Nicholas, Michelle, and Ashley Clark of Lodi, California


Nicholas, Michelle, and Ashley Clark of Lodi, California

Nicholas (9), Michelle (7), and Ashley (5) live in Lodi now, but they have lived on the East Coast, on the West Coast, and in a few places in between, such as the Grand Canyon! They have kept journals for the last four years to help them remember all the fun things that they have done with family and friends. Treasures from the sea, mountain wildflowers, brochures, awards, maps, and original drawings are just a few of the things that they keep in their journals.

Ashley’s favorite journal entries are the pictures that she draws herself and the pages that tell about the aquarium and “touch tank” at Pineknoll Shores, North Carolina, where they went to workshops on ocean life.

Nicholas’s favorite entries tell of visiting battleships in North Carolina and South Carolina. He also likes to read about their trips to Flintstone Land in Arizona.

Probably at the top of Michelle’s list of favorite journal entries would be the puppy page. Each time Katie, the family dog, had puppies, Michelle took care of them. When they were sold to loving homes, the money was put into their missionary savings accounts. Other special pages in her journal are about her birthday each year and the special people who celebrated it with her.

Michelle loves music. She likes to sing, and her mother, the Sunday School chorister for their ward, is teaching her how to conduct. She takes piano lessons, too, and hopes to be a ward organist someday. She also likes to color, and she won a large, fluffy bunny in a coloring contest.

Collecting stickers and riding her scooter are two things that Ashley likes to do. Most of all, though, she loves to dance. In fact, she has danced ever since she could stand up by herself. She takes ballet lessons and is very proud of her pink tutu and ballet slippers.

Tuesday is the best day of the week for Nicholas because that’s when he has Cub Scouts. He has earned his Wolf award and his Faith in God award. He was very excited last winter when he won his pack’s Pinewood Derby! He loves baseball and collects anything that has to do with the sport.

The entire family enjoys drama. They put on skits, puppet shows, and brief musicals during family home evenings and for summer activities. One of their favorite skits was a Western, which they did for a Primary talent show in Emmett, Idaho. Nicholas liked it because he got to fall into a pie tin filled with whipped cream. Ashley liked it because she had a beard made of chocolate—yum! Sometimes they wear animal noses and play zoo.

Of course, some of their favorite family home evening lessons involve acting out scripture stories, which helps them remember the stories better. And they always make a point of getting to know the missionaries where they live. When the elders come for dinner, it’s a custom for them to sign the covers of the children’s copies of the Book of Mormon.

One of the first things that they do each time they move is find the library and study the history and people of that area. Then they try to visit as many places that they’ve read about as they can. They’ve learned about Blackbeard of Ocracoke Island, the cliff-dwelling Indians of the Grand Canyon, Civil War forts in North Carolina, ghost towns in Idaho, and much more.

The Clarks searched out five of their great-grand-father’s nine brothers—they had never met them before—took their pictures, and listened to their stories about him and his family when they were young. Then they surprised him with an album filled with pictures of his brothers, whom he hadn’t seen in many years.

Ashley, Michelle, and Nicholas have learned to enjoy every place they’ve lived in for its own beauty and history. They’ve learned that when they move, they aren’t losing old friends but adding new ones. And they’ve learned that there is a friendly Primary just about everywhere, so that they’ll always have friends and the gospel. And besides each other, that’s about all that the Clark family needs.

[photos] Photos by Gary Clark

[photo] 1. Journals with (a) an original drawing and a ticket stub for “The Fox and the Hound” movie, (b) a brochure and a summer pass to a roller-skating rink, and (c) a brochure and a ticket stub for the Tryon Palace in New Bern, North Carolina

[photo] 2. Journal page showing a map of their route when they moved to North Carolina

[photo] 3. By the elephant compound in the San Francisco zoo

[photo] 4. Michelle hugging the bunny she won in a coloring contest

[photo] 5. The Clarks wearing some of their animal noses

[photo] 6. Nicholas with his Cub Scout Genius Science Kit

[photo] 7. Ashley dancing in her ballet costume

[photo] 8. Journal entry showing a postcard of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate

[photo] 9. Ashley, Michelle, and Nicholas outside an abandoned home of cliff-dwelling Indians in Arizona