pain that will follow, only to see that a doctor's intent is to heal and to prevent further injuries from occurring. I wonder if we can be the same way with our spiritual wounds.  Do we overlook them thinking they will heal on their own?  Do we fear our doctor, our Savior, and if so how do we overcome this fear?  How do we come unto Him with trust that He will help?

This past week, Sister McQueen and I were blessed with the opportunity to teach with the missionaries about the importance of listening.  How important it is to listen to what others around us are saying, as well as what the spirit is saying.  When we listen, we then can be taught by the Spirit what wounds need healing.  I love this verse of scripture we came across--

"And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul."

Brothers and Sisters, we need to have trust that the gospel of Jesus Christ will not just bandage our wounds, but it will literally heal them. Listen to the prayers that we offer, how can we turn to the words of God to let Him heal them?
I was thinking a lot about healing and listening this week as Sister McQueen and I were preparing for Zone Conference.  Thursday night after our last Zone Conference, as Sister McQueen and I came together to plan for the next day, as we discussed our exercise plans, it came so strongly into our minds that we needed to be in a specific place because there was someone specific that we needed to meet and talk with.  Someone we needed to bring closer to Christ so that they could be healed.  The thought came, but we couldn't picture where it was we needed to be.

With faith, the next morning as we decided to run to the track to exercise, I started to feel pain and the thought came into my mind to walk up to the State Capitol instead.  Neither of us have ever been up there to exercise, but we felt good about that decision.  Up the hill we walked to the Capitol. I then decided to run up the stairs, and upon reaching the stop I saw a man off to the side stretching.

"This is him," the spirit whispered.

Without hesitation I introduced myself.  He responded, "I'm Elmer, like the glue!"

As we stood there in our exercise clothes, I could feel my badge, bearing Christ's name over my heart.  How I love wearing His name, and representing Him.  We stood there talking, overlooking the temple, the Salt Lake valley, and the beautiful sun lighting up the sky out before us.  As we listened to him, we came to see that his introduction, though silly and simple, comparing his name to glue, it revealed something that he was looking for.  He opened up to us about his family, about his desire to know that the gospel was true, about his searching through The Book of Mormon.

"You are looking for something to connect all these individual answers together, aren't you?" we asked.

He looked at us with big eyes, and water starting to swell.  Brothers and Sisters, oftentimes, we do not know the wounds we have, until someone cares enough to listen and to help us see them.  What joy I feel to know that when they are found, whether they be wounds of my own, or of those around me, I feel confidence in the path to their healing.  I fear not my doctor of these wounds, for I trust my Savior perfectly.  I know He lives, and I know that He is the glue that will hold our healed wounds together, that we may be bound up and strengthened enough to stand. 

I testify that Joseph Smith saw God and our Savior Jesus Christ.  No man can make up a gospel that heals all who will apply the saving ordinances that have been restored through him.  I testify that The Book of Mormon is true.  It brings me solace, it brings me hope, it brings me joy and it brings me courage, for every page is filled with the light of Christ, and He is the ultimate healer and glue for each of us.  

I love you all, look out for opportunities to listen and to heal! That is when we are not only instruments in God's hands, but instrumental in His behalf.

Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: Sister Olden, Sister Opeda, Sister Bahr, Sister Takahashi, Jess, Grandma Jeanie, Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Chance Robertson, Elder Huntington, Rob Versaw, Sister Siegle, Sister Nguyen, Robert Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Becca, Sara, Barry, Liz & Leish

So good to see Elder Robertson again from the MTC! Welcome home!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Take your parachute when you skydive!

Wonderful and amazing Jacque Sweeny bought Sister McQueen and I our own missionary plaques with "The Fellowship of the Unashamed" engraved on it.  Love her so very much

Ah! My heart is just over flowing with joy at this moment.  I am surrounded by family from all around the world each and every day, and I am amazed by their commitment to serve the Lord despite struggles that hit them from every corner.  They are truly unfailing in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so very excited for our Zone Conference this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday.  Sister McQueen and I have spent most of our time preparing for this Conference (every missionary in our mission attends for inspiration and training on how to feel more effective in their teaching). However, I really have to say that the part I am most looking forward to is the part that Sister McQueen and I will do no planning for--a testimony meeting at the end of both sessions of the conference. 

