Pedro with fellow Seminarian Moisés
It took some getting used to, living at the Mexicali Seminary and participating in a community complete with roommates, common meals, chores, classes and homework. The first two weeks in September were so stressful that Pedro was at the point of giving up. But he persevered and today is sure that his decision to begin classes at the Seminary was right.
The beginning weeks of study and life at the Seminary are always difficult for new students. Yet Pedro has much more to deal with than anyone else who has studied with us. He is now largely confined to a wheelchair as multiple sclerosis takes its toll. How thankful we are that Pedro has found a home at the Seminary, for his story gives us all something to cheer about and adds a new, even refreshing and inspiring element to the life of the Seminary.
Eight years ago Pedro was just finishing his university degree in International Business and had what he thought was a great relationship with his girlfriend, with whom he lived and who was pregnant with their first child. It was also during this time that he began experiencing blurred vision, weakness in his extremities, along with bouts of high blood pressure. Finally, around the time of the birth of his daughter and after a year of erroneous diagnoses, he was referred to a neurologist who was able to confirm that he was suffering from multiple sclerosis.
He knew that this debilitating disease would take its toll. It was explained to him that there are treatments available, but no cure, and that the progression of the disease varies with each individual. This was all too much for his girlfriend, though, and she left him when their daughter was but five months old. He moved back in with his parents, whose life was not at all good, fraught with marital problems and alcoholism.
Life was not good for Pedro -- family problems, medical appointments and treatments, progression of the disease and knowledge that his job would soon end due to his disability were all taking a toll. Here's where a friend from middle school years, Raymundo, enters his life in what would lead to life-changing experiences. Raymundo, concerned for Pedro after hearing more about his situation and the deep depression to which he had succumbed, began visiting him regularly. Raymundo shared his faith in Christ and wanted him to know that there is hope and life, even in the midst of such a disease. He invited him to his church, Sion, a newly planted church located just two blocks from Pedro's house.
Pedro explains what happened next, "Never before had I experienced what happened the very first time I went to Sion. The people there talked to me, accepted me, and loved me without even knowing me. I had many conversations in the past about religion with people who visited my house. They wanted to discuss religion or which was the true church. But in Sion it was different." After a year he announced to the pastor, "I'm ready!" "You're ready for what?" asked the pastor. "To be baptized," he said. His biggest disappointment on the day of his baptism was that no one from his family had any interest whatsover in what was happening in his life, so he walked alone to church that day with the help of a walker. His greatest joy, though, was coming to a greater love and appreciation for another family, his church, and how so many from this new family were there to accompany him, not only in church services, but also through the many trials of his life.
Today, five years later, his journey has brought him to the Seminary. He has a passion to learn as much as he can about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, while at the same time seeking ways in which he can be a witness to that hope and life that God has so graciously opened up to him. In addition to serving in his home church each weekend Pedro is thankful for an additional arena in which he can be a source of hope for many. His treatments bring him in contact with many others who are suffering from debilitating diseases and he is an active member of a support group, some 40 strong, who suffer from multiple sclerosis in Mexicali.
Pedro doesn't know what the future will hold for him. But he rests assured that right now he is where he should be and gratefully anticipates, as we all do, what God has in store.