Write to Alyssa at:

Mission Address:
Sister Alyssa Nicole Escalante

California Carlsbad Mission

451 W Bobier Dr

Vista, CA 92083

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Only 3.5 weeks left!

Buenos tardes mi familia y mis amigos,

Well, let's start off with some fun facts from this week. Those sisters who randomly showed up in our room last week moved out a few days later. We now have two new Advanced Sisters that just moved in on Wednesday. They are with the new district in our zone. One is from Australia, and the other from No. California and they are both going to SLC West mission (same as Hermana Dudley!) - fun stuff! We haven't been able to get to know them too well yet, as the past 2 days have been a little crazy, but they seem great so far. Why has it been so crazy, you ask? I guess after they finished construction on the 4th floor (that's why we got those random girls from the 4th floor last week), they decided that everyone on 3rd floor had better move up to 4th so they can do construction on 3rd as well. Quite obnoxious, if you ask me. Anyway, we were supposed to move this morning, but we had Temple Time this morning and we really didn't want to give it up. We ended up moving last night, but by the time we got out of class and exchanged keys it was past 9:00. We had to completely clean out our old room, including bedding. It was sucha  pain. We didn't end up getting lights out until 11:15! I felt like such a rebel, but it was the only time we had to move and it was necessary. We have really had to be patient with everything they've been making us do. Oh well, life goes on.
Spanish is still difficult, but I'm finally starting to get some of the hard grammar, like Subjuntive and Conditional. I can't really fluently speak it yet (it takes me so long to figure out what I want to say in my head), but I can understand it and I know how it works! Yay! Teaching has been going fairly well, though we are still trying to be able to teach a short lesson - we just talk too much! Hermano Wheeler (one of our classroom teachers) was being our new investigator Alejandro (first lesson actually) and had apparently set his phone at 20 minutes to pretend to ring. He then continued to kick us out of his house because I apparently had to get somewhere important. He did this to help us with our timing, but it was still prettyfrustrating. Fun stuff though, it's all part of the learning experience. Hmm, what else this week? The two elders in our class who aren't really in our district just got called to be Zone Leaders (in their zone, not ours) so we won't be seeing them as much during studies and things like that, but they'll still be in class with us. That's good news because we like them :) they're great missionaries.
Elder and Sister Foster (from the 70) were our Tuesday Devotional - they were great. They talked a lot about relying on Christ, and what consecration really means. Elder Foster shared the story of Jared Carter and John Tanner. Wow! I can't believe I had never heard the story of John Tanner before! Talk about dedication to the church, the building up of Zion, and to the will of the Lord. If you don't know his story, go look it up! It's probably on LDS.org somewhere. I know there is a movie (maybe 20-30 min.) on his life in the church. It is very powerful. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said "Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory." I completely agree. I still feel like I don't completely understand the law of Consecration, but I know that it is the greatest way we can be blessed, in this life and in the life to come. This gospel is real, God is real, His love for us is real, and so our love for him should be as well.
Sunday evening we were able to watch a recording of a talk that Elder Holland gave here at the MTC called "Missions Are Forever". Wow, talk about powerful! That man just fills you with the spirit and with guilt of how worthless you are as a missionary, and also gives you such hopes and desires to be so much more! All I have to say is that you can change. You can help other people change. But it is not easy. It is never easy. Why should it be easy when it was never easy for Him? Salvation is not a cheap experience.
Well, I'm here to say that if you're thinking about going on a mission, you should. I doubt many people who read my blog are ones who are considering, but there might be a few. This work is real and is as true as it gets. It's hard on a mission, but the work needs to be done. You will grow spiritually and will gain a deeper understanding of this gospel, what it is, and what it means to you. I look forwarding to the field, which I know is so ready for the harvest! Serving a mission is not about going and doing good stuff for 18-24 months, it's about bringing people salvation. It is nothing less than that.
I love this gospel and I love my Savior. I am grateful for His willingness to help me, despite all of my faults and weaknesses. If you're not sure of any of these things, cry unto God and He will tell you. He loves you. I promise you that. As do I.

Con todo mi amor y corazón,
Hermana Escalante  

P.s.Happy Thanksgiving next week!

