Monday, May 30, 2016

The Art of Bug Whacking

We had... quite the week. In a good way.
First of all, I would like to annouce that I will be spending yet another transfer here in Volgograd. That means that I will have almost spent an entire year just here in V-grad. And I'm probably the luckiest missionary out here because of it.
Second of all, our little Traktorny group opened yesterday with 9 people in attendance! 4 of those are not even members of the church! We sang a barbershop quartet version of How Great Thou Art with the Elders, ate stale cookies, and drank tea with those who came, and began the creation of the future Volgograd Stake. Pretty successful day.
And third of all, we ran into a less active member the other day, and she's a little bit of an eccentric, so when she was whacking the bugs off with a leafy tree branch, we thought it was just a weird thing that she does. And when she tore off branches from the nearby tree to give to us to keep the bugs off, we decided that we should probably put them down somewhere, so that while we were contacting people on the streets they didn't think we were insane. The next day, we noticed that every single babushka was carrying a branch that they tore off a tree to keep the bugs away. We learned two things from this. Volgograd has a lot of bugs (you should see my legs... I look like I have some sort of skin killing disease) and you should always accept bug whacking branches, no matter how eccentric the person who gives it to you is.

Throughout the week we kept running into random people in need of our help or having appointments cancel only to be filled by one of our other investigators moments later, proving to me that God really is guiding us to do His work.
One of these moments happened with a recent convert who has been having a really tough time battling depression. We just happened upon him as a rainstorm rolled in, and we ducked into an alleyway to avoid the rain. He told us that he had been praying, pleading for help because he felt as if all his strength was gone, and as he looked up from his prayer, he saw us. We talked with him and sang with him. All the while this rainstorm just kept getting stronger and stronger. The thunder was so loud and the lightning bright. We were with him for a little over half an hour, and as soon as we parted ways, the storm ceased being so dramatically strong.
It reminded me of the story of Christ, asleep in the middle of the Sea of Galilee during a rough storm. His disciples were terrified that they would sink, that the storm was too strong for them to live through, and as soon as they woke Jesus up, he rebuked the sea and calmed the winds, and the storm cleared. Jesus Christ works through us today to calm the storms in the lives of His children. It may be that we simply say hello to someone or sing them our favorite song. It may be that we are a shoulder to cry on or the giver of a much needed hug. Whatever it is, there is no act of service that is small in God's eyes because everytime we reach out to one of His children in love, He is immeasurably grateful that we were willing to give of ourselves to help someone He loves so dearly.
Я вас люблю!
Сестра Джарвис

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mosquito Bites, Prostitutes, and a Bucket of Miracles

Highlights from this week:
*We helped an old man tune his guitar and pick strawberries.
*I currently have 42 mosquito bites.
*We sang on the street for an hour (it was way fun)
*We witnessed a robbery
*We saw not just one but several carcasses of various dead animals in various states of deposition.
*Some guy thought we were prostitutes... I'm still laughing about that one.
So overall a pretty exciting week. I have never been mistaken for a prostitute before in my life. I don't know how that happened, but вообще that's funny.
Anyway, Stephin. He is just such an awesome guy. This is the same Stephin that I was talking about way back in December, the first investigator Sister Greenwood and I ever had. He's been making slow progress since then. We decided to lay off the baptismal question for a while and let him feel the Spirit at church and in lessons with us. He's come to church every single week since December! He's more active than 70% of the members here! He's even reading the Book of Mormon in English. That's not his first language people! He's awesome, and he's finally starting towards baptism again.
I think that when a missionary is called to a certain place, there are certain people that he or she needs to meet. Stephin is one of those people that I needed to meet. I'm pretty sure that one of the main reasons I've been in Volgograd for 10 months now is because of him. He is special, and I know he's going to do a lot of good in the world.
We also gained a new investigator this week. Her name is Nina, and she owns an afterschool English program for school boys. She was a referral from our other investigator (the one who taught us how to make pelmeni), and she was just ecstatic to meet two girls who spoke English and were in Russia to teach about God. 
Cool fact about Nina: When she was getting her English degree way back in the USSR, she had to go through an interview of sorts. They were to ask her questions and her answers would be recorded, so that they could later grade her. To her surprise one of the questions they asked her was "Do you believe in God?" This was kind of a terrifying question back in the day when the Soviet Union was still around. She faced possible persecution if she were to answer how she really felt about God, but she all the same answered truthfully that she did believe in God and that she could not deny the fact that she did.
So, she's a pretty cool lady.
Life is awesome here in Volgograd.  As this transfer winds to an end this week, I'm hoping that I get to stay here and stay here and stay here. The people are wonderful, my companion is wonderful, and even though it can be difficult at times (pesky mosquitos), it sure is worth it.
I hope you all have a wonderful, happy week. Sometimes life isn't easy, but it's in those moments that God is trying to teach us something, so don't worry! It will pass!
Сестра Джарвис

Monday, May 16, 2016

С Днем Рождения Мне

Well friends,

I'm 20 now. A whole 'nother decade. Pretty crazy if you ask me. 

My actual birthday was probably one of the happiest days of my life, as I was touched by the love that I recieved from members, investigators, and missionaries alike whom I have been serving with and for the past 10 months. It was just a really good day full of people I love. Unfortunately, not any of you at home, but it was still full of some of the very best people I have ever met. And a lot of sweets. A LOT of sweets.

This week was chalk full of street teaching and preperation for something pretty exciting! 

Are you ready?

They're reopening the branch that used to be in the Traktorni area of Volgograd.

Now, I'm sure you are all kind of like, "What the heck is a traktorni?". Well, it's the furthest north district of Volgograd named after the traktor factory that used to be in operation during the Soviet Era. But, it is also a former branch that used to have the largest population of youth in Southern Russia. Now, it is officially a group that is restarting the branch that used to be there.

This is exciting news. This means growth. This means a lot of street teaching. This means a lot of less active finding. But, it also means that TONS more people will be able to finally find the peace that they have been searching for. It's pretty awesome.

Sister Lindquist and I will be with a companionship of elders helping the group start up out there, so we will essentially be in two areas at once. It's gonna be great.

Other cool things that happened this week:
* I learned how to make blini
* I learned how to make Pelmeni
* I learned how to make cookies without a recipe book
* Sister Lindquist spoke to me before 10 am (she's not really a morning person or a people person, so that was one of her gifts to me on my birthday.)

Well, I sure hope you all have a WONDERFUL week! And that you enjoy the Spring weather wherever it is that you happen to be! 


Sister Jarvis

Monday, May 9, 2016


Дорогие Мои!
So, this week, I just wanted to do a really quick photo update since I'm at a computer that actually allows me to put up photos!

Sister Lindquist's 1 Day in Volgograd Anniversary! Isn't she the cutest?

The Easter Cake (Kooleech) that we got for Easter.

The Russian countryside!

​More of the Russian Countryside.

Our first selfie together (in the Russian countryside)

​Me eating some good old Easter Cake!

​We had a branch picnic out by Mamev Kurgan, so I decided to pose with her.

Sister Lindquist and I had a nice homecooked Russian meal with our investigator. It was DELICIOUS.
Russia is beautiful and I love it so much! I wish I could send pictures of all the people I've grown to love. Life is great out here and people are wonderful. I'm asked often what my favorite part about Russia is and I always say the people. Why? Because I've met some of my best friends out here in Russia. They have a sad past, but I love how positive they all still are. Russians have a hard outside, but a soft gooey inside once you get to know them. And I just love their culture. I'm bringing it back to America with me!

Happy Victory Day, everyone! It's kind of like Russia's Independance Day, so it's a big deal here. Parades, and fireworks, and everything but rootbeer floats (instead they just have vodka).
Love you all!
Сестра Джарвис

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Blessed Friendly Head Bump

Привет Миру,

It was a little bit of a strange week.

Sister Lindquist and I have been trying very hard to set up lessons and help her get to know the branch. Unfortunately, most of the days, it hasn't really worked out as we had appointment after appointment cancel. But we have had a lot of fun street teaching. We met a less active member from Nigeria on the street, who doesn't seem protiv to meeting us, so that's good. His name is Blessed, and he actually came up to us. And knew pretty much immediately that we were missionaries from the Church. It was the most surreal experience I've probably ever had considering that like for the most part no one has even really heard of the Church.  Plus, the conversation all took place in Russian.

 And we were able to find some pretty good potentials, not to mention an actual investigator who seems to be really well prepared. Her name is Nadejda, and we "found" her on the tramvai (kind of like a trax thing). She was just smiling at me, so I returned the smile and started talking to her. Turns out I asked her for directions a while back, and she remembers me. She has a lot of passion for helping other people, and I really admire how happy she is even though she sees all the evil that unfortunely happens in the world. She seems really cool, so I will definitely keep you updated on her.

Sister Lindquist and I have decided to set some goals to help the former Traktorny Branch reopen. Currently, our branch is actually made of two branches, the Center Branch and the Traktorny Branch. About 2 years ago, Traktorny was closed since most of the members went inactive, but we're going to help revive and restart the work out there. We've decided that our first resort will be to serve the people. Street teaching out there is hard (almost no one stops and talks to us), so we've decided to open hearts through service. We've also decided that every time we go street teaching out there, we'll bring our service clothes and just be ready for it.

We've been trying to meet with Less Active members out there, and so far, we've met with one. Her name is Natalya, and she hasn't been to church for 10 years, but she's still grateful for the blessings of the Word of Wisdom! She's forgotten her testimony of Joseph Smith, but she hasn't forgotten the blessings that the church has given both her and her children. We hope to see some progress with her, and we hope to be able to meet with even more less active members from that branch. I think we're not going to see a whole lot of progress at the beginning of our project, but the curve will come and multiply exponentially I'm sure.

Funny story: Natalya's husband from Azerbaijan came home at the time that we were teaching. He was slightly tispsy, but overall a pretty cool guy. He went into shake hands with Sister Lindquist and somehow, he ended up giving her a "noggin" as Crush from Finding Nemo calls it. I tried really hard not to die laughing.

Easter here was pretty cool. They eat this cake called Kooleech, and it was pretty tasty. I think I'm going to bring Russian Easter with me when I get back to the States. 

This week's scripture comes from Mark 14. It's the story of Mary annointing Christ with expensive oil, and the apostles complaining that the money could have been used for something better.  "And Jesus said; let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me... She hath done what she could."  Just remember that for Christ your best is good enough, so don't worry about what other's are saying around you or what others are doing. Just do your very best and Christ will be happy.

С Любовью

Sister Jarvis