One Bus to India, Please!

My trip to India in July was quite a colorful one. I took a 24+ hour bus ride from Omaha to Toronto, Canada so that I could secure a cheaper flight to Kerala, India for a friend’s wedding. I really understood the whole “time is money” thing after that trip. You should’ve seen the lady’s face at custom’s when I told her my route. Believe me, that won’t be happening again. 


But what did happen was a heart-felt family reunion.  While living in Saudi Arabia from 2014-2015, I was richly blessed to be adopted into the Grace Outreach Riyadh church family. Being thousands of miles away from family was a definitely a challenge, but I was honored to be loved on from such an incredible tribe. 

Continue reading “One Bus to India, Please!”

The Unsolicited Translator

Today I decided to steal away and visit my home church to write, listen, rest and pray. I was at the altar jotting a few thoughts down and in walked the pastor of our Spanish speaking church, Fey Esperanza.

I was unaware of the church’s schedule and asked if they were meeting tonight. They were planning to pray in about an hour and I let him know that I would plan to join them.

The pastor’s young daughter looked at my things at the altar and said, “Is that a ladybug pillow?” I laughed and said, “Yes.” I quickly gathered my things and snuck away to the library to catch up with my sisters on Whatsapp.

About an hour later, I made my way back into the sanctuary. I kneeled down to pray with the dozen or so that were there. After about 30 minutes of corporate prayer, the pastor began to share with the congregants. I ran back into the library to grab my journal to take notes. I knew I wouldn’t catch everything, but I was sure I would catch something.  Five minutes into his message, he gave an instruction to one of the children present. Continue reading “The Unsolicited Translator”

Cyber Silence

It’s okay to step away from your device sometimes. They might miss you, but you won’t miss out.

cy·ber                                                                                             /ˈsībər/

of, relating to, or characteristic of the culture of computers, information technology, and virtual reality.
“the cyber age”
synonyms: electronic, digital, wired, virtual, web, Internet, Net, online
“our relationship was more cyber than face-to-face”


complete absence of sound.
“sirens pierce the silence of the night”
synonyms: quietness, quiet, quietude, still, stillness, hush, tranquility, noiselessness, soundlessness, peacefulness, peace (and quiet)
“the silence of the night”

She sat to the right of me on the couch that night. I was in Hangzhou, China (circa July 2013) and Emma was my roommate.

“We haven’t quite figured this thing out, you know?” Emma said.

Minutes before that statement, I was talking to her about how I accidentally left my phone in a cab. I was frustrated not just about losing my phone, but that I had nearly hit 500 followers on Instagram and I wouldn’t be able to see when I hit that number.


Insert pyschological syringe. I was on drugs. Addicted to say the least.

Continue reading “Cyber Silence”

Think Again

Karissa speaking at Cornerstone High School.

Do you really think that you’ll get far without stepping out on faith? If so, think again.

My journey around the world required courage, yes. Perhaps a dose of bravery was needed too. All in all, faith was the most important ingredient. Believing in those things that were not seen was what I needed to move forward.

Today, I encourage you to look beyond your environment, circumstances, and situations and simply believe for more.  We all just need a little bit of faith.

With Gratitude,

Karissa Denae Johnson

30 Years & 30 Lessons from My Mom

My mom still lets me sit on her lap. I’ll do it as long as I can.

My mom, Tina Roberta (Thuston) Johnson, has been sharing nuggets with me all of my life.  Over the past 30 years of my life, I’ve collected a plethora of these nuggets. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing them with you.  Mom, thank you for each and every token of love that you’ve tossed my way. I love you and I’ll always treasure you. 

In no particular order, here are 30 lessons (and things) I’ve learned from my mom over the past 30 years.

#1 Try out for the team. If you don’t make it, go to the camp the next year. If you make it, go to the camp the next year.

Continue reading “30 Years & 30 Lessons from My Mom”

The Top Five Things I’ve Learned While Traveling the Globe

The Top Five Things I’ve Learned While Traveling the Globe

Traveling is wonderful fun, yet it can also be a great learning experience. Here are the top five things I’ve learned while traveling the globe!

