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 experiences...by 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.
Enjoy.


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 work...in 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.

Love,
Alicia

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

5/18/15 IPADS!!!!!

Yes, yes, I know, calm down. BUT STILL! The hour is come and the day is here. Well, almost. This Wednesday, Elder Zwick of the 70 is coming to speak to us and train us on how to use our brand new issued, shiny, sleek, beautiful, useful, handy, flabbergasting, mobile electronic devices. We will be taking an online training the next week, and then on June 2 they will be ever so sweetly placed into these gleeful hands. I shall call mine Precious, and Precious shall be mine, and precious will she be to me. Not that I'm too excited about this or anything.


To tell the truth, I am a bit stunned. We will be able to use Facebook. Take a moment to take that in............What? But I'm a missionary. We don't do that. But apparently we do. So. That is. Interesting. And our mission will be part of the last testing group for iPads, meaning that after they finish their "test" with us, iPads will be issued to all missionaries world-wide. The work of the Lord is hastening. With this we can teach lessons over Skype, spread the word world-wide in seconds, access pictures of the ward members on the online directory (SUPER nice when entering a new ward and trying to get to know everyone in a week), be able to share movies and Mormon Messages on the doorstep, have online planners, maps, records and scriptures. Yup. I'm stoked. 

As for our current work, Sister Gonzalez and I are working hard. We still have a lot to improve on and we know we can do so much better, and we are working toward that goal. We are teaching more lessons and trying to use the Lord's time perfectly. No wasted minutes. Even at the shop for our car, we spent a good 45 minutes talking to the other people waiting. One nice. One not so nice. Both weird. But that's okay. God loves them anyway, and so, in turn, do we :) 

Love you all!
Sister Garver

P.S. My Mom (aka Sister Stout, my trainer) is "dying" in a week and a half! She's going home! Finished her 18 months! When I got here, she hadn't even been out a full year. Man. I feel old. I weep.

5/11/15 Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! Shout outs to my Mom, Nuna, Grandma, and all my aunts, 
   Love,
     Alicia :)


This week has been pretty great. We had a very inspiring zone conference this week about working with members, teaching through the Spirit, cleaning ourselves of "barnacles," and obedience (in preparation for iPads in two weeks!). As for the work, it has been both great and frustrating at the same time. We are teaching so many people, it truly is amazing. We are getting investigators to church, having them keep commitments, and committing them to baptism. The one hiccup is that they won't set dates to be baptized on because they are all having family problems and want to be baptized with their family, who doesn't want to meet with us. But we do have one scheduled for the 30th, and she is sooo ready and golden and elect and we are probably going to be friends when I get home. Ella is 21 and has been prepared for the gospel by the Lord. She keeps commitments, comes to church every week and loves the Book of Mormon. She even brought her mom to church with her this week! She is quiet, but super funny and sweet, and absorbs everything. 

Per request of Mom (who I talked to yesterday!!!) it is now story time. We are teaching this young man named Anthony. No idea how old he is because he refuses to tell us and thinks it's hilarious. He is so much fun to teach because he is so odd and distracted and off topic and teases us (mostly me) constantly and asks tons of really good and sometimes random questions, but always, within the last 5 minutes, understands everything, makes huge commitments like it's easy and he thought of it himself, and can get really deep and making extra commitments for himself. For instance, we taught the Word of Wisdom the other day (Anthony smokes an electric cigarette) and he complained, groaned and refused. Then, 5 minutes later, is promising to throw away 2 of his 3 electric cigarettes and to stop completely in a week. And also promising to pray everyday and to read a conference talk. It is impossible to predict this guy. 

Alright, now to the story part: We were going to teach Anthony on Tuesday, but were struggling because we need a team up to get in the door. Out of the blue, one of the sisters in the ward texted us and asked if we would need her. She would normally not be able to come with us at that time, because she has a 2 year old daughter, but as long as the daughter could go with us, that was fine. We almost said no because, knowing Anthony, a 2 year old would be a major distraction. But we said yes. We went, had a phenomenal lesson. They clicked right off, have the same type of work and can both talk and push each other around. Finally, as we were leaving, oops, 2 year old needs a diaper change, which Anthony let us do there. Finishing up, all the sudden, the sister screams. She turns to Anthony, points to a picture on the counter and asks "Wait, is Don your dad?!" Turns out, she actually knows his whole family and worked with his step-mom for years. She even went to her wedding! So now, Anthony is going to her house for dinner today with us :) Miracle :)

Love you all tons! Sorry it was so long...
Sister Garver

                                                           
                                          Sister Gonzalez and I



Legit Chinese Food. Sorry, family, but I may never be able to eat at Panda Express again. The real stuff is too good.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

5/4/15 An Awesome Week

This week has been simply amazing. It has also been really hard. Unfortunately, the two usually seem to go together.

Without going into a ton of details this week we:
  • met and surpassed all of our goals
  • had 2 investigating families and 2 less active families that we were teaching at church
  • had 6 investigators total at church (us and the elders), a record
  • gave out 5 copies of the Book of Mormon
  • put 2 people on baptismal date
  • got the cops called on us
  • met President Grumpy of the HOA and got kicked out of the neighborhood (for now. We're going back Saturday anyway)
  • had a record number of people drop us
  • never had more than 2 hours a day go as planned
  • all of our investigators are going through family trials: divorce, getting kicked out of the house with the kids, custody battles for grandkids because mother does drugs, spouses cheating on them, etc
The good and the bad come at the same time. Satan never works harder than when we have great blessings in store for us. So what I'm trying to learn is that I should never get down, because the greater the trial at the moments, the greater the blessings and joy in the immediate future. It is always darkest before dawn and with the greater sorrow comes the greater joy. Joseph Smith experienced the power of the adversary before he experienced the glory of God. Christ had to suffer before He could enter into his Father's presence and open the gates for us to join them. And on a much smaller scale, we had to face weeks of little success, dropped appointments, cops and President Grumpy-face before the Lord showed His hand. And one way He did so was through the members.

If you are looking for ways to do missionary work or to be a miracle for someone else, the first and most important thing you can do is love. Love everyone. Show that charity to those around you, even if they are mean, rude, or attacking you and your faith. Love can soften the hardest heart. Serve and offer service. Invite friends to church where they can feel God's love just by walking in the door. Invite the missionaries to bring investigators or less actives when you invite them over for dinner. Look out for and befriend those the missionaries do bring to church. Get their numbers and invite them over. Smile. At everyone. You'll be surprised how much you shock people. Carry a Book of Mormon in your backpack or a mini one in your purse. Don't Bible-bash, no matter how fun it is or how wrong they are. Strengthen your family. People notice. 

I love you all. The best is yet to come. May the Lord bless you.

Sister Garver

4/27/15 Stake Conference

I LOVE Saturday session of stake conference! I mean, Sunday session is good, but the adult Saturday session was just so powerful and spirit-packed it was amazing. I'm not sure if they were just following the trend of General Conference or the Spirit really needs to drill this in, but the theme throughout the whole thing was on families, marriage, and temples. Seriously, it was powerful. Sister Gonzalez and I both had the same thought as we drove home: something big and and bad has to be coming. What in the world lies in the future for the family, if so many of the Lord's chosen revelators and seers are drilling this into us? But then I started thinking about the past two weeks, and I realized: oh, the attack has already begun. We are helping 2 less actives who are dealing with getting a divorce and watching it slowly drive them further and further away from peace and the Spirit has been really hard. I love both couples so much, the husbands and the wives, and it hurts. But through the hard times, both of the women are turning into the Lord for help. One of our investigators is considering divorce. Most of our investigators and several of our recent converts and less actives are single parents, or have only single parents. Oh, no wonder.

I loved how the focus for Sunday session was the temple. We need to have the temple as a focus in our lives. Our children need to know the temple is important to mom and dad and they need to know it is important to them as well. I need to be better at going to the temple on a regular basis when I get home. The things that it teaches and what it reminds us off is that families are forever. Families are vital for our Father's eternal plan for us. Families are the most important social unit in time and eternity. Families are a place of peace and safety and learning. Families will not be easy or always joyful or love-filled, but they are always essential for the joy that we can expect when we cross that heavenly finish line. The goal is not to win the race first, but to get everyone across. And the temple is the booster engine forward, and seat belt that holds us in, together, and safe. I am so grateful for the family I have. That my parents love each other and that we never had a doubt about it. That we are sealed together for time and eternity. That I was born in the gospel and my parents taught us that gospel daily through example; their devotion to God, each other and us. One day, I will make those same commitments to my own husband, and I will never let anything come between me and those commitments I made to him and to God. I want to live like my parents, so one day, we can be next door neighbors in the Celestial Kingdom :)

Sister Garver

                                                        Pollen Season in Georgia!!


