Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dear Desi

Sister Johnson!  

Oh my goodness!  I love you so much.  I have so much to tell you.  It totally kills me that you are right across the street and I can't talk to you?  But I have been at EFY (as you know)! And it has been so, so wonderful!  I love it.  Like, I LOVE IT!!!  Sunday, I emailed you.   But my co was awesome.  He's kind of like a Daniel Dyer/the Reeds/Sylvan kind of guy.  He's SO good and doesn't understand sarcasm.  Haha (I thought I didn't, but I really have more of you in me than I thought.)  But we really just got along so well.  We'd talk on the phone every night during "quiet time" and talk about how it went and whatnot.  

Monday mornings we help with check-ins.  I was rocking the easiest job (handing out landyards).  EFY is so successful because whatever is going on, there are a million little, tiny jobs being done at the same time.  (some of mine this week included handing out silverware, handing out water bottles, making sure no one escaped while walking from the Wilk to the JKB during class time, making sure no one escaped by the garbage cans during the dance under the stadium, I was on "passion patrol" during the dance in the JFSB courtyard, and told people to leave the cafeteria as soon as they were done eating.  It's a fun time.  But anyway, Monday at 1:30 I got to meet my girls.  I really was more nervous than I thought I'd be.  But they were all so good!  I thought of Liberty a little bit, because most were about her age.  But I just got so close to each one.  Then the boys were also amazing.  We had this little guy named George from Singapore but he's South African.  He was really smart and great and would wear bowties and suspenders.  Then we had this big kid from . . . guess where, Hong Kong.  His sister is (named Sister Lee) teaches Cantonese at the MTC! But I guess the group she is working with now has been there five weeks.  Do you know her?  Monday night is FHE and company games (which we had SO much fun playing)!

Tuesday and Wednesday, there is a morningside (like a fireside in the morning) and then gospel classes.  Every day there is free time, but I had free time duty a few times.  One day I went bowling with my kids.  They all called me mom and just loved me, which was so nice.  I loved them!  But if counselors bring their kids, they get to bowl for free.  I got the 2nd lowest score, but then one of the boys (which is also Liberty's future husband, just so you are aware) figured out how to change the scores on the little computer.  So he gave me a 300 (perfect score).  One counselor a couple lanes down saw it and freaked out.  He said, "Who was that?  I've never seen anyone really score a perfect score!  That's crazy!"  I had to explain that it was me, but that it wasn't real.  It was funny. 

I just LOVED going to the classes with my youth and seeing them grow.  The class would end and so often, some youth would come up and ask me about it and want to talk more about what they learned.  I felt like I spent the week with 21 really golden investigators.  One class that I loved especially was about our worth.  He said that now-adays everyone focuses on having a "positive self image" and how it's so important to tell yourself that you're awesome.  But how that doesn't work because a balloon that is puffed up, constantly needs to be reinflated" and how our worth doesn't come from our actions at all.  We should feel good about ourselves because of our own doing.  Even our service to others doesn't change how good we are.  Then he played a video of Christ suffering for our sins.  He said, "Something is worth how much someone is willing to pay for it."  And Christ already paid for ours.  We don't even need to think about our worth because it's simply always there.  Because we are children of God, we are worth so much.  We don't question the worth of oxygen in our lives because we just take it for granted.  We can be grateful for it, but we don't worry about it because we know we will always have it.  That's how we should consider our worth.  Then he had everyone sing Come Thou Fount with videos of Christ's miracles going on in the background.  I was so moved by the love I felt from and for the Savior.  

It was good to remember that he has "promised good to me" like it says in amazing grace.  We are promised the celestial kingdom if we are faithful.  That was actually our company name "Remember the Promise".  It was so fun.  Our skit was so funny!  It involved pinky promising and our little cheer that Parker and I came up with Sunday night.  One kid would yell, "I forgot!"  and then everyone would yell, "Don't forget!"  Then they would go back and forth between the boys and girls.  "Remember" "The Promise" Remember" "The Promise".  And our skit won!  I was SOOO excited.  

I definitely made some silly mistakes though.  Because I was a "first week" counselor, I had a special BC (Building Counselor . . . like the counselors of counselors) group with the other new counselors in my session.  I totally just forgot one of our meetings, forgot to have my youth fill out a paper they needed to on the first day, and thought I had the wrong dance duty.  Luckily, my BC was also my roommate and she was so nice and great!  I think the first week is the good time to make all those kind of mistakes.  Now she is in Nauvoo which I'm totally jealous of.  She didn't realize it was anything extra wonderful.  She'd never been there and it was so fun to tell her all about it.  

One funny thing:  they have auditions for counselors to sing one of the EFY songs of the year during some of the meetings throughout the week.  I missed the auditions because I had a new counselor meeting, but then apparently they needed more numbers.  Parker wanted us to sing this one song together.  It had a boy and girl part.  So we practiced until 12:06 on Tuesday night so we could do it.  We finally sent in our recording of us singing like we were supposed to and the BC in charge of it said,"It sounds really good but I don't think we'll be able to fit you in after all."  It turned out another pair of counselors was already singing that song.  So that was so crazy co bonding time I guess.  

We were so tired though.  We have to wait in the halls while our kids get ready for bed and then we have to do lights out and wait 15 minutes after the last sound we hear before we can go get ready for bed.  Except on Friday nights we all get stationed everywhere and we have to stay up until 15 minutes after the last sound in the whole session.  It was like 1:15 this week!  I stayed awake the whole time, but BARELY!

But out of all of these random things, my favorite thing was definitely teaching the youth.  I just feel like I can see a glimpse of how their Heavenly Father sees them and it's wonderful.  I worked a lot this week on asking inspired questions and I got a lot better at it I think.  I love when I can just feel the spirit guiding what I'm saying.  One of my girls said that she hated singing, but she just felt really prompted to do the musical program.  She was so nervous but she did it and said it was the most spiritual experience she'd ever had. Another girl thanked me and told me that it was so easy to feel the spirit around me.  I will always remember that and try to be that way.  I felt the same way about these kids.  

Our group would just have so much fun!  We had two kids in the variety show.  One played the piano and one blew up a ballon . . . with his nose!  We would really go hard at the dances.  It's so great at EFY because all of a sudden I just don't worry about what people think of me, because whatever I do, my kids think that I'm amazing.  :)  It's really true that the only opinion that matters is our Heavenly Father's. 

The best parts of the week, though, were the testimony meeting and the last fireside.  Everyone was rushing the whole time to get to the front to bear their testimonies.  Then the last fireside was a special thing.  It was at the stadium.  We looked out over the huge football field and the sun was setting and we sang the "EFY medley".  I looked at all my youth that I love so much and just cried.  

Oh, here's another thing.  On Wednesday night is games night.  We are dancing all together at one point and these missionaries in the new MTC building were dancing along with us (Elders of course).  I thought "I bet those missionaries have something better to do."  But it was funny.  

Now I am here at Thelma's.  They let me take a LONG nap here yesterday.  I also bought a dress that I love for Kimmy's wedding, cheap, cute sandals AND cheap, cute church sandals.  We played games, went out to eat, and had the best time.  They let me stay the night and now, after sleeping in again (which I needed so much) I'm here.  I'm going to the singles ward with Emma and then back to EFY!!!

I am so blessed, Desi.  I love you so much!  I just think of you touching people's lives, even in the MTC.  I think of you working so hard on your cantonese.  I'm so proud!  


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Things My Mom Is

This post, seeing that it is Mother's Day, is for my dear mother.  Here is a list of things my mom is.
My mom is . . . .

1. Capable--If there was one word to describe my mom, it is capable.  She is superwoman because she can do anything.  She can write a play, direct a play, do the billing for my dad's business, get the house clean, plan a trip, make the most delicious meal, and go on a walk with her family. . . somehow all at the same time.  And she doesn't really get too stressed very often with all the organizing and planning and doing that she does.  She just does it, quickly, happily, and so well.

2.  Christlike--My mom loves her family with the purest, most real love of Christ.  She is so quick to sacrifice for her children and give them everything that she thinks they need, which is a lot.  She knows every little detail of our lives and wants to help us be successful.  She is such a devoted mother and such a wonderful disciple of Jesus Christ.

3.  My Anchor--I have so many big, crazy dreams and ideas for my life . . . just like my dad does.  We get these ideas but mom is the one who really makes them work.  She pays attention to all the details, and she loves it!  She's the queen of writing lists and making sure every little aspect of something is taken care of.

4.  My Friend--My mom is so fun to be around!  My sisters and my mom are my favorite group to go shopping with.  We love Black Friday and just have so much fun.  Just this weekend, we were all stuck in the car together driving to watch Liberty's track meet in Carson City.  We decided to play the "Conversation Game" which my mom has taught us.  We take turns asking a question and all answering it.  It could be whatever you want, from "If you could describe your life in a song, what would it be?" to "If you had to move to a foreign country where would it be?".  And we just have so much fun together.  This is mostly because of my mom's example.

5.  My Teacher--I'm so grateful that I had the years that I did with my mom as my school teacher.  She is smart and so good at explaining and teaching.  She has taught me a lot through her words and even more through her actions.  I want to be a teacher, a lot because of her.  She is good at leaving people better than she found them.

Well, I better finish this.  I need to go help make the Mother's Day breakfast of strawberry waffles.  But I just want the whole world to know how much I love my mom!

Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mothers that have mothered me in my life.  Mother's day might be my favorite day to go on Facebook, seeing everyone's great posts about their moms.  They are the glue that keep the world together.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Open the Gates

Kia Ora!

So it is currently 11:51 PM, but it's finals week and life is crazy anyway and I just really wanted to write.  In only four days (that's like nothing) I will be back home in Nevada with my first pre-mission semester all finished.  I've been rushing around studying, going to classes, having choir concerts, going on a few dates, stressing over singing for the voice faculty for a grade for juries, and now taking finals.  But only today did I really realize how blessed I've been.

I know it's different for a lot of people, but for me, coming off my mission has been kind of rough.  I am just really bad at change and I get really attached to people and places (like New Zealand).  So I've been trying to rebuild my civilian (can that mean non-missionary?  Is that a thing) life and figure out my future and whatnot.  Sometimes I felt like I would never feel quite the way I felt on my mission.

But today, I realized that I won't, because you can't relive the past.  It will never be exactly the same, but it will be the same amount of wonderfulness and even better.  This semester I got to be really, really good friends with a girl named Kimmy.  She's the choir director in my ward and we are just kindred spirits.  We hugged each other and just cried after ward prayer tonight.  Her boyfriend Kenton is quite the character, but he's great.  He's also in our ward and in Concert Choir.  Well, last week he proposed and they are now engaged!  I'm so excited for them!!!  They are perfect for each other.

But Kimmy and I were walking to tunnel singing.  Kenton was running ahead pushing our friend Anthony's wheelchair.  But she was telling me that she never, ever believed that this would happen.  But our amazing bishop was inspired to make her the ward choir director and him the pianist.  Heavenly Father totally put them into each other's lives.  We always talk about how Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that he will guide us and everything, but it just seemed really real to me.  I was in this ward, with this wonderful bishop, with these wonderful friends, with a wonderful voice teacher, and this wonderful roommate on purpose.  God knew I needed Hannah in my life and Hannah needed me in her's.  She only swapped into our room like the week before the semester.  But it was for a reason.  We will be friends forever.

Today I also got to ride up to Salt Lake with a bunch of mission friends.  I think there were 10 of us.  We all went to Sister Parkinson's homecoming and sang "Whaakaria Mai" ("How Great Thou Art" in Maori).  It was just wonderful to be with them and feel the spirit and have so much fun together.  The Rudds were there and then we all went to Sister Parkinson's (Sarah, I should say) and just talked and talked about New Zealand and our missions and our lives.  (I'm working on saying their first names.  I still kind of hate it.)  But I looked around at Emily Green and Elise Machen and Sarah Parkinson and thought of all the car rides and exchanges and heart-to-hearts I've had with them.  It made me so grateful that Heavenly Father knew me enough to send me to New Zealand, of all places in the world.  He let me meet these wonderful people who will be my friends forever.

I am so glad that I can trust Heavenly Father.  I can close my eyes and walk into the unknown with full confidence that he will catch me.  Today Kimmy told me that she feels like Heavenly Father closed the door she was trying to open and instead, opened a big, huge gate.  I'm grateful for the gates that he's opened in my life.

I could write a paragraph each about everyone in my wonderful ward, my mission friends and so many other great people I know.  I don't have time for that, but just know that whoever you are, if you are reading this then I'm sure I love you a lot.  Wish me luck on my Music Civ final tomorrow!


