Monday, August 29, 2016

Travel Makes the Heart Want to Go to Kdar

Well, last week was basically all travel.

Novo to Rostov. Rostov to Krasnodar. Krasnodar to Rostov. And then finally Rostov to Krasnodar. Hopefully, I'm here to stay for a while. I'm kind of tired of long train rides with copious amounts of baggage. 

But! I'm back with Sister Lindquist!!! It's the BEST!

We ate a 25 piece bucket of KFC chicken to celebrate our reunion.

I also was reunited with every sister in the mission since they were all in Rostov for either a transfer change or VLC. It was kind of a party every day in the Rostov Center Sister's apartment.
Sister Kukla, Sister Jameson, and I at VLC (a once a month meeting to train the zone leaders and sister training leaders so that they in turn can train the other volunteers.)
We also did some service this morning for a non-member who is trying to build his own house. We mostly dug holes, broke up clay, and evened out the ground on his property.

(That's Elder Barnes and Elder Dayton in the background. They're the Zone Leaders.)

All in all, it was a fun week, but I'm so glad to be back home in Krasnodar. It's a good feeling to be with the kids here again and to be with this branch again.

I've made a goal to love this branch as much as I love the Volgograd branch. I thought that would be a difficult task to accomplish, but I don't think it'll be as difficult as I thought. When we just try our best to serve others and listen to them, it becomes so much easier to love them. 

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17
I love you!

Sister Jarvis

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Frozen Wastelands of Russia

If you think that Russia is a frozen wasteland here a few facts that may just change your mind:
  -Dolphins frequent the shores of the Black Sea.
  -Palm trees grow in Sochi.
  -It's so humid in Novorossiysk that the spiders get quite large and even salsa dance at branch parties.

  -Most men in Novorossiysk don't wear shirts.
  -Some women as well.
  -There are beautiful, breathtaking vistas of the Black Sea to be found almost everywhere in Novo.

  - And if you are an unlucky duckling, like Sister Sommers and I, you will wish that Russia was a frozen waste land as you get a call Monday morning at 10 AM that instead of leaving Tuesday at 1, you are now leaving that day at 1. Oh! And you have to close down an apartment, return the keys to the landlord, and help your companion pack up her earthly possensions for a year and a half all in an hour and a half. Because by the time you get on a train with no air conditioning for a 9 hour ride to Rostov, you will be bathing in your own sweat.

Luckily, we didn't do all that alone. We enlisted the elders to come help because they were leaving on that same train at 1 pm.
​They deserve many kudos for the help they gave us.

​This is the Novo Elders with us at a service project we did. Sister Sommers, me, Elder Burwell, and Elder Faught. It certainly was fun being part of their district for 2 weeks. We had a Mexican night, a game night, helped the branch president's aunt paint her fence at their beautiful home (pictured above), and moved the sisters out of Novo.

But, I will be in Novo no longer. I'm heading back to Krasnodar this week, and my new companion is.... (drum roll please)... Sister Lindquist! WOO! Being apart for a transfer was just too long. It'll be good to have her back. Kind of strange though.  I've never had a companion for longer than 2 transfers, so it'll be a fun time.

In other news, I finally reconnected with all three sisters from my original MTC district!
Aren't they just adorable (especially the one in the center).

Missions just give you the best opportunities to make amazing friendships. It may be the case that what I've enjoyed the most about my mission is the good company I always find myself in. I've been so blessed to be surrounded by the best of people for the past year. God sure is good.

Have a wonderful week! Remember to thank someone for just being in your life!

From Russia with Любовью

Сестра Джарвис

Monday, August 15, 2016

Russian Girls' Camp and the Miracle Mexican Fiesta

The Novo crew and the Johnston's, our senior couple
Inline image 1

Man what an awesome week!

Part One of the two part week started in Krasnodar.

We had GIRLS' CAMP! It was so fun!

Here are a few pictures.

Sister Johnstun enjoying a slightly damp, but heavenly pulled pork sandwich.

As with any good girls' camp we were HEAVILY rained out (with giant balls of hail falling from the sky) during our picnic on the river side.   This is Sister Sommers and I during the crazy storm.

The girls had a wonderful time. They were able to open up more than I have ever seen them the past few weeks. They became better friends, and I was able to get to know them a little better myself. The highlight of the whole camp was improv dancing to classical music. Turns out even half way accross the world, interpretive dance is just as funny.

After Girls' Camp, we headed down to Novorossiysk. It is absolutely gorgeous! Here was my first view of it:

We had a Mexican fiesta with the branch on Saturday. They invited a family of non-members to come, and the oldest daughter came to church the following day! Although none of these Russians have had real Mexican food, let alone met someone from Mexico, they did a pretty good job trying to be authentic... It was actually hilarious since one of the missionaries serving here in Novo is half Mexican and lived in Mexico for part of his life. He taught us all to salsa.

So, anyway. Volunteer work continues and miracles happen. The branch in Novo is a miracle in and of itself. The branch president is so funny and so sassy. It makes me sad that yesterday was probably my first and last Sunday here. I'm glad I was able to come at all, though.

