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

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Fairy of the Krasnodar Branch

Дорогие Люди,

This week was a wild one. We have been trying to make the Primary more of a Primary and less of a crazy house where children run throughout the building stealing peoples things and writing on chalkboards. So, we started by going back to the manual with the Primary Presidency and it was quite the task to explain it all. Luckily, I didn't do it alone and Sister Lisitsina was a primary teacher as was Sister Lund, so we all worked together, and last Sunday was probably the best I've ever seen Primary run. Man it was good. Who knew structure makes that much of a difference? Moral of the story: Follow the Handbook.

We also were able to go out to an active member who lives about 3 hours from Krasnodar and hasn't been able to go to church for years due to her old age and the fact that her husband is almost constantly in need of her care. Her name by the way is Feya which means Fairy in Russian.
She was just an amazing example to me of faith and strength, humility and kindness. We went with the Elders Quorum President, Denis, and one of the pairs of elders that serves in Krasnodar, Elder Powel and Elder Altuhov. They blessed the sacrament just for her first thing when we arrived. I've never seen anything like it. The picture below is of her house. Now just imagine that on that small little table lies one small piece of bread and one small cup of water with a white dish towel over the top. Denis and the Elders carefully knelt down before the table and said the sacrament prayers. First on the bread and then on the water. Both times giving Feya the small portion of bread or water that they had prepared just for her. She was so grateful. And I was so grateful to have been there. The sacrament, and in turn the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is really and powerfully for each individual. Even if you don't get that special one on one experience that Feya recieves due to her inability to make it to church on Sunday, it doesn't make the experience any less personal or any less individual to Jesus Christ. And so, it should be for you as well.

In other news, our investigator, Nastya who just was recently married in August to a member in Novo, has a set baptismal date that she is working towards! She was so excited to tell us about it during out lesson. She also was so sweet as she testified of how grateful she is that the Gospel gives her and her husband a common goal to work towards. She sees that as she has been trying to read her scirptures with him and live the gospel with him, they have become closer. It makes me all warm inside to think that in about a year, they can go to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. Isn't that such a blessing?

I love you all! Have a great week!

Сестра Джарвис

Here's a picture of Sister Lisitsina and I on the way to Feya.

And another of me playing the piano for Sacrament Meeting courtesy of Sister Miner who was in Krasnodar yesterday.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pump It Up!

Remember how last week I said that I didn't have much time because I had a train to catch?

Yeah we totally missed that train.

We got stuck in traffic and RAN to the train station only to have the Zone Leaders call us as we walked in to say that the train had already left. Whoops. 

We bought ourselves some pepsi and donuts and waited until the next bus left to Rostov.
(BTW we made a goal last week to eat healthier... we had to remake that goal for this week.)
In Rostov we had an amazing Volunteer Leadership Conference (VLC). Elder Martino of the Seventy, one of the members of the Eastern European Area Presidency, taught us all about how we can be effective even under current circumstances. It's been kind of confusing to figure out what exactly we do as Russian Volunteers, but Elder Martino has got all of our faith fires burning again. Inline image 1
Inline image 2

Inline image 3
I have heard a lot of you ask me about my humanitarian service mission. We are not humanitarian volunteers. We still do baptize. We still do teach people the gospel. We just don't proselyte like we used to. Our main goal is the same as it always was, that is to bring people to Christ. We do a little bit more service now, but it's not our main focus. We do service to give love as Christ would have done. 

With that mindset in our heads, Sister Lisitsina and I have seen so many miracles this past week. From seeing our investigator Ira that we lost contact with while serving an elderly member of the branch to being able to be at the baptism of two wonderful people that other volunteers in our district were able to teach. 

I made a goal to just make friends as we travel on transport. And, yesterday while talking to a man from Mozambique, I realized that Sister Kennard and I had months ago met him days before the law took action. (It's Manavey, if you remember him, Sister Kennard.. uh, I mean, Caitlin.) It's just been amazing to see that when we do the most we can do, God literally does the rest. God can do His own work, and He just gives us the blessing and opportunity to dabble in it.

In other news, Sister Lisitsina has been making me all kinds of strange Russian food I hadn't yet tried like....
​Meat in a can!

Haha! It was actually really good once she cooked it. But, I don't know if I'll ever buy it without her.
Well, I hope you all feel as pumped up as I do. Work, as Elder Martino taught us, should be FUN! So, go out there are make things happen!


Сестра Джарвис

​A picture of my lovely companion, hiding behind a fall leaf.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Love My Companion!

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sorry to inform you, but we are currently trying to make sure we catch our train, so my letter this week is going to be a little shorter.

Sister Lisitsina has been introducing me to all the Russian foods my other companions have been too afraid to try. Like:

Halodets! (It's the meat jell-o in the container) It kind of had a weird texture, but the taste was over all pretty good. She said her mom makes it better, though.

We finally took a selfie we both liked. We probably took about 50 before this one.

I played the piano for the branch puppet show.

It was a fun week. Everyday is just hilarious with Sister Lisitsina; she's ​sassy and spunky. And so helpful! I love being with her.

While we were studying today, I came across one of my favorite scriptures.

And whatsoever they shall speawhen moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shalbe the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, ymy servants. Wherefore, be ogood cheerand do not fear, for the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that am the Son of the living God, that was, that am, and that am to come. (D&C 68:4-5)
I love this scripture because this promise is true for all those who believe in Christ and do His will. I hope that none of us ever forget that when we are about the Lord's work, whether that means street teaching, being a volunteer in Russia, going to school, taking care of our families, being the bishop of a ward, helping the older woman down the street. Whatever it is that we are doing in Jesus's name, He is with us. He will be there, so we never need fear to follow through with what He tells us to do.
I love you all, have a wonderful week!
Sister Jarvis