Christian Escalante (9) is a well-named boy. “I know that Jesus Christ lives,” he states, “and I love Him because He loves me. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God and that the standard works are true.”
Christian’s father, Francisco, is also his bishop. When Christian goes to the meetinghouse with his dad, he likes to take the official keys and unlock the outside gate and then the front doors.
In February 2000, the Hermosillo Sonora México Temple was dedicated. Christian attended both the open house and the dedication. He was in the Celestial Room for the dedication and enjoyed being near President Hinckley and other General Authorities. Now he is eager to go back and unlock spiritual doors for his ancestors.
He is looking forward to receiving the Aaronic Priesthood so that he can be baptized for the dead and pass the sacrament. Sometimes when he comes to church early and sees teachers preparing the sacrament, he just naturally wants to help out, and his dad has to remind him that he doesn’t yet have that authority.
Christian’s greatest happiness comes from “having a family that loves me.” His parents consider him a true gift from God. Before he was born, his mother, Luci, became ill and had to spend six months in bed to save Christian’s life. He was greatly loved even before his birth. Christian likewise feels great love for his parents and his two sisters, Itzel Lucia (8) and Mildred (4), of whom he is very protective.
Itzel has a strong personality and she is very tenderhearted and close to the Spirit. Once she began crying in sacrament meeting during the singing of the hymn “I Stand All Amazed.” She explained afterward, “I was sad because Jesus Christ died for us.” Whenever a family problem arises, she says a prayer in her heart. And when the problem has been solved, she thanks Heavenly Father.
Mildred is much-loved by her brother and sister. If she is sad, they rush to console her. She goes to preschool and likes to play games with her friends. She loves to pray and would gladly offer every prayer uttered in the home.
Christian’s love of family extends far beyond those who share his home. Bishop Escalante has eight brothers and sisters, and Sister Escalante has eleven. This opens a rich treasure trove of uncles, aunts, and cousins that Christian enjoys to the fullest. The extended family gets together often for birthdays, holidays, and just-because days.
Christian has a knack for making peace. When cousins or friends have a disagreement, he steps in. He doesn’t take sides or judge between them but finds a way in which they can both win and feel good. Because he is so even-tempered and fun to be around, all the cousins want to play with him. Often one will call and ask, “May I borrow Christian?” only to find that he has already been “borrowed” by another cousin.
On Christmas Eve, the extended family gets together to celebrate the Savior’s birth. At midnight, the children act out the Nativity story as it is read aloud from the New Testament. Christian has welcomed Christmas Day as Joseph, a wise man, a shepherd, and an angel. The families do not exchange gifts on Christmas but on New Year’s Eve. Christmas customs vary in Mexico. Some families enjoy gifts on Christmas Eve, some on New Year’s Eve, and some on the sixth of January, the day of the Reyes Magos (Wise Men).
Christian loves his grandmother very much and visits her every Sunday afternoon. “He is very special to me,” she says. “He is always obedient and kind.” She recalls an incident that happened several years ago, while she was tending Christian and Itzel. A pot on the stove exploded. Seeing Itzel’s fiery-red face, Sister Chavarín thought that her granddaughter had been badly burned, so she threw cold water on her. Christian calmly explained that his little sister wasn’t burned at all. Her face was bright red because she had gotten into her mother’s makeup.
Christian likes to go camping and swimming at the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of California. He plays goalkeeper in fútbol (soccer) games. He rides his bike with friends. He loves traditional Mexican dances. (He won a place on his school’s dance team but gave it up when he learned that he would have to perform on Sunday.) He likes going to the park with his family, buying treats from the vendors there, feeding the pigeons, and playing tag with his sisters and cousins.
He is a good helper around the house. He mops, washes, sweeps, dusts, and even does a little cooking. He can whip up tasty egg dishes for breakfast, brew frothy hot chocolate, and make a drink with fruit, milk, and honey in the blender. He enjoys eating, too. Some of his favorite foods are picadillo, a cold meat salad; barbacoa, a spicy, juicy beef dish with beans on the side; and hot dogs. He repays his mom’s cooking instructions by teaching her computer skills.
Christian is easygoing and slow to anger. If his friends do something that he thinks is wrong, he doesn’t nag or criticize. He just walks quietly away, and they understand the unspoken message. Although Christian is serene and calm, he can be competitive when it comes to schoolwork. He likes to earn the highest score in the class, and he works hard to do it. But if someone surpasses him, he congratulates him sincerely and works harder. His favorite subjects are mathematics, history, and Spanish. On the other hand, he could live without geography. He studies it, though, because he wants to be a schoolteacher when he grows up.
One of Christian’s most important goals is to go on a mission. In the meantime, he is his ward’s unofficial missionary cheerleader. He writes faithfully to missionaries from the ward and sends them photos of ward activities.
Hermosillo lies in a desert. Wrinkled hills and rugged valleys, blue with distance, stretch away in all directions. One bell-shaped hill rises from the city itself. It is called, reasonably enough, Cerro de la Campana—Bell Hill. The Escalantes sometimes drive up to its peak and look over their city. Down to the left is Zaragoza Park, where they go to relax. Straight ahead is their meetinghouse. To the right, white in the sun, shines the temple. From here they can see at a glance every corner of their busy lives. In seconds, their eyes trace routes that take many minutes to drive.
The gospel gives them the same broad view of eternity, and Christian’s eyes are wide open. He knows exactly where he wants to go and how he intends to get there.
In Spanish-speaking cultures, the maiden name of a person’s mother is often added after the person’s father’s last name.