Clarissa :)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Spirit Shall Teach You All Things

Kia ora!

Sorry that I am not very consistent at this whole blogging thing.  I just read Desi's email which included this paragraph about our guest speaker in our Family Processes class.  I will include it.  

The funniest thing happened. We had a guest lecturer about family finance in our class and he started talking about how if you have a Starbucks addiction it wastes a lot of money…so then he said to go to Starbucks and get a reusable cup and then get really expensive, nice coffee from a grocery store and make it at home and then put it in the Starbucks cup. Then he said, “you can walk on to BYU campus with your logo facing out and everything will think you are so cool.” Everyone just dyed. We were all trying so hard not to laugh too much, but we all were totally dying. It was so so so funny! He had no idea what was going on and looked pleased that we were laughing but also slightly confused because it wasn’t funny at all. :…)

It was great.  Oh BYU.  What a blessed place.  My life is just whizzing by at the speed of light.  But I think the highlight has really been the spiritual things.  My favorite thing every week is going to the temple!  That place saves my life when I'm so busy and stressed.  It just never ceases to help me find clarity, peace, and answers to my questions.

I am really liking my classes.  Of course choir is the best.  It's our concert on Friday and you should come!  I'm so, so excited.  I've been on a couple of dates in the last few weeks.  I asked one of them and got asked on the other.  So that's fun.

Work is good.  I have a new cashier to work with.  The one I worked with before got a better job and left me which was sad, but this new one is nice.

Last weekend I went to Beauty and Beast (which is so good!) and I sang in the General Women's Session.  It was such a great experience.  I just loved it!  President Uchtdorf gave us a thumbs up and Elder Holland raised his fists and shook them triumphantly at us.  And all the Relief Society General Authorities came up to our stand and told us how much they loved it.  It was just cool to be there.  I was in the back row so I wasn't really on the screen, but that's ok!

But this weekend has been wonderful!  I got to see my family because they have been on Spring Break.  So that's been great!   We did an escape room but we didn't escape. We had to come back and try again.  We got out the second time.  It was just so great to go to fun restaurants and be with my whole family.  We are the best group there is!

Then this Friday night was my long awaited MISSION REUNION!!!  I was so excited.  There were a lot of missionaries there a lot older than me (in the mission that is . . .like they served before me.  The mission is only four years old so they can't be that old yet.)  But it was the annual meeting of the New Zealand Missionary Society which is the oldest missionary society in the church.  It was cool.  There were a lot of really old, super nice and wonderful seeming people there, some Maoris/New Zealanders that made me so happy, and a bunch of us from my mission.  It was just so fun to see everyone.  I was just so happy.  Those are some my best friends ever!  It was just so surreal to see them in such a different context.  We were in a church wearing church clothes, but I kept feeling like we were at Zone Conference or something and it was so fun to socialize but I needed to leave and go proselyting.  But I didn't.  Plus heaps from my mission are dating and marrying each other.  It's so weird but so exciting and cute.  I do love love! :D  I just missed all the Australian/NZ/islander missionaries that weren't there.  Afterwards I went to Sister Green's house and hung out with a group of us.  We had so much fun!  I finally got home at 1:30.  I was quite satisfied with the time.

Then yesterday after conference I hung out with Sister Flake who came up from Arizona.  We served in Taranaki together and had so much fun talking, reminiscing, and harmonizing in the car like we used to.

Also, of course, this weekend is General Conference (or as my awesome bishop says, "Specific Conference").  I have LOVED it and still have some to catch up on from when I was working (and the Priesthood Session that Desi and I are going to watch tonight).  So I will keep loving it.  But already all my questions have been answered!  I loved all there was about the Holy Ghost being guided and also all there was about having faith and trust in God and charity and the work of salvation.  I'm just so thankful for the gospel!  It's the only way to be happy.

Today I decided on the spur of the moment (because that's what I do) to go to the afternoon session and try to get in on standby.  No one would come with except Carson (Hannah's friend from home).  We had a lot of fun and quite the adventure.  We RAN from this parking garage far away to the conference center in the pouring rain.  Then we tried to get in on standby even though Carson had gotten a ticket at the last minute.  The photographers took our pictures a bunch of time so I'm determined to be in the Ensign!  We ended up watching it in the theater of the Conference Center which was kind of disappointing, but we still had a lot of fun.  We walked around temple square for a while afterwards and up to the Cristus statue.  There were randomly heaps of Polynesians at conference which was really fun to see.  We sat behind this group and afterwards one of the guys told me that I have a beautiful voice (singing the rest hymn I guess).  It turned out he was from Tonga.  I told him I served in NZ and he was all excited about that.  Then we came home, I ate at the cannon center with Desi, and here I am.

Plus it's already my birthday in New Zealand so all these people have been wishing me Happy Birthday from there!  Tomorrow (here) I will be 21!  I'll no longer be a practice adult, but a real one!  Haha

Love you all!



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Work Hard, Play Hard, Study Hard, Pray Hard

Kia Ora Whanau!!!

Spring has sprung in "Tropical Provo" as Desi calls it.  We are so, so happy about that.  This was a good week of working, playing, studying, and praying.  First, work is good.  I like the creamery unless it's crazy busy.  But we always survive.  And I love seeing fun people I know come through.  I've seen the Williams from my home stake, Brother Mullen (my freshman mission prep teacher), Damon from the Nauvoo Pageant, McCrae the other week, some random Tongans that I made friends with, so many people in my ward, and this girl from Whaketane, New Zealand which is in the Tauranga stake!

As for studying, I've doing a lot of that.  Monday was paper writing day, Tuesday was family history assignment day, and Wednesday was reading day.  Every week my English class assigns us a book to read.  I thought I had bought all of them at the being of the semester but somehow I didn't have the one for this week.  So I got it on audiobook but I didn't really want to just sit and listen to it for hours so I decided to walk to the temple while I listened.  Well then Kayla Ryan called me and we talked for  quite awhile so I just kept walking.  I went through all these rich houses up above the temple.  I just went and went until I got to the Y trailhead.  I was surprised to see it and on a very impulsive decision, I decided to hike the Y.  I just listened to my book the whole time and the sunset was SO beautiful!  I loved it.  I finally got home like three and half hours after I left.  It was quite the adventure.

