I grew up in a traditional Latino, Catholic home where we attended church and prayed when things got hard. I even attended Catholic school until the eighth grade. I knew the prayers and all the Bible stories, but I did not have a relationship with God. Prayers were not intimate but rather just words I was taught to recite. I was always left wanting more.
As I attended high school, not much changed. In fact, as with most moody teenagers, my parents started to worry. I was attending a big, urban, public high school after years in a small, Catholic school. I knew the prayers and all the Bible stories, but I did not have a relationship with God. Soon I started bringing my friends home and that caused some concerns. You see, my friends were a little unconventional. Fourteen inch hair spikes and black nail polish on a young man alarmed my conservative Hispanic parents and caused them to worry.
My mom never let the concern show when she interacted with me or my friends but she did reach out to friends for help and ideas on how to keep me from following in the path of my friends. Then one day, my mother’s coworker had a great idea. She presented me with a way to meet my school’s community service requirement. This lady knew that I would never agree to go to church as I was disenchanted by all organized religion. Using the excuse that she had recently started teaching Sunday school and wanted help with the preschool class, Araceli, my mother’s coworker, was able to get me to church. Due to my love of children and teaching, I quickly agreed.
As I started to help out in her class, I was drawn by the people that attended her church. They all seemed happy and genuinely cared about the other members of the congregation, which I had never experienced before in a religious setting. At first, I only stayed for the Sunday school class, but soon I found myself joining in the service. After attending their worship service a few times, I was hooked. I could actually feel the presence of God. I finally had the connection I had searched for in the past. On August 11, 2002, I accepted the Lord and was baptized. After being baptized, I became an active member of the church and continued to help with Sunday school. My main goal, however, was to get the rest of my family to share in this new found faith. My greatest joy was when every member of my family accepted the Lord and were baptized by the end of that summer. God is so faithful and good!