                                     I practically live in the forest from the Hunger Games  :)



                                                                 My district, before transfers <3

4/13/15 Little Miracles

This week hasn't had anything spectacular happen. But looking back, I can see that the whole thing had been made up of little miracles.

We had more lessons with members present this week than I ever have had, yet there were so many dropped appointments, that I didn't even realize what we did have until last night. We have had surprise lessons at members homes when we went over for dinner. We had surprise lessons with recent converts that I didn't even know were recent converts until we received a list from our ward mission leader yesterday. We've gained new investigators from tracting and also got a solid referral from online (which never happens). We spent a total of around 12 hours in three days of service; helping a sweet, non-member lady pack up her entire, humongous house because her landlord was giving her a week to get out. And she didn't have anyone else to help her. It was exhausting, but afterwards she told us that she felt different around us, like we were all familiar to her, and she wanted to come to our church to see what made us so different and warm.

Our entire week has been made up of little miracles that God placed in our path. We didn't really get done anything that we planned to, but Father made everything work out. (For those of you who have never been on missions, weekly planning never really means we are going to do much of anything that we plan to. We plan as best we can, and then Father laughs, and corrects us the rest of the week.) we just learn to trust Him.

Love you all! 
Sister Garver

4/6/15 Mixed Feelings

1 Behold, my beloved brethren and sisters, at once my soul rejoices in the greatest of joys and weeps in the deepest of sorrows.
2 For behold, it came to pass that in the beginning of the seventh month (for it had been seven months since the coming of Alicia, and such was the reckoning of the sister), that many ears were opened and hearts softened as the prophets of the Lord did speak unto us concerning the state of our souls. The spirit of the Lord shone round about us and we did sing songs of praise unto his name. For behold, the voice of the Lord God did pierce our hearts and we were taught the ways of heaven, for which we rejoice and will give thanks unto him forever. I was taught in the ways of the Lord concerning family, endurance, and love. For if we cleave unto the eternal perspective of family and life, and depart from the evils of titles and electronic devices, than shall our joy be full.
3 But, alas, for the power of the evil one! For it was not long past that this humble servant of the Lord did stumble into the greatest of temptation! My eye was diverted from the strait and narrow path to the checkout line and beheld, to my utmost horror and great astonishment, that the Battle of the Five Armies is already on DVD! Great is my wo, for behold, I did hold in my hands that which is most sweet, yet my soul grieves, for behold, mine eyes shall not behold that which is within for a great many months. It cuts me to the very core, and I weep bitterly.
4 But I shall press on in the work of the Lord, for when this time is over I shall have my reward, and great shall be my joy therein.

-Sister Garver

3/30/15 Happy Easter!

Nothing too exciting this week. Let's see...noteworthy events...

Well, we're now going to start teaching an ESL class at the church. We have enough Indian, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Haitian,Vietnamese, Bulgarian, and Russian speakers in the area. I'm not sure how well it will work with all those languages and with us, purely English-speakers, as teachers, but we'll try. Any tips from ESL teachers or teachers in general, or even those who speak another language, would be greatly appreciated. 

General Women's Broadcast was on Saturday. And anyone who knows me, knows I find Women's Broadcast a little dull. And that family video they showed at first was more than slightly hilarious and fake. However, since being on my mission, I've found that no matter what the subject or the speaker, in church or even in the Women's Broadcast, if you listen, there will be something that is meant for you. It might be one line, or even a prompting you get that's completely off subject, but the Spirit will always be present, and he is the real teacher.

Oh! And remember the Christmas initiative I was so excited about in December? We're doing something similar for Easter. It's called Because He Lives, at HeLives.mormon.org, and they're doing the YouTube takeover again and everything. It's a super cool video and I love it! So does everyone who watches it, member or not. You've probably already heard about it from your friendly neighborhood missionaries, but I wanted to share it anyway :)

Love you all! Happy spring!