Next is play!  I didn't do too much playing until Friday, but I did have my EFY interview, which was exciting.  It was a very official ordeal.  We were interviewed and then we had to teach the group a two minute lesson about a principle from the Strength of Youth.  I so hope I get the job.  I would just love it so much, I'm sure!  Friday Hannah and I had to walk to the other side of the earth where her car was parked by the stadium.  Then she dropped me off at the Wilk to look for my lost wallet (which has since been found).  But walking back from campus I met this group from my ward standing around.  I ended up staying there for almost an hour as all these ward members would come back and forth.  I have a good ward.  Friday night I went with some girls on my floor to Slab Pizza, which I'd never had before and is SOOO good.  Then Hillary on my floor came with me to Divine Comedy.  Oh my goodness!  It was so funny! :D  We had the best time.  It was funny this weekend.  Desi and I kind of led parallel lives.  Like both nights we did the same things, but with different people.

Saturday, Hannah and I got up at the crack of dawn and went to the temple.  It was SO crazy busy and we almost didn't get on the session, but we were two of the last three people they let on.  It was good. Then we rushed back for work, which was crazy!  It was the BYU Scout Powwow and a dance competition and a million people at the Creamery.  Then we went to Target with Desi and Miranda.  I got some jeans, a shirt, and some shoes.  We got In and Out which was great and then went to stand in line for Ben Rector.  Ben Rector is a singer that came to BYU.  Hannah has LOVED him for like five years and has been having me listen to him since the beginning of the semester.  Of course when we saw he was coming to BYU, we didn't wait around.  It was a sold-out, PACKED, standing room only Wilk Ballroom.  But it was SO good.  I really like his music and he sounds the same in real life. He was a really nice, great guy too.  Then I saw these two from my mission who are now home: Elder Meek and Sister Hazelet.  They are dating and they are SOOO cute.  Finally we came home and watched another one of Hannah's chick flicks, Letters to Juliet.  It was really good.  All chick flicks have a fairly similar plot line, so I feel like I can predict them pretty well, but they are still so fun to watch.

This morning I slept in and then went to church.  They had me lead the music.  I should be the official music sub in our ward.  After church I went and tried on this dress of my blessed Relief Society president.  It's purple and exactly what I'm supposed to wear in General Conference.  It fit me really well and she's going to let me wear it.  I'm so happy about that! #tendermercy We went to the Davises, which always feels like home.  I missed it last week.  It's always my favorite thing.

Finally, as for praying hard this week:  I've been trying to make big decisions.  If you didn't know, I am NOT a good decision maker. (Well, I usually end up making pretty good decisions, but I'm not good at the process, you know?)  Any way, first I'm just trying to figure out where to live next year.  I'm applying to be an RA, so we'll work out.  Also, I feel like I've had a prompting to look into BYU Hawaii.  It just kept coming into my head a bunch of times and so I've been really thinking about.  I've researched a lot and talked a lot of people who know about BYU Hawaii.  I am thinking I might transfer there next Winter Semester (that's if I get accepted).  It's such a big choice so I've been stressing about it and going back and forth every day!  I just feel like Moana. "It calls me!"  Also I think it would be really great to study music there because it's still a good program but not nearly as crazy competitive as BYU.  I want to study music but I don't want it to take my whole life.  It just seems good for me.  The hard things would be being so far away from my family, which would be so hard for me, and I wouldn't be able to teach with my degree there.  They don't have it.  I'd just do Vocal Performance.  I've prayed about it at the temple twice and fasted.  Right now, Heavenly Father's answer is to just keep learning about it and working towards it.  It's just such a huge choice.  I want to make the right one!

But it's been a really good week.  Love you all heaps!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

School, Temple, Life Choices, and a Flapper Dance

Kia Ora!!!!

It's March.  I can't believe it! :D  I will be 21 years old in less than a month.  I feel like when you turn 18 it's like practice adulthood, but then when you get to be 21, it's like completely real.  I've been feeling that this week.  Haha I'm such a planner and all of a sudden I have to choose where to live next year, who to live with, what classes to take, if I want to be crazy and transfer to BYU Hawaii for a semester or what?  The other day Carolina called me in such a dither.  She said that she just couldn't decide if she should go to the church ball game at the church and play with Raven there or if she should stay home and be with Dad and watch a movie with Raven.  It was a huge, hard question in her life.  I don't remember what she decided, but it hit me to see how she is so much like me . . . worried about making the wrong decision.  But now my decisions matter a lot more than going to a church ball game or not.

This Wednesday, Hannah had to work and I just was just dying to go to the temple.  I decided to walk there myself and just go.  It was a beautiful day and it was nice to walk.  Then standing outside the temple was this kid from my family history.  He wasn't going in, but just thinking.  He said he was trying to figure out what music major he wanted to try to be.  We talked about the joys and discomforts of being grown up and making decisions and then I went in and did initiatory, then I was able to go sit in the celestial room and pray.  For some reason, maybe because I was just so eager to have a spiritual experience and willing to listen, I had the most wonderful experience in the temple.  I was in tears most of the time (which doesn't usually happen) and I just felt God's love so strongly!  I just knew that he was there for me and so real.  Even if I don't know the answers to all my questions in life, I just felt Heavenly Father telling me it was going to be alright.  I was so grateful as I came out  the temple doors.  The sunset was still faintly visible in darkening Provo and I felt so much peace as I walked home.

This week was also another good old school week.  Lots of studying, classes, and such.  Something that was really exciting was my singing.  When I was at my voice language lab, it was my turn to sing for everyone.  Then Dr. Babidge (who is a wonderful, blessed soul and a voice teacher at BYU from England) will critique us just like my normal voice teacher (Mindy Ammons) does at my voice lesson and my group voice lesson.  We get lots of opportunities to sing around here. ;D  Anyway, Dr. Babidge told me I just need to open my mouth more, especially in the back between my molars.  He said that I have a lot bigger of a voice that I'm not letting out as much as I could.  So I tried it a couple of times and finally got it!  It just all clicked and just floated and was so great.  Everyone freaked out and got all excited.  Then these two guys who major in vocal performance came up to me after and told me that I just have to try for vocal performance because I could make it!  They said that I would be one of the very best of the first year vocal performance kids and that I have so much potential and could make it as a singer and whatnot.  I don't know if I will do that but it was still really exciting to hear that.  After the class I went straight home to practice and open my mouth more.  I'm excited though because I finally have all my songs completely memorized for juries-- one in German, one in French, one in Italian, and four in English.  Juries is where the whole voice faculty listens to you sing two of your songs and grades you on them.  So that's exciting!

This weekend was really fun!  Desi and I went to the Music Dance Theater show together and then I went to a movie night at Hannah's friend from home's apartment.  Then yesterday I went to the Heritage 20s Flapper Dance with some girls on my floor.  We had a good group from our ward and it was so fun!  It was really, really fancy and well done.  There was a limo ride, all this food, crafts to make a flapper headband, and a photo booth.  It was great!

Then today was wonderful.  I wore my puletasi and everyone loved it! :D  I have a really good ward. Then Hannah and I went on an adventure to Layton.  We went to her great aunt and uncle's house.  They are so cute!  They told us his conversion story/how they met and they were so funny!  Then it was a blizzard coming home and it took us like almost two hours to get back to BYU.  And we begged blessed Deseret to come pick us up because all the parking by the Marriott Center was full and I didn't even have a coat.  So we had to park at the outer reaches of the stadium parking lot and ride with Desi.  So now we are here working on our family history.

Life is good!  And I can't believe it's March!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Zip-lining, Scriptures, Tests, and Living Legends

Kia Ora!!!!

I love saying that! :D  I just always think about going back to New Zealand!  I am trying to plan all the days and when we're going where and such.  If any of you kiwis reading this have any great ideas or recommendations, let me know!  We will just be in the North Island.

But it was a good week although it was really intense!  Monday was the day of all the days.  I can't believe that was this week.  It feels so long ago already.  But it was Presidents Day and it was SUCH an appreciated break.  But we did what all self-respecting college kid would do on a holiday and didn't do any homework.  Instead we went zip-lining!  I just feel cool saying that. Haha But it was so fun.  My Uncle Jonathan built it and it is wonderful. We went on a group date.  We had four couples: Desi and her friend Emma and their dates from their ward, Hannah and Carson (her friend from home) and me and this guy in my ward, Danny.  He is Peruvian and really great.  But we had HEAPS of fun.  It was way scary but so worth it.  It was all one continuous course with 11 zip-lines and 7 bridges (which are really scary. . .it feels like you're tightrope walking).  But on the longest zip-line (which is apparently the longest zip-line over water in the world) the wind was blowing really hard and it turned me around and I grazed my arm on the zip-line in front of me which they said was 60 miles an hour.  So I got this huge, ugly burn on my arm.  It hurt in the moment but now it is my battle wound.  Everyone asks me what happened and I feel cool telling them I was zip-lining.

Anyway, after Monday, this week was a lot of business and school and work and studying and singing.  It's so nice to be done with my piano class though.  I've been really focusing on my songs for my voice lessons.  At the end of the semester we have to do juries, so we will sing our songs for all the voice faculty and they will grade us. I'm nervous but it is so good for me!  I'd rather sing in front of a million regular people than the BYU voice faculty, because they really know!

I took some tests this week and have another tomorrow so I've been busy with that.  Also this week on Tuesday, Thelma and Braeden came and picked us up and we went to the Payson temple together. It was SO great.  I love that temple.  It is so beautiful.  I've narrowed it down.  I'm either getting married in New Zealand or Payson. :P  It was so fun to be in the temple with Braeden (my cousin).  He's such a good kid!  I'm excited that we'll be in the same ward next year.  I just love feeling the spirit and the power of the temple each week. It never seems to go away.

Another huge spiritual blessing this week was my scripture study.  I don't know if I said this last week, but our Stake President talked about reading our scriptures for 30 minutes a day, before the day's work.  So I (the extreme night owl) have been doing that.  I've been going to bed a little earlier and getting up in time to read my scriptures for half an hour every morning.  And oh my goodness, I love it!  It is making a huge difference for me already.  I failed on it this weekend, but I'm going to keep working on it.

I worked Wednesday and Friday nights and also on Saturday.  I'm starting to really like my job . . .well you know, as much as a minimum wage job can be liked. (I wouldn't go if I didn't get paid, if that makes sense.)  But I'm getting to really know what I'm doing . . . most the time.  And after sitting and studying for hours, it so good to get out and talk to people.  The extrovert in me appreciates that!

Then last night was super fun!  Desi and I went to Living Legends and it was SOOO good!  I missed my mission so much, my heart hurt.  It was so, so fun to see and hear all the island dances especially. I cried during the Maori one and again at the end.  I just love Polynesia.  Then we came to back to my apartment and watched "She's the Man" with Hannah and her "mutual" date.  So that was fun!

Then today I got up early and went with Matthew Virgin and Emily Jones to Katie Gneiting's mission homecoming (high school friends).  We had the greatest time and then went to their house afterward.  The Hatches were all there and it was great to be with them all.  Even though we are so old now (all return missionaries, some engaged) those Spring Creek kids still crack me up!

But the sun is shining and we are going to the Davises soon, so life is wonderful.

Love you all!

Clarissa :D

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Happenings

Kia Ora!!!

So I know I am the worst and having even written for two weeks.  Well here is the first half of the post I was trying to write two weeks ago:

This week was pretty hardcore.  Hannah and I were both very grateful when the weekend came around.  It's interesting.  I love almost all the things I do with my life, but I just don't quite have time to do them all and so I'm always rushing around and trying to get things done.  My one weakness is socializing.  It's just like on my mission when I would be SO good at not wasting time until we went to a meeting or something with other missionaries.  Then I'd really have to force myself to keep going and do productive things.  That's how I am now.  But it was a really good week.  But this weekend has been SO warm and that pretty much makes my whole life.  As you know, the weather sure affects my mood.

Anyway, Monday was the blessed FHE.  We are getting a new FHE group next week that we're all really excited about but this week was the last week with our old group.  No one in our room said they had time to go except Janelle (because she's the FHE leader/mom/person).  So of course I had to go with her.  We went bowling at the Wilk (it was my idea, but I don't know why because I'm TERRIBLE at bowling).  But it was crazy!  It was Janelle, five boys, and me, and everyone was bad at bowling!  I came in second.  I couldn't believe it!  But that was an adventure

Tuesday was the exciting singing-at-devotional day!  I wore my black dress to school and then had to miss Family History to get to call time and warm up and all that jazz.  It was so fun!  The camera was totally a disappointment.  We just stood on the floor in the Marriott and the camera pretty much only showed the front row of men.  But I guess it's the sound that counts!

