Called to Serve

I'm Alicia Garver, and I'm a Mormon. I'm currently serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. I love what I'm doing, and I'm excited to be sharing His message and His love with the people in Georgia.

Come for a ride with me as I share my bicycle and walking shoes!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

7/6/15 Surprise!!

Soooo...transfer calls came. And it wasn't what was expected. At all.

I'm staying in Johns Creek. With Sister Blair. (First comp for more
than 6 weeks). Aaaannd I'm going to be a sister training leader. By
myself. ........what. 

 So I'm just a tad terrified seeing as others will be looking to me as
an example and I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm even supposed
to be doing. Most Sister Training Leaders (STLs) are in a companionship so they have each other
and the new ones are with a more experienced sister to show them the
ropes. I get to go freestyle though. Hence the tad bit terrified part.
However, I'm also really excited to be able to go on exchanges with
other sisters and get to know them better, to be able to go out with
the Spanish sisters, and also to be able to attend the leadership
meetings once a month with the Zone Leaders and the mission president.
I've always wanted to know what goes on in there. Any tips from RMs? 

 Also this week, a former less active and a former recent convert will
be going through the temple for their endowments on Tuesday! Soo
excited!!! We won't be able to go though, because we're only allowed
to go if it is someone we baptized. That's alright. We'll get them
flowers or something :) 

 The 4th wasn't all too exciting for us. Our Ward held a pancake
breakfast that morning, which was awesome. I'm still full ;) The
exciting part is that Lemuria and her husband came! We've been working
with Lemuria for months now, but have been really struggling with her
because of her husband. They came! They both came! They made friends, got a
church tour, and committed to coming to church on the 12th!!!!! She is
writing a book about her near death experience (where she saw the Spirit
World and three Heavens) and you all have to read it when it's
finished. Besides the breakfast though, all we did was a lot of
tracting, a bit of sweating, and then we heard fireworks going off
just as we were getting in bed. Everyone says they were really
impressive, but I appreciate my sleep too much to put it off for big
bangs, pretty lights, and mosquito bites. We did kinda wish we had
some sparklers. Those were always fun Smiling face with smiling eyes 

 Sister Blair and I shared Cold Stone for our "birthday" this week (her
3 month and graduation for training, and my 10 month, and just because)
and it was yummy, so I thought I would share a picture with you guys.

6/29/15 Phase 2

Sorry my email was so short last week. I had written quite a bit more,
but it seems like everything I wrote under the picture didn't send.
Whoops. Well, I can't remember all of it, but I'll try to summarize
really quickly.

To the great shock to my family and all who know me, I have began to
branch out of my comfort zone food-wise. Well, we have to. We eat what
we're given. I now can eat tomatoes, raw tomatoes, without gagging. I
will never like them, but I can eat them. Except for the little ones.
When you bite them, all the nastiness explodes in your mouth. Ew. The
big ones are cut and I can just chew and swallow quickly without
tasting too much. And, to the astonishment of my mother, I have found
that I prefer Italian or vinaigrette salad dressings to ranch. Though
I will always love ranch with my pizza :) I can handle spicy pretty
well, and have found I feel so much better eating heathy and so avoid
sugar in most any form. Unless a member offers dessert, than I am
polite and eat it of course. Also, credit to my sister Rachel, I have
found she was correct when she said straightening already straight
hair makes a difference. It keeps it straight in Georgia humidity. It
keeps the poof under control for the most part.

There you go. Random shpeal on me. I'm sure you're all fascinated.

Anywho, this week has been an interesting one. We have moved on to
phase 2 of the iPads, meaning we now have our planners and area books
on these frustrating little devices. I know the app is new and all,
but it has little glitches and quirks that still being worked out, and
it's almost a relief to use paper at the end of the night to put in
data that these don't take yet and still need to be reported. We've
spent many hours this week putting in all the information we have on
our current investigators, and that's not counting the stacks and
stacks of paper work on all the formers that we're going to be working
on putting in for the next 6 months. Joy. This new system is going to
be such a blessing for missionary another few years.

Also this week has seen us finding a lot of new investigators and also
loosing some. Getting super sweaty (even though I'm not really hot,
it's just the humidity, so it's weird), and seeing miracles that are
laid at our feet by the Lord. Less actives opening up, recent converts
blossoming, yet another baptism by the elders, investigators just
soaking up the gospel, tracting into people who aren't interested but
are just the sweetest, finding those who are already so prepared; it's
been so much fun serving out here! Everyone should go on a mission!
Seeing people change, learning so much about yourself, the Savior and
our brothers and sisters, and learning to love is so worth being sleep
deprived for 18 months.

Transfers are next week. I've been here in Johns Creek for 6 months,
so I'll find out next Monday if I stay for 6 more weeks or if I'm off
for another adventure!

Love you all! So so much!
Sister Garver

6/22/15 Temple Trip!

So it turns out that we are allowed to go to the temple twice a year,
so as soon as President found out, off we go! It was so much fun! I
forget how much I love going until I'm back again. That is such a
special holy place. And hopefully it won't be too long before I go
back again, this time with a recent/not too recent convert named
Chunyu. She'll be returning home to China in a few months, but she
knows it's so important she do this now, because she won't be able to
again for a long time when she goes back. Ahhh, so amazing.

6/15/15 Miracles

I never knew what it was to love someone before my mission. I had
never seen the hand of the Lord like I do now. I've never seen so many
miracles nor heard the Lord's voice so clearly.

I think it truly is a miracle that I can meet with someone for an hour
and then come away loving them. Spend an hour or two with them for 4
months and that person is so dear to you and has become a part of you.
Lemuria truly has become one of those people. She is the coolest, most
loving, most pure, sweetest little old spirits I have ever had the
privilege of meeting. We haven't been able to put her on baptismal
date or get her to come to church due to circumstances outside her
control, but we got her to come to the district leader's baptism on
Saturday! Yay! Just two days before, we had been talking to her and
going through the baptismal interview questions, and the only thing
she had had any questions about was Joseph Smith. She didn't know. She
hadn't gotten that answer yet. Then, at the baptism, we were in charge
of the intermediate part, and had been asked to teach the Restoration.
We did, but instead of just running through the lesson, we decided to
sing instead. So Sister Blair and I sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer,
and it was an amazing experience. The spirit was so powerful and
Lemuria's eyes were just shining. But wait, it gets better. After the
service was over, Lemuria came up to us, gave us a hug, and then
whispered in our ears, "Just so you know, while you were singing,
there was an angel standing between you two." She smiled and said, "It
was a sign." Whoa. That was such a miracle for both Lemuria and us.
She had received her answer, and had given us such a sure knowledge
that Father hears our prayers and He really does send His angels to
our aid.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

6/8/15 Halfway Done, and iPads!

Hello everybody! Yes, I am writing this from my iPad and it is proving
to be both harder and easier to adapt to than I thought. I slipped
right into using it for notes, scriptures, personal study, calendar,
contacts and the ward directory with no hesitation at all. It's fun!
It has everything! And I have a easy access camera at all times so
I've been taking more pictures and they are so easy to attach now!
Teaching with it is another thing. We now have interactive pamphlets
on them (which anyone can download off the App Store) and all these
videos at our fingertips. But how do we incorporate them into our
lessons and tracting approaches? That's a bit more difficult. We're
working on it, but I don't want to rely off them too much. They don't
teach. Or bear testimony. That is up to us and the Spirit. So we are
working on finding a balance of using this tool that we have been
blessed with to further the work, and not relying on it too much and
trying to make it the teacher.

They were a nice "birthday" gift though. The iPad was placed into my
hands on my 9 month mark. I am officially half-way done with my
mission. That's creepy. It seems like I just got here, but in the past
9 months, so much has happened.

I have taught so many. Have been blessed to witness so many of those I
have come to love be taught by the Spirit and grow, embrace truth, and
find joy. I've been able to help 8 of the Father's precious children
into the waters of baptism. I have experienced to joy of seeing tiny
new bodies in adoring mother's arms and I've experienced pain from
having those I've come to love with all my soul turn away, and in 3
cases, pass away. I have come to a sure knowledge of my Savior, His
Atonement, His love for me, and His presence around me. I have come to
know my Father, His perfect Plan, and His immense and incomprehensible
care for me. I now know that He answers prayers, even the unspoken
ones. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to be His first prophet of
these last days, and that through him the gospel and the priesthood was
restored. I have seen its power. I know Thomas Monson is the Savior's
living prophet, chosen for us today, and that continuous revelation is
the foundation of the Lord's church and always has been. I know the
temple is the closest we can get to heaven on earth and that angels
exist. I know. I have seen His hand.

