Write to Alyssa at:

Mission Address:
Sister Alyssa Nicole Escalante

California Carlsbad Mission

451 W Bobier Dr

Vista, CA 92083

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hi Everyone! 

Well, I don't know if I'll have tons to say in this letter because I talked to you last night. It was fun to see you and everyone :) and I'm glad Ariana and Morgan got to FaceTime in. Man, my sobrinos are so stinkin' cute! Thanks for the pictures! And that is sooo exciting that Wes and Ash are having a boy!  He will be darling! Have they thought of any names yet? I still like the name Fredrick. Kinda cute.

Pues, I really feel like I don't have anything to talk about. So, Jilli may be moving in? If so, when would that happen? Oh, and I didn't know that Ashley was selling doTerra. Cool stuff. Pues, Christmas was good. Did I tell you we had a fun Christmas breakfast and Christmas eve party in our matching shirts? After we hung up last night we went and saw Magali (one of our investigators) and set up an apt with her. After that we went to see Margarito (Potential Investigator) and we were supposed to have our first lesson but he wasn't there. Lame. Hopefully we'll see him tonight though. He lives with an Antiguo who is golden, so hopefully we can pick her back up as well. Since Margarito wasn't home we went to see a Menos Activo and she was happy to see us. Poor thing, her husband is out at sea with the Navy, but thankfully she got to talk to him on the phone for Christmas.

It is cold and rainy here (still). We couldn't run again this morning because of the rain (well I guess we could've, but we didn't). We just worked out in our living room but since we're on the top floor and there are four of us, we can't do too much or we'll wake up our downstairs neighbors. We were being pretty lazy and then realized that this is probably what most missionaries do (in other missions), just kind of work out, mostly just sitting around, talking. We're pretty gratefuly that we actually have to run and work out in the morning. It makes the day so much better.

I didn't sleep too well last night (not sure why) and I'm feeling a little sick today, but hopefully it goes away soon. I didn't bring my camera cord but Hma Ruiz did so hopefully I'll steal some of her pictures to send in this email. They will probably be from the conference or Christmas. I need to get better at taking pictures. I never really do. 

Sorry. I'll try to get better.
Pues, I love you. Sorry there isn't much more to this email. Hopefully the pictures make up for it.

Con amor,
Hermana Escalante

Christmas breakfast!
Ho ho ho!

Hermana Ruiz & Me

Hermanas y Sisters

The Mission Motto!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the Mission Field!

Wow, Ha-ha Hi Mama and Everyone!

What a great email! You didn't tell me that Chris got a job! WOO HOO!! Congrats to him!! :D
Last I heard he was still applying, so that's so great! When is he going to write me? Maybe I'll shoot him an email today since we have a little more time (but not much). I love hearing about the family and am sad I couldn't be a part of the wonderful family dinner the other night, but I guess not too sad, because I know I'm where I need to be. I miss my nieces and nephews! Pictures please?

So you didn't tell me your show is all the way up in Logan! Wow, what a drive! How did you get pulled into that? It sounds pretty great though. Will there be a video recording of it? I would love to watch it when I get home. You're such a star mama!

I didn't hear anything about the pants thing. I mean, we did have a few women wearing pants at church, but I think only some less actives and our investigator. It wasn't a political statement or anything.

How long will M, J, and D be in town? Will they be around to Skype? Speaking of, I'll be Skyping from a member's home. We don't have a set time yet, but I believe it will be in the evening, maybe around 6? So I think that's 7 your time. I'll probably call you on the phone to let you know I'm ready and then call on Skype, but we'll see. I told Padre to call you because he and Susan will be coming over. I think the only other person I invited over was Kimi but I think she'll be at her parent's house, so I don't think you should be expecting anyone else.

I hope you get all of your grading done soon so you can enjoy your break! I was wondering if I was ever going to get a plaque. I want to use one of the pictures in the red blouse, not the blue one that I sent in with my papers. My scripture is Mosiah 4:15. I did know about the boundaries. I rode in President Cook's car on the way back from the airport and he was telling us all about the boundary changes and things like that. Fun stuff.