1) Ask

Although I have over a dozen countries under my belt, I still consider myself a new traveler. I’ve only been at this thing for three years, and in every country I’ve visited, I’ve learned the importance of asking questions.

It doesn’t matter if you feel ashamed for asking a simple question, ask it. It can save you time, energy, and money.

Put your pride to the side and ask for help. You might have to mime it—like I did my first week in China, when I was asking for toilet paper—but just ask!

Karissa Johnson

2) Give

Some of my most vivid memories are from my trip to Laos. My friend Esther from college invited me on a “trip of a lifetime” to go zip-lining in the rainforest for three days. We had incredible guides who spoke some English, but they couldn’t write.

One evening, I gave an English lesson to one of the guides inside of my mosquito net for a couple of hours. I created a little book for him to practice English and also share the wealth with others. He mentioned that people had given him oral English lessons, but no one had ever made anything for him. I was glad to give him something that he could treasure and give to someone else.

Top 5 Pic 4

3) Learn the Lingo

I get it, we’re not all linguists. We don’t all have the discipline or tenacity to dig into another language and make it our own. However, I find that even attempting the local language is appreciated.

Even if you get the tones wrong or mix up the words, the effort is respected. In my opinion, English speakers and readers have it so easy when traveling. I find that the locals are very accommodating and helpful when it comes to English speakers.

The least that you can do is learn how to say, “Thank you!” in the local language.

Google Translate has become one of my fondest friends on the road.

Top 5 Pic 3

4) Too Much Bling is Not a Good Thing

I’ll be the first to say that I love my big faux pearl earrings, and my giant faux pearl necklace. However, I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to tone it down.

Of course, it’s nice to be stylish while traveling, but you have to use wisdom too.

Since I frequently travel solo, I often do a self-check, to see if I’m drawing too much attention to myself with my attire.

Be aware of the customs and culture where you’re traveling.

Some temples and churches require a certain dress code, which can serve as a hint to what’s expected within the culture. It’s also good to remember that sometimes travelers are overcharged, robbed, and hassled because of their appearance. Remember, you’re there to see the city. The city isn’t there to see you.

Remember, you’re there to see the city. The city isn’t there to see you.

Karissa Johnson

5) Haggle, Hustle, and Handle Your Business

One thing that I loved about my time in China was the ability to haggle. My parents came over during Thanksgiving in 2012, and I was excited to show them my haggling skills—in Chinese. Somehow, I was able to bring my mom’s new jacket down by about 80 percent of the initial asking price. I’m still not quite sure how I got it down so low, but I’m sure that knowing my numbers in Mandarin didn’t hurt!

One more thing: bring U.S. dollars. If you need to exchange money in a country, I wouldn’t recommend bringing several hundred dollars worth of Chinese Renminbi (RNB).

I went on a trip to Cairo two years ago, and I was absolutely clueless about the importance of exchanging your RNB before leaving mainland China. When I got to Cairo and tried to exchange it to the Egyptian Pound at the airport and banks, I was unsuccessful. However, my driver was extremely helpful. He had a connection who exchanged it for me, but I had to pay one hefty fee!

Okay, it’s your turn to share the wealth. What have you learned on the road, as you’ve traveled?

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Stroke Conqueror – It’s been NINE years!

Build your hopes on things eternal.

“Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nine years since my family got the news that I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. My mouth was twisted. I couldn’t say my name without slurring or stuttering.  My right side was limp. No laughter. No wit. Very little strength. I was having a mild stroke. Continue reading “Stroke Conqueror – It’s been NINE years!”

Mini-Mogul | Major Impact




1. an important or powerful person, especially in the motion picture or media industry.
synonyms:  magnate, tycoon, VIP, notable

S C E N E:  Aksarben Suites |  Omaha, Nebraska

A brilliant, well-read, confident, striking, bronze, shapely mother.
A bubbly, curious, handsome whiz kid.
A student of the aforementioned characters. (Me.)
Never too old to be a student. Never too young to be a teacher. – unknown

Every adventure begins at home. The adventure I partook in this weekend swept me away like never before.  Let me ‘splain.

Continue reading “Mini-Mogul | Major Impact”