(Amber Garvin from Provo, Utah served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as 'Mormons') in the Richmond, Virginia area (Now called the "Virginia Chesapeake Mission"). 'Sister' Missionaries are able to serve at age 19 for a period of 18 months. They leave their homes, families and educational pursuits to love and serve their fellowman, and to teach about how families can be together forever. All are invited to follow her missionary experiences.)

*I have now returned home to Utah and will continue to share the experiences of being a returned missionary. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


The beginning of this year has been full of landmarks in my life. Two years since feeling the confirmation from the Holy Ghost to serve a mission, two years since being called to serve in the Richmond Virginia Mission, two years since entering the Provo Utah LDS Temple, and the anniversary of two years since I embarked on the most joyful experience thus far in my life by entering the Missionary Training Center as a representative of Jesus Christ.

The greatest season of thanksgiving for me is the time of Easter. Greater than that of the actual holiday of Thanksgiving of Christmas, the season of Easter is a precious and sacred time of year because to me, it symbolizes all of the experiences of my life when I have felt the divine power and strength of my Savior, Jesus Christ, molding my life and changing my heart. It symbolizes the times of sorrow when He is all that I've had left, and the times of joy, when I knew that through Him miracles had occurred.

At this particular moment, it symbolizes to me what incredible things He has done to me, and for me. He has lifted me, changed me, helped me become, strengthened me, brought me peace, made it possible for me to feel joy, cleansed me, and refined me in ways that I never thought were possible.

Because of Him, I am.

Because of Him, I wanted to share something so sacred to my heart that I hardly ever shared it with anyone, and that is my testimony. Because of Him, I chose to serve a mission, and because of Him, I was able to serve Him with faith, and with a capacity that I didn't know I could ever have.

Because of Him I served a mission.

And because of Him, I choose to share my testimony now.

I know that by Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ I will never be forsaken, nor forgotten. I know that He is the only way to receive peace in this life. He is the author of hope, love, and second chance.

Truly, through Jesus Christ, "Every day is a new beginning."

I hope that each person will have their heart open to His influence. That His kindness, and mercy, and love with touch their lives so beauty will be found in each and everyday of the year, not the Easter season alone.

And I share these things in the name of Him, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunshine, and Christmas!

Dear Friends,

It's almost Christmas! Next week! Can you believe it?! Then it is 2015!  (I am probably going to have problems with that since some entries in my journal from this year think that it is 2010 and 2012...)

There is no snow in Utah yet, though we still hope that there will be a white Christmas. In some ways I feel like our states switched. It's been all over the news that the East coast is getting it bad this year. Has that hit you yet?

We are still enjoying 50 degree weather some days. It's been nice to be able to enjoy the fresh air, and warm sunshine this late into the year.

There is an elderly man that lives down the street from us and isn't a member. My mom has been reaching out in friendship to him because he lives alone, and has been struggling with several major health issues.  We know that we can go talk with him when his garage is open and he is sitting out enjoying the sunshine. In that regard, the weather has been miraculous.

Apparently our are is now covered by elders. I tried to go out with the Sisters when they were here, but I always had to ask them and then it took like 3 days for them to get back with me (I promise I wasn't annoying or overbearing, I just don't know how to simplify that sentence more). That has been sad for me. I guess the Lord needed me to do other things at this time.

By brother reached his first area--Kuna Idaho! Quite near Sister Watt, Sister Petrie, and Sister Wiley (For those who are young enough to remember her. ) His trainer is a fairly recent convert, and is exactly obedient. We all prayed really hard for that and are very grateful.

I've been called to teach the 17-18 year old Sunday School class, and I love it! It's been really enjoyable to have to prepare something for Church every Sunday. I'm gaining an even greater testimony that callings, and service in the church really are the key to true activity and being "anxiously engaged in a goo cause." That being said, I love callings. And there really is no greater calling than the one that the Lord calls you to.

I pray that as each of you continue to "Share the Gift" of Christ this week that you are given added strength to courageously represent the Lord with obedience, faith, boldness, kindness, service, love, hope, and all other attributes that invite the Savior's presence into our lives and the lives of others.

Merry Christmas next week!

