The following letter was written by a teen who has been part of our programs since she was seven years old:
“A few weeks after I had turned 3 years old my real father died in a semi wreck and was killed instantly. My real mother took his death and decided to make some wrong choices. She got into a relationship with an abusive drug addict. She did these things with him and he would hit and try to hurt me and my siblings. The courts found out and gave my real mother a choice: him or her children. Sadly she chose him instead of us, because of the things he gave her that ‘made her feel good.’
“So because of this we were put into the adoption services and sent different ways. Me and my little brother, who was almost 1 year old at the time, went from house to house. But no one would take us. I felt unwanted and unloved. Then I remembered that my school had taught me that God was there for me. But times kept getting tougher and I pushed God away. Blamed him for everything that had happened and forgot about him.
“Then my great aunt and uncle, who we call Mom and Dad, decided to take me and my little brother. So they adopted us, along with the five other foster kids before us. My dad was a construction worker and a roofer. My mom was retired at the time. But she used to be a social service worker and would drive foster kids to Youth Haven Ranch.
“So my mom told me about the camp, and when I turned seven I came there as a rancher. I used to only go there for the activities and the kids I can make friends with. But that was only until I met the Youth Haven staff. They opened up my eyes and told me that God really was there. That he would help me push through the hard times and give me the strength to move forward. So then all I wanted to do was come to Youth Haven to learn more about God.
“When I turned 13 I decided I wanted to become an LIT. I decided to make this decision because of all the LIT’s I had seen before, and because I wanted to teach other people what I knew about God. So I took my training and became an official LIT. I’ve been one for about a little over a year. But even through this I went through hard times. My dad (great uncle) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died on Valentine’s Day. Also my mom and I didn’t, and still don’t, get along. She had always favored my brothers, and worked me like a maid. She has treated me badly and I’m not fully considered family anymore. But I know that God is there for me and that it is my job to share my testimony and relate to others to help them. So I’ve kept coming out to help the kids understand the meaning of having God as our Savior.
“I love helping others and I know you do, too. I just love seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing I made a difference. I know that what you do really does make a difference because I was once a rancher and I have the experience. So I want to say thank you for everything you do!”