Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 24, 2014 - Week 3 MTC

We can do hard things!
I saw the Bouchers out my bus window!  I was banging on the window and trying to get there attention.  So close... and yet so far.
Hermana Cano from Spain.  Oh how I miss her!

Mom and dad I see these senior missionaries everywhere and it always makes me think of you!  They are so fun to talk to, I seize every opportunity I have to meet them.  Probably because they remind me of you two and have so much life experience.  You will be fantastic missionaries one day!

Okay, a few items of business first.  I challenge you to read Joseph Smith History 1-20 for Family Home Evening.  It is such a powerful account and will really bring the Spirit to the home. Because I am set apart as a missionary, I have the authority to make a promise when I am prompted to.  And I was prompted to do just that!  I often find myself in a lesson and know exactly what to say... though it is not my own knowledge that I am drawing from, it is the Spirit. Also, Joseph Smith is just so full of faith and trust and I always feel empowered by him.

Speaking of faith and trust-- watch the "Earthly Father Heavenly Father" Mormon Message.  Do it right now!!  On youtube or it is only two minutes long.  Truly I love it so much... and you know how hash of a critic I am with these sort of things.  But it is just so full of simple and beautiful truth.

I was called on, randomly, to speak in Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  In Spanish.  And wow I actually did well!  I spoke on Faith in Jesus Christ, and the words just found my mouth.  

You know how you just connect with some people.  Like your meeting was foreordained?  I met with my mission presidents-- President and Sister Zanni-- on Monday night.  And it was as though we have just been waiting to come together.  They said that they felt this way as well.  We had a surprisingly easy time speaking only in Spanish (seeing as they only know a few words in English).  They are so humble an hard-working and faithful.  He said that when he was called as a mission president, he was beyond surprised.  Elder Uchtdorf skyped and interviewed him.  Last week he was set apart by Elder Scott.  I swear they are just such amazing people I love them already.

On Sunday our devotional was Janice Kapp Perry (who wrote almost every memorable primary song, as well as "Sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman") and her husband.  Oh my I can't even.  They were too cute!  They are old now and both have had some bad turns with health... but he kissed her right there on stage.  And they sang together.  And they told us about their missions.  It was amazing.  At the end we sand "As Sisters in Zion" and "Army of Helaman" medley.  We began sitting, but all ended standing.  I am not exaggerating-- every person, both Elder and Sister, had tears just streaming down his/her face.  I was a wreck.  The Spirit was like a tunnel of light that just flooded and filled the room.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON.  And after we couldn't stop smiling.  

Today Elder Christofferson spoke, and Elders Ballard, Bednar, Andersen, and Oaks, and Nelson all presided at the meeting.  Along with every new mission president and his wife.  I can't even describe the power in that room.  Elder Christofferson spoke of how we are all created in God's image: not just physically, but everything about us is Godlike.  We are from an Eternal being and meant to be an Eternal being.  Life has no end.  The worth of a soul is equal to its capacity to become as a God.  Everyone has the same worth and potential, and when we see everyone like that, we treat everyone as Christ would.  Because He saw us for all we could become.

Also, greatness comes as you serve.  Jesus was the greatest because He served the most.

I apologize for the scatteredness of this email. Lots of things are coming to my mind, and I don't know how to type fast enough in order to give them to you.  I don't even think that made sense either.  But it is all sincere, I know that all of these things are true.  And I cannot deny them; now or ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 17, 2014 - Week 2 MTC

Family (and especially Dad),

Happy late father's day! I thought about you all day and what a blessing you are in my life.  I am so blessed to have you.  Did you get my card?  Did all of you get my cards?  I hope so!  I got the skirt you sent, it is perfect.  Very flattering if I do say so myself.  

Henry, I am so excited for you to serve a mission.  The Elders are such a strength here-- and the priesthood is a powerful thing.  I know you will be amazing.

