Monday, February 29, 2016

When JWs Attack

Дорогие Мои!

We've had 6 new investigators in the past 2 weeks! It's kind of a record for me on my mission.

Thanks to Sister Greenwood's awesome skills at talking to people on transport, we're starting to teach an Armenian family. We had a lesson with the mom of the family, Anaid is her name, and she even accepted a baptismal invitation. She's a little confused about priesthood authority, but that's to be expected out in these parts. The Armenians are very proud of the fact that they were the first country to accept Christianity, so the apostasy doesn't really make sense to them. 

Another one of our wonderful investigators is Elena. We had the best lesson I think I've ever taught with her. It was fun and easy and we were able to help her understand that not only do we want her to know truth, but that we also care for and love her. It was really good. Unfortunately, we couldn't meet with her this week, but we'll keep trying!

These past few weeks have just exploded with people who want to learn about the Gospel. And I think it all comes from the fact that the branch is ready to help them, so God is blessing their efforts. Although even this branch is made up of imperfect people, it's beautiful to see that they are always there to love and support each other, through thick and thin, and that they don't give up on one another. I really think that the people in this branch are living like Christ would, and I hope that when I return home, I can be a member of the church like they are. They visit the sick and care for those who have no family to care for them. The love of Christ fills their lives and members of the branch call us asking if they can help us on lessons. They truly are wonderful people.

Funny story time! 

Last Monday was an absolutely crazy day. After I emailed all of you, we went to go find a Bible in Russian for Sister Greenwood (they're hard to come by). Elder Berger, one of our Zone Leaders, told us that there was a good Bible store not too far from where we live, so we set out to find it. Turns out, that Bible store is actually the meetinghouse of the local Jehovah's Witnesses! And while we were there, they were all singing and dancing and had drums playing. It was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, their collection of Bibles did not appeal to Sister Greenwood, but, hey, we got to party with the JWs for a little, so I can't complain.

Another story that goes along with that is on our way to the Bible Store, we rode a bus. And on buses here there is a person who goes around the bus and collects the money for the tickets. One of the people on the bus refused to pay, and this poor lady who collects the money was just getting yelled at by that guy. Finally, she forced him off the bus, but it was apparent that her spirits were down and this was not a good day for her. I decided to write her a little note to make her day a little brighter, and when we got off the bus, I handed it to her. She read it, and I could see on her face how happy that little note had made her. So, I guess that the little things in life to help others really do make a difference to people. So don't be afraid to act out of love and make someone's day a little brighter. 

Have a great week! I send you all my love!

Сестра Джарвис

Monday, February 22, 2016

Men's Day

So first of all, I don't know what happened, but for about a week spring had begun here in Volgograd, but now the snow is back in force, so it's been a blizzard outside all day. On the plus side, the sunlight now looks normal. The winter sun up north isn't very strong or bright, so I'm really grateful to see real sunlight again!

The email is entitled Men's Day because tomorrow in Russia is Men's Day or Defenders of the Fatherland Day. (They also have Women's Day on March 8th.) So, to all you men out there who defend your own fatherland, Спасибо!

We had an awesome week this week. For some strange reason, we found a lot of people interested in hearing our message. (One of them does happen to be a Muslim whose as interested in converting us to Islam as we are in converting him to Christ, but what can you do?) We had a few people that we had met on transport call us, which happens so infrequently that for the past almost 7 months of me living here, it has never actually happened unitl this week. So, miracles do occur even when it's freezing outside and there's a blizzard. 

We also had Zone Conference here this last week, so President and Sister Miner were up in Volgograd for the weekend. It was really fun, and I got to do some translating for them as they came to help Sister Greenwood and I on a lesson with a recent convert family. I was amazed as I was able to translate everything they said. It frequently catches me off guard as I remember that a year ago I couldn't even read Russian much less speak it. God really does create miracles in those who serve Him. 