Wednesday Hannah and I went to the temple with her friend from home, Carson.  We had a really good time and then went to Costa Vida which is always the best.  We were back in time for me to work at the Creamery, which I'm getting better and better at, so that's exciting!

Ok, that's the end of what I wrote two weeks ago:

Now for this week, it was actually really, really good!  I studied and studied for my Music 202 test so that was a lot of my week.  Then I only got an 84% on it which was the worst.  This BYU life is really hardcore.  Monday, FHE was so fun!  I am starting to really, really love my ward and I know so many people now.  Still though, so many girls will come talk to me and say my name and I won't know/remember theirs.  But I'm new so I guess it's a little more ok.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day and you know BYU.  It was very lovey affair and I wondered why I didn't have a valentine.  But then I went to choir and we sang one of our songs for General Conference, "I Feel My Savior's Love", and I realized how selfish I was.  My blessed Relief Society President, Lexi, wrote personalized valentine notes to everyone in our Relief Society and another FHE group heart attacked all the doors on our floor.  Then the men of Concert Choir made this adorable video about how much they love the women of Concert Choir.  I just love choir.  We are singing pretty hard songs, but I just love working really hard and improving and singing together.  It's my release every day!

Wednesday was exciting because we decided that . . . . . . . . .we are going to New Zealand in June!!!! It was my idea of course.  I will be very poor because it but I am so, so, so excited.  We are coming for two weeks (well Desi and I).  Then Mom and my other sisters will join us after a week.  So that's kind of all I even think of.

Thursday was Hannah's birthday!  Happy 21!  It was a marathon Thursday.  Back in Welcome Bay we had marathon Sundays.  Now I have marathon Thursdays.  I have so many classes and an evening class.  But . . .  I have gone way ahead and this week I FINISHED my piano fundamentals class.  I got an A and now I don't even need to go to class anymore.  Hooray for being able to play the piano!  But anyway, that night was the surprise party.  I was all excited like a month ago when I got the idea to throw Hannah a surprise party but then I was all worried that it would all work out, that people would come, that it would be fun.  Well, it totally worked out!  I took Hannah to dinner but before I did, I accidentally left my phone in the bathroom on the first floor of our building and then the office people found it and put it in the office.  Well then no one was at the office and we were trying to get it.  But then I knew that Desi would be coming to decorate any time so we really needed to just go.  So I was sneakily texting Desi off Hannah's phone.  But we got their and all the lights were off and we came in.  Desi and Lexi had done such a good job!  It was all cutely decorated and there was good food.  I ordered an ice-cream cake from the blessed Creamery and it was so good.  And quite a few people came and we played games and really had fun.  I was so pleased with it!

Then Friday I worked closing at the creamery and again from 4-8 on Saturday.  Oh my goodness!  Weekends are BUSY at that place.  I really like my job though.  It's fun to talk to everyone, but sometimes it gets really crazy and long.  Anyway, then Saturday morning Dad picked me up and we were off to the temple.

Desi went through to receive her endowments and it was just such a wonderful time!  We had so many people from both sides of the family!  I am so blessed to have the most amazing family!  We ate at Pizza Pie Cafe and then went and saw the Davises . . .and Braeden!  He's my cousin and he had surgery so he's home from his mission for two weeks before he goes back!  I just love him.  Having a fellow missionary serving in your family means so much.

Then after work last night I got to see  . . . . . .Sister Green and Sister Page from my mission.  Sister Green is going to Utah State and Sister Page is visiting from Australia.  They were about to head back to Bountiful to Sister Green's house, but they came to my dorm and it was SOOO fun to get to talk with them for a few minutes.  Then the girls across the hall were having another birthday party for their roommate.  It was so fun!

Then today was crazy!  I went to sleep at two and then set the alarm for 10:30.  I thought for sure that I'd wake up before that on my own but I just wanted to make sure.  Anyway, I wake up and the alarm hadn't gone off and then I look at the clock and it's 12:08.  And my church is at 12:40!  So I wait for the bathroom to be free and take a shower and eat my granola bar and my banana as I walk.  Well I walk in and bishop is saying, "Kenton isn't here.  Can anybody play the piano for us?"  I look around and no one.  So I kind of raise my hand and go up there and play.  I was all flustered from being late and nervous, but I did pretty well.  Bishop came and hugged me afterwards and heaps of people told me how great I had been to volunteer and play.  But it was our ward conference and it was so good!!! I felt spiritual smashed by our Stake President in Relief Society.  He talked about scripture study and I realized just how different my study is now to how it was on my mission.  I am committing to reading for 30 minutes every day in the MORNING!  I always have good scripture studies but they are always pretty short and like always after midnight.  So I am going to improve and repent!

But I had the BEST time at the Davises.  I just feel like I am home there. :D  We had a feast and played our codename game. Then we had a lovely ward prayer and I hung out with a group from my ward.  I really have a fun ward and I'm really getting to know everyone.

But tomorrow I am going zip lining!  Desi and her friend where going on a date and asking guys.  I said I wanted to come so I asking this guy named Danny in my ward and Hannah is going with Carson.  I'm real excited!  Hooray for three-day weekends.

But I love you all!  Kia Kaha!



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Livin' the Dream

Kia Ora!

I had such a good week!  It was also a crazy busy week.  Sunday we had a potluck with our apartment and this apartment of boys in our ward who are mostly friends with Gabby and Jordyn, but still good. Also, Desi, Natalie, and Carson came.  I love those kids!  We had fun and played a really funny game.  Then we had ward prayer, which was much more eventful than usual.  Our ward is initiating something called "Bishop's Date Box".  Our bishopric is super into people going on dates.  So you could write your roommate's name and someone you thought would be a good date for them.  Then the next day they gave all the guys lists of the girls they had to go on a date with in the next two weeks.  My roommates put two in for me.  I don't know anyone super, super well but they seem like nice guys.  No one in our apartment has actually been asked yet except Jordyn.  So we'll see what will happen this coming week.  So that's a funny thing.