So, news for this week.  I took a really big step in my life and bought a new set of scriptures for myself!  It was exhilerating.  The ones I brought here are the ones I have had since I was eight.  The ones that I used to sleep with every night!  There just isn't room to fit my new moments of inspiration.  But this new set of genuine leather ones I bought were only $60.  Missionary discount!

Speaking of moments of inspiration, I have taken to recording all of my new insights and such in a notebook.  It is a labor of love.  And I will share one new insight with you each week.  So here's this week's: In 1 Nephi chapter 1 it is written that Lehi "prayed with all his heart on behalf of his people."  Lehi was then carried away in a vision, in which he was warned that Jerusalem would be destroyed and he and his family need to leave.  The significance lies in the fact that he was praying to the Lord for for others, but saved himself in the process.  And even after he received this vision, he tried to save anyone who would listen to him.  He truly was lost in the work.  What an amazing example.  As we serve others, our lives have a way of working out.  

My companion told me that she felt that she doesn't know exactly who she is.  So this led to the question, who am I?  We attempted to answer this.  Here were some of the things that we felt: Full time missionary, Hope of Israel, Covenant Daughter, Faithful Servant.  And as always, a work-in-progress.

I wish I could tell you all about everything I've learned.  Yesterday all of my friends left.  I was sincerely sad to see Elder Preston, Hermana Tapia  (the one from Argentina), and Hermana Cano (the one from Spain) leave. Hermana Tapia and I grew so close-- I swear we've known each other for more than twelve days!  Last night we sat in the grass and just talked forever.  And cried together.  Not really tears of saddness, just bittersweet ones.  She will be so amazing and I've been truly blessed to know her.   

I will also share one tender mercy a week with you.  Believe me, there are far too many happening each day to even count.  But the Lord is helping me to see them, and open my eyes to all He is giving me.  One I think you'll enjoy is this... I met my mission president!  President Zanni-- he and his wife are here for training.  They just got here and will arrive in Argentina two weeks before we do.  They are from Buenos Aires and speak no English, but I already love them.  And they already love us.  Sister Zanni said, "Right now I have seven children.  In a month-- 250."  She is so sweet I felt so much peace in meeting them.

Okay, funny moment of the week.  And of course it involved tripping! So last Tuesday Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke to us at the devotional-- and like I mentioned earlier, I was singing.  During practice they were prepping to broadcast the devotional.  And right before it began I had to use the restroom.  Hermana Fry and I quickly stood up so that we would make it back in time, and as I ran up the stairs that run directly between the two sides of the audience, my foot caught on a step and I went down.  Hard.  Onto the metal steps.  And it was loud.  It sounded like a bunch of bricks hitting a tin roof. It was so loud, every head turned back and looked at me-- both the Elders and the Sisters.  And my skirt had come up, so what they saw was definitely not MTC appropriate.  Some Elders came and helped to pick up my bag and such.  My face was so red, I popped up and laughed and kept on going.  Later that night I was informed by some Elders in my zone that those who were not fortunate enough to be in sight of my graceful fall were able to see it on the jumbo screen ahead of them.  Because right at the exact moment I fell, the cameraman was prepping the screen and camera for the upcoming broadcast.  And it was focused right on me.  Oh well, like I always say, never take yourself too seriously!! 

I am learning the language of the Spirit.  I am recognizing so many "revelatory experiences" as Elder Bednar so eloquently calls them.  And I love you all!  Think of those separated by the Berlin Wall? Or other wars throughout history?  Or death, with no knowledge of the Plan of Salvation?  We are so blessed!  Amelia, I love the quote you sent me.  And mom and dad, the things you tell me I always read out loud and end up using throughout the day. I love the scriptures.  They give me peace and joy any time of the day or night.

I pray for you and feel your prayers.  Love you all more than you know.

Love, Hermana Briggs

President and sister Zanni, our new mission presidents! What a tender mercy.
Army of Helaman

Had to say adios to all these fine elders. Love them all!

