Write to Alyssa at:

Mission Address:
Sister Alyssa Nicole Escalante

California Carlsbad Mission

451 W Bobier Dr

Vista, CA 92083

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2 Weeks Complete ... and Counting!

Wow, these P-days are so rushed. I have so much to say and so little time. I don't even remember what I said last week, so hopefully this isn't full of repeats. Here we go...

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion, though I'd say it was much better than last week (not that last week was bad, this week has just been good). We have two "progressing investigators" (who are really our teachers) named Maria and Juan. We weren't going anywhere with Maria for the first few lessons, but last night went great! And she now has a "baptismal date". We are learning how to use our time wisely and be organized, for example, using Teaching Records, doing Companionship Inventory, and using our planners more effectively. It's a lot, but it's great. I have so far to go, but the picture is becoming clearer every day.

We are busy everyday as usual, but it's fun stuff. Tonight we have something called TRC, but we're not really sure what it is because we've never done it before. I guess it's when volunteer members come in and you teach them but I guess they're just acting like regular members, not investigators and I have no idea what we're supposed to be teaching them...so we'll see how it goes. Sundays are pretty cool; did I mention those last night? We have Sacrament Meeting in our individual branches (zones) but Relief Society is all the Sisters together in the gym. Our speakers so far have been Sister Linda Burton and Sister Ann M. Dibb, so if you know who those people are, you'll realize that those are some pretty cool R.S. speakers. We have been going to choir twice a week and singing in the devotionals every Tuesday. I've never enjoyed choir that much, but these practices are like mini-institute classes and they're so spiritual! I love it. We also sound fantastic. So far we've sung Consider The Lilies and This Is The Christ - two of my favorite songs. Amazing. Also, our devotionals twice a week are pretty amazing. We have members of the 70 and other high-up people come. They are always so spiritual. It's like I'm constantly being filled with the Spirit. It's awesome.

Our old roommates have left for the field, so we got a new roommate this week. She is in our zone, but is a "Solo Sister" in another district. She is a bit shy and I think a little uncomfortable being solo, but she's usually with us when she's not with her Elders. She seems to like us so far, and we quite like her. Her name is Hermana Liu and is from Roy, UT. Her Elders lost her yesterday though, which was kind of ridiculous. She just went back to the room though until the next activity, so all was well. I guess I'm technically her assigned companion when she's not with her Elders, so I guess I sort of have 3 companions now. Sort of ridiculous, but more to love :) I'll still teach with my companions in a trio, but maybe once or twice teach with her, just so she can see what it's like to teach with a sister instead of just elders.

Oh! Fun story! So yesterday we had just finished teaching "Juan" (our teacher, Hermano Wheeler) and were doing an evaluation of our teaching in the classroom. We were in there by ourselves because the elders in our district had gone right after us to teach Juan. Anyway, we were a little stressed because although Juan was keeping some of his commitments and making a little progress, we still didn't feel like we were teaching effectively or with the spirit. We were evaluation and not knowing what to do and feeling frustrated. So, side note, we have these things called "Coaching Missionary Study" (CMS) when we meet with Zone Teachers and they help us to teach more effectively. It was not CMS time, but we were wishing it were. Just as we were getting really frustrated, we started saying things like "I wish Hermano Painter (our favorite zone teacher) was here!" "Is there some button we can just press to page him or something?" "Let's go look for him. Is he even here?" "I wish Hermano Painter was here to help us!" Etc., etc. Well, what do you know. In that moment, a quiet tap on the door and in walks Hermano Painter. His face was priceless as we all burst into laughter with some squeals of surprise. He was quite confused, as he was just stopping by to say hello. Well, he only had 5 minutes to talk with us, and I don't know if it was all that helpful, but it was an immediate answer to our prayers and we felt so blessed and loved. It was a pretty funny/awesome experience.

Hmmm, what else? I love my companions. I think I said this last week, but we're still working on teaching together, but besides that we get along great. I really do just love them. We were worried that when the new sister came they would split us up, so we were quite relieved when we were able to stay together. A lot of our zone is leaving next week, which is sad, but we're excited for them to get out into the field! I am still struggling with my Spanish, but I try not to compare myself to the rest of my district and instead see how much I've learned in two weeks. I am also trying to be more diligent in my personal language study and throughout the rest of the day with specific goals to help me learn more quickly. I wouldn't be too worried about it, as I know I will pick it up in the field, but it is extremely hindering during lessons when you can't say what you want to say and you have to keep asking your investigator to slow down and repeat. I am learning though, and I have definitely improved, so I am staying focused on the positive.

I've seen a few people around campus that I know. Elder Carson Nuttall was here for a few weeks, but I think he just left. I'm not sure. I've seen Joni Lawrence and Chrissy Keller and Jessica Baird (from my ward), as well as some other random girls from high school. I have yet to see Gloria though! She is my good friend who works at the bookstore. I go there all the time to see if she's there, but I've always "just missed her". Hopefully I'll see her soon though. My first day I found Cinnamon Teddy Grahams (MY FAVORITE!) in my book bag that I'm pretty sure was assembled by here. She's a sweetheart, so hopefully I'll be able to thank her in person one of these days.