The whole week was a blur of classes, choir, reading, studying, singing, eating, and sleeping.  I'm so crazy busy every day, but I'm happy.  I think something just clicked this week.  Like I'm over the initial shock of non-mission, BYU, college life and more into the groove of things.  But Monday night we had FHE in the JFSB.  Apparently they do family home evening lesson/activities there.  It was kind of an interesting group . . . like the social dynamics, but it was alright.  I really like my roommates.  They are all very different from me, but I love them all!

Tuesday was normal but Wednesday was super wonderful!  I got to see my mom, Olivia, Grandma, and the Davises.  Mom and Olivia spoke at Thelma's Young Women's New Beginnings and they did such a great job.  They both made me cry.  We ate together and then just talked for ages afterwards which was so fun.  I just love hanging out with Desi.  I'm going to miss her so much when she leaves on her mission.

Thursday is my crazy classes day.  I'm in class for six hours of the day!  But I survived it and when I got out of my voice language lab at seven, Desi picked me up and we went to see Maisie open her mission call.  She is going to my parent's mission, South Carolina, Columbia!!!  I'm so happy for her. She is going to be so influenced for the rest of her life by this decision.

Friday Hannah and I had another temple adventure.  We've decided that Satan doesn't want us to go to the temple because we have all kinds of problems every time!  This week, we got there and the session was full so we had to do dealings, which was actually really wonderful!  But we also had to scrape ourselves out of crazy snow that was frozen to our windshield.  Then, Hannah's windshield started cracking!  So that was sad, but we had a good time.  Then we went with all my roommates and Desi and her friend Miranda to the dollar theater, that actually costs $2.51!  (inflation, I tell you!) But we watched the best movie.  It was called Collateral Beauty and it was so sad!  Of course I was just bawling way, way more than anyone.  But that's my life, you know!

Yesterday was the best day!  It was the blessed Concert Choir retreat and it was so much fun.  In the morning we had Alto Sections which was good.  I love being an alto in choir.  Then in the afternoon we all went to the Barn at Maplewood that these random nice people let us use.  It was SO fun.  Our carpool car was definitely the funnest.  There's this adorable couple from China and Wen Jing (the wife) is in the choir and Wen How (the husband) is kind of like the graduate student assistant that helps the choir.  They were in our car along with Jenny who I knew my freshman year and does music ed and the one male alto (he was driving).  So we listened to 90s music and had a blast.  Then we got there and ate Cafe Rio, played get-to-know-you games, and sang!!!  There is just something wonderful about BYU Choir kids.  I just really, really fit in with them and we have so much fun.

Today has been wonderful.  I got a calling.  It's a real small one but I guess I'm just grateful to serve.  I'm a visiting teacher supervisor.  After church Hannah, Desi, and I went to the Davises for dinner.  I LOVE going there.  We had homemade bread and hodgepodge and just had so much fun.  Also, Adam made a video to show at their ward mini-mission fireside.  It had all these videos sent in from missionaries in their ward, including my cousin Braeden.  It was just so true to life of what a mission is like and it just made me cry!  I love missions!!!!

Also, Chelsea got her mission call to Birmingham, England.  I'm so excited for her!!!  The church is sure true folks!

Love ya!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week Two at the BYU

Kia Ora!

It's been another week!  What a difference a week can make.  Like I'm still a bit overwhelmed with everything, but at the same time, I'm slowly getting used to things and getting things figured out.  The older I get, the more I realize I'm so much like the matriarchs before me.  I find joy from getting things done.  I also really, really find joy from people.  Although I miss a lot of people, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life as well right now!  Last Sunday, church was good.  I spoke about the joy of sharing the plan of salvation, which was pretty much the best topic ever for me!  Our ward is good.  I really like our bishopric.  That night we went to Thelma's and I just loved being there.  I really, really, really love that family.  I think that I remember back to the beginning of Freshman year and I was so homesick and going to the Davis's was my favorite thing.  I still just feel like I'm home there.  Hannah came with us and it was just so fun.  Having relatives around is a good deal for me!

Monday was the blessed Martin Luther King Day and I got so much done!  I had a lot to do and I did it.  Hannah and I also went to Waffle Love with Desi and to get her new phone.  My rating for Waffle Love: five stars, five thumbs up!  That night, Hannah and I went to the BEST movie.  It's called "The Queen of Katwe" and it just made me cry!  It's based on a true story about this girl from the slums of Uganda who becomes a chess champion.  It reminded me of some of my companions and other missionaries from my mission and I just really loved it.

Tuesday it was back to work.  I had piano (which I really enjoy because it's really easy), family history with Desi, devotional with Desi (which is ALWAYS the best), Literature (which I also really enjoy because it's this small class and you get to know everyone and get to talk about good books that we have to read . . . there is a LOT of reading though), and choir (which is my favorite hour of every day).  So Tuesdays are the best days!  That night I sang (did I already mention I have to practice for my voice lesson nine hours a week!!!)  I know, it's crazy.  But I also exercised a few times this week.  I ran up and down the four flights of stairs in our building and almost killed myself both times.  I'm determined to get fit.  BYU really has a disproportional amount of super beautiful, thin people.  I don't know about that!  Also Tuesday and Thursday I had to go to this Vocal Competition for Vocal Performance Majors (also for my voice lessons).  It was really good but REALLY long.  On Thursday I worked on memorizing the family proclamation during it (for Family Processes).

Wednesday I had Music 202 where I sit by my New Zealand friend, Intro to Family Processes with Des (which is super interesting but I think it's going to be harder than I thought), and choir.  So every day my classes are super spread out.  They are like every other hour all day, which is annoying, but I guess it forces me to stay on campus and study.

Thursday I went to that voice competition again and got my new temple recommend (hooray!) and Friday was the best day of all the days.  Right after my classes, Matt Virgin met me in the lobby, we went and picked up Emily and Makenzie, and drove to Salt Lake to see Star.  He's off to Australia (which I'm so, so, so jealous of) and then getting married in July.  So we all went to eat and hang out with him at City Creek Mall and Temple Square.  I just love that group.  My Spring Creek friends are the best!  I just felt so comfortable and not stressed (after being constantly rushing to get things done all week).  We took heaps of pictures and wandered around and just had fun.  Also Star knows a ridiculous amount of the same people that I do from New Zealand/Fiji/Auzzie!  My favorite thing is talking about New Zealand of course so that was quite exciting for me.