Sister Amber Garvin

(Picture: Right-- Seeing the Lights at Temple Square with Dad.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Temple, Service, Thanksgiving!

Hello Everyone!

I'm happy to announce that it has snowed, and the snowed stuck. So that's pretty. This week I'm just going to send you a picture. And wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and to Sister Felt--Happy Birthday! (Which I thought of you all day, but didn't send you a Thanksgiving dinner in a package--sorry.)
Registered for classes today. This is a new phase of life. I still have no idea what I'm going to do.
Going to the temple today I picked up a little old lady from the Phillipenes who was walking to the temple. I saw her in a skirt, and the Spirit said, "Turn around and go pick her up. She is going to the temple." So I did, and she was so cute. This is her first time in the United States, and she got a job doing laundry at the temple. :)
Tender mercies abound!
Love you all!
-Sister Amber Garvin

P.S. Good luck to Sister Carlson who is sending another companion in home. :)You can do it! Wooo!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Whipped Cream and Farewells

(Haha!  I forgot to post this last week, so here it is... two weeks late!)

Hello friends,
Today my email will be very short.  I have to work. I got a temporary job at the casting department again, and I've loved it.  We had to find people to participate in a documentary.  We went to SLC, and BYU to talk with people, and I felt like a missionary again. YAY!  It was great.

My brother's mission farewell talk and Thanksgiving dinner was yesterday.  He is going to be missed.  Everywhere I went to talk with family there was someone who said "Andrew did it!" Mostly meaning playing a joke on them or doing something goofy... (I raised him well you see....)  A good one from yesterday was that he convinced my younger cousins to allow him to quirt the whipped cream onto their slice of pumpkin pie.  Remember how sometimes when I pour glasses of water for people and fill it up to the very top until it almost spills over?  Well we had a similar experience with this squirt-y cream.  Would you like some pie with your whipped cream?  IT WAS EVERYWHERE!  But since kids enjoy whipped cream it wasn't a problem.  My uncle tried to make my grandma drink whipped cream and it made a little one cry..... so that was more problematic. ;)

I saw the November Newsletter.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  To Sister Felt, and Elder Bettilyon (TODAY!) I hope that you receive packages.  That is the best part.

Hope to hear from you how things are going, and I hope that the sun shines a lot this week.

Sister Amber Garvin

Feeling Famous, Thanksgiving, and Strong Leaders!


This week I drove Al Fox Carraway and her husband Ben in a golf cart. So I feel a little bit closer to famous. Famous people know famous people right?! They are super nice. I enjoyed the five minute jaunt.

It's been interesting to work at the casting office again. I feel like I get to talk with more people about things that are important to them instead of the passing "How are you's?" in the street. The church is incredible. And I so greatly admire those who seek direction from the Lord in the small and great things.

There are like 12 Youth Mormon messages that are supposed to be filmed by the end of this year. So it will be a payday next year when they are all released.

In other news.... I was just called to teach the 17-18 year olds. Woot! I'm SOOOO excited! I love the youth!-- And it's my sister's class so that's a bonus as well. I sat in the class for the first time yesterday, and felt so much love for each of them. I don't remember all the ways that you can struggle as a teenager, but I know that I was so grateful for strong willed Young Women's leaders who came to my house to bring me to activities, and didn't give me an easy way out. It shaped the foundation for my life, and activity in the church. I am so grateful for them.

It may not be the same, but I am praying that the Lord will teach me and guide me to know how I can relate with these young people. They need a strong foundation. They need exactly what the "Come Follow Me" program and "Preach My Gospel" teach-- they need to be taught according to their needs; not just cookie-cutter lessons.

It's a journey to learn how to strengthen foundations.
My dad was re-building the footing and foundation of his house, and I remember some of the process. It took a really long time. He had to mount half of the house on stilts, stabilize it, cut out the old foundation, create a mold for the new foundation, pour concrete, wait for it to dry, then go through the whole process again on the other half.

I think that we spend most of our lives just working on the foundation. Or maybe that's just me, but either way therein lies an important principle. The foundation must be built thoroughly, with patience, and an eye for detail, just as our lives must be shaped, built and endures on principles of exact obedience, patience, faith, and "eye single to the glory of God", and trust in the Lord. It can't be built all at once, but a step at a time, a day at a time.