Well, I'm out of time again. This half hour always goes by so fast.
I know with all my heart the Gospel is true. If you're not sure, you're doubting, or you have no idea, do as Moroni says. Read, pray, ask, receive an answer. But when you receive that answer, act. Faith is an action word, as is hope. It does not mean to just sit and believe and wait, but to DO! I am coming to know and love my Savior more every day.
Con Amor,
Hermana Escalante

P.S. Because all we do is sit in class, go eat, come back and sit some more, eat, sit as we teach, eat...etc., it feels like all we do is eat here! It's ridiculous!

Friday, October 19, 2012

First Official P-Day

Hola amigos y mi familia,

I've made it to my first, official P-day! Last week we had a "half P-day" (only 3 hours) just to get some laundry done, so today has been heaven. Our branch has "Temple Time" at 6:30, so we have to get up an hour earlier than usually. It's been great though. Joni Lawrence (my relief Society Pres. from the Single's Ward) was in our session this morning, so it was great to see her. I also got to stop by and say hi to Bishop Jensen. It has been a social day :) I also was able to enjoy a nap, which I have been greatly needing for the past week and a half. It was so nice!

So a little more about the MTC. Every hour of every day is scheduled, so as you can expect, it's fairly exhausting, though we are adjusting to our schedule. The first few days were extremely overwhelming, and now it just seems normal. Our district is very small, only 5 people, which we all enjoy. There are only 2 companionships. The Elders and my trio. Yep, I'm in a trio. I've heard bad things about trios, and I can see the difficultly in them, but I love my companions. They are so wonderful. We get along great and I feel very blessed to be with these 2 ladies. Hermana Carlson is from Idaho and will be serving in the Texas, Houston South mission, and Hermana Dudely is from Virginia, serving in the Salt Lake City West mission. Usually companionships go to the same areas, but everyone is my district is different because we are an unusual group. We are an intermediate district and our branch is a mix of intermediate and advanced. I just met our Branch President last night, as they have been out of town, but he seems pretty great. Hmm, what else. My mother requested I talk more about my schedule and daily life here at the MTC, but I'm not really sure what to talk about. We have things like Gym Time and Personal Study and Language Study and TALL Time (TALL is the computer language program we use) but it's all at different times everyday.

Our teacher was Hermano Walton, but because we are a strange district, things have been jumbled around a lot and now we have two teachers: Hermano Wheeler and Hermana Ayala. We all miss Hermano Walton, but Hermano Wheeler is great. Though the rest of my district quite likes Hermana Ayala, I am having a hard time warming up to her and her teaching style. Hopefully my attitude changes fairly soon, as I feel that it definitely takes the spirit away when I have negative feelings toward my teacher. I have been struggling a bit in class, as the other 4 missionaries in my district are fantastic at Spanish. I am actually pretty happy with myself and impressed with how well my Spanish is coming along, but the truth is, I never learned all the grammar and technicalities in school like they did. Things that are review for them are definitely new to me, so I feel a bit behind. I was having a pretty rough time with it, but after talking with my Branch President last night, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic. I do have to work harder than the others, but it doesn't mean I can't do it. I'm determined to work harder so I won't be pulling them back. I also plan to take advantage of the private tutoring they have available...though I'm still trying to figure out when I'm able to do that.

There are so many things we have to get done in our "spare time" that we don't have, it can definitely be overwhelming. Things like, memorize the first vision in Spanish, memorize the baptismal invitation in Spanish, write a talk (every week) in Spanish, as well as a mini-lesson in Spanish, and also have ready Spiritual thoughts in case you have to share at random. Ugh, it is a lot, but it is possible. How? I'm not sure yet, but I'm working on figuring that out.

We have actually been part of a pilot program, so our training has been different. Because of the new announcement, missionaries are going to be spending less time in the MTC starting January. In order to be prepared for this transition, they have been trying out different methods with different districts. Usually, missionaries are teaching the first lesson in their new language within 3 days of arriving at the MTC. We, too, were teaching the first lesson by Friday, but this time in English. Also, usually the missionaries start off with a "progressing investigator", so the next time they see that person, they teach the second, and third, and so on. We, however, went back the next day, to the same investigator, and taught the same lesson again, as if it was the first time. We did so five times. Oh, and it was all in English. Of course we were encouraged to use Spanish when we felt comfortable, but the goal was not Spanish, and in fact, they did not want it to be an obstacle to our teaching and for us teaching by the Spirit. They also filmed us every time, including our evaluations afterwards and our 5 min. follow-ups with the investigator the "next day" (but it was really like 2 minutes later). It has been really great...but now that we're done with that little project, we are back on regular schedule, I guess.

We have a progressing investigator and it's only in Spanish. Our teacher is actually our investigator this time, which I don't like. She teaches us how to teach (in all Spanish so I don't get it all) and then she goes into another room and we have to go knock on the door as if she's a real investigator. These experiences are supposed to be as real as possible so that we can have the experience, but it's really hard for me, knowing that she is my teacher, and as soon as we're done, we'll go back in the class with her and she'll tell us what we did wrong, what to do better, etc. I'm having a hard time with it, but I'm sure I'll adjust.