One of the things we focused on in Zone Conference was our own understanding of what it means to repent. Now, I used to think that repentace was a horrible process that people told me to do so that I could feel bad about myself. That, my friends, is a false notion. Repentace, as it says in Preach My Gospel, is gaining a fresh view of yourself and of God. Meaning that when you repent, you recognize that you can be better than who you are currently, and that you can become perfect like God is. Yes, part of repentace is acknowledging that you are not perfect and that you have work to do, but if you didn't recognize that, you'd never be able to see that you can learn and improve. So for this week, I'd like to invite you to repent! Or come closer to being the person that God sees you becoming: your perfect self.

"Repent, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" 

And now, I'm off to tell people in Russia to do the same thing! Have a wonderful week!


Сестра Джарвис

Me at the old train station in Volgograd (it was bombed in WWII)

Our zone! (Elder Boyer was unexpectedly given a halo by the painting of Christ behind him)

Monday, February 15, 2016

(Insert Clever Title Here)

This week was great, kak obichno (like usual).

We had an activity last Saturday with all of the branches in our district, so members from Volshkii and Red Army came to center. I had a blast seeing all of the members I missed from Red Army. The very best part of the whole thing was that I was able to see one of the less active members Sister Misuraca and I had worked with, Sasha. He's preparing to go to the temple this year, and he has a calling in his branch now. He's a branch missionary, so he's kind of like a missionary with a normal life. He's excited about it. I'm excited for him. It was just so great to see that he was making his life better than it had been and that he's letting himself be happy now.

We had kind of a crazy Sunday. This cute babushka we met on the street wanted to come to church with us. We told her we'd pick her up Sunday morning to show her how to get to the branch. Her little apartment was PACKED with random collections of little glass dogs, little glass girls, and little glass everying. Luckily, my clumsiness did not kick in until after we were out of her apartment, and I didn't break anything. She was a way cute babushka, though, and we'll hopefully be able to see her again soon. She's a busy lady, though. She works at one of the theatres in town and is frequently at the symphony.

Sister Greenwood and I are doing pretty awesome! We were each other's Valentines, so no worries in case you forget to send me a valentine.

I think I can honestly say that everyday I feel happier than the day before. It's amazing how living in the service of others has made me happier than even singing could have. I love these people so much, and the longer I live here, the more I know that every person on the Earth has a loving Heavenly Father who knows them, cares about them, and is always trying to reach out to them. 

 Я вас люблю!

Sister Jarvis

Monday, February 1, 2016

Дорогие Друзья и Семя

Дорогие Друзья и Семя,
We had a wonderful week this week. Kira was baptized! And her whole family came to the baptism. Mom, dad, grandma, other grandma, everyone. And like the whole branch showed up! We didn't have room for them all! 

The District President, who is really good friends with Kira's mom and family, spoke at Kira's baptism and also confirmed Kira the next day during church. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life and one of the best people I have ever met in my life. His talk for Kira was beautifully simple as he told her about the important covenent and step in her life that she was making. 

Kira was kind of scared of getting dunked in the water and accidentally breathing water in, so from the moment she got in the water, she had a tight pinch on her nose and her eyes shut really tightly. It was funny, but she came out out with a huge smile on. And her mom was smiling the whole day. 
Some of the missionaries made brownies for after the baptism. Surprisingly, Russia has not discovered the wonder that is brownies, and everyone was asking for the recipe.
It was simply a really good day.
The elders in Volgograd currently only have investigators from Africa studying at a unversity here, and our investigator pool is more Indian than it is Russian. So, we joke that the Elders are baptizing Africa and we're baptizing India. It's kind of fun, though, because they all speak English! So Sister Greenwood and I actually know what's going on! 

Our investigator Stephin, from India, is doing really well. He has a hard time understanding us because his English isn't as good as he would like it to be and he doesn't speak much Russian, but he has this huge desire to come closer to Christ and nothing is stopping him, not even the language barrier.

We continue to gain investigators and find new people to talk to all the time. Volgograd is an awesome city, and I can't imagine ever leaving it.
Hope your weeks are all full of rainbows and sunshine!


Sister Jarvis

It says "We have a holiday!  Kira was baptized!" and "Kira, I really, really love you!"

The alligator by our apartment