Man, there's so much to tell, and yet, I feel like I don't have a lot to say. The field has been...different so far. Good, but different. My companion is Hermana Ruiz. She is from TX (parents from Mexico) and has been out a year. We live with the English sisters - Sister Workoff and Sister Halling. They are all pretty sweet, although I think Sister Workoff doesn't like me. I'm not really sure why, but I don't mind too much because we hardly see them. Our area is pretty big. I'm in the Temecula area and we cover half the stake and the Spanish Elders cover the other half. We drive a lot from place to place with takes time and I feel like we could maybe plan out and use our time a bit more productively, but at least we're working and I am learning every day. I still feel fairly uncomfortable approaching and talking to random strangers, but Hermana Ruiz is great at it and helping me out.

We contact in both English and Spanish and then just give any English referrals to the English missionaries - though we get a lot more Spanish contacts than English because white people are crabby and don't like to talk to us. Latinos are so great though! Even if they don't care and completely disagree with you, they'll still be kind and talk with you for a bit. The other day we found a woman named Maria (every other woman out here is named Maria) and she invited us in. She didn't agree with anything we had to say (hard-core Catholic) and was against things like the Book of Mormon and Prophets, but at the end she still said she would read and that we could come back and gave us hugs and kisses. Ha-ha, I love these people. You meet someone for the first time and they hug and kiss you, it's great! (Not the men though, don't worry. We follow the rules.) We are in a pretty ritzy area but there are some lower-class areas (those are the best for finding), but all of it is pretty great.

I wish we would do a little bit better job on some things like planning, goals, and shorter/more focused lessons, but seeing as I'm still learning and I don't really know how to fix the problem, I'm just trying to do my best with what we have. The rules are pretty strict here. I can't give out my apt address to ANYONE, I mean anyone (yes, even you mama). SUPER against the rules. We have really strict cleaning checks/guidelines, and we have to run every morning for 30 minutes (no exceptions period, even if you're sick, unless it's diarrhea and you can't be far from a toilet). I hated running a week ago, and now I really look forward to it in the morning. Crazy, I know. Our area is really pretty. I haven't really taken any pictures yet - I should probably start that.

Hmmm, what else? Studies are really long. Every morning we study for 4 hours (usually - Sunday and Tuesday are a little shorter). It will go down to 3 after my 12-week training, well actually 11-week because next transfer is a short transfer - only 5 weeks. Not sure why. I'll be going on exchanges soon (which makes me nervous) but it should be a good learning experience. I'll be going to Escondido, which is apparently the best area in the mission, so that should be cool. My Spanish is actually coming along fairly well, though I still have a hard time with those who speak very fast (most everyone it seems like) and I get frustrated with the grammar. I have faith that the Lord is helping though, and it seems to get a little easier every day.

The branch here is pretty great. It's small, but the members are really involved and really loving. We're taken care of pretty well and we're working with the Ward Council to get the members more involved in the work. They had an awesome Nativity activity last weekend (open to the public) and it was legit. This Friday we'll be having a branch dinner (plus friends of members - hopefully getting them interested) and program. We'll be running a table with LdMs (Libros de Mormón) and answering non-member's questions. Should be fun. Christmas eve I think we'll be at a member’s (not sure why - we should be proselyting) and Christmas day we'll be having a mission conference.

Well, I'm running low and on time, and I'm kind of running out of things to say, to be honest. Everything is so new to me, so hopefully next week's letter will be more interesting. I LOVE YOU MAMA! I'm so stoked to talk to you on Christmas! LOVE YOU!

Con amor,
Hermana Escalante

P.S. Oh yeah, we do have 2 investigators right now. Maria P. and Magali. I'm not sure how quickly they'll progress because they both have some concerns, but hopefully we can work those out soon. Appreciate all of your prayers! <3

P.P.S. I can't even tell I'm in Cali; it has been so rainy and cold. Super lame! L


Saturday, December 8, 2012

8 de Diciembre

3 dias mas. Wow! Can you people believe it? Me either. Sadly, I have very little time to email today, but I'll try to share some of the wonderful things from this week. 