I only have a minute left (they're really strict on email time), but I love my district, I adore my companions, and my Zone Leaders are hilarious. It's been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but I know I'm in the right place. I love my Savior so much, and I know He is mindful of me. This Gospel is real and this is the restored church. I'm coming to know that more and more each day. It's amazing the spirit that is felt here. It's impossible for one's testimony not to grow, for one to come closer to God.

I love you all. Write me. Use DearElder.com! It's easy and fast and free! Do it!

Con amor,
Hermana Escalante

Thursday, October 18, 2012

13 de Octubre

Querida Mamita,
Hoy dia es “P-day.” Pero tenemos solo un medio dia esta semana. Next week we will be able to email, so expect to hear from me on Friday. Aside from being really tired & overwhelmed, things are going well. I feel like I’ve been here much longer than 3 days.
I might have already said this in my last letter, but the days in the MTC are so very long. I feel like they go on forever. However, I also feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Thankfully, I was able to sleep last night. My first night I only slept an hour Y the 2nd night I got maybe 4 or 5 hours. Last night I got a good 7 hours but I seem to be much more tired today. I wish to take a nap very much, but you don’t do that here (unless you’re sick).
The MTC is hard mom, it really is. And to be honest, I have little-to-no faith in myself to be able to do this & do this well. The nice thing is though, that I do have faith in the Lord continuing His work. If I am obedient, He won’t let my flaws and imperfections get in the way of gathering His sheep. I just need to be diligent & faithful.
How is home? How is work/classes? Please send me the following items (when you can – no rush) Rice Krispies treats, the family picture, a lingerie bag (for laundry), dark nylons (mine got ruined already), and a hoodie. I think my green pull-over sweater is in my laundry basket in my room.
Please write me more…it’s really comforting to receive letters. It helps one feel loved during this extremely overwhelming time.
I love you,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First Letter from the MTC!

11 de Octubre, 2012

¡Hola Mamita!

¡Te extraño! Lo siento, quiero escríbete in puro español, pero no puedo ya. Siento que mi español es un poco mejor, pero tengo mucho aprender. Me gusto mis compañeras. Si, tengo dos compañeras. Estoy en un “trio,” Mis compañeras son Hermana Carlson (de Idaho) y Hermana Dudely (de Virginia). Nos roomates son comidico… pero un poco fuerte (as in loud, not strong). El MTC es difícil, es overwhelming, y es diferente que I imagined. – Ensenamos nos primera lección en la mañana. Estoy muy nervioso, pero tengo fe que voy a esta bien.

Well, enough Spanish. I’ve only been here a day and a half, but it feels like much longer. The days are packed and I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Yesterday, I was feeling so joyful & full of love – today was a little more challenging. Well, you know me, I don’t sleep when I get stressed. I tried but didn’t fall asleep until around 5 am & then had crazy dreams until I got up at 6:30. I was pretty grumpy, tired, and feeling discouraged all morning. I was even disliking my companions. Thankfully we had gym time aroun 10:15 & I felt much better after some yoga & cardio. Hermana Dudely didn’t sleep well either.

Oh! My zone leaders are hilarious. We had a meeting with them today & our district could not stop laughing for about 20 minutes. I’m sure the meetings could have been more productive but it was good. Our district is very small, only 5 people (2 companionships). Us and Elder Moss & Elder Gardner.

I think I got a package from you today (did you send me a package?), but by the time I got the notification to pick it up the mailroom was closed. ☹ I’ll have to see tomorrow.

Well, lights out. I’ll email next week. I love you so much Mama! Please pray for me.

Con Amor,
Hermana Escalante

P.S. ¡Te quiero! ¡Mucho!
P.P.S. The food is good ☺

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Pic from the MTC!

This was posted on Facebook last night. The blonde next to Hermana Escalante is an MTC instructor who was Alyssa's visiting teacher in her Orem singles ward. She posted it - Good stuff!

The New Missionary!

Hermana Escalante at Dinner with Family
Great food and great family!
Leaving for the MTC
Chris and Ariana sending me off!
Kimi & me
Susan & me
At the MTC!
Ready for the Adventure

Dad & me
Mom & me
One last hug!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tomorrow is the big day!

My Missionary Commission

by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth.
By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him--to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me.
My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine.
My Commission is to do what He wants done; To say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous Latter-day work.
How great is my calling!

Well, tonight I will be set apart as a full time missionary. It's very exciting, but also a little nerve-racking. I'm still not packed, nor do I feel "ready", but I probably won't feel that way until I'm six months in. 
Thanks for everyone who came to my farewell talk and also to the farewell party last night. I'm grateful to have so many friends, family, and loved ones in my life. You mean a lot to me. 
I want everyone to know that I love my Savior and I am excited to share His gospel. I want to teach people that they are children of God, that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them, and that they can return to His presence by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. We accept our Savior through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end full of faith and love. 
Yo se que Jesuchristo se mi Salvador. Los amo a todos ustedes.
Con cariño y amor,
Hermana Escalante 

P.s. Write me!