Karissa Winterton of Charleston, Utah


Karissa Winterton of Charleston, Utah

Karissa Winterton’s great-great-grandfather William Winterton built her family’s farmhouse in the 1860s, but now it is no longer part of a farm. Grandma and Grandpa Winterton sold their dairy farm so that they could serve a full-time mission in Rochester, New York.

“I remember when there were a lot of cows here,” Karissa (7) says. “I used to take a shortcut to Grandma’s house, and one time my cousin Krista and I got chased by a bull! Chickens were running in front of us, and they ran right under the fence. But Krista and I had to climb over it—fast!”

Karissa misses the farm, but she would never want to move.

“My favorite thing about living in Charleston is that I live by my cousins and we get to play a lot,” she says. Her cousin Krista Winterton (7) is her best friend. The two girls have many things in common. They are the same age, they often say the same things at the same time, their names sound almost the same, and they live on the same street!

In fact, Karissa’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live next door to each other. Five houses in a row belong to relatives—the first three houses are old farmhouses, like Karissa’s, and the other two are newly built.

Karissa has four sisters: Heidi (15), Hillary (14), Kami (11), and Andrea (4). She and her sisters and cousins love to spend time together. One of their favorite places to play is in the barn. They can spend hours swinging from one side of the barn to the other on a rope attached to the ceiling.

She also enjoys riding her bike, playing soccer, and playing with animals. Her sister Kami has a new puppy named Ginger, and her cousin Krista has a whole family of cats.

She makes friends wherever she goes, whether it’s at school or at the grocery store. Last year, her teacher wrote on her report card, “You are a shining star.” Perhaps that’s the best way to describe her sunny personality.

She loves to help people, especially her dad. When the seminary building where her dad teaches was dedicated, Karissa handed out the programs. One day when she was little, her dad wore a dust mask over his face to do some work underneath the house. She went inside the house and made a mask out of paper for herself.

Her dad used to help run the family grocery store. “Karissa liked to come to the store with me,” he said, “and she always put on a green apron just like mine.” Once a man from the ward came into the store. Even though Karissa didn’t know him, she treated him like a friend. When he left, she stood in front of the door and teased, “You can’t leave until you say the magic word!” The magic word was “pretty please.”

“Karissa isn’t scared of anyone,” her parents agree. “Age makes no difference. Everyone is her friend.”

Right now she is learning to cook. She likes cracking eggs for a recipe best.

She is also learning to play the piano. She can sing her favorite hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” from memory, and she looks forward to being able to play it all the way through on the piano.

“She is the first one to start singing ‘I Love to See the Temple’ whenever we drive past one,” her mom says. When Karissa visited her Grandma and Grandpa Burrup in Richland, Washington, she was able to see the Columbia River Washington Temple being built. The construction workers offered her a piece of granite from the temple walls to take home.

Karissa doesn’t give up when problems arise. At a ward Christmas party, she was invited to sing a musical number. As she climbed onto the platform, she slipped and fell. Primary leaders rushed to help her, but before they could, she had already climbed back up. She sang her song the way she lives her life every day—with a smile.

[photos] Photos by Christopher Epperson

[photo] Krista and Karissa playing in Krista’s backyard

[photo] 1. Karissa sitting on her front porch

[photo] 2. Heidi, Kami, Dad, Hillary, Mom; (in front) Andrea, Karissa

[photo] 3. Karissa, Krista, and Andrea playing dress-up

[photo] 4. Playing a duet with Heidi

[photo] 5. Karissa wearing her soccer uniform

[photo] 6. Kami, Hillary, and Karissa Winterton; Kaylee McFee (cousin); and Andrea and Heidi Winterton playing in the barn