Monday, March 28, 2016

Eeeevery ROOOSE has its Thoooorn!

Дорогие Мои,
There are some weeks where you feel like you're on top of the world, and then there are some weeks where it feels like nothing works out.

When I reached the end of this week, I was super disappointed in our stats (we send in stats for the amount of people we teach that week). A lot of people cancelled on us throughout the week, and a lot of people didn't answer their phones or were busy. Looking over our stats I was thinking, "What is wrong with us?" But, then I remembered what seemed like an endless amount of weeks writing in zeros for every statistic while Sister Misuraca and I were together. And while that did get to us every now and then, we still had fun. Lots of it, and I felt ashamed that I had even thought what I did. I should have been grateful all along. For the joy that I've found being here, serving people, and for the fact that I've been blessed with such wonderful people in my life, my companions, the branch members, and our wonderful investigators, and most of all, of course, for my Savior, who is there at every turn, good and bad.

This last week there appeared to be a never-ending source of bad news. Galia, our cute 18-year-old miracle investigator, has stopped responding to us, and it doesn't look like she's going to get baptized this week.  Our other investigator, Andrei, stopped responding as well, which is very strange. We hope that it's just a short time thing because I miss those two quite a bit, and they are both just so good and wonderful. 

But, honestly, even though it wasn't the most successful week, we had quite a bit to be grateful for. Vika and Natasha, these two awesome girls in the branch here, told us they would call Galia to see if she's okay (they're absolutely wonderful those two). Janna tells everyone she meets how excited she is to get baptized. The Elders had a double baptism last Saturday. And, Sister Montierth, Sister Nelson, and I are just continuing our безконечная вечеринка (never-ending party) all day, every day. So, honestly, things are awesome and Spring has now arrived in V-grad!

One of the things I realized this weekend is that every high comes to an end, but that also means that every low must also come to an end. It's kind of like physics "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". So, if you are going through a hard time right now, don't worry, the normal force will work it's magic, and things will get better. And besides, how can we find out how great the good is if we don't have the bad sometimes. (Alma 36:21)
Happiness to you! (as they would say in Russian)
Сестра Джарвис

Monday, March 21, 2016

Janna the Miracle and Lessons on Russian Culture

Добрый День

Life in Volgograd is wonderful. Sister Montierth and I frequently joke about how we're never going to leave, or if we have to, we'll bring the members with us. I love this branch and all the people in it. Not to mention my wonderful companions! I have no idea how any of us are going to go back to being in a two person companionship. We have a non-stop party everyday!

On Saturday, we had a branch activity put on by the amazing youth. It was Stilyagi themed. For those of you not so fresh on your Soviet Union history, Stilyagi were the counter-culture rebels of the 50's and 60's in the Soviet Union. They idolized American culture and were known for their extremely bright clothing in reaction to the strict styles of Stalin and post-Stalin era USSR. Cool little fact about Stilyagi, they smuggled American and British music into the country on X-Rays since records were banned, and they called these smuggled records "bones". Honestly, I don't think history gets cooler than Stilyagi, and I'm totally directing a play one day about them. 

But, I'm getting off topic. The activity was a talent show and the youth prepared a swing dance to showcase, which they did fabulous on. The two companionships of elders combined to sing the old Russian folk song "Katyoosha," and everyone clapped and sang with them. It was so cute. I was called up to do a dance competition, and I'm sure those who have seen me dance can understand how utterly hilarious it must have been. Overall, it was a success, and a bunch of investigators came and had a wonderful time.

Also, on Saturday, our tri-pan went street teaching. We met this man who was very interesting. He told us that women should never cut their hair because our hair is an antenna to the cosmos. So, I guess my goal of not cutting my hair before I come home was a good choice.

On Sunday, we had a surprising miracle. Sister Greenwood and I met this adorable old woman, Janna, about a month ago on our way to do something else. We didn't really have time to talk to her, but we gave her our number and invited her to church. She promised she would come, and she did. Since then we've tried setting up lessons with her, but she's a very busy lady since she works for a few of the theaters in town here, but she's come almost every Sunday since the first time she came. Yesterday, she was talking to the district president, and she decided that she wants to get baptized! So we finally had that first lesson we've been trying to have, and she loved it. She's already met like all of the members and they all love her, so we had quite the crowd join us to help teach her. She kept saying how the Spirit was in this church and she's been to other churches, but they don't have the Spirit in them. It was amazing. I don't think anything could have strengthened my faith more. I'm so grateful that I get to see the Gospel shaping people's lives. She's going to be baptized on April 9th at the latest maybe even April 2nd, if we can get all the lessons in before then.

Every week on my mission has been different, strange, interesting, and wonderful. I love it.
I love you all! And I hope you all are doing well!


