(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, September 30, 2014

Photos

Thanks to her companion, Sister Carlson, we get these additional photos.  Yay.  It's SO nice to 'see', in addition to 'hearing' about, their experiences.

Zone Conference in Virginia Beach

Apparently their favorite Frozen Yogurt Place!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fish Fry, Exchanges, Answers to Prayers, Talent Night, We Sang in Church, Gift of Tears!

(This is Sister Garvin's last full week in the 'mission field'.  She has grown to love and cherish the people she's met in North Carolina and Virginia.  As her mother I can attest to her growth and the sadness she feels as she leaves dear friends behind, but, the joy we also all feel as she returns home with honor to start a new chapter of her life.  -- Service to the Lord is the greatest blessing any of us could ever have.  It's a life-long work with varied chapters.  I'm thankful that she chose to serve the Lord as a missionary and am grateful for the wonderful people she's met and for those that, I too, have connected with through her.  We love and cherish them and pray the Lord's blessings to continue with them.  Now...to her entry.)


This week was really full of wonderful experiences.  

We went on Exchanges in Chesapeake.  I prayed the whole time that I would be able to allow the spirit to teach through me so that I'd be unified with my exchanged companion.  There were several people that we talked with that I felt that prayer was answered.  Especially with one family.  We went to visit with the mother who is a member, and her son who is sort of investigating (he's 10 I think?....) and she was flitting around from crying children to art projects, and all the other things that Mom's do.  So we had a minute to talk with her son before she sat down with us, and he really opened up.  It was sweet.  I learned that just genuinely caring about people helps us to care about what they care about.  He kept asking us questions about being " Bath-tized."  It was cute.

In addition to that experience I add a cool informative sch-peel thing:  The little boy who we talked with is in Elder Betillion's (from Rocky Mount) area as well, and I think that the Elders will be teaching him.  So I thought that was a fun little connection, go teamwork!

Our talent night ended up being a success.  We had 2 investigators that attended, as well as a few less active members.  It was really fun.

I was pretty hesitant and scared to do a ward activity because I have a little bit of anxiety about failing things-- which I think it's pretty normal.  I don't think people generally like to fail (and, when I do fail I prefer it to be in a pretty controlled environment with not a lot of people who are affected by it.)

Anyway, there were many people that came, and supported us as well as those who performed.

We ate some yummy food, and enjoyed the company of others.  We should have called it a Variety Show instead, because there was a lot of variety.  From sewing projects, musical numbers, magic tricks, jump rope, etc... It was so joyful to share with people not in a way of showing off, but just in a way of sharing something that is important to you with a community of people that have lots of love.

The ward had a Fish Fry on Saturday, and lemme tell you...... I've never had hush puppies so good in my whole life.  It's our ward mission leaders secret family recipe.  I heard that he sold it to someone, but that they had to sign a contract that they would pay $10,000 dollars or something if they ever gave the recipe out.  And the person that signed the contract keeps the recipe in a safe.

Dems is special secret hush puppies. Fo' reals.

mmmmm......

Miracle of the Fish Fry:  We met several non-members, and a less active member came with his friend and had a great time.  Yes!  I was SOOOOOOOO HAPPY!!!!!

We sang in Sacrament Meeting the youth theme song from 2014... I may have included a link to that video in the past, but here's another for good measure:

http://www.mormonchannel.org/youth-theme-2013?v=3358025312001

There was a very special spirit there.  Sister Carlson started crying, and it touched so many people hearts.  They all started crying too.  Like I said at the beginning of our companionship-- she has a spiritual gift for being able to weep.  And she is not ashamed, neither should any of us be.  The Spirit speaks to us through feelings, so it's important that we let feelings in.

That's one of the greatest lessons I've learned as a missionary.

I'll send out one more email next week.  So this isn't the last yet.  I have to spend more time contemplating the things that I feel are the most important to share as I still wear the mantle of a representative of the Savior.

What I will say this week is what a privilege it has been to learn of the Savior as His representative.  I HAVE learned things that I couldn't have learned otherwise, and I am grateful to Him for carrying me through the difficulties that I have faced.  He is there!  He is good! The Gospel is wings to carry us, and it lifts us higher than we could ever reach on our own.  I love y'all!  (the y'all is dedicated to one very special Sister Jasperson.... I think that I've got the hang of it now. ;)  haha.)

