Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Message from our Elders

A Christmas Message to all family and friends:
Elder Jordan Briggs: 
I feel particularly blessed to be serving the lord at this time in my life. During this Christmas season the Light of Christ has more of an influence upon everyone, and serving with his name on my chest brings me more joy than I have ever experienced. I have seen so many peoples hearts change, that it convinces me daily of the power that the atonement has. People who have had addictions to drugs, family problems, suicidal thoughts, the list goes on and on. I have seen hearts change from not knowing their savior, to giving up lifelong habits and character of who they are to more fully know him. The atonement truly has the power to bring peace into the lives of even the most troubled people. The Savior makes eternal life a reality in my eyes, and I can see now how applying his atonement in our lives is so essential. I love my savior so dearly that it is hard for me to talk about him without bringing tears to my eyes. He has been a friend in the darkest hour of my life when I felt I had nobody else. I had no idea how my faith would grow in him through the hard times of my life. I haven't always chosen to run to the savior in all things, but it has been something I have had to develop. I was so very wounded with the mistakes of my life and remember the feeling of emptiness that comes with sin, that it scares me to think that at one time i didn't know who Jesus Christ really is. The Prince of Peace knew exactly how to comfort me. I know that he has felt my pains because he has taken them right from me. I know now that he is my savior. We don't have to be one of the lost sheep if we will only call out to him. The greatest miracle to me is the change that the atonement continues to provide for me, in changing my natures and who I want to become. 

I am so grateful for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ because this is the only way i have grown such a tender testimony of who he is. Because of the testimony's in the Book of Mormon I am taught of the pains, afflictions, and sicknesses that Christ felt for me. I don't fully understand the Book of Mormon or why it is important, and I don't claim to ever be able to, but i do know that it teaches so carefully of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is the heart of my testimony of who the savior is and what he has done for me. I remember reading of the saviors invitation to us is to come, and to partake of eternal life. He has given salvation free to all those who come with a Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit. All men, women, and children will have the same privilege to come unto the savior. Because of my reading in the Book of Mormon, I learned of the saviors earnest desire to merely heal me. In 3 Nephi I learned that as soon as we return unto the savior and repent of our sins, he will HEAL us.  I know that Christ can heal from any wrong done to anyone. Even the grasp of death has no claim upon the joy available through the atonement. I Love my savior, and know that even if I were to devote my whole life to his service, i still won't pay back a portion of the gift he has given me. Remember, eternal life is a gift from god. We can qualify for it by applying the atonement daily in our lives. If we don't apply the atonement we have forgotten our savior. Always remember him, and love him enough to take council from his hand. 

Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, is that savior professed who would come into the world. He has come, and suffered fully for each of us in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was crucified and slain for the sins of the world, as a mediator for us. He was resurrected and took up his life again, a gift given to all of us freely. Because of such the atonement was completed and offered for me and you, so the claim of justice can be satisfied, and mercy can be administered. Without Christ there would be no atonement. But there is! And he is the only way back to the father.

I hope that anyone reading this might know of the love that I have for my Savior Jesus Christ. I hope that he is more a part of your lives. He can heal you from the Inside out, so that the Joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will shine upon your face. Once you find this love for the savior, your life wont be the same. I love you all and pray that the Savior may be more a part of your life. I love this Gospel, and know that it is true because of the Holy Ghost. Take up your cross for his sake, and you will find your life. 

Merry Christmas!
Elder Jordan Briggs  TAM

Elder Garrett Briggs:
I have now spent 15 months in Ghana, and I think I have learned more in these 15 months than I have in the previous 19 years of my life. The only way I can describe the thoughts and feelings I have had about my mission........ is to say "incredible". It is extremely difficult for me to put into words those things, but I'll give it my best shot. 

Since the day I walked off the airplane and felt the wave of heat and humidity, I realized I had gotten myself into something pretty serious. I had no idea where I was, what I was eating, what "English" I was hearing, etc etc, the list could go on and on. Those things definitely became more normal with time, but on top of all the cultural differences, the thing I noticed most was how weak my testimony was. Sure I served as Teacher's Quorum President, graduated from seminary, and attended BYU, and all that stuff. But all that while I could have been running on borrowed light because when I got here..... I was wondering if this whole mission thing was really necessary, and if this stuff was really true. I learned a lot as I became a missionary and taught the gospel, but the most impacting thing was my scripture study of 3 Nephi 11. When the savior appeared to the people in the Americas after his death and resurrection in Jerusalem. As I read this chapter, I read how Jesus Christ took the time to minister to each person, and one by one, he let them all come and feel the prints in his hands and feet. It caused me to think about the amount of love that Jesus must have had for each one of those people. And the amount of love he must have for me. And that's when the spirit hit me. I can't describe the feelings I had, but I know it was the spirit, and I know Heavenly Father sent his spirit to teach me at that precise moment. I got on my knees and pleaded with my father to confirm what i had just felt. And I felt the feelings again. I had read this stuff for many many years, but it finally hit me this time. I realized that it really was true, and it brought tears to my eyes, that's how happy I felt. That simple and personal event touched me in a way that i will never forget. The spirit taught me that Jesus really does love me, and because of that he died for me and my sins. And because he loves me so much, he would take the time to teach me and to make himself known to me. Even though I'm just one of billions on this earth, he still took time for me individually. The spirit taught me that no matter what, i need to be about my Father's business, taking his glory and truth to my brothers and sisters here in Ghana- taking them by the hand, one by one, and helping them to get on the path of righteousness. I knew that i had a Heavenly Father and that he loves me and all these people here, more than any of us know. I'm not perfect, none of us are, the scriptures teach us that. I've made mistakes in my life, some bigger than others. But because of that love that he has for me, I have felt his loving arms wrapped around me and have experienced the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And there is not a better feeling in the world than that. I know that because I've felt it first hand. From that time, I have been able to love more freely and serve more cheerfully, because I realize that the people here are all equally important as I am. That knowledge and understanding has given me the desire to serve the Ghanaian people, and to love them as one of my own. 

The world is such a diverse and wicked place, but the gospel is always there as a constant to provide shelter from the storms of life. Whether we are American, Ghanaian, or from any other country- the gospel brings peace in an ever unpeaceful world. Throughout the last 15 months I have been able to see many lives changed because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each persons challenge is different, but the end result is usually the same- healing, comfort, and peace. I have seen the gospel change the lives of drug addicts, turn the tides on failing marriages, answer the questions of the soul, and soften the hearts and humble to souls of many. Most of all, I have seen the bond it has created between me, my father in heaven, and my "brothers from other mothers" in Ghana. I have come to understand the importance of scripture study and the power in prayer. And now, i can say with all the conviction of my heart, that I KNOW this is the way. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his one and only church upon the face of the earth. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us. He stands with open arms to receive us all, he just waits for us to open our arms and hearts and let him in. I love my Savior, and I love this marvelous work!!!!

Merry Christmas!
Elder Garrett Briggs GCCM

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