During this week of Thanksgiving not only am I grateful for the leaders in the church who helped me shape a strong foundation, but I am grateful for the tools to build that foundation. And I'm grateful that the Lord has all the specific instructions to building a sure, stable foundation I don't have to re-create a less perfect plan, but I can follow His!

I hope that this Thanksgiving you have the opportunity to be leaders in your own sphere of responsibility (within your ward, area, etc...). That you find joy in service, and can lend a helping hand in the work of strengthening, shaping, or re-pouring the foundations of others. :)

I'm grateful for each of you, and send you my love!

-Sister Amber Garvin

Monday, November 3, 2014

Snow, Christmas Movies, and Building a Firm Foundation

Wow!  Can you believe that it's already not October?  This is craziness!  It's been a year since I was in Rocky Mount.

I'm friends with many of the members in Rocky Mount, and every time they post pictures on Facebook of things happening there my heart just cries a little, and my brain says "Please! let me come back and be a missionary with you again!"   Speaking of pictures, it looked like for many of you the November 1 Social Media Exchange went well.  I saw many pictures of service projects, and smiles. I hope that you each had a very fun-filling day. :)

Hallmark has started Christmas early.  So it's been fun to spend time with my family watching clean Christmas movies. The more media I'm exposed to the more I realize how easy it could be to drown in it. So I'm setting limits. And so far it's going better than it was last week. (thank you personal interview.)

Cleaning the temple last Monday was phenomenal!  I loved it! My group was able to clean the sealing rooms of the temple. It was neat to learn some of the things that I had never recognized such as the no vacuum lines in the carpet. So.... learned how to do that, which also fulfills my slight OCD complex (if vacuum lines aren't seen no one will know if they are straight!!! Wahahahaha!)

How was Halloween?  Did any of you have success with trunk or treats or ward activities? Did you get any leftover candy from the Primary? :)

'Tis now officially the season of gaining weight. So I admonish each of you to only eat what you need to survive the season, and don't overindulge. Thus you will avoid many plagues of life such as gallstones, and loss of the Spirit from eating too much. And you will be happy. Don't follow my example of sugar consumption. (It's gotten better, minus the hoard of frozen snickers in the freezer leftover from last week. But as soon as those are gone I'm off sugar! ;) Just kidding.... I think that we all know I don't have enough resolve to have that happen in my life at this point.)

I'm learning more and more to just LOVE when people talk about God. It's so refreshing! I the South you can talk about Him with anyone, in almost any setting, anywhere.   Grocery stores, gas stations, on the street.  It's an odd difference to feel here. People don't really want to talk about their personal relationships with Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ. I think that it causes them to feel vulnerable. Let's have a moment of truth.  We are ALL vulnerable in some way, and Jesus Christ is the only one that can make us strong in weak places.

I loved that about the CES Fireside last night. Building a foundation in Christ is the very most important thing. Above and beyond everything else. If we don't have that, it wont ever matter what we have because it is as sand running through our fingers, and is fleeting.  If we build a permanent foundation on our Savior, we have what cannot be taken from us without our consent. And growing, and abiding love of God, and of all our brothers and sisters here on the earth, peace that is lasting, and the ability to "endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious...you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully."(PMG p.120)
I love you all, and hope that you feel the added strength that is needful for you to conquer this week.  I know that you can do it, and I know that Heavenly Father has qualified (and He will continue to do so) each of you, through your faith, diligence, and desire, to do His work.  I am so grateful each of our paths crossed.  I'm holding on to the friendships that we've grown knowing that one day when I see you again I want to be on the right path, and I'm willing to do what it takes to stay there.

Thanks for being pals!

Love Always,
Sister Amber Garvin

P.S. For all you Utah folks.... My brother called me this morning and said that it was snowing in the canyon.
The seasons change so quickly! (parallel of life) but they're each beautiful. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mission Shopping, Zion's (Ensign) Peak, and Cleaning House!

