Monday, December 19, 2016

From Russia with Love

I think I titled my first email from Russia the very same, so I thought it would be fitting to title the last one the same way.

First of all, we had an amazing miracle happen. On the way back from the last VLC, Sister Lisitsina and I met a girl named Dasha on the train who had met Elder Dayton and Elder Barnes when they visited an English club. Dasha and I had a nice talk on the train with her mom who was with her, and we agreed to meet up again. We had been trying to meet with her ever since, but it just hadn't worked out, until last Saturday. She invited us to come to the English club the elders formerly had gone to and asked if she could also learn more about our religion. Turns out she had been researching online. We brought her with us after the English club to the music lesson that our other investigator Nastya gives on Saturday nights at the branch. Dasha loved it. She said she loves the way she feels at the branch and asked if she could have a Book of Mormon in Russian and English. We gave them both to her and invited her to come to church. 

She came! And not only did she come, but she had stayed up all night the night before reading the Book of Mormon that we had given her. She asked me if she could get baptized that day. I told her that she could in 3 weeks if she came to church every Sunday. And then! Our recent convert Nastya explained to her all about the process for getting baptized and how volunteers have to teach lessons and gave her a conference liahona. Dasha has been excited ever since. She plans on coming to the Christmas party and wants to bring a friend to her lesson beforehand.

It was really quite the miracle. The kind of miracle that is just unforgettable.

Speaking of, the senior couple in our district, the Lunds, challenged us all, a few weeks ago, to give Jesus a gift for Christmas. Their gift is to learn Russian this next year. I had no idea what I wanted to give Jesus for Christmas. There was simply too much that I wanted to do. Until I read this wonderful sentence from a general conference talk.

Please do not forget.
Elder Rasband - Lest Thou Forget- Oct. 2016

So, I decided that my gift to Jesus is to never forget my mission. To never forget these people that I love so much. To never forget what I've learned. To never forget that I am a child of God and what that really means to me. 
"In the midst of life’s greatest storms, do not forget your divine heritage as a son or daughter of God or your eternal destiny to one day return to live with Him, which will surpass anything the world has to offer. Remember the tender and sweet words of Alma: 'Behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?'" - Elder Rasband

Thank you all for your support over the past life-changing year and a half. I can't believe that this will be the last time I write a weekly email. 

I'll be back in Utah on January 5th. My parents and I will be traveling around my mission for a week and a half. So, maybe I'll send some pictures of that.

I am pretty sure my homecoming will be:
January 15, 2017
1300 East Fairfax Road
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
United States

Love you!
Sister Jarvis

​Here is Elder Altuhov exhibiting the common Russian squat.

​​Here is the Cemetary in Krasnodar. I finally convinced Sister Lisitsina that it wasn't that weird to go on a stroll through a cemetary. Isn't it so pretty?

Monday, December 12, 2016


Just so you all know, this is the second to last P-Day I've got as a full-blown missionary.

It makes me really sad to think about that. More sad than I can really fully express to you all.
But, before we get into all that serious stuff. Here's a picture of Sister Klimash (one of the lovely sisters in my district) putting on the full armor of God!
Now that's what I call a sword of the Spirit!

It was also Sister Lisitsina's birthday yesterday! She turned 20. And we celebrated by drinking the favorite Swedish Christmas drink of Ikea GLOGG! (Shoutout to Kristin!)

Don't worry friends, it's non-alcoholic. 
It tasted a lot like the wassail my mom makes for Christmas, actually. 

And we had my last zone conference this week. 

Yesterday, our recent convert, Nastya, who was baptized a few weeks ago, gave a talk. She was terrified. She's very shy and she didn't even want to bear her testimony at her own baptism because she was afraid of talking in front of others. Well, I was so proud of her as I watched her go up to the podium yesterday, but I could see on her face how absolutely scared she was. She looked out at the congregation and turned around to tell the branch president that she just couldn't do it. She couldn't talk in front of all these people.

Do you know what our sweet branch president did?

He got up, gave her a big hug, and waited for her to calm down. Then, like my primary teachers, older siblings, and parents did when I was little and wanted to speak in sacrament, he stood by her side as she gave her address. Eventually he sat down when she no longer needed his support. And she gave an absolutely amazing talk about how we were called to proclaim the gospel at this time in Russia in the premortal life. 

I was so touched by what President Palenkov, our branch president, did that I started crying. There was my friend, my little sister, who was up there so scared she could barely talk and I could do nothing about it. Imagine how I felt when President Palenkov just took her under his wing and helped her get through her first talk in sacrament meeting. In that moment I understood just a little better how much missionary work means to our Father in Heaven. We are reaching out to His little ones and helping them find their way.

I love the people here. I love this country. I love that although my time is becoming very short, I can still give my all to these people I love. What a wonderful blessing.