Gotta Go!

 Love Forever,
Sister Garvin

Read more from her companions' blog:
http://sistercarlsoninchesapeake.blogspot.com


Thanks to Brother Kelly (a beloved ward member who has taken special care of the Missionaries) for these photos from his phone.  It's AMAZING to receive photos on the DAY of the activity and to feel more connected and part of this great work!  Thanks, Brother Kelly!!!!

The Sister Missionaries Preparing for and Helping with 'Ward Talent Night'. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

No fleas, Zone Conference, Delicious Cupcakes, Social Media Split, and... Closed on Sundays!

Here we are again, another week has come to an end.
 
So much has happened, and changed.
 
But I feel the same.
 
And I don't have fleas (which was a concern yesterday, but I think we got that one sorted out.  Showers, vacuums, bug exterminator spray= conquering of the fleas.)
 
Wednesday we drove to Virginia Beach and had zone conference.  Our mission area doctors, and LDS Family Services consultant spoke to us about missionary health, and coping with stress as well as being "present" and not living for the future or dwelling on the past.
 
There were some really incredible principles taught.  It also came with cupcakes. 
 
Which were delicious.
 
Truly.
 
I didn't find out who made them, but I hope that one day they read this blog, and then they will know that they are great, wonderful, and talented.  Also, that I'm grateful, and they made a really good decision.  People go crazy for cupcakes.... President Baker got chocolate with chocolate frosting. :)  Sister Carson got pumpkin, and I chose carrot cake.  Yuuuuummmmmyyyyyy!!!!!!!!
 
The Book Of Mormon Musical is coming to Norfolk, VA the latter part of October.  As a way of portraying accurately what missionaries really do, and who we really are all five Stakes in our mission and the Mission Presidency are working with our local Social Media representative to do what is called a "Social Media Split".  Various members will sign up to spend parts of the day with us, and take pictures and videos to share on Social Media Websites with their circle of friends.  It's really going to be amazing!
 
Sister Newbold was serving in Portsmouth, and piloted it for the mission in August.  She said it was great.
 
I'm going to miss it, but I'm dedicating myself to do something that day that will support what the missionaries are doing.  Neeeeaaaatttttt-ooooooo.
 
We've got a very busy week ahead!  Ward activities, service projects, exchanges, etc....
 
Also, we found a delicious frozen yogurt place that is closed on Sundays because the people that own it are very religious, and keep the sabbath day holy.
 
I don't know them, but I admire them.  Because they stick to their standards, and I have no doubt that they've recieved a lot of pressure to open on Sundays because it would be a great business day for them, and they are in a great location, and they are delicious. 
 
I'm making this part up in my head: they have a bumper sticker that says "I want Surfin' Spoon, but it's Sunday"  I think that is their response to all that pressure.
 
Way to be!
 
They are living what the prophets have taught us.  They are letting their religion show.  And they're being graceful about it.  
 
We each need our personal bumper stickers when it comes to our beliefs, our testimonies, and who we are.
 
We are members of the Lord's church.  We are His representatives, we are God's children.
 
As I'm writing this I've thought: If I had a personal bumper sticker, what would it look like?
 
Conclusion: Probably my mormon.org profile. (which by-the-way, you can print pass-along cards with your face on them.  BEST INVENTION EVER!)
 
And dems is mai tots for da day.
 
I love you, and will see you in 16, 15, 14, 13......... hmmmmmmm, better not continue that one.
 
Have a blessed week!
 
Love Forever,
Sister Garvin

Monday, September 15, 2014

Orange Starfish, Bella the Pig, Zone Conference in Virginia, Inspired Calls and Releases...

This week has been a zoo.  Literally.  We've been privileged to interact with many animals of many different walks of life.

We went to the Aquarium on Monday with the Sister Training Leaders, and the Hermanas.  It was great!  We befriended an otter, saw a white aligator (he wasn't albino), a sea turtle rehabilitation center (which smelled fishy, but sea turtles are HUGE!  Wow!), then I petted a stingless stingray, and get ready.... A LIVE STARFISH THAT WAS BRIGHT ORANGE!  (checked that off my bucket list.

So excited.... I almost cried.  Probably.  Not quite... But it was a joyous experience of my life.)

Also.... There were divers cleaning the shark tank, and that was pretty neat too.
Arriving at Manteo Aquarium

Neat!  an orange starfish!