Hello Friends!
Well... It's the end of week 3 of my release.  If you don't want to receive my over dramatic emails about it, just let me know. :)

This week I went mission shopping with my Brother, and he got a black, and gray suit.  Both pinstripe.  My mom asked about that.  She thought he should go for a solid.  Do striped suits and striped ties work, or clash?  I thought it was fine. We're exc
ited for him to leave in 5 weeks. :) It's a weird experience to shop with a missionary that is not myself. I'm grateful for the opportunity though to spend time with him before he leaves.  BLESSINGS!

SUPER windy up on the peak!!! :)
I've also been working on my bucket list.  This week my mom, sister, and I hiked Zion's Peak in Salt Lake City. We'd never done it before, but it was a really great experience.  I guess I'm not well educated about Church History, because in my brain the "This is the Place Monument" was on top of Zion's Peak.  And those of you from Utah probably know that is not actually the case.  So we drove up to the monument, and I was like....."This is it? Where's the hike." Although, there were stairs, and that sort of qualifies as a hike for me.  I was not prepared for the actually dirt, and steep incline that was the REAL hike.  But I brought a pair of lightly used Crocs, and they got me to the top.  We took planking and perching (Like an owl) pictures. Mission trends continued. ;)

All of my dreams are coming true tomorrow.  I get to clean the Timpanogos temple!  I'M SOOOOOO HAPPY!!!  The Relief Society sent around a sign up sheet my second Sunday home, and I almost cried because I've really wanted to clean the temple for a long time, and now it is finally happening. 

I need to come up with more bucket list items because at this rate I'll run out soon, and then what will I do with my life?!

Elder Ballard spoke the a 14 stake combine Stake Conference today (aka, Sunday). He gave very practical advice from the mouth of a "grandfather" as he put it. He posed a follow-up on his most recent General Conference talk "Stay in the boat, and hold on!". He told us to regularly have a self-interview to determine if we are in the right boat, going the right direction, and holding on with both hands. (Self- inventory... it's a principle of life, not just Preach My Gospel)

Sometimes the best weeks are the hardest weeks.  It's weird to be a different person surrounded by all the same things. I'm trying to purge my life of old stuff from the storage unit.  I've been a bit of a hoarder in the past, but NO MORE! I think I've given away 4 bags of stuff. Woot!

Well this is long, and y'all skim anyway. :)

Know that you are the most prayed for group of people in the entire world! (Prophets and apostles are included in the group because they are representatives of Jesus Christ too) I know it! 

The Gospel will NEVER cease to be true. It will never cease to require our faith, but it is always worthy of trust and faith, because it belongs to the most merciful, loving, and kind being in the universe. This week don't forget that above all else, you are called to witness to the world that faith in Jesus Christ cleanses, and brings joy.  I hope that you work to apply that principle yourselves.  I'm rooting for you! (Go team!)

Love forever,
Sister Amber Garvin

(Sorry this is a long email.  I haven't written in my journal very thoroughly due to an unexpected roommate. So I'm counting this.... )

Talk: The Light of Christ

I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of “The Light of Christ” today. 

Starting with What it is…: The Bible Dictionary states that: “The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. For instance, Christ is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2; see John 1:9). The light of Christ fills the “immensity of space” and is the means by which Christ is able to be “in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.” It “giveth life to all things” and is “the law by which all things are governed.” It is also “the light that quickeneth” man’s understanding (see D&C 88:6–13, 41). In this manner, the light of Christ is related to man’s conscience and tells him right from wrong (Moro. 7:12–19).

The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who “hearkeneth to the voice” to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost (see D&C 84:46–48). Additional references are Alma 19:6; 26:3; D&C 20:27.”(p.725)

From this we learn that the Light of Christ is not the personage of the Holy Ghost, but is more like our conscience. In the Pre-Earth Life our Heavenly Father gave us the gift of agency, or the ability to choose for ourselves. From the Light of Christ, which is given to every person because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, each of us can recognize right, and wrong. Good, and bad. The Light of Christ, like our conscience, is what makes us genuinely good, and to want to fill our lives with all things that are true, good, light, of God, and bring peace. To fill our lives with things that would create an environment where the Holy Ghost can be a part of our lives each day. It is what prepares us, and the space around us to have the CONSTANT COMPANIONSHIP OF THE HOLY GHOST.

