As a young child I was always very observant. I viewed how my parents (who are pastors) would help church members and members of our family. At a young age I knew I wanted to “help people” when I grew up. As I got older I went to my first mission trip to Mexico when I was 13 years old and seeing the need that was present, ignited my passion to help. I remember in the 8th grade two of my friends were not speaking to each other. I “tricked” both of them to come to my house at the same time and we locked ourselves in my room and I told them “we’re not leaving until this issue is resolved and you two speak about how you feel!” Looking back, I laugh and think how I have always loved to be a peace maker and help people fill their needs. In college I declared psychology as my major and urban studies as a minor. As I neared my graduation date I began to think of graduate studies. At the time I was unaware there was a social work degree. Thanks to the guidance of one of my advisors who knew the love I had for people, I was made aware of what a graduate degree in social work entailed and just knew it was the right decision. Here I am today, 5 years later, a practicing clinician and get to help people every day!
2. You are a youth leader, what draws your passion to serve the youth?
Oh, my youth! How I love them! (They laugh at me for calling them “my kids” at times.) Well, as a teenager I made plenty of mistakes. I had grown up hearing about Christ, but did not really know what it meant to have a true relationship with Him and live according to His will. Although I had my parents, we know developmentally teenagers get to a stage where they do not want to socialize with their parents and I was one of them. I believe had I had a youth leader during those trivial years of my life I would have not made some of the mistakes I made. One of the things that draws my passion is being for them what I did not have at their age. Another thing that draws my passion to serve them is just how amazing they are! Young people are full of energy, creativity, passion, love, and desire to live. All of that channeled in the positive direction of serving and living for Christ , is extremely powerful. I am honored and blessed that they allow me to be a part of their journey.
3. What was the toughest challenge you faced in your life?
There have been many challenges and due to how real they were when they were present it is somewhat difficult to list which one of them has been the most difficult. However, one of those challenges that I can say has been the most beneficial once overcoming it, was the challenge of forgiving myself and letting go of the guilt I had carried for years. As a teenager as I said before I made some pretty bad mistakes, one of them I know had a great impact on my parents. Although I had received God’s forgiveness and my parent’s forgiveness, I had not forgiven myself. The guilt I carried impeded me from receiving God’s blessings in my life. I knew that. I just could not let go. In 2005 I attended a retreat where one of the speakers shared the message “freedom of guilt.” It was amazing how every word he spoke was relevant to what I was living through. It was challenge to understand and accept true forgiveness from God and myself. It was the most freeing experience and one that has had long lasting effects.
4. Who has had the major impact in your life?
Definitely my parents. My parents got married in their early 20s. Soon after their union, they moved from Dominican Republic to the United States in hopes of providing a better life for their future children. Little did they know it would be a 10 year process to conceive and give birth to their first child. Hearing others speak about the trials my parents faced during those 10 years is truly amazing. They speak about my mother and father never losing faith that God would give them the gift of becoming parents. Sure enough 10 years later I came along, followed by my sister and brother. Their faithfulness to the Lord is truly admirable. Their honesty and transparency is praiseworthy. Their love for people is expressed in everything that they do. They are my heroes.
5. You have done mission trips to several countries, what is some advice you can give to those that are thinking about getting involved in a missions trip?
Don’t think about it too long and just do it! The experience received when being outside of your comfort zone and being a helping hand to those in need is life changing. Connect with a church or any other organization that are hosting mission trips and ask for information. Another thing that was helpful was having the support of those around me. If the mission trip requires funds that may be outside of your budget, write a letter where you state your passion and desire to go to the mission trip and distribute to friends, family members, and even strangers who are interested in helping a good cause. Upon your return, write thank you letters and include pictures and details of what you were able to accomplish by being God’s hands and feet. I would not have been able to go to the mission trips without the support of many who believed in my purpose as a part of that specific mission trip. God has been amazing!
6. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself doing continuing work with youth and their families. I have a special place in my heart for parents of youth. I see myself as a bridge builder between the youth and their parents. I have a special interest for parents who come from other countries to raise their children in the United States and struggle with the generational and cultural differences between them and their children. I see myself being more intentional in my work with that population. I am also in the process of obtaining my clinical license as a social worker and be able to have my own clinical practice offering faith-based therapy. I see myself continuing to enjoy life with my Jesus, family, friends, and all my loved ones.
7. What is your favorite verse?