My name is Yesenia Lopez, my husband is Joe and our beautiful daughters are Jasmin 12, Alex 9, Rianna 8, and finally Lucy 6, and this is our testimony.
In May of 2007 Joe and I met and we instantly fell in love. Previously, I had been in a long painful relationship with the father of my two oldest children who beat and abused me and my children. When I met Joe we had a great relationship even though we were struggling with homelessness and moving from place to place with my 3 children.
Unfortunately, we were introduced to the drug methamphetamine and our lives would never be the same.The more we used, the more we fought and our fights got so out of hand that Joe and I would separate. I would live in San Diego while Joe would live in Washington State with his dad.
Eventually, because of our wrong choices, we would get back together and lose our precious daughters to the Child Protective Services System who sent my two oldest children back to live with their abusive biological father and the younger two children were sent to live with my mother. Joe and I were so heavily addicted to meth that we were not even allowed to see our kids. We both knew about God, because we grew up in religious families, but the choices we were making were an all-consuming curse. We wanted nothing to do with God or anything else. As we continued to give in to this terrible drug, it escalated to intravenous use.
We no longer were welcome in any of our family’s homes so we went from drug houses to hotels to walking the streets of El Cajon all day and many nights. We slept anywhere we could, including my brother’s car. On October 5, 2013, I woke up in my brother’s car (parked in my mother’s driveway) and I cried because I needed to use the restroom so badly yet my mother wouldn’t let me come into her house. I felt so disgusting and my self-esteem had finally hit an all-time low. I said to Joe, “Baby I love you but I want my kids back, I want to get clean and sober, and I want a real life.” He said “Me too”, so I called a Rehabilitation center and admitted myself there. Joe went to his mother’s house to get clean and sober. After 7 years of using drugs we finally said we have had it and began a new journey of recovery.
Eventually, I was able to have supervised visits with my younger girls but I had not seen my two oldest children for almost 5 years because their father refused to let me see them. I graduated from the rehabilitation program and I went to stay with Joe temporarily.
One day I was checking an old email and saw that my two oldest daughters were now living with their aunt and were looking for me. I WAS EXCITED!! With my original court order in hand I went to see them after years of separation. Their aunt gave them to me and told me they needed me because something was terribly wrong and I needed to help them. I took them home to Joe’s family’s house.
The stories they told of abuse were a parent’s nightmare. My baby Alex had bald spots of hair from her dad and paternal grandmother pulling her hair. She told of how she was forced to sleep outside with a dog because she urinated in her bed. She had cuts and multiple bruises from beatings. I also discovered that my little Jasmin had bruises from beatings as well. I immediately called the police, and after a brief observation, they ordered me to go to court. I did as I was instructed and their father did not contest, so he lost custody and rights. Now by adding the additional 2 kids we were too large of a family for the little house we were staying in, so we were forced to live in hotels. All the while, we maintained our sobriety.
One day at a hotel where we were staying we saw Pastor David Zamora whom we knew from a previous brief stay at ECTLC. We talked and he asked us to come to ECTLC and try to get into the program with our kids. The very next day we followed his instruction, went to the ECTLC Center and got to talk to the intake counselor, JD Loveland. He explained the temporary 28 day emergency shelter program, and then offered a more permanent solution, but it would require that Joe and I get legally married. We didn’t want to get married because we felt we didn’t need to have the paper to be together so we refused the long term solution and settled for the temporary 28 day emergency housing option.
I must admit that Joe had a bit of an attitude while talking to JD Loveland (the intake counselor), so we left and went back to our hotel room a few blocks away and discussed the options that the counselor had given us. The very next day we went back to ECTLC as this was our only hope. JD helped us formulate a case plan that would include taking advantage of the emergency housing, getting legally married, and then entering into the one year family restoration program. We were given choices. We could accept the temporary help and continue on with our own “program” or try something new, that for the most part was a little scary.
We told him we would think about it and see, but we accepted the emergency housing offer. While in Emergency Housing, I went to work and Joe stayed home with the kids. He met the Director of Family Services Ms. CRYSTAL SCOTT. I must confess that when I first met with Ms. Scott I DID NOT LIKE HER!! She told me that we needed to tell the truth and do things right. At this time we were on the verge of getting my children back from CPS because of lies we had told them and telling the truth was kind of scary.
We decided to get married and comply with the Family Restoration Ministry (FRM) requirements with the hopes that we would get our 2 youngest daughters back and be a full family again. We got married on March 27, 2015 ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. JD helped my husband put on his tie and when I saw him, I fell in love with Joe all over again. Now we were ready to enter the FRM and that’s when our life changed. Even though there was a brief setback when we finally told CPS the truth we stood firm on the promise that the truth would set us free.
We didn’t give up, we fought hard, and Crystal joined the fight with us. We regularly attended bible studies and church and the entire ministry family helped us with our girls. Soon CPS allowed overnight visits with our children, then weekends, and finally we got full custody. Ultimately, our family was restored. We found out about God and his unconditional love. I have stopped living a life based on lies and I teach my daughters to do the same because God is not a liar.
WE COMMITTED TO A YEAR at ECTLC and that is what was needed. My husband got employed while at ECTLC and and continues to work for Adopt a Highway with PASTOR STAN as his supervisor. And now after 2 years of continuous employment, we have a new life, and Joe now has the longest job he has ever kept. In March 2016 we qualified to rent our very own little house. My husband and I each have 2 jobs and are able to maintain our family.
Anywhere I go; if I see someone struggling I tell them about ECTLC. We still go to church but we go to a church that is closer to where we live, we don’t have a car but we are happy. Alex no longer wets the bed, my husband is an amazing God fearing man who loves us, and our kids are amazing girls who try their hardest every day. We are now an amazing Family of God.
ECTLC opened our eyes to the very thing we lacked, Jesus Christ. If it hadn’t been for Pastor Zamora that night I don’t know where we would be. I like to think God sent him our way. The entire staff at ECTLC gave us hope and a home and we are forever grateful to them; Pastor Brown and Pastor Ricky, Ms. Irene and all the staff, are like my family and I will always love and remember them. Crystal Scott is like my second mother and without her insistence I don’t know if I would have learned to be honest.
One day I hope to be able to pay it forward and work at ECTLC in the administration office. I would love to be able to counsel someone like Crystal did. I LOVE ECTLC and if anyone comes here and has an open heart, is willing to submit to God, and resist the devil, they will receive an amazing gift of a new life in Christ and a new loving family.
THANK YOU ECTLC AND ALL YOUR ANGELS FOR OUR GIFT-Joe and Yesenia Lopez”