I wish you all a wonderful week! 

Sister Jarvis

Monday, December 5, 2016


This week we dressed up like....


Just kidding. We dressed up like pioneers.
Exhibit A

​Exhibit B (Yes, I do have a pillow under my pioneer skirt. Yes, I was pretending to be pregnant... it was part of the story.)

Exhibit C?
We had an activity about church history and the volunteers were assigned to talk about Pioneers! So we told stories of our ancestors! It was so much fun. Sister Lisitsina helped us translate the stories we could find on family search or that our parents had told us into Russian. The branch loved it! And we had a great time putting it together if you can't tell. It was so cool to see how excited these Russian pioneers got about the American ones from 100 years ago.

I can't express how grateful I am for my ancestors who gave me the blessing of having a multi-generational family in the church. And I can't tell you have wonderful it is to work with the first generation pioneers of Russia. It makes me so happy to see how the gospel changes their lives for the better and helps them deal with problems that seem to be unsolvable. Well, "all things are possible through Christ which strengthen me."  I know that that is true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today. I know my ancestors believed with all their hearts that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, and I stand with them in their faith. I am honored to help strengthen this generation of Saints in the lovely Krasnodar.

I love you all!


Sister Jarvis

Monday, November 28, 2016


In honor of the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving, here are 7 things I'm grateful for!

1) My Heavenly Father and the knowledge I have of Him. 
We had a lesson with our investigator, Nastya, and we watched this video

In it, two girls talk about how they have self-confidence because they know they are daughters of God. Nastya turned to me after the video and asked, "Where does that confidence come from? How do I get it?" I shared with her the testimony I have recieved as I've been on my mission that my Heavenly Father loves me and because He loves me I don't need to compare myself or worry about what people think of me. All I need to worry about is what Heavenly Father thinks of me. If I am in good standing with Him, then that's good enough for me.

2) My Savior!

3) My Family
It's been a LONG time since I've seen them. And as it turns out a lot has changed since I left them, but my family has been the best support system I could have asked for even from hundreds of miles away. Oh how much I love them.

4) My companion!

Look she even comes with a bow on top!

But, I really do love her and I'm so grateful that she decided to extend her mini-mission so that we can kill each other off! She makes the best food and makes me clean things, so overall she's an ideal companion. 

5) My district!

This was our potluck lunch for Thanksgiving. We actually had pumpkin pie and turkey thanks to our awesome senior couple, the Lunds!

6) The fact that we got to our train to Rostov on time! BOTH WAYS!
That's a win my friends. Especially when you hit traffic in Rostov. It can get pretty bad. But, miraculously we still made it and we did not have to take a bus. Buses are the worst.

We had a selfie celebration of dramatic, Russian selfie poses.

7) My mission.
​I do not have words for the gratitude I feel when it comes to my mission. I have changed so much, learned so much, and become so much. I'm so grateful it's not over yet. My brother shared with me a beautiful thought this week. He has been reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the book Scrooge tells a man asking for Christmas donations something along the lines of how he hopes that the poor of the city would die of starvation to, as he says, "decrease the surplus population". Scrooge goes on to later say, "It's not my business. It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly." But, as the book goes on the point that Charles Dickens is trying to make is that "mankind is our business". I love that, and I know that my mission has taught me just that. Why else would Christ have come to the world? Why else would He die for us? It is because His business was to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I know I'm trying to make that my business because I want to be like Him and live with Him again.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry start of the Christmas season in America!


Sister Jarvis

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snow, Snow, Snow!


And then it melted pretty much right away... It hasn't gotten any lower than 3 degrees celcius here.

​That's the view from our window. It was so cool! But, now it's back to almost spring weather. All the Primary kids were telling me about the snowmen that they made and the snowfights that they had. Sister Lisitsina and I also had our own snow fight...She won. 

In other news, our investigator Nastya is progressing really well. She's hilarious. Every lesson with her is just so much fun. I love being with her. My favorite part about her is the way she tells stories. She always somehow ends up looking like a T-rex, and I love it. Not to mention her awesome 80's fashion. She's always in the light wash mom jeans. I'm such a fan. I feel like I was meant to be in Krasnodar just to meet her and teach her. Hopefully, we'll be able to set a baptismal date with her soon. Every time we meet with her, I'm amazed by how much she learns. She even knew about the Word of Wisdom, and we didn't even talk to her about it yet! Man, I just love her.

A miracle occurred yesterday! We have been trying to find this less active member for a month. She kind of just disappeared. And we went to her house just one more time to see if we could find her. Well, we found her! And we had a great lesson with her about obedience and the blessings of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. It was so wonderful. I don't know how many times I prayed that we could find this woman, and I was just so happy that we did. Not only did we find her, but we found her ready and willing to listen to the Spirit. It was just unforgetable. I love being on a mission.

As the days continue to pass, I find myself reflecting on what it means to serve with all of one's heart, might, mind, and strength. And I came to the conclusion that serving God with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength is being ready and willing to do whatever it is that He commands you to do. I realized that even when I no longer will figuritively wear the black missionary tag (we don't wear our tags on the streets in Russia, just in the church building and member's homes), I will still be the Lord's servant. Serving God with all you have is trusting that He really is our Father and that He really will give us everything we need to be happy. That means helping us fulfill our dreams. And what makes us really, truly happy, everything good in this world, is of God. So, life changes, it always does, but in every part of life, we can be serving God. We should be serving God because He wants to give us every bit of joy and happiness that we are ready for. 

Well, I love you! Have a great week!

Сестра Джарвис
One of my primary kids stole my camera and took pictures during an activity. Isn't she a good little photographer?

This one is probably her greatest work.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Dear Friends and Family,

NASTYA GOT BAPTIZED! And both she and her husband were just glowing during the baptism and the following day when she recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost. I couldn't express how happy I was.  I just kept thinking about how her baptism was just a stepping stone to so many greater blessings. She wants to help in any calling that she is called to. She's ready to help on missionary lessons. She and Nikita have plans to be sealed together in the temple a year from now. She's just amazing. I can't wait to see how she continues to grow and become. I'm glad we don't have to stop teaching her. Meeting with her every week is going to be the highlight of the next few weeks.

I was on a split most of the week with one of the other sisters in our district, Sister Klimash. She's from St. Petersburg. It was really fun. She speaks English like a pro; sometimes we joke she's from Canada.

Here's the selfie we took to comemorate our week together.

I learned a lot from her this week about patience, charity, and trust in God. Too much to try to explain to you all in a short email that I send out weekly. She's also far too funny to describe. Most days we couldn't fall asleep on time because we were laughing too hard. 

The thing that kept coming up the most though this week was how thoughts turn into actions. If we can control our thoughts, we can control what we do. If we control what we do, we control who we become. 

For as he thinketh in his heartso is he
Proverbs 23:7

We don't necessarily have control over what pops into our mind, but we do have control over what we allow to occupy it. Far too often, I let thoughts of what someone else thinks of me take over other thoughts.  Well, that's just not fair to me or anyone else. I've decided that I want to be me. I want to recogonize that God loves me for me. Yes, of course, making yourself even better is important, but it's also important to remember to be patient with yourself. We all are in the process of growing. 
I love that the Gospel teaches us this. I love that knowledge of a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and individually changes how we see ourselves. I love that knowing that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can overcome our challenges and weaknesses as we do everything that we can. 
I love this Gospel. I love being on a mission. I love these people. I love you.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

с любовью

Сестра Джарвис

Here's a picture of all the sisters eating giant burgers together.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Angels in Russia


We had an awesome week! 

Our investigator Nastya decided that she really does want to get baptized on November 12th, so we've been working overtime to get all the lessons in. It's pretty easy to teach her since she's already had all the lessons about 3 times and she's been attending institute for 2 years consistently. We're kind of just like, "Alright, Nastya, please describe the Plan of Salvation in detail!" And she goes off about not just the basics, but also the millenium and what have you. It's pretty great. 

We also headed over to Gelendjik again.
It was fun and beautiful as usual. :) Our member out there is doing great. Her cute little baby just keeps getting cuter. :)
We had the opportunity this week to go sing at a care center.
We dressed up all matchy, right down to the red lipstick. It was really fun.

But the best part was watching those sweet babushki (grandmas) and dedushki (grandpas) listen to us sing and sometimes even sing along. Elder and Sister Lund came with us. It was so sweet to watch them go to every person and lovingly hug them and say in their broken Russian "I love you". It seemed to me as we sang to those people that Elder and Sister Lund had become angels because to those sweet, lonely people stuck in bodies that don't work like they used to that is precisely what they had become. It truly was a miracle to just be there.
I've reflected a lot this week about why it is we are sent to Earth together, why in the world God would organize a church in which people get offended or why do I have to do things WITH other people when I could just as easily do it by myself. 

​Well, the conclusion I came to was this. We can't do things by ourselves, number one, and number two, if we are really trying to become the best people we can be, that is become like Jesus Christ, then we have to learn to love everyone around us. We truly have to put our heart into helping others and loving others and valuing them the way that God values them. Even with all their faults. Even with all their weaknesses. We have to look at other people and see all the good that they can do and all the great that they can be. That's why we have families and we have to work with other people. As annoying as it sometimes may seem, in the end, it brings us the best and most satisfying happiness to love another person.

As the last song in the musical Les Miserables states "To love another person is to see the face of God."
Have a wonderful week!


Sister Jarvis