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!

Arohanui,

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.

Arohanui,

Sister Clarissa Johnson