Divers Cleaning the Shark Tank.  Wow. 

(Symbolic thoughts here....)

Then, I held several cats with fleas.  I thought fleas were a big deal, but no one tells me before I pet their cats that they have fleas.  You just see the little buggies crawl up the cat's ear and go back down.  Gross, but at least they don't live on people, and they are much easier to get rid of than bed bugs.

On Friday we went to our District Meeting and the member that drove us had to pick up some hay for her horse on the way home.  We pulled up to a little farm and there was a huge, chubby pig.  So we asked the farmer if we could take a picture with it, and we took turns taking 'selfies' with Bella the black pig.  Also, she smelled my leg, and her nose was wet.  That was interesting.
Sister Garvin and Sister Carlson with Sweet little Bella the Pig  :)
  
Today we had the least threatening bug on our door that we've ever had.  It was "a beautiful butterfly!" (please say that in the voice of the caterpiller from 'A Bug's Life') And a little deer family ate some of our overgrown backyard bushes.

Finally....a 'beautiful bug' on our window....

So this week is going good.

We are driving to Virginia on Wednesday to a combined Zone Conference for the zones in Virginia, and I'm so excited that I dance/wiggle every time that I think about it.
Time is so weird.  I think I've said that before, but if you just spend some time thinking about it, it becomes even more of an incomprehensible idea.

I recognize that my grammar, and punctuation, and organization of this letter is not so good.  But it's how my thoughts are coming out, so right now I'm not really feeling that I should care that much about that....

Whatever. Whatever. Whatever.

I'm going to send some pictures home now.

I only have 20 more days on Wednesday.  AHHHHHHHHHHH......

Okay. Calm yourselves.

I just keep reminding myself that release dates are inspired, just as mission calls are.

That's a wonderful thing.

Sometimes when you are a missionary it feels like you will always be a missionary.  So it's pretty difficult for me to figure out if I should be feeling or thinking differently than I do.  I've never done this before. 

Shout out to Sister Jasperson who is helping me by leading by example.

Thanks Seester. ;)

Kay, I love you, Bye!

Love,

Sister Garvin

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ode to Rain, Manteo Aquarium, Atonement of Christ, Imperfect People, Life of each ONE!

One time in Rocky Mount I wrote an "Ode to the Rain".
I don't really know what an ode is, but I know that it's related to music somehow, and also... today would be an appropriate day to sing that particular ode.

(insert from my mom)
-----------------------------------------
ode
┼Źd/
noun
noun: ode; plural noun: odes
  1. a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter.
    • historical
      a poem meant to be sung.
-----------------------------------------
The sky is black.  The rain is falling, and I left my good umbrella in the car.

Good news, the wind doesn't look like it's blowing too hard, so the umbrella that I do have will probably be sufficient for today.  I don't think that it will turn itself inside out.  But there is only room for one missionary.... not two.... so we'll see how that works out as a companionship. ;)

We are going to the Manteo Aquarium today.  I've been waiting for this moment FOREVER!  I'm so excited!  I hope that the dinosaur exhibit is still there..... animatronic dinosaurs.... BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No spider stories this week.

There is a toad story though... several of them.

Frog story: I found one in an outdoor sink, and in an effort to save it's life I found it jumped on my  shoulder, and I was so startled that I froze, and just walked to where it would be safe so that it would jump off of me.

Toad story: It jumped into the garage that our laundry room is in, before we get into our house, and hit underneath the dryer.  I don't know if it is still there, but I prayed that the Lord would lead him out of the garage so that he wouldn't die there.

So I'm just going to assume that prayer was answered.

I learned an important lesson this morning actually.

Remember the talk given in April conference "What were you thinking?"  Well I get annoyed when people just say that line over and over again, but it's a wonderful talk. 

Yesterday in Church we were talking about being offended, and the lessons that we can learn from 
General Conference.  A sister that was visiting brought up that talk, and spoke about the different perspectives that people have. 

Mis-Judgement has seemed to be a theme this week. 

There are so many people that have left the church or are considering doing so because of some mis-judgement that has occurred.  I feel to share a couple of messages about that.

Also I'm going to finish that in another email in case the power goes out.  I want you to get something from me.....

To be continued....

Continuation.....

Well here:

"Come, Join With Us!" --Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf

"What Are You thinking?" --(Elder Zwick)

"2 Nephi 4:16-35"

Let's have a little thought here to connect all the above named sources.

