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
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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

Monday, October 10, 2016

Привет Всем!

Привет Всем!
When I was in the MTC, someone told me that I would recognize a peculiar pattern as I served. They said that the days that were the hardest, when I was sick as a dog, disappointed beyond belief, and close to the point of just giving all of this up, were the turning points to the best days. Well, I can testify to you right here and now, that that is true. 

Last week was by far one of the worst ones I've had, but this last week was one of the very best.
I went to Rostov to pick up my lovely new companion, Sister Lisitsina (Лисицына for you Russian speakers).

Isn't she cute?
And we headed on down to K-dar. Since then, we've had a whirlwind of work to do. It's been incredible.

The funniest thing that happened occurred while we taught our beloved Sasha, our 8 year-old friend who broke her back and won't be able to be baptized until she's all healed up in May. Sister Lisitsina had let Nastya, Sasha's 2 year-old baby sister, play with her scriptures. Well, that may not have been the best idea because little did we know but Nastya is being potty trained and she peed all over Sister Lisitsina's scriptures. Luckily, Sister Lisitsina is the oldest of 7 and she just laughed and let them dry out. She also told me that her little sister peed on their T.V. once, so the experience was just like home to her.
The coolest thing that happened was us finding two new investigators! Nastya and her friend, Alyona. Nastya came to sports' night and then to church a couple weeks ago. She asked me if we could tell her more about what we believe and I was like "АГА!" (aga, means YEAH!) So, we had our first lesson Sunday night, and she brought her roommate with her. Nastya is 17 and Alyona is 18. They were both asking some amazing questions and really understanding what we taught. It was probably one of the best first lessons I've had. The Spirit was so strong. They are special people. It's so fun to be able to help people know about God. It makes me so happy.
Conference was also just amazing. I don't think I've ever enjoyed conference more quite honestly. The main thing I gleaned from it all was that 1) in life we are meant to have joy and 2) we find that true joy through Jesus Christ. I loved it. What a glorious thing it is that we have prophets and apostles and people authorized by the power and authority of God to speak for Him on the earth today. It's such a beautiful blessing. My heart is full of gratitude and just JOY when I think about it.
The gospel's true!

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Jarvis

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sunshine in My Soul

This morning I woke up and just felt like singing the opening song from the musical Oklahoma! 

   "Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day!
    I've got a beautiful feeling! Everything's going my way!"

Which is kind of interesting considering the fact that (1) it's been more than a year since I've heard that song (usually from my mother) and (2) because I had every reason to be extremely down about the last week we had.

I got really sick starting last Tuesday ending yesterday. I had a bacterial infection in my digestive system that caused a fever and chills, a lot of stomach pain, and many other unpleasant side effects that no one really wants to know the details of. I had a visa trip during that time. Being on a plane was the last thing I wanted to do, but in order to be in Russia legally it had to be done, so I went. However, because no one had told Aleksander, the visa registrar who organizes all mission travel, that the monthly mission leadership meeting had been moved to a later week, we ended up in Rostov instead of Krasnodar after our trip. Luckily, Aleksander had bought us train tickets for early the next morning to go home. Unluckily, a different companionship of sisters had mistakenly taken our companionship phone to a different part of the city at about midnight, and we didn't realize until they were already home and it was already too late. So, we had to take a train that left in the evening. 
Needless to say, I didn't eat very much this week, and we didn't get as much done as we thought we would. In fact, we barely got anything done.

Which, in the past, has caused me to be a very grumpy camper. But, I wasn't (well at least not that grumpy). And today, I was surpised to find quite a bit of sunshine in my soul.

For those of you who don't know, I'm referring to a beloved LDS hymn called There is Sunshine in my Soul Today. This is the chorus:

     "Oh there's sunshine, blessed sunshine, when the peaceful happy moments roll. 
      When Jesus shows His smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul."

So, how does Jesus show His smiling face to us? Well, for me, He let me know that I have a lot of work left to do, miracles left to see, and people left to bless. It's going to be a wonderful week because He wants it to be. We don't always recognize the reasons why in the moment, but each and every day is a blessing to enjoy. I love being on a mission because I'm hyper-focused on finding the good in every day. Finding the miracle that occured, usually the miracles. It's a great blessing to have learned how to make even the worst days come out actually being some of the best.

In other news, I'm getting a new companion! Sister Lindquist will be staying in Krasnodar, but she'll be with a different sister. I'll be with a mini-volunteer! One of my very best friends from Volgograd, Sister Lesistena! She's a mini-volunteer because she'll only be on her mission for the next 6 weeks, and I'm so excited for them! I pick her up tomorrow from the mission home. I'm really excited about it!

Have a wonderful week!


Sister Jarvis