(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. :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Week 5:

Dear Mom (And everyone else),
(some personal things then,)

Also, I take missionary work very seriously.  So I hope that my letters home don't make it seem otherwise.  Please correct me if that is something that I need to improve on immediately rather then gradually.

This week has really been a tough one on me.  I am calling it a "Missionary Meltdown" and have likened it unto a candle.  I started out really strong, and slowly melted into a puddle at the bottom of the candle holder, and struggled to keep the light strong and steady.  

I am saying that I really was burned out, and I probably cried for reals for the first time since we sold the puppy in March (you know mom).  It was a huge blessing, and actually an amazingly spiritual experience to kneel down and pray feeling so completely discouraged and ask Heavenly Father if he really cared about me, and if he was still there.

I needed to be reassured that he was aware of me, and the feeling of comfort that I received was something that I can't ever really express adequately.

I know that if Heavenly Father is that aware of me, then he must be that aware of all of his other struggling children.  From this understanding, my love for the people that we are working with, searching for, my companion, and myself has grown even greater.

Ending on a slightly more adventurous note, this is what happened this week..........

We were helping to unload a storage unit full of really big trash, such as broken box springs, desks, and shelves.  We have a dumpster. There is only one way to get big things in that dumpster, and I am happy to say that missionaries such as Sister J. and myself, were that way.  We climbed into a dumpster.  Don't worry, we were wearing service clothes, we were being supervised, and we took showers very promptly afterward.

Thus is the life of a missionary.  Surprise!

You are my best friends, and I am glad that we are an eternal family.

Your Sister Garvin

Monday, May 20, 2013

Discretion being used on this blog.... :)

From Amber's Mom:

So, after emailing Amber and getting her feedback - we've decided to keep this blog public - but, just use more discretion as to what is posted.

She wants it to be a place to share some of her experiences with those she loves, as well as perhaps encourage others who may be considering serving a mission.

We don't want to blog about things that others wouldn't want posted, nor do we want this to be a place to share things that are too sacred or private.

So, thanks for your support and ....encouragement.  A blog can be a great tool for good - or used for other purposes.  We hope to be of the former - and also provide a record of this wonderful blessing in her life.

May 20, 2013

Dear...Best family in the entire world who I love (and friends),

I had my one month missionary birthday!  Can you believe it?  I sort of wish I could keep starting over so that time never moves forward and I can learn as much as I have learned all the time. That probably doesn't make sense.  

But mostly I am trying to say that time has really just flown by, and we only have 13 days left in this transfer which is really soon!

We don't know what is going to happen, but Sister Jasperson and I did some math (which I didn't think would ever happen on a mission.  ;) and there is a possibility that we will be getting 140 new missionaries in the next two transfers.  WHICH IS THE EQUIVILANT OF AN ENTIRE MISSION....almost.  Basically, that is really a lot of missionaries. Also, I am not really sure how to spell equivilant...the computer says it is wrong, but has no alternative spellings.
Sister Jasperson and Me

This week was really busy, and I loved it a lot!  Also, through many many miracles we were able to set two investigators for baptism in June!  So they will be the first baptisms in a year, and we are super thrilled--so is the ward. :) 

Being able to see the gospel change people, and bless their lives is a miracle to witness, and I love it! 

Along with the miracles comes great opposition, and I am learning how to pray with sincere desires for others, and humility myself.  Something that one in my branch presidency at the MTC told me is to never forget humility, and that has really become a goal for me.  I am learning a lot of things about humility that I never let myself learn before because I wasn't being humble.  HaHa now I am learning a lot, but it is really a special blessing. :)

Also, this is important.  I have learned some really important things that I would like to share with you this week. They are not in order:
1- A good box springs is more important then the actual mattress.
2- Those dried coconuts and mangos we get from Costco are supposed to be refridgerated.... it says so on the bag.  Woops. :)
3- Always pack an umbrella for unexpected torrential rain storms.
4-  The MTC is one of my favorite places in the world.
5-  It is important to laugh, but also really important to be moderate in all things and maintain a dignity at home as well as at all the other places you go.
6- Pray for everyone, and everything all the time.
7- Don't drive with the emergency brake on because it doesn't work and then you have a heart attack. 

I will continue the list later.
Also, I splurged and bought a pair of shoes at Walmart because they were on clearance and I loved them really fast.  Sooooooo.... That is that story. :)
All the roads look like this, and you can't tell where the houses are!  :)
I am sending pictures this week. Sorry it has taken so long. And sorry this letter isn't really an update.  
I am doing really alive, and I miss you my family, and I love you, and almost everybody now. :)
I also learned a lot about forgiveness this week.  I was reading somewhere between Alma 33 and Alma 43 and I learned a lot about forgiveness.

That is more of an update. :)

I love y'all for all my years forever! :)

-Sister Garvin

MTC District

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 12, 2013 in Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA
Dear All.....
We had a miracle.  We had planned to go to a house and Skype home (for Mother's Day), then they weren't home (Which is really, really okay... absolutely no hard feelings at all because we learned some important lessons we needed to learn.) Then I tried not to have a panic attack, and tried not to imagine my beloved family sitting all alone on a couch with no missionary to talk to, then we called and texted people that we know to see if they could help us out and nobody answered.  Then we said a really important prayer (That is a key part of this poorly punctuated story) Then we called ________'s house. Then his wife answered and I tried not to sound like I was in frantic mode as I sort of explained (I am not really sure what happened actually because I was bordering hysterics) and asked if we could just use their phone to call and say that we couldn't call, and she was SUPER nice and said "no problem come on over" or something like unto it. (PRAYER ANSWERED!!!) Then I was so overwhelmed with appreciation and love for God, and for those blessed members that I cried a little.  Then, they were actually some of the closest ward members to where we were so we got there a minute later at almost exactly when we were supposed to call home.  Then they went the extra 80 minute mile and let each of us use their IPad to call home.  Then I cried a little bit more, but played it off because I'm good at that (and via Skype you can't really tell that I actually shed a tear)  Then I cried a little because I had to say goodbye again, and also Mother's Day is a day of emotional roller coasters.   Then we were forever indebted to the kind _______family, and had to leave their house (but we will go back at some point to try to repay their immense kindness).

