(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. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013, Williamsburg, Virginia, Sister Missionaries

Sister Garvin and Sister Newbold
Today is the first day of my 4th transfer.  Congratulations me!  I made it.

This week was really good, and sometimes pretty weird.

We went on exchanges with the sisters we live with, and I was able to serve for a day in a place other than my area.  I loved it!  Not because I don't love my area-- because I do, and I dont want to ever go anywhere else--but because it was a great experience to have one day someplace else.  Testify of truth, meet other people that like the missionaries, yeah.  It was just a really wonderful.

We went to an Assisted Living center where a member of their ward was living, and we ended up talking with this old man for a long time!  It was really powerful to feel the Spirit just testifying of simply truths.  Most especially of God's love for each individual.  I love seeing the little bits of hope that appear in people's eyes as they realize that they are cared about, and there is something more to life then just going through it.

So that was neat.

Something I learned very clearly this week:
Our purpose, my purpose, as a missionary is only to invite, and if the invitation is accepted then to gently guide.  Never to entice, cajole, manipulate, or convince anyone that the gospel is true.  Never that.  That's a bad idea.

We never ask someone to take our word for it.  Believe that the Gospel has been restored, or that the Book of Momon is true just because I say so.  That is also, a bad idea.  The promise in Moroni 10:3-5 is real!  You can ask and find out for yourself that it is true, but you have to really want to know.

Sorry... my collection of thoughts is pretty brief, and less organized than usual.  Time is running out! 

Love forever!

Thank you more than I can say for your unwavering support!

Sister Garvin

Book of Mormon Promise

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013 - Williamsburg, Va

This week I don't really want to write a long letter.  I hope that is okay and not offensive. :)

Sometimes typing is annoying, and I learned that I love computers, but I don't want to spend my entire life with a keyboard.  Because my fingers get worn out!

So here is the short vesion of my week: It was good, sad, overwhelming, joyful, peaceful, busy, and other stuff.  Pretty typical week.  I feel something different almost everyday.  And I learn just as many things every day.

I know that I am related to people that aren't satisfied with just that information so I will give a short story. :) (you're welcome Grandma! :)

This week, through accidental circumstances, I got a welt on my face, and then we had church the next day, and I didn't want people to get the idea that I had been beat up or something, so I slept on a rock-hard icepack.

OH!  This is a good story!!

We were helping a member with some yard work, and there was a toad in her garden bed!  I was very brave, and I caught it!  And I held it!  (I held my first toad.  I know what you all are thinking.... None of us ever thought that this day would come... But let me tell you... Virginia has changed me.)

I think that I shared the story last week, but I'm even killing spiders now.  Of course it is with cleaning spray that shoots very far, but my aim is getting better. :)

So those are the stories for this week.

We taught an unexpected Restoration lesson, and I asked someone to be baptized for the first time.

Please don't judge that I haven't done it before.  I'm learning and that is the part that counts.  But I felt good about it, and it wasn't as scary or intimidating as some people make it out to be.  You just have to do it.

Like I think I've said previously: Heavenly Father is teaching me how important it is to feel.  I am learning more and more every week why He called me on a mission, and His purposes surpass all the understanding I had previously about why I choose to come on a mission.  

I'm reflecting on who I was 4 months ago.  I'm foundation-ally the same, but the structure is more refined, and improved than I ever thought possible.  Heavenly Father is a good Character Architect. :)

I guess this turned out longer when I realized that I had some more things to say to combat the goofy.

This letter didn't start out with a point in mind, but as I have written it I have reached on, and it is this:

God IS our LOVING Heavenly Father.

know that this is true. And if it's true that Heavenly Father loves me, and if it's true that He loves you than every thing else about the gospel makes sense.

Now, I'm out of time. 

I love you family.  More than I can even put into words.  And that is a lot, because I have a lot of words. (See above)

Love always, and forever,

Sister Amber Garvin

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 - Willliamsburg, Virginia

I didn't budget my time very well this week, so I apologize I am including an exerpt from a letter I sent back to my Bishop (Bishop Nyman) about the Book of Mormon and the talk he gave a few weeks ago.
"Our mission president has challenged us to re-read the Book of Mormon as a mission at a pace of about 7 pages per day to get through it in 12 weeks.  With this emphasis on the Book of Mormon I have learned so much pertaining to my personal growth, as well as how to help others grow.

"Abide With Me"  (AltusFineArt.com)
Since there are so many people in the "South" that are deeply religious and relate to the Bible it is sometimes difficult to talk about the Book of Mormon. I want to start with the Bible and then work towards the Book of Mormon.  But something that I am still learning, and love learning, is that the reason that I came on a mission is to share the Book of Mormon.  The world, and a vast amount of people already have the Bible, and the unique message that we share is centered on Jesus Christ and the other testament of His ministry in the Americas."