Hermana Tapia and I We were so meant to be friends.

Missionaries laugh too!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014 - Week 1 MTC

Thoughts on being an hermana:

love the MTC.  Sincerely I do.  It is an honor to be an hermana! I have been called as a disciple of Jesus Christ to declare His word.  My mind is expanding so much, everyday.  My Spirit, heart, memory, capacity to do the Lord's work-- all are expanding and I feel so close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.This is only 1.5 of my 80+ (hopefully) years on earth, and I am going to make the most of it.  This is the only time I can devote all of my time and energy toward helping to strengthen others' relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (actually... I don't know if that's true.  I think it can be done.  I've seen it a few times.).

Thoughts on MTC life:

Okay so obviously things are really structured.  But that's okay!  I love spanish so much.  I love to study it.  I think castillano spanish is one of the most beautiful languages.  My teacher, Hermano Arnold, is amazing.  I feel that I am doing well, and I have been dreaming in spanish these past nights, so that's good!
For gym we play volleyball everyday, but more on that to come.  The food is sub-par to say the least.  In fact, I really don't like it.  We are on West Campus... completely separate from the main MTC.  So we have a lot less options... and the salad bar is always the same!  Oh well.
Everyone here is so sincerely nice.  I mean... everyone wants to help in any way possible.  I think it's beautiful.  If everyone in the world were like those at the MTC, it would be difficult for anyone to have a bad day.  Even though we are all stressed beyond belief, this is dedicated ground and it makes it so much easier to be happy.  Plus we are doing the Lord's work, so what isn't there to be happy about!  In the words of Joseph Smith, "How can we not go on with so great a work?"  I may have gotten that wrong.

My favorite parts of the day:

*Gym-- Everyday we play volleyball for gym.  We go to the bubble, say a prayer, and play for almost an hour.  Our entire zone plays, which is so much fun because we get to play with the Elders.  Did I mention how much I love them?  Our zone leader, Elder Preston, is awesome.  I am actually getting pretty good at volleyball (she said humbly)!  You should see the bruises all of us have from it.  

*Branch presidency: My branch presidency is great.  They are always talking to us hermanas and checking in to make sure we are comfortable but uncomfortable at the same time.  Does that make sense?  I love seeing their wives, because it reminds me that moms still exist!  They always give us the biggest hugs and I feel close to home.  p.s. I miss hugging boys.
*Companion: Hermana Robinson is doing much better!  After some coaxing, she now shares with me exactly how she feels.  I think that it helps her to know that I am her temporary family!  And Heavenly Father is always there and ready to help her.
*Hermana Hill and Hermana Fry: together, us four make up our district.  Hermana Hill is so funny and spacey, it is just hilarious!! I love her so much.  She is going to Anika's mission.  Hermana Fry is the mom.  She is always reminding us to stay on task and follow the rules (i.e. no jaywalking, no talking to Elders alone, no saying the word "guys").  But she is a rock!
*My zone:  Oh man I just love them.  Did I already say that?  They are just some fo the best boys I have ever met!  So united in a common goal, and yet so different.  

Okay so I have to go soon to Tuesday night devotional.  I am singing in the choir.  Yeah, that's right, I joined the MTC choir! I am a proud (not prideful) 2nd alto, and I love it.  I miss music, so I made a goal that every day I pick a new hymn and whistle it all day long.  So far my favorites have been Come Thou Fount, All Creatures of Our God and King, Nearer My God to Thee, I Feel My Savior's Love, and a little Claire de Lune action.  I occasionally hum or sing out loud too, but whatever no one cares.

Okay, before I leave to sing for one of the apostles and then hear him speak (yeah, I love the MTC for that reason), I need to look up a talk!  This talk by Elder Bednar, titled "Character of Christ" can change your heart if you let it. Search for it on YouTube.  He gave it on Christmas Day at the MTC in I don't know what year. Everyone in the world should hear this.  It is my favorite talk that I have ever heard.  Ah I have a hand cramp.  I am typing so fast and trying to spit everything out I hope that some of this made sense.  But if you take anything away, it is to read that talk!!

