Surprise! I’m Home!

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

Dear Diary,

I did it. We did it! Over four months ago, I texted my sisters. It was Resurrection Sunday and I was on Facebook, seeing all the pictures of families together—eating, smiling, and just simply being together. It had barely been two months since I headed for the Middle East, but I was missing my family and I decided to bring something up to the team. “Hey, hermanas!  I’m looking at my calendar. What do you think about me coming home and surprising mom and dad for my birthday?” My three sisters all chimed in, insisting that they would help make it happen! I made them vow not to tell a soul. We put our plan in our imaginary vault and we went to work.

As the months went by, we exchanged ideas of how we would surprise our parents. We decided to have them come to my oldest sister and brother-in-love’s house near our church in Bellevue, Nebraska. It was up to me to make an excuse to get my parents to their house at the same time on a Friday night, after work, and before church.

Finally, it was the week of my birthday. July 28th was just days away. My parents were under the impression that I was heading to Dublin, Ireland next to wrap up my European tour. Well, that was the truth. I had a layover in Dublin for three hours before my flight to Chicago. My mom questioned me about who I knew in Ireland. I assured her that I had friends there. That was the truth though, right? I knew the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They’re with me wherever I go.

Once I got to Ireland, I let my parents know that I made it safely and that I probably wouldn’t be accessible for the next 24 hours. I knew I’d need time to transition from Dublin to Chicago and to prepare myself for the eight hour bus ride from Chicago to Omaha. That bus ride was nearly as long as my flight from London to Chicago.  I was not interested in paying the extra $200 it would cost to fly home from London, so I paid $45 for the Mega Bus from Chicago to Omaha and started off on my journey.

My sister, Karieta, met me at the bus station in Omaha with a sign welcoming me home. She brought water, snacks, and lots of laughs—as it is her custom. She drove me over to my oldest sister and brother-in-love’s house while I texted my second oldest sister, Kristina—catching up on my long trip home. When I arrived at my oldest sister Kinesha’s house, she hugged me and made sure I had some food and got some rest for our big night.

It was finally time for the great reveal. I convinced my parents, my brother-in-love, and my sister’s boyfriend to be at the house at 5:30 pm for a very important Skype session concerning some news I needed to share. As I heard the doorbell ring while upstairs in the bedroom, I started texting my parents and asked them to let me know when everyone arrived.

Finally, everyone had arrived and they were ready to Skype. I was laughing hysterically in the bedroom as I listened to all the speculations concerning what my family thought my news would be. I got on the screen and saw my family standing there in the kitchen looking at me. This was really happening. I began reading a poem to them about my journey in Europe throughout the Summer. My last line was:

I saw some great sights and I enjoy it when I roam,

But I said to myself, for my birthday this year, I want to be HOME!

By the time I said “home” I was racing down the stairs and my parents were confused, excited, and full of so much emotion! They thought I was in Ireland, but somehow I was standing in a kitchen in Bellevue, Nebraska.

I was home. I did it. We did it!

Sometimes the best surprise parties are when you throw them for yourself.

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson

With Love,

Karissa from La Vista

Karissa Johnson is a licensed evangelist, certified educator, and a daring explorer. In the last three years she taught English at two universities in Saudi Arabia and at one English language school in China. When she’s home in Nebraska, this military brat and preacher’s kid loves singing with her three sisters, mentoring youth, and prison ministry. Karissa is a graduate of Oral Roberts University where she received her BA in International Community Development. This stroke survivor started traveling abroad in 2011 and has since traveled to over 20 countries on all seven continents. She accomplished her goal of seeing all seven continents by 30. Karissa is currently writing a book about her adventures around the globe. Visit to connect with Karissa through social media.