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Lucia Cardoza.....Yreka, California

(Suddenly it hit me: I must find God!)

I'm only just beginning my life with Jesus!

Life at 79 is wonderful!
Life at 79 is wonderful!

As you can see in my photo above, I am a happy lady who now knows God. It was not always this way. For much of my life there was no one to tell me about God as you will see. My purpose is to tell you about my life the way I remember it happening. I wish I had written things down more but that was impossible for a long time. I have to use words in order to communicate how my life has been. Please do not be offended! I love you, dear Reader! Whoever you are!

I was born in 1932 in Madrid, the capital of Spain. I had two older brothers in addition to one who died in infancy. Spain was supposed to be a Republic with a Presidency but the Catholic Church took over (I am not bashing the Catholic Church or Catholics). The public schools were all run by the church. When I started school, the nuns were really strict and they scared the life out of people who were not Catholic saying they were going to hell. My family was not Catholic.

In 1936 the (Spanish) Civil War started and my father fought in it. I was 4 years old. I never remember prayers, study of the Bible or belief in God. My mother must have had a difficult time with us three kids. She put my two brothers in an orphanage. I would visit them in the afternoons and my mother would pick me up. One day my mother did not pick me up and so this is how I came to live in the same orphanage as my brothers. My mother just disappeared.

The Civil War was bad. I was too little to understand but my oldest brother was old enough to be aware of the autrocities. My next oldest brother was just quiet. The Catholic Church supported Franco, who later became dictator. The orphanage evacuated us further north in Spain to avoid the fighting. We started up the Pyrenees (mountains) toward France. We were stopped in a small farming town and we stayed in a two-room school. We slept on mattresses on the floor and we had only the clothes on our backs. The people running the orphanage who brought us there disappeared. At that point the older boys left but my brothers stayed with us younger kids to take care of us. My oldest brother was like a father to me. He walked 14 km to another town to get medicine and meat for us. We survived that winter on turnips which tasted sweet after they froze.

Suddenly one day we had to travel south (toward Franco's army) in order to get on another road going north, the only one that would take us all the way through the Pyrenees to France. A Republican truck drove into the schoolyard. A wealthy man named Señor Callejas took the older kids to a meeting while we younger kids sat on our mattresses hammering filbert nuts with our shoes to get the nut meat out to eat. The meeting was a war conference. Franco's army was coming to where we were. We packed ourselves into Señor Callejas' trucks like sardines. One truck broke down so we had to all fit in the remaining one. We missed Franco's army by two hours! We went on to Marselles, France. Going up the Pyrenees was like the TV show "Wagon Train." People were dumping things along the way as they could no longer proceed with them.

The French government decided that Señor Callejas could take care of us kids so he either rented or bought a farm and we grew food to eat. We were in Marselles three years.

The U.S. Congress allowed a number of refugee children under a certain age to go to America on a ship. I think my older brother lied about his age in order to take care of us. We had been in Marselles three years. It was 1942. We were on a Portuguese ship along with German Jews fleeing Europe. The meat we were served was pork which is not kosher for Jews to eat. The Portuguese were not sympathetic and would not give the Jews potatoes unless they first ate the pork. We kids exchanged the pork for potatoes so all had enough to eat. We three kids of one family arrived in New York while people looked for foster homes for us. I want to thank the Edwin Gould Foundation for helping us escape the worsening conditions of WWII life in occupied France. In New York we were in a home for boys and girls. We prospered there. I was ten years old. I did what I was told.

My brothers and I ended up in Portland, Oregon. As in Spain and as in France, there was nothing to do with religion as my brothers, who had seen the atrocities, would be stirred up against it. We kept being moved to Catholic homes as we were from Spain and it was assumed we were Catholic. During this time in Portland, I attended Lincoln High School summer school but I didn't graduate. I also had an experience while in Portland of

warm yellow light which I associated with God only decades later.

I didn't tell my foster parents about this warm yellow light because they were Catholic. I didn't realize it until many years later that God had kept me alive in northern Spain through turnips, protected me from being bombed by Franco's airplanes, and brought me to the U.S. where I was physcially safe. Now he was showing me the warmth of his love toward me. I realize now that, "While we were yet sinners," he loved us.

Later the three of us moved to another foster home in Tule Lake, California. I married my foster parents' son and although he was an atheist, I attended the Presbyterian Church as his family did. My husband turned out to be a homosexual. I was 18 when I married him and we were together for 13 years. I never did graduate from high school. However, I passed tests given by the College of the Siskiyous. I knew I had to better myself so I commuted from Tule Lake and graduated both from there and from Humbolt State University with a double major in French and Spanish and with a teaching certificate. I was able later to teach Spanish and French in Yreka, California at the high school there for 21 years. I at some point remarried a man who was a deceiver. I again was divorced but I could support myself and my three children with emotional support from my one-time foster family in Tule Lake.