We can each feel the power of the Holy Ghost before being baptized, but the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and the promise of His constant companionship can only be received after baptism by someone who is authorized to work the ordinances of salvation through the Priesthood power of God which have been restored to the earth through a living prophet.

Learning to recognize the Light of Christ in our lives, prepares us to recognize the prompting of the Holy Ghost after we are baptized.

How do we feel when the Light of Christ is touching our lives?

I’ve compiled a list of brief statements of truth from the missionary lessons in Preach My Gospel (lessons 1-3) As I share them with you I invite you to use this moment as a time to receive personal revelation, or communication from God. Pay attention to how you feel about the things that I say. You will recognize the Holy Ghost making contact with the Light of Christ you already have when something “rings true”, feels good, brings peace, etc….

Here they are:

· God is our loving Heavenly Father

· We lived with Him before we came to this earth.

· He gave us the gift of being able to choose for ourselves between right, and wrong and to choose to follow Him.

· He sent Jesus Christ to earth to Atone for our sins. To make it possible for us to be clean, and return again to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

· On this earth, we learn that through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end we can find peace and joy in this life and in the life to come. We learn that if we spend this life striving to keep the commandments, be obedient, follow the prophet, pattern our lives after that of the Savior’s, then, after we die, are judged, and are resurrected, we can live for eternity in the Celestial Kingdom with our families, our loving Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ.

· The Gospel Blesses Families.

· The truths of the Gospel are taught to prophets. God’s chosen representatives who are give the Priesthood power, or power to teach, and act in God’s name for the salvation of all the children of God.

· Christ gave the priesthood to his disciples and taught his gospel when He was on the earth. More than taught His gospel. He lived His gospel. He set the perfect example for us, and showed us the way we can return to live with God again. Through His sacrifice, or Atonement, for us we can change.

· The priesthood and truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ were lost for a long period of time as people chose wickedness, and turned away from and distorted the teachings of Jesus Christ and the prophets.

· The same church that Jesus Christ established when he was on the earth has been restored, or brought back again through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

· Spiritual truths about these things are revealed to us through the Holy Ghost as we pray, study the scriptures, and stand in holy places such as temples, meeting houses, and our homes.

· When we keep the commandments of God as revealed to the prophets, nothing can stop us from receiving the blessings of Heaven.

· Missionary work is a sacred opportunity that members and missionaries have to share these truths with individuals and families, so that they may have the joy that comes from living a Christ centered life.

Witness of the Holy Ghost:

Marion G. Romnet said,” By the witness and power of the Holy Ghost we receive personal testimonies of the truths of the gospel, including knowledge of God the Father and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. (April 1977, The Light of Christ)

How did you feel as you listened to these truths? I hope that peace, love, strength, light, goodness, and revelation entered your heart and mind. What you choose to do based on these truths will come through the light of Christ, and through the guidance of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Light of Christ makes us good, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost guides us to make good choices every day. When we act against that goodness that is part of who we are, and is contrary to the guidance of the Spirit of God we “withdraw ourselves from the spirit of the Lord.”

Elder Bednar cautioned, “We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.”

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.(That We May Always Have His Spirit To Be With Us, April 2006)

The Light of Christ makes us good. The Holy Ghost helps us continually choose to be good, do good, and live well as we follow the example of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost teaches us to act, and I know that as we are obedient to the commandments, and the direction of God through the Gift of the Holy Ghost that we are recorded as faithful disciples of Christ, have “angels round about [us] to bear us up]”(Doctrine and Covenants 84:88) in our times of need, and develop greater testimonies and spiritual strength. When we live up to who we are and cultivate the light of Christ in our lives as sons and daughters of God, we are happy, because we living up to who we are and who we can become.

It is my prayer that each of us chooses to live Christ centered lives, and so that the Spirit of the Lord is part of our days, hours, and minutes. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Talk: Recognizing Christ in Our Lives

                              4 Ways that I have learned to recognize Christ in my life:

1) Recognizing the Holy Ghost in our lives, or knowing what the Holy Ghost feels like to us.

