Campus Voices

The Biggest Miracle

The following essay was shared by the author at Southern Virginia University’s Inaugural Founder’s Day forum on March 8.

Mikaera Puriri (’26)

The story I’m about to share is one that is very dear and personal, yet I feel that it best
sums up my experience at Southern Virginia University.

On the morning of Friday, December 8, 2023, around 5 AM, I was woken up by a phone call from my amazing mother. With a completely broken heart, she told me that my father had just passed away unexpectedly. Despite that being the absolute worst moment of my life, it was the start of what would be the most miracle- and tender-mercy-filled days of my life. And this mercy was best manifest because I was at Southern Virginia University.

Despite being absolutely heartbroken, I decided to still go into work at the SVU’s IT office that morning. That’s when the next miracle occurred. Shortly after arriving, we got a ticket from President Cordon, asking if someone could come up and look at her computer. Being the only student worker at the moment, I was sent up to help. When I got to her office, President Cordon instantly recognized that something was off. With a heavy heart, I told her of my father’s passing. She then gave me the biggest hug, and the sweetest spirit entered the room. We then had a tender discussion about the Savior, and His role in our lives in moments like this.

The first miracle was right after I got off the phone with my mum. I discovered that my roommate, Ethan Ashton, was awake as well. He was the first person I told, and he took care of me that morning in the most Christlike way possible.

Earlier that week, Ethan and I made a plan to go to the Richmond temple because I had never been there, and we had already made an appointment for that day. It was a miracle that I had a temple session scheduled for the same day my father completed his mortal journey. It was a huge miracle. It was my first time attending the Richmond temple, and I hadn’t been to the temple in months. I know it was no coincidence that I was there that day.

Mikaera Puriri
Mikaera Puriri presenting his essay in University forum.

While at the temple, I ran into Rob Dahl, head coach of the women’s soccer team. Fun fact about Coach Dahl, he played soccer against my dad in high school. It was a miracle to see him that day, because despite not being my coach or my bishop, my work within the athletic department has allowed me to build a relationship with him to the point where I see him as a mentor and a good friend, and that day as a fellow brother in the temple.

Also at the temple on that reading day were Malia Davis, Chloe Nelson, and Dykell Jones, members of the softball team and some of my closest friends here at SVU. Chloe, Dykell, and I started at SVU the same time, and Malia is from the same home town as me, and played softball with my younger sister. Those three have always been good friends towards me, and to be with them at the temple at the hardest moment was a tender mercy I wouldn’t have received anywhere else.

During the temple session, I felt so close to heaven. The closest I’ve ever felt. In my heart, I felt the Spirit continually tell me, “He’s home. He’s home.” And I knew that he was. I knew that my dad was at rest, and was once again in the presence of his Father in Heaven and His Savior, and that he was receiving the rewards for his faithfulness. Having a temple so close to the University is a blessing and a privilege, and I knew I was where I needed to be at that moment.

The biggest miracle from all that happened is how much my testimony of Jesus Christ has grown. The morning my dad passed, a fire was lit in my heart. And that fire has continued to grow as I’ve put my faith and trust in my Savior. Yes, it absolutely sucks that my dad is gone. I miss him so much, and want nothing more than to be with him. But, there is beauty in the sorrow, and that beauty is the hope that comes from Jesus Christ. He has been fulfilling the promise He made in John 14:18 when he said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

Mikaera Puriri

For the last three months, I have continually felt His arms of mercy and love wrapped around me. I have felt that through the people around me here at Southern Virginia University. I feel it through my friends, my roommates, my coaches, my teammates, my coworkers, my supervisors, my professors, and through the many others here at this wonderful place.

The story of how I decided to come to SVU is a miracle in and of itself, but that’s a story for another time. I am grateful to know though that I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. It couldn’t have been anywhere else. It had to be here.

This is just one of the many experiences I’ve had here at this university that have strengthened my belief that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Redeemer. This school is special. The people who are here are special. God has placed so many pieces into play that have benefited not just myself, but so many others.

To close, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite shows, Demon Slayer: “If you are feeling disheartened, that you are somehow not enough, set your heart ablaze. Dry your eyes and look ahead. Set your heart ablaze.”

SVU can help set your heart ablaze. Wherever you are in life, whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, no matter what you’ve done, you are never too far from our Savior’s arms. His arms of mercy are always extended to each and every one of us no matter what we do in this life. He’s waiting for you. All you need to do is reach out. So, what’re you waiting for?

I know They live, and I know They love. Never forget them, because I promise you with all my heart, They will never ever forget you.