Love,
Sister Garver

P.S. So I'm not sure if this is at all weird or not, but I would appreciate some help. My companion, Sister Tuitea, is new here from Samoa, and is starting to dislike Mondays, I think. I don't think anyone from home writes her. So, this is a bit unorthodox, but do you think, if it's not too weird, you could email her? I want her to feel loved and important and to feel like we're all her family. The church is one big family. So if you could write to her like you write to me, maybe not weekly, if that's too much, but every once in a while. Her email is pepe.tuitea@myldsmail.net. Thanks a ton!

3/23/15 Elder Zwick

This week has been soooo cool! 

For one thing, Elder Zwick of the Quorum of the Seventy, come for the week. That meant we had a week full of meetings. This is both a good thing and a bad thing; we didn't get as much work done, but we learned so much and just got pumped full of the Spirit. And, of course, no general authority can talk without giving at least one throw-down. Apparently the first presidency has been putting a lot of focus on ward councils working with the missionaries. He held a 2 hour meeting with the ward councils and missionaries of two stakes, and just ripped into the ward councils. It was fun :) Well, for us at least. We watched part of a world wide broadcast made a few years ago that displayed how a ward council was supposed to go. It was rather hard for us missionaries to not giggle. Of course, it helped that Sister Bennion, our President's wife, was in the video. And sitting up on the stand.

He also talked to us in another meeting about how we need to simplify and intensify our teaching. Meaning we had about four minutes to introduce a principle, share an example, bear testimony, share a doctrine (a scripture) that supported that principle, and bear testimony again. We had 15 minutes at the end to bear testimonies, and we managed to get about 20 testimonies, because he wanted each to be 35-40 seconds long. It was tough. But we learned sooo much in that 6 hour intense training. I wish you could see all my notes.

Also....wait for it....we're getting ipads!!!! I know, right! I People have been talking about getting one for years here, but I thought it would never happen! May 30th. That's right. Yaaaayyyyyy!!!!

Until next week!
Sister Garver

Monday, March 16, 2015

3/16/15 Tribute to Mom

People say you never really appreciate Mom until you go off to college and have to live without her. Well, I say, you never truly appreciate Mom until you are standing in her shoes. 

Being a trainer, aka a mom, is a lot more work than I thought. I admit, my first thoughts about being a trainer is that we would just love each other to pieces, get along perfectly, never have any problems (because we just adored each other too much), and our area would explode with success. Yes, yes, please try to stifle your amused snorts. I know, I know. Turns out, being a mom is actually a lot of work. And stress. And prayer. And joy in the little things. And turning to the Lord in all things. And patience. And happiness in watching her take her first steps. And pain in watching her fall. But helping her back up again and trying to teach her to try again. I feel like the past week has taught me more about myself, my Savior, and my mother, than the rest of my life put together. And I've never felt closer to my Father. It's been such a blessing.

Love you all!
Sister Garver

3/9/15 My Not-So-Little Baby Girl

While I went stateside, I seem to have the world come to me. My daughter, Sister Tuitea, is from the beautiful island of Samoa. Up until the day she left for the MTC, she had never left the island in her life. And Johns Creek, Georgia is NOTHING like Samoa. Big, crowded, fast, cold (by her standards), loud, busy and exhausting. We've been taking the work a little bit slow to help her ease into the new world she was flung into. I've had to deal with some things I hadn't expected, such as car-sickness, and not knowing how to use a dishwasher, and finding Walmart terrifying (it's huge). Her English is very good, but she's still not too confident about it. Her accent is really cool; it sounds like a mix of African and British. But she can be super sweet and loves to sing. She also told me she loves to listen to me sing. I loved her right off the bat :) But all this is super overwhelming, so any prayers in her direction would be appreciated.

We had a miracle this week. We decided to drop by a less active close by after dinner yesterday because I didn't know them. We got there, and they ween't home, but a family across the street was out redoing their garage. So we said hi. 45 minutes later, they invited us to come back to visit with them again, have dinner with them, and go to their daughters Easter performance. It was amazing. Oh, and their 15 year old son does parkour (it's like what Tristan does in The Prince of Persia) and showed us a few of his flips. I was blown away. I thought all that stuff was just special effects in movies. Nope. You know what? I've decided. We're going to baptize them.

Love you all! I hope you're enjoying the 60 degree weather we are! ;)
Sister Garver


3/2/15 I'm Going To Be A "Mother"!

