(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, December 30, 2013

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, LDS Sister Missionaries

I suppose that I ought to write an incredibly long letter about each person that I talked with on Christmas, everything that we did, the wonderful time that we had, and all the food that I ate.
But it's easier to write it in one generalized, unspecific paragraph.  So there ya go.
We had a Christmas Mission Conference on Christmas Eve, which I may have mentioned last week... I don't remember.... But it was great.
I had a cold.  Which was gross.  I lugged around an entire box of tissues in my purse, and had to stuff the used ones in an empty purse pocket.  Don't worry.  It was dignified.  Because I'm a missionary.  Also, one of the things that makes me feel the most self-conscious is blowing my nose in public.... So I tried to keep that to a minimum.
The conference itself was really great!  President Baker put on 'Muppet Christmas Carol' movie, and we ate some good food, and there were many talented, and courageous people that performed musical numbers for our enjoyment and benefit.  So we had a good time.
It was weird though because it was sunny and 80 degrees.....also, the grass is still green.  But it's the spirit of Christ that makes it Christmas, and I was feelin' it.
Being able to talk with you my family (including all of you that I spoke with) Was the best Christmas present that I could have asked for!
I hope that it wasn't too demanding to pick a time for me to call, but I loved it.
Also, sorry if me crying made you uncomfortable.  It's a new part of me that I'm trying to learn to embrace, but sometimes it makes people uncomfortable.  So, uh..... yeah.... That happened.  I was crying all over the place.  What a new experience-- to go right along with the green grass and 80 degree weather I suppose.
In conclusion, and summation (which I'm hoping that word means is another form of summary---sometimes I use words that I don't know the meaning to.... I have a dictionary though and will look up the proper definition of that word when I get home, and if I'm off base y'all have permission to laugh....) Christmas was good.  I don't have a cold anymore, and I learned much from people about focusing on what the true meaning of worshiping the Savior's birth is: following His example, service, love, compassion, charity, doing things of eternal value, developing meaningful relationships, and being kind to all those you meet.
These attributes have a much greater value than material possessions, and that is what made my Christmas here special.  LOVE.
I hope that we can make everyday in this new year a Merry Christmas, and I propose that it can be.  If the Spirit of Christmas is feeling the love of our Savior Jesus Christ can we not feel it year round? 
We can! And we should.
Now add it to yer'  New Years' Resolutions, (but really stick with this one for the whole year. :)
I love you, and wish that you will each feel the joy that comes from feeling love, and loving others in this next phase of "our" lives.
Talk to you next year! ;)
Love forever,
Sister Amber Garvin

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013, Rocky Mount, North Carolina - LDS Sister Missionaries

Wow!  Can you believe it's Christmas?! Also..... it was 80 degrees yesterday. It's muggy and rainy, and hot.  It's a new experience for sure-- not to have cold weather on Christmas! :)  But I really am so so excited to be able to spend Christmas with some of the people here!  They have made such an impression on me and I love them!
We had a wonderful Christmas program in Church yesterday.  The chapel was PACKED! There were a lot of visitors as well as people that haven't been to church in a long time that were able to make it.
We sang in the Ward Choir as well as sang a song with some members called In the Bleak Midwinter.  It is a hymn that isn't in our hymnbook, but is in many others. President Monson quoted the last verse of it in the Devotional on December 8th.  There was a really sweet spirit in the room, and I think that combined with the otherr music and the Primary children there must have been at least one person in the congretation that learned and felt something that they needed to.
I love our ward!  They are so good to us!
This is another short email.
I'm just really excited for Christmas, and to see your beautiful faces, and hear your angelic voices (Andrew can be a Bass angel. :)
I love you!
Thank you all for taking the initiative to help others feel of the love of their Savior during this time of year!  I know that there are many all over the world that have need to feel it, and I hope that as any you have reached out you have been able to feel the Savior's love for you as well and what the true meaning and spirit of Christmas are.
I learned an important lesson this week.
We have each been blessed with unique capabilities and gifts, and Heavenly Father will provide a way that we can use those capabilities and gifts within our means to build His kingdom.  There is no one "right" way that everybody does it.
If there is a specific plan and purpose for our lives, as I know there to be, then there must also be a specific plan for how we can build God's way. 
I don't know if this makes sense or if it's just redundant.  We'll just say that it makes sense to me, and I'm working on figuring out how to use what I've got to build the way that I need to build.
(Maybe we won't include this in the book of wisdom that I know someone has got to be compiling. :)
Oh, P.S. We got a new Elder to work with!  One of our other ones finished his mission and went home.  We're really excited to keep the work moving forward, and there is a lot of new energy and excitement since our new Elder has just been out since our mission was created.  It's going to be "Excellent!"
I love you!
Sister Amber

