As I sit here in the Acworth public library for the last time, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, humility, excitement, heartbreak and other such emotions. My black name tag sits on my heart right now and it has never meant this much to me. I’m at a loss of words but pray I can in some way or another try to partially convey how deeply I have loved serving as a representative of Jesus Christ in this glorious land of Georgia. Every day of the past 18 months I have loved serving this mission for the Lord. Every day I worked my tail off for the cause of truth and salvation. Every day I came to a greater understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ as I’ve had to apply it constantly. Every single day I have served with my whole heart, might, mind and strength. I couldn’t be more thankful for the miracles and wonder of this pretty perfect mission. God has truly allowed me to be made strong to bring about the eternal purposes He has for His children.
In all humility I can say that I have been blessed to have done some incredible things in my life before I served. I’ve been tremendously fortunate to have had many remarkable opportunities at such a young age. I had a phenomenal up bring with the most loving parents that shaped me to be the person I am today. I loved high school and all the experiences that came with it. I loved college and the fun adventures I had there. I loved every moment exploring the world with my family and friends. I just loved life and had so much fun in all the adventures it brought! I’ve been greatly blessed.
And yet this mission I’ve served is more sacred, holier, and more eternal than anything I’ve ever done before. It is literally the most important thing I could have done in this world and in eternity. I have been engaged in saving human souls. Yes, it’s been the hardest work I have EVER known of. Missionary work is hard. Eternal salvation hangs in the balance! And that is why this has been the most important and most meaningful 18 months in the universe for Sister Avery Miyahara.
My last week as a full-time missionary was absolutely perfect. I feel like I almost totally understood for a moment what it means in scripture to have a “fullness of joy,” to feel a piece of heaven.
Do you remember the investigator I quoted in my email about a month ago that said in our first lesson how he wanted to “glow” as I did and have the conviction of faith as I did? Well, on Friday that man was baptized and wow, did he absolutely shine with the countenance of a striving disciple. Louie’s heart has been changed through the atonement. His faith rivals many others. As I gave the Baptism talk in his service, I looked at him in the eyes and saw the Savior’s reflection. Then sitting right behind him was Jonathan and Nicole- both two recent converts who mean everything to me. I stood there and testified but couldn’t hear words coming out of my mouth. I only saw the faces of these people and my soul felt that fullness of joy; some of the precious fruit of our labors right in front of me with tears rolling down their checks was unforgettable. Every bit of knew that all this is real and truer than anything else.
Saturday started in the most celestial way, in the temple of the Lord. We attended a session as a zone but the most special part was that President and Sister Chase came to be with me for my final trip to the Atlanta Temple as a full-time set apart missionary. I sat next to Sister Harding (mission president’s wife) and she held me when I felt a flood of emotions. I'm so grateful for her and all she has taught me. President and Sister Harding have loved me as their own and I'm forever grateful for them. In the temple, I was surrounded by more love than I have ever experienced by those in the life and those on the other side. It was perfect. I’ll never forget the tangible reality of the spirit testifying of the Gospel's truth.
We had to slip out of our zone training meeting after the temple because we had yet another miracle baptism for the ever so precious, Andrea. Her huge Hispanic family all came out to support and it was the neatest baptism I’ve had. The program consisted so many talks or testimonies from family members and us missionaries. Spanish and English was spoken but the spirit was the same regardless. I spoke on love and that is exactly what I was consumed with as I addressed that united family.
It has been a week full of diligent labor for the Lord. We had SO MANY service opportunities that left us feeling spiritually filled and overjoyed as we were able to be a helping hand to so many. We even gathered the young men’s group to come help our investigator in her yard. 20+ youth aged boys worked so hard for about 3 hours! It was so awesome! She went around knocking on her neighbors doors and pointing at us saying, “Look! The Mormons have come to help me!”
In all honestly, I didn’t realize what was coming in the next week, I was too caught up with the work that had to be done! It wasn’t until Sunday at church it hit me. I hope this is the first and LAST heartbreak I’ll ever experience ;)
Throughout these sacred 18 months, I have engraved this black plastic tag on my heart. This black piece of plastic has allowed me to walk into the home of strangers and testify of eternal truths. It has allowed me to come to know the Savior better than I could have ever without it. This black name tag has altered my priorities to align with the Fathers. It has taught me obedience which increased my capacity to love. It has brought me countless friendships that will last forever. In just 18 months this black piece of plastic has changed my life forever and forever and forever. Every good thing in my future will come because I chose to enlist in the Lord’s army, because I have chosen the path of discipleship forever. The burdens are real but so too are the mighty blessings.
I’m just a silly girl trying to do what my Heavenly Father wants me to do. Whatever good has come out of my service and devotion to the Lord in Georgia is ALL BECAUSE OF HIM. I know who I am; I am a daughter of God. I have unlimited ability! I can do anything through Christ who grants me any strength I may possess.
My God be ever glorified through my small efforts to serve Him.
To my family: Thank you for your faithful consistency in supporting me. Thank you for loving the Lord and helping me better love Him too. Thank you for your faith. Thank you for your emails, letters, packages and surprises. I have felt your prayers and I hope you’ve felt mine. Thank you for the privilege to claim you to be mine. Expect your crazy girl to fly down the stairs to hug you in a few days!
To everyone else I love: Thank you for reading these scatter brained emails. Thank you for every prayer you’ve muttered for us missionaries. Thank you for being a part of my conversion. Thank you for the good that you are doing each day for the Lord. Thank you loving ridiculous me.
I’ll be coming home real soon but you can expect me to continue carrying out faithfully God’s will. All the miracles of this mission will be worth NOTHING if I come home unchanged or if I let myself slip into apathy. The evidence of my love and conversion to the Gospel because of my mission will be shown through my actions and attitude as I return to “real life.” I will forever hold myself to the standard of obedience, diligence, consecration, etc. I have set as a set apart full-time missionary….forever. Because missions are forever!
God be with you till we meet again, Georgia.
All my love and appreciation,
Sister Avery Kimi Miyahara