I met Clarence Cardoza in 1972 and was married to him around 40 years of age. We got along marvelously and did everything together. Our union was not religious. Clarence had been Catholic but said he lost his religion in the South Pacific in WWII. He was a bombardier teacher and so many of his students were killed. He was a tile setter. He also owned and operated his own school bus at a time when schools didn't own buses or hire drivers. He was a good provider. He like to hunt and we had several of his trophy heads with anters hanging on our wall at home. Clarence had a 5-way bypass operation on his heart. Several things happened at this time. I noticed that what I had been reading about Alzheimer's Disease seemed to be happening to Clarence and then more and more. He ended up in care homes. He wanted to be at home with me but he was a big man and I couldn't lift him. One day as I was driving to Fall River Mills, California, where he was, it suddenly hit me, "I MUST FIND GOD!" I didn't know how. I only knew from the Civil War that Catholicism wasn't good for us. My brain was filled with hell and purgatory. I didn't want to be Catholic but I wanted to find the Lord. I couldn't discuss this with Clarence as he felt religious people had a hold of me. We were running out of money to pay for care homes so we got Clarence transferred into a hospice program. His brain was going away inch by inch. He was losing his grip on his mind.

I talked with the hospice chaplain about my experience in Portland when I was all alone and suddenly felt light come down on me. It wasn't coming from outside. I didn't know where it was coming from but it felt warm as it hit me. The hospice chaplain arranged for me to meet with a pastor with whom I had three sessions. He was busy but he gave me Amazing Facts. I had a Bible from my Presbyterian days. Seventh Day Adventists seemed different enough from my experience in Spain with Catholics so I attended church and read the Bible. I believe I made my decision to follow Jesus Christ when I was 72. I was baptized at 74 years old two months after Clarence died. This was just a coincidence. I had to wait on others being prepared for baptism.

One miracle from God that is unexplainable is that Clarence always knew me and loved me even though he had Alzheimers. The nurses in the various places he stayed would call me when he would get upset and I would calm him down. One day I realized they had not called me for longer than usual. I called to check on him. They said he was fine. He was in the dining room and I should call back later. After I hung up I realized I must talk with him now! So I called back. He'd had breathing problems in the dining hall and was now back in his room. We got to talk one more time in a loving way. Ten minutes after we ended the call they called me to say he had died. How fortunate I was after having finally found true love that my husband always knew me even with Alzheimers!

As I said, I wish I had written things down more. I realize now that God not only kept me alive with turnips as food but he was loving me (wooing me) through the warm yellow light I felt in Portland. He struck my mind with the thought I must find Him. I think he may have come into my life that day in the car. I know when I talked with the hospice chaplain that I cried my eyes out and bawled and bawled that Jesus loved me and I had been so stubborn against him because of all the hard times I've described above and because my older brother, who was like a father to me, influenced me against religion due to all the atrocities he saw (being older). I know I repented of my hardness of heart at this time no matter when God actually came into my life. I had betrayed the Lord through ignorance all those years of my life and here he had taken care of me, fed me, kept me alive, and loved me. I thank God now for all those war years. I was living a magical life to escape all those things. In addition, although my first two marriages were "bust," I have three children who I love and I am a great grandmother! I'm totally content. I still have flashbacks from my early years but I try and put them out of my mind. I pray and read the Bible each night and I go to bed early in order to do that. I am a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Yreka, California. Sometimes when we study the Bible and some of us know less than others, we throw up our hands and sing, "We know nothing!" Pretty soon instead of feeling dumb, we feel good and happy and remember Jesus loves us whether we know something or not!

Lucia seems confused about whether she came to Jesus Christ at age 32 or age 72. After listening to her and asking her questions, I believe she came to the Lord at 72. 32 is when she says she realized she must find God but it would mean that her husband was experiencing Alheimers early (43). She says they were married 33 years. He was 83 when he died. Lucia is a clear thinker. But perhaps the Lord himself will have to explain to her the progression of events as she lived them, often in need and in confusion. Her faith is real. I know her. She also has the works that go along with gratitude of being saved. She clearly remembers being saved from Franco's army and says she got out of France in 1942 just in the nick of time in WWII. She worries about Clarence and her older brother as they never appeared to make their peace with God. She did what she could to share with them and they get to decide.

Last Updated: 01/23/2015