Music, my tender mercy

28 December 2015

Mum and family, but mostly Mum.

I’ll be back on Thursday! We have two half p-days this week. One today, and one on New Years, so yeah. Kind of awkward.

Anyway, thank you thank you thank you for the gifts, they were all perfect. And it was nice to talk with you! It felt like a Sunday for the rest of the day and I think it is because back home that’s how it would’ve been. You know… weekly hangout style. I miss that.

Christmas morn


This week has been slightly ridiculous so I’m thinking maybe I’ll rein it in a little over the next few days and write something amazing for Thursday. That is, assuming you haven’t killed me for telling you nothing today. So sorry!

Just know that I’m good. Alive. Wearing makeup. Kind of. But also not really. What’s new. Ha, basically everything is perfectly abnormal. And I think that’s how a mission is supposed to be.

Love you much; you’re in my prayers. 🙂

aloha, Sister Carl

. . . the wind though


1 January 2016

Ho dang, Kanoa (a guy, by the way)!

Sister Smith and I didn’t even know he’d recorded us until, you know, now. So that was a surprise. But yes he is very right, confusing things are happening out here in Kaneohe.

Okay Mum, here’s what’s happened: Sister Smith and her previous companions originally covered 1st ward, the ZLs covered 2nd ward, and my new Elder friends covered the 3rd and 4th ward. 2nd ward missionary work was slightly slow, but 3rd and 4th are each pretty large, so there was a Mission President commissioned plan to switch us to cover 4th ward, the other Elders would be full-time 3rd ward, and the ZLs would take over the 1st in addition to the 2nd. So Sister Smith and I took some extra time getting the area book in order, making super tight street lists, organizing and updating all kind things so that we could start the work and never have to pause. Then Tuesday the ZLs called and told us to meet up at the Stake Center with our area books because for one reason or another we all had to go back to our original places. So exciting.

Christmas morning hike in Kaneohe (Oahu east side )


I’m saddened that I don’t get to finish up with the 4th ward. They had such a pure energy about them, and we were really looking forward to helping them direct it in the right ways (Elders get lucky, every time…), but I’m happy to be in the 1st ward, too, getting to know all of the people that Sister Smith has previously come to love so much. I’m praying it might help me to stop reliving my Waipahu days so regularly since I now have a few weeks of some new place to look back on. It truly was a wonderful area! Different as it was from my birthplace, I know it is just as perfect.

I only met a few people, but they were precisely the people I needed to meet. They teach me the prettiest parts of their wisdom, but they give me even prettier feelings. One time I asked Uncle Bob as he told me his stories of Aunty Rose, “What is your favorite thing about her?” He thought for much too long before answering, “I just, love her.” It was so cute. And such a spiritual witness to me of how great a privilege I have to be the one that they tell their lives to.

It was the same with Aunty Joyce. I just loved her so much. I admit more often than I should, I lose track of what they’re talking about, or I get slightly exhausted by the constance of words, but then with no warning whatsoever it hits me, and next thing I know, some strange feeling comes over me while Aunty Joyce plucks at my ukulele and I think to myself, “Shoots, I just want her to keep that.”

Then there was Uncle John. He had such perfect teeth. Named after a father who never came home from his fishing trip. He grew up a happy boy in Hawaiian kind poverty. He made it through high school at a 3rd grade reading level before riding up to Provo on a football scholarship. He said it was quite the wake up call the day he found out he had to take actual classes if he expected to play. I could tell you bunches about that man, all from a 35 minute visit, but the most striking thing to me was how deep and beautiful and complete his understanding was–of everything. He talked to us with his tanned wrinkly hands about all of God’s creations and the vastness of the universe, and Words of Mormon, these plates and those plates. I cried about a tear before I pulled myself together. I left that place more humble than I’ve ever been, with more clarity than I’ve ever had. Such a pity we’re stuck in mortal minds, everything is too fleeting.

It’s been half a transfer and I have no clue who anyone in my area is. Or even where my area is. But I know this is what, for some reason, needed to happen, and that God is mindful. I know because every time my life is thick with change, music is my tender mercy. Birth to now, but even more concentrated since the start of the mission. In the MTC, my first Sunday in that lovely Samoan ward, really every Sunday in that Samoan ward, my last Sunday in the Samoan ward, my first day here in Kaneohe. Caroling to that old man. He couldn’t talk much, but he smiled, and that was more than enough. Micah, my almost-ward-mission-leader, he is a music teacher. I was much too excited over that. Even dinner after finding out we were switching areas once again. God knew I needed that Hawaiian dance lesson and a song to cap off the family night. The fact that instruments are at all allowed in our mission is the greatest miracle God could ever give to me. It’s such a release and I Iove it, but also I hate that I’m so spoiled.

Life is tricky but it’s good. Sorry again for not emailing much on Monday. And also for mixing up the days and saying our other half p-day was yesterday instead of today. My bad.

Alofa atu, Sister Carlsen

p.s. If you think you know how to ring in the New Year, think again. Then ask some Hawaiians. No jokes I thought war was happening.

p.p.s. Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

And thanks for the sweet pictures. 🙂

Editor’s note. Thank you to all who read ALOHA, AUBREY. It is our prayer that it will inspire a Love of God and missionary work while at the same time sharing some of the daily “goings-on” of sister missionary life.

The Christmas video chat was wonderful as she shared her arrangements of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Called to Serve” on the ukulele (pronounced ook). There is a definite island flair and the harmonies as always are very unique.  (Thank you to Bret Scherer for schooling her in theory.  She has long said she learned much from you.) She shared her story of visiting the elder’s quorum president and his young family in the Samoan ward right before the transfer. He passed away and she wanted to return for the funeral, but the request was turned down. Heartbreaking, but she shared her joy in getting to visit with him and his family one last time. Joy is truly happy-sad.

Once again, thank you and a very Happy New Year to all!

our sad humidified gingerbread house



One thought on “Music, my tender mercy

  1. It is amazing Sister Carlsen to see how you have grown and changed since your first letter home. The mission is getting into you, which is just great!! As we watched the elders and sisters in Korea we could tell which ones were really succeeding as missionaries. They had a glow about them, which is what you have now, even though we can’t see or talk to you. Keep up the good work. As President Hinckley said, “We need to be hastening”. I felt bad reading about all the work you put in on your area book and then you didn’t get to use it! Love to you!


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