Much Much Much love, Hermana Briggs
On the bus after temple.
Fun day at the temple. Love P days.

Printed our emails so we could reply to them.

Fun Nights. exhausted but not at the same time.
I found Sister Jenkins!! It was the happiest thing ever.

Hermana Tapia from Argentina is one of my all time best friends now. She is amazing. She is the one with the long dark hair. My companion is the blond short one, and the tall one is Hermana fry, and the short dark haired on is Hermana Hill.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 7, 2014 - Welcome to the MTC!

Hola familia!

We were supposed to be able to email the first night, but we haven't had time until now!  Just want to let you know that I am doing well.  I miss you all so much and this is really hard but your letters and emails do sincerely help me to feel that we are still together.  Dear Elder is the best way to get things to me.

So... I love the MТC.  The spirit is so strong here-- all the time.  It is so uplifting.  Whenever I feel down, it's never because of the place I am in.  It's just because of the people that I miss.  Class is crazy, so much espanol!  But it's going well and we have taught three lessons-- all in spanish. Our investigator, Erik, committed to baptism!  How amazing it is to feel that we are actually doing something (even though he is just a really good actor).  Also, I am in love with the elders here.  Not in a bad way (although one of them is truly awesome), but they are all so hard-working and worthy to hold the priesthood.  It just makes me swoon sometimes!  To be surrounded by so many amazing people from all over the world that are coming together in one goal: to become the people that we were foreordained to be, and to invite people to come unto Christ.  

Sorry this is so frazzled, I only have about 20 minutes to write.  But anyways... ANIKA YOU ARE GOING TO ARGENTINA!  Words cannot express how happy I am.  I literally screamed when I read the letter from my mom that said where you were going.  One of the hermanas in my district, Hermana Hill, is going to Neuquen as well!  She is so sweet.  We will be latin hermanas together!  I am writing you a letter to convey the sincerity and depth of my excitement.  

Dad I read your letter, and it helped me make it through the second day (AKA the longest day of my life).  My favorite thing was when you said "Don't fear the future.  You are doing good things, and your future and all things will unfold before you."  That brought me a lot of peace.  

My companion is Hermana Robinson.  She is so sweet, I will send a picture on Tuesday.  She is really homesick, and I can see that this is especially hard on her.  Both her and I received priesthood blessings from our zone leader (Elder Preston... He is awesome), and it helped her a lot.  She doesn't tell me what she wants, so I am left to try to guess.  It's hard because I am senior companion, but I don't want to boss her around, but she never tells me how she feels.  Don't worry, I am getting it out of her.  We will bond!

Susie, I got your package!! It is sitting next to me, but I can't open it until 9:25 tonight.  But that is so nice of you and I'm sure I'll love whatever it is.  

So my goal for this week started as "make it to Sunday.'  Pretty sure that's everyone's motto on the first week.  But now my goals are these, because I decided I needed to have joy in the journey and not wish away my MTC experience (or mission experience for that matter).  Goals: have an attitude of gratitude, bring hermanas and elders together, and pray always.  Well the pray always has been easy... I pray all the time and it is the best thing ever.  I feel so close to Heavenly Father.  I want to bring hermanas and elders together, because we are all experiencing different levels of the same emotions.  We can't do it alone.  And it is so much easier when you can bond with people.  So last night all my district hermanas bonded and cried together (except me, I haven't cried since I've been here.  I know I'm surprised too.).  But I an see that we all have some serious needs, and Christ can meet them all, and through each other is how many of them are met.    

Anyways I have to go, but I love you and think about you all the time.  Pray for me, and I always do for you!  

Hermana Eleanor Briggs