I decided to title my email that way because that's what Andrew, my brother, did on his mission and it freaked everyone out at first and I thought it was hilarious. I'm training!!!!! I pick up my daughter at the mission office this Wednesday! I was able to see a list of all the incoming elders and sisters when I had a training on training (ha) last Friday, but they're not assigned yet. There are 6 sisters coming in! That hasn't happened since the age change. In fact, in the 6 months I've been here, the number of sisters has dropped by almost 40%, so this is big. Plus, there's only one sister from Utah. Unheard of. But they come in Tuesday, President will interview them that night, and Wednesday morning, he'll tell us who our new companions are about 15 minutes before we go meet them. But I love her already!! Me and my daughter are going to be best friends :) Plus, my mom, the sister who trained me, is actually my STL, so we'll have three generations in one district! But I will miss Sister Kang :(

In other news, it has been a great week! We even had a chance to go to the temple to watch a family we've been working with get their endowments and get sealed. Let me tell you, there is nothing cuter than a one year old dressed in white in the sealing room. And the Spirit is powerful, because she behaved. It was really amazing and touching. Even with a translator repeating everything in Chinese.

We then returned and were able to witness two baptisms back to back; one for an investigator named Matthew and one for an 8 year old of an active family. It was really interesting to see how different the two were. However, the Spirit there was the same. I know that baptism is ordained of God and He is present for each one. What parent wouldn't want to witness their beloved child entering the gate and coming home after a long separation? The joy felt there is not just our own, but also that of our Father.

Love you all tons!

2/23/15 Chinese New Year!

Oh boy, has this week been busy, tons of fun, and exhausting. First things first: Rosemary got baptized!!!!!! Remember, my adopted grandma from Kennesaw? That one! And I got permission to go! We had to get a ride, and it was a long drive, and we almost missed it because of the freezing rain predicted, but the Lord blessed us, and the rain missed us. It was so worth it. Seeing her come running down the hallway towards me, all dressed in white, was the best feeling ever. I was able to to give the talk on baptism, and I was privileged enough to have the Spirit testify to me, and then to her, how much the Lord loved her, how the Father and many of his angels were so proud of her. Their joy could be felt in that small room. It was truly an experience I'll never forget. 

Then, later that night, was the ward Chinese New Year party! Oh my, but do they know how to celebrate. Balloons, streamers, Chinese lanterns, lucky cats, the Chinese Zodiacs (its now the year of the goat), and everything was red. We spent the first hour and a half just talking and making dumplings. It's actually really easy, but I found that I liked the fried ones better than boiled. Sometimes water gets inside. We must have made at least 300 dumplings. Then there was red bean rice cakes, beef and broccoli, fried rice, hard boiled eggs, kung pau, white carrot cakes (a vegetable), and a bunch of other stuff that I had never seen before. By the way, squid tentacles are really good. Then after, all the children received "red envelopes." Apparently, every New Years, parents give their kids "red envelopes" which contain money. Quite a bit of money. The kids then save it to use for school, or weddings, or laptops, or stuff like that. Fun! They gave us envelopes with a dollar in it :) 

Lameriah came to church yesterday! I love it when investigators come to church because we see their progression shoot up after. I love it even more when they go, bring their family and then as a bunch of questions afterwards. We love her so much, and always look forward to meeting with her. She asks some hard questions, but it means she wants to learn and is studying by herself, so we welcome them. We have another investigator though, that every lesson is a mental workout. He is very scientific and logical and thoroughly does his research. Oh boy, I should have paid more attention in science. He is an atheist who sees no point in faith, but more than anything wants to know truth. He doesn't believe in a God, but we do, and He wants to know if it's possible. And we can teach about faith, and God, and agency, but when he starts talking about black holes, theories of time, Greek translations and Jewish claims, I really just pray. But we promised him that if he just read the Book of Mormon and pray for two weeks, with a desire to know, that he would get an answer. But after that, if there's no progression, we might have to drop him :( That would stink, because those lessons are a lot of fun.

Love you tons!!!
Gao Chien Mei  <-- my Chinese name

2/17/15 SNOW!!...or rain. Same thing.