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Goodness - Sister Missionaries

This post is from me; Sister Garvin's Mom:

Thanks to Karyssa Watt for this beautiful photo of her sister and my daughter.  :)  
Social Media is an amazing way to connect with one another in this great cause of Missionary Work.  It's been wonderful for me to connect with some of the members in Rocky Mount, Sister Holloman where they live, her son the assistant ward mission leader, and…also Sister Watt's family.  Wow.  It's thrilling to all care about the same work; that of bringing souls to Christ. 

Thank you Karyssa (and everyone else)!!!!  
You're all in our prayers!!!

Sister Garvin and Sister Watt with sweet little "Ava".  Tree is from Sis. Holloman; dear member they live with.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Staying: Rocky Mount, North Carolina, December 16, 2013

Well, I'm staying in Rocky Mount with Sister Watt another transfer.

There weren't many transfer calls because ITS CHRISTMAS!  I think that President Baker was sensitive to that.

So we'll be here in Rocky Mount, 'til the first week of February.

I'm grateful to be able to continue to be with this ward.  I have learned so much from serving here, and serving among others who are so willing to reach outside of themselves and serve.  It's really wonderful to be here!

And now you can meet the family that I am living with Via SKYPE!

Next week yo!  Then I'll remember your voices and faces.  It will be good.  I'll even do my hair and wear make-up for you. :)

Map of the area of Rocky Mount, NC
This is short because that was the biggest event for this week.

And I don't really want to type a long email.  By bed is calling me.  I've had the chills today.  And there is a heated blanket on my bed.

I should sound more grateful.

Sorry that it is hard to portray appropriate emotion through email. 

It's sometimes easier to have social skills though.  It has the potential to be a one sided conversation that never ends, and there aren't any awkward silences.  There will probably be some of those when I get home.  I don't remember how to talk to people unless it's about the gospel.

Random thought, but I was thinking about it. :)

Anyway, it will probably get worse over the next 9 months.

I'm going to be half way next month!

Is time fast for you, or slow for you? Or fast-slow?

Love you forever!

Sister Amber

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Sister Missionaries
These last two transfers have seemed to ust fly by!  I feel like it's only been a couple of weeks that we have been in Rocky Mount, but it's come closer and closer to possibly being the end of our time here. (no speculation involved.  It's just probably that there will be a change here since we've both been here two transfers. :)

I am increasingl grateful for the time that I have been able to spend here.  I remember how it felt the first couple of weeks to just have to try to start from almost ground 0 with our teaching pool, but we have a solid building block now, and I know, that because of the help that we have had here, and the things that have been done, that future sisters will be blessed in being able to work off of something.  It's neat to have been a part of that, and a part of the lives of so many people that I love.

I've been reminded (by my Mom) that I haven't shared much about this area, and part of that is because I never want anything to be read out of context or in a different spirit than intended.  I'll apologize in advance if anything of the sort occurs. :)

As part of this Christmas season I have become even more aware of the need of the people here.  I have heard from different sources that parts of where we are serving have some of the lowest poverty rates in the United States.  I am continually amazed at the cheerfulness of those who have less than I have ever had.

I have learned that just because your belongings are falling apart it doesn't mean that your life is falling apart.  There is still fulfilment with out material possessions.

I'm not serving in a third world country, so maybe I don't understand what it truly is to have nothing, but from the expanded perspective that I have gained I know that I haven't gone without anything really.

I remember my mom saying that when she came home from her mission she felt like a rich person because there was carpet on the floors.  I feel like a rich person for having internet, and for being able to turn lights on any time that I want, and for being able to heat the house during the Winter without propane heaters. (I think that's what they are run off of….)

President and Sister Baker have proposed that service is going to be a key to not being homesick this season.  I know that there are going to be many, many opportunities to serve different people here, and I am grateful to know-- from experience on Thanksgiving-- that service is the best medicine for a hurting heart. :)  I will miss all the people  and family that I love, but I know that it's going to be alright.

