I have known Yarelis for nearly three years, since they started attending the same home church. Even though we knew them for a short amount of time they became a part of our whole 'fellowship family'. I hope you all enjoy this wonderfully written post by my friend, Yarelis. -Bethany
My birth place is a small city in Puerto Rico in July of 1994. My mom says that I was probably the laziest baby she’d heard of, fighting the pregnancy for hours without giving her much pain. I was raised for the first nine years of my life in the southern part of the island near a horse ranch. I still remember countless hot afternoons spent on my porch looking at those horses running in the distance, admiring Yah’s creation.
I wasn’t brought into this belief years down the road like a lot of people. My mother grew up with it and in turn I grew up with it. My earliest memory of church was of me falling asleep on a Friday night under the pew in one of my favorite white dresses. I remember my grandmother refusing to buy me chicken nuggets because we weren’t allowed to buy on Sabbath (try explaining that to a five year old enamored with Wendy’s).
Fast forward to age nine and I come home from school to find a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front yard. My parent’s worried I wouldn’t take the news lightly that we were moving to the United States. I’m all for adventure and I started packing right away, to their surprise. At that age I thought the US was only a car ride away. It wasn’t until I was on the plane and I saw the sadness in their eyes did I realize just what we were getting into. As my sister drooled on my arm, I came into reality that it would be months before I saw my family again. But I sucked it up, wiped the drool off my arm, and decided to enjoy the five hour plane ride to my new home.
*Enter Time Lapse* Alabama 2009. I’m in tenth grade thinking everything is going as planned. I have more friends than I can count. I’m in ten different extracurricular including Bible Study and Mathletes. I have a lovely home and my amazing family. But no matter how much I had, I felt something off. Something was missing from my life. The truth of it was that there was no congregation in Alabama. There was no little white church we could go to every Sabbath. We had tried several Messianic congregations but none reflected what we believed in entirely. Whoever tells you that you can make it spiritual without a spiritual network is a liar. We had fallen pretty deep. We had reverted to eating unclean, dressing immodestly, and participating in unholy festivities. There was a long period of time where Sabbath’s weren’t kept.
My mother, being the wonderful pillar she is, one day called us all into the living room. She sat us all down and told us we were reading the bible and singing praises because it was Sabbath. How foreign this was to me. Saturdays had become social events for my friends and I. I had to give that up now? Reluctantly I obeyed, knowing to honor my parents’ wishes. And deep inside, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I wanted to come closer to God again.
One night my parents inform us that once again we were to move. This time wasn’t so willingly for me. My friends and my future were in the little town of Morris, Alabama. I had trouble seeing past that, I had trouble seeing past what I wanted. What I needed. I cried during the whole packing stage, I even cried on the car ride up to Indiana. My parents reassured me that everything happened for a reason and that in the end everything would work out to reflect Yah’s will.
A few months into living in Indiana my father had a conversation with one of his coworkers (Lets call him Mr. W for privacy purposes) that changed our lives forever. They were sitting eating dinner with some colleagues. My father spoke up about not eating pork because of religious beliefs and Mr. W asked why, since he was kosher himself. As my father tried to fumble over the explanation because of how difficult explaining Hebrew Roots can be, Mr. W immediately understood and confided in my father that he was also Hebrew Roots. A few weeks later Mr. W contacted my father about joining in a little fellowship that they were putting together in his basement. My father immediately accepted, since we were already on the narrow path trying to live our life biblically again.
That Sabbath I made some of the closest friends. We were all a little awkward at first, since I was so different from them. They were all modestly clad and all were homeschooled. I picked at all of their brains in everything from skirts to boys to cookies (Have they taught you to make no-bake cookies yet? I slobbered every time they brought them).
During this time I began inquiring of them about modesty. It wasn’t until one of the mothers handed me the book “The Lost Art of True Beauty”. It all just clicked for me. The very next day I vowed off pants and revealing clothes and have been modest ever since. During this time my parents were teaching me in the way of handling boys and relationships. It seemed that each family had their own idea of how to come into a God centered marriage. Even though we are all different and we have all picked our paths I can reassure anyone that we are all waiting on that one husband brought to us by God. That we all have chosen to reflect God in our relationships and that we are will keep our hearts in check.
If it sounds like modesty and relationships were a big deal… They really weren’t. They were probably the easiest things to come in line with. There were weeks spent on studying one simple chapter. We spent over month examining the Tabernacle inside and out. And as time consuming as it was, as many rabbit holes we went on, I enjoyed every second of it. At the end of every study everyone came away with something new or something altered. We had to learn to work together. Even though we couldn’t see eye-to-eye on a hundred percent of things, we were together on at least ninety percent and that was enough to make it work. We kept Yah in the focus of things and it all worked in dysfunction to make something beautiful.
I spent three years with my fellowship before Yah led us back down to Alabama. I’m enrolled in the University of Alabama at Birmingham and I’m studying to follow in my father’s footsteps, Yah willing. I live at home right now. I live here because my family grew up with the belief that a young lady should stay under her father’s covering until the day she marries. My parents allowed me to go to college under one simple warning. The minute they saw my faith slipping they would pull me out. They weren’t going to sacrifice my salvation for a career, no matter how much society pressures us to.
College is not for everyone. Let me repeat that… COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. I was raised in public school and in this belief. I have prepped my whole life for going through college. I entered in deep prayer and I got baptized the break before school started. I was confident that college was not going to change me for the worse. In fact it has helped me in all the ways staying at home couldn’t have. I have grown stronger in what I believe in seeing the hypocrisy and the sin that people demonstrate here, believers and unbelievers alike. I have stood in front of a classroom full of students and defended my way of life and won. I have contended with teachers and students alike. I have had numbers of friends confirm that they knew this was the right walk and some even start living in biblical lifestyle.
But that is my walk. This is the path Yah has allowed me to pursue and this is how I’ve developed as a young lady. But not every young lady needs to go on that path to develop in that way. I see my friends from this site and I admire the way they have matured and the way they have helped so many young girls. Bethany stated recently in a video that there are always two sides to every issue. College can be the pitfall of so many believers, trust me I’ve watched them fall, but it can also help young believers grow closer to Yah. It all depends on the will of God and what He wants you to do with your life.
Here is where I end my post. I’m not sure if I said the right things in the right way. But I know how I want to leave you. Life has a lot of ups and downs, a lot of heartache and a lot of joy. Please don’t turn away from something because you fail at first or because it does not go as plan. Seek YHWH’s will and His love first and everything will fall into place.
"Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources."