Monday, February 2, 2015

The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Hermana Hannah Avery, Chile Vina del Mar Mission
Friends and Family,

As I write this email, I feel the greatest sense of peace and joy in my heart. Eighteen months ago, I left my home and heart in Utah and made my way out into the world, not knowing what exactly would happen in that year and a half, but trusting in the Lord with all of my heart that no matter what, it would all be worth it.

I entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Mexico City with excitement, but a few short hours later, realized the intensity and importance of my calling, and I felt unqualified. I spent my mornings praying in tears to find the love of Christ in my heart to go help the people waiting for me and this Gospel, here in Chile. Days of unceasing prayer brought answers from my Father in Heaven. The words that got me through were from Elder Richard G. Scott. He said, "Remember, the Lord has called you to succeed, not to fail. Sometimes, it may seem terribly hard, but He wants you to grow. He will not abandon you. He inspired your call. He knows who you are. He knows what you need. He knows what He wants you to become, and the mission experience is an opportunity He has given you to discover things about yourself that you never knew... capacities you never knew you had, and the capacity to love and serve which will sustain you throughout the rest of your life. Remember, you have been called, and He will fit the task to your capabilities." To this day, I remember feeling like the Lord really was with me and would truly walk every footstep that I was preparing myself to take.

There are many life-lessons and amazing things that I have learned here. Everyday of the mission, I have come home with dirty, sore and swollen feet. But you know what? The physical pain that I feel after walking around all day doesn't even come close to the joy that I feel when teaching others about the Gospel and watching their lives change for the better. As I look at the pair of shoes on my feet right now, that I have used every single day of my mission, I see not only the wear and tear that Chile has put on my shoes, but I see how every step that I have made here has helped me become the person and missionary that God needed and wanted me to become. For me, it was only possible to do here. I have grown to love these people and this country so very much.

I thank my Heavenly Father without ceasing, for my converts who received the word of God, which they heard from me and my companion, but "they received the word not of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in them to believe," (see 1Thessalonians 2:3-13).

My second birthday in Chile :)
Seeing the Holy Ghost testify to others that our words were true was something I will never forget. It's something I can't explain, and a joy that I hope to relive one day. I have seen broken lives made beautiful and whole through the Gospel and love of Christ and our Heavenly Father. I once heard the theology that we as human beings, are like a wall. Over time, our wall gets cracked, colored on, and broken. With the Atonement of Christ, our wall is made clean, and the cracks filled in. His grace and mercy are sufficient enough to save any soul who has the desire to know Him, and accept Him in their lives.

I've walked paths I had never set foot on before. I went to strange places, beautiful places, and left my heart in four small cities in Chile, hoping that my efforts would make the difference in the lives of some of the people there. My heart once belonged to my family, my friends, and my home in Utah. Now, my heart belongs to my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father, and his sweet children that I love so very much here in Ovalle, Achupallas, Chorrillos, and Tierras Blancas Chile.

A once unqualified sister missionary, I now come home to you as a witness and firm believer that Jesus Christ lives. Thanks to a year and a half serving along side my Savior, I understand the worth of each and every person in the sight of God. I understand what it feels like to be mocked, humiliated and ridiculed for testifying of the truth. I understand what it feels like to see someone's life changed, thanks to the love of the Savior. I testify that He lives! He KNOWS us and loves us more than we can imagine.

Jesus wants us to be happy, and for that, He calls young missionaries without experience into a world of sin and sadness to show people everywhere that He is the Christ, and that there IS hope and a second chance at life. There IS life after death, and we all have the opportunity to live with our families and our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, if we are willing to take up our cross and walk with Him (see Mark 10:21). I took up my cross, and everyday of my life I plan to carry it until I can place it at the feet of my Savior, and tell Him that I did the best that I could.

Hermanas Avery and Moreno, Chile Vina del Mar Mission
I know this church is true. I know that this Gospel saves lives and makes us happy. I am forever grateful and indebted to my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ for these 18 months of pure blessings and happiness. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it :) The mission truly was, the hardest thing I ever loved to do.

Have a wonderful week guys! Thank you again for all of the love, support and prayers that you have given me and my family throughout my mission. May the Lord forever bless you all for the things you have done and sacrificed for me to be here. I'll see you from the top of the escalator :)

With all my love, Hermana Avery

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Feeling 22! (January 26, 2015)

Welcome Home, Hermana Avery!  (February 11, 2015)