Then yesterday we went (with Hannah, Emily, Emily's roommate, and Hailey Bunker (Makenzie's cousin from my freshman year) to the temple.  It was really nice but took forever and then I was late to meet Jane Eyre!!  Desi was supposed to be picking us up but we couldn't get ahold of her and it was all a big mess, but we made it in the end.  So Jane Eyre is the woman there ever was . . .like actually, probably!  She is a convert of 20 years to the church and she never takes the gospel for granted.  She sees it in all it's splendor and glory and loves it and lives it so well.  She is so humble and is just love personified!  Her and her adorable family are from Hamilton East (now Claudelands Ward actually with the boundaries changed).  They are on holiday to America and are having a marvelous time (even though it's cold here)!  But I got to see her and Sister Aldridge (my dear trainer) and Sister Fisher (who I heard so much about but served before me).  That was such a tender mercy.  Then we got back into the car (Desi came with me, bless her soul) I just burst into tears.  They were tears of joy . . .the joy of loving people so much, tears of nostalgia . . . missing my mission SOOOOO much, and tears of gratitude . . . so grateful for the experiences I've had.  Darn me!  I just get so attached to things and then it's so hard to let them go.  I have to put all my faith in the Lord that there are still so, so many wonderful things to come.  I will have heaps of opportunity to get attached to the best people, places, experiences, and things.

But then last night I went disco skating with Desi and her seven billion friends.  She is the center of everything in her ward and everyone just loves her.  And who wouldn't?  She's the best.  I was the awkward older sister who couldn't skate.  Haha I had three really bad crashes.  But it was still really fun.  I hung out with Desi's dear, sweet, quiet roommate.

Now it's Sunday and I'm so grateful . . .my favorite day!  Hannah is speaking in church this week.  I'm sure she will be wonderful. :D  I'm lucky to have that girl.  I'm lucky to have my new, crazy, wonderful life!


Sister Clarissa Johnson

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rise and Shout!

Kia Ora Whanau!

I love starting my emails like that!  Well this is my first post at BYU.  Instead of in an internet cafe in New Zealand, or my house in Starr Valley, I'm in a dorm room in Provo.  And oh my goodness, what a week.  It was SUCH a hardcore week and I kind of feel like I've been here forever, but at the same time it was all a blur.  I just read Desi's email and she is, of course, blissfully, over-the-moon happy about everything.  I am also happy, but I also feel like I've been running on a treadmill that's just a little bit too fast for me.  But more than just being really busy with school already, it's just been intense in my heart and mind trying to get used to everything.

I've realized something about myself.  I'm a little bit bad at change.  New things at first often overwhelm me but then by the end I love them more than anyone.  I was just thinking about the beginning of my freshman year and the beginning of my mission.  They were hard, but pretty soon I figured it out and they were the best things!  So I'm going to hang in there and keep transitioning into civilian BYU life and it's going to be wonderful.  Heavenly Father really has blessed my week a lot!  He is so real and so there for me!

Sunday we heard dear McCrae give his homecoming talk and it was SO good!  He has changed so much and it was just so fun to talk to him and have him understand my return missionary life.  Then we drove in the crazy fog here to Provo! I met my roommates, my ward, heard the devotional (which was so good) and went tunnel singing (which I love).  My roommates are all really great but they all just kind of do their own thing.  My biggest blessing though is my actual room roommate, Hannah!  She wasn't even supposed to be my roommate but she switched in at the last minute.  We are both SO grateful to have each other.  Everyone is kind of already established with their friend groups and the ward and such, but Hannah and I are both new.  She is from Washington state and got home in September from serving in Las Vegas.  She wants to study nursing and she is just great.

So then I was in the thick of classes.  I have nine o'clock class everyday.  My Music Civilization class is the one I already took but withdrew so to not lose my scholarship.  So I'm trying again!  I also have Intro to Family Processes with Desi which I think I will really like.  All day Monday was consumed with auditioning for choir.  I had to wait in line for an hour for the pre-screening audition with a grad student.  While in line I met this kid who is half Filipino and served in the Philippines.  And out of all 20-something missions and over populated millions of people, he served in the same tiny village and knew Sister Urgel's family!  He had been there when the horrible tsunami ruined their house and even had pictures with them!  It was a such a tender mercy for me to make that connection.  My mission that I loved so much is not gone forever.  Haha  But anyway, I passed the pre-screening, auditioned again, and even got called back by Dr. Nielson, who is directing Concert Choir this year.

Well the next morning I woke up and checked the lists, and I couldn't believe it!  I made Concert Choir, Alto 1.  I was SOOOOOO happy!  After my piano fundamentals class (which is really easy and it's so fun to know how to play the piano compared to all these other music majors that can't really in that class) I rushed off to sit by Desi in Family History class.  I'm so excited for that class!!!  Our professor is amazing and made me cry both days of that class.  I just love having a class with Desi every day.  She is my rock at this place.  I'm blown away by how popular she is though.  I went to her ward bowling activity yesterday for just a few minutes, and she is just the Belle of the Ball as my mom says.  She's great.  Tuesday night, Hannah and I were going to join Desi and her friends for "Temple Tuesday".  But we decided that we really wanted to go to the Provo City Center Temple instead, which he hadn't been to yet.  So we did and it was SOO wonderful.  I love being in the temple.  After serving where there is only one temple for such a huge area and only getting to go a couple times a year, I appreciate it so much more.

My favorite class everyday is choir!  I have been missing the feeling of singing in choir and it just fills my soul!  And we are going to be singing in the General Women's Session of Conference in April.  So lots of exciting stuff.

In other news I got a job.  I am going to be a concession worker.  (I know, show-stopping work).  So that will be fun.  I will be a busy bee this semester.  It's so cool to be a music major, but also VERY overwhelming.  I have to practice nine hours a week and learn all these songs in all these languages.  I'm reminding myself that it's really what I love and I can do it.

A huge highlight of the week was actually just barely. . . church.  I LOVE the gospel.  Even though things can be so different in your life, the gospel is always the same.  I actually spoke in church, and it was my first Sunday here.  But I talked about the joy of sharing the Plan of Salvation and I loved writing and giving my talk.  It's so good to get to go and feel the spirit and mingle with the saints and learn together and participate.  I'm so grateful for the sabbath day!

I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has this perfect plan for me that will unfold as I do my part.  I love you all and keep pressing forward.


Sister Clarissa Johnson