Yesterday we had In-Field Orientation all day (which is why we have p-day on a Sat. this week) and it was awesome. Long, but awesome. All day we were in workshops and meetings. Singing, discussing, praying, more singing, learning, practicing, taking notes singing, and teaching all day. It was great! :D I think they should change the day to "Object Lesson Day" because we were learning about everything you need to know in the mission field through different object lessons - strange, but awesome. We learned about Finding People, Working with Members/Ward Council, Planning and Goal Setting, Faith and Miracles, and... I can't remember all of the classes, but they were pretty great. 

Other good news! Elder Gardner (in my district) hadn't heard anything about his Visa (for Argentina) so we were really worried he would be stuck here in the MTC Referral Center for a while, but yesterday he went up to SLC to meet with the consulate and he should be getting his visa in the next month or two. Also, he has a reassignment until then and will be leaving for Fresno, CA on Wednesday! Yay! We're all very excited and happy that he won't be stuck here for the next 6 months answering phones. 

It's amazing how much I've come to love my district. We are all so tight! We're planning a waffle party for April 2015, and are going to try to stay in contact during our missions with writing. They are some amazing missionaries. True servants of the Lord, and are great examples to me. This work is so great. I'm so excited to get out to CA and start preaching the gospel. 

Teaching was pretty good this week, but our teachers have been really challenging and trying to stretch us a lot more. We contacted a girl named "Sarah" this week who was very kind and very strong in her beliefs with a strong testimony of God and the Bible and of her pastor. We tried to share with her a little bit of our message and she completely shut us down, wanting nothing to do with any book other than the bible. It was challenging, but we finally got a return appointment to talk to her about it a little more. One of the hard things to learn (which I'm sure I won't actually learn until I get out in the field and start teaching real people) is to find the balance between preaching the gospel to all - finding people's doubts and filling them with the gospel, and respecting people's agency. It's a fine line, but I'm sure it will come.

Another thing I've been working on (and am continuing to work on) is developing Charity - by that I mean, seeing everyone I meet as God sees them, as a precious child of God. This surely isn't something that I will master quickly, but that will take time. Thankfully, the Lord is patient with us J

I'm almost out of time. The week has been good, nothing too exciting. Oh, the Devotional this week was Elder and Sister Evans from the 70 - pretty amazing. I just want to let everyone know that the Book of Mormon is one amazing book. I feel like I'm reading it clearly for the first time - with spiritual glasses on or something. I am finding and seeing so much more than I ever had before. Read it. Pray to understand it more and to see how it applies to you and your life personally, because I promise it does. It is a book that was written by revelation, translated by revelation, and as you read it you can receive revelation. It is a book of revelation

Welp, out of time. I leave for Carlsbad on Tuesday. I have to be at the Travel Office by 5:00am with H. Carlson - we're going to the airport together as she'll be flying to Texas, but H. Dudley will be taking a bus up to SLC at 8:00am which is sad.
L  I'll miss them mucho, but we're all so stoked for the field and ready to share the gospel! Hopefully my Spanish will come along a little better in CA, but I have seen how much my Spanish has improved and it's pretty amazing. This work is pretty amazing.
Hasta proxima semana! Les quiero much!
Con amor,
Hermana Alyssa Escalante

P.S. We have had NO time this week, so I apologize to the several people I have not written back yet (sorry grandma and grandpa! I still love you and appreciate your letters! I'll write soon).


Friday, November 30, 2012

11 Days and Counting!

Wow! Can you believe it?! 11 days! Neither can I. This whole experience has been amazing and hard and ridiculous and wonderful. My testimony has grown, so if nothing else, it has been worth it. However, it has been so much more than that. I am so excited (and freaking nervous) to get into the field and start in His work. Wow. Anyway, hi! It has been a crazy, rushed day, so I'm sorry if this turns out to be really disorganized and random. We'll see what we get out of this. Also, sorry again to many of you who I did not write back (again! - sorry) this week. Time is crazy short here. I promise to try to get caught up next week! Know that I still love you. Ok, here we go for real...

