Monday, August 31, 2015

Hearing Voices Is Never Good

What a racksackin' wonderful week!

Sister Marquis is the Sister Training leader for our zone, so we headed up to Rostov-na-Donu for leadership training ealier this week. We were there for half a day, so not long, but I got to do some work with the sisters in Rostov Center.

While Sister Marquis was in her meeting, we, the Rostov Center sisters and I, were out by the beautiful River Don. We ran into this adorable woman and her adorable daughter. As soon as she figured out we were Americans that speak English, she whipped out her video camera. She kept telling us to say this phrase, and we weren't really sure if she was trying to speak English or Russian, but it turns out that what she kept wanting us to say was "Even in the Wizarding World, hearing voices isd never a good sign."

Looks like I found me a fellow Harry Potter fan.

Later, we returned to beautiful Volgograd and attended a baptism! WITH OUR INVESTIGATOR! It was way cool. She has accepted a baptism date! Unfortunately, we figured out she doesn't actually live in our area, so she's no longer our investigator. But, there is a ward where she lives, so never fear! She still has missionaries and is still getting baptized!

The longer I'm here, the more I love the people I meet with. And the more I love the people, the more it becomes apparent to me that there is so much sadness and sorrow in the world. More than I could ever imagine. There are wounds that I cannot heal and scars I cannot fathom. But, the great message of the Gospel is that Christ can. Everyone has open wounds that feel as if they will never heal, but I know that if we apply the Atonement and turn to Our Savior, they can heal instead of fester.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that He loves each and everyone of you, and I also know that if you pray and if you read His words, you can know that, too. 

I love you all and I hope you have a racksackin' wonderful week, too!


Sister Jarvis

Sister Fowers (another missionary in Rostov) and Sister Marquis

Sister Fowers

The bus to Rostov

Sister Marquis and I

A weird picture we found in the elevator

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tales of Russian Existence


A Funny story to start off!

One of our zone leaders (the two elders that, along with the sister training leader, run our zone) was really sick this week, and they asked us to bring them Powerade and Coca-Cola, but we couldn't find any Powerade, so we gave them some like hydration powder stuff and lemonade packets.

Later they texted us again to tell us where we could find Powerade and to bring it because poor Elder Berger was in serious need. They expected us to come in the morning because it was about 10PM when they asked and we planned to do that, but we texted them that we'd be there in 20 minutes. Literally 2 minutes later we get this text from them that says "Ni! X come!" and another "X stop!" And then they called us desperate that we not come so late at night. We were going to try to pretend that we were already on the street and speak in Russian, but I was laughing too hard. Poor Elders. We got them way good.

This week one of the people we're teaching, Olya, decided to be baptized! She is an amazing person. She's 29 and she loves traveling, so she does a lot of it (including a month trip to Sri Lanka earlier this year). I'm so grateful that I got to meet her. Her kindness is beyond description because it's in everything she does, and I can just see how her relationship with God has enhanced that in her in just the few weeks that I've known her.

I love teaching people the Gospel because I can see how it changes people's lives. The more people listen and apply the principles we teach, the happier they are. And I know that that happiness comes from knowing who they are as children of God and how they can achieve greater joy in their life than they ever thought they could. 

I think that many times people misunderstand our purpose as missionaries. We invite people to learn of Christ, we teach His Gospel and His words to those who want to hear them, and we help people learn how to make and how to keep covenants or promises with God. Missionaries can't convert people. It's not within our power, nor should it be, because the decision to be converted or to want to follow God's commandmants is personal, individual, and entirely dependent upon ourselves. It's a decision I make everyday.

I love my Savior and I love that I get to do His work everyday. It's not easy, but it's brought me more joy than anything else I've ever done in my life. I know He lives. I know He loves each and every one of you. He wants us to return to Him, and He is reaching out to each of us through a variety of ways (other people, the books we read, etc.), and we just need to look for Him to see it.

Я люблю вас!

Сестра Джарвис

Monday, August 17, 2015

Things That Just Don't Happen, Happen in Russia

This week was a chuda (miracle).

I love Volgograd! 

Sister Marquis was telling me earlier this week about how she only has done service twice on her mission...

We then did service twice this week.

The first time, we helped this babushka and her grandson clean out their apartment. It was fun. Elders Cox and Wilcox helped us. They're pretty great.

The second time, though, was an adventure. We visited an Armenian family to do a spiritual thought with them and practice teaching with them. But, they told us that they had all of this yard work to do in their backyard by tonight because their landlady said they would evict them if they did not complete it. So, we agreed to help them and called in Elders Cox and Wilcox for some extra man power. The mother of the family, Anaid, wouldn't let us work in our missionary clothes, so she lent us some of her nicest clothes to go out to do yard work in (I think she thought we couldn't wear pants; it's kind of unclear).

Imagine for me the following scene: Two sisters doing yard work in a pencil skirt and dress. I wish I had pictures of what we were wearing. The Elders arrived and were lent some shirts, but they too did the work in their dress slacks. 

And then we hacked down weeds like crazy. Until Anaid's husband got home from work. He actually ripped a tree out of the ground. It was pretty intense.

We were going to go after that, to see if we could schedule a lesson with a potential investigator we met the other night, but this family would not let us leave without eating dinner. We tried to explain to them that it's against the rules to eat at members' homes, but they yelled at us about how it's rude to reject food in Armenia. 

So, we had a dinner of pig intestines (not too shabby, but I wouldn't recommend it) and Armenian goodies. The father of the family kept telling me I needed to eat more and would put food on my plate. It was a lot of fun made better by the fact that I still don't really know a lot of Russian, so I had no idea most of the time what people were saying.

I love it here. There are so many kind people everywhere we go. I thank Heavenly Father everyday for allowing me to serve a mission. I'm not perfect, and I don't think He needs me to be, or anyone to be. He just needs us to try our hardest to love Him, ourselves, and each other. 

I have a verse that I'm going to try to share with someone this week, on the street or otherwise, because it gives me hope to do what I need to while I'm here.

Mosiah 4:9-10 
 9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
 10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week!


Sister Jarvis

From two weeks ago...Waiting in the JFK airport for our flight to Russia

Sister Marquis and I preparing to take on the weeds

This tree says God with a heart!

This is our church building.

Note from Hillary (Sister Jarvis's Sister): Sister Jarvis did not write a caption for any of these photos...but enjoy them anyways!

Monday, August 10, 2015

From Russia With Love

Well Friends,

I'm in Russia. Currently, I'm in the city Volgograd, which is awesome. They have TONS of memorials to World War II here, especially since this year marks the 70th anniversary since the end of the War in Europe, and this city was the site of the battle that turned the war around in favor of the Allies.

Anyway, it's so fantastic here. Everyone always jokes about how Russians are these frost-hardened, gruff people, but it's simply not true. Not only is it like 100 degrees here, but people are just so kind. 
We have quite a large branch here. We even have our own building! Everyone in the branch LOVES my companion, Sister Marquis. She's amazing. She loves the people here so much, and she loves helping people. I'm amazed at her ability to love. AND her mastery of the language. She's great. I could not have asked for a better trainer.

There is this one woman in our ward who used to be a Jehovah's Witness (for some strange reason there are A LOT of Jehovahs Witnesses here...), her name is Nadejdah (which means hope). We were standing outside the branch building on Sunday welcoming the members and seeing if anyone passing by would want to join our meeting. We asked these two women if they would like to come in and see the building, and they kind of laughed us off and began to walk away. At the same time Nadejdah was walking to the building, and as she passed these woman, she told them "There will come a day when you need God!" and she turned to us and said "Good job, girls. The day will come."

People here are so quirky and weird. I love it.

I also love all the babushki (the older women). When we stop them on the street and begin to tell them that we're missionaries, they say  "Oh. devushki (girls), Ya Provoslavni (I'm Russian Orthodox). Ya Provoslavni." And they'll pet us and walk away. It's great.

We met someone really wonderful on the street the other day. Her name is Marina, and she's just so kind. She's a lovely woman. We taught her the beginning of the first lesson. and she was so interested and receptive. She had the best questions too. "What does it mean that Christ took upon Him our sins?" She's amazing. We prayed with her on the street, and as Sister Marquis finished the prayer, there were tears in her eyes. Unfortunately, she didn't have a cell phone, so we hope that she will come to church on Sunday. I can't wait.

We have a lot of investigators right now, and I could go on for hours because I love the work here and I love the people here, but I'll sign off with my testimony that I know Heavenly Father knows all of His children individually and if you are broken hearted or hurt, He will help you. It may not be in the way that you think it should be, but He will answer your prayers and He will help you in the way that you need it.

Until next week!

Sister Jarvis

(Also, if I send pictures of people other than the missionaries, you cannot post it on Facebook or any other public site because it is illegal in Russia and we try to not make the Russian authorities mad at us)

Here's the mission home address. I can't tell you my personal address, but I promise the letter will get to me eventually!

Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission
Per. Semashka 117B
Rostov 344018

Some pictures of me and my new companion, Sister Marquis

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Letter from Sister Miner (The Mission President's Wife)

Dear Parents, 

Your daughters arrived safely to our mission with smiling faces after many many hours of travel!! We are grateful to you for raising such wonderful daughters. They are excited to get to work and begin to use this hard language they have learned. We spent the day yesterday with them and their trainers teaching them and orienting them to the mission. Their trainers are some of our very best missionaries. 

This is the Lord’s work and we see His Hand in it every day. The members here are warm and welcoming and they love the missionaries. Your daughters will have an opportunity to bring others unto Christ and to strengthen the branches in the Church here. The members here are mostly first generation in the church so the missionaries help in so many ways. 

We have wonderful, strong missionaries in this mission. It is a very obedient mission and the Lord protects us and blesses us in His work. Please know that we love your daughters and all the missionaries serving here. All of our children have served missions with our youngest daughter now serving in Mexico. We care for them and love them as we would our own children. We want to help them succeed and learn in the Lord’s way. 

Thank you for your love and support in encouraging them in this work! 

Sister Miner