Tell me a little bit about your background.
I was born in Cuba. I grew up in Miami – came as a little girl because of communism. And then I went to school at FIU in Miami. Did my undergraduate in criminal justice. And from there, I went to seminary in Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I worked in the legal system for maybe four years, because I was going to go to law school.
But then, I got the call again, and that’s when I went to seminary. From seminary, I went to serve a church. The first church I served was in Key West.
At what point did you decide to make a big change in your life and become a pastor?
I think there’s a difference between a career and a calling, and I was called. It was right before I was going to start law school that I got the call again.
I’d felt that call when I was a lot younger – 12, 13 years old. I was going to a private school in the Methodist Church, and there’s where I really came to know Jesus. And I sensed that calling.
Right before entering law school, I sensed God was saying to me, “This is the last time I call you; you have a choice.” And I decided to obey, and I left for seminary when I was like 21 years old. I got a master’s in divinity there.
How did you come here from your former assignment in Naples?
We have a bishop, and we have district superintendents, and every year they move pastors around.
Basically, your contract is from year to year, from July 1 to July 1 the following year. But you make the decision by the end of December if you’re going to continue there.
Things have changed. It used to be that United Methodist pastors served four or five years. Now, some pastors have served the same church for 20, 25 years.
So, they’ve stayed longer because they have come to realize that that’s a lot better for the pastor, for the church, for the pastor’s family. Because after four years, you’re just getting to know the people. The people are just beginning to trust you. And you have some influence when it comes to the culture. Because every church has a different culture.
What is the life of a pastor like?
I’ll tell you what the bishop that ordained us told us in his sermon. The life of the pastor is a life of agony and ecstasy. There’s the agony when you’re having to deal with the human race, the brokenness, the dysfunction that we all have. Then, there’s the ecstasy when you lead someone to Jesus. When you see the transformative power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. When you baptize babies. When you perform marriages.
And you get to preach Christmas Eve and Easter at the great message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Coming here during a pandemic when everything’s been disrupted, how do you connect with people?
Phone calls. Cards. That has been mainly it, because you can’t go visit. You cannot be asking people to take their masks off so you can see who they are.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like going to the beach. I like to read. I like to walk. Listen to music. Meet people. I’m an extrovert, so I have to be out there meeting people.
Do you have a favorite biblical quote?
My life verse is from Joshua. It was given to me when I was 14 years old, and it has become my life verse. And when things get really rough, I go there.
It’s Joshua 1:7. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
And then Joshua 1:9 is even better. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And that has kept me together through it all, knowing that I’m not alone.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I just would like to remind people in this community that they’re not alone through this difficult time. There is a God who loves them right where they are at, whoever they are. There are a lot of people dealing with depression and anxiety, especially now. Even without a pandemic, it’s a season where a lot of people suffer seasonal depression – and then you add this [COVID-19] to it.
So I would like to remind the people that God is with us. Emmanuel. If they need a place to go and they don’t have one, we’re here. We’re here. Welcome home.