Thursday, September 24, 2009

Perez Estrado

Two elders walking through Couva in white shirts and ties and sometimes in their P day clothes were observed by Perez, but he didn’t know who they were or why they were there. A non-member friend offered him a Book of Mormon and told him a little about the church. Perez leafed through it and gave it back. His friend thought he would be interested in the Book of Mormon because Perez liked to read the Bible and he was interested in reading different versions of the Bible. The man thought it was a Mormon Bible.

Perez read a book of Bible stories when he was six and at the age of eight, he read the entire Bible from cover to cover. He searched different Bibles hoping to find one that seemed complete. He knew that doctrine wasn’t complete, for example, heaven and hell. There were no details about heaven. Also, he felt the church should be named after Christ. He attended different churches and they always wanted him to get baptized, but he didn’t feel right about any of them.

At the age of five he was adopted, but he didn’t have a happy home life. By the age of 14 he was more or less on his own most of the time after he recovered from a life threatening illness. By 18 he was gambling, drinking, smoking and doing drugs. He lived with a woman and they had three children each a year apart. He even ended up in prison for a short time.

Perez was twenty-four when he saw a commercial on late night TV where a little girl ran into her father’s arms. The commercial was sponsored by the church, and it made an impression on him.

At age 33 he checked himself into drug rehab. He read the Bible a lot through all this. He would pray, and then open his Bible for an answer. In rehab, he had a dream while lying on his bed and looking out a high window at the moon. It was like looking at a TV. He saw four pictures: 1. Christ in the manger, 2. Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, 3. Jesus on the cross, and 4. Jesus with open arms, possibly the second coming. He opened the window and looked at the moon and saw three ships in the moon. He felt like it portrayed a journey for someone, somewhat soon.

A friend and volunteer at the rehab center gave Perez a leaflet about the church, and when he read it, his friend gave him a pamphlet of the Joseph Smith story. His friend said he felt like Perez was there to learn about this church of which he was a member even though he too struggled with drugs. His friend then gave him a Book of Mormon, which Perez able to put down until he had read it from cover to cover. Another friend told him that no one could make him happy. He had to create his own happiness.

The usual time in rehab was 90 days. Perez was beginning to feel imprisoned and wanted to get released. Amazingly, he was released in 40 days. He had to attend AA meetings every day for support. Some of the Couva branch members visited with him and answered his questions and he attended the branch. They asked him about his testimony. At church the missionaries asked if he would like the missionary discussions. Elder Neighbor and Elder Edstrom challenged him to quit smoking and within three weeks he was baptized on the 10 Aug 2002. He often went teaching with the elders because he knew all the people in the village (Couva).

In December 2006 he started finding his father’s other children. (His dad fathered children by several other women). He felt like this was his “ship’s journey” that he had seen in the moon a few year’s previous. He went to Tobago and met Alison Santana, his half-sister. He stayed with her for 2 weeks. When he went back to Trinidad he had a relapse with drugs and alcohol. Perez went to church off and on because of his testimony. He decided to go back to Tobago to get away from the drugs. Alison came to his aid again so he could “catch himself.” Through promptings he received, he started attending the Tobago branch that had recently been formed. Patrick Ramkissoon was put in as the branch president. Perez’ attendance wasn’t regular. Elder Jenkins said they might have to close the branch if the attendance didn’t increase. The branch needed him. He quit drinking and smoking and went teaching with the elders all through Calder Hall and Friendsfield areas.

Perez has a strong testimony of the gospel. He is wonderful teacher and he enjoys studying and reading. He recently baptized his two youngest children, Angelo and Janelle. They will live with him in Tobago. His oldest daughter, Shanelle chose to return to Trinidad and wasn’t baptized at this time. He has a good relationship with her and his example will help her make a good decision.

1 comment:

Flash said...

Thank you very much for posting this history. I knew Perez for several months when I served in Couva, and had seen his struggles and his strenths. He was always willing to help us, and had a strong testimony. I am very glad to here that he and his children are doing well.