On another sparadic note:  We had Elder and Sister Perkins of the Seventy come do a mission tour on yesterday.  We learned "many great and important things…"

And something that really stuck out to me was:

The key to revelation is asking a specific question that requires action.

So my new goal with personal and companionship study is to have a quesiton for every study session.  I'm excited to act on the answers, and see how it works.

This is one of the times that I have decided I just have to faithfully try.  But I'm going to faithfully try whole-heartedly, and just see how it goes. :)

I love you!
Have a marvelous week!
Sister Garvin

With a Special Family

Serve others, Serve God

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 Rocky Mount, North Carolina, LDS Sister Missionaries, 'Mormons'

Today is the second day of the last month of the year.  That's pretty final.  I have to say that I am truly grateful that the world didn't end in 2012-- because now I can be on a mission!  And... I had some great Thanksgiving food.
I don't really know the full history of the Thanksgiving, I just know that it is a day that I truly enjoy, and I know that I like food.
There is this thing called 'corn pudding' it's like a sweet corn souflet (sue-flay--I thought I'd put a prounounciation just in case I spelled that wrong. :)  And I think that it is one of my new favorite things.  I'll have to make it for you next year.
Also, lemme tell ya: casseroles are for the benefit of man.  I would like to know the history of casseroles.  The person that figured those out was on track.  I like whoever it was already. :)

Serving Thanksgiving Meals at Community Center

Sooooo, There are so many miracles!  We have been able to see us beautiful miracles in this area!  The work is truly moving forward!  We had 5 investigators at church yesterday!  We were so excited!  I know that I wrote all about it before, but the Lord TRULY is in the details of His work!  I can see it everyday.  Sometimes I take it for granted and forget to look, but it is definitely there. :)
I forget what we did all last week, but it was a holiday, we served on Thanksgiving at a community outreach center, and ate with different members of the ward that gathered together.
We took a 30 minute nap.  
We taught the Gospel.  (That came before and after the nap. :)
We conversed about our blessings and showed thanks by writing in some lovely gratitude journals that a member gave us.
--Also, I have reached the end of my first mission journal.  (We picked a good journal mom!)  It has lasted me 8 months!  I don't know how many missionaries have that kind of luck. :)
But I'm excited to start another one!  It's like writing a sequal!--
We taught some investigators, and gave some people copies of the Book of Mormon.
We bore our testimonies.
You know!  Missionary life!  :) 
I have just continued to grow in love for the people in Rocky Mount.  This is a chapter of my life that I will never forget.
On that note:  We had fast and testimony meeting at church yesterday, and there was a little boy who bore the sweetest testimony and said something very profound that I would like to share this week.  He said: "The present is a gift. You have to enjoy it--otherwise you wont be ready for your future."
Isn't that so true?
I love it! 
I know that I'm far from perfect at enjoying the present.  If you read some of my past letters you probably could attest to that fact.  I sometimes wanted to come home, (still do sometimes) I sometimes wanted to leave an area, or just move on instead of focusing on the things that I could enjoy in each day.
It's sometimes hard to end a hard day and look for the good in it.  Sometimes you just say " I'm done, I'll go to sleep and it will be tomorrow, and it will be better. "  I think that I would like to change my attitude to be better in alignment with the principle of enjoying the present.  Saying something like "Well, today wasn't the best, but I know that God's hand was [here] and I am grateful for [this].  I loved today because..." I think that would make us a happier people, and it would make me a happier person.
Sorry, sometimes I feel like my letters are just a long jumble of random thoughts, but thank you for reading and growing with me anyway. :)  There is simple truth mixed in with the complete circle of thoughts that I have. :)
This week could be the best week of your life, the best day in your year could be tomorrow, but sometimes you have to make it so.  We can't just wait for happiness to fall into our lives day by day.  There are no "I'll be happy if...." happiness is not conditional upon events.   Happiness is only conditional upon our agency.  You are happy if you choose to be.  Let's face it -- we have a responsibility for our personal happiness.
That is what I know this week.
(also that) I love you SOOOOOOOOOOO much!  (And I wrote you on the card of things that I'm grateful for around the Thanksgiving table. :)
Sister Amber
Sorry for the spelling and grammar errors.  Partly because I've forgotten how to be correct, and the computer didn't have automatic spell check . :)