A Life Transformed/ Una Vida Transformada
“Mejor tener un amigo que un peso en el bolsillo” – “it’s better to have a friend than a peso in the pocket” stands out now as among Hemer Ernesto Sierra Silva’s favorite sayings. And he had a couple of stories to back up the wisdom it conveyed.
Hemer loved to tell the stories – of living on a farm in Oklahoma while a student, of working on Brach’s Candies assembly line in Chicago, of his childhood favorites among the local dishes of Hidalgo and the Huasteca in San Luis Potosí. His favorite story, the one he loved to tell strangers at least once and friends many times over, recounted his transformation as the son of a Communist school teacher father and a devout Catholic mother to a personal journey with Jesus as an evangelical Protestant.
Here it is, told in his words, as he wrote them down for our blog posting in February 2014. It is in essence Hemer’s testimony of how he came to live such a long life with fragile health, serving his church and his community with lots of effort and firm opinions shared with a gentle, loving spirit. During our last visit with him in January he assured us he was ready to accept –once again!- God’s will for his life and we of course believed him. He died this morning of March 23 at age 81 in his bed with his beloved Marisela and all the children near him.
“As the firewood crackled and warmed the cool, spring night, we youth that had gathered in the circle around the fire listened to the powerful voice of the great missionary, writer and magnificent preacher Frederick Huegel (whose son John with family also served with the Mexican Disciples, ed.). I had accepted the invitation of my friend in the State Public High Schol, Miguel Gallegos, with whom I had had many deep conversations about the Christian faith. Our talks had sown questions, concerns and doubts that I wanted to explore.
My religious advisor with the Catholic Youth Association at that time, Olegario N., never had been able to respond in a satisfactory way to my questions about the numerous statues Catholics worshipped, why we would confess to another person and other questions. I was sixteen years old and Huentepec ( in those days held at the Disciples training center outside Aguascalientes ed. ) was the ideal setting to inspire in me the decision that would would completely change my life’s course.
The preacher’s voice urged us to walk with Jesus and with pounding heart and my mind and spirit fully convinced and then driven as though by a powerful force I stood up and then and there accepted Jesus as my sole and sufficient Personal Savior, my Redeemer and my intercessor with the Lord. This chain of events, my doubts about my faith, my attending Huentepec Camp that year with its unique atmosphere, the inspiration of meeting missionaries in attendance like Paul Kepple, Miss Leila Callender and others, all this combined for an impact that makes Huentepec carry for me the meaning of “to leave behind the old ways and become a new person”.
Everything in my life changed for the good after that night at Huentepec; I was converted and then baptized in my “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)”. It was in Central Christian San Luis Potosi that I had the good fortune to meet my wife and companion of more than 50 years and other good and beloved life long friends. There I met the missionary with a great heart named Guy Mantle ( uncle of the famous Mickey Mantle) who helped me to study in the university in the States on a Presidential Scholarship. He also personally supported me financially at times and thanks to him I was able to earn the degree for the career that I had always dreamed about.
It would make for a much longer article if I wrote of all the blessings that originated with the great event of my life that took place at the Huentepec Camp. So I give many thanks to the Lord for the Disciples Church that continues to organize this event for the youth today.
May the Lord bless you all.”
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“Se oía el crujido de los leños que alimentaban con su calor la fresca noche de Primavera y a los jóvenes que estábamos alrededor de ella nos invitaba a oír la potente voz del gran misionero ,escritor y magnifico predicador, Federico Huegel. Había yo aceptado la invitación de mi compañero en la Escuela Normal Estatal, Miguel Gallegos con quien había yo tenido muchas controversias religiosas y quien había sembrado en mi ser tantas inquietudes y dudas, que acepté con gusto su invitación para ir a Huentepec; mi Asesor religioso de la ACJM ( Asociación Católica de Jóvenes Mexicanos) Olegario N. nunca pudo contestar a plena satisfacción mis múltiples dudas ( Los innumerables ídolos y la confesión ante un hombre ,etc )
Tenia yo 16 años y Huentepc (luego ubicado al sitio de la Granja Huentepec de los Discipulos a las orillas de la ciudad de Aguacalientes, ed.) era un lugar ideal para que en una noche estrellada tomara yo la decisión que cambio por completo el rumbo de mi vida; la voz del predicador nos invitaba a caminar con Jesús y con mi corazón latiendo fuertemente, mi mente y mi espíritu plenamente convencidos y como impulsado por un potente resorte me paré y ahí acepté a Jesús como mi Único y Suficiente Salvador Personal , mi Redentor y mi intercesor con el Señor.
Esta cadena de hechos, mis dudas, mi aceptación para asistir a Huentepec, la atmosfera única en que se desarrollaba el Campamento, la presencia tan inspiradora de los misioneros que conocí ahí Paul Kepple, Miss Leila Callender, etc. todo esto en conjunto influyeron tanto en mi vida que para mi la palabra Huentepec, significa “dejar atrás el hombre viejo y ser un hombre nuevo”. Todo en mi vida cambió para bien, me convertí y me bautice en MI “IGLESIA CRISTIANA DISCIPULOS DE CRISTO”.
Ahí tuve la dicha de conocer a mi esposa y compañera de mas de 50 años, a muy buenos y queridos amigos de toda la vida, ahí conocí a un misionero de un gran corazón, Guy Mantle ( tío del famoso beisbolista Micky Mantle). quien obtuvo para mi la beca “Presidential Scholarship ” ,fue mi aval financiero, y gracias a él obtuve el titulé en la carrera en la que siempre soñé.
Seria muy largo enumerar TODAS las Bendiciones que derivan del gran evento en mi vida que es haber asistido a mi querido e inolvidable Campamento “HUENTEPEC” , le doy muchas Gracias al Señor por que nuestra Iglesia organiza este evento .
Que el Señor los bendiga.