I guess I'll start off with some busy news. Hermana Liu is better (did I mention she was sick last week?). Hermana Dudely went to the medical center today to get some sort of infected blister on her toe cut off. Fun stuff! She has been with Hermana Liu all day so Hermana Carlson and I don't really know how she's doing at this point. Hopefully all is well :) I am feeling better as well, though I still have a rough cough that I am trying to get over. 

We have received our travel plans!! Woo hoo! Everyone in our room (except Hermana Liu - poor thing) will be heading out the same day. We all leave on the 11th, just different times. I need to report to the travel office at 5:00am and will be traveling with 11 other missionaries who are going to my mission! How exciting! I believe most of them are English-speaking Elders, but I know at least 2 of them are Spanish-speaking sisters, as I met them on Wednesday. 

Wednesday! We got to be hosts! It was super fun! We helped with the new arrivals, getting them to their rooms, helping them pick up their new books, getting them settled in their classroom, etc. Fun stuff! Hopefully we'll get to do it again next week (I loved it! - super fun), but we'll see. Hmm, what else. Well, I might as well get it over with. Here's the story from this week.

So we have been pretty happy with our lessons as of late. They definitely haven't been perfect, but they have been more consistent and getting better. I guess God decided we needed some humbling. Yesterday we taught "Alejandro" (Hermana Wheeler) and to be honest, it was awful. We're not really sure what all happened, but we know that we did not sufficiently represent Jesus Christ and teach simple doctrine. We felt sick afterwards, like we were the worst missionaries ever, and that we could never do this! Thankfully, more blessings were to come. 

It just happened to work out that in class with Hermana Ayala that evening (she is so amazing - the best teacher ever) that we were the only ones in class (for the last half, at least). Elder Murdock y Elder Clingo had Zone Leadership meetings and Elder Moss y Elder Gardner were on "watch" with a sick Elder in our zone. She cancelled everything she had planned and just worked with us on what we needed. We told her all about Alejandro and our lesson and she worked with us as if she were Alejandro, as well as our teacher, helping us along and yet pushing us so much. Wow! She is awesome. She is such a blessing for me. We felt the spirit, understood what we need to know, feel, and do as missionaries and what our investigators need. It was an amazing learning experience that was difficult and so needed. We were all crying and laughing and I'm not really sure why. I just know that I will be a better missionary and a better person because of Hermana Ayala, as well as my companions. Being in a trio is hard, but I feel this experience is exactly what I needed. I know God answers my prayers, even when it's not in the way I would like (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We taught in class the other day, NOT in our companions. It was strange. We actually switched it up and everything was with someone new, and I ended up teaching with Elder Moss (its weird teaching with an Elder...). It turned out great though! Wow, it is soooo much easier to teach in a duo. We taught the Plan of Salvation (which is the hardest lesson for me to teach - especially the Spanish with it), but it actually went really well! I'm so excited to get out in the field, to meet people, to preach the Gospel, and be the missionary the Lord wants me to be.

Learning to speak Spanish is hard, but I've realized I'm also learning how to speak "Spiritual-ese", as one missionary called it. Haha, the name makes me laugh, but it's so true. Learning to not speak what you want to say, but what the Spirit wants you to say. It is a whole new experience for me, and I'm still learning, but I love it.
My goal in my mission, and also in life, is to not just "Endure to the End" (2 Nephi 31), but Progess to the end! I want to continue to learn and grow everyday! Sometimes it's hard and I hold myself back from progressing because of my pride and other weaknesses, but little by little, we progress (2 Nephi 28:30).

Oh yeah! Well, I'm out of time, but a few of you have asked me what I might want for Christmas. I will post that list next week, along with my new address in the field.

Ok, I'm literally out of time! The church is true! I love you all!
Love, Hermana Escalante

P.S. How does time fly so fast?!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Feliz Dia de Gracias! Wow, there is so much to say and so little time! Like always. First off, sorry to those who I didn't have time to write back to today. I am not feeling super great so I slept most of my P-day and didn't have a lot of time to write letters. So people such as Kimi, Sam/Krista, Grandma/Grandpa, etc., I apologize and will be sure to write to you next week :)