We are surrounded by sisters from around the world, and we want the chance to hear their testimonies--not just what they know, but their personal stories and experiences of how they came to know.  I was so very humbled yesterday during Sacrament meeting as all of our Brazilian sisters stood at the front and sang, "If the Savior Stood Beside ME," in Portuguese.  I imagined the families supporting them all, the friends they said good bye to, and yet their strength and determination to serve as the Savior would serve, and where He had called them to serve. I am grateful that the Lord called us each here to the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission, where we can see that the Savior truly shares His teachings with everyone from around the world.
This last week I was blessed to see the affects of living the gospel in the lives of others.  We were able to see Jerrel and his two kids who have all been baptized in the past few months.  Jerrel is preparing to go to the temple to do baptisms for those who have passed on, and will be going this Saturday.  We are all so excited for him.  Their family means the world to me and I consider them family and some of my dearest friends.  With a big smile on his face, he told us that earlier that day he had gone skydiving for the very first time.  We were completely shocked to hear this as Jerrel is such a quiet and soft-spoken guy.  He just laughed and said he liked to do something adventurous every month.  We asked him what his favorite adventures have been this year. 

With a big smile on his face he responded, "Being baptized, and being able to baptize Madison and Oscar. Skydiving was over in an instant, but this joy builds upon itself time and time again."
Picture yourself sky diving...picture the fun that would be and the memories you would take with you. Okay, now picture you standing beside your Savior...picture seeing His eyes in yours, your countenance reflecting we understand now what Jerrel was getting at?  Nothing can compare with that.
I picture Jerrel skydiving, and I think about how grateful I am that he had a parachute to keep him safe.  I think about how that parachute can represent the very covenant we make when we are baptized.  It is not about joining a church, it is about following our Savior Jesus Christ, where ever it is He asks us to go. When we are baptized, we covenant with our Father in Heaven that we will love and serve those around us, and we are more enabled to do that as we covenant to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and to serve Him. The Book of Mormon teaches us about the importance of this covenant, and the amazing opportunity it is to us to serve our brothers and sisters all around us.

 "8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—" (mosiah 18:8-9)

Just think, as we are baptized, we make a promise that we will serve and comfort anyone we can.  We can become as the parachutes that hold up those who are taking a leap to fly.  As we each are taking steps on this journey back home to our Father in Heaven, we jump, hope to grow, and because of the covenants that others have made around us, we may always rest assured that we have a parachute to hold us up.

I know and testify that the purpose of this life is to have experiences that are for our good--sometimes these experiences are more painful than others, but they are to mold us into those who are like Jesus Christ.  Him who exemplifies every good quality we seek out. How is it we will ever be able to be like Him, unless we follow His example of bearing the burdens of those around us?  When we feel disheartened, or discouraged, we must trust that by opening ourselves up to others, we are giving them opportunities to become more like their Savior.  We are giving them opportunities to be the parachute, to be a safety net, while all the while the Savior holds on tight and shows us by example the way we are to serve.

Pray that you will be able to uplift someone this week, and I can promise you as His representative, that your joy will be full, and your relationship with the Savior will grow.  You will begin to not just have good memories, but you will begin to have your countenance reflect that of the very Savior of you and I, even Jesus Christ.

I love you all! Thank you for everything! You are all such wonderful examples to me!

Out to lunch to celebrate Sister Brook's 20th birthday today! We love Leatherby's!

Sister Briggs :)

SHOUTOUS: Jess Helm, Sister Pickerell, Sister Opeda, Sister Siegle, Ashley Solosko, Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Robert Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Sara and Mary, Grandma Jeanie, Deena Mitchell

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fake Phone Numbers & Real Joy

With my new wonderful companion and new Assistant to the President,
Sister McQueen from New Zealand! I am already learning so much!
Hi everyone! I don't know how I'll be able to really type much at this time.  I feel like a little kid at Disneyland as I write.  I feel like the happiest and most blessed girl in the world.  I am more and more fully understanding why the Lord wants us to serve as missionaries for His gospel. He really could share His message and His gospel in any way at all, but He wants us to learn by experience that God is good, He is our Father, He is compassionate and caring, He is selfless and He knows every individual. 