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and is the way that we gain a witness that God is our Father, we are His children, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior and redeemer of all mankind.

Preach My Gospel teaches that “we receive the Spirit by the prayer of faith”(p.93)… and that “Effective prayer requires great effort.” (p.94)

We learn from Ephesians 5:9, and Galatians 5:22 that the “fruits of the Spirit” are goodness, righteousness, truth, love, peace, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, and temperance. 

If these feelings are in your life, then the Holy Ghost is in your life. It’s as simple as that. If these feelings are missing from your life, you can invite them in through repentance, and living your life in harmony with the standards from “For The Strength of Youth” 
Learning to understand how the Spirit communicates with us is a skill that takes a lifetime to develop. But as we keep trying our very best to listen to the quiet whisperings, and promptings of the Spirit; and to act on them “line upon line, and precept upon precept” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12) we will be trusted with more and more prompting, and more and more impressions that will lead us closer to Heavenly Father, and will strengthen our resolve to live the Gospel, and to treat the Gift of the Holy Ghost as sacred.

“Yea behold, I shall tell you in your mind, and in your heart, by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall dwell in your heart.” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2)


How do I receive revelation?

I’ve often heard that when we serve others we find answers our own prayers. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”(Mosiah 2:17) When we obey the commandment to “love one another, as [Christ] has loved [us]” John 13:34) we are entitled to receive divine guidance from the Holy Ghost.

Elder Bednar in a mission conference told the missionaries that the last time we marked something in our scriptures is the last time we received revelation. Revelation is the way that Heavenly Father talks to us. He does that through the scriptures, prayer, the prophets, the Holy Ghost, service, others, and many other ways. You can receive revelation every day. If it is hard to recognize revelation, then pray that you will be able to see it in your life daily. Your prayer will be answered “Line upon line, precept upon precept”(Doctrine and Covenants 98:12).

I see Christ in my life as I receive communication from Him through the Holy Ghost.

2) Being “Grateful in Any Circumstance”

Faith promoting experience:

While serving in my first area I was struggling in many ways. It was hard for me to have faith that the area would ever change, that the ward would ever change, that I would ever change, etc…

After much consideration I chose to do something that I had heard of, but had never tried. I decided for one week to only offer prayers of gratitude.

It was difficult at first. There were so many things that I thought that I needed help with. And I wanted to ask for that help. I had to direct myself to not ask for things, and to find ways to be grateful even if we had no documented success that day. I found that as I practiced thanking God for the blessings and miracles that I observed in my life, He blessed me with exactly what I needed. I became a better minister of the Savior, my testimony grew, I realized that we were doing good every day, that the Lord was pleased with our service, and that gratitude cultivates faith, love, and hope. Pres. Uchtdorf said, “Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes!”(Grateful In Any Circumstances, April 2014, General Conference) 

Gratitude in our prayers opens our hearts and minds to revelation.

“Another key element in sincere prayer is gratitude. When was the last time you said a prayer and only expressed gratitude? About learning to recognize answers to prayer, Elder Richard G. Scott said:

I have saved the most important part about prayer until the end. It is gratitude! Our sincere efforts to thank our beloved Father generate wondrous feelings of peace, self-worth, and love. No matter how challenging our circumstances, honest appreciation fills our mind to overflowing with gratitude. [“Learning to Recognize Answers,” 32] (Gordon Limb, Recognizing and Responding to the Promptings of the Spirit.)

I learned from President Uchtdorf’s talk that if I am only grateful for the things that I have, I will never be happy. True, eternal joy is never found in acquiring worldly “stuff.” My philosophy is that “stuff” is just a filler in our lives anyway, and contains no real substance. It’s like Ramen Noodles, or cake. You get full, but it doesn’t last.

True joy comes as we repent—are willing to change our attitude when circumstances are not ideal. Happily submit our lives, and will's to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ—trusting in Them. Letting go of things we do not have power to change, and cultivating Christlike attributes through an “attitude of Gratitude.

3) Holding to the “iron rod”, “pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ and a perfect brightness of hope.

