Friday, December 30, 2016

San Diego

Part 1
Picking up Sister Carlson was an awesome experience.
We got on an airplane from the Provo airport and landed in Rainy San Diego around 11:30 am on Thursday, December 22nd.

I was so excited to pick up our rental car and drive over to La Mesa where the  Mission home was. I guess you could say I was a little crazy for a while but I'm sure most missionary moms understand! Meeting President and Sister Schmidt in person was wonderful and of course finally hugging Jessie was the best!!

 President Ouderkirk released Jessie on Google Hangouts.  It took about forty-five minutes and was a very spiritual experience. He asked Sister Carlson to stand at the end of her release and share her testimony. We all cried a lot.

 After visiting for a while and saying our goodbye's we were off to Los Angeles. Jessie was a little hesitant about leaving her mission and missionary life but the three and half hour drive up north really helped. Yes the traffic was horrendous!!

December 30th we spent the entire cloudy day at Universal Studios. It sprinkled in the morning and finally cleared up at noon. Around 7:00 in the evening it started to rain again which made the Jurrasic Park ride very realistic. Harry Potter World was probably our favorite part of the day. We kind of splurged and bought front of the line passes so we could go on our favorite rides twice and not have to wait in line. Jen and I got a little motion sickness. We ended up pacing ourselves. The Shrek movie gave us an option to sit in the moving seats or the normal theater seats. By the end of the day we were done being moved around so it was nice sitting in normal seats.

 Jen was pretty serious when it came time to pick out a wand. She is our Harry Potter expert and was the main reason for visiting Universal Studios.

The lady in the background decided to photo bomb this particular photo.

GW spoiled us with Hogwarts scarves. Speaking of GW he is probably the funnest person to go on vacation with! His back bothered him for the first time due to sitting a lot the first day. Walking in the wet weather didn't help his lungs either, but he was a real trooper!

I also enjoyed the Universal Studios tour ride which lasted about an hour. GW and I Honeymooned almost twenty-seven years ago at this same park and it has totally changed. Needless to say we were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was all worth it!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Engagement Photo's

Brittany and Jacob

Photo's taken by Lara Hinckley.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sister San Diego

We may or may not have time to email next week. We shall see.. By
chance that we do not, I would love to leave you with some of my dying
...Ouch. OUCH! My heart aches just typing out those words...
All is well, all is well, all is well, all is well, FEAR NOT Sister
Carlson. You got this.
It is hard to summarize a Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in a few paragraphs. I would even say impossible.
Quite honestly I don't know where to start. So let me begin by telling
you a bit of what happened this week.
At first? It was rough. Some of the hardest days of my entire mission.
Why? Ha! I'll be honest, I'm not too sure. I think that in effect is
what added to my frustration--that I didn't know why I was hurting so
much inside. I wanted to be sprinting full speed at this point on my
mission. But day by day I would cry out to the Lord "save me" and yet
continue to feel this negative pressure looming in my soul. I did all
I could think to counteract these depressive emotions. Prayer,
priesthood, prying through my scriptures, yearning for freedom.
Through the pain and sorrow we still saw miracles. A sweet gal by the
name of A was contacted by Elders out in our churches parking
lot. They gave her a church tour, invited her to learn more, and she
accepted! That's when Sister Guest and I walked in. We were able to
introduce ourselves and set up a return appointment for the following
day. We met A with another amazing Young Women in the Chula Vista
3rd Ward, Anna Dunford. My heart momentarily shook off the chains of
hell as I testified of our savior and his restored church. A had
come so prepared having already read the entire Restoration Pamphlet,
and readily agreed to baptism on the 28th of December. My mind was
drawn back to the memory of inviting W to be baptized in La Jolla.
I couldn't even finish the sentence before W/A accepted. She
full heartedly was SO excited to participate in Young Women's, even
early morning seminary for the juniors!
That evening though, as Sister Guest and I concluded our nightly
planning, we received a text from Althea stating that her parents had
forbidden any further contact with anyone in the church. She
apologized profusely, then never replied to us again.
Is this the first time something similar has happened to me on my
mission? No. In fact, it stung just as bad when I experienced extreme
disappointment at the beginning of my mission. "Remember the worth of
one soul is great in the sight of God." IT'S SUPPOSE TO HURT! Ha. I
remember bearing my testimony about having my heart break over and
over and over again in my farewell talk before I even came out on the
mission. I expected it to break. Easier said than done.. That in
effect is the first spiritual truth I learned on my mission: How worth
it the heartbreak truly is. One soul ABSOLUTELY is worth a moment of
 I do know that A will always remember the spirit that was felt
and hopefully find her way to missionaries in the future. She'll be
AND SO! You could probably guess that this experience didn't do Sister
Carlson much good. Nay... But allow me to share with you what came
after the darkness. You might already know.
Was Althea all that happened this week? HA! No, we saw MANY ups and
downs. I'll be honest, by the time Sister Guest and I made it to Zone
Conference yesterday, I was exhausted. The word doesn't even do it
Now. As some of you may know, President Schmitt normally has soon
departing missionaries stand and bare their testimonies or give a
short STEPP talk at large mission gatherings. I had fully expected to
stand in front of those missionaries. I needed to. A thought had
crossed my mind the day previous that perhaps, if I shared my
testimony, it would strengthen it right? I needed all the strength I
could get. As the zone leader stood to announce the opening, hymn,
prayer, STEPP talk and testimony, my heart sunk as my name was not
President's training commenced with a focus on the savior. How can we
come to know the savior? How can we go to gethsemane? My heart slowly
picked itself off the ground as I listened to my Mission President's
words: "If you will come to know the savior, you will come to love
him, when you come to love him, you will come to serve him. Elders and
sisters, if you feel like you're sinking, look to the savior. Fear
Just then, President Schmitt's eyes locked with mine and he asked me to stand.
"Some of the greatest questions of all time were asked by the savior.
Sister Carlson, if Jesus Christ were to stand before you now, how
would you respond to this question: whom say ye that I am?"
As I looked into President Schmitt's eyes, my own were filled with tears.
My dear, dear family.
I love the Lord.
I have loved my mission. All of it, every second of it. The good and
the bad for it has all been good.
I could hardly speak as President turned to around to face that room
full of intensely focused servants of God.
I will bare you my witness, as I did then.
"Whom say ye that I am?"
My older brother. My savior. My best friend.
I cannot put into words the relationship I have with Jesus Christ. He
has changed my life, my attitude, my very desires.
I am SO full of hope! As what tends to happen as we exercise our
faith. It comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness. It's that
willingness to pay the price, even when the price goes up. "Weeping
may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning."
And what is that price? Your entire heart.
The Lord has made so much more out of me than I could have ever made
out of myself. I will forever be his missionary. I will not, I cannot
go back to the person I was before my gethsemane. "Children, did not
my love touch you more than this?"
And to what's more, I have not been through this journey alone.
I have met my eternal friends here in San Diego, many of which
followed Christ's own example and were baptized. "And if it so be that
you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people,
and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy
with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be
great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of
my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls
unto me!"
I pray that I will never forget. Not ever. My heart is full.
Sister Carlson, if you're reading this in 30, 40, 50 years. Do. Not. Forget.
This is eternal life. Your forever family has grown so much here in
San Diego. Life will and can get hard BUT HEY!
All is well
-Sister Carlson