Sister Sommers and I have had a great time together. It's been so fun to reconnect with my MTC companion. We realized that we've come a long way since the days of the MTC, and it's even more apparent being back together again. All I can say is that missions are miracles and the reason why they are so miraculous lies in the enabling and changing power of the Atonement. Everyday I'm amazed at the change I've seen in myself as well as others. When I entered the MTC, I was told I would have a front row seat to see how the Atonement changes people. I thought I would watch other people change, but little did I know that the person I would see change the most is myself. 

I love you, all, and I hope you all take some time to see the good in yourself this week! 


Sister Jarvis

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cartoons, Ice Cream, Sleep, Repeat

Yet another week has passed here in the beautiful city of Krasnodar! 

Unfortunately, however, I killed my companion. Yes, that's correct, Sister Kennard has gone on to a better place now. Back to the ol' red, white, and blue states. And she's left me in the care of my former MTC companion, Sister Sommers. She, too, had a companion killed off this week. So, we're here together mending our broken hearts after sending our companions off on a train at 4:30 this morning. 

Our last selfie taken this morning at the train station.But, all is well! Because now Sister Sommers and I will be companions for the next couple of weeks, working in both Krasnodar (my area) and Novorossisk (Sister S's area). It'll be a little crazy, but all will be well.

The splitting up of these companionships was hard, but even harder was waking up so early.
Funny story from Primary time!

This week, the Primary sunday school teacher asked the children the following question:What do you want out of life?

The conclusions were the following:

"Transformers!""Watching cartoons, ice cream, and sleep!""Helping mom" (This kid knows what's up)and"A normal life."

I got a big kick out of it since while all that was happening, they were running around the room like crazy as church was just about over.

I've learned a lot about human nature while working with the Primary kids. I pondered about their answers to this question, trying to find the lesson I could learn out of it, and I came to this conclusion. What most people want out of life is watching cartoons, eating ice cream, and sleeping, but why do kids want that? Because they know that whenever they are eating ice cream or watching their favorite cartoon or sleeping, they're having a good time. They're smiling and laughing and being kids. What kids, and most people, don't realize is that it's not those things that are really going to help them enjoy life. They'll come a day when they've eaten so much ice cream it's lost all it's magic, or they've watched cartoons so much it's no longer fun, or they've slept in so much, they can't sleep anymore. Those things are temporal and bring only temporal happiness.

It's things like helping your mom do some chores and then eating ice cream with her afterwards that are really going to be the most fun. It's things like watching "Groundhog's Day" every year on Groundhog's Day with your dad that make lasting memories. It's playing transformers with your nephews that get the most giggles. There's so much more to life than what can be done by yourself! That's why we have families and friends and other people! So life can be the joyous thing it's supposed to be. 

I know that life is meant to bring us joy and that the more we try to look for it, the more we find it. I know that families are created by God to last for eternity and that our families can be together forever. I know that Jesus Christ made that all possible, and I'm so grateful I can say I know that.
 Take some time this week to love the people around you a little more than normal and I promise you'll find more joy than you bargained for!


Sister Jarvis

Me and my vaders
Art by Sister Moore and Sister Jarvis while we were on splits a little while ago

My district

Monday, August 1, 2016

Be Yourself, Unless You Can Be Batman, Then Be Batman

Okay, funny story time!

My sister, Hillary, sent me some pictures from when I was 8, and for those of you who don't know, I was a very fat child. Cute, but definitely fat. I opened my sister's letters when I was on the train with the zone leaders on our way back from a meeting in Rostov. Ever since then, we've been cracking fat jokes about me as a child. (I find it hilarious, so don't worry about my feelings.) 

It gets better, though, because on splits last week, Sister Moore and I went to visit a member here named Sveta. She's a really active member. Former Relief Society president. Really awesome. She's very honest, though, as most Russians are, so as she was looking through my family photos she gets to those pictures my sister sent me. She's kind of confused as she looks at them, and finally she asks, "Is that you?" I reply to the affirmative and add, "I was plump." She looks at the picture and says "No, you were fat." I died laughing.

And since then, she's been my best friend.
As, you can see, I've been making friends in the branch, and I'm getting to know the area. 

One of the friends I made was little Timur, a 4-year-old kid in the Primary. He was showing me this Batman toy he found in the nursery room. And we were talking about how cool Batman is, when he looked up at me and noticed that we both have glasses. He asked me if I have bad vision, and I told him yeah; he said he does too, and he kind of looked down at the ground. But then he got the BIGGEST smile on his face and he looked back at me and said, "But it's okay because Jesus will give us new bodies! And we'll all be like Batman!"

His parents have been teaching him well.
I love working with the Primary kids. They understand the Gospel so well, but they compare it to the funniest things. The sweetness and innocence that children have is incomparable. And it's contrasted so sharply to when they just won't be reverant. It's so fun to be able to see the world through their eyes for just a little bit. 

Timur taught me that anyone can understand the Gospel, and it's fine if what they understand is that we'll all be awesome like Batman when the resurrection happens. The Gospel is simple and because it's so simple, it's beautiful. 

Just as Alma describes to his son, what God asks of us is simple, we just need to be willing to do it.

O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. (Alma 37:46)
I love you all! Have a wonderful week!


Sister Jarvis