First,  "...imperfect people are all the God has ever had to work with..."(Elder Holland, "Lord, I Believe") and most often, if we looked at ourselves through the lense of judgement that we project onto other people, our eyes would be opened, and we'd be severely chastised.

Second. We never really do know what people are thinking.  What they do makes sense to them, and before saying something unkind, or giving our opinion of what we think they should do we should follow the counsel of President Monson, and try to see them through a lense of true, Christlike charity. (See: April 2014 General Conference address)

Third.  Let's just face it; Nobody is anything without the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  If that were taken away we'd each be miserable, unable to measure up to anything, and directionless.
Fourth, because each of us fails to measure up perfectly to our potential every time we are all hypocrites. ("Come, Join With Us!")

Fifth, We see each other in a mere speck of time in the wide spanse of eternity.  You just don't know what is ever in a persons heart.  But it always turns out better if you try to know what is in their heart before putting a "dot" on them (Max Lucado "You Are Special")

I know with my whole heart that each soul truly "is precious in the sight of God", and that God's glory is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

Heavenly Father knows our hearts.  He know us by name, and he sees us for the span of eternity, and who we are becoming. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

All these things have I learned through a long thought process, doing the dishes, eating peanut butter toast, and sweeping the kitchen floor.

I hope that there is a heart in the world that reads this and feels strength from it.  Everything about the work of salvation is about reaching out to ONE, and touching the life of ONE.

It is my ONE that generations are changed whether for good or bad.

Sending my love your way, and beware!  You only have 29 days to strengthen your cores enough to handle how tightly I'm going to hug you.   So get you to some abdomen exercises!

Love Forever,

Sister Garvin

Good song: "No one knows my heart" Jessie Clark Funk



      (Read more of their missionary adventures from her wonderful companion Sister Carlson)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dolphins at Sunrise, Overflowing Mailbox, Car Accident, Power in Unity

Whew wee!  Today marks 35 days left, and next Monday I'll be at 29.  This is going by WAY too fast!
 
This week many things happened.
 
We saw dolphins at sunrise at the beach of the Atlantic ocean.
 
A HUMONGOUS zipper spider made his home in the frame of our front door.
 
We saved the lives of various tree frogs.
 
We sang off key in the car on purpose.
 
President Baker called us on the phone.
 
We learned that at some point we will be moving, hopefully.

Hermana Haywood received a transfer call and will be going to Elizabeth City, which is                        super close to here.
 
Hermana Gray is coming here..... I don't know her.
 
Mail did not come on Monday.  So I'm expecting the mailbox to be overflowing tomorrow.....           Maybe that's too high of an expectation.......    Well...... Vision precedes goals....... So my vision is to have an overflowing mailbox, and my goal is to receive mail.
 
Good plan.
 
Oh.... And I drove into a fence.  Don't worry.  No one was hurt.  And the woman that works at the body shop used to live by the Church in Portsmouth.  So it was actually miraculous.  Now we get to talk with her about the restored gospel!  Go team Gospel!
 
Yay!
 
I think that those are the most historic/eventful/unique things that happened this week.
 
I wrote some more things in my letter to Andrew this week.
 
Our Zone set a goal to have 5 baptisms in the month of September, to teach 100 lessons in one week by the end of the month, and to invite everyone to be baptized in the first of second lesson. 
 
We had a zone fast, and by the end of the day there were 9 new people that were set with baptismal dates in the zone.
 
It's pretty incredible the power that there is in unity, and real-intent.  I know that Heavenly Father is so aware of us, and is hearing and answering our prayers.  It just all has to happen in His time.
Which is better anyway because we have a time table limited by a life span, and His time is measured by eternity--which is basically limitless-- so His way is always better.
 
I started my very last planner yesterday.  That was sad.
 
I'm sad that I have limited time left.  For such I long time I felt like it would never run out.  I know that God is preparing me for the next phase of the work, and that is my return home.  So I know that things will be okay.  I just hope that I will have lots of things to do because it's really hard to learn how to do nothing after doing the most worthwhile thing for the last 17 months.
 
Well,
 
That's my epistle for the week.
 
Also a really wonderful Mormon Message.
http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?v=1789679612001

Kay... Love you.

Gotta go for the day...

Bye!

Love,
Sister Garvin