I am not the same man today that I was a year ago! It has indeed been a journey to be baptized in the true church. This is my story. At some point, one must realize that change is inevitable and you come to the realization that everyone is a teacher leading you to His kingdom on earth. Before Paul became an apostle, he ridiculed Christians. Then, he was taught by a Rabban--the highest Rabbi. Later, when the resurrected Lord commissioned him, Paul straightaway preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). So I will do the same, and follow his example and share my experience and testimony. Coincidence is Gods way of staying anonymous as he leads you to the right path.
It all started when I was a kid, I wasn’t really a great a kid. My grades were not that great and began to get into trouble. At times I disappointed my parents on numerous occasions and I started to have low self esteem. I was sad most of the time. I was certain something was missing in my life. As I got older, I wanted to "fill in that gap." First I tried to do so by hanging out with people who turned out to be false friends and being around people that I learned I couldn't trust. I was aware that the more I was around them, the more I became like them and picked up on their bad habits. I wanted something better!
When I was 11, I started going to church because my parents forced me to. I truly did not enjoy going, but I gave it a shot anyways. I thought when I asked God for anything that he would give it to me immediately. When he didn’t give me what I had asked for that same week it pushed me further away from him. That same year I was enrolled in a catholic school. I worked very hard in school that year. My grades went up and my parents were really proud. Then, in the middle of 8th grade when I was twelve years old, I went back to a public school and it was brutal. I was treated with complete disrespect. The kids teased me and made fun of me, I got in to fights and my grades started dropping. My parents were disappointed once again and I got into more trouble! I used to think to myself at that age "why, God, why me?" I wanted to be a better person but no matter what I just kept messing up.
Now, as I made my way to High School, I had a different challenge because this is when I really started to put more effort into finding God and a true church. With loving people that wanted to help me out, I joined the choir in the 11th grade. This was indeed a different experience for me! I wasn’t a confident person and singing in front of the class was the last thing I wanted to do. But, there in the high school choir, I met two of my best friends "Emanuel and Joseph." They were good friends. I even attended some of their church services. I felt like finally things are in place and although I was receiving the word of God and although their churches were exciting to go to, I felt like something was still missing in my life. It was like I went to church, heard the message then started out my week the same old way again: gossiping, cursing, talking bad about people, and having hate in my heart for people at school that I felt did me wrong or disrespected me.
In the 12th grade I went to many different churches. I joined many of the churches by getting baptized but no matter what, I felt empty inside. I couldn’t talk to my parents about the situation because I had disappointed them on so many occasions and felt ashamed to even be in their presence. Then when I graduated from high school, I said to myself, "I guess I really don’t matter to God." So, I started living my life the way I wanted to without seeking the Lord anymore. My parents were really happy that I graduated. I was accepted to Cal State Dominguez and I thought to myself "I really feel like I am going to mess things up" and boy did I ever! You see, for the first time in my life I had the freedom to make my own decisions right or wrong. I was in college, I had my own dorm, there were a lot, and I mean a lot, of beautiful women there. This is where I let my lust take over. I put going to parties, clubs, drinking and women before school. I thought I was having a blast, I really felt like I didn’t need God anymore.
As it came to the end of the semester my grades went down and eventually I didn’t attend class anymore! The school let me know in a letter that I was being kicked out of the dorm because my G.P.A was too low. I felt so embarrassed! I called my mom and dad and told them the situation. Again, I heard the disappointment in their voice, so when it came time for my dad to pick me up from the campus I was gone. I moved in with some friends that were not really good people. My parents searched for me but they couldn’t find me. I felt like I didn’t have God and I couldn’t be a part of my parents lives anymore because I would continue to disappoint them every single time, and I couldn’t take it anymore!
One day..... somehow my mom called my friends house and I spoke to her. She convinced me to come back home. It felt so weird being home. As the days went by I was introduced to a business by one my best friends Emanuel Zevallos. He truly helped me out with becoming a better person. I learned so much in the business about how to treat people! I started listening to personal development audios and my thinking changed. I indeed did become a better person. I finally started surrounding myself with positive people. Emanuel Zevallos was a great influence in my life. But, as the years went by, there was still this feeling inside that something was missing.
Then, Emanuel started going to the Mormon Church. I didn't see him for weeks and weeks in the business and I found myself not really succeeding in the business anymore! One day, Emanuel gave me the Book of Mormon. I thought it was kind of weird at first. I had a couple of studies with the missionaries and they told me to pray about it to see if Joseph Smith was really a prophet of God and if the book of Mormon was true. I got my answer that it was true! However, in one of the studies someone I knew joined us for one of the discussions. After it was done I was at his house and he made fun of me for trying to be Mormon. After that happened, it was the last discussion I attended with the Mormon missionaries for a while.
I lost contact with Emanuel and I started using drugs, going to clubs, smoking cigarettes and drinking a lot. At this point I felt like I was at the lowest stage of my life. I thought this it, I failed God! Then...there was this one day I prayed to God and said "I give up, I don’t know who I am anymore." I told the Lord to guide me and whatever he wanted me to do I would do it! I truly wanted God to be a part of my life. I told God to put good Christians in my life and show me the way because "I am weak and I need your strength." Then and there I was in tears.
A few weeks after that, two Mormon missionaries came to my door. It was as if they were angels sent from God! They said God led them to my house. It was at that point that I knew that God really did love me and he didn’t give up on me. I started taking the discussions, truly learning about God. I felt a deep change within me. I started really applying the scriptures to my life and started reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible every day. I started feeling more peace in my life and I felt more joy in my life. I attended church, and everyone was friendly and really accepting of me for who I was. I thought about Emanuel and remembered that he was Mormon and that he was baptized. I thought he was still in Utah but it turned out that he was here, in California. It was perfect timing! The Lord had this all planned out.
My best friend Emanuel Zevallos baptized me and it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am surrounded by people that truly care for my salvation. Now I understand the process the Lord had to take me through. Recently, I received the Gift of the Holy Spirit and it was truly a wonderful experience. I am not the man I used to be because of the true church. The gospel has been restored, I do believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, This is my testimony! I say all these things in Jesus name, Amen.