(Transcribed from Audio)
Hello everyone my name is Sister Ashley Escobar and my family just moved back into the ward like a few months ago. I don’t know, they moved back when I was on my mission and so I don’t know all of you. Like Bishop Hadley said, I just recently got back on Wednesday from serving a mission in the Utah Saint George Mission with a primary assignment to labor in the temple visitor’s center. That scripture that Zander shared, sorry Elder McCraney shared, in Isaiah 29:14 it says, “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder.” That scripture really just describes my mission. There are way too many miracles and wonders that happened in these past 18 months but I’ve chosen just a few to share with you guys today and hopefully I won’t keep you here all day.
One of the biggest things that I learned on my mission is how to trust in God and His plan for me. This started on my first day in the field. I came in with three other sisters and we all knew each other from online visitor center training. So we got to the mission office and we met the assistant to the president and they were super nice and kind of talking to us like, “Where are you from?” and then asked, “Which one of you are speaking French?” and one of the sisters said, “That’s me. I’m French speaking.” Then they’re like, “Which one of you are speaking Spanish?” We are looking at each other and were like, “None of us.” They were like, “Oh that’s our bad. That's the next transfer and we got confused. Sorry.” So a few hours later my mission president called me to his office and he told me that I was going to be speaking Spanish. I was super nervous. I didn’t want to but I agreed anyway. It’s not like I really had a choice. At first it was really hard for me because I thought, “An apostle of the Lord called me here, English speaking, and who are you?” I learned to respect him a lot more after. I eventually learned to love it and I’m so grateful that I was switched to Spanish. I know that I needed to be Spanish speaking. I needed my trainer, I needed my areas, I needed the members, the people I taught, my companions and all the other Spanish speaking missionaries in the mission. I was not only able to see the miracles that came from the people but I was also able to experience the miracles that came through the gift of tongues. So it turns out that God’s plan is always better than my plan.
I just want to talk about some of the amazing people that I met that had really miraculous stories. One of the first amazing people that I met was named Jesus. He was the only non-member of his family. So his wife and his kids were all already baptized. He had met with the missionaries before in California but he just never wanted to get baptized for some reason. The first time that we met him, we went with the Elder’s Quorum president in our ward and we taught him the restoration. The Spirit was super strong. He already heard all of this before. He already knew at this point that he was ready. He believed everything. He had a testimony of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. So we asked him to be baptized. We met him on October 18th and we invited him to be baptized on November 13th. On the 13th he was baptized and then on December 14th he got the Priesthood and he started passing the Sacrament every Sunday. Jesus’ faith and diligence was just such an inspiration. His next goal is to be sealed to his family for all time and eternity in the temple this year. Jesus was one of the first people I met that were just truly waiting to accept the Gospel.
Towards the end of my mission I met more of these types of people. And one of them is Bianca. The elders who were serving in the area before my companion and I got out there met her door to door contacting in her neighborhood. She had been praying to know which church to join. So when the elders knocked on her door and said they had a message about Jesus Christ, she just willingly accepted them. At the time she lived with her boyfriend and they had 3 kids together, so she couldn’t be baptized until they got married. They got married so she could be baptized. I got into the area before that happened so I was able to go to their wedding and to her baptism. The best ward ever put everything together for their wedding and then she got baptized the next day with her 8 year old son. Now the whole family is still super active. They attend church every Sunday and she has a calling as a Primary Secretary and she’s killing it there. I just heard the other day that her husband, who is still not baptized, said that he would get baptized soon.
Around the same time as Bianca, I also met Arturo. He is just the strongest teenager that I’ve ever met. He’s 14 years old. He is the sweetest boy, he’s always smiling. He’s the only person in his family that has gotten baptized. He got baptized alone and his family was there to support him, but every Sunday he walks to church by himself. After he got baptized, he shared his testimony with the ward and now he passes the Sacrament every Sunday and goes to every church activity. Just super active!
Last week my companion and I were able to go to the Cedar City Temple with both Arturo and Bianca to do baptisms for the dead for their first time. It was just so cool and amazing to think about their own baptisms while I was watching them being baptized in the temple for other people. It was just so beautiful. It was like all of their hard work was paying off. They both are huge examples to me of faith and diligence and trusting in God and putting Him first in your life.
I have to give a little shout out to the best ward ever, the Sunset 9th Ward, that those people are in, because they are one of the biggest wonders that I had on my mission. They were a huge reason why Arturo and Bianca and Bianca’s family are so strong. Everyone in the ward just instantly became best friends with Bianca and her husband and took Arturo under their wing and became his family. That’s something that they both said that they loved about the church is that everyone feels like family. The ward makes a big difference, just a little food for thought.
The last one I want to share is Treyson. I’m going to read what I wrote in my journal when I met him. I wrote this on April 16, 2022, it says, “On Wednesday we worked at the visitor center and like 30 minutes into our shift a guy walks in. Young, long hair, wearing a hat with a little beard and he had a walker-like crutch thing. And just started talking to him like normal. He was carrying a notebook and a new-looking Book of Mormon. I was trying to figure out if he was a member or not. He said he came in yesterday and wanted me to show him something new. I showed him the Christus audio and then we went into the big theater with all the paintings of Christ. His name is Treyson and he grew up a member but eventually fell away and got into drugs and alcohol. For 7 to 8 years it blocked out everything he had learned. Three months ago he was shot in the leg and realized he was not doing what he was supposed to be doing with his life and he needs to change something. So he decided to quit his old ways and started learning about the Church again. He came down to St. George and is staying with his uncle in Washington Fields. Someone told him to go to the visitor center, so he did. That first day I ended up talking to him for over an hour. I told him he should start taking lessons so he could learn everything for his faith. He was so down and was like, “Yeah, when can we start?” He asked about my mission and said he had just a “tiny little twinge of a thought” that he should go on a mission. I told him 100% yes that if he had desires to serve that he was called to the work. I told him how we would be a killer missionary and he would do so well because of this conversion that he’s had. His dad also went through a similar experience as he did so he didn’t go on a mission until he was 25 and Treyson is 24. His dad unfortunately passed away a few years ago but he said that he feels a lot closer to his dad now than he did before." After that first conversation with him I was like, “Dang, this kid is awesome!” I know he’s going to serve a mission. I can just see him as one. I just know it’s going to happen. Then my companion and I were able to start teaching him and helping him. So since then Treyson has started working on his mission papers and hopefully he’ll find out where he’s called to serve by the end of the year. He was in Salt Lake, so he’s already been a missionary to everyone that he meets. There’s just so many more details about him that are a miracle. Getting shot was actually a miracle for him. Getting shot and living to his recovery time and just changing his life around to being able to go on a mission and so much more. He’s so devoted to staying on the right path, making God his number one in everything that he does. It’s like real Alma the Younger stuff. I know that all of this would have happened with or without me. So I’m so grateful that I got to be a small part of Treyson’s journey.
I’m going to share my testimony in Spanish and I wrote it all down so I can talk faster because I know that we are out of time. (testimony given in Spanish, then translated to English) I am really grateful for my mission. I know that St. George was where I needed to go. I am grateful for all my experiences and the people I came to know. I know that we can obtain peace in this life and the next through the gospel. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon acts as a guide for us. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that through it we can grow closer to God. I know that God loves us and has a plan for all of us. I know that when we place our faith and confidence in the Savior we grow closer to him daily. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Father in Heaven and His children that I had for the last year and a half.
I just want to thank you all for coming today and just emphasize again how much my mission means to me and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.