Friday, November 9, 2012

9 de Noviembre

Buenos Tardes! (O Dias or Noches - whenever you read this)

Well, it's been a fast week! I'm not really sure why, but this week has definitely gone by the fastest. I feel like it's only been a day since I last wrote, so I'm not sure if I have much to say.
They have been painting our classrooms in this building, so we were temporarily moved upstairs for a few days, but we're back in our room now. The downside was that we had to take down all of our classroom decorations and someone (probably one of the janitors or painters) threw them all away. The upside? Redecorate! Jaja (Haha), we got to spend an entire class (three hours) redecorating - putting up pictures, scriptures, assignment board, quotes, etc. Quite fun J

They also had some problems with the 4th floor in our dorms so on Saturday we walked into our room to find suitcases on the floor. We had no idea whose they were or why they were there. Usually when you have new arrivals they warn you a few days before so that you can prep the room and be ready to welcome them. Plus, new arrivals are on Wednesdays, so we were a bit confused. We had two girls from the 4th floor unexpectedly show up, but they only lasted a few days. One of the girls was leaving for Peru in two days and the other moved in with her newly assigned companion after she left. It was fairly random, but fun to have some new faces for a few days. We also received a notice today that we will be receiving two "fresh" sisters on Wednesday, so that's always exciting! Wow, lots of new changes.

Also, we have two new elders in our class. Usually you just have class with your district, but these two Elders were the only one's left in their district after the rest of the missionaries left (phase missionaries - so they spent two or three weeks here and then the rest of the time in an MTC in South America). We thought they were going to be moved into our district/zone, but I guess they are still their own district in the original zone, but now have class with us. Oh yes, their names are Elder Clingo and Elder Murdock. They are pretty fun and we quite enjoy having them in our class. Hermana Carlson knows Elder Murdock from school, so that's kind of fun.

We have started teaching each other as investigators this week. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it, but I quite like it. Before, we had only taught our teachers as investigators (como Tomico, Juan, Maria, y Junior), but now we have developed our own investigators and are being taught by each other. Everyone takes on someone that they know who is a non-member or a less-active and acts, questions, and responds like their friend would. It's a new challenge on both ends, but pretty fun. We taught Elder Murdock this week as "Guillermo" - an atheist Korean college student, and his drugged our roommate (Elder Clingo) "Beto". It was pretty fun and great experience. I acted as one of my Chinese friends who doesn't know much about God as Elder Gardner and Elder Moss taught us.

We actually had some disappointment this week as our investigator Juan (Hermano Wheeler) told us that he was pretty busy and would "call us" to see if we could come back. Basically that means he's not all that interested in our message anymore. Well, it's a learning experience. We know we have to be better at applying to his personal needs, as opposed to just teaching the gospel. Things with Maria (Hermana Ayala) are going fairly well though as we are preparing her for "baptism."

Choir was pretty awesome this week (always super spiritual, like an institute class or something) as we sang a primary hymn I had never heard called "Jesus is my Shepherd". We all fell in love with it and have been singing it all week. Also, since it was Fast Sunday, instead of having Priesthood and R.S., we have a Missionary Conference. We heard from all the MTC presidency and one of the Branch Presidents. It was really good and really powerful and packed with good stuff. Two hours of spiritual wonderfulness. Even our branch president admitted that was the best mission conference he'd been to here at the MTC.  They talked of so many things like sanctifying yourself, looking upon the hearts of ourselves and others, how to better fulfill our purpose, finding people, the power of the Book of Mormon, etc. I wish I had more thantwo minutes left so I could tell you more, but I think I need to wrap it up!

It has been such a rollercoaster here, one day feeling the spirit so strong and having such a desire to serve, and the next day being so discouraged thinking that I will never be able to do this. But thankfully, the Lord answers prayers. That is my testimony today. Pray for strength to do hard things, pray for guidance, pray for the desire to be better! We have been speaking only Spanish this week (mostly - we've been slacking a little bit today), and it has been pretty rough. However, after praying for the DESIRE to want to speak Spanish, it has been much easier. Prayer for the DESIRE to love others has helped me come closer to Christ as well as those I teach. Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants to bless you, but as the BD (Bible Dictionary) says, some of those blessings are conditional upon us asking for them. So ask Him! He loves you, and He will bless you.

Con amor,
Hermana Escalante 

Hermanas Escalante, Dudley, & Carlson, Elders Moss & Gardner

Tres Amigos!

Note that all the Hermanas are in shades of purple!

Sr. Liu is in the green

Rock, paper, ...?

Turtle face

A little late night yoga

Friday, November 2, 2012

3.5 weeks down...This is going by way too fast!

Hola amigos y familia! Les extraño mucho! 

I don't have much time; I never have much time. Thank you for those who have written me! It is so fun getting letters from the outside world.

