Jesse and Krysta Chelstrom of Biloxi, Mississippi


Jesse and Krysta Chelstrom of Biloxi, Mississippi

When Jesse Chelstrom (10) and his sister, Krysta (8), ride their bikes down Ploesti Drive near their home, it’s easy to pretend that they’re fighter pilots. Real fighter jets and military transports thunder into the sky from a runway just beyond them. They live on Keesler Air Force Base, where their father, Staff Sergeant Arlen Chelstrom, is an air traffic controller and air traffic control instructor.

Biloxi lies on the Gulf of Mexico and is split in two by Back Bay, leaving much of the city on a peninsula. With ocean all around, Jesse and Krysta enjoy the water. They go fishing from a pier of the base marina on Back Bay. In the spring they cast nets for shrimp there. Or they may go swimming or jogging at the public beach a few blocks from the base. Scaring up clouds of seabirds, they run past a cast-iron lighthouse that has been surviving hurricanes since 1848.

There are also plenty of landlubber activities. Both Krysta and Jesse rollerblade, bike, and play soccer. They are also taking a karate class with their dad.

At home, Jesse builds model planes and cars. He has an F-18, a Harrier jet, and a Lamborghini Diablo. He built a rocket on his birthday. The launch was successful, but a tree got in the way of reentry. Not surprisingly, he wants to be either a pilot or an engineer when he grows up. He also keeps an aquarium with tiger fish, zebra fish, and spotted danios.

Krysta has an artistic flair. She loves to draw, and her mother, Kim, is teaching her how to cook and how to play the electronic keyboard. She collects trolls and bears, and plans to let her beautiful hair grow down to her ankles. She hasn’t decided yet what she’ll do when she grows up, but whatever it is, she’ll do it with enthusiasm.

Jesse and Krysta are good students. On their last report cards, Krysta had one B and Jesse two. Every other grade was an A. Sometimes they unwind from the pressures of school by building elaborate creations with interlocking blocks. One of their favorites was a ship on wheels.

Although the Chelstroms live on base, their neighborhood looks like any other, except that the streets are named for famous military leaders. Krysta and Jesse help keep the area looking good by mowing their lawn and pulling weeds. They do such a good job that their yard was recently honored as the yard of the month in their housing unit. They do their share of the work inside the house too. In addition to keeping their own rooms tidy, they clean the bathroom each Saturday. On weekdays they trade off doing the morning and afternoon dishes.

Military families must move often, and the Chelstroms have lived in New Mexico, Texas, and Germany. While in Germany, they visited England, Scotland, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Sometimes it’s been hard leaving friends behind.

But no matter where they move to, some things go with them—family traditions, for example, like opening family presents on Christmas Eve and Santa presents on Christmas morning. Or the birthday boy or girl choosing the eating place for a birthday feast. Jesse and Krysta usually choose a place that serves pepperoni pizza, their favorite food.

Whatever new room Krysta may move into, it will have not only toy trolls and bears scattered about, but a picture of Mormon and the golden plates on one wall and the Arizona Temple on another. And Jesse’s room will have not only models and soccer trophies—his team finished second in their league the last two years—but another picture of the Arizona Temple, and one of Helaman with his stripling warriors.

Krysta was recently baptized by her father. Her mother printed the programs in beautiful calligraphy and spoke at the service. Jesse spoke, too, and Krysta’s favorite song, “Nephi’s Courage,” was sung. “It was one of the best days of my life,” she said.

Jesse, too, is growing spiritually. “I’ve been asking Heavenly Father about some things lately,” he said, “and I’ve gotten some answers.”

Krysta and Jesse’s parents are very proud of them. “Krysta is going to be a good leader,” Brother Chelstrom says. “She’s sweet but very determined. If she decides that she wants to do something, she does it.

“Jesse is a very special boy. He wants to do the right thing, and he goes out of his way to help other people.”

Wherever Jesse and Krysta may move, those qualities will help them feel right at home.

[photos] Photos by Dick Brown

[photo] Jesse

[photo] On the beach

[photo] Krysta

[photo] The Chelstroms in front of their home

[photo] Helping Dad in the yard

[photo] Rollerblading

[photo] Fishing from the pier at the marina

[photo] Jesse working on models

[photo] Jogging by the runway

[photo] Krysta drawing