Luis returns to the Mission with new focus, commitment

Luis - translator.

Luis is attending Alan Hancock College and is considering a career as a translator.

He is in college, and assisting with outreach efforts

Luis has spent time at the Mission before—even graduated and interning in the past—but has struggled to find direction as it relates to independence, said Director Chris Rutledge.

But as he enters the final phase of the Life Recovery Program this time, he’s focused on growth. Luis, who is bilingual, is attending Alan Hancock College and considering a career as a translator.

For the next three months, while he goes to college, Luis will be a part of outreach efforts. “Luis enjoys helping with outreaches, where we serve very low-income families with groceries,” Rutledge said. “Luis will be able to utilize what he’s learning in class by helping translate Spanish to English so we can better serve our outreach guests.”

Luis is humbled by the additional responsibilities. “I love seeing people happy when they get their food,” he said. “My parents, they still go to that line. I was in that line when I was young, waiting for food. It’s hard working in the fields—I’ve done it—and (most of that income) is going to rent and bills.”

When Luis was 14, his parents split, and they stopped going to church. He started smoking marijuana, and eventually, meth. Luis then got involved with his cousins and uncles, who were gang members.

I was just driving around, partying, smoking a lot of meth, carrying guns … I never thought anything would happen to me,” he said.

Luis started having run-ins with the law and estimates that he’s been in jail 40 times. “The more I got into the trouble, the more I used, the more I wanted to kill myself,” Luis said. “I was so depressed.”

But when Luis was told he was going to be deported, he said something clicked. “It made me realize I didn’t want to be like my uncles,” he said. “They came here to change their lives, but they didn’t listen to the law. They just did what they wanted to. I don’t need to make the same mistakes they did. … I decided I wanted to change. I didn’t want to see my mom cry anymore.

“This program has helped me with a lot of problems—a lot of problems that I didn’t want to fix,” he added. “I got free from drugs, but I never wanted to talk about alcohol. I always avoided it. Now, I know that if I don’t talk about a problem, it’s always going to be there, keeping me down.”

Luis attends Grace Baptist Church and enjoys going to Celebrate Recovery every week. “I feel the closer I get to God, the more He wants me to help others. He wants me to pray, stay productive, keep working hard, focus on the Bible … I’m fully committing myself to God. I can’t go a day without him.”