First, a few things to respond to my mother's email: Mama, letters are better. I really don't have much time to read emails, just FYI. I've written you a letter and explained how/why DearElder is better (for now), so you can be expecting that soon :)

Hey Brudder! That's so cool you're going to Flagstaff for another Con! Send me pictures?
Wow! Three teeth and walking!! Sounds like I have the best nephew ever! What a cutie! Feel free to send me a picture or two of my darling nieces and nephews. Also, where is that family picture you promised to send me, mama?

Halloween was pretty much ignored here. I think there was pumpkin pie for dessert in the cafeteria and a few of the cafeteria workers had on some face makeup, but not much. It was still fairly exciting for me though, as I received letters and TWO packages! :) Thank you again for the cookies and candy, and thank you Susan for the chocolate covered fruit. You will be receiving a letter shortly. Hermana Carlson and I switched nametags for our "costumes", seeing as we couldn't dress up. Our teacher totally called us by the wrong names. Awesome. Also, our companionship all wore purple/black/gray to be in the spirit of Halloween. That's about as exciting as it gets.

Apparently Thanksgiving is a lot more exciting. No class, turkey dinner, and we'll probably have a devotional with an Apostle - woo hoo! Almost as good as taking a cruise to Italy! ...not. For those of you who don't know, my mother is taking advantage of me being gone for the Holidays and doing such. Lucky girl ;)

Well, the Spanish is going fairly well I guess. Some days I feel like I really have it, and other days I feel like I haven’t learned anything. The other day we practiced teaching the first lesson to the Elders in our district and afterwards they were almost confused (in a good way, like how my Spanish could be so much better than they thought). I guess my Spanish is a lot better during lessons than during class. I guess I get nervous speaking in front of the district and teachers. I try though. We're going to try to go without English (ever) starting here pretty soon. It will be rough, but I’m sure it will be a huge blessing. Hmm, nothing too exciting happened this week.

Oh! I saw Gloria the bookstore this morning (finally) and Janine (no idea how to spell that) Green at the temple! Fun stuff :) I think I saw her last week too, but I wasn't sure so I didn't say hi. And yes, I would love it if you printed off the family newsletter to send to me, mom. I am curious about how my wonderful cousins are doing.

This week we heard from Elder and Sister Clarke (of the Seventy) and Stephen Allen (Something to do with the Missionary Department I believe). For Relief Society we had Sister Stevens of the Primary General Presidency. They were all great. Especially Elder Clarke. He talked about how missionary work should transform you, and what we need to do to have a successful mission. We also are able to watch movies (talks) Sunday evenings, and this week we watched one by Elder Bednar. We also watched another talk by him in class the other day, so it's been a Bednar week J . He's great though, really. I love his talks on Missionary Work. One of his talks was on the Character of Christ, and the other was on Becoming a Missionary (instead of just going on a mission). It was very inspiring. Now I just want to be the best missionary ever! But it's a little bit hard in the MTC. We are pushing ourselves more though. Even when we are not scheduled to teach, we set up "lessons" with other fellow missionaries to meet our weekly goals of investigators and lessons (and to practice, of course). Our biggest problem in teaching is time. We always end up teaching for over a half hour, and apparently the ideal lesson is only 20 min. We're working on making our lessons shorter, but it's really hard. Especially when the main reason our lessons are so long is because we spend half the time trying to figure out how to say what we want to say in Spanish. We're doing all right though J

Hermana Liu is 1/8 Chinese! So that's exciting J She's from Roy, but I don't think we know any of the same people.

Oh! I wanted to include some fun quotes in this letter. So, here's the deal. We are all learning Spanish...and sometimes we mess up...and it ends up being really funny. So here are some things that we (from my district) have said, in lessons, class, meals, etc., translated into English for your convenience:
-"Alma made Wednesdays."
-"They have pink cheese-es!"
- "Heaven is for pretty people."
- Joseph Smith went to a field of grandmas."
- "Ah! I have ham in my eyes!"
- "Give me your monkey."
- "I promise, if you pray, I will receive an answer."
- "We talked to the panther..."
- "How are you?" "Congratulations!"
- "In Argentina, there are children who have man!"
- "Satan had a flu on the world."

Well, I'm completely out of time. Hope some of those made you smile. I know the gospel is true. I love my Savior. Pray, please pray, and you WILL feel the love of your Father in Heaven. He loves you so much.

I love you all!
Con amor,
Hermana Escalante

PS - My mom will send any comments to me, so feel free to comment! J