None of us are perfect at doing everything all the time. The important thing is that we never give up trying. This principle is taught simply and powerfully in the Book of Mormon.

In 1 Nephi when speaking with his brothers about a vision of the tree of life Nephi was asked,

23) “…What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? 24) And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. (I Nephi 15:24)

Please don’t let go of the iron rod. It’s possible to hold onto it until the end. You can make it.

Inspiring words from out beloved Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. In 1999 he said, “Don’t give up.. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it… You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”…

“..Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.” (‘An High Priest of Good Things to Come’, Oct. General Conference)

4) Relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and making it part of each day.

Knowing that we are children of a LOVING, KIND, and MERCIFUL Heavenly Father makes a difference, and is part of who we each are. This is a truth that we each need to gain a testimony of. The very first thing that missionaries teach is that God is our loving Heavenly Father.

I know that is true, and that through His son Jesus Christ we can be made clean, change things in our lives, and none of us is ever so lost that we cannot be found.

In closing I wanted to share some about the Atonement, and the term “grace”. Which defined by the Bible Dictionary “…is divine means of help and strength given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Bednar in April 2012 Ensign taught that, “Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. We may mistakenly believe that we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves, through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities… Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality—from bad to good and to change our very nature.”(The Atonement and The Journey of Mortality, pp. 40-47)

And Brad Wilcox in a CES fireside“…grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road it is received right here, and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch.” (His Grace is Sufficient, BYU Devotional, July 2011)

I bear testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth today through the Priesthood authority of God, or power to act in His name, and under His direction. Through the Priesthood, all saving ordinances required for each of us to return to live with our Heavenly Father again are available to all who will choose them. The Gospel is meant to help each of us improve the quality of our lives and find joy. Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. The power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is ENABELING, and strengthening. I know of the Savior’s love. He will neither “fail, nor forsake” us. Joseph Smith was the first prophet called in this period of time. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet on the earth today.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

First Names, Old and New Friends AND... Adjusting to Post-Mission Life

Dear Mission Friends,

(I'm not trying to be stingy by sending a group email... I just feel like this is a way that leaves it open for you to not feel obligated to respond to an email if it's sent to everyone...make sense?)

Well, you can officially call me by my first name now.  But it's sort of awkward, so it would be okay to just call me Sister Garvin still. 
Over the course of the last almost 2 weeks of being home I've seen several mission friends, and I kind of choke over first names.  So taking the advice of Sister Jasperson, just avoid first names. :)

I hope that your weeks are going well, and that you are gearing up for the Social Media exchange.  I really want to do something from here that will help with spreading the word on all the good deeds that y'all are doing. If you have any suggestions on how I can be a proactive supporter I'm open! :)

I gave my homecoming reports yesterday.  I would have invited you all, but it's a pretty long flight, and probably not exactly obedient.  Plus, President and Sister Baker would have missed your valiant selves in the mission. :)

Anyway, I will send copies of what I talked on generally; for your reading pleasure.  Not that you have much time for that since it is Monday, and there is limited computer time, and sometimes if costs money to print pages.  Well, you at least have the opportunity to be a part of it. :)

I still feel like I'm living one giant preparation day.  So I'll probably miss the mission more the longer I am away from it.  I wasn't super torn up about it until reality hit, and I was asked to remove my name tag. 

Here are some miracles that have happened since I returned home:
-During my interview with the Stake President asked if he could invite my family in and then offer me a Priesthood blessing.  I was pretty happy about that because I had wanted a blessing for several weeks.  My brother was there, and had just been ordained an elder the week before.  The Stake President asked him to give me the blessing and instructed him in the ways of proper structure, etc... It was a powerful experience for my family and I. It confirmed to us that my brother is prepared to serve a mission.
-The day after I returned, my brother received his mission call.... (Wait What?!?!  How is this already happening?!)
He's going to the best mission in the world.... Nampa Idaho!  It will be the best for him, and we are all super excited.  Blessedly, he is as well. (Tender Mercy!)
-I've seen all 3 of the new temple movies, and was able to do some family names for Sister Jasperson's family.  That was neat.
-Had my deferment over-ridden for BYU-Idaho, and will be utilizing the "Returning Missionary Program" to start school on my off-track.... Meaning that I'll be going back in January (Yeah, I know that I said I didn't think that I'd go back, but President Baker told me that if it made me happy then I should re-consider, and then it was the only thing that I was excited about since being home, and I found out that one of my favorite High School teachers transferred there, and it teaching in my currently selected major, and it felt pretty right, so I decided to go back.... That happened quick...)
-After a week long procrastination, I finally wrote in my journal about all the things that had happened over the course of the returning home situation, and I realized that I actually had done some things with my unplanned life.

