Kalisa Jenson is a force for good who draws on the examples of faith and service from her family as she is engaged in her work as a wife, a mother, a student, and the secretary of the Cottage Committee for Big Ocean Women.
Kalisa grew up in a family with two brothers and two sisters, with parents who taught their children through example to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ. She shared that her father worked very hard to support their family and taught her brothers the family business where they have been able to work together at times through the years. Of her mother she said, “My mother was very service oriented; she had people calling her all day asking for her help and her opinion on things. She would drop everything she had to do to help someone who needed it.” Because of this example, she learned that it is not always “convenient to serve, you might have to put aside things you are focused on.”
Another example Kalisa draws on from her youth is how in love her maternal grandparents were. She said, “They were so in love, and it was obvious to everyone around them. My grandpa always held my grandmother’s hand whenever they were walking, and he would talk about how wonderful and beautiful she was all the time.” She continued by sharing that after having been married for over 60 years, her grandfather was devastated when her grandmother passed away. She said, “You would think that he would get used to it over time, but it seems like he misses her more with each passing year. They will probably be together again soon, and I think my grandpa is very excited about that fact.”
Kalisa graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree and is currently working on a master’s degree there. Along with those accomplishments, when asked about what she was most proud of in her life, she shared, “I am proud of that, and the service work I have done, but I am most proud of my family. I have five children that are kind, smart, talented, and fun. They have been my focus for the past 17 years, and I am grateful for them every day.” She went on to share that she and her husband are best friends and have worked to make their relationship their number one priority. She said, “We have been married for 18 years, and marriage isn’t easy. It has taken a lot of hard work from both of us.”
A few years ago, as part of her husband’s MBA studies in an international business course, they were able to travel to many parts of Asia. She was glad to have the school take care of the planning and logistics that enabled her to explore areas she would otherwise have been intimidated about visiting. Of that trip she said, “It was truly amazing. I have never been on a more impactful trip. We went from the deepest poverty in Cambodia and the Philippines, to one of the richest economies in the world, Hong Kong. The people in each place touched my heart and created a more global identity for me. I started to see them as my brothers and sisters. It is one of the reasons I wanted to work with Big Ocean Women. I wanted to create more connections with our global family.”
In the free time she manages to find, Kalisa loves to read, run, hike, participate in all kinds of exercise, socialize, and plan events. She says, “I really enjoy learning new things and travelling to new places.” As part of keeping her relationship with her husband strong, she loves going on dates with him and “trying yummy restaurants.” She also really enjoys musicals and can’t wait until we can travel again because, she says, “I love a Broadway trip to New York!”
Kalisa first heard about Big Ocean Women when she heard our founder, Carolina Allen, speak at a home meeting that Diane Fisher held. Kalisa said as she listened to Carolina she “was fascinated with her journey, and her description of being philosophically homeless.” She said she could relate to that because, “I considered myself a feminist and a champion of women, but could not agree with the current connotation feminism had. The idea of maternal feminism struck me, and I knew it was what I agreed with. I could feel truth flowing through her words, and I wanted to be part of it.” After that experience, she reached out to see how she could be involved. She said, “It took a few months to connect with the right people, and find the right fit,” but she was able to help as the secretary of the Cottage Committee and work with Vilma Sagebin to bring better structure and organization to the direction of the cottages. She said, “It was a joy to meet Big Ocean Women all over the world and to hear about the important work they were doing in their areas.”
The tenet that speaks most to Kalisa’s heart is our first tenet, “We believe in God and are women of faith.” She said, “I think that women of faith finding other women of faith all over the world is an unfailing equation for good. I have been amazed at how much I have in common with other faith-filled women in the world, even though our culture and faith traditions are different. There is power in acknowledging a supreme creator, and finding ways to connect with people who also respect that God who gave them life.”
When asked what Kalisa would hope for women everywhere to know she said, “That they are daughters of God, and that He has a plan for them. During their lives here on earth, but also before and after that. Even though the world can seem unfair, God is always near, watching and waiting for us to reach out to Him. He will help lead us to the place He wants us to be if we let Him. Eternity is a long time to make up for the injustices we suffer in this life, and He will make sure all our tears are wiped away.”
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