This week has been pretty awesome! For the first thing, we had a 70% chance of snow yesterday!! Sister Kang and I were so excited! I wanted to see Georgia totally shut down for half an inch of snow and Sister Kang comes from a country where the coldest winter is about 60. And then all we got was rain :( Lots and lots of rain. And then it kinda froze overnight. Not enough to stop us from driving but enough to make the trees look pretty. So we're still okay with it. Just a tad disappointed. 

Chinese New Year is coming up on the 19th! So actually, all the Asian countries celebrate the Lunar new year, not just the Chinese. We've celebrated twice already with members, once with Chinese, once with Korean.... I felt so white. But anyway, it was tons of fun! I found I love the food! Well, except kimchi. It's a bit too spicy. But thank you Dad, for teaching me how to use chopsticks. It has come in handy. We're going to one more celebration on Thursday, a BIG one. All the Chinese members and all of their friends. I can't wait! Also, did you know that the Thai New Years is on April 13th? They celebrate by throwing ice water at people all day. 

Coolest experience this week. It's like straight out of the Ensign. We are teaching this one French woman named Lameriah. Now Lameriah, when she was 19 or so, she was giving birth to her first child, lost too much blood, and died. She was dead for an hour and a half. I know, I was skeptical at first, but her husband agreed. She told us that when she died, she saw Jesus, and talked with him. And guess what? He told her that there were three heavens, and he took her and she visited all three with him. I KNOW RIGHT?! And the only reason we heard about this was because she dropped our lesson. Her husband was really sick and she didn't want us over...so we decided to doorbell ditch some muffins instead. Her husband was so touched that he wanted to learn more about us (he hadn't been interested before) and Googled "what do Mormons believe?" Potentially a bad move, but guess what he found? The Plan of Salvation. When he saw we believed in three heavens, he called his wife over. They were both blown away and immediately called us. We plan to have them on date to be baptized this week. Whoa.

Love ya lots! 
Sister Garver

2/9/15 Another Week

This week has been pretty awesome. We've found a lot of less actives, got back in with several former investigators,  and found a handful of new ones. The weather has been in the 60s for the past few days, and we've been working on a song that our district is going to perform for zone meeting on Wednesday. We've had several really good lessons and had an investigator we've only met with once call us and tell us she had read the scriptures that had been assigned and had felt a confirmation that they were true. Jesus Christ really had visited the Americas. There's a baptism coming up this Saturday, and we're taking a family through the temple to get their endowments next week, and sealed the week after. 

Coolest experience this week was sneaking into a gated apartment complex (which we are now quite skilled at) with a young woman from the ward, having the appointment fall through, and then tracting into a boy from the young woman's math class in school! He was Korean and had never heard of Christ, and had no religious background. We taught him a bit about God and prayer, the young woman gave a prayer with him, right on the doorstep, and we have a return appointment with him this Friday! God works miracles.

I love you all so much!
Sister Garver

2/2/15 Over A Fourth Way Done?

So I realized the other day...I'm over a fourth way done with my mission. But I just got here. It's the weirdest feeling ever. But I still have a long way to go, so let's ignore that fact as unimportant.

This week has been interesting. For one thing, we ran out of miles on the car three days early, and we're in a big area. So our first plan: get rides from members. You have no idea how hard that can be. Everyone works or has kids or already has plans. But we did our best and had a few little headaches over that issue, but did alright. Then next plan: let's bike. Yeah. We did that once. Then decided to never do that again.Way too many hills. We finally get a long downhill to rest and breathe, and then the thought strikes you: I'm going to have to go back up that thing. Crap. So after that fun expedition, we went to plan three: walk. That was actually quite fun. It took a lot longer, but it was really fun. Sister Kang and I were able to talk and laugh and sing. One of us would start singing in our language, and the other would recognize the song and join in in her language. We also were able to tract and contact as we went. The only scary parts were having to run across the highways, but we made it just fine and with only slightly sore feet.

Church this week was amazing. During fast and testimony meeting, we had three recent converts and an investigator get up and bear testimony. The investigator even shared that she had received a witness of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon last night and was thrilled for her baptism on the 14th. Then in Gospel Principles, we had a recent convert bring her husband and the Spirit was so strong as we learned about the books of scripture and about the Book of Mormon. The best part was when the teacher showed us Elder Holland's Testimony of the Book of Mormon (http://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/testimony-of-the-book-of-mormon-2). 