It's an interesting experience to not have a plan for every minute of the day.
I thought that I was really converted, and had an unshakable resolve to commit to specific things I would do.  I really have to work hard to make sure that I have morning and evening prayers, and that I have daily, meaningful personal scripture study.  It's a lot more difficult then it was on the mission because there are a lot more distractions. So that's been a struggle of my life.  I have a lot more understanding of why it really is hard for members.  Not that it's an excuse to be busy, but there are a lot more things that are pulling for your attention as a member.  As a missionary there is one purpose.  So when you teach members about having daily personal scripture study, make it a firm commitment, and teach them that what you choose to fill your life with is what will consume your thoughts. To have a life centered on Christ we have to be thinking of him.  So you can fill you life with the words of the prophets contained in the scriptures, or you can fill it with facebook, pinterest, Frozen, cool apps, and music.  It's a pretty clear choice that we have to make.  And we have to make it every single day.

Now you know my life.

I hope that as you each willingly serve in your current capacities you feel the presence of the Holy Ghost in your lives.  I know that your actions when guided by the Spirit are recorded in Heaven.  Although they may be "small and simple" the contribute to greatness.

You are each GREAT!


Sister Amber Garvin
(I can still call myself Sister Garvin because p.176 of PMG in 'How To Begin Teaching' states that "we are all brothers and sisters, therefore, we would like to refer to you as brothers and sisters.")

A New Phase!

In keeping up with this blog I've decided to post letters that I send to friends still in the mission field.  There may be other opportunities to share things outside of those letters, but I feel that letter writing give me a chance to share things that I would with real people, and not just generally to everyone.

This will be a new phase, but it will be a good one!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pondering, Beach for Last Time, Prayer, A Treasure in the Sand

I've been pondering what to say today.
This morning we walked on the beach for the last time.  Somewhere in my heart I prayed that I'd find a conch shell to take home with me. (It's been known to find them in the early morning after the tide has gone down.)
There was no sight of one anywhere.  
As I continued to walk farther down the beach scanning the sand for even one unchipped shell something caught my eye.
On top of a small mound of sand there was a clean, white, unhidden clam shell.  Perfectly in tact, and unbroken.  

With a leap of enthusiasm I picked it up, and for the rest of the morning made sure that it was in a safe environment.

As I've pondered about this experience I've been able to recognize parallels to my mission here.
Here is what I've been told:  As a child I was a social butterfly, and I loved everyone, and knew no stranger.  I had personality!
As a teenager I ended up being closed off, sitting in the back of the room, quiet, and not confident in my decisions or relationships.
I became a closed clam.
Over time, and through the experiences I've had over the last 2 years. (College, Mission, etc...) I've been able to learn the things that I needed to to open up again.  To be myself, and to be able to become a precious, in tact, treasure in the sand.
I opened my mouth, and look at what has happened from it.
Parallel 2:
I only wrote that someone had been baptized, and confirmed in my planner once.
Baptism is SO important, but I think that sometimes in missionary work it becomes more important than treating someone as a child of God, and giving them a decision.  
I wanted to baptize everyone!  It didn't happen, but that is okay.
Sometimes you spend all your time looking for the conch shell that you miss the opportunity to find another type of rarity.  A together clam shell that is white, and not chipped. Also, if you spend all your time looking for obstacles in the sand you miss the sunrise.
Sunrise - Nag's head
I'm being kicked off the computer now.
I want to continue to write on this blog.  It's been a good outlet for me.  
My soul is rejoicing to see you again. (TOMORROW!)
Love Forever,
Sister Amber Garvin