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I know I did. This has been a very great week, but to be honest, with Thanksgiving having been so wonderful, I really can't remember all that much from the rest of the week. It's all a blur in comparison to how great Thursday was! Where to begin? This was probably the best Thanksgiving I've had, even though I was trapped here at the MTC, it really was wonderful. After breakfast we all lined up for the morning devotional. We got in line around 7:45am, though the devotional wasn't to start until 10am. We all knew we were going to be hearing from one of the 12 apostles, so it was crazier than Black Friday at Walmart, I'm sure. There were even announcements before we were allowed in to be sure no one was trampled...they were serious. Even lining up more than 2 hours early, we didn't get the best of seats, but they were good enough. It was pretty exciting/amazing/spiritual when Elder Jeffery R. Holland and his family walked in. Wow. You can't even believe the spirit felt among 2,500 missionaries standing and being completely silent as an apostle of the Lord walks in, especially one so beloved as Elder Holland. It was amazing. His family put on an amazing program for us and of course the best part was hearing from him at the end. Here is just a tiny portion of all the notes I was able to jot down:
·         We are Christ's family. That is why He died for us. He wants to live with us again. He loves us so much.
·         You do not need a vision to know - don't be a "doubting Thomas"
·         To be of real service to your Father in Heaven, you must have a deep testimony and conviction of both Christ and of the Book of Mormon. Always turn to Christ and to the Book of Mormon.
·         Missionary work is not just about bringing the gospel to God's children, but we are literally preparing for the coming of the Messiah
·         This truly is the greatest dispensation. God touches the earth through His prophets and that is what He did through Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith taught us more about the living Christ than any other man in the history of written language, and he did it in just 38 years.
·         God knows us by name. Names are so important to Him. Never doubt that He knows you.
·         D&C 133:44-53 (this is amazing - everyone should read it) We have been carried by the Lord.
I have so much more I want to share...but so little time :(

After the devotional we had a great Thanksgiving lunch, then a special Thanksgiving program, some free time outside, then a Service program, then a sack-lunch dinner in our rooms, then a Service project in the Cafeteria, followed by a "Special Program". Lots of programs, lots of sitting, but so much of the spirit and so wonderful! Especially because it was so different than our regular schedule and having a break after 6 weeks of the same thing was really nice. The Thanksgiving program was sort of ridiculous, with a skit about the Native Americans and the Pilgrims as well as singing, conversion stories, and more singing! Lots of fun. We spent our free time going on a walk as a district, and reading out loud in Spanish from the Book of Mormon, and of course, taking lots of pictures. Hopefully I'll have time to send them next week. The Service Program was really powerful, showing what we were to be doing for our service project that evening, about the people in Mali it was going towards, and about how service is the way we worship God, as well as come closer together with our fellowman. It was very powerful. The Service project was soooo great! I loved it. We assembled education and health kits for children in Mali and it was so great! The spirit I felt serving alongside so many other missionaries on the day of thanksgiving was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. There is so much to be thankful for, and what better way to show thanks by serving others. I want to make it a tradition to always find some sort of service to be involved in on Thanksgiving day. I think there is no better way to spend a day of thanks. For the "Special Program", we ended up watching a movie with popcorn for everyone! It was a wonderful surprise and we were all very excited. We watched 17 Miracles, which I had never seen, but wow, it's really great. If you haven't seen it, you should. I definitely bawled. That's ok though, everyone else was crying too :)

It was such a good day. It's been a great week too. We haven't taught a lot this week, but our investigators are progressing pretty well. My Spanish is improving (though I have so far to go) and our teaching is improving. I am learning how to recognize and respond to the Holy Ghost always, and not just when it is felt very strongly for a few brief moments. Following the spirit every moment of your mission is essential for success, and if you want it to be the Lord's mission, and not your own, which is exactly what I want.  We must remember to delight, ponder, and continue (2 Nephi 4:15-16). Revelation is real. We can know the mysteries of God, all it requires is all of our faith and love (Jacob 4:48). In the lyrics Come Thou Fount (what we sang in choir this week), it uses the word "fetter", like what you do to a bird so it won't fly away. My heart often wanders, and I want so badly to fetter my heart to the Lord. I know this work is real and this gospel is as "real life" as it ever gets.

Con Amor,
Hermana Alyssa Escalante