I love being a missionary. Who wouldn't want to be on the front lines
of the army of the Lord?
Sister Garver

Monday, June 1, 2015

6/1/15 Extremes

This week has been nothing but extremes, fantastic and terrible.
For those of you who don't already know, this last Friday two sisters I knew were involved in a bad car accident in the area directly north of us. Sister Barnard was killed. Sister Beckstram is currently in the hospital. Her surgery went well, but she is still unconscious and probably will be for a few more days. Please, pray for them and their families. She just got here. 
We got the call Friday night, sat in shock for a few minutes, and then, of course, the power goes out. Lovely. After scrambling around for a bit, we pulled out a couple flashlight and lit our one candle. And started singing. We sat there and sang hymns for about 30 minutes until the lights came back on, the Spirit was present, and we felt peace. You know, I bet those who pass away in the service of God get a special reception on the other side. Missionaries, apostles, prophets; they must enter the Spirit World to the applause of all those that they affected, past and future. She had work to do apparently.

Our work has been up and down this week as well. Lessons and investigators falling through and dropping us, and us finding a huge amount of new investigators; a recent convert snapping for no reason, and getting to go to the baptism of one of my former investigators and best friends; losing yet another daughter after 6 weeks and gaining one more amazing daughter whom I love already; Sisters Barnard and Beckstram, as well as Elder Perry; and the peace that the Lord, and the knowledge of His plan, provides. My brain is so tired after trying to compute everything, and is ready to just give up. Thank goodness for P-Day.

Sister Garver

5/26/15 I Must Be Cursed

I must be cursed. Seriously. There must be something wrong with me. I am just about halfway done with my mission and, besides my trainer whom I was with for 3 months, I have never had a companion for more than 6 weeks. Sister Stout, Sister Hanks, Sister Kang, Sister Tuitea, Sister Gonzalez, and now Sister Blair. That's right. Transfers are tomorrow and Sister Gonzalez is getting transferred to a Spanish branch. And I am going to be step-training. Yup. 3 daughters in 3 transfers. That must be a record. And I am almost guaranteed to only be with Sister Blair for 6 weeks because in that time I will have been here in Johns Creek for 6 months. I must be cursed. From all my moves, I never have minded leaving, but I hate watching other people go. It starts to be depressing. I'm not used to others leaving me

On another note, I have both seen many miracles and many hardships this past week. I would love to tell you all one experience that stuck out this week. We came to visit one of our investigators, but she wasn't home. She texted us and said she was on her way but she would be a while. So we sat in the car and waited for her and worked on our weekly planning (a looong planning session for the upcoming week). We had been sitting there in the complex for about a half hour when we saw a cop slowly making his rounds. He idled behind our car for a while, stopped, and then got out and came up to our window. Uh oh. But he was super friendly and just wanted to see what we were doing and if we were alright, because we had "obviously been here a while." We told him we were waiting on our appointment, and he told us we were fine and drove off. A half hour later, he was back, continuing his rounds. He idled behind us again, started to drive off, stopped, and then backed his car next to ours. Great. He then leaned out the window and said, "So, what's the difference between Mormons and LDS?"...........Oh. Well, let me tell you. 20 minutes later, he drove off with our number, a Restoration pamphlet, an invite to church, and a lot to think about, and we knew all about Officer "Johnny," his family, concerns, and religious background. It was pretty awesome. I hope he actually comes to church sometime :)

In answer to questions, no we do not have the iPads yet. We will be getting them on June 2nd. And we will be able to use different functions at different times and we go through 3 "phases." Each of which generally takes 2-3 weeks. We will start out just being able to use the Gospel Library App. Facebook and Skype come in phase 3. And not all missions will get them. Just the ones where they think it will be beneficial. With backstreets in Russia and rundown parts of Argentina, iPads would just be asking for trouble. We don't want our good missionaries mugged or murdered for their technology. 

And yes, Memorial Day was fun :) We went to a barbecue at a member's home and were sent home with enough food to feed us for a week.

Sending pictures in a bit!

Sister Garver