"It is amazing to see the miracles that come from the Book of Mormon, and the role that it plays in every persons' conversion.  Nobody can truly be converted without the Book of Mormon having a role in their lives."

I know that it is (for lack of better words) dumb to quote myself, but I just did. And I am satisfied with that decision.  :)

Now my letter is longer with just a copy and paste! ;)
I've got it all figured out. :)

I learned something important this week; about one of the reasons that Heavenly Father called me on a mission.  Not about why I chose to serve. (This is one of those lessons that you had no idea you would learn until after you are already deep into an experience---such as a mission.)

Like all the lessons I learn and share, this is the run-on story:

Remeber that one time when I was a teenager, and I had no idea who I was, or what I wanted, and if God cared about me?
Well, at some point, I learned really well how to hide from things: Myself, others, the World... Etc... Then I was not a happy person.
Then I realized how important it is to make Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ a central part of my life, and I got back on the right track and found out who I was, what I wanted, and that God absolutely cared about me.

That came with a life.  Which included going to college.
Which was truly WONDERFUL.
Then I came home and forgot what I wanted to do with my life.
Then I made a choice that would forever change me called "Coming on a mission". That choice fixed the flat tire of my life and I was able to get back on the road going about 2 million miles infinity.
Then I came on a mission, and Heavenly Father taught me that although I had found happiness, and joy, and was doing all the right things before--I was still hiding.
Then He taught me that it is safe not to hide.  And that it is okay to hurt.
Then I read a quote that said "if there were no sorrow in death, there could be no joy in life." (True to the Faith; Death)
Then I cried almost at least once a week because I discovered that when you aren't hiding you get all emotional and stuff. 

And this lesson could only be learned through this experience.

That's the story.

I am so grateful that when we are called on our own personal missions that we go into it with certain expectations, or goals, but that Heavenly Father always has other lessons for us to learn that we never expected.
It's great.

Now everyone knows my life, and some of life's greatest mysteries have been solved.

This letter is sort of a ramble.  But that is what I learned this week in force. :)

Also, I learned again that I love my family, and that time is precious.  I've already been out 4 months.

Take a moment for that to sink in..... I hope your jaw dropped.
It still hasn't really hit me.... But really, wow.

Time is a precious thing.

I'm glad that I will have time forever with the people that I love the most!

Love always,
Sister Amber Bennett Garvin

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013 - Williamsburg, Virginia - Missionary Work

I have a really cool story to tell.

First of all it was a long and dreary night.....

Just kidding, it was a really wonderful Fast Sunday.
We taught Primary.  Which is sometimes hard to do as missionaries because you can't touch kids, and you always have to be within sight and sound of your companion.  But we made it work.

That's not the story.

The story is that all of the missionaries in our zone are having a really hard time finding new people to teach-- especially the Spanish Speaking sisters that just opened new areas. So we had a zone fast to help us find people to teach. (more specific than that, but you get the gist. )

Also, we were trying a new thing that our Mission President wants us to work on with asking members of the ward for referrals.  

So we went to our dinner appointment, and for our dinner message we asked the members to be open to recieving revelation for one of their friends who could use the message that we shared with them in their own lives. We then taught parts of the Restoration with a focus on families, and Prophets.

At the end we asked them who they had thought about that could be blessed with the peace and joy and power that we feel through the gospel.

Our member immediately said this name.  We were so grateful!!!! And I sort of started to cry. Then she said that this woman lived in a different area.  (Which is still great, but didn't really help us find someone to teach. ) But the area IS in our zone, and we have wonderful elders serving out there.  So we were all excited, and I cried a little bit.

Then our member went to get her friends contact info, and she realized that she only had a PO box, and a phone number. So, she just called her friend, sort of explained the situation, and asked her if it would be okay if the missionaries came over to her house.  Her friend said "You know what?  I would not have any problem with meeting with those young men."

Wow.  Really. Can you feel the power of member missionary work?! It's incredible!  And it works!  That is how it is supposed to work!  And it is a miracle!  (and I really cried.)

Principles that I have learned from this miracle.

There is a power in friendship.
There is IMMENSE power in fasting, and prayer.
God is watching out for every single one of us.
He knows us.
He loves us.
And He doesn't ever want anyone to fall between the cracks unnoticed.  Every person is significant in the kingdom of our Savior.

So that is the story.  It happened.  It was amazing to witness. I loved it.

I hope that this brings strength to your lives to know that things like this do happen, and that it truly is "by small and simple means [that] great things are brought to pass."

I love you forever and eternity!
Sister Garvin

P.S. We ate at the Soderholm's and their son served his mission in Nebraska when the Galland's were the Mission Presidents.  So he told me to say 'Hi'. :)

Have a wonderful week!