I have been to Templo Monte Sinai three times. The first time I visited, I received permission from the new owner, Pedro Ledezma. I thought it was so nice of this Pastor to allow me to shoot the cover of my book and then to film my documentary of Victory Christian Academy on property. I wanted to tell my story at same exact location of the former school, I was locked into the year, 1988. Except this time, there wasn’t any barbed wire along the fence and the gates were wide open – welcoming.
At that point in time, I never went inside any of the buildings. If I were invited in, I would have lost it on an emotional level. For my sake, it was pretty desolate. The second time I visited, I had to get permission to shoot on location. I chose to have Ryjin Pearson, DarkFujin Productions shoot my book trailer to promote, Pieces of Victory. No one could possibly produce a high caliber film/trailer to convey my message of preventing child abuse in teen programs except Ryjin. How I received the funding for that is another miracle.
I did not have anyway of contacting the new church at this point. I did not know the name of the church and all I had was an address. I googled and the only information I found were real-estate agents from when the property was on the market. I asked if the agent would call the owner’s leaving them my phone number to call me back. I told them my story of preventing child abuse by filming on location to spread awareness. No phone calls came. I made the decision to travel from Vegas to Ramona, CA to get permission face-to-face.
Troy supported me by going with me because I wasn’t going to go alone to a place that stored all of my bad memories. I knocked and an elderly woman opened the door. She did not speak a word of English. Thanks to my longterm memory of my Spanish classes in high school, I was able to communicate enough to understand Pastor Joshua would be at the church at 7 p.m. Troy and I went around the corner and saw a sign up. We were only in town on Tuesday and then we were set to leave the next day. The church is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
We met Joshua at 7 p.m. I was reluctant to come into the church because at that point, I never set my foot inside the structure since I left at seventeen-years old. This was an additional church, I never saw because it was in the process of being built. Carey Dunn (a former student/resident) died on property building it through forced labor. I was there when they carried her out of the compound by helicopter. Joshua held his arms up in the air welcoming me in. How could I say “No.” I automatically felt the energy that was quite different from the former hellish academy, I was thrown into.
I told Joshua how I would like to film at this location and my mission in life is to help prevent child abuse in teen programs by telling my story. He looked at me and said, “You are doing God’s work. You are an amazing testimony.” This comment did not soak in until after I left the new ministry, Templo Monte Sinai. Joshua’s final words were that they needed to go through the Board to get permission but he felt at that point, it was a go! What are the odds that a new Pastor on the same property that I was called a Heathen, trash, rebellious teen-ager, unfit to be a Christian, a Jezebel and the list went on… what are the odds that a Pastor on the same soil where I suffered in hell was giving me light? I was inside the same church where a girl died and the atmosphere that was once fueled with hate is now filled with love without judgement. I walked out the door with members of the congregation reaching out to shake my hand and welcoming me into their world of peace.
The contrast is astounding. I cried as soon as Pastor Joshua’s words finally penetrated my soul. “You are doing God’s work. You are an amazing testimony.” On my third visit when we were tying up loose ends, I talked about how our mistakes, obstacles and hardships are really lessons that build character and how we can use that for the greater good. Pastor Joshua informed me that was the crux of his sermon. The sermon was in Spanish. I do not know fluent Spanish. He closed the conversation by inviting me to visit again and give my testimony in front of Templo Monte Sinai! I later found out that Pedro Ledezma is Joshua’s father. Although Pedro is no longer with us, his spirit remains through the works of Templo Monte Sinai.
I was forbidden to play the piano because it reminded me of my first love, Drake McCallister. I could no longer utter his name or play the piano because it reminded me of him. 28 years later, I played the piano in the same spot Victory Christian Academy told me I could not. The only difference is that the piano was turned around. What are the odds?
Thank you Templo Monte Sinai for being a part of my healing. This wonderful ministry invited me to play the piano as it echoed through the very chapel, I was abused in.
Composing my music for
Pieces of Victory:
A loving friend who happens to be a Music Director (anonymous) inspired me to compose a piano piece for my documentary and another trailer for Pieces of Victory. Piece cooming soon!