Sister Jarvis

Blini!  (Please ignore the fact that my coat makes me look like I have no neck)

We attacked our Zone Leaders' door with sticky notes! (Sister Nelson is the tall one; Sister Montierth is the one in blue.)

This is Elder Boyer (and Sister Nelson).  He's great.

Sister Montierth got artsy.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Women and Blini, What Can I Say More?

Привет всем,

We have had a ridiculously busy week. Combining two companionships is a lot of work. My companions moved from a different apartment across town to the apartment Sister Greenwood and I lived in, which wouldn't have been so bad except we had no boxes... or a car... But, hey, that's what Zone Leaders are for! Really, though, our Zone Leaders are wonderful. They helped us move, got us flowers on women's day (more about that wonderful holiday later), and made me a Star Wars scripture case. Honestly, they couldn't get better. 

Women's Day is a day that should be celebrated everywhere like they celebrate it here in Russia. People were just walking down the street, flowers in hand, telling every woman that they saw "Happy Women's Day!" and giving every cute old babushka a cute little flower. It was probably the best day ever, made better by the fact that it also happens during the 2nd best Russian holiday "Maclenitsa". Or as our tri-pan calls it, Blini Week. Blini are essentially like crepes (but better) and the week before the Russian Orthodox pre-Easter 40 day fast is the week where blini is celebrated. So, we ate a lot of blini this week, and it was totally worth it.

Speaking of things that are awesome, our investigator Galia is just wonderful. She's the investigator that just walked into the church one Saturday and asked if she could know more. She's so in tune with the Spirit. She comes into every lesson with some new spiritual experience she had since she saw us like 2 days ago. She's participating in the branch talent show on Saturday. And she can sing the cups song flawlessly. Being with her is a blessing. Teaching her is a miracle.

Our other investigators are doing well, but we have so many I'm worried we're not giving them the amount of time that they need. But, I know that when we're working our hardest, God makes up for the difference (2 Nephi 32:9). It all starts with us sincerely trying to do the most we can in the most effective way possible, and God concecrates our performance or makes miracles happen when we do the most we can.

Sister Nelson and Sister Montierth are wonderful teachers and companions. Sister Montierth is dedicated and always on top of things (but extremely silly) and Sister Nelson is so patient with everyone (but secretly sassy). I love being with them. We laugh ourselves to stitches all the time. It's kind of a problem. I think people on the street think there's something wrong with us we're so happy. But, hey, what to do.

All in all, it was a good first week of the transfer, and it's only going to get better!

С Празником!

Сестра Джарвис

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Greenwood Is Gone

Привет всем!

This was kind of a crazy week as I spent more time out of my area than in it (other people had Visa trips, and I had to go drop them off in Rostov...). 

ANND, Transfer calls came! The good news is: I'M STAYING IN VOLGOGRAD! I'm so grateful I get to stay here longer. I love this branch with all my heart, and I love my investigators, and I just love this city. I can honestly say that if I stayed here my whole mission, I would not care. I love it.

That being said, there is bad news... Sister Greenwood is leaving for Krasnodar. Sister Greenwood and I had a difficult time last night while we packed up her stuff. She's been a really good friend to me as well as companion. 


I'm going to be TRI-PANNING! (Meaning that I will be with 2 other sisters not just 1)

And the best part is, it's with Sister Montierth, who's been in my district for 7 months, and Sister Nelson, who has just been trained in Volgograd. They were the other set of sisters in Volgograd Center, so we'll be combining our two companionships into one.

I'm anticipating that as Sister Greenwood leaves, I'll cry, but I also think that Sister Montierth, Sister Nelson, and I will rock it. We were trying to figure out how many lessons we were going to be able to do next week, and I think we're heading into one of the busiest transfers I'll ever have on my mission. We have 13 investigators (that's a lot, normally we have about 5) between the two companionships and a ton of less actives that we're working with. But I love being busy, so it's going to be a blast.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to see a lot of our investigators or anyone else this week except the missionaries in Rostov, but it was still a good time. There were about 15 missionaries traveling from Rostov to Volgograd on Saturday night, and it caused quite the commotion considering that no one in Russia wears ties or carries around large quantities of the Book of Mormon apart from LDS missionaries. We were asked about 5 times if we were Jehovah's Witnesses. 

As one of my very favorite members in Volgograd keeps telling us missionaries "Walk by faith, not by fear". And this week that's what I invite you all to do (myself included!). I don't know how, but I do know that everything that's going wrong in your life will work out somehow. If you just trust in the fact that you are divine from birth, and that there is a plan in store for you from a Father in Heaven who loves you very much, you'll make it. Don't sweat it.


Sister Jarvis

We made official contracts of boldness and honored it with this picture

Some hats Sister Greenwood and I found at our investigator's house