Sister San Diego

The other day Sister Guest and I walked into a member's home for a
dinner appointment when a small child walked up, took a loooong look
at the both of us, then stated while pointing at Sister Guest:
"You look 14"
His finger moved to me:
"You look 90"
My family. The end is near.
HA! I have been pondering "ever afters" but I'll get to that
momentarily... Don't worry, it's completely focused on my purpose!
Some other fun facts!
Sister Guest constantly runs warm. I'm always freezing. We're quite the duo.
My companion also has a gift. NOW. Allow me to explain. One can
usually tell they have previously visited a home or area by the way
things look. Familiarity. This is not the gift Sister Guest has.
INSTEAD! She knows that she has visited a particular geographical
location by the animals.
Yes. For whatever reason, I LOST it yesterday.. As we sat in an older
woman's home, a dog pranced in the room and I heard Sister Guest
Whisper "...We're in the wrong place... That is not a husky."
Time is flying. WAAAAAH! There is always SO much to do and so little time!
Because of this Christmas season SERVICE IS ABUNDANT!
We started #25ways25days with working at the veteran center! There we
met so many amazing men and women. Old gentlemen kept stopping us in
the halls to say we were the two most beautiful gals they ever did
see. Ha!
We then met Pete. Pete fought at Pearl Harbor and was getting more and
more bummed each passing year because of the fewer and fewer men that
are still alive. Ah! My heart.. As sister guest and I continued to
serve these incredible people around us, my eyes watered as I thought
of my Grandpa Ralph. AND THEN! Getting to carol was of course my
favorite! As we were about to leave, the Hermanas stopped us and asked
if we would sing with them to just one last resident. We agreed and
followed them all the way to the back of the center where we sang
Silent night to a much older veteran. His eyes produced humble tears
as we bore our testimonies of the savior through music.. It was quite
the experience. One I shall never forget. It truly helped me to get
into the mind set of Christmas and it's true meaning. Because of this
visit, many hearts were not only softened but opened to hear to gospel
message from Missionaries.
Now leading off of this and tying things back to "ever afters".
in Abraham, God says "I know the end from the beginning." I was
thinking about the end recently. I know... It sounds dark BUT IT'S
NOT! We always hear about happily ever afters in our favorite story
books as kids. It came to my attention this week that because of God
we DO know the end. It really is a happily ever after! God wants you
to have a happily ever after forever.
I bore my testimony of that this during sacrament meeting. AND OF
COURSE! Part of it was through music. Like President Eyring stated
during the Christmas Devotional "My heart burned as the spirit
confirmed that the words I sang were true"
The Light Divine
Today thine unseen purposes
By faith’s rare light we feel.
Dear Father, make us pure in heart;
To us thy will reveal.
Father, let thy light divine
Shine on us, we pray.
Touch our eyes that we may see;
Teach us to obey.
Ours the sacred mission is
To bear thy message far.
The light of faith is in our hearts,
Truth our guiding star.
As I sat down, another serge of thought entered my mind about my
Savior this Christmas season. I realized that Jesus Christ never felt
fear. He had perfect love. He had no reason to fear. But because of
the atonement, he perfectly knows what it's like to be afraid. To be
in the dark. But he is the LIGHT of the world. If we follow him, he
can cast out all of our fear.
I do not fear the end of my mission. I do not fear the end of my life.
All really is well.
I have been completely enveloped in God's love for me these last few
days. I felt it as I pondered about gifts then saw I had an unread
email from Sarah Jane. I felt it as we were blessed to go see the
lights at the temple. I felt it as those from Mt Woodson and La Jolla
nearly tackled me as we walked around the house of the Lord. I felt it
as we helped Sister Schmitt at the mission home with all the sisters
out here on the mission.
If only all of you could feel just a fraction of that same love I feel
for all of you.
"Fear not what man can do, for perfect love casteth out all fear."
Keep serving! Be the hands for our Heavenly Father this Christmas season :)
-Sister Carlson

 President's wife, Sister Schmidt