One last photo with Sister Ordonez before she left for home.  So very grateful for her and her family!

It's been so special this past week to look back through my time as a missionary at to see the changes that have come about.  I have a wonderful new companion named Sister McQueen, from New Zealand, and we began our missions together in the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  As three sisters left Temple Square to begin their outbound experience in Reno, Nevada, I have looked back to all of my experiences there.  I think about the people I met, the homes I entered into, and the personal relationship I developed there with God. I was able to see that it is more important to God how we live, than where we live, that it is more important how we love and serve our neighbors than anything.
I remember some of my very favorite neighbors in Reno are those people who are still bringing me such great happiness today.  Back in January, during one of my first days out tracting with Sister Pickerell, we were walking in a community just next to our apartment.  I remember we were quickly walking through the wind this early morning, when a dog barking from behind caught our attention.  Looking back there was a dog and a person emerging from a garage.  I still remember the way he rubbed his eyes and blocked out the sun, followed by the confused look on his face as his eyes reached ours.  
Saying good bye to Sister Siegle, she will change the hearts of Brazil and bring so much joy where ever she is! My transfer with her increased my understanding of the true meaning of charity.

We spoke with him, invited him to learn more.  We gave him his own copy of The Book of Mormon, and he gave us...a fake phone number.  Of course we didn't know it at the time.  We tried for so long to get in touch with him, but it never went through.  Just a month or so later, we followed up on a referral from some members in the ward.  As we walked to the area, we began to realize that it was so the home of this very same person we had met just one month earlier.
I'll never forget the look on his face when he opened the door and then quickly left.  At that time we didn't know where he was going, but he returned quickly with the very same copy of The Book of Mormon we had given him earlier, and he had been reading from it faithfully each day since we had seen him.
My time in Reno was largely affected by our relationship with this one young man, DJ, and his wonderful family.  This past Saturday, DJ was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is preparing to receive the authority from God, the Priesthood, to baptize his family members in the upcoming weeks.
Here is DJ.  His family means more to me than I can ever fully express. I have learned that this is the most real joy that we can ever experience, to have your family grow and your love deepen through the Savior's infinite Atonement. 

Never did I know that such pure and infinite and real joy could come from receiving a fake phone number.  I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures in The Book of Mormon when I think of this miracle that we have been blessed to be a part of,

"Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men." (Ether 3:5).
Each day, how many moments must we each look pass, thinking that it is too small to be anything of significance.  If anything, the small moments should teach us that we ourselves are of great significance to the Lord.  He waits not for a holiday to celebrate that we are His children, but reminds us every day in the most powerful ways. As I think over all of my experiences with DJ and his family, I truly do stand all amazed that the littlest of things has turned into remarkable joy and steps on the path toward eternal life.  
Saying good bye to Sister Taylor, when she returns from her outbound in Virginia, I'll already be home! She will be amazing where ever she is called to serve, and I am better for having served with her.
I know this gospel to be true.  I know that God teaches us about His Son each and every day, and that it is often through other people.  I know that good can always come out of every situation, if we will have the faith to press onward.  I love being a full-time missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ.  His love for each of you really is over powering, and I hope that we can each look for ways that He is trying to remind us of that each day. 
I love you all! Thank you for everything!
Love Always,
Sister Briggs

SHOUTOUTS: Rob Versaw, Jessica Helms, Sister Lin, Sister Ordoñez (i hope you made it home safely!), Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Robert Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Sara, Mary and Becca, Ashley Solosko, Ben Wright (sorry I missed you here the other day!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Power in another week.

We found a picture of a little girl with Christ, and the little girl looked just like her, and she was so excited! She said, "How did my hand get put in His hand! It was my baptism wasn't it?!"

It's been another week in the mission field, the time is short and it is so important.  I think about our Savior's earthly ministry--it was three years long--yet it wasn't just those three years that mattered, it was every deed He ever did, every thought He ever had, every response He ever gave.  Our missions may be 18 months or two years, but they are packed full with learning and growth at the Savior's feet.  Know that He lives, know that He cares and know that He is doing His best to give you all you need to be happy in this life, to find peace, to find answers, to live with Him eternally, to start anew and to begin again through making covenants with Him.