Then Sister _____ and I both tried really hard not to cry because we had a dinner appointment right then.  So we tried to not think about it, and not talk about it and distracted ourselves with the horrible reality that we had not been home since church, we had two appointments left, and we don't like using other peoples lavatories.  Discomfort is uncomfortable so we had to stop thinking about that too.

Beautiful Virginia (in vehicle while driving)
That is what happened yesterday.

Please save this message somewhere so I can look back later in life and laugh at how I tell stories.  I already know this one is a gem, and well worth keeping. (Also, I am smiling while writing it, so I hope you smile too. :)

This week:
Uhhhhh.... Lot's of things.

I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now because I am learning so much from the people in this area.  _____ I am determined to be a successful missionary here because I am determined to allow a mighty change of heart to come over me so that I can continue to more fully come unto Christ, and so that I can more fully be converted to the Lord.  That is success because my soul counts just as much as everyone else here.  

My job is to invite, encourage, uplift, and teach truths.  If they aren't ready for it, it is not because I failed.  There are ways I could improve I am sure.  But if there is one lesson that I have learned to sum up my life here so far it is that I have the power to use MY agency to bring myself closer to Christ.  And that is what I want, and that is what He wants for me.

"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve...." Joshua 24:15.  Make the decision now.  Not tomorrow.  If you choose a side the "battle" finally becomes meaningful, and you have a chance to win.  

I love you all (in the words of that one song that is sung in the Swan Princess movie) "far longer than forever",
-Your Sister Garvin

Monday, May 6, 2013

Favorite Scripture of the Week:

Alma 26: 3, 27  
"Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God!  And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thins afflictions, and I will give unto you success."

May 6, 2013

This week has been so much busier than last week, and I love it.  I love having my time filled, and having structure in a schedule.

We had dinner with couple this week, and he brought his friend from work because they have been talking a little bit about the gospel, and religion.  We taught The Restoration lesson, and he committed to read the Book of Mormon.  We will be contacting him next week for a follow up apt, and will hopefully have a new progressing investigator!  

We were also able to visit with another investigator who we taught the Plan of Salvation. (Two full length lessons in a week is really good for us!) And she committed to be baptized!  We were unable to set a date, but when we meet with her this week we will talk to her a little bit more about it, and see if she would be willing to set a date for the end of this month, and progress towards that.

Something that is amazing about being here is that every single person that I have met here both member, and non-member I have had people De-Ja-Vu--not even exagurating (not sure how to spell that one.  I am google-free :-). I honestly feel like I have met them before.  I know that it is just another reminder that this is exactly where God wants me to be.  It is a completely different experience, and has tested my faith a lot, but I am reminded daily that I am supposed to be here.

Something that I was taught in the MTC is to never lower your expectations because that is how your performance is measured.  I re-learned that this week.  I came into this area with high expectations, and it seemed like everything that happened in the days that I first got here were things that really tested, and hinted that I should lower those expectations, but I have learned that it is good to have high expectations.  It is okay if they are not met, but there always needs to be a standard to measure by--that is what determines your success as a missionary I think.  Not whether the expectations or goals were met, but whether or not you were doing everything that you could to work towards them, and make progress, and meet the standards and expectations of the Lord.

My favorite scriptures this week were Alma 26:3,27, and also a CES fireside talk by Elder Bednar from March.  He talked about faith and told the story of how a young, newly married man was diagnosed with cancer.  He and his wife had immense faith, and knew that God could make him better. Long story super short.... They asked Elder Bednar for a blessing, and he asked them a couple of questions before they started--- this question really hit me hard---"Do you have the faith not to be healed?"

That is something that I needed this week.  I asked myself if I have the faith to do something that is really hard, and I don't understand.  Still something to ponder. :)  I hope that I would be that kind of person with that kind of faith.  It is something that I hope to be able to continue growing into.

Love forever,
Sister Garvin

P.S. Sorry for typos.  I can only type in scripture lingo now.  Side effects of being Thereforto art thou hath fore naught....... :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Letter to My Mom - April 24

(This was a quick letter on the evening she arrived in Virginia. )

Dear Mom,
I made it here safely!  So excited to be here, and also to meet our Mission Presidency, and their wives.  I have been awake since 2:30 a.m. (they left the MTC for the airport at 4:00 a.m.) so some of this may not make much sense - sorry. Mission President is wonderful and they served us dinner, and we will get our area assignments in the morning.

I am sorry for not calling from the airport, but I also figured that you didn't know about it anyway.  One of the sisters from our other district, Sister ____, was with me in the airport, and we had a little visit with a 57 year old woman named _____.  She told us about her life and about how she really appreciates what we as missionaries are doing.  She used to be a Baptist and is now a Seventh-day Adventist. She was super sweet, and made it easier to (figure out how to) approach people.  I was awkward at starting the conversation, but she was wonderful.

Got to go!
Much love,
Sister Garvin

President and Sister Perry - with newly arrived missionary Sister Garvin