We met a few awesome people this week. One family is Vietnamese, but the 8 year old son speaks English. But he didn't even know who Jesus Christ is! All he knew about God was that "He's the guy up in the sky, right?" But when we started telling him about God, he got really excited and pleaded for his dad to let us come back and give him a children's Book of Mormon and teach them more. Also, we ran into another guy who had run into a LOT of anti, but was totally willing to hear our perspective and learn more. I love questions! And I even love anti because it opens the way for us to teach truth and answer questions. Of course, I also hate anti because it can draw away the elect that we've already found. So mixed feelings on that.

Ofa' atu!
Sister Garver

P.S. Sister Kang's last companion was Tongan, so ofa' atu means "I love you!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1/26/15 Johns Creek

If I was looking for different when I transferred, I got it. There are times when I forget I'm even in America. 

For one thing, about 40% of the population is Asian. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tai, and another 20% is Indian or Hispanic. White, English speaking, is sorta a minority here. Since Wednesday, I've taught lessons in Chinese, Thai and Indian (we needed a translator). Half the houses we visit require we take our shoes off at the door. The ward is just as diverse. The opening prayer was in Korean and the closing was in Thai. There are four gospel doctrine classes: English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. About a fourth of all the stores we pass are Korean. It's different.

My new companion, Sister Kang, is from Taiwan, and is a HUGE blessing for the area. The ward was struggling a bit because they only had a few members who could translate or teach classes, but then Sister Kang came along and now the ward can breath a little. I admit it is pretty strange teaching investigators and having very little idea of what is going on. We read scriptures with them, Sister Kang and the investigators read in Chinese and I read in English. I've come to love language study as well, because while I help Sister Kang with English, she teaches me bits of Chinese! Plus, Sister Kang is the sweetest. She is sweet, but really bold and a great teacher. We found that both of us love to talk in lessons and tracking, so we have to decide beforehand who's turn it is. But I love her so much! Oh! she's also trying to teach me Taekwondo! I'm not sure it's going very well though. Both her parents are professionals. I'm very much not. A lot of laughing goes on between the two of us.

Most of the little miracles that happened this week were with less actives. Like yesterday, we actually met with all the less actives we planned on (which never happens) and got in and taught half of them (which NEVER happens). We were able to quickly determine who was ready to be taught and what they needed to learn. The most spiritual lesson this week was actually with a woman from Thailand who spoke no English at all. Her daughter translated for us, and while neither Sister Kang nor I could understand her directly, the Spirit was so strong and all of us grew and were able to communicate. It was amazing.

I love you all! 
Sister Garver

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1/20/15 First Transfer!

It's been an interesting week.

First off, it's been super warm. It was nearly 70 degrees out yesterday. It was beautiful, and even I didn't have to wear a jacket. Weird. It's January. But I like it. Plus, it's supposed to get even warmer this week. I can't wait :)

I was able to go to the temple last Saturday! Ryan and Esmeralda LOVED it! It was so amazing to see the change in them, even from before walking into the temple to right after. They practically glowed. I certainly felt like glowing myself! There is no better place to be on earth than in the temple, especially with those that you love. I really hope someday I'll be able to come back to a sealing of one of the families I've taught here. I bet there can be no greater joy.

Tomorrow I'm leaving my baby area! I'll be going to John's Creek, a really nice, well-off area. I've heard it has a great ward and everyone over there is super nice, so I'm really excited! And really sad at the same time. I'll miss Kennesaw. I hope the people over there are as awesome and as receptive to the gospel as the people over here. I'll miss Kennesaw tons, and all those I've come to love here with all my heart, but I'm looking forward to making new friends, meeting new people, learning new things, and finding the elect!

Several miracles have happened this week. One is that the funeral for a woman that I have visited and taught and brought back to the church was held this morning, on my last day here. It is such a miracle that I was able to go. I love her so much and I am so glad that I could pay my respects to her and her family before I leave. And it is such a blessing that we know of the Plan of Salvation and can rejoice in the knowledge that she is now free of pain and full of joy and peace in the glory of Spirit Paradise. What peace this brings to those of us still on Earth!

I love you all so much!
Sister Garver

P.S. I wanted to share a victory of this week. I finished reading through the New Testament for the first time! I loved it! Now on to the Old.