It's been another week in the mission field, the sisters are amazing and they are excited.  20 sisters will be leaving us to go to their outbound mission experience.  I've been shedding more tears then often, knowing that when these sisters return, I will already be home--one of them includes wonderful and adorable Sister Taylor; the sister I "trained" before leaving for my outbound experience in Reno. My companion Sister Ordoñez will be leaving for home tomorrow night at 11pm to go back to Honduras, and on Wednesday, my beloved companion, Sister Siegle will be leaving for home due to medical concerns.  There is excitement in my heart for each of them, for the different joys that lie ahead as well as for the struggles.  I can't imagine life without struggles--they have become so beautiful to me.  If I never were to struggle, how would I notice the angels all around me? We cannot really look for God and say He has never answered my prayers if we do not come to Him with questions.
Another picture is with my dear sister Jackie! She is a miracle!
It's been another week in the mission field, and my love for my Savior grows.  I see the way He so perfectly loves each of these sisters around me, these angels that have changed my life so dramatically through the Spirit which they carry.  I know that whatever lies ahead for them, they are never alone.  My love for my Savior has grown as I have been able to trust that He will take care of them in the same way He always has.  I know that He feels everything, everything.
It's been another week in the mission field, and I have seen change in those around me and in myself. As the Assistant to the President we now have 220 sisters we are enabled by the Lord to take care of and to nurture.  I will have an amazing new companion from New Zealand who already inspires me and who was in the same MTC class.  We both love the Lord and would do anything for Him despite our weaknesses.  I am far from perfect but I have learned that this is not our calling in this life.  Our calling is to learn to be perfected by Him who's love was so great for us, it enabled Him to be perfect.  To turn from every temptation, to forgive every cross word and deed, to teach about the Plan of Salvation without ceasing, to care more for eternity and our individual forever's than His own. 
It's been another week in the mission field, and Jerrell's family is now fully embraced by the Holy Ghost in their home.  We were able to watch Jerrell baptize his little girl Madison this past week.  Sister Gearheart and I went on exchanges for the baptism.  We went to the back room with a member of the ward to prepare Madison for her baptism.  She held my hand as we picked out her white suit.  All dressed in white, she opened the door and asked us to come in.  She spinned in front of the mirror and talked about how beautiful she looked and how she felt.  Kneeling down, Sister Gearheart and I talked to her about the Holy Ghost.  I have never seen a little girl's eyes so locked on anything in my entire life.  We asked her if we could pray with her before she was baptized.  She humbly nodded, and there in the little locker stall, we as three daughters of God prayed for the miracle of baptism, of being cleansed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Upon opening her eyes, she looked into mine with tears and said, "I feel it," as a big smile came across her face.  How I love this family and will never forget them.
From Madison's baptism!
It's been another week in the mission field, and I have learned that 1 week is enough for God to change the eternity of His children all around the world when we choose to decide that we are His children and that we want those blessings.  1 week can change someone's life--this last week has changed mine. Time may be short, but it is precious and every minute we breathe, is a minute God gives us because there is something He wants us to do, to ponder and to believe during that moment.  I invite you each to find purpose in each day, to turn to the scriptures more fervently, and to seek with pure intent what it is you can do this week. I promise that it will not just be a week flown by, but it will be work that is designed from on high.

I love you all, this gospel really is true, and it means everything to me, because of that I want you each to have it and to embrace it. 
Love Always,
Sister Briggs
SHOUTOUTS: Nicky Lin, Andrew Lindsay, Sister Pickerell, Barbara Keil (I still can't believe you sent me a package! You are my best friend and I have never even met you! I love you and can't wait to call you again! Hopefully we'll be in touch soon!) Mom & Dad, Bry & Case, Robert Edgie Donakey, Brother & Sister Donakey, Mary, Becca and Sara, Cami Jensen (congratulations! You look beautiful, Sister Hillam/Rogers (congratulations!)